Bhishma’s method for insertion of Adhika masa (Intercalary month)

A seeker wrote…

“You have claimed that the system of taking one adhikamasa after every two and half months, or thereabout, was in vogue in mahabharata times. I do not agree with your claim and stick to what Bheeshma has said, viz., two adhikamasas after 58 usual lunar months, a simple system, not requiring any astronomical knowledge. My detailed comments on the single reference you have quoted from Bombay Edition, (in Marathi), are given below.

He further wrote.. (in Marathi)…

I wonder why you are pushing this claim. It does not appear to have any consequence for your year of war or your timing of the war.

विराट्पर्व – Bombay Edition 47-3

या श्लोकाच्या आधारे महाभारतकाळी साधारणपणे दर अडीच वर्षांनी एक अधिकमास घेण्याची पद्धत आलेली होती असा श्री. ओक यांचा दावा आहे. हा श्लोक BORI Edition मध्ये नाही. GP Edition मध्येहि नाही. इतर Editions मध्ये असल्यास माहीत नाही. याचा स्वीकार करण्याला काहीहि आधार नाही. भीष्माने ५८ महिन्यांनंतर एकत्र दोन अधिक महिने घ्यायचे असतात असे स्पष्टपणे म्हटलेले असताना, (GP 52-1-2) त्या उल्लेखाकडे दुर्लक्ष करून या प्रक्षिप्त श्लोकाचा सोयिस्करपणे आधार घेण्याला कोणतेहि सबळ कारण वा आधार श्री. ओक देत नाहीत. महाभारतात अधिकमास केव्हा घ्यायचे याबद्दल इतर कोणताही उल्लेख मला दिसलेला नाही. उघडच, महाभारतकाळानंतर पुढे केव्हातरी, अडीच वर्षानी एक अधिकमास घेण्याची पद्धत सुरू झाल्यावर, मग हा श्लोक घुसडलेला असावा. या Bombay Edition मध्ये भीष्माच्या तोंडच्या मूळ श्लोकाचे काय केले आहे, तो काढून टाकून हा घेतला आहे काय, हे माहीत नाही.

श्री ओक यानी आपल्या पुस्तकात इतरत्र कोठेहि या Bombay Edition चा आधार घेतलेला दिसत नाही. फक्त येथे मतलबापुरता घेतला आहे! श्री. ओक विचारात घेत नाहीत कीं दर अडीच महिन्यानी एक अधिक महिना घेण्याचा प्रघात पडलेला असता तर १३ वर्षात जे ५ अधिक मास यायचे ते आधीच वेळोवेळी येऊन गेलेले असते व मग अर्जुन प्रगट झाला त्या दिवशी १३ वर्षे पुरीं झालीं कीं नाही अशी चर्चाच उद्भवली नसती कारण द्यूताचा महिना व तिथि, जी सर्व कौरववीराना व अर्जुनालाहि ठाऊक होती तीच त्या दिवशी आहे कीं नाही हे कोणालाहि सहज कळले असतें! पांडवानी अज्ञातवास पुरा केला कीं नाही हा एक कळीचा मुद्दा झाला होता. भीष्माने ‘पांडवांनी पांच महिने व बारा रात्री एवढा आवश्यक तो अधिक काळ मोजला आहे’ असे शिफारसपत्र दिले. दुर्योधनाने पांडवांचा दावा कधीच मानला नाही. या सर्वाचा विचार श्री. ओक मुळीच करत नाहीत. श्री ओक हा चुकीचा दावा कशासाठी करत आहेत हेहि कळत नाही!”

My Response…

Let’s agree to the following points…

(1) The fact Bhishma is claiming 2 Adhika masa (intercalary months) within 5 years (or at the end of 5 years as claimed by the seeker) indicates that the correction of Adhika masa is due to Luni-Solar nature of the Calendar.

(2) Thus calendar is Luni-Solar. This means, Sun will take about 365 days to complete one solar year and Moon will take 354 days to complete one lunar year(12 lunations).

(3) Whether Pandavas completed 13 years or not is NOT the issue raised by the seeker. In any case, I am neutral to that fact. There is no decisive and conclusive answer to the question of ‘Pandava completing 13 years’ so far.

(4) So let’s limit the discussion to ‘the timing of insertion of Adhika masa according to Bhishma’

The two Shloka our seeker refers to are as follows:

GP Edition,Virata Parva: 52:3-4

तेषां कालातिरेकेण ज्योतीषां च व्यतिक्रमात
पंचमे पंचमे वर्षे द्वौ मासावुपजायत:

Every 5 years, 2 adhika masa (intercalary months) get added.

एषामभ्यधिका मासा: पंच च द्वादश क्षपा:
त्रयोदशानां वर्षाणामिति मे वर्तते मति:

Thus at the completion of this 13 years, Pandavas have actually completed 5 months and 12 nights extra!

If the claim of this seeker (भीष्माने ५८ महिन्यांनंतर एकत्र दोन अधिक महिने घ्यायचे असतात असे स्पष्टपणे म्हटलेले असताना) is true, then Bhishma should not have stated extra 5 months, at the end of 13th year!

Since, according to this seeker, Bhishma would not refer to additional-Adhika-Intercalary 5th or 6th month until the end of 15th year. This is because per the claim of our seeker, next set of 2 adhika masa would not be added until the end of Year 15!

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2 thoughts on “Bhishma’s method for insertion of Adhika masa (Intercalary month)

  1. There are so many mis-representations in this writing. 1.I am not seeking anything from Shri. Oak. So why call me a seeker? 2.त्रयोदशाणाम् वर्षाणाम् does not translate to ‘at the end of thirteen years. 3.Why the third pair of adhika masas has to come at the end of 15 years? The first pair of adhikamasas could have occured even one year of vanavas and third pair in 11th year. In 12 years of vanavas and 1 year of adnyatavas, either 4 extra months or 6 extra months could have ocurred. If only four extra had occured, pandavas would have spent less than 13 solar years, 156 + 4 lunar months. This would have suited them! If six extra months had occurred their total period would be 162 lunar months, a little longer than 13 solar years. I have fully written in my blog on this. Pandawas planned to complete 13 years, (13th occurence of the month and tithi of Dyuta day. Because of the necessity of killing Keechaka, they feared recognition and made a contingency plan to at least complete a period oequal to13 solar years and must have made their calculations. On the morning of attack on Virata by Kouravas, that period was complete and therefore Droupadi pushed Arjuna to go and fight the Kauravas. He appeared on the field and was recognized. Bhishma clarified that the min. period of 5 months and 11 nights, over and above 156 lunar months is over today morning. The crux of the problem was that Pandavas had just about completed 13 Solar
    years, not reached the thirteenth occurrence of Dyuta month/tithi, That was the basis of Duryodhana rejecting pandavas’ claim of completing Dyuta terms. 4. You may or may not be interested in this issue but it is very much there!

  2. पंचमे पंचमे वर्षे, translates to ‘in every fifth year’, not ‘twice in five years’

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