Traditionally, Indian seasons– Ritus – are six, each of about two month’s duration. In the part of the country where I now live, in Southern Karnataka, there are virtually five seasons: a short spring, summer, monsoon, post monsoon and winter, where Hemanta and Shishira run into each other. Each of the seasons, – Ritus – has a beauty and splendor of its own. Sadly, we have lost the links with nature; as also with the songs and the Ragas inspired by nature.
Ritu is a division of the year , reflecting the change of seasons. The concept of Rtu occurs in Rig Veda also, where only three Ritus are mentioned: Varsha , Grishma and Sharad. Later, the year was further divided; and, two more Rtus were added. A hymn in Taittareya Brahmana has a beautiful graphic presentation of the Ritus in the image of a bird: Vasantha is the head of the bird called Samvathsara (year); Grishma its right wing; Sharad its left wing; Varsha its tail; and , Hemanta its middle part.
Tasya re Vasantha shirahah/Grishmo Dakshina pakshahah/ Sharad uttara-pakshhah/Varshap pucchyam/ Hemanto Madhyama. (TBrh: 184.108.40.206)
It was during the epic period that the seasons were counted as six: Vasantha – spring; Grishma – summer; Varsha – rainy season; Sharad – autumn; Hemanta – winter; and, Shishira – cool season preceding the spring.
The Puranas (say, the Brahmanda Purana) mention six seasons. The Matsya Purana has a whole chapter dedicated only to the month of spring; and, the Samba Purana gives a reference to the different colors of the sun in the Six Ritu’s : Kapila (tawny or yellowish-brown) in Vasantha Rtu ; Tapta-kanchana (furnace gold) in Greeshma ; Sweta (white) in Varsha Rtu; Pandu (pale) in Sharad Rtu; Pingala (coppery or reddish brown) in Hemanta Rtu; and , Raktha (reddish) in Sishira Rtu.
The Chitrasutra of the Vishnudharmottara-purana (5th– 6th century), however , mentions four Ritus; and, outlines their general features.
Summer : Under trees, languorous men seek shade from the harsh summer sun, buffaloes wallowing in the mire of muddy waters, birds hiding under a thick abundance of leaves, and lions and tigers seeking cool caves to retire in.
Rain: An overcast sky, with heavy rain filled clouds weighed down with their aquatic excess, flashes of lightning and the beautiful rainbow, animals like tigers and lions taking shelter in caves, sarus (cranes) birds flying in a row.
Autumn: Trees laden with ripe fruit, the entire expanse of the earth filled with ripened corn ready for harvest, lakes filled with beautiful aquatic birds like geese, the pleasant sight of blooming and blossoming lotus flowers, the moon brightening up the sky with a milky white luster.
Winter : the earth wet with dew, the sky filled with fog, men shivering from the cold, but crows and elephants seem euphoric.
Two sets of calendars – solar and lunar – for the twelve months of the year were developed over a period. And, the names of the months of the solar year , at one time , carried different sets of names.
The names of the months , according to solar calendar (Sauramana) , in each of the six seasons (Ritus) are: Vasantha (Madhu and Madhava) the sweetness of spring; Grishma: (Sukra and Suci) the blazing light of summer; Varsha: (Nabha and Nabhasya ) the monsoon rain bearing clouds; Sharada : (Urya and Isa) the fertility and mellow of autumn; Hemanta: (Saha and Shahya ) the cold and winter; Sisira: (Tapa and Tapsya ) the beginning of the hot season.
It is also said; these were the names used in the ancient days. For instance; the Maitrayani-Samhita of Krishna Yajur Veda enumerates the very set of names of the months .
madhuś ca mādhavaś ca vāsantikā ṛtū agner antaḥśleṣo ‘si // śukraś ca śuciś ca graiṣmā ṛtū; nabhaś ca nabhasyaś ca vārṣikā ṛtū; iṣaś urjaś ca śāradā ṛtū ; sahaś ca sahasyaś ca haimantikā ṛtū; tapaś ca tapasyaś ca śaiśirā ṛtū agner antaḥśleṣo ‘si //MS_2,8.11//
The names of the months of the lunar calendar (Chandramana) in the respective seasons are: Vasantha (Chaitra and Vishakha); Grishma (Jestha and Ashada); Varsha (Shravana and Bhadrapada); Sharada (Ashvina and Kartika); Hemanta (Margashira and Pushya); and, Sisira (Magha and Phalguna).
