Mars – Nakshatras the Vedic Clock

Figure 1 Some nakshatras and junction star orientations used as a clock.

Figure 1 Some nakshatras and junction star orientations used as a Vedic clock.

As discussed in many posts on this site, Mars repeatedly orbited close to the Earth above Mt. Kailas. In this geostationary orbit it appeared over 500 times the area of the full Moon. It was referred to primarily as Indra, and more astronomically as the mandala, meaning the disc of Mars in the Surya Siddhanta where discussing alignments of the Sun and Moon with Mars, in the chapter “Malignant Aspects of the Sun and Moon”. While in this orbit Mars’ lithosphere was forced to revolve about an axis, its current north pole, oriented toward the Earth due to the massive uplifted region called the Tharsis Bulge on its equator. The tidal force of the more massive Earth, caused hundreds of volanoes to erupt in Mars’ northern hemisphere. These points of light were well known in all ancient cultures and were commonly called the ‘circum-polar stars’ due to Mars wheel-like rotation. Amerind tribes of North America spoke of the “camp fires of the dead blazing as brighter stars in the land beyond the grave” and Japanese described the lights as “bright butterflies in the reed plain”.

The Vedic people came to define and name patterns (nakshatras) of these volcano stars in 27 slices around the disc or mandala of Mars (poorly simulated in Fig. 1). Nakshatras are generally translated ‘asterisms’,  hedging the idea that they might not have been actual constellations. The Atharvaveda introduces the misleading (mistinterpreted?) term for the divisions on Mars as ‘lunar mansions’. Each of the nakshatras had a specific name which everyone knew by heart, just as the constellations of stars have in modern astronomy.  Based on the current length of a Martian sol, the mandala probably rotated approximately once-a-day. Typical nakshatra names were “antelope head” “arrow” “scorpion” etc. To facilitate its use as a clock, one of the volcanoes in each nakshatra was assigned as a ‘junction star’. These were equally spaced around the planet. Its wheel-like rotation acted as a clock that everyone could see and the positions of the junction stars associated with the nakshatras were the best means of determining a more precise time of day. Mars resembled a clock face with no hands which rotated once a day, with the time of day given by the hour number at the top or more precisely by the imaginary line through the junction star at the ‘top’ of the mandala. Thus terms such as “at the end of renati” meant a specific time of that day. This system was made a little more complex by the fact that Mars’ rotation was not exactly equal to one day so the nakshatra (say pointing north or up) beginning any particular day would gradually change. This presented no difficulty for the Vedic people because the same ‘clock’ was visible to everyone and there was no other time reference except sunrise and sunset, which were less accurate.

The Egyptians used Mars clock-face in the same manner, but delineated only twenty-four sectors. Fortunately, because of the graphic nature of carvings on tomb walls and ceilings they clearly illustrate this use of ‘star patterns’ as shown in Figure 2. This is a drawing of the ceiling of the tomb of Senenmut, the high steward of Queen Hatshepsut. This drawing was used to record the positions of the circumpolar stars at specific historical or calendricaldates. The stela in the center represented the Osiris, which was Purusha in the Rig Veda.

The currently accepted Hindu interpretation of nakshatras is that they refer to the constellations of stars comprising the zodiac with which we are familiar today. This merely reflects the failure of modern Indic scholars to understand the Rg Veda. It has led to the idea that each nakshatra represented one twenty-seventh of a year, similar to a fortnight, and an entire cycle took a year. Bal Ganghadar Tilak (Orion or the Antiquity of the vedas) points out that this interpretation led to impossible changes in the zodiacal positions of the vernal equinox, exemplified by the statement: ” It is well known that Varâhamihira, in whose time the vernal equinox coincided with the end of Revati …” where Revati was the 27th nakshatra.” This was the result of the rotation of the mandala not matching exactly one day – something that was easily dealt with by the Vedic people.

~ by Angiras on February 28, 2016.



~ by Angiras on February 28, 2016.

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