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Nakshatra (Sanskrit, IAST: Nak?atra) is the term for lunar mansion in Hindu astrology and Indian Astronomy. A nakshatra is one of 28 (sometimes also 27) sectors along the ecliptic. Their names are related to a prominent star or asterisms in or near the respective sectors.

The starting point for the nakshatras according to Vedas is "Krittika" (it has been argued because the Pleiades may have started the year at the time the Vedas were compiled, presumably at the vernal equinox), but, in more recent compilations, the start of the nakshatras list is the point on the ecliptic directly opposite to the star Spica called Chitr? in Sanskrit, which would be Ashvin?, an asterism that is part of the modern constellation Aries, and these compilations therefore may have been compiled during the centuries when the sun was passing through the area of the constellation Aries at the time of the vernal equinox. This version may have been called Mesh?di or the "start of Aries".[1][better source needed]

The first astronomical text that lists them is the Vedanga Jyotisha.[2][better source needed]

In classical Hindu scriptures (Mahabharata, Harivamsa), the creation of the nakshatras is attributed to Daksha. They are personified as daughters of Daksha and as wives of Chandra known as the Moon God (who reluctantly married the 26 other nakshatra's on Daksha's request even though he was only interested to marry Rohini), or alternatively the daughters of Kashyapa, the brother of Daksha.

In the Atharvaveda

In the Atharvaveda (Shaunakiya recension, hymn 19.7) a list of 28 stars or asterisms is given, many of them corresponding to the later nakshatras:[3]

This 27-day time cycle has been taken to mean a particular group of stars. The relationship to the stars really has to do with the periodicity with which the Moon travels over time and through space past the field of the specific stars called nakshatras. Hence, the stars are more like numbers on a clock through which the hands of time pass (the moon). This concept was decifered by Dr. Jessie Mercay in her research on Surya Siddhanta.[4]

List of Nakshatras

The classical list of 27 nakshatras is first found in the Vedanga Jyotisha, a text dated to the 2347 BCE[]. The nakshatra system predates the Hellenistic astronomy which became prevalent from about the 2nd century CE.

In Hindu astronomy, there was an older tradition of 28 Nakshatras which were used as celestial markers in the heavens. When these were mapped into equal divisions of the ecliptic, a division of 27 portions was adopted since that resulted in a cleaner definition of each portion (i.e. segment) subtending 13° 20? (as opposed to 12° ​? in the case of 28 segments). In the process, the Nakshatra Abhijit was left out without a portion.[5]:179 The Surya Siddhantha concisely specifies the coordinates of the twenty seven Nakshatras.[5]:211

It is noted above that with the older tradition of 28 Nakshatras each equal segment would subtend 12.85 degrees or 12° 51?. But the 28 Nakshatra were chosen at a time when the Vedic month was recognised as having exactly 30 days. In India and China the original 28 lunar mansions were not equal. Weixing Nui provides a list of the extent of the original 28 Nakshatras expressed in Muhurtas (with one Muhurta = 48 minutes of arc). Hindu texts note there were 16 Nakshatras of 30 Muhurtas, 6 of 45 Muhurtas, 5 of 15 Muhurtas and one of 6 Muhurtas.

The 28 mansions of the 360° lunar zodiac total 831 Muhurtas or 27.7 days. This is sometimes described as an inaccurate estimate of our modern sidereal period of 27.3 days, but using the ancient Indian calendar with Vedic months of 30 days and a daily movement of the Moon of 13 degrees, this early designation of a sidereal month of 831 Muhurtas or 27.7 days is very precise.[a][6] Later some Indian savants dropped the Nakshatra named Abhijit to reduce the number of divisions to 27, but the Chinese retained all of their original 28 lunar mansions. These were grouped into four equal quarters which would have been fundamentally disrupted if it had been decided to reduce the number of divisions to 27.