Srimad Bhagavatha -Purana(Skanda-4; Chapter-2) lists the Adityas, Rishis, Yakshas, Rakshas, Nagas, Gandharvas and Apsaras , associated with each month of the year .But, here, the names of the months , their sequence and the related Adityas slightly differ.
It is said, in the ancient days; the month of Margasirsha also known as Agrahayana was at the head of the twelve-month period; which is to say, it marked the commencement of the year from the vernal equinox. But, in the later periods the sequence of the months was changed to what we are familiar with now. And, similarly, the Nakshatras were reckoned from Krittka; and, not from Ashvini, as of now. The scholars opine that during the period when the sun was near Orion at the time of the vernal equinox, i.e. around 3000 years ago or more, the year was reckoned as commencing from the month of Margasirsha (Agrahayana).
And, Margasirsha was the best , most auspicious and the most enjoyable of all the months of the year ; neither too hot nor too cold, neither too wet nor dry; when the udders of the cows are full of milk. And, it was also the harvesting season when the long months of hard work fructified. There is a sense of peace and joy enveloping all existence.
The Mahabharata war is believed to have commenced on the eleventh day of the bright fortnight of Margasirsha (Agrahayana) – Margashirsha Shukla Ekadasi, when the star Krittika was in ascendancy. And, it was on the First Day of the Great War that Lord Krishna delivered the celestial Bhagavad-Gita.
In the Bhagavad-Gita, Krishna says that among the months, he is the Margashirsha – Masanam Margashirsha nam- Bhagavad-Gita. 10.35
[Alberuni c.1030 observed that Vasudeva Krishna had a special place in the hearts of the common people who loved to call him by many names. He says , people called out Krishna , out of sheer love , by different names in each of the twelve months; such as : in Margasirsha: Keshava; Paushya: Narayana; Magha: Madhava; Phalguna: Govinda; Chaitra: Vishnu; Vaisakha: Madhusudana; Jyestha: Trivikrama; Ashadha: Vamana; Shravana: Sridhara; Bhadrapada: Hrishikesa; Ashvayuja: Padmanabha; and , Karttika: Damodara .]
[The earliest inscriptional reference to Indian seasons and months appears on the Edicts of Emperor Asoka (c.272 B.C.) found at Dhauli and Jaugada. It mentions Tisya Naksatra (Tisya or Pausa) and Chaturmasi (full moon in all seasons). The casket inscription from the time of Meander (c. 115-90 B.C.) at Shinkot is the earliest known inscription to mention a month. It refers in Prakrit, to two months – Karttika and Vaisakha in connection with the relics of the Buddha.]
The Solar year (Sauramana) was based on ‘solar division’ – the diurnal motion of the Sun ; and, the Lunar year (Chandramana) was based on the ‘lunar division’- the phases of the moon .
The solar year is approximately 365 days and the months are calculated by the sun’s entrance into a particular Rasi or Zodiac sign. These are divided into twelve, Mesha (Aries), Vrsabha (Taurus), Mithuna (Gemini), Kartaka (Cancer), Simha (Leo), Kanya (Virgo), Tula (Libra), Vrscika (Scorpio), Dhanus (Sagittarius), Makara (Capricorn), Kumbha (Aquarius), and Mina (Pisces).
The Lunar calendar is roughly around 354 days; ten less than the solar year(*) and its months are named after Nakshatras or constellations in which their full moons are placed. The lunar months lasts from one new moon to the next but it is named after the Indian solar month in which it begins. As mentioned earlier, the lunar month are Chaitra and Vaishakha for spring (Vasantha) ; Jyestha and Asadha for summer (Grishma); Sravana and Bhadrapada for the monsoon (Varsha); Asvin and Karttika for the autumn (Sharad); Agrahayana and Pausha for winter (Hemantha) ; and. Magha and Phaguna for later cool season (Shishira).
The poets have sung of the glory of each season either individually or as a garland of seasons. The Great Kalidasa’s Rtu Samhara is of course the most celebrated of all such romances of the six seasons.
