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Panchangam: A Credible Source of Timekeeping?


Panchangam, as referred to in several languages such as Sanskrit, Telugu, Tamil, Malayalam, Kannada and Sinhalese, is a Hindu timekeeping calendar-cum-almanac for the Hindus. It is regarded as the pinnacle of knowledge as far the events of the next spiritual year are concerned.

In other languages such as Assamese, Bengali and Odia, the Panchangam is referred to as Panjika or simply Panji. Several Hindu monasteries and temple complexes use the same, as mentioned above, to plan out their successive year accordingly.

These documents are published in the form of hard bound books by many specifically knowledgeable authors, societies, academicians, universities etc. The main gist of the book is pretty much the same except for minute changes. These changes are tough to differentiate for a newbie reader.

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There are certain things that the Panchangam gives us the information about such as:

  • Solar Eclipses
  • Weather such as Rain or Dry Spells
  • Sunrise and Sunset etc.

As per the study of Panchangams, these help in the understanding of RasiPhala or Zodiac signs on one’s life. The respective astrologers also confabulate the same to fix auspicious dates and times for weddings, corporate events and several other activities according to their respective religion.

Etymologically speaking, the word Panchangam means “one with five limbs” in Sanskrit. The five limbs most likely to be believed are as per:

  • Tithi
  • Nakshatra
  • Raasi
  • Yoga
  • Karana

These five attributes are taken in consideration with respect to the Moon, the fastest celestial object in the night’s sky, from a human perspective. The changes are recorded for a specific point of reference (latitude and longitude).

After that, people extrapolate their readings accordingly and set one up for their respective time zones or locations with minor alterations.

The document used as Panchangam or its nearby derivatives has been constantly evolving since the last 5000 years.

  • Couple of the most popular ones are Surya Siddhanta and Grahalaghava.
  • The Grahalaghava was documented some 600-700 years.

The Surya Siddhanta has been there even before the Grahalaghava was materialized.

As mentioned in the paragraph above, the Surya Siddhanta was first used roughly 5000 years ago, give or take 200 years.

  • The main issue with the above mentioned Panchangams were that those two were outdated pieces of documents within a span of a millennium.
  • The scholars had to manually correct the values to get to the correct side of the scheme of things.

The Grahalaghava could only be used for 600 years. The Panchangams did not take external factors acting upon the Earth such as the Tidal forces of several celestial bodies, irregularities in the rotation and revolution of the planet itself etc.

Hence, after that, the Government appointed a committee to freshly sketch up the Panchangam each year accordingly.

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Subsequently, all the local religious bodies did their homework and have been coming up new ones for each year henceforth.

As per the Wikipedia article on Panchangam, thus, the Government of India prepared the National Panchangamor the Indian National Calendar in 1957 (was proposed by Saha andLahiriin 1952), which is used in predictiveastrology.

The Lahiri’s Ephemerispublished annually is the most widely used English almanac in Vedic astrology apart from the many Panchangams published in local languages, which are mostly based on the National Panchangam.

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New Challenges:

Scientifically speaking, omissions of several astronomical as well global happenings have not been helping the usual Panchangam’s accuracy over the course of time. Quite a few events such as the Japan’s 2011 Earthquake, the Three Gorges Dam of China’s running have altered the rotation speed of our planet.

The usual asteroid impact, small or big, also plays a significant role with the planet’s dynamics apart from the usual Eclipses or Tidal forces of the Sun and the Moon etc.Unless the Panchangam makers take everything into consideration, it won’t be long before this model of the Panchangam also goes into the dustbin. The number of factors keep increasing day by day. Humankind has been the guiltiest of it, be it deforestation or the self-made climate change.

Checking these is the biggest concern as of now, but still, if any scholar wants to direct the same information with the help of a Panchangam, at least need to take everything into consideration before scripting down a falsified document for literally Millions.

Irrespective of the fact whether one believes in the system of Vedic Astrology or not, putting out the correct information needs to be the key. If people from those said organizations or societies understand this, by having an open mind, it’ll lead to an error free ordeal.

Mindless finger pointing or taking offense on one’s suggestion will lead any particular topic, not just this, to complete annihilation in a matter of centuries, if not decades.

You can find the latest online panchang for today here.

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