The former five-year cycle comprehends sixty solar-sidereal months or 1800 days, sixty-one solar months (or 1830 days); sixty-two lunar months (or 1860 lunations), and sixty-seven lunar-asterismal months (or 1809 such days).
In his Kâla-Sankalita, Col. Warren very properly regards these years as cycles; this they are, for each year has its own special importance as having some bearing upon, and connection with, specified events in individual horoscopes. He writes that in the cycle of sixty there
Are contained five cycles of twelve years, each supposed equal to one year of the planet (Brihaspati, or Jupiter) . . . I mention this cycle because I found it mentioned in some books, but I know of no nation or tribe that reckons time after that account.*
The ignorance is very natural, since Col. Warren could know nothing of the secret cycles and their meanings. He adds:
The names of the five cycles or Yugas are: . . . (1) Samvatsara, (2) Parivatsara, (3) Idvatsara, (4) Anuvatsara, (5) Udravatsara.
The learned Colonel might, however, have assured himself that there were “other nations” which had the same secret cycle, if he had but remembered that the Romans also had their lustrum of five years (from the Hindus undeniably) which represented the same period if multiplied by 12.† Near Benares there are still the relics of all these cycle-records, and of astronomical instruments cut out of solid rock, the everlasting records of Archaic Initiation, called by Sir W. Jones (as suggested by the prudent Brâhmans who surrounded him) old “back records” or reckonings. But in Stonehenge they exist to this day. Godfrey Higgins says that Waltire found the barrows of tumuli surrounding this giant-temple represented accurately
* Op. cit., p. 212. [See also Col. Warren’s Collection of Memoirs on the Various Modes According to which the nations of the Southern Parts of India Divide Time, printed at the College Press, Madras, 1825.]
† At any rate, the temple secret meaning was the same.
the situation and magnitude of the fixed stars, forming a complete orrery or planisphere.* As Colebrooke found out, it is the cycle of the Vedas, recorded in the Jyotisha, one of the Vedângas, a treatise on Astronomy, which is the basis of calculation for all other cycles, larger or smaller;† and the Vedas were written in characters, archaic though they be, long after those natural observations, made by the aid of their gigantic mathematical and astronomical instruments, had been recorded by the men of the Third Race, who had received their instruction from the Dhyâni-Chohans. Thomas Maurice speaks truly when he observes that all such
Circular stone monuments were intended as durable symbols of astronomical cycles by a race who, not having, or [for political reasons] forbidding the use of letters, had no other permanent method of instructing their disciples, or handing down their knowledge to posterity. ‡
He errs only in the last idea. It was to conceal their knowledge from profane posterity, leaving it as an heirloom only to the Initiates, that such monuments, at once rock observatories and astronomical treatises, were cut out.
It is no news that as the Hindus divided the earth into seven zones, so the more western peoples—Chaldaeans, Phoenicians, and even the Jews, who got their learning either directly or indirectly from the Brâhmans—made all their secret and sacred numerations by 6 and 12, though using the number 7 whenever this would not lend itself to handling. Thus the numerical base of 6, the exoteric figure given by Âryabha˜˜a, was made good use of. From the first secret cycle of 600—the Naros, transformed successively into 60,000 and 60 and 6, and, with other noughts added into other secret cycles—down to the smallest, an Archaeologist and Mathematician can easily find
* [The Celtic Druids . . ., London, Ridgway & Sons, 1829, p. xviii; offset by the Philosophical Research Society, Los Angeles, Calif., 1977.]
† “On the Sacred Writings of the Hindus,” by H.T. Colebrooke, in Asiatic Researches, Vol. viii, p. 489 et seq.
‡ [See Vol. VI, pt. I, p. 146 of Indian Antiquities . . ., London, W. Richardson, 1796.]
it repeated in every country, known to every nation. Hence the globe was divided into 60 degrees, which, multiplied by 60, became 3,600, the “great year.” Hence also the hour with its 60 minutes of 60 seconds each. The Asiatic people count a cycle of 60 years also, after which comes the lucky seventh decad, and the Chinese have their small cycle of 60 days, the Jews of 6 days, the Greeks of 6 centuries—the Naros again.