[* It is said; a Solar year actually measures 365.2422 days; while a Lunar year is shorter having only 354.372 days ; the difference between the two reckoning being 10.8702 days , each year. In order to reconcile the difference between the two calendars, an additional month is added to the Lunar calendar once in three years. Such additional month is termed as Adhika –masa. And, the year in which such Adhika-masa is added would thus have 13 months, as compared to 12 months in other years. In the cycle of 36 months, the Adhika-masa would be the 33rd month; and, would commence from the close of the 32nd month – that is , from next day of full moon and up to end of Amavasya. The Adhika-masa would actually measure 32.6106 days.]
It is the post monsoon season – Sharad Ritu, which is dearer to me. It is a season of festivals marked by benevolence, grace and beauty. As per the lunar calendar, Sharad Ritu follows the Varsha (monsoon) and precedes Hemantha (early winter). It comprises months of Ashvina and Karthika, which is September to November months in the Gregorian calendar. In the year 2007 , Sharad Ritu commenced from Oct 12, Sharad Ritu corresponds to early autumn in the West but it is not the same.
The nature is at its benevolent best in Sharad Ritu. The oppressive heat of the summer is a distant memory and the chill of the winter is still on its way. The annoying downpour of the monsoon has just ended. The weather is mild, pleasant and refreshing. Sharad is a season of moderation, comfort and peace. It is the season of the middle path. It is a soothing delight, as its designated Raga Malkauns a pentatonic haunting melody. The rivers are neither dry as in summer nor flooded, muddy brown, twirling with orphaned twigs and overflowing menacingly as in monsoon. In Sharad Ritu, the rivers are moderately full, transparently clear; rippling down the gentle slopes in peals of temple bells.
Sharad Ritu brings a blush to the countryside. The nature is bedecked as a bride with light green, decorated with profusion of colorful flowers and bountiful laden fruit trees with chirping birds. There is peace, joy and fulfillment abounding in the air.
The days are sunny, yet pleasantly cool and comfortable. The skies are clear blue with white cotton clouds floating lazily. The nights mildly intoxicating are slightly chill, clear and cloudless.
Srimad Bhagavatam describes the resplendent beauty of Sharad Rtu in Venu Gitam (Canto 10):
ittham sharad svaccha jalam padmakara sugandhina /nyavishad vayunavatam sa gogopala kochyutaha / kusumita vanaraji sushmibhrunga dvijakula gushta sarah sarIn mahidram / madhupatir avagahya charayangAha saha pashupAla balahaschukUja veNum //
It says; the water is pure, fresh and playing host to the beautiful lotuses waiting to bloom. In the autumn, the monsoon clouds too have disappeared, making way for clear sunshine; the lotuses bloom and spread their fragrance everywhere –padmakara sugandhina.
Flower buds, that had hitherto been soaked and ruined by incessant monsoon rains, now bloom joyfully–kusumita vanaraji – adorning the trees with colour. The aroma and nectar of these flowers attract the buzzing honey bees (sushmi bhrunga). With fragrance, color and cheer all around, can the cuckoos and peacocks help themselves but sing and dance to their hearts content – dvija kula gushTa sarah sarin mahIdram.
In Sharad Ritu, the cows graze happily and produce abundant milk, bringing prosperity all around.
In certain regions of India, the bright, soothing and joyful Sharad Purnima, is celebrated as a harvest festival; and, is known by other names such as : Kumаrа Рurnimа, Kоjаgiri Рurnimа, Nаvаnnа Рurnimа, Аshwin Рurnimа оr Kаumudi Рurnimа.
It is believed that on the Sharad Purnima, the moon glows with all its sixteen phases (kalas). On this night, the sky is clear; and, the moon is at its largest, brightest; shining without a blemish.
On this auspicious day, many divine pairs like Radha Krishna, Shiva Parvati, and Lakshmi Narayan are worshipped ; and, are offered flowers and kheer (sweet dish made of rice and milk).
The splendid cloudless full moon night of Sharad Ritu is an idiom of glory, peace and joy in the Indian poetics. It is the delight of eager young lovers that long to be with their beloved. The ecstatic beauty of Sharad Purnima is etched in Indian psyche. Its glory, tenderness and joy are celebrated in songs, legends and poems of love. Our classical poets and epics sing lovingly the beauty and joy of the delightful moonlit nights of Sharad Ritu.
Soundarya-lahari, meaning waves of beauty, a tantric work in poetic form dedicated to the Mother, in devotional ecstasy, calls her Saratchandra Vadana, one with a face as radiant and blissful as the moon in Sharad Ritu. And, Goddess Sarasvathi is described as Sharad-indu Sundara Vadane – having a blissful radiant face as beautiful as the moon of the Sharad Rtu.
