[INDOLOGY] Revolving wheel in ancient Indian literature

Jean-Michel Delire jmdelire at ulb.ac.be
Fri Mar 18 19:54:25 EDT 2016


I agree about the very common division of the year into 360 days (and nights), plus 5 additive days (sometimes called epagomenoi). It also existed in Ancient Egypt. On the other hand, the 12 months are not the 28 days months, which are sideral months (the moon passes through all the constellations/naksatras in about 27,5 days), but the synodic months during which the moon goes from one relative position to the sun - by instance a full moon - to the next similar position, through last quarter, new moon and first quarter. The synodic duration, of 29,5 days approximately, is much closer to 30 days. This was already known by the Vedanga Jyotisa, although the duration of the year is 366 days in that case.

Jean Michel Delire, University of Brussels


>That's true Dominik, but we must consider that any tradition that counts 
>the days in a year ends up with 360 days, a good divisible number, plus 
>5. It happens in Mesoamerican calendars, where those "extra" days are 
>considered negative or empty. They are called /nemontemi/ in Nahuatl.
>
>So a symbolical year of 360 plus days doesn't automatically mean that 
>its origin is Mesopotamian. 360 can easily be divided by 12 to give 12 
>months, and this can be correlated with the 27/28 days in a lunar 
>cycle/month. It is not a perfect fit, which is why most calendars end up 
>being soli-lunar, with either extra months or days. But 360 is a good 
>symbolical number in a decimal system in addition to its importance as a 
>sexagesimal one.
>
>Luis
>_____
>
>On 3/18/2016 12:17 PM, Dominik Wujastyk wrote:
>> The reference to 360 spokes is a sexagesimal number expressed in 
>> decimal.  This certainly points to the mathematical traditions of 
>> Mesopotamia.
>>
>> --
>> Professor Dominik Wujastyk* <http://ualberta.Academia.edu/DominikWujastyk>
>> Singhmar Chair in Classical Indian Society and Polity
>> Department of History and Classics 
>> <http://historyandclassics.ualberta.ca/>
>> University of Alberta, Canada
>>
>> On 18 March 2016 at 08:52, George Thompson <gthomgt at gmail.com 
>> <mailto:gthomgt at gmail.com>> wrote:
>>
>>     Hello all,
>>
>>     Madhav's passage is RV 1.164.11.  By chance, I've been looking at
>>     this hymn today.
>>
>>     George Thompson
>>
>>     On Fri, Mar 18, 2016 at 9:04 AM, Madhav Deshpande
>>     <mmdesh at umich.edu <mailto:mmdesh at umich.edu>> wrote:
>>
>>         The idea of a rotating wheel of time goes all the way back to
>>         the Rigveda: dv?da??ra? na hi taj jar?ya vavarti cakram pari
>>         dy?m ?tasya (don't have the textual ref at hand).  The idea of
>>         the spokes of the wheel going up and down is referred to in
>>         Sanskrit lit in many places with expressions like
>>         cakra-nemi-krama and cakr?rapa?kti.
>>
>>         Madhav Deshpande
>>
>>         On Fri, Mar 18, 2016 at 8:42 AM, Artur Karp <karp at uw.edu.pl
>>         <mailto:karp at uw.edu.pl>> wrote:
>>
>>             Dear List,
>>
>>             Mahabharata I, 29. 2-5 and Sumangalavilasini
>>             (Buddhaghosa's commentary to Mahaparinibbana-sutta)  VI,
>>             26  contain images of a revolving wheel (with 360?
>>             spokes), guarded by figures with swords in hands, and by
>>             two serpents. Vi?vakarma/Vissakamma is mentioned as the
>>             wheel's constructor.
>>
>>             Is that - or similar - image present somewhere else in the
>>             ancient Indian literature?
>>
>>             Thanks in advance for your comments -
>>
>>             Artur Karp
>>
>>             South Asian Studies Deptt (emeritus), University of
>>             Warsaw, Poland
>>
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>>
>>         -- 
>>         Madhav M. Deshpande
>>         Professor of Sanskrit and Linguistics
>>         Department of Asian Languages and Cultures
>>         202 South Thayer Street, Suite 6111
>>         The University of Michigan
>>         Ann Arbor, MI 48104-1608, USA
>>
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