This entry is part 1 of 1 in the series Yantra
  • Sūrya Yantra

Happy Makara Saṅkrānti

Makara Saṅkrānti is the new ‘financial’ year when we celebrate the awakening of Jagannāth (Kṛṣṇa). Festivities related to the saṅkrānti would depend on the local traditions and their definition on which day to choose for Saṅkrānti. There are three options:

  1. Vāra: The entire day from sunrise to next sunrise is a jyotiṣa day and if saṅkrānti occurs any time between two sunrise, that day shall be taken as the saṅkrānti date. Saṅkrānti occurred at 6:57’ PM at New Delhi on 14 January, 2015. So yesterday would be considered saṅkrānti by those who follow the ‘vāra’ or day based pañcāṅga.
  2. Horā: This is based on the day-night divide where the day called ‘aho’ is treated differently from the night called ‘rātra’. The word horā comes from the last syllable of ‘ho’ from ‘aho’ and the first syllable ‘rā’ from ‘rātra’. Saṅkrānti occurred at 6:57’ PM at New Delhi on 14 January, 2015 but the sunset occurred at 5:45’ PM. Since saṅkrānti happened after sunset, the next day would be considered as the day for saṅkrānti celebrations which would be 15 January, 2015.
  3. Dvi-Prahara: A prahara is a time period of a quarter of the day which is ruled by the digpāla who control karma while dvi-prahara literally meaning two-prahara is a time of about 6 hours. There are four such periods that are defined by the four gāyatrī at sunrise, mid-day, sunset and mid-night. There periods are guarded by the four lokapāla devatā. Some traditions follow the midnight or turīya gāyatrī as the turning point and only if saṅkrānti occurs after midnight shall it be celebrated on the next day. Saṅkrānti occurred at 6:57’ PM at New Delhi on 14 January, 2015 which was after sunset (5:45’ PM) but much before midnight. Therefore, 14 January 2015 shall be taken as the saṅkrānti date.

Now that we have three systems, we say that they belong to the three vaiṣṇava, śaiva and śākta traditions respectively. Even a simple astrologer can easily understand which one maps to which tradition originally – sunrise would be the vaiṣṇava, sunset the śaiva and midnight would be śākta. You are welcome to follow whichever you like as all roads lead to the final destination – provided we actually stick to the path and keep walking.

Please enjoy this small sharing of a photograph of my Sūrya Yantra. This yantra was as old as me, a gift of my elders.