Vikram Samvat

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Vikram Samvat (IAST: Vikrama Samvat), abbreviated V.S. (or VS) and B.S. (or BS)) Loudspeaker.svg Listen  ) and also known as the Vikrami calendar, is the historical Hindu calendar on the Indian subcontinent and the official calendar of Nepal. It is also used in several Indian states. [1] [2] The calendar 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.



Barnala inscription
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Plaque with description of Barnala inscription
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Barnala Yupa pillar, Rajasthan

A number of ancient and medieval inscriptions used the Vikram Samvat. Although it was reportedly named after the legendary king Vikramaditya, the term "Vikrama Samvat" does not appear in the historical record before the 9th century; the same calendar system is found with other names, such as Krita and Malava. [3] In colonial 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. During the 9th century, epigraphical artwork began using Vikram Samvat (suggesting that the Hindu calendar era in use became popular as Vikram Samvat); 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.

Saka historic ethnic group

Saka, Śaka, Shaka or Saca(Persian: oldSakā,mod. ساکا; Sanskrit: शक, Śaka; Ancient Greek: Σάκαι, Sákai; Latin: Sacae; Chinese: 塞, old *Sək, mod. Sāi) were a group of nomadic Iranian peoples who historically inhabited the northern and eastern Eurasian Steppe and the Tarim Basin.

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 famous Hindu pilgrimage centre with the Kumbh Mela held here every 12 years.

Vikramaditya legend

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, King Vikramaditya of Ujjain established the Vikrama Samvat era after defeating the Śakas.

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: 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.[ full citation needed ]

Jainism, traditionally known as Jain Dharma is an ancient Indian religion.

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

Sistān, known in ancient times as Sakastān, 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.

Maharashtra State in western India

Maharashtra is a state in the western peninsular region of India occupying a substantial portion of the Deccan Plateau. It is the second-most populous state and third-largest state by area in India. Spread over 307,713 km2 (118,809 sq mi), it is bordered by the Arabian Sea to the west, the Indian states of Karnataka and Goa to the south, Telangana to the southeast and Chhattisgarh to the east, Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh to the north, and the Indian union territory of Dadra and Nagar Haveli to the north west. It is also the world's second-most populous subnational entity.

Historical origins

The association of the era beginning in 57 BCE with Vikramaditya is not found in any source before the 9th century CE; earlier sources call the era "Kṛṭa" (343 and 371 CE), "Kritaa" (404), "the era of the Malava tribe" (424), or simply "Samvat". [5] [6] The earliest known inscription which calls the era "Vikrama" is from 842. This inscription, from the Chauhana ruler Chandamahasena, was found at Dholpur and is dated "Vikrama Samvat 898, Vaishakha Shukla 2, Chanda" (16 April 842). The earliest known inscription which associates the era with a king called Vikramaditya is dated 971, and the earliest literary work connecting the era to Vikramaditya is Subhashita-Ratna-Sandoha (993-994) by the Jain author Amitagati. [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.

Chauhan, Chouhan, Chohan, or Chohhan, is a Rajput caste from north India.

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.

A number of authors believe that the Vikram Samvat was not started by Vikramaditya, who might be a legendary king or a 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 of Vikramaditya, and changed the era's name to "Vikrama Samvat". According to Rudolf Hoernlé, the king responsible for this change was Yashodharman. Hoernlé believed that he conquered Kashmir and is the "Harsha Vikramaditya" mentioned in Kalhana's Rajatarangini . [6]

Vincent Arthur Smith, CIE, (1848–1920) was an Irish Indologist and art historian.

Devadatta Ramakrishna Bhandarkar (1875–1950) (Marathi: देवदत्त रामकृष्ण भांडारकर was born in Marathi Goud Saraswat Brahmin family. He was an Indian archaeologist and epigraphist who worked with the Archaeological Survey of India. He was the son of eminent Indologist, R. G. Bhandarkar.

