Every year, on 1st January, as we celebrate the beginning of the new year, we have to accept that there is nothing special about this day – astronomically, religiously, or culturally.
It’s essentially an arbitrary starting point, which everyone has eventually gotten used to, albeit after a lot of resistance.
Janus is the Roman God of beginnings, and Julius Caesar wanted the first day of Janus’s month (January) to be a new year day, and that’s why January 1st is the new year day.
Unlike this, for most human history various ancient civilizations did a much better job. They always celebrated the new year on a day of astronomical or religious/cultural significance.
The most common new year’s day was Spring Equinox (around March 21st). Its day and night are of equal duration in the northern hemisphere.
In most Indian cultures also, we have new year celebrations, like Gudi-Padwa, Ugadi around Spring Equinox, with Vishu, Puthandu on April 14th, when Sun enters the Aries.
Even during ancient times, there are many mentions in Vedic literature of new year celebrations (yajnas) happening on Spring Equinox. Being a sidereal system, they kept track of the constellation (नक्षत्र) of the sun and moon during these new year celebrations.
Interestingly, what we notice is that for the Spring Equinox different constellations(नक्षत्र) were mentioned in different places. In many places, there is even a discussion on how the earlier mentioned constellation is no longer valid; instead, a new constellation is to be used.
This confusion continued for a long time until we understood another aspect of earth’s rotation, called “Axial Precession” where the earth completes one rotation around ‘its axis’ in 25800 years.
Due to this, the earth gradually changes the “view of the sky”. With 27 constellations(नक्षत्र) defined by Vedic literature, it would cross one constellation every 955 years, returning to the original view after 25800 years.
At this current time in 2022, we have the Revati constellation at Spring equinox and if we compare it with the oldest mention of Ardra for Spring equinox, we can easily say that Vedic literature is written much before 5000-6000BC.
With Bhagavad Gita (10.35) indicating Margashirsha for Spring, we get ~3000-4000BC timeframe for Mahabharata. That seamlessly matches the calculations we have for the start of Kaliyuga and can very well prove Mahabharata happened.
BTW, the glorious past is useless until it is used as an inspiration to build a better today. So, in the new year, let’s continue to take inspiration from our glorious past to build a glorious future for India, the country of our residence, and the world in general.
Happy New Year!
For detailed analysis on Vedic new year celebrations, and the impact of Axial Precession, please read the famous book by Lokamaya Tilak “Orion: Antiquity of Vedas” (also available on Amazon):
Dr. Jayant Naralikar, a famous astrophysicist, has written his comment on the above book, in case you doubt Tilak’s assessment: