Wednesday, July 2, 2008


The modern western calendar that we are accustomed to is based on the sun in which a year (365 days, 5 hours, 48 minutes, and 46 seconds) is the time required for the earth to complete one orbit around the sun. This solar year is composed of 12 arbitrarily assigned months which have either 30 or 31 days, with the exception of February.

The Indian calendar is based on both the sun and the moon. The Indian calendar uses the solar year but divides it into 12 lunar months. They are listed in order from beginning to end: Kãrtik, Mãghshar, Posh, Mãgh (Mahã), Fãlgun, Chaitra, Vaishãk, Jeth, Ashãdh, Shrãvan, Bhãdarvo, and Ãso.

A lunar month is the time required for the moon to orbit once around the earth and pass through its complete cycle of phases. These months are formulated not arbitrarily, but in accordance with the successive entrances of the sun into the 12 rãshis, the 12 constellations of the zodiac marking the path of the sun.

A lunar month is precisely 29 days, 12 hours, 44 minutes, and 3 seconds long. Twelve such months make up a lunar year of 354 days, 8 hours, 48 minutes, and 36 seconds. To ensure that the corresponding seasons according to the lunar months coincide with those of the solar year, an extra month is inserted every 30 months (approximately every 2½ years) because 62 lunar months are equal to 60 solar months.

As a result of the adjustment, the seasons and festivals retain their general position relative to the solar year.Each lunar month is divided into two pakshas (two parts) – the sud or shukla paksh (the bright half of the month when the moon waxes from a new moon to a full moon) and the vad or krishna paksh (the dark half of the month when the moon wanes from a full moon to a new moon).

Each paksha is divided into 15 tithis (lunar days) which follow the names of Sanskrit numerical system. The era that is currently used in the Indian calendar is the Vikram Samvat Era, which began in 57 BCE when King Vikram drove off a Greek invasion of the Malwa region and came to the throne. Thus, we have the following conversion to the Indian year.

If the western calendar date falls between Kartik sud 1 (the beginning of the Indian Year) and December 31st (the end of the western calendar year), then 57 years should be subtracted from the Indian year to make the conversion. If the western calendar date falls between January 1st (the beginning of the western year) and Aso vad 30 (the end of the Indian year), then only 56 years should be subtracted to make the conversion.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008


Few countries in the world have such an ancient and diverse culture as India's. Stretching back in an unbroken sweep over 5000 years, India's culture has been enriched by successive waves of migration which were absorbed into the Indian way of life.It is this variety which is a special hallmark of India. Its physical, religious and racial variety is as immense as its linguistic diversity. Underneath this diversity lies the continuity of Indian civilization and social structure from the very earliest times until the present day. Modern India presents a picture of unity in diversity to which history provides no parallel. Here is a catalogue of everything Indian. Indian religions, festivals, rituals, artifacts, monuments, costumes, music and dance, language and literature.


A Hindu is a follower of Hinduism, the native religion of the people of India.

A Hindu accepts the authority of Vedic scriptures and follows the common practices of Hinduism. A Hindu is inclined to revere the divine in every manifestation and is tolerant of the peaceful practices of other faiths.

The word “Hindu” was originally coined by the ancient Persians to describe the people living east of the “Sindhu”, or Indus River. The term spread westward, and eventually it became popularized throughout the world. It was only with the invasion of India, first by the Muslims and then by the British that the term “Hindu” came into use in India. Prior to that, the practitioners of the native religion of India called their religion, ‘Sanãtan Dharma’ – the Eternal Religion. It was known as eternal, because the Truths revealed by it are true today, were true before this universe existed, and will be true even after the destruction of the universe.


Hinduism or Sanatan Dharma is the world’s oldest religion. It is the native religion of India. It predates recorded history and has no human founder. Vedic records dating back 6,000 to 10,000 years show that even in that time period, Hinduism was considered an ancient religion. Today, there are almost 1 billion Hindus spread around the world. That makes one out of every sixth person in the world a Hindu. Its modes of worship are complex and range from grand festivals such as the Kumbhmelã (a religious gathering of over 45 million people) to the simple darshan (devotional seeing) of home shrines. Its places of worship include millions of ancient and contemporary shrines and mandirs. Hinduism recognizes the Vedas as the most ancient and authoritative body of religious literature. They are the foundational scriptures common to all branches of Hinduism.

Hinduism: Unity in Diversity
There are two aspects of Hinduism. One is easily seen in the outward expression of the faith – the ritual worship, customs and traditions and codes of social conduct – the practices of Hinduism. The other aspect of Hinduism is inward – faith itself – the inner world of belief. To an observer it would appear that there is a bewildering array of often contradictory beliefs embraced by the various branches of Hinduism. It is because Hinduism encompasses such a wide range of beliefs and practices that people find it difficult to cast it into a single mold. Yet, within this amazing diversity of thought and behavior, there are common threads that unify the faithful underneath the umbrella of Hinduism.

Common Beliefs of Hinduism ::

Regarding God
Hinduism acknowledges the existence of many deities but believes in only one Supreme God who is all-pervasive and transcendent. Hinduism states that God manifests (avatãr) on earth for the salvation of infinite souls and is always present through the murtis, consecrated images of God. Hinduism teaches that this universe along with infinite other universes undergoes endless cycles of creation, preservation, and dissolution by this Supreme God.
Regarding the Ãtma (soul)

Hindus believe that all living entities have a soul, or ãtma. Each is eternal – it was never created and will never perish. The ãtmã is characterized as unchanging truth, consciousness and bliss (Satchitanand). Moreover, each has the potential to attain God.
Hinduism propounds the law of karma, cause and effect, wherein the fruits on an individual’s thoughts, words, and deeds are given by God. Hinduism teaches that the ãtmã casts off old bodies and is given new ones based on it karmas. In this way the ãtmã passes through infinite cycles of birth and death (reincarnation) until it realizes God and attains moksha. Hindus believe that one requires a spiritually enlightened and God-realized guru to attain God.

Common Practices in Hinduism
These common beliefs of Hinduism manifest in several common practices. All branches of Hinduism emphasize the need for a moral and ethical life. Hinduism upholds the eternal values and ideals of Satya (Truth), Dayã (Compassion), Ahinsã (Non-violence), and Brahmachãrya (Celibacy). Remaining faithful to these values and other scriptural injunctions, the Hindu always tries to maintain a balance in life among the four endeavors of Dharma, Artha, Kãm, and Moksha.
• Dharma – to live righteously, in accordance with scriptural commands - purity of diet, thought, and social interactions.
• Artha – to accumulate earnings for one’s subsistence.
• Kãm– (1) to use one’s honest earnings for the fulfillment of one’s wishes
(2) and for a man to only keep one wife and regard other women as a mother, sister, or a daughter; and for a woman to only keep one husband and regard other men as a father, brother, or son.
• Moksha – to use the previous three endeavors to attain salvation.
Thus, the Hindu system of beliefs provides guidance for both the spiritual and material realm