The Story of December

December is the last month in the Gregorian calendar. This is also the commonly used calendar of the world. It is a twelve month calendar as we all know.

The word December, is phonetically similar to decimal. The word decimal and its equivalent dashamlav comes from the same root dasam or dus, which is used to express 10 in Hindi, Samskrt and a few other Indian languages. This is so because the decimals are in units of ten.

The English word December which indicates the number 10, suggests that it was the tenth month of the year. Similarly, September comes from Latin Septa or the root Sapta in Samskrt meaning 7. This indicates September must have been the seventh month.

October again comes from Octa, which has the same root as Ashta in Samskrt standing for 8. This means October must have been the eighth month.

Look at November. The root word Nava in Samskrt means 9. And November must have stood for the 9th month. And December as we have seen, from Dus, decimal, must have been the tenth month.

If this is so, then how is it that these months moved by two places and December came to occupy the place of the 12th month in the calendar, instead of the tenth month?

Right from the times of Julius Caesar, the great emperor of Rome who lived around 40 CE and brought in the Julian Calendar system, in use till the year 1582 CE, when Pope Gregory introduced the Gregorian calendar system, there has been much confusion in the west regarding calendars.

The length of the year kept changing. The beginning of the calendar year and the order of the months kept undergoing changes too. The number of days in a month also varied.

With time, the calendar, the very time keeper of the civilization, kept changing at the whims and fancies of the ruler of the civilization.

Julius Caesar wanted to make his name not just popular but eternal.

For this purpose, he included his name Julius as a month in the calendar and thus came July, bearing his name. He also ensured that the month with his name had the maximum days and hence July has thirty-one days.

1 Julius Caesar

Julius Caesar

His successor Augustus Caesar, not wanting to be left behind, wanted his name also in the prints of history and added his name to the month following Julius’s July. Hence we have the month called August. As he did not want to be inferior to Julius in any way, he ensured that his month too had thirty-one days.

 2 Augustus Caesar

Augustus Caesar

The month of February was anyway there, for them to pluck out the days from and add to their months.

Therefore what we see from this is that the Julian, Gregorian, English calendar has evolved to what it is today, more based on twists and turn of history, the quirk and whims of certain kings and heads.

In stark contrast, while India has many calendars, there has been a clear distinction between the era based calendars, named after some of the popular kings of India, more for recording recent history and the more commonly used astronomical calendars used mainly to conduct daily activities and routine, celebrate festivals, etc., more popularly called the Panchanga.

The Panchanga form of Indian calendarical system takes into cognisance and consideration, the movements of the sun, moon, planets, stars and earth as well as the ebb and flow of seasons or the laws of nature which form an intrinsic part of it.

The Panchanga has been supported all through these thousands of years by the traditional mathematics which was equally evolved. It was called the Panchanga, Pancha meaning 5 and Anga meaning parts, as 5 key components went into making this calendar, the science of which is still documented, available and practiced today.

In the Indian Calendarical system, the sun in its annual movement in the sky, as it moves across successive star constellations, the twelve Zodiacs, marks the month and each of these 12 months are named based on the star and the Zodiac through which the Sun is transiting.

The earth is round. The sun is also round. The revolutionary path or the orbit of the earth around the sun is also a circle. The circle is after all 360 degrees. So mathematically, 1 degree on an average for a day and a year of 12 equal months gives 360 days for a year and 30 days for a month.

But in reality, the time taken for earth to complete one full revolution, i.e a year is 365 ¼ days. So there is a need for some adjustments.

Also the time taken by the moon to go round the earth, is only 28 days as against 30 days needed to divide the 360 degrees equally by 12.

The ancients Indians, aware of the role the moon plays in controlling the tides on earth and mental state and fertility of life on earth, had also factored the movement of the moon into the Panchanga.

This gave rise to various Panchanga styles – namely solar, luni solar, sidereal etc. and Jovian too, which accounted for movement of Jupiter.

The difference between 360 and 365 ¼ days as well as the cycle of the moon were then taken into account in the form of adjustments at the end i.e around February – March, so that the new year starts in sync with the Vernal Equinox.

We have already discussed in our article in Rishimukh in the month of April 2010, as to how the New Year, not just in the Indian calendar but also in many of the traditional calendars of the world started with the sun crossing the equinox, currently on March 21st during its annual journey between the two tropics.

Adjustments are constantly needed to bring back a manually calibrated year in sync with the real astronomical drama in the skies.

Calendars were meant to be in sync with the skies, to guide us to conduct our lives in tune with the design of nature that starts with the design of the movement of heavenly bodies and comes down into our lives in the form of seasons, climate, animal and plant life around us as well as our own state of physical and mental health.

The complex design of nature and its variations cannot be reduced to a standard constant form.

In the process of all the standardization and engineering, to define a calendar of fixed number of days every year, we have now ended up, globally following a calendar where a calendar or a day  just means numbers on the wall, diary, cell phone or computer.

3 Calander

Untitled 5

Calendar has ceased to reflect the skies for us. It has lost its connection with the motions of the heavenly bodies.

No wonder we feel lost! Because mankind as a whole has also lost his connect with the skies, the seasons and the rhythm of nature.

In contrast, Sankalpa, the oral calendar of ancient times, where every individual had to keep track the position of the sun, moon and the stars, every dawn and dusk, along with his geographical bearings, kept drawing his mind to the size and scale of the Universe and his position in it. It kept reinforcing the largeness of the Universe while reminding man continuously of how he is just a small part of this large complex design. This brought in humility in man and respect for nature.

This December, let the story of December being decimated and relegated to the last month of the year, remind us that the January to December calendar that we use today, is only a commercial calendar.