The Babylonians had a great year of 3,600, being the Naros multiplied by 6. The Tatar cycle called Van was 180 years, or three sixties; this multiplied by 12 times 12 =144, makes 25,920 years, the exact period of revolution of the heavens.
India is the birthplace of arithmetic and mathematics; as “Our Figures,” in Chips from a German Workshop, Vol. II by Prof. Max Müller, shows beyond a doubt. As well explained by Krishna Sastri Godbole in The Theosophist:
The Jews . . . represented the units (1-9) by the first nine letters of their alphabet; the tens (10-90) by the next nine letters; the first four hundreds (100-400) by the last four letters, and the remaining ones (500-900) by the second forms of the letters kâf (llth), mîm (13th), nûn (13th), pe (17th), and sâd (18th); and they represented other numbers by combining these letters according to their value. . . . The Jews of the present period still adhere to this practice of notation in their Hebrew books. The Greeks had a numerical system similar to that used by the Jews, but they carried it a little further by using letters of the alphabet with a dash or slant-line behind, to represent thousands (1000-9000), tens of thousands (10,000-90,000) and one hundred of thousands (100,000); the last, for instance, being represented by rho with a dash behind, while rho singly represented 100. The Romans represented all numerical values by the combination (additive when the second letter is of equal or less value) of six letters of their alphabet: i(=l), v(=5), x(=10), c (for “centum”= 100), d(=500), and m(=1000): thus 20=xx, 15=xv, and 9=ix. These are called the Roman numerals, and are adopted by all European nations when using the Roman alphabet. The Arabs at first followed their neighbours, the Jews, in their method of computation, so much so that they called it Abjâd from the first four Hebrew letters—âlif, beth, gimel—or rather jimel, that is jîm. (Arabic being wanting in “g”, and dâleth, representing the first four units. But when in the early part of the Christian era, they came to India as traders, they found the country already using for computation the decimal scale of notation, which they forthwith borrowed literally; viz., without altering its method of writing from left to right, at variance with their own mode of writing, which is from right to left. They introduced this system into Europe through Spain and other European countries lying along the coast of the Mediterranean and under their sway, during the dark ages of
European history. It thus becomes evident that the Âryas knew well Mathematics or the science of computation at a time when all other nations knew but little, if anything, of it. It has also been admitted that the knowledge of Arithmetic and Algebra was first obtained from the Hindus by the Arabs, and then taught by them to the Western nations. This fact convincingly proves that the Âryan civilisation is older than that of any other nation in the world; and as the Vedas are avowedly proved the oldest work of that civilisation, a presumption is raised in favour of their great antiquity. . . .*
But while the Jewish nation, for instance—regarded so long as the first and oldest in the order of creation—knew nothing of arithmetic and remained utterly ignorant of the decimal scale of notation—the latter existed for ages in India before the actual era.
To become certain of the immense antiquity of the Âryan Asiatic nations and of their astronomical records one has to study more than the Vedas. The secret meaning of the latter will never be understood by the present generation of Orientalists; and the astronomical works which give openly the real dates and prove the antiquity of both the nation and its science, elude the grasp of the collectors of ollas and old manuscripts in India, the reason being too obvious to need explanation. Yet there are Astronomers and Mathematicians to this day in India, humble âstris and Pandits, unknown and lost in the midst of that population of phenomenal memories and metaphysical brains, who have undertaken the task and have proved to the satisfaction of many that the Vedas are the oldest works in the world. One of such is the S âstri just quoted, who published in The Theosophist† an able treatise proving astronomically and mathematically that:
If . . . the Post-Vaidika works alone, the Upanishads, the Brâhmanas, etc., etc., down to the Purânas, when examined critically carry us back to 20,000 B.C., then the time of the composition of the Vedas themselves cannot be less than 30,000 B. C. in round numbers, a date which we may take at present as the age of that Book of Books.†
* “Antiquity of the Vedas,” The Theosophist, Vol. II, August, 1881, p. 239.
