Assessing Time, Qualitatively

The Panchang is India's traditional calendar system. It is named because it has five limbs or aspects. These five are associated one each to the five Maha-Bhutas (great metaphors).
  • Karana - Earth metaphor
  • Thithi - Water metaphor
  • Vara - Fire metaphor
  • Nakshatra - Air metaphor
  • Yoga - Space metaphor
Farmers until the advent of fertilizer based agriculture consulted the Karana tables of the Panchang to gain a timing advantages from nature. Karana's association with the Earth metaphor is apt because of the agronomy association. Thithi being a division of the lunar cycle, affects water bodies on the planet. Oceanic high and low tides can be predicted using the Thithi tables. Celebrations were timed to coincide with the Thithi table to help the human mind drop its habitual barriers and merge with the festivities. Water is an apt metaphor for mental tension becoming diffused. The seven days of the week or Vara are named after seven significant luminaries in the sky who in the form of their relative positions provide statistical probability of changes to one's life situations. Fire is a metaphor for transformation.

Movement is easy to notice against a stationary backdrop. Nakshatra is the Vedic system of dividing the sky into segments to study the movement of planets, the Sun and the Moon. Even minute movements as the Precession of Earth's axis was observed, millennium ago, against the Nakshatra backdrop. Air is a metaphor for movement and it finds a place in the Panchang as the Nakshatra table. Yoga is union with Infinity. The elusive point of such union is predicted mathematically by the combined motions of the Sun and the Moon. Yoga literature describes the perfect alignment or Yoga as the balance between the Solar and the Lunar, the Yin and the Yang energies. The related table in Panchang is a space metaphor and a small clue to the quality of the "present moment".

One can become charged up towards action by becoming aware of the innumerable permutations possible among the maha-bhutas in each moment.