Vikram Samvat

From Dharmapedia Wiki
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Vikram Samvat (Hindi: विक्रम सम्वत्, Nepali: विक्रम सम्वत्) (abbreviated as V.S. (or VS) or B.S. (or BS)); About this sound Listen )is the historical Hindu calendar of India and Nepal. It uses lunar months and solar sidereal year (see: Vedic time keeping). It is used as the official calendar in Nepal.

The Vikram Samvat has two alternative systems. It started in 56 BCE in southern (purnimanta) and 57–56 BCE in northern (amanta) systems of Hindu calendar. The Shukla Paksha in both systems coincides, most festivals occur in the Shukla Paksha. The era is named after King Vikramaditya of India.[1][2]

The lunisolar Vikram Samvat calendar is 56.7 years ahead (in count) of the solar Gregorian calendar. For example, the year 2074 VS began in 2017 CE and will end in 2018 CE.

The Rana rulers of Nepal made Vikram Samvat the official Hindu calendar in 1901 CE, which started as Samvat 1958.[3] In Nepal, the new year begins with the first day of the month of Baishakh, which usually falls within the months of April–May 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.As before, from 2007 AD Nepal Sambat is recognized as the national calender.

In India, the reformulated Saka Calendar is officially used (although not for computing the dates of the traditional festivals), although in the Hindi version of the Preamble of the Constitution of India, 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.[4]

Divisions of a year[edit]

The classical Vikram Samvat uses lunar months along with solar months and solar sidereal years. Because 12 lunar months do not match a sidereal year exactly, correctional months (adhika māsa) are added, or occasionally subtracted (kshaya masa).

Lunar metrics[edit]

Solar months of the Nepali Bikram Samvat: In North India India the Vikram Samvat starts from the lunar month of Chaitra.

No. Name Nepali Hindi Days Corresponding Gregorian months
1 Baishakh बैशाख बैशाख 30 / 31(30.950 exactly) mid-April to mid-May
2 Jestha जेठ or जेष्ठ जेष्ठ 31 / 32(31.429 exactly) mid-May to mid-June
3 Ashadh असार or अषाढ़ आषाढ़ 31 / 32(31.638 exactly) mid-June to mid-July
4 Shrawan साउन or श्रावण श्रावण or सावन 31 / 32(31.463 exactly) mid-July to mid-August
5 Bhadra भदौ or भाद्र भाद्र or भादो 31 / 32(31.012 exactly) mid-August to mid-September
6 Ashwin असोज or आश्विन आश्विन or कुआर/क्वार 30 / 31(30.428 exactly) mid-September to mid-October
7 Kartik कार्तिक or कातिक्क कार्तिक 29 / 30(29.879 exactly) mid-October to mid-November
8 Mangsir मंसिर or मार्ग मार्ग or मंसिर/अगहन 29 / 30(29.475 exactly) mid-November to mid-December
9 Poush पुष or पौष पौष or पुष/पूस 29 / 30(29.310 exactly) mid-December to mid-January
10 Magh माघ माघ 29 / 30(29.457 exactly) mid-January to mid-February
11 Falgun फागुन or फाल्गुन/फागु फाल्गुन 29 / 30(29.841 exactly) mid-February to mid-March
12 Chaitra चैत or चैत्र चैत्र 30 / 31(30.377 exactly) mid-March to mid-April

The exact length of each month is the time taken by the Sun to move through a full zodiac sign.


Vikramaditya legends[edit]

File: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.

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(citation missing). 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 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.

Historicity of the legends[edit]

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.[2][8]

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.[8]

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 same person as the "Harsha Vikramaditya" mentioned in Kalhana's Rajatarangini.[8]

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 discovery of an inscription of Vijayamitra, which is dated in two eras.[9] The theory seems to be now thoroughly discredited by Falk and Bennett, who place the inception of the Azes era in 47–46 BCE.[10]


The traditional New Year of Vikram Samvat is one of the many festivals of Nepal, marked by parties, family gatherings, the exchange of good wishes, and participation in rituals to ensure good fortune in the coming year. It occurs in mid-April each year, and coincides with the traditional new year in Assam, Bengal, Burma, Cambodia, Kerala, Kashmir, Manipur, Odisha, Punjab, Sri Lanka, Tamil Nadu and Thailand

