Vikram Samvat

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Vikram Samvat (IAST: Vikrama Samvat) (abbreviated as V.S. (or VS) or B.S. (or BS)); Loudspeaker.svg Listen  ) (also called the Vikrami calendar) is the historical Hindu calendar from the Indian subcontinent and the official calendar of modern-day India and Nepal. [1] [2] It uses lunar months and solar sidereal years.

Hindu calendar is a collective term for the various lunisolar calendars traditionally used in the Indian subcontinent. They adopt a similar underlying concept for timekeeping, but differ in their relative emphasis to moon cycle or the sun cycle and the names of months and when they consider the New Year to start. Of the various regional calendars, the most studied and known Hindu calendars are the Shalivahana Shaka found in South India, Vikram Samvat (Bikrami) found in North and Central regions of India, Tamil calendar used in Tamil Nadu, and the Bengali calendar used in the Bengal – all of which emphasize the lunar cycle. Their new year starts in spring. In contrast, in regions such as Kerala, the solar cycle is emphasized and this is called the Malayalam calendar, their new year starts in autumn, and these have origins in the second half of the 1st millennium CE. A Hindu calendar is sometimes referred to as Panchanga (पञ्चाङ्ग).

Indian subcontinent Peninsular region in south-central Asia south of the Himalayas

The Indian subcontinent, is a southern region and peninsula of Asia, mostly situated on the Indian Plate and projecting southwards into the Indian Ocean from the Himalayas. Geologically, the Indian subcontinent is related to the land mass that rifted from Gondwana and merged with the Eurasian plate nearly 55 million years ago. Geographically, it is the peninsular region in south-central Asia delineated by the Himalayas in the north, the Hindu Kush in the west, and the Arakanese in the east. Politically, the Indian subcontinent includes Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.



The Vikram Samvat is notable because many ancient and medieval era inscriptions use it. It is said to be named after the legendary king Vikramaditya, but the term "Vikrama Samvat" does not appear in the historical records before the 9th century, rather the same calendaring system is found by other names such as Krita and Malava. [3] In the colonial era scholarship, the era was believed to be based on the commemoration of King Vikramaditya expelling the Sakas from Ujjain. However, later epigraphical evidence and scholarship suggest that this theory has no historical basis and very likely was an error. Starting in the 9th century and thereafter, epigraphical artwork uses Vikrama-Samvat, suggesting that sometime around the 9th-century, the Hindu calendar era that was already in use became popular as Vikram Samvat, while Buddhist and Jain epigraphy continued to use an era based on the Buddha or the Mahavira. [4]

Vikramaditya 1st century BCE emperor of Ujjain, India.

Vikramaditya was a legendary emperor of ancient India. Often characterized as an ideal king, he is known for his generosity, courage, and patronage of scholars. Vikramaditya is featured in hundreds of traditional Indian legends, including those in Baital Pachisi and Singhasan Battisi. Many describe him as a universal ruler, with his capital at Ujjain.

Vikramaditya legends

The Jain monk Kalakacharya and the Saka King (Kalakacharya Katha manuscript, Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya, Mumbai) Westindischer Maler um 1400 001.jpg
The Jain monk Kalakacharya and the Saka King (Kalakacharya Katha manuscript, Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya, Mumbai)

According to popular tradition, the legendary king Vikramaditya of Ujjain established the Vikrama Samvat era after defeating the Śakas.

Ujjain Metropolitan City in Madhya Pradesh, India

Ujjain is a city in Ujjain district of the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh. It is the fifth largest city in Madhya Pradesh by population and is the administrative centre of Ujjain district and Ujjain division. It is a known Hindu pilgrimage centre with the Kumbh Mela held here every 12 years.

Indo-Scythians former country

Indo-Scythians were a group of nomadic Iranian peoples of Saka and Scythian origin who migrated southward into western and northern South Asia from the middle of the 2nd century BC to the 4th century AD.

Kalakacharya Kathanaka ("An account of the monk Kalakacharya") by the Jain sage Mahesarasuri gives the following account[ citation needed ]: Gandharvasena, the then-powerful king of Ujjain, abducted a nun called Sarasvati, who was the sister of the monk. The enraged monk sought the help of the Śaka ruler King Sahi in Sistan. Despite heavy odds but aided by miracles, the Śaka king defeated Gandharvasena and made him a captive. Sarasvati was repatriated, although Gandharvasena himself was forgiven. The defeated king retired to the forest, where he was killed by a tiger. His son, Vikramaditya, being brought up in the forest, had to rule from Pratishthana (modern Paithan in Maharashtra). Later on, Vikramaditya invaded Ujjain and drove away from the Śakas. To commemorate this event, he started a new era called the "Vikrama era". The Ujjain calendar started around 58–56 BCE, and the subsequent Shaka era calendar was started in 78 CE at Pratishthana.

