Old Saka Era - Varahmihira 's Sree Harsha Era

We have consistently seen Saka era along with Vikrama Samvat are two era used in India for the last two thousand years. We have seen Pulakesin gives shalivahana saka starting at 78 AD. Vikram Samvat starts at 56BC. In Indian Literature these dates are counted from start of Kaliyuga that is 3102 BC. in Kaliyuga counting Saka era starts at 3180 and Vikram samvat starts at 3046. These dates are well established by Indian and Foreign experts. So what is the problem. Let us see.

Varahamihira Saka

Varahamihira quotes Vraddha Ganga "According to Vrddha Ganga, the Sages (Saptarsis) resided in the Magha nakshatra, when king Yudisthira ruled the earth, and the year of the reign can be obtained by adding 2526 years to the number of saka years elapsed". 


Now we have Vraddha Garga , who is an impeccable astrologer and Varahamihira even more versatile one, why will they give the dates wrong. When we see this saka era it starts at 576 BC. We know Shalivahana Sake Starts at 78AD. 

Let us analyse.
 Who is varahamihira
Vahara Mihira was Astronomer , Mathematician and Astrologer who lived in Ujjain, he was born in Avanti region (Malwa) to Astronomer Adityadasa. He was educated at Kapitthaka. He is considered as one of the Nine Jewels of Vikramaditya of Ujjian. His son Prithuyasas was also Astrologer, his work Hora Sara. 


His main Work is Panchasiddhantika (treatise of Five cannons(Astronomical)). He gives info on older Indian Astronomical works now lost namely Surya Siddhanta, Romaka Siddhanta, Paulisa Siddhanta, Vasishtha Siddhanta and Paitamaha Siddhanta. It is a monumental Work. 


Another major work is encyclopeidic Brihat Samihta. It covers wide ranging subjects of Human interest, including astrology, planetary movements, eclipses, rainfal, clouds, architecture, growth of crops, manufacture of perfume, matrimony, domestic relations, gems, pearls, rituals etc. 


His Other works in Astrology include Brihat Jataka, Laghu Jataka, Samasa Samhita (Swalpa samhita), Brihat Yogayatra, Yoga Yatra, Tikkani yatra, Brihat Vivaha Patal, Lagu Vivaha Patal, Lagna Varahi, Kutuhala Manjari, Daivajna Vallabha.

 427 - Saka
Varahamihira says 427 must be subtracted from saka era for his era. So 427 saka was the start of his era or birth of varahamihira. Amara raja gives the date of 509 Saka for varahamihira death. Indologists comes with 427 + 78 = 505AD as the birth of varahamihira. So the problem is solved. But why does the dates don't reconcile.


The Astronomical Positions mentioned in his works don't match for celestial positions of 6th century AD.

Shalivahana Saka is famous in South and West of India and Ujjain or Malwa especially followed Vikrama Samvat. Now why does one refer to Shalivahana Saka, which is from rival powerhouse.

If Aryabhatta was in 5th century AD, Varahamihira was in 6th century AD. Pulakesin Edict is 7th century AD. While Aryabhatta and Pulakesin Edict gives 3102BC and Varahamihira 2448bc.

Working from 576BC as start of Saka era gives varahamihira date as 149 - 67 BC , which places Varhamihira in Vikramaditya court as one of the nine jewels.

There is a traditional as well as modern view that kalidasa and Varahamihira are contemproaries

Jyotividabharana, a treatise on Astrology says it was completed on month of kartika of the year 3068 of kali (34BC). It says that the framing rule for finding ayanamsa is 445 years after saka and remainder divided by 60.

If we go by Al beruni statement, Gupta reign ended 241 years after Saka era, If we take 78AD, than it comes to 319AD.

There is no scope for Vikramaditya of Ujjain reigning in 6th century AD for Varahamihira to become his navaratna.

Alberuni says that Year 400 years before Vikramaditya or 457 BC was in use before Vikaramaditya. He calls it as Sree Harsha Era. This era was available in 11 century AD.

Sree Harsha Vikramaditya
Kota Venkatachalam says, based on the authority of Bhavishya purana, that this Vikramaditya is a son of Gandharvasena , a King of Ujjain. His son Deva Bhaktha reigned after him.

T S Naryana Sastri says that Sri Harsha Vikramaditya of Kashmir defeated the sakas and in commoration of his victory founded the Harsha era, in the year 457BC. In his work Haidimba Vaidagdhya, he identifies Matrgupta of the court of king Harsa Vikramaditya of ujjain as Kalidasa I living in 6th century BC and Medharudra on the court of of vikramaditya of Malwa as Kalidasa II in first century BC.

Sakas
Sakas came to prominence on the periphery of India around 800 BC. They Came into prominence in India after the collapse of Satavahanas dynasty in Magada (802BC). They were in prominence for 380 years (802 - 422 BC). They were in considerable power struggle with local Indian rulers. In 551BC Darius has collected all the scattered Saka and invaded India. Which confirms 576 BC to be date when Sakas were soundly thrashed and scattered by Sree harsha. This may start Saka era in this case old saka era.

The saka era of kalahana

Saka of Kalhana and Varahamihira are same. Kalhana also talks about Sree Harsha Vikramaditya of ujjain.

Disucssion
Varahamihira was one of the nine jewels of Vikramaditya court.
Varahamihira was born in 427 Saka. He died in 509 Saka.
Shalivahana saka does not fit to this dates. As there is no vikramaditya in Ujjain during at that time(6th century AD). There were no sakas also at that time. Hunas were already vanishing. So there is no probability of Vikramaditya in 6th century AD at Ujjain.

Date of old saka era is 3102-2526 = 576BC. Some people take the start 2526 from Start of Yuddhistra era and arrive around 612BC. Here 576 is calculated from end of Yuddhistra reign, which ended soon after Kali yuga started.

When Varhamihira talks about saka kala, Saka Bhupakala, Sakendra kala, Saka Nrpati Kala, it refers to rule of saka rulers in India not shalivahana saka.

Conclusion.
All these points when we consider does indicate there was old or original saka era started by Sree Harsha in Sixth century BC. Varahamihira, Vraddha Garga and few others quote this saka era. Even alberuni seems to mention this saka era. Later on he seems to have confused himself with Harshavardhan of Kannuj. This varahamihira was in the court of vikramaditya of Ujjain in first century BC. 


Date of start of Old saka era is 576BC.

Source
https://oldthoughts.wordpress.com/ancient-indian-calendars/how-many-kinds-of-sakas-eras-are-there/
Essays on Indian Antiquities, Historic, Numismatic, and Palaeographic By James Prinsep
http://www.heritageinstitute.com/zoroastrianism/saka/index.htm#introduction
History of Civilizations of Central Asia: The Development of Sedentary : By A. H. Dani, UNESCO Staff, M. S. Asimov, B. A. Litvinsky, Guang-da Zhang, R. Shabani Samghabadi, C. E. Bosworth, Unesco
Kaliyuga, Saptarsi, Yudhisthira and Laukika Eras by K.D. Abhyankar and G.M Ballabh
Saka Era by Ajay Mishra Shastry
History of Classical Sanskrit Literature by By M. Srinivasachariar
Essays on historical and mythological India
Age of Bhārata War edited by Giriwar Charan Agarwala


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