I have gone through your paper in response to my comments on the calendar you and Darshaney-ji have prepared for the Hindu community of the South. I am afraid my reply will again be lengthy because the points you make are stimulating. But I must say that what you write only drives home the point that we view the function of a calendar quite differently, be this for Hindus, Christians or whosoever.
From your presentation it is clear that the Hindu calendar is for ritualistic purposes almost exclusively – I believe Sayana’s commentaries are along these lines. In my view that is only one of its functions, perhaps even a minor one, all told. I agree that there is a pinpointing of power, as you so rightly describe; but how many Pujaris are truly capable of carrying out such a delicate procedure? Reciting the Slokas and Mantras is not enough: yogic realisation has to support the recitation. Unity of energies – even unbeknown to the faithful – within the true Harmony is the aim when the right cosmic keys are applied.
You refer to the ‘Gregorian Calendar’, but as you know, this was the ancient Julian calendar of the Roman Empire, similar to the one used throughout the then known world, including Vedic India. Emperor and later Pope simply brought in certain necessary reforms. This system pre-dated Christianity by many centuries. Therefore, I prefer to call it the universal calendar because it does serve best the universal cause of oneness. Being as we are in the astrological Age of Aquarius, the thrust of the Time-Spirit, Mahakala, is to cut through obstacles, to bring down barriers wherever they may exist which tend to obstruct the experience of wholeness and unity. Your SMKTP calendar sets in place certain perceived Vedic fundaments which do not encourage universalism. And this is done by harking back to the system that served the ancients well but must be updated to serve not just the Hindu Samaj but the whole world. This is not my personal preference: it is the destiny of Bharat. After studying your calendar and reading your reply to my paper, I do not see how India’s place as centre and soul of the Earth can come about as a living, vibrant truth of our times – of this Age, given that we have moved through several ages after the Vedic. Your calendar would attempt to blot out of the Earth’s memory those intervening years, as if they never existed. I do not see any updating in your effort but rather an attempt to reinstate the old as it may have been.
There are certain fundaments that never change and that eliminate subjective interpretations. These are the four pillars of the annual circle that our planet traces around the Sun – that is, the Equinoxes and Solstices. These pillars are what render the Dharma eternal because indeed they are eternal. There is no question of MY interpretation or calculations being different from yours or anyone’s in this regard and therefore subject to human error. These pillars are astronomical facts. Mesha Sankranti is what it is and occurs when it does occur; its timing cannot be left to the fancies of interpreters and illusory calculations such as we find in the Nirayana system with its 20 or so ayanamshas. The pillars of the Tropical Zodiac are eternal; but in practice we have lost the key to this essential truth. In your calendar I am not sure that this is made clear. You write of the pair of twins as the horns of the Ram and Mesha Sankranti being in the middle. I am not sure what you imply by this, because the start of the year in yours seems to vary each year (‘…accordingly, Mesha Sankranti falls on the last day of Madhu this year’.) In what way then does this differ from the Nirayana system which also advocates a SHIFTING new year? But if those pillars are firmly in place, there would not be any shifting. This seems to arise because you have determined that Madhu/Madhava must stand as the start of the year and the Aries 0 point has to be accommodated accordingly. This means that it will shift each year. The result is a replacement of the Nirayana method with another from the same school of relativism.
Your calendar, apparently having a mixture of Sayana and Nirayana, or solar tropical and sidereal in my view does not restore that essential eternal truth. It is not by adopting Vedic names that the Dharma is given its eternal character. Truly, the only way is to grasp the Soul of Knowledge again – but as it must be found today. I know that AKK staunchly opposes using ‘foreign’ names for the months, for example. Given your admiration for his views, I am not surprised to find that, like him, you seek to reinstate a certain Vedic terminology. There is nothing to fault in this approach except that it may complicate an already complex issue.
On the other hand, what ‘western’ names are you replacing? Interestingly, those western names are more astronomical than the ones you are suggesting. Apart from July and August which were established to honour Roman Emperors, the rest are for the most part zodiacal/ planetary. March is in honour of Mars, since the month of Aries ruled by Mars begins in that month; April derives from Aphrodite (Venus) because her sign Taurus begins during this period, and so on. Or else we have the very important last months of the year which denote the months starting from the Aries beginning: September, because the 7th sign begins then; October the 8th, November and the beginning of the 9th month, and so on; they are, you will agree, Sanskrit derivatives. It is not that I advocate employing these names; I am simply driving home the point that they are more closely aligned to that eternal script, unchanging across the ages.
