Romila Thapar

in Time as a Metaphor of History: Early India

Published in print September 1996 | ISBN: 9780195637984
Published online October 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199081912 | DOI:

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This chapter discusses different ideas about time in early India. It discusses how cyclical theories of time arise from the observance of rhythm based on the sequences in relation to the sun and the moon or the seasons. Time reckoning was generally based on a luni-solar calendar. The earliest sense of a calendar had to do with time-markers, both of the individual life cycle and involving the environment, which were gradually ritualized. The precision of the solar calendar was useful in agricultural activities and also in horoscopy, and in either case it became an agency of social control. Time measurement was required by astrology in the making of horoscopes. Indian interest in astronomy is revealed in texts dating to the fifth century BC. The mingling of Indian and Graeco–Babylonian ideas enhanced activity in astronomy and mathematics in India. This took the form of extensive calculations relating to planets, orbits, eclipses and the like.

Keywords: time; solar calendar; lunar calendar; time measurement; astrology; early India

Chapter.  1364 words. 

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