Was Jesus born on 25th December?

Blog _ Logo_v1

The last week of December to the first week of January is a time of festivity. It is when the people worldover are celebrating the Birth of Christ as Christmas and the arrival of a New Year.

Christmas is popularly celebrated on 25th December. The Christian Calendar which is also linked to the birth of Jesus starts from 1st January. The Greek orthodoxy, the Armenians, East Europeans and Russians celebrate Christmas on 6th January. It is intriguing, as to why we celebrate these different days as the birthday of Jesus Christ.

How did these 3 days come about?

To understand this, we need to look at the times of Jesus Christ’s birth.

Herod, The Great

The king who ruled when Jesus was born was ‘Herod, The Great’. Herod died in 4 BCE. This is uniformly accepted by both Jewish and Christian historians.

Jesus 1

Herod, The Great

This implies that Jesus was probably not born in year 1 but was born before 4 BCE, when ‘Herod, the Great’ was alive.

This brings into question not only the date of December 25th, but also the year of birth.

0 year

Was Jesus Christ born in the year 0?

The number 0 was not known to the Romans until 1500 CE. In their calendar, -1 BCE transitioned into +1 CE.

Jesus 2

Anno Domini

Infact, the term Anno Domini (A.D., “in the year of our Lord”) as a universal reference point was coined by Christian historian, Dionysius Exiguous, a Roman monk in the year 532 CE.

Jesus 3

Dionysius Exiguous

Before Dionysius Exiguous, the terms BC and AD did not exist.

Council of Nicaea

Which year and date was Jesus born then?

When we dwell into this, we come across an interesting episode.

A council was formed, now popularly known as the Council of Nicaea, in 325 AD to arrive at Jesus Christ’s date of birth.

Jesus 4

Council of Nicaea

A few dates were put up for consideration at the Council

  1. 25th December was suggested by the Romans
  2. 20th May was given by the Clement of Alexandria
  3. 28th March was given by De Pascha Computes
  4. 6th January was given by the Greeks as it was the birthday of their God Dionysus
  5. Egyptians suggested the birthday of their God Osiris

The Urn Method

To choose a day, as the story goes, they put the names into an urn and picked one of them. The date that was picked is not known, but it is better known that the date was not accepted by all.

Jesus 5

An ancient Urn

This probably led to having multiple days for the birth of Jesus Christ.

January 6th

Since then, the Greek orthodoxy celebrate January 6th as Christmas which is essentially the birthday of Greek God Dionysus who was the most popular divinity of the Greek then.

Jesus 6

Greek God Dionysus

December 25th

The Romans thought it fit to celebrate December 25th as the birthday of Jesus, for, their biggest festival then in Rome was ‘Natalis Solis Invicti’ , ‘Nativity of the unconquered Sun’, to celebrate the return of the sun, the beginning of the northward journey of the sun from the Tropic of Capricorn.

Jesus 7

‘Natalis Solis Invicti’, the then biggest festival

Winter Solstice occurred on 25th December then. Now it occurs on 21st December.

This day, 25th December was a day of feasting for the Romans as the warmth of the sun was set to return. This popular festival day of the Romans was adopted by the Christians for the birthday of Jesus Christ.

Mario Righethi, a Roman Catholic writer, writes in his book,  ‘Manual of Liturgical History’ 1955, Vol 2, p 67,

Jesus 8

‘Manual of Liturgical History’

Jesus 9

The Earliest Christ Mass

The earliest celebration of Christ Mass, which has now come to be called Christmas was first observed on 25th December 336 AD, in the Phliocalion Calendar.

Jesus 10

The Phliocalion Calendar

The first Pope to address the Christ Mass – Christmas was Pope Liberius in the year 354 AD.

Jesus 11

Pope Liberius

New Year on January 1st

If the date of birth of Jesus Christ is a tossup between December 25th and January 6th, then how did January 1st come to be celebrated as the first day of the Christian Calendar.

Should not December 25th have been the first day of the Roman Christian Calendar?

Should not January 6th have been the first day of Greek Christian Calendar?

Was January 1st then a compromise date between the two?