In addition to Nepal, the Vikram Samvat calendar is also recognized in North and East India, and in Gujarat among Hindus. Hindu religious festivals are based on Vikram Samvat. In North India the new year in Vikram Samvat starts from the first day of Chaitra Skukla paksha. In Buddhist communities, the month of Baishakh is associated with Vesak or Buddha's Birthday. It commemorates the birth, Enlightenment and passing of Gautama Buddha on the first full moon day in May, except in a leap year when the festival is held in June. Although this festival is not held on the same day as Pahela Baishakh, the holidays typically fall in the same month (Baishakh) of the Bengali, Hindu, and Theravada Buddhist calendars, and are related historically through the spread of Hinduism and Buddhism in South Asia.

In Gujarat, the second day of Diwali is celebrated as the first day of the Vikram Samvat calendar which is the first day of the month Kartik.[11]

Converting Vikram Samvat to CE[edit]

While an approximate conversion can be made by subtracting 56 or 57, a precise computation requires identification of the version of Vikam Samvat that was used:

  • Year expired (default) or current
  • Kartikadi (older or western India) or Chaitradi (modern Northern India). Kartikadi starts 7 months later in Kartika. Until 12th century Kartikadi year was common even in North India.
  • Months Amanta (south) or Purminata (North). Amanta Chaitra Krishna Paksha is Purminata Vaishakh Krishna Paksha. For the Shukla Paksh, the month is the same.

Software named Pancanga is available to make the calculations.[12]

Thus the date Vikram 1208 (Kartikadi, expired), Vaishakh Krishna 5 (Purnimanta), Thursday, is equivalent to Vikram 1209 (Chaitradi, expired), Chaitra Krishna 5 (Amanta), and to Thursday March 27, 1152.[13]

See also[edit]


<templatestyles src="Reflist/styles.css" />

  1. Richard Salomon (1398). Indian Epigraphy: A Guide to the Study of Inscriptions in Sanskrit, Prakrit, and the other Indo-Aryan Languages [archive]. Oxford University Press. pp. 181–183. ISBN 978-0-19-535666-3.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. 2.0 2.1 Ashvini Agrawal (1989). Rise and Fall of the Imperial Guptas [archive]. Motilal Banarsidass Publ. pp. 174–175. ISBN 978-81-208-0592-7.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. Encyclopedia of New Year's Holidays Worldwide, William D. Crump, Publisher McFarland, 2014 p.38 [archive]
  4. "Vikram Samvat should be declared national calendar" [archive]. The Free Press Journal. 15 February 2012. Archived from the original [archive] on 26 April 2014. Retrieved 28 March 2012. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help); Italic or bold markup not allowed in: |newspaper= (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. Burgess, Ebenezer Translation of the Sûrya-Siddhânta: A text-book of Hindu astronomy, with notes and an appendix [archive] Originally published: Journal of the American Oriental Society 6 (1860) 141–498 Chapter 14, Verse 12
  6. Burgess, Chapter 14, Verse 10
  7. Burgess, Ebenezer Translation of the Sûrya-Siddhânta: A text-book of Hindu astronomy, with notes and an appendix [archive] Originally published: Journal of the American Oriental Society 6 (1860) 141–498, Chapter 14, Verse 9
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 M. Srinivasachariar (1974). History of Classical Sanskrit Literature [archive]. Motilal Banarsidass. pp. 94–111. ISBN 9788120802841.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. Alf Hiltebeitel (2011). Reading the Fifth Veda: Studies on the Mahābhārata [archive]. BRILL. p. 103. ISBN 90-04-18566-6.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. Falk and Bennett (2009), pp. 197-215.
  11. "Gujarat CM to exchange Diwali-New Year greetings with people" [archive]. 19 October 2014. Retrieved 24 October 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  12. Pancanga (version 3.14) [archive]
  13. On a Jain Statue in the Horniman Museum, F. Kielhorn, Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland, 1898, p. 101-102 [archive]

Further reading[edit]

  • Harry Falk and Chris Bennett (2009). "Macedonian Intercalary Months and the Era of Azes." Acta Orientalia 70, pp. 197–215.
  • "The Dynastic Art of the Kushan", John Rosenfield.
  • Template:Cite NIE