† Vol. II, August & September, 1881; Vol. III, October, November, December, 1881; February, 1882.
‡ The Theosophist, Vol. III, February, 1882, p. 127.
And what are his proofs?
Cycles and the evidence yielded by the asterisms. Here are a few extracts from his rather lengthy treatise, selected to give an idea of his demonstrations and bearing directly on the quinquennial cycle spoken of just now. Those who feel interested in the demonstrations and are advanced mathematicians can turn to the article itself, “Antiquity of the Vedas,” and judge for themselves.
10. Somâkara in his commentary on the Śesha Jyotisha quotes a passage from the Śatapatha-Brâhmana which contains an observation on the change of the tropics, and which is also found in the Sâkhâyana Brâhmana, as has been noticed by Prof. Max Müller in his preface to Rigveda Samhitâ (p. xx, foot-note, Vol. IV). The passage is this: . . . “The full-moon night in Phalguni is the first night of Samvatsara, the first year of the quinquennial age.” This passage clearly shows that the quinquennial age which, according to the sixth verse of the Jyotisha, begins on the 1st of Mâgha (January-February), once began on the 15th of Phâlgunî (February-March). Now when the 15th of Phâlgunî of the first year called Samvatsara of the quinquennial age begins, the moon, according to the Jyotisha, is in
position of the four principal points on the ecliptic was then as follows:
The winter solstice in 3o 22’ of Pûrva Bhâdrapâdâ.
The vernal equinox in the beginning of Mrigaśîrsha.
The summer solstice in 10o of Pûrva Phâlgunî.
The autumnal equinox in the middle of Jyesh˜ha.
The vernal equinoctial point, we have seen, concided with the beginning of Krittikâ in 1421 B.C.; and from the beginning of Krittikâ to that of Mrigaśîrsha, was, in consequence, 1421 + 26-2/3 x 72 = 1421 + 1920 = 3341 B.C., supposing the rate of precession to
be 50” a year. When we take the rate to be 3o 20’ in 247 years, the time comes up to 1516 + 1960.7 = 3476.7 B.C.
When the winter solstice by its retrograde motion coincided after that with the beginning of Prva Bhâdrapâdâ, then the commencement of the quinquennial age was changed from the 15th to the 1st of Phâlgunî (February-March). This change took place 240 years after the date of the above observation, that is, in 3101 B.C. This date is most important, as from it an era was reckoned in after times. The commencement of the Kali or Kali-Yuga (derived from Kal, to reckon), though said by European scholars to be an imaginary date, becomes thus an astronomical fact.
INTERCHANGE OF KRITTIKA AND ASVINŸ*
11. We thus see that the asterisms, twenty-seven in number, were counted from the Mrigaśirsha when the vernal equinox was in its beginning, and that the practice of thus counting was adhered to till the vernal equinox retrograded to the beginning of Krittika, when it became the first of the asterisms. For then the winter solstice had changed, receding from Phâlgunî (February-March) to Mâgha (January-February), one complete lunar month. And, in like manner, the place of Krittikâ was occupied by Aúvinî, that is, the latter became the first of the asterisms, heading all others, when its beginning coincided with the vernal equinoctial point, or, in other words, when the winter solstice was in Pansha (December-January). Now from the beginning of Krittikâ to that Aśvinî there are two asterisms, or 26 2/3o, and the time the equinox takes to retrograde this distance at the rate of 1o in 72 years is 1920 years;
* The impartial study of Vaidic and Post-Vaidic works shows that the ancient Âryans knew well the precession of the equinoxes, and “that they changed their position from a certain asterism to two (occasionally three) asterisms back, whenever the precession amounted to two, properly speaking, to 2 11/61 asterisms or about 29o, being the motion of the sun in a lunar month, and so caused the seasons to fall back a complete lunar month. . . . It appears certain that at the date of Sûrya Siddhânta, Brahmâ Siddhânta, and other ancient treatises on Astronomy, the vernal equinoctial point had not actually reached the beginning of Aúvinî, but was a few degrees east of it. . . . The astronomers of Europe change westward the beginning of Aries and of all other signs of the Zodiac every year by about 50.25", and thus make the names of the signs meaningless. But these signs are as much fixed as the asterisms themselves, and hence the Western astronomers of the present day appear to us in this respect less wary and scientific in their observations than their very ancient brethren—the Âryas.”—The Theosophist, Vol. III, Oct. 1881, p. 23.
and hence the date at which vernal equinox coincided with the commencement of Aúvinî or with the end of Revatî is 1920—1421 = 499 A.D.