Regarding these ‘foreign’ names for the months, there is something to note of greater importance. Consider this: they are given pride of place in the Veda by personifying them as Gods and Goddesses together with their respective vahanas – i.e., Aries (Agni) and the Ram, Indra as the Bull (Taurus). Even Varun’s attributes most accurately characterise the sign Makar, and indeed his carrier is the Crocodile. Do the names you have given capture this Vedic essence in a greater measure? Do they more fully display the nature of the cosmic energies the Gods and Goddesses embody for the faithful? Can they be as easily worshipped? I think not.
You note that Hindu rituals are season-based and that this is important. I need to point out that the Four Pillars are also descriptive of the four seasons. But their beginning is always in a sign of rajas energy like the four Cardinal signs of traditional astrology. The triad Rajas, Sattva and Tamas (in astrology these are termed Cardinal, Fixed and Mutable qualities) is repeated four times throughout the year; and the seasons Rajas sets in motion fully honour the impulsive, energetic character of Rajas to institute change forcefully. Similarly with the remaining two. Tamas brings the triad to an end with a break down of energy, typical of Tamas. As you will note from the book I sent you, Time and Imperishability (pages 87 and 192), these same divisions must be applied to the physical body of Bharat Mata as she stands today; and when so applied they describe accurately the characteristics of the contemporary nations that embody the triadic Energy Modes. Certainly we have to agree that Pakistan, as per the map of India with the gunas superimposed, is fully rajasic and lacks the attenuating influences of the other modes. This is factual proof of the new cosmology, an update of the old.
Thus, when you write of seasons, I would like to see the same universal applicability involved in the Vedic prescriptions according to your interpretation. But I do not. Certainly the pairs of twins would appear to refer to the positive (masculine) and negative (feminine) properties of the signs. Does Madhu/Madhava and so on convey this in an applicable manner?
I must discuss the important question of predictive astrology which you raise. This, as you state, is one of the aspects of today’s culture that AKK most objects to, but certainly not the only one, as you seem to believe; he has a number of other dislikes which need not detain us here. Regarding predictive astrology the problem is that the astrology we find in India today is exclusively predictive (and in my view based on the wrong system). When I first began the in-depth study astrology I refused to entertain the idea of looking into the future. I was solely interested in knowledge, deep knowledge of self and circumstance. I eschewed any idea of prediction as beneath the high standard I set for the Art. However, before long I realised that this approach was not faithful to the comprehensive character of astrology. It was as if I decided that Time existed only for the past and present, and not the future. It was a ridiculous position to hold! And so, I did begin to integrate the future through the Vedic method of ‘one day for a year’, the system of ‘progressing the horoscope’ still in use in the West but not in India, though it is a thoroughly Vedic concept. It falls in the category of correspondences and equivalences, which is to this day the only valid method for understanding time and destiny, for both individual and collectivity. What I realised along the way was that this integration of the future encouraged a yogic realisation of equanimity – wholly necessary when reading a horoscope that contains both good and bad. The problem we face in India is not that the stress is on prediction but that the Soul of Knowledge has been lost. However, this is not the fault of leaning on predictive astrology only: the entire treatment of Time is without that soul.
My point has been from the very beginning, and more so with your new calendar: why cannot ALL measuring be done in the same One Circle of 360 degrees? Naturally this implies a proper unchanging Zero Point. If you start shifting that about, you fall into the same trap as the Nirayanis. But if you do not, if that ayanamsha remains the same always, then all measuring can be done within that one circle as the Rig Veda and Atharva Veda prescribe. Naturally you will run into difficulties if you seek to accommodate the Nakshatras by measuring their true dimensions as in the constellations. But if you understand them to be the Mansions of the Moon based on the mean measure of 13 degrees 20 each, they fit neatly into that One Circle and you do not have to switch to the sidereal sphere at all. Everything else you mention can be accommodated in the One Circle – which is the Solar Tropical Zodiac – along with all the other divisions Hindu Astrology is famous for.