Issac Asimov, the famous scientist in his book, ‘Book of Facts’ says,

“In 534 AD, the first man who calculated the year of Jesus’ birth made a mistake and we’ve been stuck with it forever.”

Jesus 12

Issac Asimov and his ‘Book of Facts’

All in all, we now have 3 dates, December 25th, January 1st and January 6th, celebrated in different parts of the world as the birth date of Jesus Christ.

Not arrived at from Bethlehem

It is interesting to note that all these 3 dates have not been arrived at in Bethlehem where Jesus Christ was born, but have been arrived at in other places  from Niceae, to Rome to Greece.

Jesus 13

Birth of Jesus at Bethlehem

What does modern science say?

Various scholars have tried to come out with a correct date for the birth of Jesus Christ using modern scientific tools.

Archaeo-Astronomy

One of these tools is Archaeo-Astronomy.

An Australian Astronomer, Dave Reneke, using sky charts, arrived at 17th June, 2 BCE, as the date of Jesus Christ’s birth.

Jesus 14

Dave Reneke

Based on the sky chart, the researcher opined that there could have been “a beacon of light” visible across the eastern sky at dawn, as the planets Jupiter and Venus moved across the Leo constellation.

Jesus 15

Leo constellation

“While these two are planets, they could have been called the Star of Bethlehem” says Dave Reneke in support of his date.

Further researches however cast doubts on this date.

There have been other researchers like this who have looked at the date of birth of Jesus Christ in 5 BCE.

As science evolves, it would be wonderful, if we could find the exact date of Jesus Christ’s birth. Until then, let us celebrate all 3 days as the birthday of Jesus Christ.

Raja Bhoja – the Polymath Monarch

1

An eBook – Raja Bhoja – The Polymath Monarch

3

An eBook – Raja Bhoja – The Polymath Monarch

This eBook is a peep into some of the Gizmos that Raja Bhoja had invented to obtain efficiency / effectiveness / enchantment in some of the day to day activities of himself and his staff.

These are the ones as described in his treatise, Samarangana Sutradhara, as translated by Shri.Prabhakar Pandurang Apte, Samskrt scholar from Pune and as visualized and animated by D.K.Hari and D.K.Hema Hari, Founders of Bharath Gyan.

The objective is to showcase through these innovations, Raja Bhoja’s all-round innovative spirit besides his other skills in order to highlight how a scientific and enquiring temperament, along with an innovative spirit is not new or alien to India. How, they have flowered in this land across millennia time and again and this century is yet another such milestone in history that Indians have to take advantage of.

Narmada River

DSC_4204

Narmada is one of the 3 main rivers in India that flows westwards into the Arabian Sea, the other two being Tapti and Mahi. It is the fifth largest river in the Indian sub-continent and the third largest of the rivers flowing entirely within India.

Narmada 1

Narmada River

Narmada has its source at the Narmada Kund of the Amarkantak Plateau of the Bilaspur district of Chhattisgarh, and flows through Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Gujarat. The river flows for 1300 kms, before draining into Arabian Sea.

Narmada 2

Narmada Kund, Amarkantak

One of the specialties of this river is that it flows through a rift valley, between the Vindhya and Satpura range. It is also one of those major rivers that doesn’t form any delta.

Narmada 3

Narmada flowing through Rift valley

Narmada –names, legends and importance

Narmada means “that which gives pleasure”. It is also known as Rewa, meaning, “swift”, due to the swiftness of its water currents.

Narmada and Adi Shankara

Adi Shankara once calmed the raging waters of Narmada River, using his kamandalu, to save his Guru Govinda Bhagavatpada, who was immersed in dhyana, meditation at a cave nearby.

Narmada 4

Adi Shankara calming the waters of Narmada

Narmada Ashtakam

Adi Shankara glorifies Narmada in the Narmada Ashtakam, which he composed in the glory of Narmada Devi. The opening verse of this hymn reads,

Sa-Bindu-Sindhu-Suskhalat-Tarangga-Bhangga-Ran.jitam
Dvissatsu Paapa-Jaata-Jaata-Kaari-Vaari-Samyutam |
Krtaanta-Duuta-Kaala-Bhuuta-Bhiiti-Haari-Varma-De
Tvadiiya-Paada-Pangkajam Namaami Devi Narmade ||1||

English Meaning:

Salutations to Devi Narmada whose River-body illumined with Sacred drops of Water, flows with mischievous playfulness, bending with Waves.

