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Nakshatra (Sanskrit: नक्षत्र, IAST: Nakṣatra) is the term for lunar mansion in Hindu astrology. A nakshatra is one of 28 (sometimes also 27) sectors along the ecliptic. Their names are related to the most prominent asterisms in 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 Chitrā in Sanskrit, which would be Ashvinī, 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 Meshādi or the "start of Aries". (Other slightly different definitions exist). However, both starting points for a list of nakshatras are now out-of-date, as the sun now passes through Pisces at the time of the vernal equinox, so a current list should start with Pūrva Bhādrapadā or Uttara Bhādrapadā or Revatī at the vernal equinox. But some Hindu calendars are based on the older versions (i.e. the Indian national calendar).
The ecliptic is divided into each of the nakshatras eastwards starting from this point.
The number of nakshatras reflects the number of days in a sidereal month (modern value: 27.32 days), the width of a nakshatra traversed by the Moon in about one day. Each nakshatra is further subdivided into four quarters (or padas). These play a role in popular Hindu astrology, where each pada is associated with a syllable, conventionally chosen as the first syllable of the given name of a child born when the Moon was in the corresponding pada.
The nakshatras of traditional bhartiya (Indian) astronomy are based on a list of 28 asterisms found in the Atharvaveda (AVŚ 19.7) and also in the Shatapatha Brahmana (II.1.2). The first astronomical text that lists them is the Vedanga Jyotisha.
In classical Hindu scriptures (Mahabharata, Harivamsa), the creation of the nakshatras is attributed to Daksha. They are personified as daughters of the deity and as wives of Chandra, the Moon god, or alternatively the daughters of Kashyapa, the brother of Daksha.
Each of the nakshatras is governed as 'lord' by one of the nine graha in the following sequence: Ketu (South Lunar Node), Shukra (Venus), Surya (Sun), Chandra (Moon), Mangala (Mars), Rahu (North Lunar Node), Brihaspati (Jupiter), Shani (Saturn) and Budha (Mercury). This cycle repeats itself three times to cover all 27 nakshatras. The lord of each nakshatra determines the planetary period known as the dasha, which is considered of major importance in forecasting the life path of the individual in Hindu astrology.
In Vedic Sanskrit, the term nákṣatra may refer to any heavenly body, or to "the stars" collectively. The classical concept of a "lunar mansion" is first found in the Atharvaveda, and becomes the primary meaning of the term in Classical Sanskrit.
In the Atharvaveda
Interestingly enough, the term "nakshatra" has a different meaning as demonstrated in the "Surya Siddhanta", which is an ancient text on astronomy. In the early chapters, the author, Mayasura or Mayan, describes various time units. He writes that a "prana" is a duration of 4 seconds. He then continues with a discussion of a number of time units with progressively long durations made up of the shorter time units all composed of a number of pranas. Amongst those time units are something he calls "nakshatra". For example: 15 pranas are in a minute; 900 pranas in an hour; 21600 pranas in a day; 583,200 pranas in a nakshatra (month). According to Mayan, a nakshatra is a time unit with a duration of 27 days.[better source needed]
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 discovered by Dr. Jessie Mercay in her research on Surya Siddhanta.
List of Nakshatras
The classical list of 27 nakshatras is first found in the Vedanga Jyotisha, a text dated to the 600-700 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° 51 3/7’ in the case of 28 segments). In the process, the Nakshatra Abhijit was left out without a portion.:179 The Surya Siddhantha concisely specifies the coordinates of the twenty seven Nakshatras:211
The following list of nakshatras gives the corresponding regions of sky, following Basham.
||β and γ Arietis||
|35, 39, and 41 Arietis|
an old name of the Pleiades; personified as the nurses of Kārttikeya, a son of Shiva.
