You are here: Sri Vaishnava Home Page : Bhakti List : Archives : June 1998

Re: BahudAnya Year Calendar

From: Mani Varadarajan (mani_at_be.com)
Date: Thu Jun 18 1998 - 10:12:07 PDT

> Yajur &
> Rg upAkarmA falls on the "Adi" month itself & sAmA upAkarmA in "Ani" month
> , but not on "Avittam" star . as per DDD & G. Then why do we call them as
> "Avani Avittam" ?

I have also wondered about this.  Here is part of the problem.
The vaidika month is traditionally based on the lunar cycles.
I.e., new moon (amaavaasya) to the day before the next new moon
is one month.  The Tamil calendar is based on the solar cycle,
like the Western calendar.  Many Karnataka and Andhra Sri Vaishnavas
follow the lunar calendar for most of their activities, but still
observe pongal, varsha piRappu, and aazhvaar and acharya thiru-
nakshatrams based on the Tamil/solar calendar. This confirms all
Sri Vaishnavas' Tamil affinity. [*]

To elaborate, the vaidika rite of upaakarma should be performed
on the full-moon day (paurNami) in the month of sraavaNa in the
lunar calendar.  The full-moon day generally corresponds to the
nakshatram of dhanishTa (also known as sravishTa -- this will
become important).  The Rg Vedins still perform upaakarma on
paurNami, relegating the nakshatra to secondary importance. The
Yajur Vedins take the nakshatra to be more important, and always
perform the upaakarma on sravishTa nakshatra.  Hence the date is
known as sraavaNi sravishTa for Yajur Vedins.

SravishTa and paurNami do not always exactly correspond, which 
is why Rg upaakarma is often a day off from Yajur upaakarma. [I
do not know the reason for the saama Veda upaakarma being on the 
caturthi in the next fortnight.]

Due to the overwhelming preponderance of Yajur Vedins among 
Tamil brahmins, upaakarma in the Tamil country itself became 
known as sraavaNa sravishTa,
or in Tamil "aavaNi aviTTam" (aavaNi = sraavaNi, sravishTa =
aviTTam).  In Karnataka, the term "aavaNi aviTTam" is unheard
of -- my paternal relatives, for example, always call it 
"upaakarma".

To further confuse the issue, the Tamil/solar month of aavaNi
does not correspond to the lunar month of sravaNa. It can be
as much as a month off, since the lunar and solar cycles are
different (which is why an "adhika" or extra month is added
to the lunar calendar every so often to resynchronize it with
the solar calendar).  Local parlance dominates, however, and
upaakarma is still called aavaNi aviTTam even though it may
not even fall in the month of aavaNi.

Our friend Vidyasankar is well-versed in these calendrical
intricacies. Perhaps he can shed more light on this (or perhaps
Sri Sadagopan can?)

[*] I am not exactly sure if the thirunakshatrams of aazhvaars
and aachaaryas are universally celebrated according to the Tamil/solar
calendar.  In Sanskrit slokas, Andal's thirunakshatram is mentioned
as occurring in the month of aashaaDa, the nakshatra being pUrva-
phaalguna.  This in Tamil is aaDi-pUram, even though aaDi (solar)
is not the same as aashaaDa (lunar). It seems, however, that in
all major temples and maThams, that the solar calendar is followed
for thirunakshatrams and the lunar calendar for vaidika activities.

Mani