by Glenn R. Smith
Western archeologists have a curious notion that although human beings have been around for hundreds of thousands of years, civilization itself is a recent invention of only six thousand years ago. It is believed and taught that the cradle of civilization began in the fertile crescent of the Mesopotamian valley and from there spread to Egypt, India and beyond. But there seems to be reason to believe that as one becomes free from cultural and religious bias one may discover that important accomplishments of mankind may be traceable to far beyond that time barrier.
The problems in tracing origins back through time are many. First is the fact that great periods of time have a tendency to erase traces of cultures. When all traces decay then the culture is effectively obliterated. Whatever is left undestroyed by time becomes subjected to the cultural and personal opinions of archeologists. Such opinions may destroy and obliterate knowledge of the culture much more effectively than time ever could. Another problem is in the epistemology or method of knowledge used by countries foreign to the country or culture being studied. In the west we have a tradition of trying to understand life by studying corpses or trying to know health by studying disease. Archeology becomes an exercise of the imagination when trying to reconstruct a living culture based on remains of pot shards, bones and bricks.
Prior to the nineteenth century, it was piously believed in western civilization that the earth was created in seven days at around five thousand years ago. The Biblical version of creation was challenged by the dual developments of Darwinism and the discovery of dinosaur fossils. Even though the gradual acceptance of these new ideas forced a revision of geological time scales, a corresponding revision within archeological studies lagged. Part of this may have been due to another emerging ideology of the nineteenth century called progressivism. Progressivism is the idea that human beings are in a progressive march towards a goal of better living and greater knowledge. This seductive ideology had its roots in earlier centuries but had its greatest impact in the second half of the nineteenth century where it influenced the thinking of such great men as Darwin and Marx. Although it is easy to accept and defend this way of thinking as logical and sound, it does have some devious implications. In a simplistic way it implies that we as a species are infinitely more cleaver than our ancestors. Since it is possible to measure our advancement in linear terms, there must be a point beyond which in the past human beings were infinitely stupid and not clever. Such human beings were incapable of civilization and they must have lived just prior to six thousand years ago.
These ethnocentric blinders that some western thinkers unconsciously wear before venturing into the past have resulted in the tunnel vision view of history as we know it today. The western tradition of writing history may be traced to the Judeo-christian scriptures wherein one group of people with shared beliefs write about the happenings of that group and the people outside that group. The six-thousand year barrier seems to be a common trait to that tradition. Other cultures, the Hindus for example, regard the earth in terms of billions of years old and civilization in terms of hundreds of thousands of years. The Hindus do not think of time in linear terms with a beginning and an end. Rather, they think in terms of great cycles of thousands and millions of years. The archeological method of digging, study and dating of artifacts may be ill-suited to understanding different cultures that don't share similar attitudes towards time scales.
Hindu scriptures were routinely disparaged by early British indologists as exaggerated stories an myths. Biblical stories on the other hand where accepted by the same indologists as being somewhere between salient fact and articles of faith. German indologists Max Mueller proposed the theory about Aryan invaders colonizing India from the north. This implies that the Indians are so inferior that it is unlikely, if not impossible, for them to civilize themselves without outside help. Native versions of the Indian origins found within living tradition and culture were totally ignored and thought to be unreliable. The British occupation of India produced scholars who's pious duty was to discredit the Hindu tradition and culture. Dates of events given in Hindu scripture based thousands of years ago were redated by the English to have occurred after the birth of Christ for no other reason than one could never rely on the version of a Hindu; the speculations of an English nobleman being wholly preferable. It remain s ironic, however, that even if the dates given by the English be accepted at face value, the Hindu accomplishments in art, architecture, science, mathematics, literature, medicine and philosophy were made at a time when the English and all of Europe were still living a neolithic lifestyle.
To diminish this embarrassing fact, the European scholars have held up ancient Greece as their cultural champion even to the point of making ridiculous claims that the Hindus borrowed all the salient features of science and civilization from them. In no uncertain terms we are lead to believe that the Hindus were incapable of any high scientific reasoning on their own and therefore depended upon help from outside sources for further development. Contrary to this point of view, it can be shown that not only did the Hindus develop a mature culture independent from western influences, the western cultures borrowed from the Hindus more often than otherwise.