Time is nothing but a measure of the motion of cosmic bodies as they sweep through space. Time is everything as it is this motion that defines not only the length of our lives but also the quality of our lives.

Hence if we are to become more scientific in our ways and thinking, we need to ensure that the real calendar we follow and the clock we keep, are in tune with the cosmos. In short, we need to reconnect with nature.

Stock Taking

Blog _ Logo_v1

While the New Year in the calendar of the modern world starts on 1st January, the Commercial Calendar starts on 1st April and ends on 31st March.

This probably is so because in days of yore, the calendar of different civilizations started with the Vernal Equinox which occurred around early April.


Vernal Equinox – Sun’s rays falling parallel to the earth’s Equator, Equal Day and Equal Night

The traders of the world, continuing their tradition, have therefore been using April 1st as the start date for their Commercial Calendar which has continued to this date.

Time to take stock

The end of the previous Commercial Calendar is the time that we take stock of all our dealings. This is commonly known as the stock taking period. It is the time to take stock as we transition from one year to another, to carry forward what is needed for the next year, our future.

The traders take stock of their goods.

Similarly, in our personal lives too, there is need for a time, when each of us can take stock of our personal lives. Take stock of the situation, events and progress around us. Take stock of where we stand and where we are heading and at the end of our personal stock taking, discard unnecessary baggage and carry forward only what is of relevance to bring prosperity and happiness unto oneself and others.

So, this transition period is a period of taking stock of oneself, one’s situation and one’s environment.

Transition – Sandhi

India, through the ages has given a great deal of significance to the concept of transition and the transition phase.

The concept of transition from one stage to another, is known as Sandhi in the Indian thought.

Starting from

  • the daily transition of thithi, day to night and day,

  • to the transition of paksha, lunar fortnights from waxing to waning to waxing,

  • to the transition of rtu, seasons,

  • to the transition of varsha, year,

  • to the transition of yuga, time cycles,

these transitions have all been continuously tracked, recorded, revered and observed by our ancestors all the way from 8000 years ago to the present generation of Indians even to this day.


Transition, Sandhi period

Transitions periods were cherished as poignant moments in space and time to take stock of one’s personal life vis-à-vis the space, time, environs and society, i.e entire Nature, around us and adjust our behaviour, attitude and approach to life thereon.

The concept of Sandhi, how it has was revered and celebrated, has been discussed in good detail in our latest book “2012-The Real Story”, which is part of the Bharath Gyan series.

  2012-back cover 2012-front cover

When we talk of taking stock, there are various happenings and shifts that we need to take stock of.


The world in the last couple of hundred years has been going through a commercial era. It has also gone through a phase of colonization and fight for independence by many lands. The colonization and commercialization era led to the overbearing thought and practice of centralization of power and a centralized economic model therefore.

As the world steps out of the shadow of colonialism, it sees itself in a new light. While the world seems to be more connected, the increasing interdependency across lands, even for basic needs, which erodes into each nation’s economic insulation and quickly leads the entire world into waves of depression or boom, has started to cause concern.

As the world is slowly getting over the hangover of colonialism and its offshoot, the concept of centralization, we see more and more cases of fragmentation occurring, the world over.

We have seen colonialism itself breaking down with the independence movements in the various colonies, giving rise to independent nations.

We have seen large confederations such as USSR breaking up into constituent smaller nations.

We have seen larger states in India breaking up into smaller states.

We keep continually seeing demands, world over, by groups wanting their own state or nation inorder to govern themselves.

While many of these have taken the extreme shape of violent uprisings, most are an expression of the people’s innate desire to be free of hegemony and control.

It is an expression of their innate desire to control themselves.

It is an expression of their wanting their primary localized needs to be met by local production, local supply and local economies, over which they can have local control. Basically, call for a local administration for deploying available funds, for generating more funds, produce and services, to meet the local requirements with local priorities and local relevance.

Fundamentally, a more decentralized model.

When these cries are not listened to and instead suppressed, through usage of power or politics, it leads to violent uprisings.

If instead, this innate desire is steered in the right direction of a healthy, decentralized model of administration with a centralized oversight to keep them united, networked and interconnected through basic resource sharing and cultural bonds, it can lead to seeing prosperity and harmony.

Through many millennia too, people in many parts of the world, had enjoyed their respective, sustained prosperity for successive generations, mainly due to the practice of such a healthy, decentralized model.

It is just not a preferred, but a natural model for the coming age too. We discuss about this model in good detail in our book ‘You turn India’.

You Turn-Back Cover You Turn-Front Cover

 Isms of past

In the process of colonization and commercialization, the world went though many “isms”, successively one after the other and at times, concurrently too. Some of the prominent ones being, colonialism, capitalism, communism, socialism, mixed economy model is also an ism, so on and so forth.

In all these “isms” of economic models, the practices, the ideas that got marginalized were the crucial practices of sustainability with relevance and reverence to Nature, value for human life and human endeavour.

These words and the thought these words represent, are now slowly coming back in the discussions of economic models.

Most ancient civilizations which had their times of glory, were glorious because they focused on the model of sustainability with relevance to Nature and reverence for the humans who toiled in it.

Let us pause, think, take stock of the past and position ourselves for the future.

Let us ready ourselves to be part of the process to usher in a new era in the world for, in a way, we are in a Sandhi.

We can see that changes in many ways, are imminent. We can see that we are in the threshold of a new era – an era where old age mantras, come back as new age coinages.

Humanism model

Going forth, let us look forward to a harmonious, sustainable, interconnected future, through a new decentralized, economic and administration model based on humanism where humans, along with all other components of Nature, live in a harmonious, sustainable way.