First Nakshatra Ashvini,Moola or Krittika?

There seems to be some debate on which is the Nakshatra in Hindu system.


Normally we take Aswini Nakshatra as the first Nakshatra and this is being followed every where among Hindu Households.


But there are views that it might be Krittika, Moola , based  on Vedic Astronomical calculations in the Atharva Veda.


1.Moola as the First Nakshatra.


If one star is to be identified as Moola, then the best candidate for Moola or Vichruta Nakshatra is 42 q OPH from Ophichius zodiac of the European system. It falls in the star band and is 50 minutes or 13 degrees (E-W) away from Jyeshta. Its brightness is +3.28. Arab Sabik is another strong candidate for Moola with +2.43 brightness and is also 13 degrees from Jyeshta.

Sagittarius,Dhanus Constellation.jgif
shows 30 degrees square area around Dhanu Raashi. The Nakshatras in this figure are Vichruta/Moola, and Poorvaashada. Both the stars are in the moon traverse band. For the imaginative, a stretched bow can be seen in the Dhanu Raashi. Vichruta or Moola Nakshatras considered to be a star mansion with eleven stars

Moola or Vichruta has been extensively referred to in Atharveda Kaanda 2,Kaanda 3 and kaanda 6 (Ref 2). Vichruta, stands for darkness and Moola carries an adjective Arishta. This word has two meanings, one standing for sweet and second associated with bad associated with death. Astronomically, Moola is in line with Milkiway galactic center. Did some astronomical event appear 5000 years ago near the center of Milkiway galaxy, which could explain why Moola is considered as bad? In modern astronomy, there have been conjectures of a black hole at the center of our Milkiway. This area of sky is visually dark because large amount of matter is presumed to exist around the center of the Galaxy. Did vedic period astronomers know of the center of the galaxy or did they see some astronomical event justifying the bad omen associated with Moola?.

Poorvaashaada Nakshatra is considered to be a star mansion of two stars. The following table presents candidate stars, which qualify as Poorvashaada based on brightness, location with reference to moon traverse band, and distance from previous Nakshatra.

2″Krittika as the First Nakshatra.

1. Rishi Gargya starts the list of twenty seven nakshatra‘s starting with Krittika. Choice of Krittika as the first of twenty-seven is very significant. In contrast Jyotishya Shaastra uses Ashwini as the first star. The choice of first Nakshatra must correspond to a logically first day of a solar year, which dictates the weather cycles. Which is the year’s first day? Astronomically speaking, the spring Equinox day in Northern Hemisphere temperate zone is a logical one. It heralds the arrival of the spring, in temperate zone of northern hemisphere of the earth. Vasantha ritu, the spring has always been considered as beginning of a year from Rig-vedic times. Hence, the first observation implicit in Rishi Gargya’s sooktha is that on spring Equinox day, Sun was at Krittika Nakshatra. Figure 13 shows Sun location on March 21, 2400 BC from Load Star Pro. The Sun is on equator and is pointing to Krittika nakshatra.

Gargya Rishi! Nakshatrani Devata! Trishtup-Bhurik Chandaha!

Chitrani sakam divi rochanani sarisrupani bhuvanejavani

turmisham sumatimichaamaano ahaani geerbhi saparyami nakam!1!

suhavamagne krittika rohini chaastu bhadram mrigashirah Sham aardhrah !

punarvasu soonruta chaaru pushyo Bhaanur aslesha ayanam magha mey !2!

punyam poorva Phalguni chottra hasta schittra shiva swaati sukho mey astu!

raadhe vishaakhe suhav anooradha jyeshta sunakshatramarishta moolam !3!

annam poorva raasataam aashadha oorja devy uttaraa aavahantu!

abhijinma raasataam punyameva shravanah shravishtaah kurvatam supushtim!4!

Aa mey maha chatabhishagam vareeya Aa mey dvaya proshtapadaa susharma!

Aa reyvato chashvayujow bhagam ma Aa mey rayim Bharanya aavahantu!5!

This Sookta dedicated to Nakshatra‘s was recorded (Drashtaara) by Gargya Rishi. The Sookta describes both astronomical and astrological elements. Twenty eight Nakshatras are identified starting with Krittika and reference is made to Ayanam occurring in Maghaa. A nakshatra Abhijit is shown between Uttarashadha and Shravana. Its use has been discontinued in the Jyotishya with only twenty seven identified currently. The authenticity of the Athrarvana texts is well accepted, by the very reverence shown towards precise learning. Hundreds of generations of Shrotreeya’s have carried veda‘s down to us in its original language using oral traditions of Krama, Pada, Jatha, and Ghana Paatha so that distortions are nonexistent. Two major astronomical time markers are evident and implicit in the Sooktha.

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