One thing to point out is that each major culture of the ancient world had calendars that were unique in themselves. Calendars are dependent upon the accurate observation of heavenly phenomenon. In this endeavor the ancients were not lacking. The five major time schemes of the ancient world are of the Mayan, Egyptian, Mesopotamian, Indian and Chinese cultures. The Jewish calendar is based upon an earlier Babylonian system and has nothing uniquely original. The Greeks had no calendar that possessed characteristics different enough to place them in a separate and distinct category for they also followed the Mesopotamian standard. The Romans, who borrowed heavily from the Greeks, found it necessary to borrow from the Egyptians in order to improve accuracy. This demonstrates that the Romans considered the Greek chronography incomplete and lacking.
Hindu astronomy, their method of observation and the resulting calendrics differs considerably from the Greeks. Now the question arises that if the Hindus borrowed from the Greeks why didn't the Hindus also modify their calendar with the Greek calendar? Remember that ancient astronomy and calendrics were inseparable. Another point: It is a usual occurrence that a borrowed concept takes along a borrowed technique. The methods of observation usually accompanies the knowledge of the things observed. Why is it that the Hindus have a totally unique system of measurement and observation indigenous to their astronomical lore? The champions of western culture would have us overlook these details.
It seems highly evident that the co-existing Indian and Mesopotamian cultures exchanged ideas long before the Greeks learned how to civilize themselves. Any similarity between Greek and Hindu sciences is either co-incidental or due to Greek plagiarism of Indian and Mesopotamian concepts. Yet the bias regarding Greek primacy in all things ancient persists in western educational institutions today. Cultural bias is as destructive of fact as is the passage of time erasing artifacts. What is often passed off as profound knowledge and discovery is nothing more than the reinforcement of bias.
The main concern that would indicate the existence of civilization long before six thousand years ago is that of time measurement or calendrics, the study of which reveals much of what is missing from the digging and dating of bones. The calendar is a vital point of focus for any organized culture or society. Religious, economic and agricultural activities revolve around the calendar. To construct accurate tables of heavenly cycles, a culture must observe the sky for many centuries or at least borrow tables from another culture that has spent centuries studying the heavens. The amount of accuracy derived from observing the heavens over a long period of time suggests that the roots of civilization and some of its earliest accomplishments are much older than six thousand years. Specifically the Indian and Mesopotamian cultures.
BASIS OF THE SEXAGESIMAL SYSTEM
The sexagesimal system of measurement is based on the number sixty. There are sixty seconds in a minute, sixty minutes in a hour. When we measure angles, we use the sexagesimal to express units in degrees, minutes and seconds. This method of measurement familiar to both the Indian and Mesopotamian cultures. It may be that one culture borrowed from the other or that both developed the system independently. Or it could be of such antiquity that both cultures shared a common origin. Whatever the case, it seems quite evident that the sexagesimal system may be based in large part upon the observation of the planets, specifically Jupiter and Saturn.
After every sixty years, Jupiter and Saturn will return to the same relative place in the zodiac. Even though they conjoin every twenty years, it is every third conjunction that they will be in the same zodiacal position as they were sixty years before. Jupiter takes twelve years to complete one circuit of the zodiac. It takes thirty years for Saturn to complete a similar circuit. Consider the following:
* Jupiter takes twelve years years to transit the zodiac. The zodiac has twelve signs. Jupiter travels an average thirty degrees or one complete sign in one solar year.
* Saturn takes an average thirty years to transit the zodiac. Each zodiacal sign has thirty degrees and Saturn travels one degree per month. Thirty months for Saturn to travel one sign. Three hundred and sixty months for Saturn to transit the entire zodiac. Jupiter divides the zodiac into twelve parts or signs. The number derived from Saturn's motion suggests the division of each sign into thirty parts or degrees.
* Jupiter and Saturn take sixty years between conjunctions to reach the same place in the zodiac. This joint motion suggests the third and fourth division of the degree into sixty minutes and each minute into sixty seconds.
The sixty years cycle of Jupiter and Saturn gives rise to another interesting number. In a sixty year period, Jupiter will complete five circuits of the zodiac and Saturn will complete two circuits. The combined individual cycles equal seven which is also the total number of visible planets plus the two luminaries.
