Astronomical Time

Nirupama Raghawan, Ph. D. in Solar Physics, University of Madras in 1965. Member, International Astronomical Union and Fellow, Royal Astronomical Society: London. Author of over 25 original research papers in Astrophysics, Airpollution modelling and Science communication, delivered an enlightening talk on the ‘Astronomical time’:

Astronomical rhythms are embedded in every aspect of the 4.5 billion year history of the earth. They have shaped the evolution of both the living and non living matter, as nothing else has. Among all the living creatures, human species is one species that has tried to understand these rhythms. This activity was no leisure time activity; their very survival depended on it. Their struggle to “grasp” time is the story of ten thousand years of Astronomy. The changing length of the day, the shape of the moon, the enigmatic star patterns and the wayward planets, each posed a challenge to the growing intellect of humans. They had to be interpreted individually and together. The process of understanding was slow and was assimilated into cultural practices at every stage. This cultural link with astronomical time first frayed and then snapped with the invention of other time keeping devices. While the cultural practices continue, shorn of their astronomical significance to this day, the very concept of time itself has been given new contours – contours that are verifiable only with the most modern tools of astronomy, reaching out to the edge of the known universe. Perhaps in the millenia to come the human species would integrate these contours in their song, dance, sculpture and painting.


Who is Prince Vikramaditya’s Father

Chandra Rajan, studied Sanskrit Language and Literature in the time-honoured manner at the feet of a guru from childhood. She received Degrees in English and Sanskrit Literature. She taught at the English Departments of Lady Sri Ram College, Delhi University and University of W. Ontario, London, Canada. Given below is the brief frame work of her lecture delivered at IGNCA: The Vikramåditya corpus of tales is an extensive and very popular story complex in the country, extant in Sanskrit and in many Indian language. The most interesting and well known of these tales centre round the extraordinary encounter of the fabled monarch with a vetåla. This cycle of stories, continued down the centuries to circulate side by side with the written and later the printed versions, being part of the living tradition of story-telling. Its popularity in the country and its influence on story-telling traditions elsewhere has been second only to that of the inimitable Panchatantra of Vishnu Sarma. Of the four recensions of the Vetåla tales in Sanskrit, Sivadasa’s is the finest, the most accomplished and sophisticated of the retellings of the inherited story material. It is the only text that is problematic and therefore of interest to the modern reader. Yet, it is a much-neglected text, quite underservedly so; in fact, it is a minor classic in Sanskrit literature; one of the best in the katha genre.