[INDOLOGY] The Sun as the "21st" CORRECTION

Luis Gonzalez-Reimann reimann at berkeley.edu
Tue Mar 22 05:00:46 UTC 2016

Dear Walter,

Thanks for pointing out that "equator" was Haug's translation of 
/viṣuvant/. There has been some confusion regarding the meaning of 
/viṣuvat/ because, as you say, in post-Vedic, especially astronomical 
(/Siddhānta/) literature it was used to mean the equinoxes or the 
celestial equator. But that is clearly not the case in the AB.

An example of a Siddhānta using /viṣuvat/ for the equinoxes/celestial 
equator is the /Pañcasiddhāntikā/ of Varāhamihira, which states that 
(3.23): /meṣatūlyādau viṣuvat/, "/viṣuvat/ is at the beginning of Aries 
and Libra." Those are the equinoxes, the points at which the equator is 
crossed by the ecliptic.

Haug does seem to believe that the AB is referring to the equinoxes 
here, meaning that the /uttarāyaṇa/ and the /dakṣināyana/ would go from 
one equinox to the other, instead of from one solstice to the other, 
which is their correct meaning in the AB.

The confusion, or the change of meaning for /viṣuvat/ (-/ant/) surely 
stems from the fact that /viṣuvant/ simply refers to something making a 
division into two. And the year can be divided into two equal halves 
either by the line of the equinoxes or by the line of the solstices.

There is another reason that has to do with the fact that from the 
spring equinox to the fall equinox the sun has a northern declination 
(in astronomical lingo), whereas from the fall equinox to the spring one 
it has a southern declination. But I won't get into that.

I wrote about the /ayanas/ in detail in 1988/, /in the appendix to my 
book in Spanish /Tiempo cíclico y eras del mundo en la India /(/Cyclical 
Time and World Ages in India/), which includes several diagrams. That 
book is different from /The Mahābhārata and the Yugas/ (2002). I mention 
this because I've been asked if one book is just a translation of the 
other. It is not, they are two different books.

I have just uploaded the book (/Tiempo cíclico.../) to academia. edu, in 
case anyone would like to see it or download it. The appendix is on pp. 