However, a distinction should be made regarding the Manvantaras, Kalpas, and Yugas because these measures of Time involve the Precession of the Equinoxes. They are measured in that same One Circle but which is projected onto the heavenly vault by the movement of the equatorial plane in a slow motion of 25,920 years to complete one round, marking off what I have often called the Ascendant (lagna) of the Earth. I have not referred to this Measure at all because none of you would agree that the key to this cosmic harmony is given in the Rig Veda verses to Vishnu. This is another of my discoveries which has been ridiculed by AKK and all those who believe that the signs of the zodiac are not to be found in the Veda. Regardless, the fact is that the key is given therein, AND, what is best is that it is thoroughly applicable today and it makes sense of the Epics just as they have been handed down to us from antiquity. That is the proof we seek, empirical in its own way. But even in this Act of Measuring, the basic key is always the tropical zodiac with its pictographs and hieroglyphics. With these in hand and the appropriate Zero Point, measuring can begin and the eternal rounds extend before us in an unending display of the majesty of Time. (See my Map of the 12 Manifestations, The Gnostic Circle, et al.)
As for a model I can provide so that you have a sample of the method I prefer, this is very simple. Take any one of the months as per the universal calendar, which is also the official calendar of India, and you have the answer. Nothing needs to be changed. You simply fit your festival dates, etc. into that universal month – solar, lunar, Nakshatras and all. You could take the month of September, for example, because I believe the Durga Puja is established by the new Moon in a corresponding Nakshatra. In this case the Nakshatra would not be shifting, though the lunation shifts and the Navaratri is measured accordingly with the last day almost always falling in the tenth sign Makar, just as it was extolled in the Veda – the tenth is the month of victory of the Aryan Warrior undertaking the initiatic Journey. This was a Journey of ancient times; it is the very same Journey the Warrior undertakes today, along with the whole of society.
I hope you will consider carefully this concluding point, most important of all. Something most essential of the Vedic Way has been missed because of the imposition of Science when astrology and astronomy parted ways. An attempt was made to be ‘scientific’, thereby ridding the Sacred of the label ‘superstition’ by a demand for confirmation based on observation. This call for physical observation was repeated throughout the Tirumala Conference, to which I took serious objection. Since the figures of the zodiac in the solar tropical ecliptic circle are invisible to the naked eye, science simply projected them fancifully onto the constellations of fixed stars – and called them by the same name, regardless of the fact that even as so projected they could in no way be related to the tropical zodiac of equal measure. For astronomers this served to satisfy their desire to impose a physical and provable character onto the subtle and invisible that had been confirmed only by the inner vision of the Seers. Those figures of the ancient zodiac describe the innermost attributes of the Year. Hence the Year was and remains the central figure of the Sacrifice because it embraces the sacred measure of 12 which is translated into our calendar that harmoniously blends the sacred and the profane. In this manner society is carried along with the Sage on the same path – the latter knowingly, the former unknowing but participatory.
Astronomers are not satisfied with the Vedic vision because it is inaccessible to them – consequently, they consider that it simply does not exist! It is too elusive and even elitist in their view. To bridge the gap they introduced the imaginative zodiac of the constellations which bears no relevance to the Earth Year of the Vedic Sacrifice. Serious yogic sadhana is demanded if we wish to see along with the Seers, and therefore to know exactly what mistake scientists made to derail the Act of Measuring. No scientist is capable of or willing to undertake these strenuous practices requiring many years of concentrated dedication, far more than are required to obtain a university degree. Those who encourage the scientific way over the Vedic are not Initiates; they have not acquired the inner sight resulting in a consciousness of unity. On this basis the time-tested Vedic method of Correspondences and Equivalencies can be applied. Therefore, when you stated that I advocate a reliance on the physical observation of astronomers to lead the way, I was forced to object since I hold the opposite view: the true Measure, the Vedic Divine Maya is only discovered by Yoga, without any need at all of physical observation; provided that the grace of the Guru and the Gods and Goddesses has bestowed those eternal ‘keys’ on us that can ‘open the doors to the month and the years’ – in the Vedic Age as well as today.
This has been a most stimulating exchange which I hope will continue into the future to the benefit of all concerned. The Atharva Veda verses you end you letter with are sublime. I thank you. Truly there is no place on Earth like India, preserver of the Dharma eternal.
With the very best wishes,