Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Why Sri Jayanthi, Krishna Jayanthi, Gokulastami on different dates

We all have heard stories about why we celebrate Krishna Janmastami. I am here to just delve a bit into the diffrence in dates in celebrating Sri Jayanthi, Krishna Jayani, Gokulastami.

There are two main vaishnava temple agama methods. One is Vaikanasam. The other one is Pancharathram.

Vaikanasam: Brahma's son Vikanasar was born as a Munivar in the earth and he was worshipping Lord Narayana. To this Muni, Sriman Narayanan himself explained the sasthram (Rules) on temple-building, procedures of installation of idol for worship etc. Vikanasa Muni conveyed these sastras to his disciples Athri, Marisi, Kasyapar and others. Since Vikanasa Munivar was first to establish this agamam, it came to be called "Vaikanasa Agamam". This agama sasthram was brought into print form in the 3rd century A.D.

            The principles under Vaikanasam are: 
                 Lord Vishnu is Aadhi Purushan. From Him, evolved the other forms of the Lord viz., Sathyan, Achuthan, Aniruthan. Vakanasa temples will be normally built inside towns and not permitted to be constructed on hills. Also, Lakshmi is inseparable from Narayanan. She is the embodiment in five bhoothas, five states of Lord Vishnu (Para, vyuga, Vibhava, Andharyami  and Archa). And, chit, Achit and Iswara are always sathyam. Worshipping can be done only to Lord Narayana with Lakshmi and to none other. So under Vaikanasa sastra, even Azhvars and Acharyans are not worshipped and so there won't be idols of Azhvar, Acharyars in temples. Even the tamil 4000 divya prabhandams are not recited in vaikanasa temples. Ahobhilam, Oppiliappan, Srivilliputhur temples are examples of Vaikanasa agamam. (Tirupathi, though installed on hill, is an exception for observing Vaikanasam)

Pancharathram: It is connected with the purusha sukhtham found in Rig Veda. At several places in Mahabharatham, Vasudevan is extoled as principal Lord as per Pancharathra agama principal. Originally, worshipping was through conducting Yagas and Yagnas. Only Pancharathra Agama set forth ways for building temples for worhip by installing vigrahas, conducting uthsavas and arranging veedhi ula of the deity. Pancharathra agama is appreciated in Mahabharatham, Srimad Bhagavatham, Vishnupuranam, Padhma puranam,Garuda puranam, Naratheeyam and Varaga Puranam. There are 108 samhithais in Pancharathram.

There are quite different schools of thought for fixing the name Panchrathram. One explanation is that originally this sasthram was followed in five paruvas of the year and five specific rathris were selected for the culminating the rituals. By another explanation, Ananthan, Garudan, Viswakshwnar, Kapali and Brahma got the upadeasam directly from Lord Narayana in five days.

Under Pancharathram, temples are constructed away from towns, on hills and on river banks. There is no caste difference observed under Pancharathram, All who get dheekshai are equal. Andal is worshipped equal to Lakshmi. Azhwars are also installed in temples and worshipped. The same five states of Sriman Narayanan are worshipped in Pancharathram as in Vaikansam.                                                                                                                                    Srirangam, Kanchi, Melakkottai, Tiruvallur etc are pancharathra temples.

Now regarding Sri Jayanthi. Smarthas observe only ashtami thithi in Sravana month. Vaishnavas observe Ashtami merging with Rohini star in pathrabha month (next to sravana month). Here again, in temples, vaikanasas observe the evening - night time for the thithi and star combination. Pancharathra temples observe the combination at day time. 

In the case of Munithraya anushtanam, which is common for Ashramam and Madam, the choice of the combination of thithi and nakshthra with timing of the day is decided by individual Acharyan. And, the sishyas have to blindly follow the instructions of their individual Acharyas.


  1. This is an interesting information... Thanks!

  2. wow..super blog..nalla collection of information..Poliga! Poliga! Poliga! Bargavi..

  3. Long time since I read your blog.. nice article.. we had krishna jaynthi as late as in September (Ahobila Mutt sishyas) and when I tried to explore.. following is what i got (so it is not mine)
    With respect to the specific case of Lord Krishna's birth, Sri M.N.Ramanuja writes:
    > Regarding SriJayanthi Adiyen has this to say Five thousand years ago, when Srikrishna was born, the day was
    Simha masam (Avani), Sravana masam, Bahula, Ashtami. and Rohini star.
    Hence ideally all these conditions have to match to celebrate Srijayanthi.

