Muhurta

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Muhūrta (Sanskrit: मुहूर्त) is a Hindu unit of measurement for time in the Hindu calendar.

In the Brāhmaṇas, muhūrta denotes a division of time: one-thirtieth of a day, or a period of forty-eight minutes.[1] The sense "moment" is also common in the Brāhmanạs.[2] In the Rigveda[3] we only find the sense "moment."[4]

Etymology[edit]

One plausible etymology for the term breaks muhūrta into two parts, "muhu" (sudden) and "ṛta" (order). The author of Ṛg Veda III.33.5 seems aware of this, and uses it for word play. Ṛta refers to the natural, yearly order of the seasons, so that the term muhūrta refers to the daily reflection of these. Also, cf., Śatapatha Brāhmaṇa X.4.2.18, as below.

Usage in the Vedic Period[edit]

The term appears as early as the Ṛg Veda, where, according to Monier Williams, it means "a moment",[5] but does not evidence any specification of an exact periodicity there as received in later works, such as the Śatapatha-Brāhmaṇa, "The One Hundred Path Riddle" or the Taittirīya-Brāhmaṇa, "The Partridge's Riddle".[6]

Pt. Vijay Shrikrishna Jakatdar points to two specific Ṛg Veda passages that employ the term, III.33.5, and III.53.8:[7]

रमध्वं मे वचसे सोम्याय रतावरीरुप मुहूर्तमेवैः | पर सिन्धुमछा बर्हती मनीषावस्युरह्वे कुशिकस्य सूनुः ||

"Linger a little at my friendly bidding rest, Holy Ones, a moment in your journey. With hymn sublime soliciting your favour Kuśika's son hath called unto the River." (trans. Ralph T. H. Griffith[8])
and

रूपं-रूपं मघवा बोभवीति मायाः कर्ण्वानस्तन्वं परि सवाम | तरिर्यद दिवः परि मुहूर्तमागात सवैर्मन्त्रैरन्र्तुपा रतावा ||

"Maghavan weareth every shape at pleasure, effecting magic changes in his body, Holy One, drinker out of season, coming thrice, in a moment, through fit prayers, from heaven." (ibid.[9])

According to Authur Anthony Macdonell and Authur Berriedale, the Taittirīya-Brāhmaṇa mentions the names of 15 muhūrtas:

(1) saṁjñānaṁ (2) vijñānaṁ (3) prajñānaṁ (4) jānad (5) abhijānat |
(6) saṁkalpamānaṁ (7) prakalpamānam (8) upakalpamānam (9) upakḷptaṁ (10) kḷptam |
(11) śreyo (12) vasīya (13) āyat (14) saṁbhūtaṁ (15) bhūtam |
citraḥ ketuḥ prabhānābhānt saṁbhān |
jyotiṣmaṁs-tejasvānātapaṁs-tapann-abhitapan |
rocano rocamānaḥ śobhanaḥ śobhamānaḥ kalyāṇaḥ |
darśā dṛṣṭā darśatā viṣvarūpā surdarśanā |
āpy-āyamāṇāpyāyamānāpyāyā su-nṛterā |
āpūryamāṇā pūryamāṇā pūryantī pūrṇā paurṇamāsī |
dātā pradātā'nando modaḥ pramodaḥ || III.10.1.1 ||

Śatapatha Brāhmaṇa describes a muhūrta as 1/15th portion of a day:

átʰa yaccáturviṃśatimātmáno'kuruta | tásmāc-cátur-viṃśaty-ardʰa-māsaḥ saṃ-vatsaraḥ sá etaiś-cátur-viṃśatyā triṃ-śád-iṣṭakair-ātmábʰir-na vyábʰavat-sa páñca-daśā́hno rūpā́ṇy-apaśyad-ātmánas-tanvò muhūrtā́lokam-pr̥ṇāḥ páñca-daśaiva rā́tres-tadyán-muhu trā́yante tásmān-muhurtā átʰa yát-kṣudrāḥ sánta imā́ṃ-lokā́n-āpūráyanti tásmāl-lokam-pr̥ṇā́ḥ || (X.4.2.18)

