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Aryabhata & Jain Yuga System

    – by Sreenadh OG

    This essay is my effort to understand the idea put forward by Chandrahari that Aryabhata was a Jain, and the text Aryabhateeya reflects the Astronomical understanding and Yuga system followed by the Jain community. He has written some very good articles on the same, which are scholarly and much informative than this simple effort to understand the same. I thank him for guiding my thoughts in this direction. Since my understanding of Jain tradition and of astronomy is very limited, this essay may contain mistakes, please pardon my ignorance if you find one.

    The 9th sloka in the 3rd chapter of Aryabhateeya states –
    Utsarpini Yugartham Paschadavasarpini Yugardham cha
    Madhye Yugasya sushama Adavante dushamenduchaat

    Meaning, the first half of a Yuga is Utsarpini and the second half is Avasarpini. Sushama is the middle of the Yuga and Dushama is the start and end of the Yuga. All the calculations related to Yuga must be done considering the Apogee of Moon.

    What attracts our attention is that this Utsarpini, Avasarpini divisions of Yuga and all this Sushama, Dushama divisions are not related to Hindu system of time division, but a Jain system! For clarity I am providing the details of these divisions below-

    Jains believe that in certain areas of the occupied universe (loka-akasa), time is cyclical, and living conditions improve and decline. For human beings, there is a gradual increase in knowledge, length of life span, stature, pleasure, morality, and spirituality during the progressive half of the cycle (utsarpini) and a decrease in these during the regressive half of the cycle (avasarpini). Together these two half cycles constitute a complete cycle of time (kalpa). These two half cycles last for a vast, but finite, number of years and follow each other in unbroken succession. There is no period of demanifestation (pralaya) and re-creation at the end of these cycles. However, after an uncountable (asamkhyata) number of progressive and regressive cycles, there is an abnormal regressive cycle called hudavasarpini, when extraordinary events take place.

    The regressive half of the cycle is divided into six stages: (1) extremely happy (sushama-sushama), (2) happy (sushama), (3) more happy than unhappy (sushama-dushama), (4) more unhappy than happy (dushama-sushama), (5) unhappy (dushama), (6) extremely unhappy (dushama-dushama). These six stages are reversed for the progressive half of the cycle. Liberation (moksha) is possible only during the third and fourth stages of these half-cycles, when there is not an abundance of either happiness or unhappiness.

    The continents of Bharata-kshetra (where we are said to live) and Airavata-kshetra experience cyclical time. We are currently in the fifth or unhappy (dushama) stage of regressive cycle that is a hundavasarpini. It began less than three years after the death of Mahavira, the 24th and final Tirthankara of the era. Thus, liberation is not possible for humans who are born here at this time. However, there is a continent called Mahavideha were liberation is always possible because time is not cyclical and conditions are always suitable for the birth of Tirthankaras

    [Extract from `The A to Z of Jainism]
    The following points should be noted –
    Kalpa is the big division (complete cycle) and Yuga is its subdivision of Kalpa.

    Note the following points –
    The Yuga is composed on one Utsarpini half and another Avasarpini half. The first half is Utsarpini and the second half Avasarpini.
    The Utsarpini half is composed of 6 subdivisions the first of which is Dushama-Dushama. The Avasarpini half is composed of 6 subdivisions the first of which is Sushama-Sushama and ends with a Dushama-Dushama. That is why `Sushama’ is at the middle of Yuga as per Aryabhata, and Dushama at the beginning and end. In total the current Yuga is composed of 12 subdivisions such as

    Utsarpini half

    • Dushama-Dushama
    • Dushama
    • Dushama-Sushama
    • Sushama-Dushama
    • Sushama
    • Sushuma-Sushuma
    • Avasarpini half

    Avasarpini Half

    • Sushuma-Sushuma
    • Sushama
    • Sushama-Dushama
    • Dushama-Sushama
    • Dushama
    • Dushama-Dushama

    As per the above note the current Avasarpini half of current Yuga is a Hundavasarpini, meaning, extraordinary events, which are usually bad, can take place, in this period.

    Since from this it is evident that Aryabhata is a Jain, he has nothing to do with the Hindu system of Yuga calculation. Wherever he mentions Yuga he is speaking about the Jain system of Yuga division.