Your Sacred Water has the divine power to transform those who are prone to Hatred, the Hatred born of Sins,

You put an end to the fear of the messenger of Death by giving Your protective Armour (of Refuge),
O Devi Narmada, I Bow down to Your Lotus Feet, Please give me Your Refuge.

Narmada 5

Narmada Devi

Daughter of Rishi Mekla

In Purana, Narmada is mentioned as the daughter of Rishi Mekla, who lived and meditated at the foothills of Vindhya Mountains. Hence Narmada also has the name Mekalaa and Mekalakanya. The are other legends which point to Mekala being the mountain from where Narmada rises.

Life Line of Madhya Pradesh

The river is today known as the “life line of Madhya Pradesh” on account of its major contribution to the state.

One of the 7 holy rivers

In the Indian tradition, Narmada is of the 7 holy rivers, the others being Ganga, Yamuna, Sindhu, Kaveri, Sarasvati and Godavari. The ancient Indian texts like the Ramayana, Mahabharata and the Purana talk about this river. Like the Ganga, river Narmada is worshipped as a deity – Narmada Devi. The Vayu and Skanda Purana speak about the origin of this river in detail.

Narmada 6

The connect with the Trinity

As per one legend, Narmada has her origin from the sweat of Lord Shiva, and is therefore also known as Shankari. Another legend states that the river was born from the tear drop of Lord Brahma. These legends also state that Narmada is older than the Ganga.

The Omkareshwar Jyothirlinga is located on the banks of Narmada River, at the Khandava district of Madhya Pradesh.

Narmada 7

  Narmada at Omkareshwar                                      Omkareshwar Jyothirlinga

The resting place of Lord Shiva

Padma Purana states that Lord Shiva rested on the banks of River Narmada, before proceeding on his mission of vanquishing the Tripuras, the three aerial cities of the Asuras. The pebbles on the banks of Narmada are thus regarded to be highly sacred and are worshipped as lingam. These pebbled are known as Banalinga and are sought after for worship.

Narmada 8

Natural Narmada Banalinga

One of the biggest of these Banalinga has been installed in the Brihadeeshvara temple, at Tanjavur in Tamil Nadu.

The battleground of Indra and Vrtra

The Bhagavata Purana states that the battle between Indra and Vrtra, happened on the banks of Narmada River.

In Ramayana

In the Ramayana, it is mentioned that King Kartivirya Arjuna once picnicked with his wives on the banks of Narmada. Ravana also comes here at the same time, and in a battle between Ravana and Kartivirya, the former is humbled.

In the search for Sita, Sugreeva asks his Vanara army to conduct a search amongst the Vindhya mountains, where the Narmada river flows.

A Shiva temple with Narmada as Shakti

A Shiva temple exists on the banks of River Narmada, with Narmada as consort. Devi Narmada is worshipped as Shakti in this temple.

Suprabhat from Narmada Temple on the banks of Narmada at Maheshwar – a Shiva temple with an image of Narmada as Shakti

Pushkaram – The traditional festival

A festival, Narmada Pushakaram is held every 12 years here, in worship of River Narmada, and lasts for 12 days.

Narmada 9

Narmada Pushakaram

Narmada Basin

The Narmada basin covers a large area and is located between Vindhya and Satpura ranges, in the states of Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Chhattisgarh and Maharashtra and Telangana. It has one of the oldest teak hardwood forest in India. The Narmada eco region is home to 76 species of mammals and 276 species of birds.

Narmada 10

Narmada Basin

Bhimbetka rocks

The Bhimbetka rock shelters in the Narmada valley, in Madhya Pradesh contain many ancient paintings, that are 30000 years old. These 243 rock shelters at Bhimbetka have been declared as World Heritage Site by the UNESCO.