Jainism ancient religion that originated in India

Jainism, traditionally known as Jain Dharma, is an ancient, non-theistic, Indian religion. Followers of Jainism are called "Jains", a word derived from the Sanskrit word jina (victor) and connoting the path of victory in crossing over life's stream of rebirths through an ethical and spiritual life. Jains consider their religion to be eternal (sanatan), and trace their history through a succession of 24 victorious saviours and teachers known as tirthankaras, with the first in current time cycle being Rishabhanatha, who according to Jain tradition lived millions of years ago, twenty-third being Parshvanatha in 8th century BCE and twenty-fourth being the Mahāvīra around 500 BCE. Jains believe that Jainism is an eternal dharma with the tirthankaras guiding every cycle of the Jain cosmology.

Sistan historical and geographical region in present-day Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan

Sīstān, known in ancient times as Sakastan, is a historical and geographical region in present-day eastern Iran and southern Afghanistan. Largely desert, the region is bisected by the Helmand River, the largest river in Afghanistan, which empties into the hamun lakes that form part of the border between the two countries.

Historical origins

The association of the era beginning in 57 BCE with Vikramaditya is not found in any source before the 9th century CE. The earlier sources call this era by various names, including Kṛṭa (343 CE and 371 CE), Kritaa (404 CE), the era of the Malava tribe (424 CE), or simply, Samvat. [5] [6]


The Malavas or Malwas were an ancient Indian tribe. Modern scholars identify them with the Malloi who were settled in the Punjab region at the time of Alexander's invasion in the 4th century BCE. Later, the Malavas migrated southwards to present-day Rajasthan, and ultimately to Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat. Their power gradually declined as a result of defeats against the Western Satraps, the Gupta emperor Samudragupta, and the Chalukya emperor Pulakeshin II.

The earliest known inscription that calls the era "Vikrama" is from 842 CE. This inscription of Chauhana ruler Chandamahasena was found at Dholpur, and is dated Vikrama Samvat 898, Vaishakha Shukla 2, Chanda (16 April 842 CE). The earliest known inscription that associates this era with a king called Vikramaditya is dated 971 CE. The earliest literary work that connects the era to Vikramaditya is Subhashita-Ratna-Sandoha (993-994 CE) by the Jain author Amitagati. [6]

Chauhan, Chouhan, Chohan, or Chohhan, is a major caste from India and Pakistan. The caste claims kinship with Rajputs, although the Rajput identity did not exist during reign of their flok legend, Prithviraj Chauhan.

Dholpur City in Rajasthan, India

Dholpur is a city in eastern-most parts of the Rajasthan state of India. It is the administrative headquarters of Dholpur District and was formerly seat of the Dholpur princely state. Dholpur State or Dhaulpur State was a kingdom of India, which was founded in AD 1806 by a Hindu Jat Maharana Kirat Singh of Dhaulpur.

For this reason, multiple authors believe that the Vikram Samvat was not started by Vikramaditya, who might be a purely legendary king or the title adopted by a later king who renamed the era after himself. V. A. Smith and D. R. Bhandarkar believed that Chandragupta II adopted the title Vikramaditya, and changed the name of the era to "Vikrama Samvat". According to Rudolf Hoernlé, the king responsible for this change was Yashodharman: Hoernlé also believed that he conquered Kashmir, and is the same person as the "Harsha Vikramaditya" mentioned in Kalhana's Rajatarangini . [6]

Earlier, some scholars believed that the Vikrama Samavat corresponded to the Azes era of the Indo-Scythian (Śaka) king King Azes. However, this was disputed by Robert Bracey following the discovery of an inscription of Vijayamitra, which is dated in two eras. [7] The theory seems to be now thoroughly discredited by Falk and Bennett, who place the inception of the Azes era in 47–46 BCE. [8]


In Gujarat, the day after Diwali is celebrated as the first day of the Vikram Samvat calendar which is the first day of the month Kartik. [9]