"the red one", a name of Aldebaran. Also known as brāhmī
"the deer's head". Also known as āgrahāyaṇī
|λ, φ Orionis|
"the moist one"
"the two restorers of goods", also known as yamakau "the two chariots"
|Castor and Pollux||
"the nourisher", also known as sidhya or tiṣya
|γ, δ and θ Cancri|
|δ, ε, η, ρ, and σ Hydrae||
"first reddish one"
|δ and θ Leonis||
"second reddish one"
|α, β, γ, δ and ε Corvi||
"the bright one", a name of Spica
"Su-Ati (sanskrit) Very good" name of Arcturus
"forked, having branches"; also known as rādhā "the gift"
|α, β, γ and ι Librae|
|β, δ and π Scorpionis||
"the eldest, most excellent"
|α, σ, and τ Scorpionis||
|ε, ζ, η, θ, ι, κ, λ, μ and ν Scorpionis||
"first of the aṣāḍhā", aṣāḍhā "the invincible one" being the name of a constellation
|δ and ε Sagittarii||
"second of the aṣāḍhā"
|ζ and σ Sagittarii||
|α, ε and ζ Lyrae - Vega||Astrological Mate: Brahma
||α, β and γ Aquilae||
"most famous", also Shravishthā "swiftest"
|α to δ Delphini||
"Comprising a hundred physicians"
"the first of the blessed feet"
|α and β Pegasi||
"the second of the blessed feet"
|γ Pegasi and α Andromedae||
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, indicating all the elements (ansh) of Vishnu:
|#||Name||Pada 1||Pada 2||Pada 3||Pada 4||Vimsottari Lord||Ruling Deity|
|1||Aśvini (अश्विनि)||चु Chu||चे Che||चो Cho||ला La||Ketu||Aswini Kumara|
|2||Bharaṇī (भरणी)||ली Li||लू Lu||ले Le||लो Lo||Venus||Yama|
|3||Kṛttikā (कृत्तिका)||अ A||ई I||उ U||ए E||Sun||Agni|
|4||Rohiṇī (रोहिणी)||ओ O||वा Va/Ba||वी Vi/Bi||वु Vu/Bu||Moon||Brahma|
|5||Mṛgaśīrṣā(म्रृगशीर्षा)||वे Ve/Be||वो Vo/Bo||का Ka||की Ke||Mars||Moon|
|6||Ārdrā (आर्द्रा)||कु Ku||घ Gha||ङ Ng/Na||छ Chha||Rahu||Shiva|
|7||Punarvasu (पुनर्वसु)||के Ke||को Ko||हा Ha||ही Hi||Jupiter||Aditi|
|8||Puṣya (पुष्य)||हु Hu||हे He||हो Ho||ड Da||Saturn||Jupiter|
|9||Āśleṣā (आश्लेषा)||डी Di||डू Du||डे De||डो Do||Mercury||Rahu|
|10||Maghā (मघा)||मा Ma||मी Mi||मू Mu||मे Me||Ketu||Pitr|
|11||Pūrva or Pūrva Phālgunī (पूर्व फाल्गुनी)||नो Mo||टा Ta||टी Ti||टू Tu||Venus||Bhaga|
|12||Uttara or Uttara Phālgunī (उत्तर फाल्गुनी)||टे Te||टो To||पा Pa||पी Pi||Sun||Sun|
|13||Hasta (हस्त)||पू Pu||ष Sha||ण Na||ठ Tha||Moon||Savitr|
|14||Chitrā (चित्रा)||पे Pe||पो Po||रा Ra||री Ri||Mars||Vishwakarma|
|15||Svāti (स्वाति)||रू Ru||रे Re||रो Ro||ता Ta||Rahu||Vaayu|
|16||Viśākhā (विशाखा)||ती Ti||तू Tu||ते Te||तो To||Jupiter||IndraAgni|
|17||Anurādhā (अनुराधा)||ना Na||नी Ni||नू Nu||ने Ne||Saturn||Mitra|
|18||Jyeṣṭhā (ज्येष्ठा)||नो No||या Ya||यी Yi||यू Yu||Mercury||Indra|