The tradition of Rtu-Varnana, describing the seasons, became frequent when such descriptions came to be recognized as a mandatory feature (ashta-dasha –varnana, eighteen types of descriptions) of a Maha-kavyas the major epic like poems
The classical Indian poetry abounds with expressions like Sharadendu vilasam (the glory of the moon lit nights of Sharad), Sharath-chandrika – dhavala-prakasham (glorious brightness of Sharad) etc. The food – loving court jester encouraged by bright cool comfort and a feeling of luxury compares Sharad night, gleefully, to curd rice and ghee (Gritha-supa-samanvayam).
It was under the resplendent full moon of Shard Ritu, amidst the mango and Kadamba groves along the banks of the gentle flowing Yamuna that Sri Krishna and Gopis enacted their celestial dance Rasa Leela. It was the night; the haunting melody of Krishna’s flute enraptured the hearts of Gopis. Srimamad Bhagavatham sings the glory and joy of Rasa Leela with love and divine ecstasy. Every region and every language in India cherishes at its heart in lyrical rapture the love, graceful beauty and bliss of that Sharad Purnima. Year after year the devotees throng at the Vraj-bhumi on the Sharad Purnima under the heavenly glow of the scar- less full moon , to re enact Rasa Leela with longing and elation as an act of devotion and humble tribute to the love of Krishna and the Gopis.
The Great Poet Valmiki in his Epic Ramayana (4.29.27) talks of ‘The Mountains washed spotless by great clouds and their glittering peaks now shine as if bathed in moonbeams’.
abhivṛṣṭā mahāmeghair nirmalāś citra-sānavaḥ | anuliptā iva ābhānti girayaś candra-raśmibhiḥ ||
Kalidasa the great poet of ancient India in his Ritu-Samhara (song of the seasons) sings of the “golden plenitudes” of Sharad Ritu in passages of high lyrical imagery. (RS.3.21- 3.28) Sharad is the season of slenderness and grace; cool as the sandalwood (candanaṃ candra-marīci-śītalaṃ); of clear moon (śarad-indu-nirmalam); of radiant moon (vimala kiraṇa candraṃ); and of light, floating, soft colored silks. Kalidasa fondly talks of cheerful women dressed in light-hearted elegance of “silks dyed scarlet with mallow juice, delicate silks saffron dyed and shining pale gold veils”- anupama mukha rāgā rātrimadhye vinodaṃ śaradi taruṇa kāntāḥ sūcayanti pramodān – KalRs_3.24 .
He compares Shard Ritu to a bride; decked in white as the moon and the swan, adorned with jewels and flowers; moving with gentle grace like the rivers in Shard Ritu. The sky scattered lightly with thin clouds is as a king fanned with a white fly-whisk. The women adorn their hair with jasmine and ears with blue lotus; pine for the beloved. The travelers see in the lotuses the dark lustrous eyes of their beloveds; in the infatuated swans, they hear the tinkle of the beloveds’ golden girdle; and in Bhandu-jiva, flowers look for the gleam of their coral lips. Travelers sigh and pine for their beloveds – bandhujīve priyāṇāṃ pathika jana idānīṃ roditi bhrānta-cittaḥ- KalRs_3.26.
Viśākhadatta in his Mudrārākṣāsa (3.8) sings the tender grace of the Sharad : The tumult of the rains gradually gives way to the stillness of Sharad. The sky is free of clouds, water grows clear at the rise of the star of Agastya (not surprisingly says one poet – they heard he swallowed the ocean in one mouthful and are scared stiff) and the torrents of the monsoon become gently meandering rivers once again. The sound and light special effects – flashes of lightning, drumbeats of thunder – are replaced by a finer beauty, characterized by the superfluity of white, in the bright moon, the swans, the lotuses and the tall kāśa grass. The world is freshly washed and now sparkles in the sun:
Apām uddhṛtānāṃ nijam upadiśantyā sthitipadaṃ Dadhatyā śālīnām avanatim udāre sati phale |
Mayūrānām ugraṃ viṣam iva harantyā madam aho I Kṛtaḥ kṛtsnasy’ āyaṃ vinaya iva lokasya śaradā ||
And, Bhāravi, in his Kiratarjuniya, describes a river whose sandbanks white cows are gradually leaving as if her white silk robe was slipping down.
