[Advaita-l] Query on the role of ‘karaNam’ – the 5the anga of ‘paMcaaa~Nka’

Anand Hudli anandhudli at hotmail.com
Sun Feb 7 10:08:25 CST 2010

>What I know of karaNam’ is as follows:
>Half a lunar ‘Tithi’ constitutes a ‘karaNam’. This is the time taken for the
>sun and moon to travel by 6°. There are 11 karaNams. They are* ‘*Bhava,
>Balava, Kaulava, Taitula, Garija, Vanija, Visti, Sakuna, Chatuspada, Naga,
>Kimstughna’. The first seven come by rotation eight times in a lunar month,
>commencing with the second half of the first lunar day. The last four are
>‘permanent’ karaNam and occur in that order with the second half of the 29th
>lunar day.


The sUrya-siddhAnta, an ancient treatise on astronomy, mentions a slightly different order 

of the dhruva or fixed karaNas: dhruvANi shakunirnAgaM tR^itIyaM tu chatuShpadam.h | 

kiMstughnaM tu chaturdashyAH kR^iShNAyAshchAparArdhataH || which means that 

the four fixed karaNas are shakuni, nAga, chatuShpada, and kiMstughna and they are

assigned the half tithis beginning from the second half tithi of the kR^iShNa-pakSha 



Note that the 

positions of the second and third karaNas have been interchanged in practice. This is

due to the influence of another school of astronomy, the brAhma school. The three chief

schools of astronomy are the saura (of the sUrya-siddhAnta), Arya (of AryabhaTa), 

and brAhma. Bhaskara I belonged to the Arya school, while another famous astronomer

Brahmagupta, from Gujarat, wrote an influential work of the brAhma school called the

brAhma-sphuTa-siddhAnta. Bhaskara II belonged to the brAhma school. 


The significance of karaNas in relation to religious observances does not seem to be

as great as tithi, nakShatra, and vAra. However, we do find certain rules and even 

vratas based on karaNas. For example, for the purpose of auspicious ceremonies, the

viShTi karaNa, also known as bhadrA, is avoided. The panchanga usually specifically

mentions the ending time for the bhadrA. The comprehensive dharma shAstra

work called the chaturvarga chintAmaNi of Hemadri mentions some vratas that are 

based on karaNas. 




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