Literally 'five limbs' (pancha, 'five' and
anga, 'limb'). The almanac of the Hindus, so named
because it deals with the five Hindu divisions of time An
'auspicious' moment is considered very important, for
starting a ceremony, a journey, a new venture or the commencement
of studies. The panchanga is used to find such
'auspicious' moments when the various permutations and
combinations of the five units of time are found congenial.
Panchanga The five limbs of the panchanga are:
1. Vara (solar day) 2. Tithi (lunar day) 3. Nakshatra (lunar
asterism) 4. Yoga (conjunction of planets) 5. Karana (half of a
lunar day) Vara (solar day), literally means a weekday. This is
the time from one sunrise to the next. For official purposes, one
day is reckoned from midnight to midnight. The solar day of the
Hindus is divided into four parts: divas (day), ratri (night),
sandhya (morning twilight), sandhyansha (evening twilight). One
solar day is made of 60 ghatikas and also of 15 muhurtas. The
Hindus follow a seven-day week system and each day of the week is
Each vara is special to a particular presiding deity. The
seven varas are also associated with the seven planets of the
Hindus. Ravivara is sacred to Surya hence sun worship is enjoined
on this day. Thursday, Friday, Wednesday and Monday (Sukla
Paksha) is considered good.
Ravivara is sacred to Surya hence sun worship is enjoined on
this day. Somvara is sacred to the moon. As the moon is an
adornment of Shiva, it is also sacred to him. Since he is an
ascetic, people observe fasts on this day to please him. By
performing a vrata for 16 Mondays, it is believed that all wishes
Mangalavara is sacred to Mars. It is named Mangala
(auspicious) to counter its malefic nature. It is sacred to
Hanuman, the monkey god who helped Rama recover his wife Sita
from Ravana (see Ramayana). Hanuman is said to have also freed
the nine planets from Ravana's hold. Mars and Saturn are the
strongest and most malefic of the nine. Devotees therefore
believe that by praying to Hanuman on Tuesday, the inauspicious
effects of Mars are overcome, for, by freeing Mars, he proved
that he was the stronger of the two.
Budhvara is sacred to Mercury, the lovechild of the Moon, and
Brihaspativara or Guruvara to Jupiter, the preceptor of the gods.
Shukravara, in turn, is special to Venus, the puissant and wise
guru of the asuras, while Shanivara is the dreaded day that
belongs to Shani (Saturn), whose baleful glare causes untold harm
(see also Janmapatri).
Within any given day, there are certain time periods which are
particularly spiritually potent. To start with, we will mention
three such time periods in every day:
Brahma Muhoortham: the three hour time period culminating at
dawn; assuming a 6 a.m. sunrise, this would be between 3 a.m. and
6 a.m. everyday.
Abhijit Muhoortham: high noon when the sun is at its zenith;
assuming a 6 a.m. sunrise, this would be at 12 noon.
Nitya Pradosha Kaalam: one and a half hours before dusk and
half an hour thereafter; assuming a 6 p.m. sunset, this would be
between 4:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. everyday.
These times are also known as sandhi kaalam, junction times
within a day. The first is when the night meets the day, the
second is when morning meets afternoon and the third is when day
meets night. The Vedhas say that spiritual activities conducted
during these time periods are particularly effective. Spiritual
aspirants should make use of these potent time periods for rapid
Within any given day, there are also certain time periods
which are inauspicious. Two of these are Raahu Kaalam and Yama
Gandam. The Vedhas say that it's ideal if we can use these
times totally for worship. If these time periods are used for
worship and not for material activities, they yield manifold
Raahu Kaalam is dependent on the sunrise and sunset times for
your particular location, you must calculate it for each day
using the Sun rise.