    Now look at the following sloka present in Aryabhatiya-5th sloka in Chapter 1.
    Kaho Manavo dha manuyugaH sakha gataste cha manuyuga Chana cha
    Kalpader yuga pada ga cha gurudivasacha, Bharatat purvam

    Meaning – One Kalpa is composed of 14 Manuvantaras. In each Manuvantara there is 72 Mahayugas. In this Kalpa 6 Manuvantaras and 27 ¾ Mahayugas are gone. This current Yuga, started with Bhaarata in a Thursday.

    Note the following points –
    The current Yuga’ mentioned here is not Kali Yuga, but the current Yuga as per Jain system. Chandra hari says that, since Jains have nothing to do with Mahabharata war and the hindu system of time division based on Kali yuga, the word Bhaarata’ should not be interpreted as Maha bhaarata war’ but instead read currently as Bharata’, the Son of Rishabha deva the first Theerthankara. Since Bharata was a great Jain king (Chakravarti) who ruled India it would be natural that the beginning date of this Yuga coincide with the date on which Bharata became the king. It might be Bharata who started this system of Yuga calculation, or it is also possible that somebody else started this system, taking the date on which Bharata came to power as the starting date.

    Rishabha deva is mentioned even in Vedas and thus the date of Rishabha and his son Bharata could go back even to BC 2000 or BC 3000.

    Of course the questions What is the length of Kalpa as per Jain belief?’, What is the length of Yuga as per Jain belief?’, `What is the length of a subdivision such as Sushama etc as per Jain belief?’ etc are interesting and thought provoking questions, the answers for which the readers can search in texts. [You can derive answers to most of these question from Aryabhateeya itself]

    Do you want to know more about King Bharata? The following extract may help-
    Bharata – the eldest son of Rishbaha, the first Tirthankara of this era, and his wife sumangala. When Rishabha renounced the household life, he appointed Bharata to succeed him as king. At the time that his father attained omniscience (kevala-jnana), a special weapon (chakra) appeared in his armory, a sign that he had become the first universal emperor (Chakravartin) of this era. …Svetambaras believe that he attained omniscience after the death of Rshabha without having first renounced the household life, but Diganmbaras believe that he renounced prior to attaining omniscience. According to the Digambara Mhapurana, he and Rishabha are the last patriarchs (kulakaras) of this era.

    [Extract from `The A to Z of Jainism’]
    Aryabhata tells us that the current Yuga (as per Jain system) began 3600 years prior to Aryabhata’s 23rd birth day. The 10th sloka in 3rd chapter of Aryabhateeya which state the same is given below-

    Shashtyabdanam shashtir yada vyeteetastrayascha yuga padaH
    Tryadhika vimsatirabda stadeha mama janmanoneetaH

    Meaning when 60 times 60 years are gone, when the 3 quarters of the Yuga elapsed, It was my 23rd birth day.
    Note that when 3600 years elapsed after the current Yuga beginning (No! Not Kali yuga) Aryabhata was of 23 years of Age. It is said that Aryabhateeya is written in AD 499. That is the Yuga as per Jain tradition began on BC 3102. Earlier he told us that it was a Thursday and in the 11th sloka of 3rd chapter of Aryabhateeya he tells us that it was a Suklapaksha Pratipada of the lunar month of Chaitra.

    Note the following points-
    The Yuga calculation is based on the 60 year cycles
    Out of 12 subdivisions of Yuga starting with a Dushama-Dushama subdivision, 3 quarters elapsed says Aryabhata. 3 x 4 =12. Therefore 3 quarters elapsed means, 9 such subdivisions elapsed (as on AD 499) and Aryabhata was living in the 10th subdivision which is Dushama-Sushama of the Avasarpini half of the Yuga.

    The above quote also help us in finding out the span of a single sub division such as Sushama etc. As per Aryabhata 9 such subdivisions elapsed in 3600 years. 3600/9 = 400 years. Thus the span of a Yuga (composed of Utsarpini and Avasarpini half) mentioned by Aryabhata would be 400 x 12 = 4800 years! Aryabhata is truly speaking about a comprehensible history, and the big numbers used in his text was just for calculation purpose!
    Note that, apart from the 60-year cycle, the Jain Yuga division integrates this 400-year cycle as well.