    Sri M.N. Ramanuja has succinctly described the problem.

    Different interpretations of the texts that describe Sri Krishna's birth lead to different conclusions as to when to celebrate it.

    The factors are:

    1) solar month
    2) lunar month
    3) nakshatra (constellation aligned with the moon)
    4) tithi (loosely, phase of the moon)
    5) how to determine these when combined with other factors such as sunrise or moonrise

    The smArta tradition generally observes the birth of Sri Krishna on SrAvaNa-krishna-ashTamI, giving importance
    only to the tithi. They also generally follow the lunar calendar for this observance and celebrate it in SrAvaNa (lunar month),
    without paying attention to the nakshatra or the solar month.

    Most other religious traditions in the country have followed this practice. Since for all these traditions the tithi is given
    importance, those who follow this reckoning call the day (Sri Krishna) janmAshTamI or gokulAshTamI.

  4. The Sri Vaishnava tradition has carefully taken into account all the different shastras including the pAncarAtra agama texts which provide a wealth of guidance in this matter and calculates the day differently. For us, the nakshatra (rOhiNI) is given primary importance, with ashTamI also taken into consideration (more on this later). The particular conjunction of the ashTamI tithi and rOhiNI is known as 'jayantI', and this day is described by many of the shastras as being the auspicious birthday of Sri Krishna [texts cited include vishnu-dharmottara-purANa, vishnu-rahasya, and sanatkumAra samhitA]. Since the junction of ashTamI and rohiNI is what we take into account, we say that Sri Krishna was born on 'SrI jayantI'.

    Please note that the word 'jayantI' by itself is sufficient to refer to Sri Krishna's birthday. There is no need to say 'Krishna Jayanti'. It is only in a secondary sense that we say Sri Narasimha Jayanti, Gandhi Jayanti, Ambedkar Jayanti, etc. These are all out of courtesy. The name 'jayantI' proper refers only to the birth of Sri Krishna. For example, we have Sri Vedanta Desika's well-known opening sloka from Sri Gopala Vimsati:

    vande bRndAvana-caram, vallavI-jana-vallabham |
    jayantI sambhavam dhAma vaijayantI-vibhUshaNam ||

    Broadly, there are two different opinions within the Sri Vaishnava tradition concerning this matter. One can be called the 'mannAr' tradition, the other the 'tOzhappar' tradition. (In a nutshell, the difference stems from lunar vs. solar month and whether to take sunrise or moonrise into consideration for determining jayantI. this will be explained below.)

    The mannAr tradition is followed by Sri Parakala Matham and 'munitraya' tradition Sri Vaishnavas such as both Andavan Ashramams and most Vadagalai acharya-purusha families. It is named after one mannAr svAmi of unknown date who is the first extant authority arguing for this calculation.mannAr svAmi is known to have very eminent predecessors who shared his opinion, such as the Upanishad Bhashyakara Ranga Ramanujacharya.

    The tOzhappar tradition is followed by Sri Ahobila Matham and Thengalai Sri Vaishnavas. It is named after Sri Vaidika Sarvabhauma Swami, also known as Kidambi Thozhappar, who wrote a detailed text establishing the reasoning behind his tradition. He was a disciple of the founding Jeeyar Swami of Sri Ahobila Matham.

    Having briefly laid out the history, here are the differences themselves. The tOzhappar tradition is simpler so I will lay it out first.

    tOzhappar SrI jayantI:

    1) Only the solar month is taken into account. So it must be in simha (AvaNi) mAsam, which is mid-August to mid-September.

    2) The target date in this month is kRshna-ashTamI (8th day of the waning phase of the moon) in conjunction with rOhiNI. However, on that day, not even a tiny bit of saptamI should exist post-sunrise, nor should there be any kRttikA nakshatram.

    3) If there is no pure ashTamI-rOhiNI conjunction as described in (2), navamI-rOhiNi is the next preferred conjunction, with once again a pure rOhiNi mandatory.

    4) If (3) is not possible, mRgaSIrsha nakshatra combined with navamI or daSamI is the next preferred choice.

    5) If this observance of SrI jayantI does not fall on ashTamI, the ashTamI is treated as any other day and requires no special observance.

