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Many Paths to One God

Hindu Kaala Vyavahara (Metrics of Time):
Superfine divisions of time by Hindus

by B.R. Chetan

The Hindu metrics of time can be summarized as below.

Sidereal metrics

A pranamu is the normal interval 

(With regards to time, an interval is the duration between two events or occurrences of similar events. It is related to the mathematical concept of interval in that the interval contains all of the points of time between the two events) of blinking in humans, or approximately 4 seconds.

A vighadiya is 6 pranamus, or approximately 24 seconds

Aghadiya is 60 vighadiyas, or approximately 24 minutes

A muhurta is equal to 2 ghadiyas, or approximately 48 minutes.

(An important muhurta is the brahma muhurta, which is on the 25th Nadiya or approximately two hours before sunrise. This time is recommended in all practices of yoga as most apt for meditation)

A nakshatra ahoratram or sidereal day  is exactly equal to 30 muhurtas (Note: A day is considered to begin and end at sunrise not midnight).

(An apparent sidereal day is the time it takes for the Earth to turn 360 degrees in its rotation; more precisely, is the time it takes the vernal equinox to make two successive upper meridian transit. This is slightly shorter than a solar day; there are 366.2422 sidereal days in a tropical year, but 365.2422 solar days, resulting in a sidereal day of 86,164.09 seconds (or: 23 hours, 56 minutes, 4.09 seconds)

Small units of time used in the vedas

A leekshakamu is 1/60th of a pranamu, or 1/15th of a second;

a lavamu is 1/60th of a leekshakamu, or 1/900th of a second;

a renuvu is 1/60th of a lavamu, or 1/54,000th of a second;

a truti is 1/60th of a renuvu or 1/3,240,000th of a second.

Lunar metrics

A Tithi In vedic timekeeping: A tithi (also spelled thithi) is a lunar day, or the time it takes for the longitudinal angle between the moon and the sun to increase by 12. Tithis begin at varying times of day and vary in duration from approximately 19 to approximately 26 hours. There are 30 tithis in each lunar month.

a paksa or lunar fortnight consists of 15 Tithis

A masa or lunar month is divided into 2 pakshas: the one between new moon  is called gaura (bright) or shukla paksha; the one between full moon and new moon is called krishna (dark) paksha.

(Traditionally, during the lunar phase, new moon begins with the first visible crescent of the Moon, after conjunction with the Sun. This takes place over the western horizon in a brief period between sunset and moonset. Therefore the time and even the day depend on the actual geographical location of the observer)

2 lunar months are 1 Ruthu 

There are six ritus or Indian seasons in the Hindu calendar. 

Ritu/Season Hindu months
1 hemanta Pre-winter  margashiirSha to pouSha December to February
shishira Winter maagha to phaalguna  February to April
3 vasanta Spring chaitra to vaishaakha April to June
4 griiShma Summer jyeShTha to aashaaDha June to August
5 varSha Rainy shraavaNa to bhaadrapada August to October
6 sharat  Autumn aashviiiyuja to kaartika October to December

3 Ruthus are 1 Aayanam

2 Aayanas are 1 year

(A year is the term for any period of time that is derived from the period of the orbit of the Earth (or indeed any planet) around its Sun).

(sidereal year: the actual period for the Earth to complete one revolution of its orbit, as measured in a fixed frame of reference (such as the fixed stars). Its duration is on average:365.256363051 days).

Also a day was divided into 8 Prahara and each Prahara into 6 Danda

(You may see from this that the Danda was about half an hour)

Each Danda into 25 Laghu

Each Laghu into 10 Kastha

Each Kastha into 5 Ksana

Each Ksana into 3 Nimesa

Each Nimesa into 3 Lava

Each Lava into 3 Vedha

and finally each Vedha into 100 Truti

The Truti was a very fine division of time equal in the modern way equal to 300th of a second. It is quite remarkable that the ancient people of India had such a fine division of time and perhaps it can be attributed to their yoga and philosophy, other large divisions of time to the above two along with astronomical observations.

Also a day is derived according to Yoga as:

10 long syllables (gurvakshara) = 1 respiration (prana)

6 respirations = 1 vinadi

60 vinadis = 1 nadi

60 nadis = 1 day

Smallest measure of time Paramanu 60,750th of a second

Other measure of time 

Krati 34,000th of second

Truti 300th of a second

Nimesa 16/75th of a second

Vipal 2/5th of a second

Ksan 1 second

Pal 24 seconds

Minute 60 seconds

Ghadi 24 minutes

Hora Hour 60 minutes

Divasa Day 24 hours

Saptaha 7 days (week)

Masa four weeks (month)

Varsa twelve Months (Year)

Satabda One hundred Years (Century)

Sahasrabda One thousand Year Millennium)

Deva yuga 12,000 years

See Also: Hindu Cosmology

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