The Vikrami era is an ancient calendar and has been historically used by Hindus and Sikhs. [10] It is one of the several regional Hindu calendars that have been in use on the Indian subcontinent, and it is based on twelve synodical lunar months and 365 solar days. [10] [11] The lunar new year starts on the new moon in the month of Chaitra. [12] This day, known as Chaitra Sukhladi, is a restricted holiday in India. [13]

The Vikrami Samvat (Bikrami Samvat system) has been in use in the Indian subcontinent since ancient times, and remains in use by the Hindus in north, west and central India as well as Nepal. [3] In south India, and some parts of east and west India such as Assam, West Bengal, and Gujarat, saka era has been widely used. [14]

With the arrival of the Islamic rule era, the Hijri Islamic calendar became the official calendar of various Sultanates and the Mughal Empire. During the british colonial rule of the Indian subcontinent, the Gregorian calendar was adopted and it is commonly used in the urban areas of India. [15] The predominantly Muslim countries of Pakistan and Bangladesh use the Islamic calendar since 1947, but older texts variously included the Bikrami and Gregorian calendar systems. In 2003, the India-based Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee of Sikhism adopted the Nanakshahi calendar, a move that continues to be debated. [10] The Vikrami calendar is the official calendar of Nepal. [16]

The calendar system

The Vikrami calendar is similar in conceptual design to the Gregorian calendar, but different from the Jewish calendar. [10] Unlike Gregorian calendar which adds additional days to lunar month to adjust for the mismatch between twelve lunar cycles (354 lunar days) [17] and nearly 365 solar days, the Vikrami and Jewish calendars maintain the integrity of the lunar month, but insert an extra full month by complex rules, every 4 years, to ensure that the festivals and crop-related rituals fall in the appropriate season. This Indian system of calendar keeping is one of the lunisolar calendar systems innovated in ancient human cultures. [10] [11] Early Buddhist communities of India adopted the ancient Indian calendar, later Vikrami calendar, and then local Buddhist calendars. Buddhist festivals continue to be scheduled according to a lunar system. [18]

The Vikram Samvat has two alternative systems. It started in 56 BCE in the southern (purnimanta) and 57–56 BCE in the northern (amanta) systems of the Hindu calendar. The Shukla Paksha, when most festivals occur, coincides in both systems. The era is named after King Vikramaditya of India. [14] [5]

The lunisolar Vikram Samvat calendar is 56.7 years ahead of the solar Gregorian calendar. For example, the year 2075 VS began in 2018 CE and will end in 2019 CE.

The Rana rulers of Nepal made Vikram Samvat the official Hindu calendar in 1901 CE, which started as Samvat 1958. [19] In Nepal, the new year begins with the first day of the month of Baishakh, which usually falls around 13–15 April in the Gregorian calendar. The first day of the new year is passionately celebrated in a historical carnival that takes place every year in Bhaktapur, called Bisket Jatra. From 2007 AD, Nepal Sambat is also recognized as the national calendar.

In India, the reformulated Saka Calendar is officially used (although not for computing the dates of the traditional festivals). In the Hindi version of the Preamble of the Constitution of India, however, the date of adoption of the constitution, 26 November 1949, is presented in Vikram Samvat (Margsheersh Shukla Saptami Samvat 2006). There have been calls for the Vikram Samvat to replace Saka as India's official calendar. [20]

Divisions of a year

The classical Vikram Samvat uses lunar months and solar sidereal years. Because 12 months do not match a sidereal year exactly, correctional months ( adhika māsa ) are added or, occasionally, subtracted (kshaya masa). A lunar year consists of 12 months. A lunar month has two fortnights. The lunar days are called "tithis". Each month has 30 tithis, which may vary from 20 – 27 hours. During the waxing phases, tithis are called "shukla" or the bright phase — the auspicious fortnight, beginning with the day after the new moon called "Amavasya". Tithis for the waning phases are called "krishna" or the dark phase, which is regarded as the inauspicious fortnight, [21] starting from the day after the full moon or "purnima".

Lunar metrics

See also

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Chandragupta II

Chandragupta II, also known by his title Vikramaditya, was one of the most powerful emperors of the Gupta Empire in northern India.