    It seems that a further study of Jain system of Yuga calculation, calendar system and Aryabhateeya could reveal much information in this direction. Let us restate our list of subdivisions with in a Yuga and try to understand the period they notate. (My understanding of the span of Jain Yuga could be wrong. In an effort to understand the above sloka I am applying the derived span of 400 years each of those subdivisions to see the result. Carry on with your own studies to get a clear and correct picture)

    • Utsarpini half (BC 3102 to BC 702)
    • Dushama – Dushama (BC 3102 to BC 2702)
    • Dushama (BC 2702 to BC 2302)
    • Dushama-Sushama (BC 2302 to BC 1902)
    • Sushama-Dushama (BC 1902 to BC 1502)
    • Sushama (BC 1502 to BC 1102)
    • Sushuma-Sushuma (BC 1102 to BC 702)
    • Avasarpini half (BC 702 to AD 1698)
    • Sushuma-Sushuma (BC 702 to BC 302)
    • Sushama (BC 302 to AD 98)
    • Sushama-Dushama (AD 98 to AD 498)
    • Dushama-Sushama (AD 498 to AD 898)
    • Dushama (AD 989 to AD 1298)
    • Dushama – Dushama (AD 1298 to AD 1698)

    If this is the case, stating that Aryabhata is speaking about Kali Yuga or trying to ascertain the year of Mahabharata war (sic) based on the same is nothing but total stupidity. Why should Aryabhata speak about Mahabharata war, in a text on astronomy?! Mahabharata war does not have any astronomical significance as far as the Jain calendar or the Yuga system is concerned. It is stupid even to imagine so! If not stupid, it should be termed only as a willful effort to corrupt the system, and steal it from the Jains in favor of Hindu system, possibly done by the corrupted brahmanic parasites who want to live without doing a work, and argue that every knowledge is given to them by god – while the actual job being parasites contaminating the true knowledge with their interpolations and distortions.

    Alas! It is solely based on the above sloka of Aryabhata that the date of Mahabharata is located as BC 3102, assuming that Aryabhata is speaking about Mahabharata war and Kali Yuga!. All wrong assumptions! Since Aryabhata system of Yuga has nothing to do with Hindu system of Yuga division and Mahabharata war, or Kali yuga it turns out that BC 3102 is the year in which Bharata the son of Rishabha deva came into power! Since Rishabha deva is mentioned in Vedas itself, and since the Vedas are dated to the 3rd or 4th millennium BC it is historically possible as well! Let the seekers who try to locate the literary poetic imaginative description of Vyasa about the Mahabharata war in history look somewhere else to fix the beginning date of Kaliyuga. This sloka of Aryabhata is not going to help them in anyway!

    Aryabhata is not interested in helping you out in fixing the date of Mahabharata war, if at all some such thing ever took place. Of course he is speaking about a calender with its beginning date for a particular yuga in BC 3102, but that Yuga is the Utsarpini-Avasarpini Yuga’, which is a Yuga of the current Kalpa. Kalpa, Mahayuga, Manvantara etc are all imaginative numbers with a purpose and the earliest historical date that is mentioned and got associated with it is the date on which king Bharata (son of Rishabha deva) came into power which falls on BC 3102. Therefore this Jain system of Yuga calculation might have came into place BC 3102 itself, or on later date after Mahaveera. Since the history of Jain religion is tightly integrated with Theerthankara Rishabha deva, the originator of Jain religion, and his son Bharata who propagated this knowledge, fixing or associating the starting date of the current Yuga with Bharata was just natural consequence. Yes, the whole Yuga system presented by Aryabhata is nothing but back calculation’. Aryabhata himself indicate this in the following words.

    Kaloyamanadyanto grahabhairanumeeyate khetre
    (Sloka 11 chapter 3 Aryabhateeya)
    Meaning, Time is endless, we just imagine and measure them based on movement of planets. (Indicating that the apart form the above mentioned start date of current Yuga, no other bigger numbers associated with has any historical or factual basis).

    It is just for the purpose of understanding the rhythm of the solar system that the system of coinciding longitudes of planets at the beginning of Yuga etc is proposed. Possibly this proposal cannot be of Aryabhata himself, but one came down to him through Jain tradition.

    Note -1: Only a detailed search into the calendar system, Kalpadi time divisions, Astronomical knowledge and tradition followed by Jains, a through study and re-look at Aryabhateeya and scrutiny of the life and works of Aryabhata will clarify many doubts this article may generate. Such a study is sure to provide innovative information, erasing many established erroneous notions.

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