Sixteen Kalas/Phases of the Moon

The lunation cycle of the moon is 29.5 days long. Ancient mathematicians preferred to deal with whole number and abstracted the lunation cycle to 30 Kalaa units. The duration of each kalaa (phase) of the moon is a little less than 24 hours. Masters of the Vedic tradition found the waxing and waning phenomenon to be an ideal representation of the mind with its ups and downs. The bright and dark halves of a lunar month have served as metaphors for a pair of Tattvas or abstract principles in Vedic texts, namely, Cosmic energy (Shakti Tattva) and Cosmic consciousness (Shiva Tattva). Sixteen Kalaas of the moon from its new moon to its full moon phase represent unique powers of Shakti.

Tattva classification is fundamental to understanding Vedic sciences. It was taught to students in ancient universities such as Nalanda all over India. Educated Indians were familiar wit
h Tattva classification tables until two generations ago. Kalaa is an element of the Tattva classification table. Kalaa distinguishes beings based on the power of the psyche of their respective genus. Nature or cosmic energy endowed humans with eight kalaas, animals with seven and plants with six Kalaas or units of consciousness. (Based on SriSri's talk Feb 25,2014) Cosmologists agree that energy is the premordial cause of the universe. Energy filled the universe after the cosmic big bang. It condensed into subatomic particles and then into atoms to form the material creation as the universe expanded. Time and Space did not exist before the big bang. Time or Kaala is another principle per Tattva classification table. Kaala and Kalaa exist in space. Space is another prnciple in a Tattva classification table. Agastya in his tamil text, "Agastiyar Tattvam 300", compared classification tables per different traditions in ancient India.

It is easy to see the scientific rational behind Tattva classification scheme. Confusion arises about Tattva terms because of difference in their use in devotional literature. Shiva or the cosmic formless consciousness is a Tattva. Devotional literature too states this fact. Devotional literature however attributes a form to Shiva for worship. Every aspect of that form is a reminder of some Tattva in creation.The thing cresent moon on the head of Shiva is an example. The fourteenth phase of the waning moon was selected to celebrate Shiva Ratri. Moon gets ready to culminate into invisibility on that day. This is a metaphor for the Mind merging back into the unknowlable consciousness, its source.