Vedāṁga Jyotiṣa – Part 1

I will organize this presentation in leiu of the work of Professor T.S. Kuppanna Sastry and Dr. K.V Sarma. It combines the two versions of Vedāṁga Jyotiṣa found in Ṛg and Yajur Veda.


I purify myself by bowing my head to the Creator, whom I envision as being the power within the five-year cycles [“yuga”], and the body on which days, months, seasons, and half-years are limbs.

I also bow my head to the Goddess of Intellect, Sarasvati – so that I may write on the science of time, as explained by Sage Lagadha.  This science is meritorious and dear to the learned, because by it one can understand the perfect times to make auspicious endeavors.

The Vedas exist so that we can successfully obtain the results of our efforts and sacrifices, but doing so is very dependent on timing. Therefore one who understands the science of time, Jyotiṣa, also understands the science of successful efforts.  So they say that this science of Jyotiṣa is the foremost appendix to Vedic knowledge – much like the feathers of a peacock, or the treasures of a dragon.

Anyone who understands the Vedas and also understands the movements of the Sun and Moon will become prosperous in this world and afterwards will go to where the Sun and Moon move about in the heavens.

Measuring Time

The time it takes to pronounce a long vowel is an akṣara. Five of them is a kāṣṭhā. Four groups of thirty-one kāṣṭhā are a kalā. 10.05 kalā is a nāḍikā. Two nāḍikā are a muhūrta. Thirty muhūrta are a day, which is equivalent to 603 kalā.

A year is 366 days. It has two ayana, six ṛtu, and twelve months.

A yuga is five years.

Also: a nāḍikā is three sixteenths of an āḍhaka, during which time a clepsydra will drain 50 pala of water. Four āḍhaka are a droṇa. And a Ṛtu equals 4.5 constellations.


Assuming for now that a day is “24 hours” the approximate modern values of these time units are as follows.

Droṇa:                 512 minutes (>8.5 hours)

Āḍhaka:             128 minutes

Muhurta:           48 minutes

Nadika:               24 minutes

Kalā:                     2.4(-) minutes

Kāṣṭhā group: 4.5(-) second

Kāṣṭhā:                1(+) second

Akṣara:                ¼ of a second

Now, for the longer periods of time, approximately:

Yuga:                    5 years

Year:                     366 days

Ayana:                 183 days

Ṛtu:                       61 days

Month:                30(+) days

The text gives three ways to check the measurements in the real world. We can do it starting from the Akṣara, assigning it the amount of time it takes to pronounce two short-vowel syllables or one long-vowel syllable in normal speech. Or we can start from the āḍhaka, assigning it the amount of time it takes to drain a clepsydra (basically a pot with a pinhole in it) holding a fixed amount of water. Or we start from the ṛtu, assigning it the amount of time it takes the Sun to move 60 degrees of arc in reference to a zodiac star.

Since we have mentioned the zodiac stars, lets now pull together the definitive verses concerning the zodiac constellations.

Zodiac Constellations

The zodiac constellations with their deities are:

  1. Kṛttikā                           Agni (God of fire)
  2. Rohiṇī                            Prajāpati (the Creator, Brahmā)
  3. Mṛgaśīrṣā                     Soma (God of the immortal elixir)
  4. Ārdrā                             Rudra (God of destruction)
  5. Punarvasu                   Aditi (Goddess of space)
  6. Puṣya                             Bṛhaspati (God of prayer)
  7. Āśleṣā                            Naga (Dragons)
  8. Maghā                           Pitṛ (Ancestral spirits)
  9. Pūrva Phālgunī           Bhaga (God of love)
  10. Uttara Phālgunī         Aryamā (God of vows)
  11. Hasta                             Savitā (God of awakening)
  12. Citrā                               Tvaṣṭā (God of design)
  13. Svāti                               Vāyu (God of breath/air)
  14. Viśākhā                         Indrāgñi (God of sacrificial fire)
  15. Anurādhā                     Mitra (God of devotion/ friendship)
  16. Jyeṣṭhā                         Indra (Chief of the gods)
  17. Mūla                              Nirṛti (Goddess of destruction)
  18. Pūrva Aṣāḍhā             Apa (Goddess of water)
  19. Uttara Aṣāḍhā            Viśvadeva (All divinities)
  20. Śravaṇa                         Viṣṇu (God of existence)
  21. Dhaniṣṭhā                    Vasu (Gods of elements)
  22. Śatabhiṣaj                    Varuṇa (God of night/ the underworld)
  23. Pūrva Bhādrapadā    Ajaikapāt (Fire dragon)
  24. Uttara Bhādrapadā Ahirbudhnya (Water dragon)
  25. Revatī                            Pūṣan (God of protection)
  26. Aśvinī                             Aśvini (Twin children of the Sun)
  27. Bharaṇī                         Yama (God of death)

Those who understand the science of sacrifice recall that the names of these gods should be used in place of our own name, according to the constellation under which we are born, whenever we make serious sacrifices and efforts.

Ārdrā, Citrā, Viśākhā, Śravaṇa and Aśvinī have “fierce” qualities. Maghā, Svāti, Jyeṣṭhā, Mūla and Bharaṇī  have “harsh” qualities.

Importance of Cross Multiplication

The following very common elementary equation will often be used in our calculations: a/b = c/x. Which is solved as: x = bc/a.

To be continued… stay tuned…

– Vic DiCara

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