Kaliyuge, Pradhama Padhe, Jambudweepe, Bharatavarshe, Bharatakhande...These Vedic incantations precede all worship sessions in Hindu culture. It is well known fact that you are living in the first of the four phases of the era called Kali. But many do not know when Kali actually began, and how long it will last? When the world celebrates New Year on January 1st, why does New Year begin from Ugadi for Hindus? Let us learn some facts about this, based on books written by ancient scholars and some other sources.
Hindu calendar is based on astronomical data. This is obtained from the study of the position of stars and the movement of planets. When the Earth rotates around itself once, it is called day. One revolution of the Moon around the Earth, is called a month and one revolution of the Earth around the Sun, is called a year. These facts are agreed upon, world over, including Hindus. However, Hindus have calculated a year, based on the observation of the positions of stars and planets. Not just a year. Even day, week, fortnight, month, season, phase, Pushkaram, Shakam, Yugam (era), and Kalpakam, have been calculated as per Astronomy. But English Gregarian Calendar is not based on planetary movements. It is a calendar meant to calculate time. In fact, time is infinite.
What is Ugadi?
Telugu year starts on the day after a New Moon (Padyami), in the first fortnight (Sukla Paksham), in the first month (Chaitram). Not just Telugus, but all Hindus celebrate this day as the beginning of a New Year. Sun 'enters' the constellation of Aries. This year, that is in 2017, this day fell somewhere between March 28th and March 29th. The new year is named as 'Hevalambi.' Bhrama Chaitra Suddha Padyami is the day when creation of the Universe took place, according to Bhrama Puranam. That is why it is called Yugaadhi or Ugadi (beginning of an era).
Ugadi is 'Yug' 'aadhi.' Yug means the configuration of stars as seen from the Earth, at the particular point of time. Aadhi means beginning. It also means beginning of New Constellation. It is quite appropriate to call the beginning of the year as Ugadi. Yug Aadhi means beginning of an era. Era or year includes phases, such as Dwayam, Uttarayanam and Dakshinayanam (Summer Soltice, Winter Soltice, Equinoxes). Each of these (soltices) last for about six months. Both together is an era or year. Prominent mathematician, Aryabhatta, whom Indians venerate, himself believed that New Year begins from Ugadi day.As per Astronomy, the day after the first New Moon after Vernal Equinox, is Ugadi. Equinox is the day on which the Sun shines directly on the Equator, the imaginary line in the Centre of the Earth. This happens as the Earth is revolving round the Sun. On Equinox, day and night are almost equal all over the world. Light and darkness are equal. This year, Vernal Equinox fell on March 20th.
The British had introduced an English Calendar that can be easily understood by people all over the world. They have divided it in to Before Christ (BC) and After Christ, Anna Domino (AD). Likewise, Hindus have Kali, Vikrama and Shalivahana Calendars. The present times is represented by Shalivahana Calendar. It is said to be running simultaneously to the Christian era, as it started almost at the same time.
60 years in one Time Cycle
The time cycle of Hindus ends after every 60 years. It starts with Prabhava year and ends with Akshaya. The cycle begins again on Prabhava. There are 60 years in this time cycle. They are called: Prabhava, Vibhava, Shukla, Pramodhutha, Prajothpathi, Angeerasa, Srimukha, Bhava, Yuva, Dhata, Eswara, Bhudhanya, Pramadhi, Vikrama, Vrusha, Chitrabhanu, Swabhanu, Tharana, Parthiva, Vyaya, Sarvajithu, Sarvadhari, Virodhi, Vikrutha, Khara, Nandhana, Vijaya, Jaya, Manmadha, Dhurmukhi, Hevilambi or Hevalambi or Hevalambha, Vilambhi, Vikari, Sravari, Shubakruthu, Krodhi, Vishvavasu, Parabhava, Plavanga, Kelaka, Saumya, Sadharana, Virodhakruthi, Pareedhavi, Pramadheecha, Ananda, Rakhshasa, Nala, Pingala, Kalayukthi, Sidharthi, Roudri, Durmathi, Dundhubhi, Rudhirodhgadhri, Rakthashi, Krodhana and Akshaya.