This tradition of Rtu-Varnana occasionally spilled into Dramas. For instance, in the Bhana plays of the Gupta Era (4th-6th centuries) the tradition set by Bhasa and Kalidasa was continued by including songs singing the glory of one or the other season.
Let me say a few words about Bhana plays (a type of Rupaka) because not many of the Bhana plays have survived. . The Bhana plays are essentially short dramatic presentations (Prahasana) or burlesque one-act plays which , flippantly, satirized the respectful figures in the society . They are different from elegant Sanskrit court-plays. They deal with the common place and the trivial. They expose the seamy side of urban life and of the court officials, in particular ; and, debunk the hypocrites moving under the guise of the virtuous.
These short plays were , usually in monologue, featuring a single actor who assumes the role of a Vita (paramour) or a Dhurta (rouge, swindler, gambler or cheat) . He is described as : a clever and shrewd parasite who describes roguish exploits (on subjects invented by himself) through imaginary conversations engaged with himself or with some one else or with imaginary persons (akasa-bhasita).
Generally the eloquent Style is employed ; the subject, which is invented by the author, is treated in a single Act. The Bhana has two Junctures, the opening (mukha) and the conclusion (nirvahana), with their subdivisions.
bhanas tu dhurtacaritam svanubhutam parena va / yatropayarnayed eko nipunah pandito vitah / sambodhano -ukti-pratyukti kuryad akasabhasitaih / sucayed vlra-srngarau saurya-saubhagya-samstavaih/ bhuyasa bharati vrttir ekankam vastu kalpitam / mukha-nirvahane sange lasyangani dasapi ca.
Singing and music, from background , precede and close the performance; and in between also give musical effects to the imaginary conversations that the single actor carries on.
Usually, the narrator is a Vita who loiters in the locality of the courtesans where he is a familiar figure and picks up conversation with whoever passes his way. He also calls on any courtesan at his sweet will.
Vita is a very interesting character in the plays of this genre. He narrates dramatically, a variety of occurrences as happening either to himself or others. He is generally a cultured, shrewd; but a deprived person; but, very familiar with the ways of the courtesans (vaisika sastra). He is quick-witted and knows how to manipulate courtesans through flattery and sweet-talk . He is truly the man of the world; gifted with jab of the tongue, wit and humor; and has familiarity with arts, poetry etc. He has also a strong sense of friendship and ever ready to help the needy. But his special interest is in enjoyment of worldly pleasures, and the sensuous company of the cheerful, fun-loving courtesans.
On the flip-side; a Vita would usually be one who was once wealthy; but squandered it all through misplaced trust or sheer gullibility or in gambling . Quite often, his family would have disowned him tired of his reckless and irresponsible ways. He is also disappointed in love.
In other words: basically , he is good at heart; but, a looser, incompetent or unable to succeed. He is described as a gallant parasite (Vita) who preys on courtesans and their paramours.
The Dhurta- vita-samvada presents the picture of one such seemingly clever , experienced, but worn-out Vita, who finding the rainy season too depressing, comes out seeking some amusement. He has no money either for a game of dice or for a drink — even his clothes are reduced to one garment. He , then , wends his way towards the street where courtesans live, transacting with their clients of various kinds . He , sadly, cannot afford a courtesan, either. At the end, dragging his feet, he reaches the house of the roguish couple Visvalaka and Sunanda, who were then busily engaged in a discussion on certain awkward problems of sex-act. He gleefully joins the discussion.
Vatsayana in his Kama -sutra has immortalized the Vita characters.
The three playwrights of this period scripted Bhana plays to highlight the features of certain seasons: Padma-prabhrur-takam (by Shudraka) and Ubhaya-abhisarika (by Vararuchi) described Vasantha the spring, while Dhurta-vita-samvada (by Isvaradatta) described Varsha the rainy season. The last mentioned also carried brief descriptions of Sharad, Grishma, and Vasantha Rtus, as in Kalidasa’s epic poem.
