There are definite cycles of celestial motion, some short enough for us to see and record in our lifetimes and some others long enough to be unimaginable, as well.
There is a mathematical functioning to the cosmos that we sometimes see.
There is also randomness in the Universe, which cannot be explained but which indicates the presence of subtler forces and dimensions that we have as yet not understood.
The cosmos is not made of black and white. It comes in all shades of colours and all shades of grey.
We have not even scratched the tip of knowledge of all the objects in the Universe, their motions and their phenomenon. Our science and mathematics cannot simulate nature to its exactness.
This is why, among other aspects, the ancients seem to have been wise enough to demarcate time windows for cosmic events, apart from calculating a fixed date for the event. Such time windows were called Sandhi.
Sandhi is the join between two places, two activities, two periods – Yuga.
When one Yuga period ends and the other Yuga period starts, while there is a very specific, pin pointed time, which is used for calculation purpose, there is also another important feature known as the Sandhi period which indicates the overlaps on either side of this specific, pin pointed time marker by more than a few years. This period is collectively known as the Sandhi period, period of transition.
Effects of a Sandhi
The Kali Yuga, which was an alignment of all the planets in the Solar system, with the Aries, Mesham constellation, has been calculated to have started at 02 hours 30 minutes 23 seconds on Friday 18th February 3102 BCE.
The precise alignment of all the planets of the solar system did take place at the above mentioned precise time and date, but the effect of it was not for that moment alone.
The effect of the alignment was felt, stretched over a period of time, by hundred years on either side.
The tumultuous Mahabharatha period and the life of legendary hero Krishna, took place in the intervening Sandhi period. This tumultuous period has now been dated, using the field of Archaeo-astronomy, to be between 3112 BCE to 3031 BCE.
This period falls on either side of the start of Kali Yuga, which is why the Mahabharatha epic of India, very explicitly states that the tumultuous period of Mahabharatha, happened in the interim, antara of the two Yuga namely –Dwapara Yuga and Kali Yuga.
The Mahabharatha Wartook place in the Antare- i.e. Antare meaning the interphase or twilight- of Dwapara yuga.
The very word Antara in Samskrt means “between, inside, within”. It bears the root for the English words inter, intra, enter etc.
India across times has thus accorded significance to the Sandhi, the antare period or transitional window between two time periods, cycles or seasons.
Navaratri – A Sandhi in Rthu, seasons
Navaratri is a popular festival in India. It is celebrated, as the name suggests, over nine nights and concludes on the 10th day. This Navratri festival is celebrated every year in the month of September – October.
While most of the popular festivals of India are one day festivals, Navaratri is a nine day festival.
Why is it such a long festival?
A little known fact about Navaratri is that it is not just an annual event. Even though most people celebrate just one Navaratri festival during September – October every year, there are 4 Navaratri festivals in a year, each lasting for 9 nights and days.
The prime ones are the ones in the month of March-April, i.e the transition from winter to spring and the one in the month of September – October, i.e. transition from summer to autumn. These seem close to the equinox periods, a time of balanced days and nights.
Why do we celebrate the same festival four times in a year that too each time for nine nights and days?
This festival celebrates the transitory nature between the four major seasons in Nature, they being summer, winter, spring and rains. The transition from one to the other season does not take place in just one day but is in fact the full span of 9 to10 days. So this transitional nature of Nature was understood as a period of time which is 9 days and nights.
A time to allow one’s body and mind to adjust to the rhythm of Nature and align with the new season.
In the traditional Indian thought, while there was a definite calendar as a time maker, equal importance was also given to the transitory period.
Indian thought also viewed time from a cyclical perspective. i.e. They looked at time as a resultant of the periodic, cyclical motion of celestial objects in space. Hence the word Rthu to denote the periodicity in Nature.
It is this word Rthu, which gives rise to the English word Rhythm for a periodic pattern.
Alignment of Energies
Indian knowledge system also held that something cyclic can only be detected or perceived through an alignment and alignments have a nett result, a result that emerges and settles down over a transitional period.
There is a Samskrt saying “Yatha Pinde thatha Brahmande” – “As in Microcosm, so in macrocosm”
This phrase and its meaning and its relationship to the Creation of the Cosmos and everything within, is discussed in good detail in our book Creation – Srishti Vignana.
In the case of the macrocosmic universe of large celestial bodies, alignments could influence gravitational forces, magnetic forces, other such cosmic forces and the Indian knowledge system realized, recorded and revealed that the nett result, was the notion of Sandhi, the union.
Our mind too, the microcosm, is constantly under the interplay, alignment of 3 subtle forces or energies.
Ichcha Shakti – desire, will to manifest
Kriya Shakti – potential to act and manifest
Gnana Shakti – knowledge power for the manifestation
An alignment of these energies denotes the culmination of their interplay, leading to a balanced state of mind and individual.
Alignments bring in a sense of settlement and equilibrium in the cosmos, in Nature, in people and in civilizations.
This knowledge, Gnana Shakti, should lead us, the people, civilizations and human race as a whole, to use our potential and faculties, i.e Kriya Shakti, for aligning our sub conscious desire and will, Ichcha Shakti to be in sync with the Cosmos, which is the manifestation of the Ichcha Shakti, the desire, wish and the way of Nature.
It is these 3 energies that we invoke and align ourselves with, in the form of the three goddesses, Durga, Lakshmi and Saraswathi, during the seasonal transition called Navaratri.