Irrespective of the reason why ancient early Indian astronomers followed a Vedic calendar of exactly 12 months of 30 days it was this calendar and not a modern calendar of 365 days that they used for the astronomical calculations for the number of days taken for the Moon to complete one sidereal cycle of 360°. This is why initially they named 28 Nakshatras on their lunar zodiac.[7]

The following list of nakshatras gives the corresponding regions of sky, per Basham (1954).[8]

No. Name Associated stars Description Image
1 Ashwini
? and ? Arietis
  • Astrological Mate: Ketu (South lunar node)
  • Symbol: Horse's head
  • Rigvedic name: Ashwins, the horse-headed twins who are physicians to the gods
  • Indian zodiac: 0° - 13°20? Mesha
  • Western zodiac: 26° Aries - 9°20? Taurus
Aries constellation map.svg
2 Bharani
"the bearer"
35, 39, and 41 Arietis
  • Astrological Mate: Shukra (Venus)
  • Symbol: Yoni, the female organ of reproduction
  • Rigvedic name: Yama, god of death or Dharma
  • Indian zodiac: 13° 20? - 26°40? Mesha
  • Western zodiac: 9° 20? - 22° 40? Taurus
Aries constellation map.svg
3 Krittika
an old name of the Pleiades; personified as the nurses of K?rttikeya, a son of Shiva.
Pleiades
  • Astrological Mate: Surya (Sun)
  • Symbol: Knife or spear
  • Rigvedic name: Agni, god of fire
  • Indian zodiac: 26°40? Mesha - 10° Vrishabha
  • Western zodiac: 22° 40? Taurus - 6° Gemini
Taurus constellation map.svg
4 Rohini
"the red one", a name of Aldebaran. Also known as br?hm?
Aldebaran Taurus constellation map.svg
5 Mrigash?ra
"the deer's head". Also known as ?grah?ya
?, ? Orionis
  • Astrological Mate: Mangala (Mars)
  • Symbol: Deer's head
  • Rigvedic name: Soma, Chandra, the Moon god
  • Indian zodiac: 23° 20? Vrishabha - 6° 40? Mithuna
  • Western zodiac: 19° 20? Gemini - 2° 40? Cancer
Orion constellation map.svg
6 Ardra
"the moist one"
Betelgeuse
  • Astrological Mate: Rahu (North lunar node)
  • Symbol: Teardrop, diamond, a human head
  • Rigvedic name: Rudra, the storm god
  • Indian zodiac: 6° 40? - 20° Mithuna
  • Western zodiac: 2° 40? - 16° Cancer
Orion constellation map.svg
7 Punarvasu (dual)
"the two restorers of goods", also known as yamakau "the two chariots"
Castor and Pollux
  • Astrological Mate: Guru (Jupiter)
  • Symbol : Bow and quiver
  • Rigvedic name: Aditi, mother of the gods
  • Indian zodiac: 20° Mithuna - 3°20? Karka
  • Western zodiac: 16° - 29°20? Cancer
Gemini constellation map.svg
8 Pushya/Tishya
"the nourisher", also known as sidhya or ti?ya
?, ? and ? Cancri
  • Astrological Mate: Shani (Saturn)
  • Symbol: Cow's udder, lotus, arrow and circle
  • Rigvedic name: B?haspati, priest of the gods
  • Indian zodiac: 3° 20? - 16° 40? Karka
  • Western zodiac: 29° 20? Cancer - 12° 40? Leo
Cancer constellation map.svg
9 Ashlesh?
"the embrace"
?, ?, ?, ?, and ? Hydrae
  • Astrological Mate: Budha (Mercury)
  • Symbol: Serpent
  • Rigvedic name: Sarpas or Nagas, deified snakes