12. The next and equally important observation we have to record here, is one discussed by Mr. John Bentley in his researches into the Indian antiquities. “The first lunar asterism,” he says, “in the division of twenty-eight was called Mûla, that is to say, the root or origin. In the division of twenty-seven the first lunar asterism was called Jyeshtha, that is to say, the eldest or first, and consequently of the same import as the former” (vide his Historical View of the Hindu Astronomy . . . p. 5).* From this it becomes manifest that the vernal equinox was once in the beginning of Mûla, and Mûla was reckoned the first of the asterisms when they were twenty-eight in number, including Abhijit. Now there are fourteen asterisms or 180o from the beginning of Mrigaúîrsha to that of Mûla, and hence the date at which the vernal equinox coincided with the beginning of Mûla was at least 3341 + 180 X 72 = 16,301 B.C. The position of the four principal points on the ecliptic was then as given below:
The winter solstice in the beginning of Uttarâ-Phâlgunî in the month of Sravana.
The vernal equinox in the beginning of Mûla in Kârttika. The summer solstice in the beginning of Pûrva-Bhâdrapâdâ in Mâgha. The autumnal equinox in the beginning of Mrigaúîrsha in Vaishâkha.
A PROOF FROM THE BHAGAVAD-GÎTÂ
13. The Bhagavad-Gîtâ, as well as the Bhâgavata, makes mention of an observation which points to a still more remote antiquity than the one discovered by Mr. Bentley. The passages are given in order below:
“I am the Mârgaúîrsha [viz. the first] among the months and the spring [viz. the first] among the seasons.”
This shows that at one time the first month of spring was Mârgaśîrsha. A season includes two months, and the mention of a month suggests the season. “I am the Samvatsara among the years [which are five in number], and the spring among the seasons, and the Mârgaúîrsha among the months, and the Abhijit among the asterisms [which are twenty-eight in number].” This clearly points out that at one time in the first year called Samvatsara, of the quinquennial age, the Madhu, that is, the first month of
* [In current reprint of the 1825 ed. by Biblio-Verlag, Osnabrück, 1970.]
spring, was Mârgaúîrsha, and Abhijit was the first of the asterisms. It then coincided with the vernal equinoctial point, and hence from it the asterisms were counted. To find the date of this observation: There are three asterisms from the beginning of Mûla to the beginning of Abhijit, and hence the date in question is at least 16,301 + 3/7 X 90 X 72 = 19,078 or about 20,000 B.C. The Samvatsara at this time began in Bhâdrapâdâ the winter solstitial month.*
So far then 20,000 years are mathematically proven for the antiquity of the Vedas. And this is simply exoteric. Any mathematician, provided he be not blinded by preconception and prejudice, can see this, and an unknown but very clever amateur Astronomer, S. A. Mackey, has proved it some sixty years back.
His theory about the Hindu Yugas and their length is curious—as being so very near the correct doctrine.
It is said in volume ii. p. 103, of Asiatic Researches† that: “The great ancestor of Yudhishthira reigned 27,000 years . . . at the close of the brazen age.” In volume ix. p. 364, [and 86] we read:
“[In] the commencement of the Kali Yuga, in the reign of Yudhishthira.” And Yudhishthira . . . “began his reign immediately after the flood called Pralaya.”
