Kalachakra 2

Created by Jijith Nadumuri at 19 Feb 2012 13:03 and updated at 19 Mar 2012 06:12

This article is the second part of Kalachakra.

Kalachakra with Epochal Dates

The twelve spoked wheel of time (Kaalachakra). Twelve divisions are named with zodiac signs for easy comparison with Western Systems. The Pisces-Aquarius transition base-lined at 2012 CE. Epochal Dates related to Geology, Ice Age and Ancient Indian Texts are added to this framework of time

References to Kalachakra, Nakshatra and Yugas

Kalachakra and associated terminologies like Yuga, Nakshatra (asterism), Dhruva (pole-star), and Saptarshi are mentioned frequently in the four Vedas, two Epics and the 18 Puranas of Indic tradition.

Some of these references are also helping us in the dating of these ancient texts. For example, astronomical observations recorded in the Vedas include the mention of Winter Solstice at Aries-Pisces boundary near the Nakshatra (asterism) Ashvini. This happened around 6580 BCE. Winter Solstice is the starting point of Uttarayana, the northern journey of the Sun which is also is praised as the 'path of the Devas'. Winter Solstice is now at the Scorpio-Sagittarius boundary. This does not mean the whole of Vedas were authored in this period but the particular hymn containing this astronomical observation was authored then. Vedas contains mention of events occurred during the melting of Ice like the Vritra slaying of Indra (occurred around 8800 BCE) and Manu's flood.

Similar astronomical observations has allowed archeo-astronomers to correctly date Rama's birth mentioned in Ramayana at 5114 BCE and Krishna's death, Dwaraka submergence and the start of Kali Yuga mentioned in Mahabharata at 3102 BCE. The Kurukshtra War is mentioned as happening 36 years (1/2 degree movement of Vernal Equinox point) before Dwaraka Submergence and hence occurred in 3138 BCE.

References in Rig Veda

Rig Veda contains the oldest references to the wheel of time. Some of the references are very direct and some others are subtle or indirect but expressed using well known symbolic vocabulary.

The One Wheeled Chariot of Time

RV_1,164.02a sapta yuñjanti ratham ekacakram eko aśvo vahati saptanāmā |
RV_1,164.02c trinābhi cakram ajaram anarvaṃ yatremā viśvā bhuvanādhi tasthuḥ ||

Seven {sapta} are yoked {yuñjanti} to the Chariot {ratham} with a single-wheel {ekacakram} and a single horse {eko aśvo} with seven people (seven names) {saptanāmā} inside it. The wheel has three navels {trinābhi}. It is ageless {ajaram} and un-decaying {anarvam}. On it are staying {tasthuh} all the beings of the world {viśvā bhuvanādhi}.

The seven yoked entities mentioned here represents the seven days of the week constituting the first quarter of a fortnight. It is also represented in Epics and Puranas as the seven horses of the Chariot of Surya (the Sun) alluding to the seven rays of the sun (seven colors in sunlight). The seven people who rides the chariot could be an indirect references to the Seven Sages (Saptarshis). The Chariot here represent the Sun whose apparent motion in Earth's sky is what facilitates the time measurements done using the wheel of time. The Chariot could also represents the constellation of the seven stars (Big Dipper;- Saptarshi constellation) which also helps to measure long units of time.

The 'navel' of the wheel mentioned here represents 'gear'. Thus the wheel is envisaged as a machinery with three gears to change the three levels of time measurement using the same wheel of time viz. 1) hours in the day, 2) months and seasons in the year and 3) twelve zodiacal ages and four (or eight) Yugas in the Great Year (axial precession period, 25,776 years). The beings of the world depends on this wheel since the daily, yearly and precessional changes in the time indicated by this wheel of time affect all beings.

The Seven Wheeled Chariot

RV_1,164.03a imaṃ ratham adhi ye sapta tasthuḥ saptacakraṃ sapta vahanty aśvāḥ |
RV_1,164.03c sapta svasāro abhi saṃ navante yatra gavāṃ nihitā sapta nāma ||

In this Chariot {ratham}, resides {tasthuh} the seven {sapta}. It has seven-wheels {saptachakram} and is driven by seven horses {sapta vahanty aśvāḥ}. The Seven sisters { sapta svasāro} praises the Cow {gavāṃ} and the seven people (seven names) {sapta nāma}.