  • Indian zodiac: 16° 40? - 30° Karka
  • Western zodiac: 12° 40? - 26° Leo
Hydra constellation map.svg
10 Magh?
"the bountiful"
Regulus
  • Astrological Mate: Ketu (South lunar node)
  • Symbol: Royal Throne
  • Rigvedic name: Pitrs, 'The Fathers', family ancestors
  • Indian zodiac: 0° - 13° 20? Simha
  • Western zodiac: 26° Leo - 9° 20? Virgo
Leo constellation map.svg
11 P?rva Phalgun?
"first reddish one"
? and ? Leonis
  • Astrological Mate: Shukra (Venus)
  • Symbol: Front legs of bed, hammock, fig tree
  • Rigvedic name: Aryaman, god of patronage and favours
  • Indian zodiac: 13° 20? - 26°40? Simha
  • Western zodiac: 9° 20? - 22°40? Virgo
Leo constellation map.svg
12 Uttara Phalgun?
"second reddish one"
Denebola
  • Astrological Mate: Surya (Sun)
  • Symbol: Four legs of bed, hammock
  • Rigvedic name: Bhaga, god of marital bliss and prosperity
  • Indian zodiac: 26° 40? Simha- 10° Kanya
  • Western zodiac: 22° 40? Virgo - 6° Libra
Leo constellation map.svg
13 Hasta
"the hand"
?, ?, ?, ? and ? Corvi
  • Astrological Mate: Chandra (Moon)
  • Symbol: Hand or fist
  • Rigvedic name: Savitr, the Sun god
  • Indian zodiac: 10° - 23° 20? Kanya
  • Western zodiac: 6° - 19° 20? Libra
Corvus constellation map.svg
14 Chitra
"the bright one", a name of Spica
Spica
  • Astrological Mate: Mangala (Mars)
  • Symbol: Bright jewel or pearl
  • Rigvedic name: Tvastar, Vishwakarma
  • Indian zodiac: 23° 20? Kanya - 6° 40? Tula
  • Western zodiac: 19° 20? Libra - 2° 40? Scorpio
Virgo constellation map.svg
15 Sw?ti
"Su-Ati (sanskrit) Very good" name of Arcturus
Arcturus
  • Astrological Mate: Rahu (North lunar node)
  • Symbol: Shoot of plant, coral
  • Rigvedic name: Vayu, the Wind god
  • Indian zodiac: 6° 40? - 20° Tula
  • Western zodiac: 2° 40? - 16° Scorpio
Bootes constellation map.png
16 Visakha
"forked, having branches"; also known as r?dh? "the gift"
?, ?, ? and ? Librae
  • Astrological Mate: Guru (Jupiter)
  • Symbol: Triumphal arch, potter's wheel
  • Rigvedic name: Indra, chief of the gods; Agni, god of Fire
  • Indian zodiac: 20° Tula - 3° 20? Vrishchika
  • Western zodiac: 16° - 29° 20? Scorpio
Libra constellation map.svg
17 Anuradha
"following r?dh?"
?, ? and ? Scorpionis
  • Astrological Mate: Shani (Saturn)
  • Symbol: Triumphal archway, lotus
  • Rigvedic name: Mitra, one of Adityas of friendship and partnership
  • Indian zodiac: 3° 20? - 16° 40? Vrishchika
  • Western zodiac: 29° 20? Scorpio - 12° 40? Sagittarius
Scorpius constellation map.svg
18 Jyeshtha
"the eldest, most excellent"
?, ?, and ? Scorpionis
  • Astrological Mate: Budha (Mercury)
  • Symbol: circular amulet, umbrella, earring
  • Rigvedic name: Indra, chief of the gods
  • Indian zodiac: 16° 40? - 30° Vrishchika
  • Western zodiac: 12° 40? - 26° Sagittarius
Scorpius constellation map.svg
19 Mula
"the root"
?, ?, ?, ?, ?, ?, ?, ? and ? Scorpionis
  • Astrological Mate: Ketu (South lunar node)
  • Symbol: Bunch of roots tied together, elephant goad