|19||Mūla (मूल)||ये Ye||यो Yo||भा Bha||भी Bhi||Ketu||Varuna, Nirriti|
|20||Pūrva Aṣāḍhā (पूर्वाषाढ़ा)||भू Bhu||धा Dha||फा Bha/Pha||ढा Dha||Venus||Viswadeva|
|21||Uttara Aṣāḍhā (उत्तराषाढ़ा)||भे Bhe||भो Bho||जा Ja||जी Ji||Sun||Brahma|
|22||Śrāvaṇa (श्रावण)||खी Ju/Khi||खू Je/Khu||खे Jo/Khe||खो Gha/Kho||Moon||Vishnu|
|23||Śrāviṣṭhā (श्रविष्ठा) or Dhaniṣṭhā (धनिष्ठा)||गा Ga||गी Gi||गु Gu||गे Ge||Mars||Vasu|
|24||Śatabhiṣā (शतभिषा)or Śatataraka||गो Go||सा Sa||सी Si||सू Su||Rahu||Varuna|
|25||Pūrva Bhādrapadā (पूर्वभाद्रपदा)||से Se||सो So||दा Da||दी Di||Jupiter||AjaEkPada|
|26||Uttara Bhādrapadā (उत्तरभाद्रपदा)||दू Du||थ Tha||झ Jha||ञ Da/Tra||Saturn||Ahirbudhanya|
|27||Revati (रेवती)||दे De||दो Do||च Cha||ची Chi||Mercury||Pooshan|
- Chinese constellation
- Twenty-eight mansions
- Decans (Egyptian)
- "The Radiant Words of Love & Wisdom By Vashisht Vaid, 2012".
- Nakshatras and Upanakshatras. American Institute of Vedic Studies https://vedanet.com/2012/06/13/nakshatras-and-upanakshatras/. Missing or empty
- trans. Ralph T. H. Griffith, Hymns of the Atharva Veda, 1895. Original text via GRETIL 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.
- citrā́ṇi sākáṃ diví rocanā́ni sarīsr̥pā́ṇi bhúvane javā́ni | turmíśaṃ sumatím ichámāno áhāni gīrbhíḥ saparyāmi nā́kam
- suhávam agne kŕ̥ttikā róhiṇī cā́stu bhadráṃ mr̥gáśiraḥ śám ārdrā́ | púnarvasū sūnŕ̥tā cā́ru púṣyo bhānúr āśleṣā́ áyanaṃ maghā́ me
- púṇyaṃ pū́rvā phálgunyau cā́tra hástaś citrā́ śivā́ svātí sukhó me astu | rā́dhe viśā́khe suhávānurādhā́ jyéṣṭhā sunákṣatram áriṣṭa mū́lam
- ánnaṃ pū́rvā rāsatāṃ me aṣādhā́ ū́rjaṃ devy úttarā ā́ vahantu | abhijín me rāsatāṃ púṇyam evá śrávaṇaḥ śráviṣṭhāḥ kurvatāṃ supuṣṭím
- ā́ me mahác chatábhiṣag várīya ā́ me dvayā́ próṣṭhapadā suśárma | ā́ revátī cāśvayújau bhágaṃ ma ā́ me rayíṃ bháraṇya ā́ vahantu
- Mayasura or Mayan (date unknown). "Surya Siddhanta". Ancient text on astronomy.
- 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.
- Burgess, Ebenezer (1858). Translation of the Surya Siddhantha, a Textbook of Hindu Astronomy. The American Oriental Society.
- Arthur Llewellyn Basham, The Wonder that was India, 1954, appendix II: Astronomy, p.490
- ||ζ and σ Lyra Its longitude starts from 06° 40' to 10° 53' 40 in sidereal Capricorn i.e. from the last quarter of Uttra Ashadha to first 1/15 th part of Shravana. Its span is 4° 13' 40. The span of 27 mean daily lunar motions totals 355.76167 degrees, and together these total 359.98945 degrees. Considered an "intercalary" lunar mansion.