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Panchangam Conflict in Kerala Samkramam Controversy of Medam 1 and Jyotirganitam of Kerala I. Background

K. Chandra Hariƒ

Jyotirganitam, computation of planetary elements and their conversion to parameters which decide the auspiciousness of time and also those used in horoscope preparation, has a long tradition in Kerala, dating back to the times of legendary Vararuchi of the 3rd century after Christ. After Vararuchi Aryabhata-I marked a new paradigm of astronomical developments in Kerala in the 6th Century AD to be modified by Haridatta a century after as ‘Parahitam’. Then a galaxy of stalwarts have enriched the Kerala Astronomy – illustrious men like Govinda Swamy and Sankaranarayana of 800 AD, Sangamagrama Madhava (14th century), Vatassery Paramesvaran Namboodhiri (15th century), Neelakantha Somayaji (16th century), Achyuta Pisharoty (17th century) etc. Last of these experts and innovators in Kerala tradition of astronomy was Sri Purushothaman Namboodhiri of Puliyur (Chengannur) who refined the traditional techniques using the modern astronomical methods in his magnum opus ‘Ganitanirnayam’ which had its epoch as 14 April 1938 AD. With the giant leaps achieved by instrumentation in astronomical observation viz., introduction of powerful telescopes, satellites, computers etc the computational techniques in modern astronomy have undergone sweeping changes and today the derivation of planetary longitudes is a matter of pressing a few buttons on a computer equipped with the related software. It is no more a specialized disciplined as in the past and many resources are available in the net to gain adequate familiarization with the computation techniques and the use of the same in deriving the parameters of Panchanga which are annually published in Kerala and elsewhere as well. Unfortunately, in Kerala today a controversy has come to manifest in relation to what is known popularly as Vishu or Meda-samkramam of Surya (sidereal ingress of sun into Aries) and consequently two calendars have come to be published by Government of Kerala and Mathrubhumi respectively. While Kerala Sarkar Panchangam gives 15th April as Medam 1, Mathrubhumi is giving 14th April as Medam1, throwing thousands of people into confusion in respect of the Malayalam Calendar based on Kollam Era. Kerala Sarkar Panchangam is prepared by Prof. Balakrishna Warrier while the Mathrubhumi Panchangam is computed by Ganita-Chakravarti Sri VPK Potuval of Payyannur who also publishes the Uttara-Malayala Panchangam, which claims to give planetary data for the local sunrise of Payyannur. Mathrbhumi and Kerala Sarkar have their computations respectively to Kozhikkode and Tiruvananthapuram and the veterans have been blaming each other for the controversy. It is

ƒ B-204, Parth Avenue, near ONGC, Ahmedabad-5. Tel: 09426032858, 079-23297529 (R)


well known today that astronomical computations are scientific and there is no room for any controversy if the scientific procedure is adhered to in deriving the data.

II. Anatomy of the Controversy Sri VPK Potuval of the Mathrmbumi Panchangam claims his work as having slight difference with those Panchangams which are based on Indian Astronomical Ephemeris, published by the Directorate General of Meteorology, Govt. of India, New Delhi, because of the extraaccuracy that he has achieved in computation for the local station. Obviously the other ones referred to include the Kerala Sarkar Panchangam by Prof. Warrier which is said to draw its contents from the IAE astronomical data. As someone who is aware of the recent developments in astronomical computations and the accuracy it represents, present author cannot accept the criticism of the use of IAE data and the claims of superiority by Sri VPK Potuval for the Mathrubhumi Panchangam. The silence by Prof. Balakrishna Warrier against such claims of extra-accuracy and reluctance to refute the claim of Sri VPK Potuval is surprising and this has led to a campaign by the Mathrubhumi camp claiming them to be right on the ‘samkrama-controversy’. Even in the interest of the correct scientific opinion no one has come forward to examine and make a correct judgment on the claims by Mathrubhumi Panchagam and Sri VPK Potuwal. As a result serious confusion have been sown in the minds of people by these two schools adhering to Chitrapaksha rationale which are supposed to produce the same results if scientific rigor is maintained in their work. As the present author has examined and realized the extra-accuracy claim of Mathrubhumi Panchangam as wrong, the details of the ‘different method’ employed by Sri VPK Potuwal is presented below with appropriate discussion and computational substantiation. • Analysis of the Extra-accuracy Claimed by Sri VPK Potuwal Salient features of the extra-steps by Sri VPK Potuwal are given below: 1. Computation is for respective places like Kozhikkode (11N14, 75E48) and Payyannur (12N18, 75E19) based on the computations for Trivandrum (08N30, 77E00). Whether longitude is extended to meet the equator 00N and the computation is for a hypothetical Lanka as in Ganitanirnayam is not expressly clear from the Panchangam but it can be inferred that the local mean sunrise of Trivandrum is the basis adopted. These aspects are evident from the elements like ‘Palangulam’, Desantara-pranan etc. For example the Mathrubhumi gives Desantara-pranan as (+) 72 kala which is the same as the difference between the longitudes of Trivandrum 77E00 and that of Kozhikkode (75E48) and the Payyannur local Uttara-Malayala Panchangam gives Desantara-pranan as ‘kanakam’ which in katapayadi notation is 101kala (+) which is 77E00 – 75E19 of Payyannur.


