मेघदूत: "नीचैर्गच्छत्युपरि च दशा चक्रनेमिक्रमेण"

समर्थ शिष्या अक्का : "स्वामीच्या कृपाप्रसादे हे सर्व नश्वर आहे असे समजले. पण या नश्वरात तमाशा बहुत आहे."

G C Lichtenberg: “It is as if our languages were confounded: when we want a thought, they bring us a word; when we ask for a word, they give us a dash; and when we expect a dash, there comes a piece of bawdy.”

Friedrich Nietzsche: “Everybody wants the same, everybody is the same: whoever feels different goes voluntarily into a madhouse.”

Martin Amis: “Gogol is funny, Tolstoy in his merciless clarity is funny, and Dostoyevsky, funnily enough, is very funny indeed; moreover, the final generation of Russian literature, before it was destroyed by Lenin and Stalin, remained emphatically comic — Bunin, Bely, Bulgakov, Zamyatin. The novel is comic because life is comic (until the inevitable tragedy of the fifth act);...”

सदानंद रेगे:
"... पण तुकारामाची गाथा ज्या धुंदीनं आजपर्यंत वाचली जात होती ती धुंदी माझ्याकडे नाहीय. ती मला येऊच शकत नाही याचं कारण स्वभावतःच मी नास्तिक आहे."
".. त्यामुळं आपण त्या दारिद्र्याच्या अनुभवापलीकडे जाऊच शकत नाही. तुम्ही जर अलीकडची सगळी पुस्तके पाहिलीत...तर त्यांच्यामध्ये त्याच्याखेरीज दुसरं काही नाहीच आहे. म्हणजे माणसांच्या नात्यानात्यांतील जी सूक्ष्मता आहे ती क्वचित चितारलेली तुम्हाला दिसेल. कारण हा जो अनुभव आहे... आपले जे अनुभव आहेत ते ढोबळ प्रकारचे आहेत....."

John Gray: "Unlike Schopenhauer, who lamented the human lot, Leopardi believed that the best response to life is laughter. What fascinated Schopenhauer, along with many later writers, was Leopardi’s insistence that illusion is necessary to human happiness."

Justin E.H. Smith: “One should of course take seriously serious efforts to improve society. But when these efforts fail, in whole or in part, it is only humor that offers redemption. So far, human expectations have always been strained, and have always come, give or take a bit, to nothing. In this respect reality itself has the form of a joke, and humor the force of truth.”

विलास सारंग: "… . . 1000 नंतर ज्या प्रकारची संस्कृती रुढ झाली , त्यामध्ये साधारणत्व विश्वात्मकता हे गुण प्राय: लुप्त झाले...आपली संस्कृती अकाली विश्वात्मक साधारणतेला मुकली आहे."

Friday, March 14, 2008

Indian Religious Life Regulated by Encyclopaedia of Errors and Superstitions called Hindu Almanac पंचांग?

I had a good fortune of reading two excellent articles on the subject of calendars.

On February 29, 2008 NYT, “A Great Leap Forward" By CHRIS TURNEY and on March 28, 2008 Frontline, “Medieval Mistake” by Biman Nath.

Turney wrote:

“…But now we’re in the 21st century, and time is measured according to oscillations of vaporized atoms of cesium-133. Why do we still need something as oddly quaint as leap year?

The answer lies in the fact that days and years are not neatly synchronized. This problem has confounded calendar makers for centuries, and prompted corrections far more clumsy than an occasional extra day in February…

… In what is now Belgium, the calendar went from Dec. 21, 1582, straight to Jan. 1, 1583, depriving everyone there of Christmas.

By the time Britain adopted the calendar, in 1752, 11 days had to be eliminated, and many people were enraged at the loss. “Time rioters” took to the streets of London and other cities chanting, “Give us back our 11 days!”…”

Among all kinds of them in Indian streets, “Time rioters” are still not there because India has chosen to do nothing about the error of whopping 24 days in its calendars!

Nath wrote:

“…The traditional Indian calendars have become just such an absurdity today. They are slowly going out of sync with the seasons – by ‘ticking’ faster than they should – and they have already accumulated an alarming gap…

… That is why Makara Sankranti, which is actually the day the sun shines overhead on the Tropic of Capricorn (Makara), that is December 22 (the winter solstice), is celebrated in the middle of January. Most of us often wonder about the significance of January and Makara, unaware of the fact that the fault lies with our calendar system, that it cannot keep step with the seasons. It is like looking out at noon and trying to understand why we call it morning because our watch says so.

And it is all because of a mistake made in the medieval times. Moving faster than the seasons, Indian calendars jump ahead by a whole day in roughly 60 years; so they must have accumulated the present gap of 24 days in approximately 1,450 years. The calendars of today came into use circa 5th-6th century C.E. This was the time when the siddhanta (conclusive) system of astronomy was being formulated. There was a lot of debate and discussion at that point of time about a crucial issue, but somehow the prominent astronomers chose to disregard the truth and our calendar system is paying the price for it. The issue was about a discovery made in 2nd century B.C. in Greece, and something that medieval astronomers in India could have easily checked instead of indulging in wordy debates…

… The Government of India set up a committee to reform our calendars in 1955 with the renowned physicist Meghnad Saha as its chairman. It surveyed the existing calendars and the methods of corrections adopted in each, and concluded that “the Hindu calendar... is a most bewildering production of the human mind and incorporates all the superstitions and half-truths of medieval times....In spite of these errors, very few have the courage to talk of reform... the beginning of the year is now wrong by nearly twenty-three days, the result of accumulated error of nearly 1,400 years.”

The committee went on to lament “We are content to allow religious life to be regulated by the encyclopaedia of ‘errors and superstitions’ which is called the Hindu almanac, and to regard it as a scripture.” …

The Indian National Calendar was adopted in 1957 based on its report, and if one followed its recommendations – similar to the conventions in the Gregorian calendar – then it would stand corrected for several millennia to come.

But this National Calendar is hardly used anywhere outside the confines of the pages of gazettes or broadcasts of All India Radio, while lay people remain blissfully at the mercy of traditional calendar makers…”

Author Vishwas Patil विश्वास पाटील described sentimentally in his Marathi novel Panipat पानिपत that while the rest of Maharashtra was eating sweet-chapatis (गुळपोळी) on January 14, 1761; thousands of Marathi speaking men were being slaughtered on the battlefield at Panipat. Assumption being January 14, 1761 was the festival day of Makara Sankranti.

But was January 14 a Sankranti day in 1761?

Even today there is a huge controversy in Maharashtra about when to celebrate Shivaji’s birth anniversary. As per Indian calendar or Gregorian one? Before reading Frontline article, I belonged to the camp that argued it should be according to the Indian calendar.

I was wrong.

Shivaji was born in year 1630. If Indian calendar has erred 24 days in approximately 1,450 years, it has erred 6.3 days in 378 years. Therefore, I should have celebrated Shivjayanti शिवजयंती as per Gregorian calendar on February 19, 2008 instead waiting for March 24, 2008.

Artist: Otto Soglow The New Yorker 20 July 1929