SEVEN DAY WEEK
The primacy given to Saturn and Jupiter becomes apparent by the study of the origination of the seven day week which, contrary to common opinion, was not followed by everyone in the ancient world.
The ancient Egyptians had a ten-day week. The Vedic Indians had a six-day week. The ancient Babylonians who started the month on the day after the new moon, had the first, eighth, fifteenth and the twenty second day marked out for religious services. This was a kind of seven-day week with sabbaths, but the last week might be of eight or nine days duration, according as the month, which was lunar, had a length of 29 or 30 days. The ancient Iranians had a separate name for each day of the month, but some days, at intervals of approximately seven, were marked out as Din-i-Parvan, for religious practices. The pattern followed appears to have been similar to the Babylonian practice.
The continuous seven-day week was evolved on astrological grounds by unnamed Chaldean astronomers at an unknown epoch, but at least, long before the first century A.D. The Jews adopted it as a cardinal part of their faith during the days of their contact with the Chaldeans.
Chaldean astronomers flourished between the seventh century B.C. and the third century A.D. They gave particular attention to the study of the movement of the Sun, the Moon, and the planets, which they identified with their gods. They believed the destiny of kings and states were controlled by the gods, (the planets), and attached the greatest importance to the observation of their positions and movements. They attached magical value to the number seven which was the number of planets or gods controlling human destiny. The two outermost planets, Jupiter and Saturn, moved slowly and solemnly and therefore determined the measured boundaries of all planets within. After every sixty years Jupiter and Saturn meet in the same general area of the zodiac. During that sixty years, Jupiter completed five circuits of the zodiac and Saturn completed two circuits. The combined number of circuits for these ponderous planets is seven.
Jupiter and Saturn along with the Sun, Moon, Mercury, Venus and Mars, were identified with the chief gods of the Babylonian pantheon.
Notice that the order of the planets in table 1 coincides with the apparent average daily motion of the planets from the slowest, Saturn, to the fastest, the Moon.
These seven gods, sitting in solemn conclave, control the destinies of kings and countries, and it was believed that their will and judgment with respect to a particular country or its ruler could be obtained from an interpretation of the position of the seven planets in the heavens, and the nature of the motion of the planets (direct or retrograde). Part of the divinatory practices included knowing what part of the day or night was being ruled or watched over by the gods. Occurrences during a particular watch was believed to forebode particular events consistent with the nature of the watching god.
The day was divided into 24 hours, and each of the seven gods was supposed to keep watch on the world over each hour of the day in rotation. The particular day was named after the god who kept watch at the first hour at Sunrise. Thus on Saturday, the watching god on the first hour was Saturn, and the day was named after him. The succeeding hours of Saturday were watched by the seven gods in rotation as follows: SEE FIGURE 1
Above shows the picture for Saturday. On this day Saturn keeps watch at the first hour, so the day is named after him. The second hour is watched over by (2)Jupiter, third by (3)Mars and so on. Saturn is thus seen to preside at the 8th, 15th and 22nd hours of Saturday. Then for the 23rd, 24th and 25th hours come in succession (2)Jupiter, (3)Mars and (4)Sun. The 25th hours is the first hour of the next day, which is accordingly named after the presiding planet of the hour, viz, (4) which is the Sun. We thus get Sunday following Saturday. If we now repeat the process, we get the names of the week days following each other, as follows: SEE FIGURE 2
Saturday, Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday.
The Jews, it may be mentioned, reckon the days by ordinal numbers---the first, second, third.....seventh day. Although they derived their calendar almost entirely from the Babylonians, they eschewed the god names as being inconsistent with their monotheistic religion. the ordinal first day is Saturday, which is their sabbath.
The ancient Indians did not use the seven day week. The most ancient usage of day names used in India was that of the Nakshatra. There are twenty seven lunar asterisms or constellations in the old lunar zodiac. This number was derived from the average number of days it took the Moon to complete one circuit of the heavens in relation to any particular star (one sidereal revolution). Since the Hindus didn't use hours to divide their day, the natural consequence of using a seven day week would not follow. Instead they divided a day into 60 equal parts called ghatikas. Each ghatika is equal to 24 minutes. The word "ghatika" means little jar and thus the use of water clocks suggest itself. A ghatika is further divided into 60 vinadikas. So between the two cultures, it was the Hindus who made direct use of the sexagesimal system whereas the Chaldeans used an indirect method of 24 hours.
It wasn't until much later in the third century AD where we find the first usage of the seven day week in India. Indeed much of the rest of the world had not adopted it until after the first century AD. It was unknown to the writers of the New Testament who did not mention anything about the day of the week on which Christ was crucified or the the week day which he is alleged to have ascended to heaven. The fixing of Friday and Sunday for these incidents is a later concoction, dating from the fifth century after Christ. All that the New Testament books say is that he was crucified on the day before the Hebrew festival of Passover which used to be celebrated and is still celebrated on the full-moon day of the month of Nisan. The continuous seven day week was unknown to the classical Greeks, the Romans, the Hindus and early Christians. It was introduced into the Christian world by an edict of the Roman emperor Constantine, about 323 AD, who changed the Sabbath to the Lord's Day (Sunday), the week day next to the Jewish Sabbath. Its introduction into India is about the same time and from the same sources. The week days are not found in earlier Hindu scriptures like the Vedas of the classics like the great epic Mahabharata. They occur only from 484 AD, but not in inscriptions of 300 AD or earlier. Even now, they form but an unimportant part in the religious observances of the Hindus which are determined by the Moon's phases and lunar asterisms.
In the schema of the Moon's phases we see a repeated pattern to that of Jupiter and Saturn. A lunar month is made up of 30 tithis. Each tithi is determined when the moon moves in advance of twelve degrees ahead of the Sun. Here we see the numbers 30 and 12 that are common with Saturn and Jupiter. A complete synodic period (a complete revolution around the zodiac in relation to the Sun) of the Moon, however, takes only 29 civil days. (A civil day for the Indians is reckoned from sunrise to sunrise). It is quite a regular occurrence for a tithi to be expunged from the consecutive civil day count. This characteristic of the Hindu calendar is not found in the Greek, Chinese or Mesopotamian calendars. Other cultures, without exception, use solely a civil day count of 28, 29 and 30 days for their lunation cycles and had not even considered a pure lunar day count independent from the civil reckoning. The consistency of the Hindu astronomical methods make it unlikely that they borrowed their knowledge from other sources. And the repeated usage of the sexagesimal measurement makes it more like that they were the inventors of the system.
The lunar asterisms (nakshatras) are derived from the average daily motion of the Moon's mean sidereal cycle, which is 13° 20' of arc. In a circle of 360 degrees this would make twenty seven nakshatras. Each nakshatra has a planetary ruler and they are shown as follows:
In the above table you may have noticed the two strange words "Rahu" and "Ketu". These are the nodes of the moon and their usage in astronomy is important for predicting the eclipses of the Sun and the Moon. Although they possess no mass or density, they are treated as planets in the sense that they have an effect on human affairs.
Now in figure 4, lets make room for two more planets:.... SEE FIGURE 4
This figure appears in a book by Chiero the famous palmist in which he refers to this as the "Seal of Solomon." Other writers assert that ther are many different Seals of Solomon and that this is only one. Whatever the case may be, if we were to add two more planets to this seal the obvious place would be in the areas vacated by the points of Jupiter and Mercury. Their placement in the seal is shown in figure 5. SEE FIGURE 5
Hindu astrology treats the nodes as planets even though they possess no mass and density. They are sensitive points where the path of the Moon crosses the path of the Sun. Being invisible, it is quite fitting that they should not have a point of the star aiming at them in the diagram shown above.
But note the general position of the planets and see how they are unchanged from the Chaldean star order. Now, the next diagram, figure 6, will show the connection with the Hindu nakshatra order. SEE FIGURE 6.
Compare this diagram with table 2, the NAKSHATRAS AND RULERS. Here the order is clockwise starting with Ketu, going to Venus, the Sun, down to the Moon, back up to Mars, over to Rahu, Jupiter, Saturn and finally bypassing over to mercury. The detour down to the Moon doesn't seem so strange when you consider that the nakshatra reckoning is entirely dependent upon the Moon's position in the constellations. In fact, this diagram may taken as a single pointed star with the significant planet being at the single point.
