Srimad Bhagvata Mahapurana Book 5 Chapter 22:1-9

Book 5: Chapter 22

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Srimad Bhagvata Mahapurana: Book 5: Chapter 22: Verses 1-9
The relative position of the planets and their movements

The king (Pariksit) asked : How are we to understand (accept the truth of) what your glorious self has (just) stated (in passages 8 and 14 of the last discourse) with respect to that glorious sun, viz., that while appearing to revolve about Mount Meru (on the one hand) and the pole-star (on the other) with both these on its right, it (actually) moves (through the various signs of the zodiac) facing the lunar mansions, with the Meru (and the pole-star) on its left? The sage clearly said : (Even) as the course of ants etc., crawling on a potter's wheel-which is rotating (on its axle)-and (thus) revolving with it, is indeed different (from the course of the wheel) as is evidenced by the fact that the ants etc., are observed in different parts (of the wheel even while it is in motion), so the course of the sun and other planets-which are subject to the wheel of Time, symbolized by the (various) constellations and the signs of the zodiac, and revolve with it even as the wheel in the form of constellations revolves round the pole-star and Mount Meru-is certainly different (from the course of the said wheel of Time, with which they move), as is clear from the fact that the sun and other planets are observed as conjoined with different constellations and at different signs of the zodiac (from the one where they were seen before). It is no other than the glorious (omnipotent) Lord Narayana, the most ancient Person (the ultimate Cause of the whole universe) Himself, who is critically inquired into by the Vedas as well as by the wise (those well-versed in the Vedas), that for the welfare of (all) living beings splits up His body (in the form of Time, symbolized by the year)-the theme of the three Vedas (Rgveda, Yajurveda and Samaveda), (nay) which is responsible for the right (timely) performance of rituals-into twelve parts (the twelve months) and manifests (by turns), in the six seasons, spring etc., the (distinctive) characteristics (in the form of heat and cold, showers and winds etc.), of each season, so as to provide the divas with the means of reaping the fruits of their past actions. Devoutly worshipping in this world the aforesaid Lord (in the form of Indra and the other deities) through (the different orders or grades of) rituals, (both) high and low, prescribed in the three Vedas, and (in the form of the Supreme Person) through the elaborate system of Yoga (courses of spiritual discipline or methods of God-Realization, e.g., Bhakti, Jnana, Yoga), men following the path chalked out for the various Varnas (grades of society) and Asramas (stages in life) easily and duly attain the (desired) blessings (in the form of heavenly bliss-in the case of those who worship Him through rituals--or final beatitude in the case of those who worship Him through Bhaktiyoga, Karmayoga, Jñanayoga and so on).

Now, entering (in the form of the sun) the wheel of Time (as symbolized by the stellar sphere) existing in the firmament between heaven and earth, the same Lord who is the soul of all living beings passes through twelve months, the (twelve) parts of a year, known by the names of the (twelve) signs of the zodiac (Mesa, Vrsa and so on). The learned declare that a month is equivalent to a couple of fortnights (one bright and the other dark, according to the lunar calendar), a day and night (in the eye of the manes) and the period taken in traversing two constellations and a quarter (from the point of the sun). And the fraction of a year in which He (the sun-god) covers the sixth part (of His orbit) is called a Rtu (season). And, again, they refer to the (duration of) time in which He traverses one-half of His passage through the heavens as an Ayana (a half-year). And, further, the learned speak of the (length of) time in which the same sun traverses the whole extent of the sky-bounded by the heavenly sphere on one side and the terrestrial sphere on the other-along with these two spheres in slow, rapid and moderate marches as a Samvatsara,[1] Parivatsara, Idavatsara, Anuvatsara or Vatsara. Similarly, the moon, which is observed at a height of a lakh Yojanas (eight lakh miles) beyond the orb of the sun, and which moves faster than the sun and (therefore) leads all the other constellations, completes in the course of a month (two fortnights) the circuit made by the sun in a whole year, traverses in two and a quarter days the distance covered (by the sun) in a month, and the distance covered in a fortnight in the course of a day. Determining by its gradually growing and declining splendour, associated with the first (bright) and second (dark) half-months, the day[2] and night of the gods and the manes respectively, the moon-which is the very life (sustenance) of all the species of living beings as well as (their) life-giver (sustainer)-passes through each constellation in the course of thirty Muhurtas (twenty-four hours).

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References

  1. For the significance of the names Samvatsara, Parivatsara and so on, vide footnote below Ill. xi. 14.
  2. AIthough the scriptures declare that the dark and bright fortnight of a lunar month constitute a day and night respectively of the manes-a species of living beings inhabiting a part of the aerial region which evidently remains lighted by the sun's rays throughout a dark fortnight and screened from its rays for the whole length of a bright fortnight, the same is not the case with the gods, whose realm-so declare the scriptures--remains lighted by the sun so long as the latter continues to traverse the northern skies, and remains screened from the sun's rays throughout the rest of the year. Thus the period of six months commencing from the day on which the sun enters the sign of the zodiac called Capricornus constitutes the day, and other six months commencing with the sun's entry into the sign of the zodiac called Cancer constitutes the night of the gods. By the statement, therefore, that the moon divides the day and night of the gods and the manes by means of the bright and dark halves of a month, the sage Suka evidently means that the moon determines by means of the bright and dark fortnights the periodsof worship suitable for the gods and the manes respectively; for the Sruti text restricts the worship of the gods, to the bright fortnight. Similarly the Sruti text assigns the dark fortnight to the worship of the manes. It is in this sense that the bright fortnight should be understood to be the day of the gods, and the eight of the manes and the dark fortnight to be the day of the manes and the night of the gods.

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