Chandragupta II

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

Some earlier scholars believed that the Vikraa Samvat corresponded to the Azes era of the Indo-Scythian (Śaka) king King Azes. This was disputed by Robert Bracey after the discovery of an inscription of Vijayamitra, which is dated in two eras. [7] The theory was 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 (the first day of the month of Kartik). [9]


The Vikram Samvat has been used by Hindus and Sikhs. [10] One of several regional Hindu calendars in use on the Indian subcontinent, it is based on twelve synodic lunar months and 365 solar days. [10] [11] The lunar year begins with the new moon of the month of Chaitra. [12] This day, known as Chaitra Sukhladi, is a restricted holiday in India. [13] [ failed verification ]

The calendar remains in use by Hindus in Nepal and north, west and central India. [3] In south India and portions of east and west India (such as Assam, West Bengal and Gujarat), the Indian national calendar is widely used. [14]

With the arrival of Islamic rule, the Hijri calendar became the official calendar of sultanates and the Mughal Empire. During British colonial rule of the Indian subcontinent, the Gregorian calendar was adopted and is commonly used in urban areas of India. [15] The predominantly-Muslim countries of Pakistan and Bangladesh have used the Islamic calendar since 1947, but older texts included the Vikram Samvat and Gregorian calendars. In 2003, the India-based Sikh Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee controversially adopted the Nanakshahi calendar. [10] The Vikram Samvat is the official calendar of Nepal. [16]

Calendar system

The Vikram Samvat is similar in design to the Gregorian calendar, but differs from the Hebrew calendar. [10] Unlike the Gregorian calendar, which adds days to the lunar month to adjust for the mismatch between twelve lunar cycles (354 lunar days) [17] and nearly 365 solar days, the Vikram Samvat and Hebrew calendars maintain the integrity of the lunar month and insert an extra month every four years to ensure that festivals and crop-related rituals fall in the appropriate season. The Vikram Samvat is one of the lunisolar calendars developed by ancient human cultures. [10] [11] Early Buddhist communities in India adopted the ancient Hindu calendar, followed by the Vikram Samvat and local Buddhist calendars. Buddhist festivals are still scheduled according to a lunar system. [18]

The Vikram Samvat has two systems. It began in 56 BCE in the southern Hindu calendar system (purnimanta) and 57–56 BCE in the northern system (amanta). The Shukla Paksha, when most festivals occur, coincides in both systems. [14] [5] The lunisolar Vikram Samvat calendar is 56.7 years ahead of the solar Gregorian calendar; the year 2075 VS began in 2018 CE, and will end in 2019 CE.

The Rana dynasty of Nepal made the Vikram Samvat the official Hindu calendar in 1901, which began as Samvat 1958. [19] The new year in Nepal 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 celebrated in Bisket Jatra, an annual carnival in Bhaktapur. In 2007, Nepal Sambat was recognized as the national calendar.

In India, the reformulated Saka calendar is officially used (except for computing dates of the traditional festivals). In the Hindi version of the preamble of the constitution of India, the date of its adoption (26 November 1949) is presented in Vikram Samvat as Margsheersh Shukla Saptami Samvat 2006. A call has been made for the Vikram Samvat to replace the Saka calendar as India's official calendar. [20]

Divisions of a year

The Vikram Samvat uses lunar months and solar sidereal years. Because 12 months do not match a sidereal year, correctional months ( adhika māsa ) are added or (occasionally) subtracted (kshaya masa). A lunar year consists of 12 months, and each month has two fortnights. The lunar days are called tithis . Each month has 30 tithis, which vary in length from 20 to 27 hours. The waxing phase, beginning with the day after the new moon (amavasya), is called gaura or shukla paksha (the bright or auspicious fortnight). The waning phase is called krishna or vadhya paksha (the dark fortnight, considered inauspicious). [21]

Lunar metrics


The months in the Vikram Samvat, [23] with their corresponding Gregorian months, are:

  1. Chaitra (March-April)
  2. Vaiśākha (April-May)
  3. Jyaiṣṭha (May-June)
  4. As ā dha (June-July)
  5. Sr ā vana (July-August)
  6. Bhādrapada (August-September)
  7. Asvinā (September-October)
  8. Kārtikā (October-November)
  9. Agrahāyaṇa (November-December)
  10. Pauṣa (December-January)
  11. Māgha (January-February)
  12. Phālguna (February-March)

See also

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Further reading