saṃvatsarásya muhūrtā́ yā́vanto muhūrtā́s tā́vanti páñcadaśa kŕ̥̄tvaḥ kṣiprā́ṇi yā́vanti kṣiprā́ṇi tā́vanti páñcadaśa kŕ̥̄tva etárhīṇi yā́vanty etárhīṇi tā́vanti páñcadaśa kŕ̥̄tva idā́nīni yā́vantīdā́nīni tā́vantaḥ páñcadaśa kŕ̥̄tvaḥ prā́ṇā́ yā́vantaḥ prā́ṇā́s tā́vanto 'nā́ yā́vanto 'nā́s tā́vanto nimeṣā́ yā́vanto nimeṣā́s tā́vanto lomagartā́ yā́vanto lomagartā́s tā́vanti svedā́yanā́ni yā́vanti svedā́yanā́ni tā́vanta eté stokā́ varṣanti // XII.3.2.5b

It is stated in Manusmṛti that 18 nimeṣas (twinklings of the eye) are 1 Kāṣṭhā, 30 Kāṣṭhās are 1 Kāla, 30 Kālas are one Muhūrta, and 30 Muhūrtas are one day and night.

Ritual Significance[edit]

"Muhūrta" is the common term used in present-day South Asia for calculating the most auspicious moment for a Vedic-Hindu Wedding ceremony. Astrologers are often hired to calculate a moment for the wedding so that any possible divinely-sourced problems can be averted. Jakatdar suggests a shift in the contemporary temperament regarding the traditional approach to calculating such events, to accommodate the every increasing complexity of modern life.[7]

Yearly Calibration[edit]

The Muhūrtas are traditionally calculated[citation needed] by assuming sunrise at 06:00 AM on the Vernal Equinox, which is the Vedic New Year.[citation needed] Not all of the constellations cross the zenith, so that it is not in every case clear which constellation presides over the Muhūrta. Yet it is clear that one or more prominent features of the correlate constellations, from which the later Muhūrtas draw their respective names, falls within the Celestial Longitude of the same, drawn from the Polar Axis.

No. Daily Period Name (मुहूर्त) Translation Correlate Constellation/Star (Greek) Quality, or Guṇa (गुण)
1 06:00 - 06:48 (sunrise) Rudra (रुद्र) "Cryer", "Howler" Unknown Inauspicious
2 06:48 - 07:36 Āhi (आहि) "Serpent" Lacerta Inauspicious
3 07:36 - 08:24 Mitra (मित्र) "Friend" Unknown Auspicious
4 08:24 - 09:12 Pitṝ (पितॄ) "Father" Cepheus & Casseiopeia Inauspicious
5 09:12 - 10:00 Vasu (वसु) "Bright" Delphinus Auspicious
6 10:00 - 10:48 Vārāha (वाराह) "Boar" Unknown Auspicious
7 10:48 - 11:36 Viśvedevā (विश्वेदेवा) "Heavenly Lights in the Universe" Unknown Auspicious
8 11:36 - 12:24 Vidhi (विधि) "Insight" Unknown Auspicious - except Mondays and Fridays
9 12:24 - 13:12 Sutamukhī (सतमुखी) "Goat/Charioteer-Face" Auriga Auspicious
10 13:12 - 14:00 Puruhūta (पुरुहूत) "Many Offerings" Unknown (Taurus or Orion?) Inauspicious
11 14:00 - 14:48 Vāhinī (वाहिनी) "Possessed of Chariot" Unknown (Gemini?) Inauspicious
12 14:48 - 15:36 Naktanakarā (नक्तनकरा) "Night Maker" Unknown Inauspicious
13 15:36 - 16:24 Varuṇa (वरुण) "All-Envoloping Night Sky" Unknown Auspicious
14 16:24 - 17:12 Aryaman (अर्यमन्) "Possessed of Nobility" Unknown Auspicious - except Sundays
15 17:12 - 18:00 Bhaga (भग) "Share"/"Stake" Unknown Inauspicious
16 18:00 - 18:48 (sunset) Girīśa (गिरीश) "Lord of the Mount" Unknown Inauspicious
17 18:48 - 19:36 Ajapāda (अजपाद) "Unborn Foot"/"Goat Foot" Unknown Inauspicious
18 19:36 - 20:24 Ahir-Budhnya (अहिर्बुध्न्य) "Serpent at the Bottom" Hydra Auspicious
19 20:24 - 21:12 Puṣya (पुष्य) "Nourishment"/"Blossom" Unknown Auspicious
20 21:12 - 22:00 Aśvinī (अश्विनी) "Horsemen" Unknown Auspicious
21 22:00 - 22:48 Yama (यम) "Restrainer" (Death) Boötes (cf., Bhūteśa) Inauspicious
22 22:48 - 23:36 Agni (अग्नि) "Fire"/"Ignition" Ara Auspicious
23 23:36 - 24:24 Vidhātṛ (विधातृ) "Distributor" Unknown Auspicious
24 24:24 - 01:12 Kaṇḍa (क्ण्ड) "Ornament" Corona Borealis Auspicious
25 01:12 - 02:00 Aditi (अदिति) "Destitute"/"Boundless" Unknown Auspicious
26 02:00 - 02:48 Jīva/Amṛta (जीव/अमृत) "Life"/"Immortal" Unknown Very Auspicious
27 02:48 - 03:36 Viṣṇu (विष्णु) "All Pervading" Hercules Auspicious
28 03:36 - 04:24 Dyumadgadyuti (द्युमद्गद्युति) "Resounding Light" Lyra Auspicious
29 04:24 - 05:12 Brahma (ब्रह्म) "Universe" Cygnus Very Auspicious[10]
30 05:12 - 06:00 Samudram (समुद्रम) "Ocean" Deluge (region with several aqueous constellations) Auspicious

