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Avik Sengupta | HENB | Kolkata | April 13, 2020:: Sanatana texts describe units of Kala measurements, from microseconds to trillions of years. According to these texts, time is cyclic, which repeats itself forever. The cycle repeats itself and that’s the concept of Yugas.
Bharatiya Calendar is a set of various lunisolar calendar that are traditionally used in the Indian Subcontinent and South East Asia with regional variations for social and Sanatana religious purposes. They adopt a similar underlying concept for timekeeping with based on sidereal year for solar cycle and adjustment of lunar cycles in every three years, however also differ in their relative emphasis to moon cycle or the sun cycle and the names of months and when they consider the New Year to start.
Of the various regional calendars, the most studied and known Sanatana calendars are the Shalivahana Shaka found in South India, Vikram Sambat (Bikrami) found in Nepal, North and Central regions of India, Tamil calendar used in Tamil Nadu, and the Bengali calendar used in the Bengal – all of which emphasize the lunar cycle.
Their new year starts in spring. In contrast, in regions such as Kerala, the solar cycle is emphasized and this is called the Malayalam Calendar, their New Year starts in autumn, and these have origins in the second half of the 1st millennium CE. A Sanatana calendar is sometimes referred to as Panchanga (पञ्चाङ्ग). This is the real essence of Unity in Diversity of entire Aryavarta or Bharatbarsha; erstwhile Navibarsha the land of the supreme race of humans who went into the granular details of time to the highest ever dimension of the same . They worshipped a deity Yama who ruled over the life and death, as well as used to be a unit of Time. And their supreme deity is Kalantaka Mahadev, who is destroyer of kala(time).
The ancient Sanatana calendar conceptual design is also found in the Jewish calendar, but different from the Gregorian calendar. Unlike Gregorian calendar which adds additional days to lunar month to adjust for the mismatch between twelve lunar cycles (354 lunar days) and nearly 365 solar days, the Sanatana calendar maintains the integrity of the lunar month, but insert an extra full month by complex rules, every few years, to ensure that the festivals and crop-related rituals fall in the appropriate season.
Bengali calendar is also a luni-solar calendar and is aligned to the Sanatana calendar system. Sanatanas developed a calendar system in ancient times. Jyotisha, one of the six ancient Vedangas was the Vedic era field of tracking and predicting the movements of astronomical bodies in order to keep time. The ancient Indian culture developed a sophisticated time keeping methodology and calendars for Vedic rituals.
Surya Siddhanta is an important treatise on the concept of time and Bengali calender. The current Bengali calendar in use by Bengali people in the Indian states such as West Bengal, Tripura, Assam and Jharkhand is based on the Sanskrit text Surya Siddhanta. It retains the historic Sanskrit names of the months, with the first month as Baishakh. Their calendar remains tied to the Sanatana calendar system and is used to set the various Bengali Sanatana festivals.
In rural Bengali communities of India, the Bengali calendar is credited to Vikramaditya, like many other parts of India and Nepal. However, unlike these regions where it starts in 57 BC, the Bengali calendar starts from 594 suggesting that the starting reference year was adjusted at some point.
Some historians attribute the Bengali calendar to the 7th century King Shashanka. The term Bangabda (Bengali Era) is found too in two Shiva temples many centuries older than Akbar’s reign, suggesting that a Bengali calendar existed long before Akbar’s time. Nitish Sen Gupta in his book, “The Land Of Two Rivers” mentioned about two terracotta temples of Bengal; one is in Dihargram of Bankura District and in Sonatapan; both are more than 1000 years old and these are the temples which are carrying the legacy of Bangabda. Researchers Meghna Guha Thakurta, Kunal Chakraborty et al also carry the same opinion that Bangabda is in existence much before Akbar.
About Author: Avik is a HR professional by training. Has worked with national and international organizations of repute. A seeker of his root and a self taught history buff, Avik wants to be a part of the journey to reclaim what is rightfully ours.