Episode # 59 – Concept of “Time-Zones” interestingly explained in Shrimad Bhaagawatha Puraana!!!

Little Krishna


In the previous episode, we had witnessed a very important discussion on how time is classified into innumerable sub-divisions in our Sanaathana Dharma literature. This important aspect is brought to light in the Shrimad Bhaagawatha Puraana by Sage Sukhaachaarya, in reply to King Parikshit’s question on how the world was created and how is it being maintained. Sage Sukhaachaarya brings about this context when he invokes the story of how Hiranyaaksha was taken to task for all the atrocities by Bhagawan Vishnu in the form of Bhagawan Varaaha. Once Hiranyaaksha was destroyed, Svaayambhuya Manu was eased onto the job of creating the world in a hassle-free manner. Subsequently moving further with his reply, Sage Sukhaachaarya talks about how the world started to conceptualize “time” and how time was being measured in those beginning days, until few hundreds of years ago before the western civilization “copied” and “replicated” our measurements for reasons unknown!

Eventually in the previous episode, we had witnessed the various sub-divisions of time until the divisions of “Muhurtam” and “Naazhigai”. We’ve witnessed that 30 “Muhurtams” or 60 “Naazhigais” constitute a day, which we calculate today as a 24-hour-period. There are few other calculations associated with time, which we’ve to continue in today’s episode. When we have a look at the world map, we would be able to see some lines that are drawn horizontally and vertically. The horizontally drawn lines are known as latitudes and the vertically drawn lines are known as longitudes. Many of us might be familiar with this. Normally, the vertically drawn lines, which are the latitudes are used to determine the various “time zones” of the earth. For instance, the time that India follows is determined by the longitude of notation 83.5 degrees, which passes through (almost) the center of the country. There is a central longitude which is taken as the “zero” point, otherwise referred to as the “Greenwich Meridian” that passes through the center of United Kingdom. This is taken as a reference point to calculate time differences between various time zones. For instance, when we’ve to compare the time between France and India, we say that France’s time is 1 hour ahead of Greenwich time and India’s time is 5.5 hours ahead of Greenwich time. Similarly, New York in the United States would be seven hours behind Greenwich time, since the country lies to the left of the Greenwich Meridian. India and the other eastern countries lie to the right of the Greenwich meridian, and hence we are “ahead” of the Greenwich time. Thus we can see here that as we go eastwards from the Greenwich Meridian, the time keeps increasing, and as we go westwards from the Greenwich Meridian, the time keeps decreasing or lagging behind.

This similar calculation of time is mentioned in Shrimad Bhaagawatha Puraana as well! How? This calculation is done in our ancient scriptures with the revolution of the Sun. The sun has to revolve 360 degrees to complete one full round, isn’t it? Within how many “Naazhigais” will the sun complete one round? It should take 30 Muhurtams or 60 Naazhigais, which translates into 24 hours. Thus, it takes a day for the sun to revolve around to complete one round. If we do a calculation based on this, every degree of longitude will have a time difference of four minutes. If we move in the east-west direction, from one longitudinal line to the other, the time changes by four minutes. For instance, if we’ve to go to Malaysia or Singapore from India, we have a time difference of 2.5 hours. This translates into 150 minutes of time difference, isn’t it? If we divide this 150 by 4, we would get the exact number of longitudinal lines that we’ve crossed from India to reach Malaysia. This is exactly what Shrimad Bhaagawata Puraana and modern day science come at tandem with each other.

Thus, we can see that this calculation of time had existed way before the modern-day science even came into being. So for today, let us understand this calculation, and we shall wait till the next episode to take this discussion forward. 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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