Ashwin or Ashvin or Ashwan, also known as Aswayuja, is the seventh month of the lunisolar Hindu calendar, the Vikram Samvat, which is the official solar calendar of Nepal and the parts of India. It is the sixth month in the solar Bengali calendar and seventh in the lunar Indian national calendar of the Deccan Plateau. It falls in the season of Shôrot, or Autumn. In Vedic Jyotish, Ashwin begins with the Sun's enter in Virgo.

Buddhist calendar lunisolar calendar

The Buddhist calendar is a set of lunisolar calendars primarily used in mainland Southeast Asian countries of Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Thailand as well as in Sri Lanka and Chinese populations of Malaysia and Singapore for religious or official occasions. While the calendars share a common lineage, they also have minor but important variations such as intercalation schedules, month names and numbering, use of cycles, etc. In Thailand, the name Buddhist Era is a year numbering system shared by the traditional Thai lunisolar calendar and by the Thai solar calendar.

Indian national calendar

The Indian national calendar, sometimes called the Shalivahana Shaka calendar. It is used, alongside the Gregorian calendar, by The Gazette of India, in news broadcasts by All India Radio and in calendars and communications issued by the Government of India. The Saka calendar is also used in Java and Bali among Indonesian Hindus. Nyepi, the "Day of Silence", is a celebration of the Saka new year in Bali. Nepal's Nepal Sambat evolved from the Saka calendar. Prior to colonization, the Philippines used to apply the Saka calendar as well as suggested by the Laguna Copperplate Inscription.

Shaka era historical calendar era

The Shaka era is a historical calendar era, corresponding to Julian year 78. It is commonly known in Indian languages as Shalivahana Śaka or RTGS: Mahasakkarat "Greater Era").

Amavasya last day of the dark lunar fortnight

Amāvásyā means the lunar phase of the New moon. The word Amāvásyā is common to almost all Nepalese and Indian languages as most of them are derived from Sanskrit. Ancient Babylonian, Greek and Indian calendars used 30 lunar phases, called tithi in India. The dark moon tithi is when the Moon is within the 12 degrees of angular distance between the Sun and Moon before conjunction (syzygy). The New Moon tithi is the 12 angular degrees after syzygy. Amāvásyā is often translated as new moon since there is no standard term for the Moon before conjunction in English.

The Vira Nirvana Samvat (era) is a calendar era beginning on 15 October 527 BCE. It commemorates the Nirvana of Lord Mahaviraswami, the 24th Jain Tirthankara. This is one of the oldest system of chronological reckoning which is still used in India.

Nepal Sambat Nepals national lunar calendar

Nepal Sambat is the lunar calendar used primarily by the Newari speaking people native to the Nepalese nationality.The Calendar era began on 20 October 879 AD, with the year 2013-14 AD corresponding to 1134 in Nepal Sambat. Nepal Sambat appeared on coins, stone and copper plate inscriptions, royal decrees, chronicles, Hindu and Buddhist manuscripts, legal documents and correspondence. Today, it is used for ceremonial purposes and to determine the dates of religious festivals, birthdays and death anniversaries.

Paksha refers to a fortnight or a lunar phase in a month of the Hindu lunar calendar.

Rudrasimha I

Rudrasimha I was a Western Kshatrapa ruler, who reigned from 178 to 197 CE. He was son of Rudradaman I, grandson of Jayadaman, and grand-grandson of Chashtana.

Bengali calendars calendar

The Bengali Calendar or Bangla Calendar is a luni-solar calendar used in the Bengal region of the Indian subcontinent. A revised version of the calendar is the national and official calendar in Bangladesh and an earlier version of the calendar is followed in the Indian states of West Bengal, Tripura and Assam. The New Year in the Bengali calendar is known as Pohela Boishakh.

Ghimire Surname list

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The Balinese saka calendar is one of two calendars used on the Indonesian island of Bali. Unlike the 210-day pawukon calendar, it is based on the phases of the Moon, and is approximately the same length as the Gregorian year.

Shalivahana was a legendary emperor of ancient India, who is said to have ruled from Pratishthana. He is believed to be based on a Satavahana king.

The Bangladeshi calendar is a civil calendar used in Bangladesh, alongside the Gregorian calendar and the Islamic calendar. According to some historians, it is based on his Tarikh-e-Ilahi, introduced by the Mughal Emperor Akbar on 10/11 March 1584. Others state that only traces of Akbar's influence survive, and its roots are more ancient Hindu Bengali calendars. The calendar is important for Bangladeshi agriculture, as well as festivals and traditional record keeping for revenue and taxation.


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Further reading