Significance[edit]

Traditionally, it is common practice amongst Hindus to start or avoid starting significant tasks like religious ceremonies, etc. on the basis of the quality of a particular Muhūrta. The Vedic scriptures also generally recommend one or more Muhūrtas to perform rituals and practices. The most widely known example of this practice:

  • Brahma Muhūrta, approximately one and a half hours before sunrise or more precisely is 1Hr 36 Mins. i.e. 96 Minutes = 2 Muhūrta or 4 Ghaṭīkā, is recommended in all practices of yoga is traditionally considered most apt for meditation.[10] However, it is clear from the associations of the names with specific constellations that the present Brahma-Muhūrta starts just before 6:00AM during the Vernal Equinox. At present, Jīva-Amṛta and Viṣṇu comprise the two twilight muhūrtas prior to sunrise.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Taittirīya Brāhmaṇa, iii. 10, I, I (for the names); 9, 7; 12, 9, 6; Śatapata Brāhmaṇa, x. 4, 2, 18. 25. 27; 3, 20; xii. 3, 2, 5; x. 4, 4, 4, etc.
  2. ^ See Zeitschrift der Deutschen Morgenländischen Gesellschaft, 9, 139 et seq.; Indische Streifen, I, 92, et seq.
  3. ^ Rigveda iii. 33, 5: 53, 8.
  4. ^ Arthur Anthony Macdonnell and Arthur Berriedale Keith, Vedic Index of Names and Subjects, vol. 2, p. 169. Motilal Banarsidas, London 1912, reprint 1995.
  5. ^ http://www.sanskrit-lexicon.uni-koeln.de/cgi-bin/monier/serveimg.pl?file=/scans/MWScan/MWScanjpg/mw0825-mugdha.jpg
  6. ^ Arthur Anthony Macdonell, Arthur Berriedale Keith (1995). Vedic Index of Names and Subjects, Volume 2; Volume 5. Motilal Banarsidass. p. 169. 
  7. ^ a b http://ebookbrowsee.net/filedownload-php-v-8-a-y-b-y-f-71-muhurtaaconcepttobeamendedaspermoderntimesbw-pdf-d169899279
  8. ^ http://www.sacred-texts.com/hin/rigveda/rv03033.htm
  9. ^ http://www.sacred-texts.com/hin/rigveda/rv03053.htm
  10. ^ a b "Major Religions of the World Ranked by Number of Adherents". nitaaiveda.com. Retrieved 2009-05-03. 

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]