Here we find three different statements concerning Yudhishthira . . . to explain these seeming differences we must have recourse to their books of science, where we find the heavens and the earth divided into five parts of unequal dimensions, by circles parallel to the equator. Attention to these divisions will be found to be of the utmost importance . . . as it will be found that from them arose the division of their Mahâ-Yuga into its four component parts. Every astronomer knows that there is a point in the heavens called the pole, round which the whole seems to turn in twenty-four hours; and that at ninety degrees from it they imagine a circle called the equator, which divides the heavens and the earth into two equal parts, the north and the south. Between this circle and the pole there is another imaginary circle called the circle of perpetual apparition: between which and the equator there is a point in the heavens called the zenith, through which let another imaginary circle pass, parallel to the other two; and then there wants but the circle of perpetual occultation to complete the round. . . . No astronomer of Europe besides myself has ever applied them to the development of the Hindu mysterious numbers. We are told in the Asiatic Researches that Yudhishthira brought Vicramâditya to reign in Cassimer, which is in the latitude of 36 degrees.
* The Theosophist, Vol. III, October, 1881, pp. 22-23.
† [Originally published 1788-1839, the entire series has been reprinted by Cosmo Pubs., New Delhi, 1979.]
And in that latitude the circle of perpetual apparition would extend up to 72 degrees altitude, and from that to the zenith there are but 18 degrees, but from the zenith to the equator in that latitude there are 36 degrees, and from the equator to the circle of perpetual occultation there are 54 degrees. Here we find the semi-circle of 180 degrees divided into four parts, in the proportion of l, 2, 3, 4, i.e., 18, 36, 54, 72. Whether the Hindu astronomers were acquainted with the motion of the earth or not is of no consequence, since the appearances are the same; and if it will give those gentlemen of tender consciences any pleasure I am willing to admit that they imagined the heavens rolled round the earth, but they had observed the stars in the path of the sun to move forward through the equinoctial points, at the rate of fifty-four seconds of a degree in a year, which carried the whole zodiac round in 24,000 years; in which time they also observed that the angle of obliquity varied, so as to extend or contract the width of the tropics 4 degrees on each side, which rate of motion would carry the tropics from the equator to the poles in 540,000 years; in which time the Zodiac would have made twenty-two and a half revolutions, which are expressed by the parallel circles from the equator to the poles . . or what amounts to the same thing, the north pole of the ecliptic would have moved from the north pole of the earth to the equator. . . . Thus the poles become inverted in 1,080,000 years, which is their Mahâ-Yuga, and which they had divided into four unequal parts, in the proportions of l, 2, 3, 4, for the reasons mentioned above; which are 108,000, 216,000, 324,000, and 432,000. Here we have the most positive proofs that the above numbers originated in ancient astronomical observations and consequently are not deserving of those epithets which have been bestowed upon them by the Essayist, echoing the voice of Bentley, Wilford, Dupuis, etc.
I have now to show that the reign of Yudhishthira for 27,000 years is neither absurd nor disgusting, but perhaps the Essayist is not aware that there were several Yudhishthiras or Judhisters. In volume ii., p.103, Asiatic Researches: “The great ancestor of Yudhishthira reigned 27,000 years. . . . at the end of the brazen or third age.” Here I must again beg your attention to this projection. This is a plane of that machine which the second gentleman thought so very clumsy; it is that of a prolong spheroid, called by the ancients an atroscope. Let the longest axis represent the poles of the earth, making an angle of 28 degrees with the horizon; then will the seven divisions above the horizon to the North Pole, the temple of Buddha, and the seven from the North Pole to the circle of perpetual apparition represent the fourteen Manvantaras, or very long periods of time, each of which, according to the third volume of Asiatic Researches, p. 262g., was the reign of a Menu. But Capt. Wilford, in volume v. p. 244, gives us the following information: “The Egyptians had fourteen dynasties, and the Hindus had fourteen dynasties, . . . the rulers of [which] are called Menus.” . . . [Manus?]
Who can here mistake the fourteen very long periods of time for those which constituted the Kali Yuga of Delhi, or any other place in the latitude of 28 degrees, where the blank space from the foot of Meru to
the seventh circle from the equator, constitutes the part passed over by the tropic in the next age; which proportions differ considerably from those in the latitude of 36; and because the numbers in the Hindu books differ, Mr. Bentley asserts that: “This shows what little dependence is to be put in them.” But, on the contrary, it shows with what accuracy the Hindus had observed the motions of the heavens in different latitudes.
