QUESTION: I’m thinking about the dashas (thank you for this new video on youtube!) and your definition of a dasha year-length as 359 days (per your articles from 30th of July and September 2010 – How Long is a Year? and Further Discussion). As far as I understood Surya Siddhanta gives four different definitions of a ‘year’.
Solar Year: 365.2425 days is a solar year. This year stays in sync with the sun’s movement through solstice and equinox points. It is measured by the relative motion between earth and sun only. The moon and the stars aren’t relevant here. Karmic cycles and the whole sphere of the devas are somehow debarred from this time model. But it is optimal for agriculture.
In your second paragraph, only the first two sentences are correct.
The Moon is also involved in the solar year (which has 12 months) – or shall we say, in practical use, there is no purely solar calendar, it is luni-solar.
I’m trying to figure out why you would say “karmic cycles” are not relevant to the solar year. I think you may not be clear on what karma is, so you would think it is something impractical or theoretical or otherworldly.
I’m also trying to figure out why you would say the gods (devas) are not relevant to the solar year. The Sun is one of the most important gods, and the earth is one of the most important goddesses.
Lunar Year: We give the year 360 days, quite close to the solar year, and 12 months of 30 days what resonates quite closely with the lunar cycle. Because the moon is involved this year gives us insights on how karma unfolds in time.
Again, I think you don’t clearly understand what karma is. It is not that the Moon shows karma and the Sun doesn’t. All the planets show karma because all the planets reveal the passing of time, and time is the substrate of karma. If you would like a very clear and detailed explanation of this, please read my book, The Beautifully Rational Philosophy of Astrology.
Also, the 12, 30-day month paradigm is employed in the solar calendar as well. The remaining 5.24 days are cleaned up every three years with a special half-month.
The difference between the two is the reference point. The solar reference point is the notherly equinox. The lunar reference point is the full moon closest to the northerly equinox.
I am not clear on the other two years, please clarify.
The third type of year is a simple approximation for conventional use. “360 sunrises.” It is only meant for measuring short and imprecise things.
The fourth type of year is the most abstract. Like the rest, it is defined as 360 days in 12 30-day months. But unlike the others, its definition of a “day” is not sunrise-to-sunrise. Instead it is starrise-to-starrise (of some pre-defined nakṣatra star). The rising of a star takes slightly less time than the rising of the sun, so this type of year is equivalent to 359.017 “days” as we commonly think of them and measure them in our modern standards.
I believe that this fourth type of year is the one best suited for measuring the nakṣatra daśā schedules, because, like the daśā themselves, it is based on the nakṣatras.
PS – About the Modern Calendar…
A fifth type of year is our modern calendar, which is sightly different from any of the four calendars defined in Sūrya Siddhānta. The modern calendar is a luni-solar calendar that looks a bit like frankenstein as a result of being modified by various people over the course of history. Here are the most significant modifications or differences:
1: The southern solstice rather than the northerly equinox is taken as the marker to begin the year (and similarly the Sun’s daily southern-solstice – midnight – rather than the Sun’s daily northerly-equinox – sunrise – is taken as the marker to begin a day).
2: The technique of correcting the discrepancy between 360 and 365.25 was changed. Now we give some months more than thirty days and just need to add a single day every four years.
3: The Christians changed the starting point of the months and years to accommodate their calendric definition of when to celebrate Easter.
I don’t believe the modern calendar year is appropriate at all for dasha schedules, but most astrologers and astrology software uses this year by default.