In every civilisation, be it Indian, Chinese, Egyptian or Roman, scholars have tried to take stock of time management in a scientific and logical manner. They have also attempted to account for the origin of the cosmos and the Earth in their own way. Therefore, records were kept involving extensive use of cataloguing of digits, events, activities and personalities.
Indian time reckoning or Bharatiya kal ganana is a subject, which has been tackled in Sanskrit language. Most of us have heard of words like kal, kalyug, satyug, kalpi, etc. but few know their meaning. The word kal is derived from the Sanskrit word kel sankhyane, which means ‘the one who counts’. Therefore kal counts life of all moveable and immoveable bodies. It is an omnipresent and invisible element that possesses gati or motion that connects past, present and future. Thus one cannot discern it completely though one can experience a portion of it through ganana or reckoning.
In the first chapter, the Rig Veda explains that kal is nirapeksha or impartial as well as sapeksha or relative. Even though it is rootless, it is the root of the cosmos. The Rig Veda takes cognisance of the kal element and attributes it to samvatsar pradhan or synchronised chronology.
In the Bhagvata Purana, kal exists in sooksham or infinite state of parmanu or atom. The one that enjoys all the stages from extreme sooksham to the beginning of srishti or the cosmos is the great kal. It is the embodiment of all graha (planets) or nakshatra (contsellations), stars and galaxies which are manifestations of kal.
The subject matter in this book has been arranged clearly and the data sets have been catalogued into various tables for ready reference.
The second chapter describes leading instruments of time cataloguing in vogue. Important samvatsar or calendars are outlined in brief wherein the salient features are enumerated. Scientific components needed to design the various samvatsar are highlighted.
The third chapter concentrates on the various nakshatras and rashis (signs). Indian rishis (sages) and scientists designed various terms that are explained in consonance with modern terminology.
General and modern scientific information of saur mandal or solar system is given in the fourth chapter, especially about the properties of stars, planets and satellites.
In the fifth chapter, Indian time reckoning is described. The micro kal ganana deals with time measure that is less than an ahoratra or 24 hours a day. Higher time units are also designed, after conducting a thorough research, by rishis to account for perceptible time units experienced by mankind. In this chapter, study of micro units is succeeded by kal units at macro level. These time units encompass calculations to delineate the limits of a day, week, month, ritu (seasons) and year.
The sixth chapter discusses the mega level of kal ganana, which denotes a portion of kal maap or time measure which is higher than a year. In other words, this chapter deals with time measure from the lapse of one year till ancient time of creation of srishti or the beginning of the existence of the cosmos.
The seventh chapter refers to the correlation between shvet varah kalp or the first day in the life of Brahma’s 51st year and present day knowledge of geology. It is an effort that has not been ever implemented on a scientific plane. A preliminary conceptual model is developed in which knowledge derived from two distinct but independent sources evolved in different time and space employing diverse philosophies and methodologies.
(Bharatiya Itihas Sankalan Yojna Samiti, Himachal Pradesh.)