It seems that the similarities between Hindu astronomy and Chaldean magical seals are too great to be a mere coincidence. It is quite likely that the two share a similar origin or that one was derived from the other. But since ancient Hindu tradition and current usage make more consistent usage of a direct base sixty system of counting, and the other cultures use a derivative of that, it seems more likely that the sexagesimal is of Hindu origin.
It may be argued that the sexagesimal was not founded upon the joint cycles of Jupiter and Saturn but upon some other measurement such as the average number of three hundred and sixty days in a year. This, of course, is assuming that ancient man was incapable of counting the correct number of days in a year and that he was infinitely unclever. For the sake of argument, lets accept that position. There still remains the problem of dividing the year into parts that would yield a base sixty system of counting. The Babylonians divided their year into three seasons. The Hindus, however, divided their year into six seasons. Of the two cultures which do you think would arrive at a base sixty system?
But judging from the rest of Hindu astronomical techniques it is clear that they knew precisely how long the solar year was. All the other planetary cycles were also studied with great scrutiny. From this it may be tempting to think that the sexagesimal was arrived at in order to provide the great average mean of measurement for celestial phenomena just as today the binary mode of counting is most convenient for computer science. Three hundred and sixty, which is a multiple of the sexagesimal, is the midpoint number between the 365 day solar year and the 354 day lunar year. One synodic period of mars is 780 days which is equally divided by 60 thirteen times. Between two consecutive conjunctions of Saturn and Jupiter in a twenty year period, Mercury will go retrograde a little over sixty times. The Hindus also based their knowledge of breath control, Pranayama, upon the sexagesimal system. In one twenty four hour period, or between two consecutive sunrises, a person takes an average of 21600 breaths, each brea th being four seconds long. This number, 21600 divided by 60 equals 360.
To all but the harshest critic the above may be evidence enough to form an opinion on the origin of the sexagesimal system. But the critic may remain unconvinced for various reasons. The above is only circumstantial. One can apply any number of coincidental facts to any ancient culture and come up with some pretty amazing things. After all, no ancient text were quoted giving support to Hindu origins. To quell these doubts we present final evidence that not only shows the superiority of Hindu astronomy but also proves damaging to the theory that the Greeks were the greatest in all matters of the ancient world.
HINDU COSMOLOGICAL TIME CYCLES
The structure of Hindu astronomy is built upon the foundation of their unique concept of cosmological time cycles. No other culture on Earth has or is known to have such a unique system of cosmology. The only other culture to come close to the vast scale of time conceived by the Hindus are the Mayan. Western scholars have completely misunderstood the value of the Hindu cosmological time cycles and believed them to be nothing more than crude number speculations. In their translation of the Surya Siddhanta, the editors Burgess and Whitney routinely disparage the Hindu authors:
Not only is this opinion in error but the astronomical quantities derived from these cosmological time cycles are vastly more accurate than anything achieved by the Greeks. And they were in use at a time when the British were still living a neolithic lifestyle.
OUTLINE OF HINDU COSMOLOGY
Prior to the creation of the universe, Lord Vishnu lies asleep on the ocean of all causes. He rests upon a serpent bed with thousands of cobra-like hoods. While asleep, a lotus sprouts from His navel. Upon this lotus is born Brahma the creator of the universe. Lord Brahma lives for a hundred years and then dies, while Lord Vishnu remains. One year of Brahma consists of three hundred and sixty days. At the beginning of each day Brahma creates the living beings that reside in the universe and at the end of each day the living beings are absorbed into Brahma while he sleeps on the lotus. One day of Brahma is known as a KALPA. Within each KALPA there are fourteen MANUS and within each MANU are seventy one CHATUR-YUGAS. Each CHATUR-YUGA is divided into four parts called YUGAPADAS.
From the first chapter of Surya-Siddhanta, the most revered authoritative source of Hindu astronomy, we have the following passage:
11. That which begins with respirations (prana) is called real.......Six respirations make a vinadi, sixty of these a nadi:
Now to make plain what is stated above. Commentaries are very clear on the fact that in verse 12 the "sidereal day" refers to a revolution of the Earth relative to any fixed star and is the true revolution reference point of the Earth. Verse 13 refers to "a day of the gods" means one sidereal year. A night of the gods is half a sidereal year. Verse 21 mentions "his extreme age is a hundred refers to the lifespan of Brahma and consists of one hundred years of 360 days. Each of these days being two kalpas long. Verse 23 shows that the Surya-Siddhanta was composed right after krita-yuga and during the treta-yuga. The present yuga we are in right now is the kali-yuga which is said to have begun on Friday February 18th 3102 B.C. of the Julian calendar. This becomes clearer when represented in a tabular form.