2. Present author had an occasion to hear a disciple1 of Sri VPK Potuwal at a meeting in Kannur and also is in receipt of a written communication, which outlines the method as effecting the corrections of Desantaram and Aharmanam (which consists of Udayantaram (Charaphalam+Pranakalantharam) and Surya-Mandaphalam as time corrections to the longitudes determined for the actual/apparent sunrise of Trivandrum. 3. Above additional operations prescribed in texts of the tradition and involved in the making of the Mathrubhumi Panchangam have the following astronomical implications with the methodology of Sri VPK Potuwal. (a) Desantaram Longitudinal difference converted to time and the relevant planetary motion is 12 Vikala2 or seconds of arc for Sun computed for Mathrbhumi at Kozhikkode. In terms of time this is nearly 5 minutes. (b) Charaphalam and Pranakalantharam This part is the Equation of Time having two components viz., (i) Charaphalam or the latitudinal component and (ii) Obliquity impact on sunrise. For the tropical longitude of 24 degree at Medam 1, April 14, these parameters add up to 37 vikala or in terms of time the factor is 15 minutes. (c) Surya-Mandphalam This is the eccentricity factor and is 114 kala nearly on Medam1. This meant an addition of 19 vikala and in terms of time the impact is slightly less than 8 minutes. (a)+(b)+(c) for Medam 1is 28 minutes and the incremental arc of Sun is 68 vikala or 1kala 8 vikala.

III. Worked Out Example for 14 April 2006 (a) Local Mean Sunrise at Trivandrum Epoch: 14 April 2006, 06:00 LMT. JD (UT): 2453839.53611111, JD (LMT): 2453839.75. We may note here that 06:00 LMT at 77E00 is 06:22 IST and the corresponding day count will be 2453839.76527778. 1

Dr. E. Sreedharan, Director, Sri Sankaracharya University Study Centre, Payyannur, who is said to have done his Doctorate under Sri VPK Potuwal. Dr. Sreedharan had virulently advocated the Aharmanam correction in the meeting at Kannur and later on in written communication to the present author. 2 Longitudinal difference of the Stations multiplied by speed of Sun in a day and divided by 21600.


Mean Sun at 06:00 LMT at 77E00 = 358:07:33 (Using Modern polynomial algorithm) and this will be true for 06:22 IST. Equation of Centre is 01:53:27.24 (IAE gives mean anomaly as 99.02459 for 06:00 LMT at 77E00 or 0622 IST). True Sun at 06:00LMT of 77E00 is 00:01:00. Apparent Sunrise at Trivandrum is 06:17 IST or 5 minutes before Local Mean Sunrise at 06:22 IST. Obviously, the True Sun for apparent sunrise at 06:17 IST will be nearly 12 vikala less or 00:00:48. Samkramam will be at 19 minutes before apparent sunrise and this is 05:58 IST. (b) Local Mean Sunrise at Kozhikkode (75E48, 11N16) JD (UT): 2453839.53958333, JD (LMT): 2453839.75. We may note here that 06:00 LMT at 75E48 is 06:27 IST. Mean Sun at 06:00 LMT at 75E48 = 358:07:45 (Using Modern polynomial algorithm) – See that the additional increment for local mean-sunrise at 06:00 shifting from Trivandrum to Kozhikkode is 12 vikalas which is the Desantaram for Kozhikkode. Equation of Centre is 01:53:27.17 and True Sun at 06:00LMT of 75E48 is 00:01:12 and here we meet the Desantaram again. Apparent Sunrise at Kozhikode is 06:20 IST or 7 minutes before Local Mean sunrise and the additional arc of Sun will be 17vikalas less and so True sun at apparent rise will be 00:00:55. Therefore Samkramam will be 55 vinazhika or 22 minutes before apparent sunrise (06:20) at 05:58 IST. Major computational aspects may be summarized as follows: Lanka- CSI – Udayantaram Manda Mean Apparent UT Aharmanam sunrise Sunrise Local SR Local vikala phalam 00N: Lanka 06:00 06:00 00:30 59 vikala 19vikala 78vikala CSI 06:00 05:36 00:30 24 min 0 = 23 min = 8 min = 31 32 19vikala 51 vikala Trivandrum 06:00 06:17 00:52 - 17 min 22 = 13 min = 8min = 21 min 36.7 19vikala 56 vikala Kozhikkode 06:00 06:20 00:57 - 20 min 27 = 15min = 8min = 23 min Place

It may be noted that – 1. CSI values at any time can be made true for any other station with Desantaram – by accounting for the longitudinal difference. 2. When planets are computed for Lankodayam as in tradition, the same can be made true for Apparent sunrise of other places by adjusting for the difference in the apparent time of sunrise contributed by Latitude, obliquity and eccentricity using Aharmanam. Data shown illustrates that this was only an approximate method as compared to modern techniques. For Ujjain Udayantaram alone had been enough while at lower latitudes the Mandaphala correction was also necessary for the transformation.