When did Kaliyuga begin?
Kali Yuga has begun from the end of Sri Krishna Avatara (manifestation), at the end of Dwapara Yuga. It is dated as February 18th, 3,102 B.C., which is 5,118 years ago, according to scholars.
When will Kali Yuga end?
As per the Puranas, one Mahayuga is made of four Yugas or eras: Krutha, Tretha, Dwapara and Kali. Each Mahayuga is made of 43,20,000 years. There are 17,28,000 years in Krutha Yuga, 12,96,000 years in Tretha Yuga, 8,64,000 years in Dwapara Yuga and 4,32,000 years in Kali Yuga. At present we are in the 5,119th year of the first of the four phases of Kali Yuga.
It does not mean to say that the world will end after Kali Yuga. Because, 71 Mahayugas (each Mahayuga has 43,20,000 years), make up one Manavantharam. Fourteen such Manavantharams is like half a day (12 hours) for Lord Brahma. This is called a Kalpa. Each Manvantharam is ruled by one Manuvu. They are said to be appointed by Lord Brahma. The present Manvantharam is the seventh in the row, called Vaivasvatham. As each Manvantharam has 71 Mahayugams, the present one is Kaliyuga in 28th Mahayuga. This way, after 14 Manvantharams, Lord Brahma is said to stop creation. This brings about Pralaya and the life on Earth is wiped out. The next 14 Manvantharams, is called night for Brahma. He begins creation again, it is believed. The present Kalpa is called Swethavaraha Kalpa. It is supposed to be the 51st Kalpa of Lord Brahma. Lord Brahma is said to be creating during 100 such kalpas. At this rate, since we are living in the 28th Mahayuga of the seventh Manavanthara, it cannot be said that the universe will end in this era. Finally, all these are calculations, as per our human knowledge.
Ugadi from Vasantha Ruthuvu (season)
Ugadhi begins with Vasantha Ruthuvu or Spring season. Trees give out fresh leaves and nature takes on a fresh look. It is known that Earth revolves around the Sun, at an angle. Because of this, six seasons occur: Vasantha Ruthuvu (Chaitram and Vaisakha months); Greeshma Ruthuvu (Jyestha and Ashada months); Varsha Ruthuvu (Sravana and Bhadrapada months); Sarath Ruthuvu (Ashvayuja and Karthika months); Hemantha Ruthuvu (Margasira and Pushya months); Sishira months (Magha and Palguna months).
Ugadhi Pachchadi (chutney)Ugadi Pachchadi or chutney is made with a variety of ingredients, each with a different aspect or taste. This includes, Karam (spicy); Uppu (salty); Vagaru (tangy); Pulupu (sour); chedu (bitter); and Theepi (sweet) tastes. It signifies all the situations that each one of you would face throughout the year, like problems, joy, sorrow, frustration etc. Life is an experience of all these situations. So Ugadhi pachchadi is a combination of all these tastes. Mango shreddings, Jaggery, salt, pepper powder or chillies, Neem flower, are used to make the pachchadi. Tamarind juice, cashew, banana, sugar etc., are mixed as per areas or locations.
Listening to forecast by Alamanac
What the stars foretell throughout the year is put together in an almanac. Day, week, star, forecast and the rituals performed, together are called 'Panchagam' or almanac. Scholars give the forecast in detail, in this almanac. On Ugadi day, scholars read out the almanac. They describe the good and bad results of the year. It is believed that by listening to this, good result is obtained. It is said that one should listen to this, sitting, facing the North.
Telugu and Kannada people celebrate Ugadi in a similar fashion. In Maharashtra it is called Gudi Padava, in Tamil Nadu, Puthandu, in Kerala Vishu, in West Bengal, Baisakhi, and Sikhs in Punjab as Vaisakhi. This day is also considered as beginning of New Year, in Egypt and Persia.