All the best,


On 3/21/2016 8:25 AM, Walter Slaje wrote:
> Dear Luis,
> thank you very much for your clear presentation, skillfully 
> synchronized with this year’s spring equinox!
> How could one disagree with it?
> My point, however, was a modest knee-jerk reaction to the 
> interpretation of Haug’s usage of „equator“ in the brief one-sentence 
> quote under discussion. >From it, it could hardly have referred to the 
> terrestrial equator in texts as early as the Brāhmaṇas, given the 
> conception of the earth prevailing at their time. "Terrestrial" is how 
> I had understood your citation of the word „equator“
> ​emphasized byquotation marks, but perhaps mistakenly as it appears now.
> A comparison of the Sanskrit text:
> /ekaviṃśam etad ahar upayanti *viṣuvantam* madhye saṃvatsarasyai/
> to Haug’s translation of AB 4.18:
> „They perform the ceremonies of the Ekaviṃśa day, which is the 
> *equator*, dividing the year (into two equal parts)“
> shows that the term he had translated by „equator“ was /viṣuvant/, 
> which (apparently in post-Vedic literature only) can also mean 
> „equinox“. What Haug himself had actually had in mind by using 
> „equator“ becomes however clear from his introduction (on p. 46f), 
> where he explains the calculation of the annual Sattra calendar – 
> incidentally in the context of „the sun’s northern and southern 
> progress“ (/ayana/s) – as follows: „They“ [the Sattras, W.S.] „were 
> divided into two distinct parts, each consisting of six months each; 
> in the midst of both was the /Vishuvan/, i.e. *equator *or*central 
> day*, *cutting the whole Sattra into two halves*.“
> Keith, in contrast, translates: „They perform the Ekaviṅça day, the 
> Viṣuvant, in the middle of the year.“
> So much for the background as it relates to Haug
> ​​
> .
> Thanks again,
> and kind regards,
> Walter
> 2016-03-21 1:06 GMT+01:00 Luis Gonzalez-Reimann <reimann at berkeley.edu 
> <mailto:reimann at berkeley.edu>>:
>     I resend the post with a correction. In the fourth paragraph I had
>     written "facing West," when it should read "facing East." It's
>     corrected below, so please delete the previous message.
>     _____
>     Apologies for a longish post.
>     Dear Walter,
>     The celestial equator is simply the projection of the terrestrial
>     equator onto the celestial sphere. Equator means equalizer of day
>     and night (http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=equator),
>     which is a reference to the two equinoxes. When the sun crosses
>     the celestial equator, which happens twice a year, day and night
>     are of equal length. When it crosses the equator from south to
>     north, it is the spring equinox (March 21st), and when it crosses
>     it again from north to south, it is the autumnal equinox (sept.
>     22nd).
>     Now, if you want to divide the year in two on the basis of the
>     celestial equator, each half of the year is the period between
>     equinoxes, so one half includes spring and summer (Mar. 21 to
>     Sept. 22), while the second half is made up of fall and winter
>     (Sept. 22 to Mar. 21). But that doesn't correspond to the
>     uttarāyaṇa and the dakṣiṇāyana. The uttarāyaṇā goes from the
>     winter solstice to the summer solstices, and the dakṣiṇāyana from
>     the summer solstice to the winter solstice. In other words, for
>     the ayanas the division of the year in two is made along the line
>     of the solstices, not along the line of the equinoxes.
>     In any case, to say that the Ekaviṃśa day is the (celestial)
>     equator makes no astronomical sense. The Ekaviṃśa is one day of
>     the year, whereas the (celestial) equator is a great circle of 360
>     degrees. If you wanted to define the ekaviṃśa with reference to
>     the celestial equator, you'd have to say it is the day on which
>     the sun, in its apparent movement throughout the year, reaches its
>     highest distance to the north of the celestial equator. In
>     astronomical terms, that is the day when the sun reaches its
>     maximum northern declination.
>     But understanding the uttarāyaṇa and the dakṣināyana doesn't
>     require all these complicated visualizations of celestial circles.
>     Ancient observers of the sky didn't look at it in those terms. For
>     them, it was an observable phenomenon that is easy to track. You
>     watch the sunrise every day for a year facing East, and notice how
>     the sunrise point moves along the horizon as days proceed. There
>     are two maximum points, one when the sunrise point is farthest to
>     the left (North) along the horizon, and the other when it is
>     farthest to the right (South). Those two points are the solstices.
>     That is where the terms uttarāyaṇa and dakṣināyaṇa come from.
>     During the uttarāyaṇa, the sun rises more to the left/North
>     (uttara) every day until the Summer solstice. Then it reverses its
>     movement and starts rising every day further to the right/South
>     (dakṣiṇa) until it reaches the Winter solstice.
>     That is why the Ekaviṃśa is the day of the summer solstice.
>     And when the AB says: "By means of the performance of this day,
>     the gods had raised the Sun up to the heavens," that's probably a
>     reference to the fact that at the summer solstice thew sun reaches
>     its highest altitude above the horizon at midday. After that, the
>     maximum altitude of the sun at noon gradually decreases.
>     Cheers,
>     Luis
>     ___
>     On 3/19/2016 12:20 AM, Walter Slaje wrote:
>>     Dear Luis,
>>     the translational usage of "equator" ("dividing the year (into
>>     two equal parts)") in contexts related to uttarāyaṇa and
>>     dakṣiṇāyana is generally short for "celestial equator".
>>     See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solstice.
>>     Regards,
>>     Walter
>>     -----------------------------
>>     Prof. Dr. Walter Slaje
>>     Hermann-Löns-Str. 1
>>     D-99425 Weimar
>>     Deutschland
>>     Ego ex animi mei sententia spondeo ac polliceor
>>     studia humanitatis impigro labore culturum et provecturum
>>     non sordidi lucri causa nec ad vanam captandam gloriam,
>>     sed quo magis veritas propagetur et lux eius, qua salus
>>     humani generis continetur, clarius effulgeat.
>>     Vindobonae, die XXI. mensis Novembris MCMLXXXIII.
>>     2016-03-18 23:44 GMT+01:00 Luis Gonzalez-Reimann
>>     <reimann at berkeley.edu <mailto:reimann at berkeley.edu>>:
>>         Dear James,
>>         Although this isn't the subject of your question, I think it
>>         is important to consider that the Ekaviṃśa day in the AB is
>>         quite certainly the summer solstice, and not the "equator."
>>         Luis
>>         _____
>>         On 3/18/2016 2:28 AM, James Hartzell wrote:
>>>         Dear Colleagues
>>>         I’ve come across two references in the Brāhmaṇas to the Sun
>>>         as ‘the twenty-first’ –
>>>         ŚB <>: …” It (the plate) is round, for
>>>         he (the Sun) is round. It has twenty-one knobs, for he is
>>>         the twenty-first. He wears it with the knobs outside, for
>>>         the knobs are his (the Sun's) rays, and his rays are
>>>         outside." (Eggeling 1894:265),”
>>>         and
>>>         AB 4.18: "They perform the ceremonies of the Ekaviṃśa day,
>>>         which is the equator, dividing the year (into two equal
>>>         parts). By means of the performance of this day, the gods
>>>         had raised the Sun up to the heavens. This Ekaviṃśa day on
>>>         which the Divākīrtya mantra (was produced) is preceded by
>>>         ten days, and followed by ten days, and is in the midst (of
>>>         both periods). On both sides it is thus put in a Virāṭ: (the
>>>         number ten). Being thus put in a Virāṭ (in the number ten)
>>>         on both sides, this (Ekaviṃśa, i.e. the Sun) becomes not
>>>         disturbed in his course through these worlds." (Haug
>>>         1977:288-289).
>>>         Does anyone have other references to the Sun as the 21st,
>>>         and any other explanations for this other than these two
>>>         Brahmana explanations?
>>>         Cheers
>>>         James Hartzell, PhD^(2x)
>>>         Center for Mind/Brain Sciences (CIMeC)
>>>         The University of Trento, Italy
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