3. Between Trivandrum and Kozhikkode Udayantaram is only 3 minutes and Aharmanam is meaningless when CSI values are available in terms of Mean Time. 4. It must be clearly understood that the Aharamana was required to tranform the Lankodaya-sputam to Sthaneeyodayam without expressing the longitudes in terms of Mean Time. Now when the longitudes are available in terms of the Mean time, say it is UT, IST or any other Zonal time, deriving local longitudes means simple accounting for the difference of Mean Time Line. 5. Any application of Aharmanam to the longitudes expressed in Mean Time shall derail the scientific process as Aharmanam is referred to Lankodaya and was only an approximate way to compensate Udayantaram.

IV. Superfluous Claims of Sri VPK Potuwal Sri VPK Potuwal has claimed in his Uttara-Malayala Panchanga that the local Payyannur computation is based on indigenous elements and methods. Any such claim is preposterous given the simple fact that he has no observational means to test the truth of his indigenous methods. Any technique that he is using to obtain the Drik-sphuta (longitudes observed) is obviously tied to the modern longitudes expressed in Mean Time UT. What sanctity is there then for the tradition and why it has to be upheld? He is showing double standards in saying that the IAE based Panchangams are less accurate while at the same time using IAE longitudes to derive indigenous methods or correct the constants of ancient practice. Whatever is being applied as extra (Aharmanam) is nonsense when the longitudes are available in terms of Mean Time. Some important characteristics of the Potuwal method may be understood from the contrast given of the longitudes of his Payyannur Panchangam and Rashtriya Panchangam in Malayalam. Chingam 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

VPK Potuwal Sun 5:29 IST 120-19 120-17 121-17 121-15 122-14 122-12 123-12 123-10 124-10 124-8 125-8 125-6 126-5 126-3 127-3 127-1 128-1 127-59 128-59 128-57

RashtriyaVPKP 05:29 IST 120-16 121-13 122-11 123-09 123-06 125-04 126-02 127-00 127-58 128-56

VPK Potuwal RashtriyaPayyannur VPKP Moon 5:29 IST 5:29 IST 261-49 261-16 261-14 276-52 276-18 276-17 292-6 291-32 291-31 307-21 306-47 306-46 322-25 321-52 321-52 337-12 336-40 336-39 351-33 351-02 351-02 05-27 04-57 004-56 18-54 18-25 18-24 31-55 31-27 31-25

1. Please note the striking accuracy of Moon of Payyannur transformed to 05:29 IST for which the Rashtriya Panchangam gives longitudes. 2. When both are same why Sri Potuwal has to take pains to compute Moon indigenously? That too without the observational aids!


3. It is apparent from the above that Sri Potuwal’s accuracy is exclusively derived from the IAE and he has no alternate provisions to observe the Planets or in fixing the mean longitudes. 4. Further, it is interesting to note that Sri Potuwal has not applied Aharmanam to Moon as instructed in the traditional texts. God’s grace really saved the Moon or else the extra-correction would have played havoc with people using Panchangams. V. Conclusions 1. It is evident from the above discussion that the so called Aharmanam correction with which the Surya-samkrama is computed and longitudes given in Mathrbhumi Panchanga is a vestige of the tradition that have gone obsolete and is unwarranted with the present practice of computation with respect to mean Time for different Stations. 2. Mathrubhumi Panchangam as such had been giving wrong Surya-samkramams and all associated Punyakalas and Muhurtas. 3. Purpose of Aharmanam had been shown to be to transform the Lankodaya longitudes to Sphutodayam of other places without referring to the Mean Time. 4. It is shown that the claims of supremacy by Sri Potuwal in terms of accuracy are all absurd and he has blundered in applying Aharmanam to the Mean Time based longitudes. 5. Further, it is shown that the claims of Kerala tradition in computation are all superfluous as his so called indigenous techniques are derivations from IAE data and mean longitudes given in respect of Mean Time. 6. It is hoped that the Mathrubhumi Printing and Publishing House shall take appropriate action to see that from 1182 Kollam Year onwards, the Mathrubhumi Panchangam is published without the obsolete and mistaken use of Aharmanam. 7. Mathrubhumi is also requested to bring the erroneous values of Samkramams to public attention so that the people may use the correct computation available elsewhere like Kerala Sarkar Panchangam. From, K. Chandra Hari B-204, Parth Avenue Ahmedabad-380005 Tel: 09426032858 Tel:079 – 23297529