Tithi (lunar day):
Tithi is defined as the time taken by the moon to gain 12
degrees on the sun. The moon takes about 30 days (one lunar
month) to go around the earth's ecliptic. In each tithi, the
moon travels 12 degrees ahead of the sun (i.e. if the sun and the
moon are present in a specific position relating to the earth,
after one tithi, the moon would be ahead of the sun by 12
degrees) hence completing 360 (12 degrees x 30 days) degrees in a
terrestrial month. In one month, there are 28 tithis, one
poornima or full moon and one amavasya or new moon. The first
tithi begins after the amavasya. There are 14 tithis in the
shukla paksha (light half) and 14 in the Krishna paksha (dark
half) of a month (see also Hindu Calendar). The names of the 14
tithis are Prathma (first), Dvitiya (second), Tritiya (third),
Chaturthi (fourth), Panchami (fifth), Shashti (sixth), Saptami
(seventh), Ashtami (eight), Navami (ninth), Dashmi (tenth),
Ekadashi (eleventh), Dvadashi (twelfth), Triodashi (thirteenth),
and Chaturdashi (fourteenth). Because the movement of the moon is
irregular, a tithi ranges from 54 to 65 ghatikas. Hence when a
tithi begins at sunrise and stretches to 60 ghatikas, it is equal
to a solar day. But at times there are two or sometimes three
tithis in one day and conversely one tithi might extend to three
days. The former case is considered to be auspicious while the
latter is not good for occasions like marriages or marching on an
Each tithi has its own spiritual specialities. Here is a
sampling: Amavasya Ideal for pithru worship
Chathurthi Ideal for Ganapathi worship
Panchami Ideal for worshipping the Universal Mother
Sashti Ideal for Muruga worship
Ashtami Ideal for Krishna worship
Navami Ideal for Rama worship
Ekaadasi Ideal for Narayana worship
Dvaadasi Ideal for Narayana worship
Thrayodasi Ideal for Siva worship
Chathurdasi Ideal for Siva and Ganapathi worship
Pournami Best tithi for all worship activities, particularly
Arunachala and Sathguru.
As we saw above, a lunation is divided into 30 tithis. A
lunation is also divided into two phases. The phase between
Amavasya and Pournami is called Sukla Paksham. The phase between
Pournami and Amavasya is called Krishna Paksham.
Each paksham has its own spiritual speciality. The Vedhas say
that activities that you want to grow should be started in the
Sukla Paksham, e.g., starting a business. Likewise activities
which you do not want to grow should be conducted in the Krishna
Paksham e.g., surgery.
A karna is half the tithi ,or 360 minutes (6 degrees) of arc.
In thirty tithis comprising a lunar month,there are sixty
half-tithis or karnas.There are four karnas that occur only once
in a lunar month. They are the fixed karnas and called as :
1. Shakuni : assigned to the latter half of the 14th day of
the krishna paksha.
2. Chatuspada : assigned to the first half of the amavasya
(15th day of the krisna paksha).
3. Naga : assigned to the latter half of the amavasya.
4. Kimstughna : assigned to the first half of the first day of
the shukla paksha.
The remaining 7 karna recur eight times during rest of the
lunar month.Their names are :
1. Bava, 2. Balava, 3. Kanlava, 4. Taitila, 5. Gara, 6.
Vanija, 7. Vishti.
These karnas recur in regular order starting from the second
half of the first day of the shukla paksha until the first half
of the 14th day of the krishna paksha. Karnas too find their use
in rituals and electional astrology.The Kinstughna, Vishti,
Shakuna, Chatushpada, and Naga Karanas to be avoided.
There are twenty seven yogas. Each yoga measures 13.20 degrees
of arc (360/27=13.20).A yoga indicates a sum of the longitudes of
the moon and the sun in multiples of 13.20 deg. Although this
measure of a yoga is the same as that of a nakshatra , there is
no link between the two. Add the niryana longitudes of the sun
and the moon and divide by the first one (vishkumbha) onwards.
The 27 yogas are listed below :
1.Vishkumbha,2. Preeti,3. Ayushman,4. Saubhagya,5. Shobhana,6.
