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The Saka era, also known as the Shalivahana Saka era was adopted by the Indian government as the Indian national calendar. Its year zero begins near the vernal equinox of the year 78. Saka Calendar begins on 22 March every year except in leap years when it starts on 23 March. The Kushana emperor Kanishka is credited with the initiation of the Saka era on his accession to the throne in 78 A D. After the downfall of Kushanas their fuedotary, the Sakas of Ujjain continued to use this era. Astronomer like Varahmihir, mathematician Brahmgupta and historian like Kalhana used Saka era in their celebrated works. Gurjaras of Bhinmal, Chalukyas of Badami and Rastrkutas of Deccan used the Saka era. In fact Saka era was most widespread over a span of historical times in India and it was one of the main reason for the 'Calendar Reform Committee' decided for Saka era to be the Indian National Calendar, its relative accuracy over other Indian Calendar was another reason.
Sir A Cunningham, The first Director-General Of Archaeological Survey of India, Credit the legendary King of Punjab Shalivahan of Bhati Dynasty for starting the Saka era to commemorate his victory over Sakas, in archaeological survey report of 1864. The Bhati dynasty ruled from Siyalkot of Punjab.
The era was also used by Javanese courts from Old Javanese times until 1633, when it was replaced by Anno Javanico, a hybrid Javanese-Islamic system. It is also this particular era which aided historians in dating the Laguna Copperplate Inscription, the earliest written document found in the Philippines.
It has been used not only in many Indian inscriptions but also in ancient Sanskrit inscriptions in Southeast Asia. The reformed calendar promulgated by the Indian government from 1957 is reckoned by this era.
- M. C. Ricklefs, A History of Modern Indonesia Since c. 1300, 2nd ed. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1993, pp. 5 and 46.
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