Here is a simplified and abridged version of Sharad as in the Dhurta-vita-samvada:
In the Shard Rtu the veil of the clouds vanishes; moon shines up in the blue night sky; breeze is gentle and pleasant; and whole of delightful existence is filled with intoxicating fragrance of flowers withering gently from the Aasan trees; the lover swims in the scented lotus pond with his beloved who as the Chakravaka bird is well versed in the secrets of love; the air around is scintillated with the music of Saras birds and the peels of girdle bells and anklets of cheerful beauties playing around the pool whose forehead is adorned with the Bindi bright as the Bandhuka flower .
Dakshinayana is the Ayana (half year) of the Devi, the Mother Goddess. Dakshina is also understood as the grace; the feminine principle; and, as the Mother who creates, unfolds and brings forth manifestation. Dakshinayana is the life giving season in which all creatures and vegetation thrive. Dakshinayana is the time of receptivity and is the feminine phase of the Earth. It is the season of re-generation, in which all creatures and vegetation come to life and thrive. The thirsty plants and animals fanatically drink and soak in the elixir of life, and regain their vitality.
It is also the season of festivity. All the major festivals from Krishna Janmashtami, through Gauri, Ganesh, and Nava-Ratri, on to Deepavali are celebrated during Dakshinayana. Sharad Ritu, in particular, is the Rtu dedicated to the Devi.
In the ancient and medieval times, Dakshinayana was also the season of reunion; when men travelling on business hurried back home before the rain bearing clouds broke out in torrents; and, when the separated lovers ran into each other arms.
Even for the ascetics, the recluse and the Parivrajakas (wandering monks) the monsoon was a period of retreat. During the four months (Chatur-masa) of Dakshinayana when travel used to be difficult and hazardous the monks in the olden days used to assemble at a place far away from towns for exchange of views and experiences. It was essentially a period of study, reflection and contemplation. The period of retreat commenced from the end of Ashada (June–July) and through the months of Shravana, Bhadrapada, Asvina and ending in the Kartika, the day after Deepavali (November) marking the beginning of winter
The Dakshinayana begins with pouring monsoon rains beating down the heat and ushering in cool relief, And, as the Aayana ends, the mild winter steps in as a prelude to spring
[ In contrast; the Uttarayana (Jan – July) is a long period of dry heat, blazing summers and swirl dusty winds. During this uncomfortable season of heat, dust and winds the life withers and dies. The heat takes away moisture from all living things. It is also the season of ‘hot’ diseases and epidemics. The village minor goddesses such as Sitala (small pox) are ‘cooled’ or appeased (shanthi).
At the same time; Uttarayana is also the invigorating , new good healthy wealthy beginning. It is the time of harvest, gathering the fruits of your efforts. Uttarayana is also the northward noble path (Deva Yana) that leads the virtuous to gods; and, is therefore called Uttarayana Punyakaala. The old warrior Bhishma of Mahabharata lay in wait on the bed of arrows for the arrival of Uttarayana. On the dawn of Uttarayana the Grand-old Bhishma chose to give up his life.
Uttarayana is the time of fulfilment, while Dakshinayana is the season of growing up.
Many of the festivals in Uttarayana are in celebration of male gods. Maha Shivaratri heralds the true beginning of hot summers. It is followed by Holi the festival of colours marking the burning down of Kama .
The season of six months from January to July is regarded masculine in nature, while Dakshinayana is the feminine phase of the Earth.]
Sharad Ritu is aptly named after Sharada the goddess of speech (vac), learning and fine arts. She is the presiding deity of the Ritu. Sharad Ritu personifies the mild- glowing beauty, serenity, grace and compassion of mother Sharada. The ten days following the new- moon in the month of Ashwina in Sharad Ritu are celebrated as Navarathri (Sharan navarathri) in devote reverence and in worship of the mother. Display of learning, performance of arts and honouring the learned and the virtuous during Navarathri are all in humble submission to the mother. Bengal has a tradition of commencing the Durga Puja with Saraswathi Puja. Saraswathi is regarded as daughter of mother goddess Durga.
The tenth day of Navarathri in Sharad Ritu, Vijaya- Dashami is one among the three most auspicious days in our calendar. It is the most sought-after day for launching ones hopes and ventures. Vijaya-Dashami signifies rescue of Dharma from the creeping shadows of the unjust, instating the virtuous to their rightful position and the victory of good over evil. On this day, the Pandavas ended long years of their humiliating exile and incognito; the friendless brothers found an ally in Virata and celebrated it with the bonding of young Abhimanyu and Uttara. On this day, Sri Rama with his consort was enthroned in Ayodhya on return from years of exile and vanquishing the demon king Ravana. It was on this day the Goddess Durga mata destroyed horde of evil forces, restored light and hope in the hearts of the virtuous. It is a day of victory and rejoices.