This verse again describes the Seven Sages (Seven Names) residing in the Chariot (the Sun) this time mentioned as having seven horses (like in Epics and Puranas) and as having seven wheels. The Seven Sisters represent river Sarasvati and the nearby rivers and is a theme repeated in Vedas. The Cow represents the Year. The significance of seven wheels is unknown. It could mean the seven zodiacal ages that had elapsed during the composition of this hymn.

The Twelve Spoked Wheel of Time with 720 sub-spokes

RV_1,164.11a dvādaśāraṃ nahi taj jarāya varvarti cakram pari dyām ṛtasya |
RV_1,164.11c ā putrā agne mithunāso atra sapta śatāni viṃśatiś ca tasthuḥ ||by length of time,

By Universal-Order {ṛtasya} this wheel {cakram} of time having twelve-spokes {dvādaśāraṃ} revolves {varvarti} in the sky {dyām}, without ever weakening or aging {nahi taj jarāya}. O Agni {agne}, On it stays, in pairs {mithunāso}, 720 sons {putrā}.

The word Rta, means Universal Order, Universal Law, the Laws of Physics or the Laws of Cosmology. Here the wheel is mentioned as having twelve spokes, to measure out twelve months in a year and twelve ages in a Great Year (25,776 years). The strange number 720 mentioned here as number of sons attached to the wheel is interesting. As per Graham Hancock this could mean the 72 years taken by the wheel to move 1 degrees (71.6 approximated as 72). However 720 is also twice 360. The meaning here thus represent 720 spokes which are paired, each spoke representing 1/2 degree (36 years) and a pair of spokes representing 1 degree (72 years).

Similarly in a human lineage, if 720 sons are born at an interval of 36 years (ie father begets a sun at his 36th age, on an average) then the total duration would be 720 x 36 = 25920 years, very close to the precession period of 25,776 yeas. Due to this simplicity, the number 72, its half 36 and its half 18 with or without zeros are frequently found in the Vedas, Epics and Puranas. Similarly the multiples of 72 like 144, 216, 432 with or without zeros too are found. Besides 36 + 72 = 108 is a very special number in ancient Indian traditions.

The number of Parvas in Mahabharata is 18; number of days Kurukshetra War is fought is 18. The time gap between Kurukshetra War and submergence of Dwaraka is 36. Duration of ChaturYuga mentioned in Shanti Parva of Mahabharata is 4,320,000.

The Twelve Spoked Wheel of Time with 360 sub-spokes

RV_1,164.48a dvādaśa pradhayaś cakram ekaṃ trīṇi nabhyāni ka u tac ciketa |
RV_1,164.48c tasmin sākaṃ triśatā na śaṅkavo 'rpitāḥ ṣaṣṭir na calācalāsaḥ ||

Twelve {dvādaśa} are the major-spokes {pradhayaś}, and the wheel {cakram} is single {ekaṃ}; three {trīṇi} are the naves {nabhyā}. Who hath understood it {ka u tac ciketa}?
On it are set together 360 spokes, which cannot be loosened {na calācalāsaḥ}.

Here the Wheel of Time with 12 spokes to define 12 zodiac signs is mentioned as having 360 sub-spokes for measuring each each day of the year and each degree of movement of Vernal Equinox in every 72 years. It is mentioned as having three naves (gears of modes of operation, to measure hours in a day, months in a year and zodiacal ages in a Great Year). The verse generate curiosity in the mind of reader or reciter asking if they have any understanding of it.

The Cow and Calf

Rig Veda also mentions frequently about the Cow and the Calf when it discusses about the wheel of time. Cow represent a year and Calf the residual time that is left which needs adding of few days after the expiry of few years to correct the calender. This residue is a by product of approximation of the year as 360 days, 365 days, 365.25 days or as 365.2522 days. Hence the year is rightly called the Cow and the residue the Calf.

Eg:- RV_1,164.05c (the yearling Calf {vatsa}); RV_1,164.09c the Calf {vatsa} lowed, and looked upon the Mother, the Cow.

References in Mahabharata

References of the Wheel of Time in Mahabharata are subsequent to those found in the Vedas. They often supplement the references in the Vedas and increase their clarity.


Three hundred and sixty cows represented by three hundred and sixty days produce one calf between them which is the year. That calf is the creator and destroyer of all. Seekers of truth following different routes, draw the milk of true knowledge with its help. Ye Aswins, ye are the creators of that calf!

