Episode # 58 – Sanaathana Dharma measures “TIME” – An interesting accord!!!

Little Krishna

In the previous episode, we had witnessed an important discussion with respect to “time” and how time transcends this world, thereby creating innumerable changes on a continued basis. We commenced witnessing the description given by Sage Sukhaachaarya on the aspect of time. It might be good for us at the moment to recollect the slokas that we had seen yesterday and for which we had commenced discussion:

“Nimeshasthilavognyeya aamnaataste trayakshanaha!

Kshanaam panca vidhuh kaashtaam laghuthaa dasha pancha cha!!

Laghu ni vai samaamnaathaa dasha pancha cha naadi kaa!

Te dve muhurthah praharaha kshadyaamaha saptha vaanrunaam!!”

Of course, we had witnessed the basic divisions of time that we follow in the today’s context, but this classification of time had existed even during those ages of Ramayana and Mahabharata. Having said thus, this ancient classification had different names and different ways in which the classification was done. Today of course, we have it in terms of milli-seconds, micro-seconds, seconds, minutes, hours, days, months, years, etc. But this was not the way it was followed previously. I shall now explain in detail, the classification that existed during those days.

The fundamental unit of measurement of time in the ancient system was called as “Anu”. Just like how we have “Seconds”, the ancient system had something called as “Anu”. However it should be noted that this “Anu” is not the same as the “seconds” that we measure today. This “Anu” is much smaller than the modern day measurement of “Seconds”. This “Anu” has a further sub-classification thus: Two “Parama-Anu’s” put together constitute one “Anu”. Three such “Anu’s” clubbed together constitute one “Tisra-Anu”. Three “Tisra-Anu’s” combine to form one “Thruti”. Hundred such “Thruti’s” combine together to form one “Vedam”. Three “Vedas” together constitute one “Lavam”. Three “Lavam’s” together constitute one “Nimisha”. It is to be noted that in today’s measurement too, we have the term called “Nimisha”, which is the translation of the term “Minute”. This means, in today’s measurement, one “Nimisha” comprises of 60 seconds. This is not the “Nimisha” that the ancient Sanaathana Dharma texts talk about. Readers should not get confused here. The present-day “Nimisha” calculation is 60 seconds. Whereas the ancient-day calculation of “Nimisha” is the time taken for a wink of an eye. In other words, the time that we take to wink our eyes, which happens as an involuntary action in our body system is called “Nimisha”. Ideally this “Nimisha” is even smaller than the today’s “Second”, because, how much of time do we take for one wink? It’s even less than a “Micro-second”. Thus we can see here that even for such a small time-period, there are innumerable calculations that exists before we arrive at this small “Nimisha”. Till now whatever we’ve witnessed, are the measurements that are sub-classifications of this “Nimisha”, which is even less than a micro-second in today’s measurement. It might be amazing to witness how our Sanaathana Dharma has given importance to even the smallest of the smallest time measurement.

Thus continuing further, four “Nimisha’s” put together constitutes a “Kshana”. Five “Kshana’s” combine together to form one “Kaashtai”. Fifteen “Kaashtai’s” together constitute a “Laghu”. Fifteen such “Laghu’s” combine to constitute one “Naazhigai”. This term called “Naazhigai” must be familiar with many of our readers. Normally when we look into the “Panchaanga”, we would find that one “day” constitutes 60 “Naazhigai’s”. Also, one “day” constitutes 30 “Muhurtham’s”. Thus we can see here that 2 “Naazhigai’s” combine together to form one “Muhurtham”. So, for a 24-hour-day, we have 2.5 “Naazhigai’s” for each hour, which would constitute to 60 “Naazhigai’s” per day. We use these terms of “Naazhigai’s” and “Muhurtham” when we perform some auspicious spiritual functions at home, or even during rituals such as marriages, “Upanayanams”, etc. Here, we check which “Naazhigai’s” are auspicious for the conduct of these important events and thus we decide the “Muhurtam” time.

All these statistics are taken from the reference point of the time of sunrise. Of course, as we might be knowing, the time of sunrise keeps varying from day to day and from month to month. For instance, during the summer months of May, June, etc. the sun rises early (equinox) and by the winter months of November, December, etc. the sun rises very late. It is so amazing to witness that all these sunrise and sunset timings of different times of the year are accurately calculated even thousands and thousands of years ago! This shows the scientific advancement that our ancient Bharata Desha has had! All that we talk about today – Measurements of equinox, etc. were all discovered few hundred years ago! These are ideally not “discoveries” at all, but are just “copied versions” from our “Sanaathana Dharma” text, under different names and terminologies.

Thus with this explanation, we’ve now understood the calculation of time until a day, which constitutes 24 hours, or 30 Muhurtams or 60 Naazhigais. There is yet another interesting calculation that we need to discuss, which is quite allied to this, but a bit different. What is that calculation? Let’s wait till the next episode to find out! 😊 Stay tuned! 😊





Published by Dr. Jeayaram

Holds a PhD in Management Psychology from Universite Paris Saclay, Paris, France. Also an Asst. Professor of Human Resources management at Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham in Kerala, India. A professional South Indian classical musician (singer) performing concerts. Through this blog, I'm trying to bring out the richness of Indian culture & values and I request your support and feedbacks in making this humble effort a success!!

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