Atiganda,7. Sukarma,8. Dhriti,9. Shool,10. Ganda,11. Vriddhi,12.
Dhruva,13. Vyaghata,14. Harshana,15. Vajra,16. Siddhi,17.
Vyatipata,18. Variyana,19. Parigha,20. Shiva,21.Siddha,22.
Sadhya,23. Shubha,24. Shukla,25. Brahma,26. Indra,27. Vaidhriti.
Of the 27 Yogas Vyatipata, Vaidhruti and Parigha Yogas to be
avoided for new ventures or muhurthas.
There are 27 nakshatras in the zodiac, each of length 360/27
degrees. What is commonly referred to as nakshatra, is usually
the nakshatra in which the moon is found.
The nakshatra can be determined by the following formula.
nakshatra (lmoon / (360.0/27.0)) + 1 [rounded DOWN to the nearest
The moon revolves around the earth in roughly 27 days. During
this period, the moon traces a path around the sky. The ancients
split this path of the moon into 27 units and gave each unit the
name of a star, star group or constellation. These 27 units are
known as nakshatrams. They are also referred to as brides of
The 27 nakshatrams are as follows:
1 Asvini, 2 Barani or Apa Barani , 3 Krithigai or Krittika , 4
Rohini , 5 Mrigaseersham or Mrigasira , 6 Thiruvaadhirai or
Aarudra , 7 Punarpoosam or Punarvasu , 8 Poosam or Pushya , 9
Aayilyam or Aslesha , 10 Magam or Magha , 11 Pooram or Poorva
Palguni , 12 Uttaram or Uttara Palguni , 13 Hastham or Hastha ,
14 Chithirai or Chitra , 15 Svaathi , 16 Visaakam or Visaka , 17
Anusham or Anuradha , 18 Kettai or Jyesta , 19 Moolam or Moola ,
20 Pooraadam or Poorvashada , 21 Uttaraadam or Uttarashada , 22
Thiruvonam or Sravana , 23 Avittam or Sravishta or Dhanista , 24
Sadhayam or Sathabishak , 25 Poorataadhi or Poorva Broshtapadha ,
25 Uttarataadhi or Uttara Broshtapadha , 27 Revathi. Of the 27
constellations generally Bharani, Aslesha, Jyestha, to be avoided
for new ventures or muhurthas.
Maasam, Ruthu, Ayanam, Varusham
A varusham is a solar year. A varusham starts roughly in the
middle of April each year. The varushams repeat in a 60 year
cycle. A varusham is made up of two ayanams. That half when the sun
is on a northward path (generally from the middle of January to
the middle of July) is called Uttara Ayanam or Uttaraayanam
(uttara = north). The other half when the sun is on a southward
path (generally from the middle of July to the middle of January)
is called Dakshina Ayanam or Dakshinaayanam (dakshina = south). A
maasam is a solar month. There are 12 maasams in a varusham. A
ruthu is two solar months. There are six ruthus in a
1. The Kali era: According to one theory, time is divided into
yugas, and each Yuga is further divided into four parts. The
present time is believed to be Kali Yuga, the fourth part. It is
believed to have begun with the death of Krishna, which
corresponds to midnight between February 17 and 18, 3012 BC.
Accordingly, this is the sixth millennium of the Kali era, in
which the year 1900 corresponds with 5002. This reference of time
is still used in religion and literature.
2. The Vikram era: This is believed to have begun on the day
of the coronation of King Vikramaditya. The year 1900 AD
corresponds to 1958 of the Vikram era, which is popular in
northern India and Gujarat.
3. The Saka era: This era is believed to have begun with King
Salivahana's accession to the throne. According to the Saka
era, the year 1900 AD would be 1823. Popular in southern India,
this reference in almost all-astronomical works in Sanskrit
written after 500 AD. The Government calendar also follows the