Some of the Hindus inform us that “the earth has two spindles which are surrounded by seven tiers of heavens and hells at the distance of one Raju each.” This needs but little explanation when it is understood that the seven divisions from the equator to their zenith are called Rishis or Rashas. But what is most to our present purpose to know is that they had given names to each of those divisions which the tropics passed over during each revolution of the Zodiac. In the latitude of 36 degrees where the Pole or Meru was nine steps high at Cassimere, they were called Shastras; in latitude 28 degrees at Delhi, where the Pole or Meru was seven steps high, they were called Menus; but in 24 degrees, at Cacha, where the Pole or Meru was but six steps high, they were called Sacas. But in the ninth volume (Asiatic Researches p. 82-83) Yudhishthira, the son of Dharma, or Justice, was the first of the six Sacas; . . . the name implies the end, and as everything has two ends, Yudhishthira is as applicable to the first as to the last. And as the division on the north of the circle of perpetual apparition is the first of the Kali Yuga, supposing the tropics to be ascending, it was called the division or reign of Yudhishthira. But the division which immediately precedes the circle of perpetual apparition is the last of the third or brazen age, and was therefore called Yudhishthira and as his reign preceded the reign of the other, as the tropic ascended to the Pole or Meru, he was called the father of the other—”the great ancestor of Yudhishthira, who reigned twenty-seven thousand years, . . . at the close of the brazen age.” (Vol. ii. Asiatic Researches.)
The ancient Hindus observed that the Zodiac went forward at about the rate of fifty-four seconds a year, and to avoid greater fractions, stated it at that, which would make a complete round in 24,000 years; and observing the angle of the poles to vary nearly 4 degrees each round, stated the three numbers as such, which would have given forty-five rounds of the Zodiac to half a revolution of the poles; but finding that forty-five rounds would not bring the northern tropic to coincide with the circle of perpetual apparition by thirty minutes of a degree, which required the Zodiac to move one sign and a half more, which we all know it could not do in less than 3,000 years, they were, in the case before us, added to the end of the brazen age, which lengthen the reign of that Yudhishthira to 27,000 years instead of 24,000, but, at another time they did not alter the regular order of 24,000 years to the reign of each of these long-winded monarchs, but rounded up the time by allowing a regency to continue three or four thousand years. In volume ii. p. 105, Asiatic Researches, we are told that: “Paricshit, the great nephew and successor of Yudhishthira . . . is allowed without controversy to have reigned in the interval between the brazen and earthen Ages, and to have died at the setting-in of the Kali Yug.” Here we find an interregnum at
the end of the brazen age, and before the setting-in of the Kali Yug; and as there can be but one brazen or Tretâ-Yug, i.e., the third age, in a Maha-Yuga, of 1,080,000 years: the reign of this Paricshit must have been in the second Mahâ-Yuga, when the pole had returned to its original position, which must have taken 2,160,000 years: and this is what the Hindus call the Prajanatha Yuga. Analogous to this custom is that of some nations more modern, who, fond of even numbers, have made the common year to consist of twelve months of thirty days each, and the five days and odd measure have been represented as the reign of a little serpent biting his tail, and divided into five parts, etc.
But “Yudhishthira began his reign immediately after the flood called Pralaya,” i.e., at the end or the Kali Yug (or age of heat), when the tropic had passed from the pole to the other side of the circle of perpetual apparition, which coincides with the northern horizon; here the tropics or summer solstice would be again in the same parallel of north declination, at the commencement of their first age, as he was at the end of their third age, or Tretâ-Yug, called the brazen age. . . .
Enough has been said to prove that the Hindu books of science are not disgusting absurdities, originated in ignorance, vanity, and credulity; but books containing the most profound knowledge of astronomy and geography. What, therefore, can induce those gentlemen of tender consciences to insist that Yudhishthira was a real mortal man I have no guess; unless it be that they fear for the fate of Jared and his grandfather, Methuselah?