This year 2022 on the western Gregorian Christian Calendar, Hindus celebrate over 5000 years of Hindu civilization according to the Hindu Saptarishi Samvat Calendar which has its origins in ancient Kashmir. Kashmir is the land of Rishi Kashyap and the ancient Martand Sun temple and the Datta mandir beloeved to have built by the Pandavas. It was in Kashmir that many of our scriptures were composed. The Saptarishi Samvat Calendar this year dates Hindu civilization back to 5098 years, going back to the year 3076 B.C.E which is believed to correspond to the date of the Mahabharata War with Lord Krishna and the great Aryan warrior Arjuna in the age of Dwapar Yuga. Another theory exists that it might go even further back to the year 6676 B.C.E.
The Hindu New Year like all things Hindu is vast, diverse in nature and even has different names for the same festival within the Bhava-Sagar (vast ocean) of the Hindu religion. It is known by a myriad of names such as Chaitra Pratipada, Ugadi or Yugadi (Karantaka/Telangana/Andhra), Gudi Padwa (Maharastra), Nava-Varsha/ Navreh-Poshte or Navreh/ Nav Roz (in Kashmir), Puthandu (Tamil Nadu), Vishu (Kerala), Bihu (Assam), Baisakhi (Punjab), Pohela Boishakh/ Nav-Barsha (Bengal) and Cheiraoba (Northeast India). You may have heard of Nowruz (like Nav-Roz) for the Zoroastrians of Persia. It’s similar linguistically because it’s all Indo-European. The Gujuratis tend to celebrate their New Year the day after Divali in October/ Kartik. In the Caribbean you may have also heard the New Year referred to as Vaisakhi, this is the Hindu Solar New Year ( which falls around the middle of April) while the Chaitra New Year uses both a lunar and solar calendar. This Vaisakhi (known as Mesa Sankranti) is the name where we Indo-Caribbean Hindus hail from in Uttar Pradesh and also used much further North in Jammu, Himachal and Uttarkhand. The Hindu New Year typically begins in the month of Chaitra hence Chaitra Pratipada and marks the first day of Chaitra Navraatri or Spring Navraatri in which three Goddesses are worshipped for nine nights with the festival culminating in Ram Navmi or the birth of the seventh Avatar Lord/ Shri Ram on the ninth day of Chaitra.
In the Caribbean or West Indies region, Hindus typically use the Chaitradi Vikram Samvat Calendar or simply Vikram Samvat Calendar. Other calendars exist as well including the Shalivahan Shaka Samvat Calendar and other kaal (times) used to date dharmic civilization such as Buddha Nirvana, Mahavira Nirvana, Brahma Siddhanta, Mayasura’s Surya Siddhanta, Yudhisthira Samvat and Shri Rama’s Coronation in Ayodhya. However, for Hindus their oldest functioning calendar in existence today is the Saptarishi Calendar which gives us a date of 5098 years. The Samvat or Samvatsara means a “year” in Sanskrit. Ugadi/Yugadi originate from two words yug and adi. It is the joining of the root word yug as in Yuga or “an age” as we see in concepts like Kali Yuga/ Dwapar Yuga/ Treta Yuga etc. while adi equates to the beginning of an era.
The Vikram Samvat is up to year 2079 founded in approximately 57 B.C.E while the Shaka Samvat used as India’s national calendar started in 78 C.E. Both use the phases of the moon to calculate time. All the months are the same and only the way in which the Pratipada (first day) is calculated is different. The new month in Vikram Samvat starts on the Krishna Paksha after the full moon while Shaka starts with the Shukla Paksha after the new moon. The first day of Shukla Paksha of Chaitra in the Shaka Samvat corresponds to the first day of the month while in the Vikram it starts on the sixteenth date of the month approximately. Therefore, the Hindu New Year typically begins around the Gregorian Calendar month of March.
The Vikram Samvat calendar in use by Caribbean Hindus is a lunisolar calendar and only places us at a mere 2079 years old! This means if we minus the 2022 we have now, it would appear our civilization began only 57 years before the start of the Christian Era. This makes us younger than Judaism when in fact even the modern history texts avow Hinduism as older than every major religion on the planet. So why is our calendar so young? Hindus must think critically about this and question what we learn. The King whose name is carried in the calendar, Vikramaditya of Ujjain, started this calendar after a victory over the Saka King in 56 B.C.E. He was the son of King Ghandharvasena of Ujjain of the Paramara Dynasty. The earliest mention of this calendar comes from an inscription of King Jaikadeva from Gujarat which mentions the year 794 Vikram Samvat corresponding to the year 737 C.E. However, this date always confused me when I heard it mentioned in the mandirs. I wondered how could Hindu civilization be so young and yet the Indus Valley be so much older? History was not adding up. Vikram Samvat is one of many calendars that have been used throughout the entire duration of Hindu civilization which is a very long lambe-lambe time. The Saptarishi calendar is simply older but it may not have been the oldest one and certainly was not the only one ever used. It’s just the oldest one we still have and it comes from the Kashmir region.
Here’s the real moral of this calendar article. After all the research, the history and archaeology I’ve poured over for so many years, this is what I really want Hindus to contemplate. I would mostly like Hindus to understand and consider how old our civilization is. Our ancestors have been Hindus for over 5000 years already. For those of us who are still Hindu in Trinidad, Guyana, Suriname, India, America, Canada and Britain contemplate your existence dearly. For some it’s so easy to give up Hindu Dharma for a rice bowl, a job, a paycheck and a position. These days it’s mostly for show and position because we are no longer indentured. No one is forcing you out of your religion only shame, ignorance and illiteracy can do that. Your ancestors feared worse through wars, forceful conversion, torture, genocide (still happening today for Hindus but no one will talk about that) and more. Contemplate what you are giving up because most civilizations around the world have already lost their native identity, Europe is no longer pagan, and the few native pagan religions out there are struggling. We are still here, one billion strong and 5000 years for the very least. I say least because the Saptarishi Calendar is the oldest operational calendar for Hindus and possibly the oldest functioning in the world and it’s still existing but it was most likely not the first calendar for Hindus. When we contemplate facts we must also contemplate possibilities. Indus Valley Civilization which I have studied for a long time is Hindu in my best academic opinion and it’s much older than even the Saptarishi Calendar. I’m sure they also used calendars since archaeological sites in Rakhigiri and Birrhana are over 8000 years old, they must have had a calendar too but Indus Valley Script remains undecipherable. Who knows how old we truly are? How far back do other Hindu calendars go once we can decipher them? What calendar did Bharat use, the ancient King whom India takes its namesake? What calendar did Lord Rama use? Shri Rama is older than Krishna and dates to a different Yuga. Rama came to us in Treta Yuga and Krishna in Dwapar Yuga almost 2000 years after Lord Rama. Keep in mind, I just mentioned the Saptarishi calendar goes back to the time of Krishna in the Mahabharata. This, Hindus, the possibilities of our history and religion, are what we must enrich our minds with.
Shubh Chaitra Navraatri/ Ram Navmi and Hindu New Year
Jai Shri Ram