Sunday, March 9, 2008

Revisiting Makar Business

Mark Marchand Marachand Barcand talks about how the words go to "Makar Samkranti".

From Wikipedia:

Zodiacal Constellations

Aries (0°) (The Ram)

Taurus (30°) (The Bull)

Gemini (60°) (The Twins)

Cancer (90°) (The Crab)

Leo (120°) (The Lion)

Virgo (150°) (The Virgin)

Libra (180°) (The Scale)

Scorpio (210°) (The Scorpion)

Sagittarius (240°) (The Centaur)

Capricorn (270°) (The Sea-goat)

Aquarius (300°) (The Pitcher)

Pisces (330°) (The Fish)

Indian Zodiac

Traditional Hindu astrology has a sidereal coordinate zodiac system with twelve signs. The names of the Hindu zodiacal signs, or rāśis, are similar to Graeco-Babylonian signs:

1. meṣa "ram" (Aries)
2. vṛṣabha "bull" (Taurus)
3. mithuna "a pair" (Gemini)
4. karka "crab" (Cancer)
5. siṃha "lion" (Leo)
6. kanyā "girl" (Virgo)
7. tula, from tulā "balance" (Libra)
8. vrushchik "scorpion" (Scorpius), also kaurpi, loaned from the Greek
9. kārmuka, cāpa, dhanus "bow, arc", cāpin "armed with a bow" (Sagittarius)
10. eṇa, mṛga "antelope", also makara "sea-monster" (Capricornus)
11. kumbha "pitcher, water-pot" (Aquarius)
12. matsya "fish", also jhaṣa, timi, mīna after specific kinds of fish (Pisces)

This "Hindu zodiac" (adhvan, rāśi) thus has similarities to Greek zodiac. The Graeco-Babylonian system of twelve signs overlays the native Hindu system of nine grahas or planets.

Just checked the Zodiac Signs for India and Western Astrology. My quest was to determine how old could be this festival of "Makar Samkranti".

Capricorn is Jan, and the Indian Makar Rishi is approximately aligned with the Zodiac Aquarius, which is next to Capricorn, so around Feb.

So the event shifted by 1 month - if one takes the meaning of the event as the "completion of 1/12th sign of the Zodiac".

The ancients took the precession of the Earth as 60 to 72 degrees per year, which makes this festival approx 180o to 2160 years old.

If one takes this event as end of the Sun's journey south-ward bound, and it's starting of the upward journey, the Summer Solstices point, which is around Jun 21 now, but was in Capricorn (based on Western Zodiac) or Aquarius (based on Indian Zodiac) when this festival started. It would mean precession of 4 months! This is going backwards in time from Jan to June. That makes this festival 3600 to 8640 years old!

Interestingly the festival is accompanied by people waiting for the sunrise and taking bath in the rivers all over India. The Sun worshipers would take the Sun as the Father Principle and imagine that the Sun has vanished and worship its return journey north-ward bound (this is/was an Indo European Festival).

And also, I remember my maternal Grand mother making us a Sesame Seeds Sugar/Molasses Brittle (called as Chakki in India) in a shape of a "Goat or Ram" and we would cut it and make the noise of "Mea..Mea", symbolizing the sacrifice of the Goat!

I have read that the Summer Solstice shifted from May to April, and people shifted the object of veneration from Bull to Ram. So it seems there are more than 2 associations and both seem to be connected!

This is a well documented fact and we can not just rely on the Western Zodiac completely as it was not taking into account the Precession. So we will take the "drifting of this event" from Aries (April) to Aquarius (Jan) (and not from May to Jan) So the precession from April to Jan is now 3 months, and this would make this festival to be 6480 to 5400 years old!

I would go by 5400 years, which makes this around 3400 BC, which is the time of big epoch transition - from the Dwarpa to the Kala Yuga, or from the Bronze to the Iron Age, as the Westerners call it.

It seems the knowledge of the precession evolved from that of 60 years to a degree to 72 years to a degree. So using 60 makes more sense.

Now another interesting observation. The Indian God Ram, was an object of veneration of the Sun or Male Principle. So is there a third connection between "Aries Ram", when the Summer Solstice was in April, and "Ayodhya Ram" when he was born - since both of them are connected?

Interestingly, the birth of Krisha is supposed to be 3228 BC who is considered an Avatar or Reincarnation of Ram or the Vishnu principle?

Many places it is assumed that the precession was taken to be 58 years to 1 degree. If one takes that, it comes close to 3212 BC!

Sure this makes it an interesting conjecture that the festival is as old as Mahabharat and one can safely assume that, knowing that the Indian civilization has continued without any interruption and banishment!