  • Rigvedic name: Nirrti, peak of material achievement and the beginning of the spiritual impulse
  • Indian zodiac: 0° - 13° 20? Dhanus
  • Western zodiac: 26° Sagittarius - 9° 20? Capricorn
Scorpius constellation map.svg
20 Purva Ashadha
"first of the ah?", ah? "the invincible one" being the name of a constellation
? and ? Sagittarii
  • Astrological Mate: Shukra (Venus)
  • Symbol: Elephant tusk, fan, winnowing basket
  • Rigvedic name: Apah, god of Water
  • Indian zodiac: 13° 20? - 26° 40? Dhanus
  • Western zodiac: 9° 20? - 22° 40? Capricorn
Sagittarius constellation map.svg
21 Uttara Ashadha
"second of the ah?"
? and ? Sagittarii
  • Astrological Mate: Surya (Sun)
  • Symbol: Elephant tusk, small bed
  • Rigvedic name: Visvedevas, universal gods
  • Indian zodiac: 26° 40? Dhanus - 10° Makara
  • Western zodiac: 22° 40? Capricorn - 6° Aquarius
Sagittarius constellation map.svg
22 Abhijit
? and ? Lyra
  • Astrological Mate: Brahma
  • Indian zodiac: 6° 40? Makara - 10° 53? Makara
Lyra constellation map.svg
23 Shravana
?, ? and ? Aquilae
  • Astrological Mate: Chandra (Moon)
  • Symbol: Ear or Three Footprints
  • Rigvedic name: Vishnu, preserver of universe
  • Indian zodiac: 10° - 23° 20? Makara
  • Western zodiac: 6° - 19° 20? Aquarius
Aquila constellation map.svg
24 Dhanishta
"most famous", also Shravishth? "swiftest"
? to ? Delphini
  • Astrological Mate: Mangala (Mars)
  • Symbol: Drum or flute
  • Rigvedic name: Eight vasus, deities of earthly abundance
  • Indian zodiac: 23° 20? Makara - 6° 40? Kumbha
  • Western zodiac 19° 20? Aquarius - 2° 40? Pisces
Delphinus constellation map.svg
25 Shatabhisha
"Comprising a hundred physicians"
Sadachbia
  • Astrological Mate: Rahu (North lunar node)
  • Symbol: Empty circle, 1,000 flowers or stars
  • Rigvedic name: Varuna, god of celestial waters
  • Indian zodiac: 6° 40? - 20° Kumbha
  • Western zodiac: 2° 40? - 16° Pisces
Aquarius constellation map.svg
26 Purva Bhadrapada
"the first of the blessed feet"
? and ? Pegasi
  • Astrological Mate: Guru (Jupiter)
  • Symbol: Swords or two front legs of funeral cot, man with two faces
  • Rigvedic name: Ajaikapada, an ancient fire dragon
  • Indian zodiac: 20° Kumbha - 3° 20? Meena
  • Western zodiac: 16° - 29° 20? Pisces
Pegasus constellation map.svg
27 Uttara Bhadrapada
"the second of the blessed feet"
? Pegasi and ? Andromedae
  • Astrological Mate: Shani (Saturn)
  • Symbol: Twins, back legs of funeral cot, snake in the water
  • Rigvedic name: Ahir Budhyana, serpent or dragon of the deep
  • Indian zodiac: 3° 20? - 16° 40? Meena
  • Western zodiac: 29° 20? Pisces - 12° 40? Aries
Andromeda constellation map (1).png
28 Revati
"prosperous"
? Piscium
  • Astrological Mate: Budha (Mercury)
  • Symbol: Fish or a pair of fish, drum
  • Rigvedic name: Pushan, nourisher, the protective deity
  • Indian zodiac: 16° 40? - 30° Meena
  • Western zodiac: 12° 40? - 26° Aries
Pisces constellation map.png

