Episode # 85 – Paths of the sun – Why do we have differences in sunrise & sunset timings during the year?

In the previous episode, we had witnessed how time calculations were performed during the period of our ancient Maharishis and how accurately they’ve documented these details for our reference today. In those lines, we had witnessed Sage Paraashara’s accord as to how time zones are calculated across different countries and different Dveepas. This is what we refer to in today’s terminologies called the “Longitudes”. We’ve seen in the previous episode that the time zones are based out these longitudinal patterns across the world and every degree of longitude represents around four minutes of time difference from one degree to the other. This is why we have differences in time in various countries around the world and we’ve witnessed details of these. 

Thus, Sage Paraashara reiterates the important point that it takes 48 minutes to traverse twelve degrees in longitude and this time period is called one “Muhurtha”. This is where we get the arithmetic that one degree of longitude comprises four minutes of time. As this point is being highlighted, Sage Paraashara now talks about the “Uttharaayana” and “Dakshinaayana”. We’ve already witnessed the definitions of these two terminologies in yesterday’s episode, that is, when the sun moves towards the northern side (or forward movement), we refer this as the “Uttharaayana” and when the sun moves towards the southern side (Or backward movement), we refer this as the “Dakshinaayana”. In other words, the calculation is that, if Bhagawan Soorya enters into the “Makhara Raashi”, it means that he’s traversing through the “Uttharaayana” phase. This normally begins somewhere close to the middle of January every year. This day is normally celebrated as the “Makara Shankaraanthi” all over the country even today. Similarly, when the sun enters into the “Kataka Raashi”, it means that the movement is going to backwards or southwards from now on. This period is called “Dakshinaayana” and this normally starts around the month of July. 

Now, having understood this much, we shall see the exact paths through which the sun traverses. We’ve seen that the sun moves in two directions – North and south. Sage Paraashara expands this concept a bit more and explains the paths that Soorya Bhagawan takes. He says that there are three types of paths – The northern one, the middle one and the southern one. Here comes another complication – We’ve to now split these three paths into three sub-paths for each of them. Thus, we would have 9 paths in total – Three paths in the northern section, three in the middle and three in the south. The three paths in the northern direction are referred to as the “Naaga Veethi”. The paths that diverge into the southern direction are collectively referred to as the “Aja Veethi”. Below this “Aja Veethi” is something called “Yaamya Maarga” or the “Dhoomaathi Maarga”. The reason why I’m stressing on this is that, this is the path that we’ve to take to reach the “Yama-Patna”, or the place where Yama-Dharma-Raja resides! The path that diverges out of the “Naaga Veethi”, is the path called “Archiraadhi Maarga”. This is the path through which we’ve to attain “Moksha”. 

Thus we’ve to understand these nine different paths here, and for these paths, we’ve to understand the various “Nakshatras” (Stars) that are associated with each of them. Thus, for the nine paths of Bhagawan Soorya, we have 27 Nakshatras in total, which surmounts to about three Nakshatras per path. I shall give an illustration here – The first “Aja Veethi” or the northern path has three sub-paths isn’t it? So for the first path in the “Aja Veethi” are the associated Nakshatras of “Ashwini”, “Bharani” and “Kaarthika”. Thus, for every path, we associate them with three “Nakshatras” each, which makes it up to 27 different Nakshatras. Readers who might know Astrology might be able to understand this very clearly. 

Now coming to the next important point here – Sage Paraashara is now talking about the duration of the day and night. It would be amazing for us to note here that the duration of the day and night are almost equal during the “Chaitra” month (Mid-January to mid-february). In other words, the day and night would be around 12 hours each, in a 24-hour-day schedule. This same pattern can be observed in the month of “Aipasi” (Mid-November to mid-December). However, during the other months, there would be gross differences. For instance, during the “Uttharaayana” time, the time duration of the day would be more than that of the night. In similar lines, during the “Dakshinaayana” time, the time duration of the night would be more than that of the day. We can see this very clearly – As the Uttharaayana starts, the day time would start getting more, and there is this point, roughly around 21’st of June every year (Considered to be the longest day of the year) till which the day time is longer. After that, the day time would start reducing slowly until December-January. 

So for today, let us understand these important points and let’s wait for the next episode to continue this discussion further! 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 Bharatidhasan Institute of Management (BIM) Trichy, 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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