  5. mannAr SrI jayantI:

    1) The ideal date is the conjunction of rOhiNI and kRshNa-ashTamI that lasts from sunrise through the night. (This need not happen in the solar month of AvaNi. Lunar month of SrAvaNa before AvaNi begins is also okay.)

    2) If (1) is not possible, if at moonrise it is rOhiNI as well as ashTamI, that date should be taken. Neither the rOhiNi nor the ashTamI need be pure as in the tOzhappar tradition.

    3) If (2) is not possible, if there is any conjunction of ashTamI and rOhinI day or night, that calendar day should be taken as SrI jayantI.

    There are 12 more cases in the mannAr tradition which get quite complicated. But the primary focus in all is some occurrence of rOhiNI. In no circumstance should navamI without rOhiNI be taken as SrI jayantI. (Some other circumstances such as being on a Wednesday Sri Krishna is said to be born on this day of the week] push the date in one direction or another.)

    The key is that in neither mannAr nor tOzhappar is the tithi given preference. This is why only rarely does the Sri Vaishnava date coincide with the smArta date.

    This should explain why the mannAr tradition sometimes observes SrI jayantI as much as a month before the tOzhappar tradition. Since the latter exclusively prefers the solar month, their date often falls several weeks later. Further, it also explains why the mannAr observance is often just a day before the tOzhappar date. This is because the mannAr tradition takes into account moonrise whereas the tOzhappar tradition only takes into account sunrise.

    Occasionally, mannAr tradition Sri Vaishnavas have to observe two days of fasting in a row -- janmAshTamI as well as SrI jayantI. This is when the ashTamI and
    rOhiNI simply do not coincide at all and fall one after another in the solar month of AvaNi. Note that this janmAshTamI is not the same as the smArta calculation of janmAshTamI.

    Note: texts consulted:
    o 'SrI jayantI nirNaya' by Sri Gopalarya Mahadesika
    o 'Ahnika granthaH' of Sri Villivalam Krishnamacharya
    (present Sri Azhagiya Singar in pUrvASrama)

    There ends my long comment :)
    Thanks for the post!

  6. @ Balaraman(Bala)

    You're wrong. When you dont know, plz dont post such comments. "Ahobila Mutt" sishyas only follow the Pancharatra(Pancaratra) tradition. They are purely vadakalai.

    Vadakalai Iyengars:
    Ahobila Mutt: Pancaratra tradition(also found in north )
    Andavan Ashramam : Munitraya tradition
    Parakala mutt : Mannar tradition

    Thenkalai Iyengars: Vaikhanasa tradition.

    Tozhappar tradition was only followed by Sri Vaidika Sarva Bhauma Swami's followers & not by any vadakalai.

  7. @Anonymous - I do not want to start an argument in my friend's blog. I have clearly stated the source in the first comment. I would appreciate if you can name the resources for the benefit of all readers. Staying anonymous is not going to help.

    Of course our temples are under Pancharatra tradition. This is about the calendar. So I am not sure.

    Here are the sources. And you would have been aware of it you are buying "Narasimhapriya" and "Ranganathapaduka", as it is oftened mentioned in both these magazines. Practising pancharatra agama in temples and "individuals practising pancharatra sampradaya" at home are different.

  9. //Even the tamil 4000 divya prabhandams are not recited in vaikanasa temples.//

    Is this true? I thought divya prabhandams were recited in vaikanasa temples also - even in the ones that you have listed including thiruvenkadam. Can you please confirm?

  10. This comment has been removed by the author.

  11. Janmashtami is mainly dedicated lord krishna.On this auspicious day workship with lord krishna to get blessings and lead a peaceful life.Read More

  12. I was born at tirunelveli T N.
    My d o b 13 09 68 karthikai nakshathram 10 15 a m my father side people migrated to A P bobbili vizianagaram dist.,5 generations back from nanguneri
    My mother side all are from nanguneri birth before the birthday of krishnashtami in 1968. I referred 1968 panchangam and i find that krishnashtami celebrated on 15th 1968 generally telugu and tamil krishnashtami will vary.will u pls let me know what is my correct d o b in 1968 whethet it is august or september
    I dont know padam rashi.regards
    NAdadhur venkatesh

  13. Dear sir, Can you explain more about Mannar and Tholappar. Who is Mannar and who is Tholappar? Pl explain. Thanks.