Many Śiśirādayaḥ – Winter beginning phrases in Indic texts, now we know how to look at them

We have many texts with śiśirādayaḥ as counting of ṛtus apart from Vasanta also. Basically, they appear in śrauta sūtras, gṛhyasūtras, and Purāṇās.

There have been complications in understanding the texts from where the saṃvatsara began, whether winter Solstice or Vernal equinox.

Besides, I chaffed out and separated this first as a problem and I also found the solution to this problem in the previous blog (see here). in brief. Though śiśirādayaḥ – Capricorn – Makara saṃkrānti made counting of season etc yet it is clear that the new year began from Vernal Equinox – Meṣādi.

Henceforth, we can find ease at sorting out these śiśirādayaḥ phrases in the future.

Now lets see the śiśirādayaḥ phrases similar to Sūryasiddhānta and try to understand deeper how the new cardinal points helped in citing the equation of saṃvatsara.

Many Phrases

Above is the screenshot from Shri Shivarāja Acarya Kauṇdinnāyana where śiśirādayaḥ has been described for as being for all the Varṇas for “year beginning”. Let us first take Śānkhāyana śrautasūtra, these sūtras are mostly similar texts like those of 2, Apastambha śrautasūtra, 3, Hiraṇyakeśi śrautasūtra, 4, Bhāradvāja śrautasūtra, 5, Vārāha-Maitrayāṇīya śrautasūtra, 6, Vaikhānasaśrautasūtra etc.

The phrase in question from 2.1.1-5, Śānkhāyana śrautasūtra

Can these be called many equations of Saṃvatsara?, Which one is the correct one then?

In a spring, the establishing of the sacred fires for the Brāhmaṇa takes place, in summer for Kṣatriya, in the rainy season or autumn for a Vaiśya and the cold season śiśira is for all the principle classes. (Note that Hemanta is absent). [2.1.1-5]

So all the varṇas will kindle Agnis in śiśira and thus Somadeva who gave commentary for Vedāṅga, as stated by Shri Shivarāja Acarya Kauṇdinnāyana, are to be taken in Winter solstice point. But note that in spring Brāhmaṇa do the Agni ādheyam and the phrase begins from Vasanta. The phrase from 2.1.1 till 2.1.5 doesn’t give any picture of Saṃvatsara, but says that who is eligible to kindle the fire and when they can do this. There is no context of Saṃvatsara here. Let’s take a look into 2.2.1-5 phrase.

The phrase in question from 2.2.1-5, Śānkhāyana śrautasūtra

In the above phrase the iṣṭis at agnyādheya is being described, and again the phrase says it has to be done on the day itself. (Which day?)…after a year(from where?). The question arises from where? Will it start either from vasanta or from any of these ṛtus?

No clarity on Year beginning

It appears that there is no clarity in the assumption of the new year beginnings in śrauta sūtras but definitely Vasanta is the first among all types of agnyādheya. I was told that Vasanta used to be only for Brāhmaṇ and for their yajna purposes or their Saṃvatsara. But is it so? Let’s see.

Taittirīya Brāhmaṇa comes to our rescue

Since all the texts are extensions of Vedas thus the exposition of Vedas and Brāhmaṇs cannot be avoided to understand the new year beginning even in śrauta sūtras. Here comes Taittirīya Brāhmaṇa as a rescue since Taittirīya Brāhmaṇa is the text which purely deals as an ancient astronomical text with ancient astronomical lores within and gives better clarity on Vedic expositions. We have not yet dealt with deciphering them. We have already seen Vasanta and Vernal equinox as the year beginning (Saṃvatsara) as the evidence in Uttarāphālguni epoch of 10,000 BCE.

The evidence taken into consideration are Anuvāk 1.1.2.6, 1.1.2.7, 1.1.2.8, and Anuvāk 1.2.3.1,2 (section 6) for Vishuva. 

We saw how Agni is synonymous to Vasanta and is Mukha-Mukhya, which means mouth/head of the year. Also, how we can make various Saṃvatsara phrases if it were not to happen in Vasanta. Above we find संवत्सरस्याग्निमाधाय; i.e., in संवत्सरस्य ‘अग्निमाधाय’ which is मुख्य एव भवति mukhya- i.e., mouth/beginning of the year. ( ref 1.1.2.6, 1.1.2.7, 1.1.2.8 T.B & 1.2.3.1,2 T.B)


Spring Equinox- वसन्ताग्निमाधत्ते मुख्य एव भवति / यदुत्तरे फल्गुनि मुख्य एव संवत्सरस्याग्निमाधाय वसियान् भवति।

If I have to make other year beginning phrases then they will have the word Mukhya assigned for them. Some example given below.

Summer Solstice-ग्रीष्मे राजन्याधत्ते मुख्य एव भवति / यदुत्तरे फल्गुनि मुख्य एव संवत्सरस्य राजन्याधाय वसियान् भवति।
Autumnal Equinox-शरदि वैश्याधत्ते मुख्य एव भवति / यदुत्तरे फल्गुनि मुख्य एव संवत्सरस्य वैश्याधाय वसियान् भवति। 
Winter Solstice- Hemanta and śiśirā (śūdra or all varṇas) absent. (so no point in thinking on this line)

But these are not the cases.
Takeaway-Spring Equinox- वसन्ताग्निमाधत्ते मुख्य एव भवति / यदुत्तरे फल्गुनि मुख्य एव संवत्सरस्याग्निमाधाय वसियान् भवति। How spring Equinox? with the help of Anuvāk 1.2.3.1,2 (section 6) for Viśuva. 

Gopatha gives more clarity

Gopatha says clearly that Agnirvai devānām mukham. Thus it clearly means that from Agni, i.e., Vasanta, the devas are seen and are to be lauded.

Sūryasiddhānta comes to our rescue again

Sūryasiddhānta comes to our rescue again in understanding of two things

  1. The position of Deva and Asura and it says

2. The year beginning- Saṃvatsara.

भानोर् मकरसङ्क्रान्तेः षण्मासा उत्तरायणम् ।
कर्क्यादेस् तु तथैव स्यात् षण्मासा दक्षिणायनम् ॥९॥

द्विराशिनाथ ऋतवस् ततो अपि शिशिरादयः ।
मेषादयो द्वादशैते मासास् तैर् एव वत्सरः ॥१०॥

From the sun’s entrance in Capricorn six months are his sun’s progress, So likewise, from the beginning of Cancer, six months are his southern progress..9.

Thence also recorded the Seasons, the cool seasons and the rest, each prevailing through two signs. These twelve, commencing with the Aries, are the months; of them is made up the year.

It is clear from the above that Uttarāyaṇa at Makara and Dakṣiṇayana at Karka has nothing to do with the year beginning, i.e., at the same time Meśādi, which will be at spring equinox point, will be the beginning of year making 12 months a year. 

Conclusion

Though we have all the principle classes/sārvavarṇikaḥ to perform Agni ādheya in śiśira, yet the ṣaṃvatsara in vedic sense will begin from Vasanta alone.

Do these passages remain conflicting by themselves?

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