Narmada 11

Bhimbetka rock shelters

Archaeologist have found evidence of Harappa settlements on the banks of Narmada. One of the excavated sites is located at Navadatoli on the south bank of the river, which has remnants of the earlier civilization. Another one was excavated at Mehtakhedi village, in Narmada Valley, Madhya Pradesh.

Narmada 12

An ancient archaeological remains discovered at Narmada Valley

Bharuch

Bharuch is a sacred city located on the mouth of Narmada, and its name is derived from the great Rishi Brigu, the city’s original name being Brigukaccha. Rishi Brigu’s ashram was located on the banks of river Narmada.

Narmada 13

Bharuch, location

As per the Purana, Rishi Brigu is one of the ten sons of Lord Brahma. Many Rishi like Markandeya, Shukracharya, Jamadagni belonged to the lineage of Rishi Brigu. Lord Parasurama was born in the 7th generation this Rishi.

Narmada 14

Rishi Brigu

As per the Skanda Purana, 55 tirtha Sthal, are located along the Narmada River. Bharuch is also a Jain tirtha Sthal.

Today, just like other rivers, pollution has affected Narmada. On December 11th, 2016, the Madhya Pradesh government launched the Narmada Seva Yatra to turn the river pollution free. It sought to create awareness about the conservation of the river.

Narmada is one of the major rivers in this country that has shaped the culture and tradition of this civilization, apart from support life for many a millennia. We need to preserve it, so that it continues to sanctify us for many more millennia.

Music

Music 3

The month Margazhi also called Mrigashirsha is that time of the year when at the time of sunset in the west, the stars that rise in the east are the Orion constellation called Mrigashiras or head of a deer.

Music 1

Orion Constellation

This month is named after this constellation which is the most prominent in the sky through the night.

This month is also the music season in Chennai, the place having the culture of celebrating music in this month for over 80 years.

Music 2

Music Academy, Chennai

This music season has become so well entrenched that it is compared with the music festival of Vienna, Austria, where the world’s largest music festival takes place.

Music 4

Open air music festival, Vienna

The culture of the music festival in Vienna came about since Vienna is the home town of the European Classical musician Amadeus Mozart.

Music 5

Amadeus Mozart

In the Indian tradition, carnatic music has its primacy of place and is best exhibited in Margazhi Mahotsav – The music festival.

The word Carnatic in “Carnatic music” comes from Karnatakam, meaning traditional. The 2nd meaning being “ear”. Music is heard, relished and passed on from generation to generation. i.e, Carnatic music is the one that has its roots in the tradition of the land and that which is passed on, year after year, from ear to ear.

Among musical instruments, the lyre is considered to be one of the older instruments. This lyre is called the “Yazh”in the old Tamizh language. This Yazh instrument was very famous in the Eastern town of Sri Lanka from which this region got its name Yazh Paanam. The English way of calling the place now is Jaffna, which has no correlation with the ancient musical instrument Lyre, yazh.

Music 8

Lyre

Music 9

Yazh

While lyre, yazh refers to very fine metal string, which means the metallurgy should have been developed enough then, to have these metal strings.

There are instruments even prior to metallurgy. One among those pre-ancient music instruments is the wind instrument – flute. When the wind blows through a bamboo groove, a natural music whiz is created. Bamboo is, but a variety of grass.

Early man enjoyed this music of Nature and tried to create his own music with a piece of bamboo by making suitable holes for blowing air into it and by tuning the air flow with his finger to get the desired lilting music.

So, obviously flute is one of the oldest musical instruments known to man. Different cultures over thousands of years have made their own variants of the flute. There have also been great flute players.

Of all these flutists, the greatest name that readily comes to mind is Lord Krishna who was born 5000 years back.

Music 10

Krishna – The Divine Flutist

In Brindavan, his flute mesmerized the cows, peacocks as well as the gopis. When played normally, the natural raga that comes from the flute is Yaman when played in the North Indian style and HariKhamboji when played in the South Indian style. Krishna was able to captivate everyone with his flute.

While one needs to be gifted to produce melodious music, it does not take much to dissolve into, melt into, unite or become laya with the divine harmony in music. India with its wide repertoire of classical, semi-classical, folk, film and fusion music has a lot to offer.