Padas (quarters)

Each of the 27 Nakshatras cover 13° 20' of the ecliptic each. Each Nakshatra is also divided into quarters or padas of 3° 20', and the below table lists the appropriate starting sound to name the child. The 27 nakshatras, each with 4 padas, give 108, which is the number of beads in a japa mala, representing all the elements (ansh) of Vishnu:

# Name Pada 1 Pada 2 Pada 3 Pada 4 Vimsottari Lord Ruling Deity
1 A?vini (?) Chu Che Cho La Ketu Aswini Kumara
2 Bhara (?) Li Lu Le Lo Venus Yama
3 K?ttik? () ? A ? I ? U ? E Sun Agni
4 Rohi () ? O Va/Ba Vi/Bi Vu/Bu Moon Brahma
5 M?gar() Ve/Be Vo/Bo Ka Ke Mars Moon
6 ?rdr? (?) Ku ? Gha ? Ng/Na ? Chha Rahu Shiva
7 Punarvasu () Ke Ko Ha Hi Jupiter Aditi
8 Pu?ya () Hu He Ho ? Da Saturn Jupiter
9 le (?) Di Du De Do Mercury Rahu
10 Magh? () Ma Mi Mu Me Ketu Pitr
11 P?rva or P?rva Ph?lgun? ( ) Mo Ta Ti Tu Venus Bhaga
12 Uttara or Uttara Ph?lgun? ( ) Te To Pa Pi Sun Sun
13 Hasta (?) Pu ? Sha ? Na ? Tha Moon Savitr
14 Chitr? () Pe Po Ra Ri Mars Vishwakarma
15 Sv?ti () Ru Re Ro Ta Rahu Vaayu
16 Vikh? () Ti Tu Te To Jupiter Indra Agni
17 Anur?dh? (?) Na Ni Nu Ne Saturn Mitra
18 Jyeh? () No Ya Yi Yu Mercury Indra
19 M?la () Ye Yo Bha Bhi Ketu Varuna, Nirriti
20 P?rva Ah? () Bhu Dha Bha/Pha Dha Venus Apah
21 Uttara Ah? () Bhe Bho Ja Ji Sun Brahma
22 ?r?va?a () Ju/Khi Je/Khu Jo/Khe Gha/Kho Moon Vishnu
23 ?r?vih? () or Dhanih? (?) Ga Gi Gu Ge Mars Vasu
24 ?atabhi ()or ?atataraka Go Sa Si Su Rahu Varuna
25 P?rva Bh?drapad? (?) Se So Da Di Jupiter Aja Ek Pada
26 Uttara Bh?drapad? (?) Du ? Tha ? Jha ? Da/Tra Saturn Ahirbudhanya
27 Revati () De Do ? Cha Chi Mercury Pooshan

See also

Notes

  1. ^ The exact figure should be nearer 27.692308 but 27.7 is near enough.

References

  1. ^ The Radiant Words of Love & Wisdom By Vashisht Vaid, 2012
  2. ^ "Nakshatras and Upanakshatras". vedanet.com. American Institute of Vedic Studies. June 13, 2012. Archived from the original on March 22, 2015.
  3. ^ trans. Ralph T. H. Griffith, Hymns of the Atharva Veda, 1895. Original text via GRETIL Archived 2012-02-02 at the Wayback Machine from Gli inni dell' Atharvaveda (Saunaka), trasliterazione a cura di Chatia Orlandi, Pisa 1991, collated with the ed. R. Roth and W.D. Whitney: Atharva Veda Sanhita, Berlin 1856.
    1. citri s?ká? diví rocanni sar?sr?pi bhúvane javni | turmí?a? sumatím ichám?no áh?ni g?rbhí? sapary?mi nkam
    2. suhávam agne kttik? róhi cstu bhadrá? mr?gá?ira? ?ám ?rdr | púnarvas? s?nt? cru pú?yo bh?núr le áyana? magh me
    3. pú?ya? prv? phálgunyau ctra hásta? citr ?iv sv?tí sukhó me astu | rdhe vikhe suháv?nur?dh jyéh? sunák?atram ária mlam
    4. ánna? prv? r?sat me adh rja? devy úttar? vahantu | abhijín me r?sat pú?yam evá ?ráva?a? ?rávih kurvat supuím
    5. me mahác chatábhi?ag vár?ya me dvay próhapad? su?árma | revát? cvayújau bhága? ma me rayí? bhára?ya vahantu
  4. ^ Mercay, Jessie (2012). "Fundamentals of Mamuni Mayans Vaastu Shastras, Building Architecture of Sthapatya Veda and Traditional Indian architecture." Mercay, 2006 - 2012, AUM Science and Technology publishers.
  5. ^ a b Burgess, Ebenezer (1858). Translation of the Surya Siddhantha, a Textbook of Hindu Astronomy. The American Oriental Society.
  6. ^ Weixing, Nui; Xiaoyuan, Jiang. Astronomy in the Sutras translated into Chinese.[full ]
  7. ^ Jones, H. (September 2018). "The Origin of the 28 Naksatras in Early Indian Astronomy and Astrology". Indian Journal of History of Science: 317-324.
  8. ^ Basham, Arthur Llewellyn (1954). "Appendix II: Astronomy". The Wonder that was India. p. 490.

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