The 360 cows thus represents 360 degrees and erroneously to 360 days in a year. The calf represent the residual time to complete one year. The residue in case of 360 days will be 5 days, in case of 365 days will be 1/4 day, in case of 365.25 days will be 11 minutes and so on and this chase will lead one to the secret knowledge about the precession of equinox and the wheel of time.

The 12 spoked wheel with 720 sub-spokes

The year is but a nave of the wheel to which is attached 720 spokes representing as many days and nights. The circumference of this wheel represented by 12 months is without end. This wheel is full of delusions and knows no deterioration. It affects all creatures whether to this or of the other worlds. Ye Aswins, this wheel of time is set in motion by you!

Here the 12 spoked wheel of time with 720 sub-spokes is clearly mentioned. Measurement of day & nights and months within a year is but one nave (mode of operation or gear) of the wheel.

The wheel of time and six seasons

The wheel of Time as represented by the year has a nave represented by the six seasons. The number of spokes attached to that nave is twelve as represented by the twelve signs of the Zodiac. This wheel of Time manifests the fruits of the acts of all things. The presiding deities of Time abide in that wheel.

Here the usage of the wheel of time to measure six seasons is mentioned clearly.

References in Vishnu Purana


Puranas are subsequent to Vedas and Mahabharata. Vishnu Purana is a good representative Purana. It contains many interesting references to Kalachakra, the wheel of time.

Secret of Rising and Setting Sun

The glorious sun, darts like an arrow on his southern course, attended by the constellations of the Zodiac. He causes the difference between day and night, and is the divine vehicle and path of the sages who have overcome the inflictions of the world. Whilst the sun, who is the discriminator of all hours, shines in one continent in midday, in the opposite Dwipas, it will be midnight: rising and setting are at all seasons, and are always (relatively) opposed in the different cardinal and intermediate points of the horizon. When the sun becomes visible to any people, to them he is said to rise; when he disappears from their view, that is called his setting. There is in truth neither rising nor setting of the sun, for he is always; and these terms merely imply his presence and his disappearance.

The narration is very straightforward and needs no explanation. The sages mentioned here are the Saptarshis, the seven sages. This narration clearly expresses the knowledge of the ancient astronomers about the secret of the motion of sun, viz. it is only an apparent motion across the sky of Earth due to motions of Earth.

Ancient Meridians (Longitudes)

When the sun has travelled in the centre of Pushkara a thirtieth part of the circumference of the globe, his course is equal in time to one Muhurtta; and whirling round like the circumference of the wheel of a potter, he distributes day and night upon the earth.

This reference make Puskara (Pushkar, Rajastan) one of the major meridians (longitudinal reference) defined by ancient astronomers. Today's Zero Meridian passes through Greenwich, UK. During the composition of this passage of Vishnu Purana, zero meridian seems to be passing through Pushkara.

Winter Solstice at Sagittarius-Capricorn Junction

In the commencement of his northern course, the sun passes to Capricornus, thence to Aquarius, thence to Pisces, going successively from one sign of the Zodiac to another. After he has passed through these, the sun attains his equinoctial movement (the vernal equinox), when he makes the day and night of equal duration. Thenceforward the length of the night decreases, and the day becomes longer, until the sun reaches the end of Gemini, when he pursues a different direction, and, entering Cancer, begins his declension to the south.

This narration help us to date this passage of Vishnu Purana to around 136 BCE, ie 2148 years ago. Then Vernal Equinox was 30 degrees behind than it is today in its anti-clockwise motion through the zodiac. Then exactly as stated in this narration, the Winter Solstice (which marks the start of sun's northern course, Uttarayana) lied at Sagittarius-Capricorn boundary and Summer Solstice (which marks the start of sun's southern course, Dakshinayana) at Gemini-Cancer boundary. Vernal Equinox will be then at Pisces-Aries boundary as stated in this narration.

Pole Star at the center of zodiacal wheel

As the lump of clay on the centre of the potter's wheel moves most slowly, so the polar star, which is in the centre of the zodiacal wheel, evolves very tardily, and ever remains in the centre, as the clay continues in the centre of the wheel of the potter.

Vishnu Purana observe correctly that the regions near celestial pole moves slowly while those in the celestial equator moves quickly.

Further Reading

  1. Kalachakra-Part1
  2. Kalachakra-Part2
  3. Yugas
  4. Kumari Kandam

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