The later month of Sharad Ritu is Karthika, the month of the infant commander of the divine forces, Karthekeya the vanquisher of evil and darkness. Karthika is the month of lights. Numerous Little lamps are lit in homes and temples to dispel darkness and ignorance.
Karthik-ki-chauth (Karwa chauth) the fourth day after new moon in Karthika is the day when women in the North and Western parts of India fast and pray in loving devotion for the longevity and prosperity of their husbands.
Sharad Ritu, which commences on a pious note of devotion and fulfilment peaks into a burst of sparkling and spectacular lights and lavish celebrations. Deepavali or Diwali certainly is the most popular and the noisiest of Hindu festivals. Deepavali (array of lights) is a festival of four days, which literally illumines our hearts, homes and streets; dazzles with sparklers and firecrackers; and draws friends and neighbors together in a net of goodwill. It also signifies victory of good over evil, delivering from darkness and leading towards light. It is a festival in celebration of life, its goodness and fulfillment.
As Sharad Ritu nears its end, the leaves on the trees turn from green to yellow to red and to dusty brown. The trees let go the aged leaves, that once clothed, fed and sheltered them; with grace and gratitude. They gently place the departed friends, with reverence, on the floor.
If the spring signifies the exuberance of youth; and the sizzling heat of summer, downpour of the monsoon represent the rigors, vicissitudes and uncertainties of life; Sharad Ritu is the mellow maturity and fulfillment of life before it slides into its evening. It inspires a sense of amazement, grace and reverence towards life. It is the golden mean, away from extremes of burning passions and debilitating regrets. It is the summation of the quality life.
Our seers visualized a life worth- living as spans of Sharad Ritu; not merely, because it is the most enjoyable season but also because it suggests an interpretation and a sense of balance that life should have. That perhaps was the reason our ancients measured meaningful life spans as representations of Sharad Ritu. A young person on threshold of life greets his beloved at the time of wedding “Oh! The auspicious one, the cause of my life, may we live to see a hundred Sharad seasons (subhage, tvamjeeva sharadahshhatam)”.
The Vedic aspirations of living a long, rich and purposeful life are expressed as enjoyment of life as in Sharad Ritu.
Paśyema śaradaḥ śataṁ| jīvema śaradaḥ śataṁ| budhyema śaradaḥ śataṁ| rohema śaradaḥ śataṁ | pūṣema śaradaḥ śataṁ| bhavema śaradaḥ śatam | bhūsema śaradaḥ śataṁ| bhūyasīḥ śaradaḥ śatam | (AVŚ_19,67.1-8)
May we see a hundred Sharad Ritus. May we live a hundred Sharad Ritus. May we be wakeful in a hundred Sharad Ritus. May we ascend through a hundred Sharad Ritus. May we enjoy prosperous hundred Sharad Ritus. May we adorn a hundred Sharad Ritus .May we live more than a hundred invincible Sharad Ritus.
All pictures are taken from Internet.
Please do read
March 21, 2015 at 7:39 pm
sharad ritu is the mellow maturity and fulfillment of life before it slides into its evening. it inspires a sense of amazement, grace and reverence towards life. it is the golden mean, away from extremes of burning passions and debilitating regrets. it is the summation of the quality life.
thises lines alone say it all
as usual i found many informations which i never knew
the last part is wonderful
March 21, 2015 at 7:40 pm
seeing that shaarada is the epitome of the sharad ritu, it is quite beautiful the way you have portrayed the number of sharad ritus as one’s cumulative knowledge and wisdom as the measure of one’s age, or life experience.
March 21, 2015 at 7:42 pm
that was a beautiful blog! delightful in every aspect just like sharad ritu!
it was like a soothing balm for the weary senses.
while the western calendar has been demarcated into four seasons, the indian version has six seasons, adding more variety and colour.
the reference to raga malkauns evoked images of lilting melodies against the backdrop of cool evening skies. here is a link to a clipping of raga malkauns:
the carnatic equivalent of raga malkauns is raga hindolam.
sharad ritu is also a season of utsavs which brings celebrations in all their pomp and glory.
in the soundarya lahari, the goddess’s face has been equated to the autumn moon…
pariksheena madhye parinata-sharachandra-vadana
dhanur banan pasam srinim api dadhana karatalaii
purastad astam noh pura-mathitur aho-purushika
here are pictures of early autumn to complement your blog…
bountiful fruit laden trees…
and profusion of colourful flowers…
thanks for the wonderful blog!
