Gaurabda is the name of moon calendar used by
Gaudiyaas part of the liturgy. [cite web
title=iskcon.com - Culture - International Calendar Download
It is used as the main calendar of the
International Society for Krishna Consciousness. [cite web
title=ISKCON GBC - Vaisnava Calendars.
Reasons to follow a lunar calendar
In the Vaisnava calendar the times for various celebrations aredetermined by the tithi, sometimes with "
naksatra" and otherelements of the calendar taken into account.
Most scholars who have analyzed the old
Indian calendarsystems, both lunar and solar, have concluded that the lunarsystem is the more ancient.
The lunar phases are known to influence agriculture, andaccording to scriptures like
Manu-samhita(The Law of Manu) theyalso influence more subtle aspects of human life.
Traditional and modern methods of calculation
Traditionally the astronomical calculations needed to make aPancanga were done according to one of the astronomical textssuch as
Surya Siddhanta. The methods described in SuryaSiddhanta are basically quite similar to modern astronomicalmethods for ascertaining the positions of the planets. The maindifference is that Surya Siddhanta has a simpler model. Such amodel is needed if the calculations are to be done by hand in apractical way.
All that was needed were some observatory instruments that could bebuilt without a high technology. These instruments were usedregularly to check that the calculations tallied with observablereality. When a difference appeared after some time, correctionswere made to the astronomical constants in the formulas. Withthis system, fairly good results were obtainable even though theastronomical model was simple. Its accuracy cannot be comparedto that obtained by modern methods, but for the purpose ofastrology and creation of calendars it sufficed.
Currently a computer program is used to provide formulas that give an accuracy of 1minute of arc for the longitude of the sun and 2 minutes of arcfor the longitude of the moon. When determining ending times of
tithis these errors can result in a maximum error of 5 minutesof time. The average error is about 3 minutes. Such an errorwill report an Ekadasi(the eleventh tithi) on the wrong dateroughly once every 20 years.
Interpreting the Vaisnava calendar
Names of years and months
Gaudiya Vaisnavatradition, the years are countedfrom the appearance of Krishna's incarnation as Lord Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. Lord Caitanya is also known as Gaura, sothe year is called "Gaurabda," "the year of Lord Caitanya."
Each month, or "masa," is known by a name of
Visnu. The months,the Sanskritnames by which they are commonly known in India,and their rough equivalents according to the Gregorian calendarare listed as follows:
;When to observe Ekadasi
Ekadasi, the eleventh tithi, has special importance. In thescripture
Caitanya-caritamrta(Madhya-lila, chapter 24), Caitanya Mahaprabhuinstructs Sanatana Goswamiregarding theVaisnava regulative principles. In text 342 Lord Caitanyasays:
"You should recommend the avoidance of mixed [viddha] Ekadasiand the performance of pure Ekadasi. You should also describethe fault in not observing this. One should be very careful asfar as these items are concerned. If one is not careful, onewill be negligent in executing devotional service."As described in Hari Bhakti Vilasa, viddha (mixed)Ekadasi takes place when the eleventh tithi starts beforesunrise but the tenth tithi still presides at the beginning ofbrahma muhurta (the auspicious period that starts an hour and ahalf before sunrise).
On Ekadasi it is traditional to fast. But under certainconditions, called mahadvadasi, one fasts not on the Ekadasi buton the next day, the dvadasi, even though the Ekadasi is suddha,or pure, and not viddha, or mixed. There are eight mahadvadasis.
The calendars produced by this program make it easy to see whento observe Ekadasi. The Ekadasi fast should be observed on theday called suddha (pure) Ekadasi, or alternatively onMahadvadasi, even if the previous day is called Ekadasi. Allthis is clarified by the asterisk (*), which indicates a fast,at the right margin of the printed computer generated calendar.
"Break fast 05:18 - 09:34" and "Daylight-savings not considered"
To complete the proper observance of
Ekadasi, the next morningone should end the fast after the first time given in thecalendar and before the second time. The calendar gives thesetimes according to the standard time of the place for which thecalendar is made.
During the summer, many locations do not follow standard time,but instead move their clocks an hour ahead (or sometimes more)to make more use of the hours of daylight.
Links and terminology
* [http://www.hknet.org.nz/kaliyuga.html Kali yuga]
* [http://www.urday.com/yugas.htm Yugas]
* [http://www.salagram.net/jtcd-almanac-page.htm Panchangam (Almanac)]
title=Vaishnava Calendar-glossary and terminology
* [http://www.vaisnavacalendar.com/ Vaishnava Calendar Online]
title=Vaisnava Calendar Reminder Services - Vaishnava Calendar Information Service
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