INFRASTRUCTURE OF THE KALPA PERIOD
Two kalpas make a day and night of Brahma. The kalpa is 4,320,000,000 sidereal years made up of 1,000 chatur-yugas or 10,000 kali-yugas. An additional dawn and twilight of 1,728,000 years each is made to fit the kalpa.
After Brahma dies it takes a period of time equal to his lifespan until he is reborn and the cycle starts over.
ASTRONOMICAL VALUES DERIVED
1 SIDEREAL DAY...........................23h 56m 03.4446s
60 NADIS .............................. 23h 56m 03.4446s
1 NADI................................... 23m 56.06s
It is clear in the text of Surya-Siddhanta and the current practice of Indian astrology that SIDEREAL measurements are of primary importance. Tropical measurements are also used but in a secondary way.
THREE MEAN MOTIONS OF THE SUN
The three mean motions of the Sun used to construct the Cosmological Time Cycles shown above are as follows:
1 sidereal year = 360........days............( I )
_____________ 6.............days......( II )
_______________ 0.2563795.....days.....( III )
366.2563795............sidereal revolutions of the Earth
Remember we are not talking about civil solar days here, we are talking about the total number of times the Earth rotates on its axis in relation to a single star during the course of one year. This happens to be one greater than the mean solar days in a year which is.......
1 sidereal year = 365.2563795...mean solar days.
These three mean motions of the Sun may be compared to the hour, minute and second hands of a clock. Each cycle is counted and completed separately. Using this system of the three mean motions, the ancients reckoned time that put the day, year and longer periods of time into exact correspondence with each other.
PROOF OF THE SEXAGESIMAL NUMBER SYSTEM
The first two mean solar motions, that of 360 + 6 Earth revolutions, generate the sexagesimal number system completely. A count of six for every 360 is the same as one for every 60. This is the basis of the six seasons of the year observed by the Hindus. Counting six days per year, the second mean motion of the Sun completes a cycle of 360, the number of degrees in a circle, after 60 years which correlates with the Babylonian sossos period and the cycles of Jupiter and Saturn.
In the same interval that the first mean motion completes a count of 21600 it has done so at a rate 60 times greater than the second mean motion 360 X 60 and represents the number of arc minutes in a circle. The number 21600 is also the same average number of breaths (prana) a person will make in a 24 hour period.
VEDIC EVIDENCE OF THE SIDEREAL YEAR
The Rig Veda, the earliest of the Hindu scriptures says the following:
The number seven related to the Sun has much significance when understanding the third mean solar motion ( 0.2563795 ). The Kali-yuga of 432,000 years is the unit of reference for determining the length of the sidereal year in Hindu cosmological time cycles. During the course of 10,000 years there are seven rotations of the third mean solar motion. For a single year the count is 0.2563795 diurnal revolutions of the earth. For two years it is .512759 and so on. One complete rotation ( to equal 366.2564...) of the third motion takes 1428.571429 sidereal years. Or you can reduce it to a fraction of 1428 4/7 sidereal years.
The integer of this sidereal interval, 1428 years, multiplied by the number of years in a Kali-yuga and then further multiplied by seven equals the number of years of fourteen Manus. (see table 4).
The fractional part of this sidereal interval, 4/7 years, multiplied by seven and further multiplied by the number of years in a Kali-yuga equals the time of an introductory dawn ( see table 4 ).
Relating the Vedic verses above to what we have just demonstrated it is clear that the "navels three" refer to the three mean motions of the Sun and "seven-wheeled chariot" to the rate of precession of the equinoxes. Thus, there can be no doubt that the cosmological time cycles were already an established conclusion at the time of the Vedic era and not in the formative stages.
PRECESSIONAL CONSTANT DEMONSTRATED
Before demonstrating the unmistakable fact of the precession inherent in the cosmological time cycles, let us show the readers how the Western translators of the Surya-Siddhanta made fools of themselves when they wrote:
Again this opinion is in error. If Burgess and Whitney were not so blinded by cultural arrogance and conceit they might have been able to improve their knowledge by careful study of the Surya-Siddhanta. The precession is clearly derived from the cosmological time cycles as shown below. The chatur-yuga of 4,320,000 years is the unit of reference for determining the rate of precession used in the construction of the Hindu cosmological time cycles.
The constant rate of precession is 50".4 = 0° .014 = 7/500 degrees or precession per sidereal year.
This is the same as one degree of precession in 71 3/7 = 71.42857........sidereal years.
This correlates to the cosmological time cycles as follows:
In the interval of 1/14th kalpa there are:
( 71 3/7) x 4,320,000 x 0°.014 = 4,320,000 degrees of precession = 12,000 precessional years
From table one we see that a period of one chatur yuga is 4,320,000 years and is equivalent to 12,000 divine years.
Is it just a happy coincidence that the Cosmological Time Cycles agree with the precession? Burgess and Whitney would probably think so.
Other related values of interest are:
It has been shown conclusively that the Hindu Cosmological time cycles are based upon the diurnal motion of the Earth in reference to any particular fixed star, hence it is purely of sidereal origin. The later practice of adopting the ahargana or "heap of days" is based upon solar and civil day reckoning which is of obvious practical value for calendrics. The sidereal basis of the cosmological time cycles is without question the oldest known positive proof of the origin for the sexagesimal number system.
COMPARISON WITH MODERN SCIENCE
The standard values for the tropical year and annual precession in longitude determined by Simon Newcomb for the epoch 1900.0, mean noon at Greenwich December 31st 1899 are:
The following shows the astronomical quantities used in the construction of Hindu cosmological time cycles with those of Simon Newcomb for the epoch 1900.0
The sidereal year in the above table refers to the number of solar civil days it takes for the earth to orbit the sun in relation to any particular star. The former is a sidereal-diurnal relation and the later is a sidereal-solar relation. The very close agreement between the length of the year as measured by Hindu cosmological time cycles and that determined by modern science, together with the demonstrated great antiquity of the cycles, shows that the rotation of the Earth is not being sensibly retarded by "tidal friction" or any other cause. Astronomers today would do well to look for lack of accuracy in their measurement of the Sun's mean motion and to the variations of long periods in the rotation of the Earth to explain the so-called slowing down of the earth.
BREAKING THE BARRIER
The question may be asked how could such accurate constants of precession, as that of the Hindu cosmological time cycles, have been obtained without modern instruments and techniques? At least one thing must be allowed for and that is a very long period of uninterrupted observation.
Naked eye observations are accurate up to 1/6 of a degree. In the case of observing the precession moving uniformly on the celestial sphere, it would then be possible to obtain an accurate rate up to three decimal places in not less than 50" x ( 72 years / 1° ) or 3,600 years. Measuring the precession is not as simple as that, however. Before attempting to measure the precession, the exact times of the equinoxes must be measured first. Ptolemy, the Greek astronomer, speaks with pride in the Almagest of "very accurately" observing the equinox to within a quarter of a day! That is, to within at best one quarter of one degree of arc. Add to this the difficulty presented by the proper motion of the stars. The star Sirius, for example, has a very large proper motion of -0".553 ecliptic longitude per year. It would take 1,000 years for Sirius to move 1/6 of a degree and for this mistake to be noticed by a naked eye observer. In addition to this, still, the motion of the Earth's perihelion would become noticeable a nd have to be accounted for. With all these factors, it is difficult to imagine how they can be resolved into a system that would allow continuous observation to produce a constant of precession accurate to three decimal places in less than 10,000 years.
Similar arguments can be put forth to show that to measure the sidereal period of the Sun to eight decimal places could not be accomplished by naked eye observations alone in any less time.
Even if we cannot comprehend a civilization going back 10,000 years prior to the six-thousand year barrier, we still must face the incredible genius of the cosmological time cycles themselves: a calendar for eternity so accurate that its formulations must be considered as laws of nature, while at the same time a structure so simple, symmetrical, and orderly, that the best scholars and astronomers of modern times have completely failed to see the astronomical basis. In this light we can understand why the Hindus regarded this knowledge as a revelation from the gods.