March 21, 2015 at 7:42 pm
dear melody queen
thank you very much for reading and for adding value to the article. that was very good. i am adding your comment as a link on the main page and mention about soundraya lahari.
reg. malkauns; each ritu has its designated raga that brings out the character of the season (just was basanth for spring, vasantha ritu). malkaus is associated with sharad ritu, sometimes along with madhukauns.
i was more concerned about my interpretation of sharad ritu and the part where i try to reason why a well-lived life is measured in terms of spans of sharad ritu.please give it a thought and let me know if it makes sense.
read origin of our gods.
March 21, 2015 at 7:44 pm
your interpretation of life spans in terms of sharad ritu is very apt. even the mantra (though not vedic in origin) at mangalya dharanam in hindu marriages is:
mangalyam thanthunanena mama jeevana hethuna
kante badhnami shubake twam jeevasharathah-shatam
the emphasis is on seeing a hundred sharad ritus together.
a hundred sharad ritus would definitely be a life span worthy of living.
another interpretation would be to equate sharad ritu with the autumn of life. autumn would also signify ripeness- of age, of wisdom…if spring is morning and summer the afternoon, then autumn is definitely the evening of one’s life-a life lived in fulfillment of one’s duties towards life, of having seen all that life has to offer, of contentment and bliss-in short a life well-lived.
thanks once again for the beautiful post.
March 21, 2015 at 7:44 pm
dear melody queen,
i thought about that. sharad ritu does not exactly correspond to autumn as in west. perhaps hemanta in our land, prelude to winter, may be nearer to the autuman you mentioned. sharad still has a golden glow around it. hemanta is seen as the evening of life.
sharad is the most enjoyable season that lends an interpretation to life.
sharad ritu is marked by equanimity, a sense of balance and well-being. it is a season of celebration as also peace and fulfillment. it could be interpreted as the mellow maturity of the prime, away from recklessness and debilities, before sliding into the evening of life, hemanta. it is the golden mean. that was how i saw it.
thanks for everything.
March 21, 2015 at 7:46 pm
this is a beautifully written blog. so poetic.
sharad ritu is one of the most written /composed/ sung of ll the ritus. it is a beautiful season like the dusk of the annual seasons. mellow but still colorful. the last balze of light before the approaching winter.
March 21, 2015 at 7:46 pm
very beautifully written. i never knew of the association of sharadha with sharad ritu. again a wery gentle goddess ensconced in a beautiful and calm locale. those mountains and river and the surroundings seem to echo your description of sharad ritu to me.
but tell me truly are these seasonal changes still evident in todays’ environment?
March 21, 2015 at 7:47 pm
greetings. happy ganesh.
thank you for the comment.
that was a good question. someone remarked, earlier, on these pages, that they too have six seasons and each of those is identical to the other five.
if you live in big cities and certain parts of the country, the change in the seasons may not be very evident. however, in interior areas, which retain some forest cover, the passage of the seasons is evident. the sequence and the intensity of the seasons may vary depending on the agro-climatic conditions of that region.
india has a unique geography. it has extensive coastline on three sides. antarctica is the next-door neighbor on the south with the himalayas making a tallest wall towards north. this unique geographical condition gives india weather with two mansoon seasons, with hot and cold seasons. this divides india broadly into seven climatic regions: the northern mountains or himalayas , the northern plains from the ganges delta to just northwest of delhi , the rajasthan desert , the deccan plateau, the west coast, the southeast coastlands, and assam in the extreme northeast of the country.
as you remarked our environment is worsening .yet, it is possible to identify seasons. generally (excepting in desert and himalayan regions) the four main seasons: winter shishir; summer greeshm; monsoon varsha, and post-monsoon sharad are easily noticeable. the broad pattern is: winter from november to february; summer from march to may, monsoon from june to august and post monsoon season in september and november. i wish we do not loose links with seasons and their ragas.
the duration and intensity of the seasons among the different regions is again a variable.
certain parts, say the southern deccan plateau, parts of central india , north east and sub himalayan region do have more than four seasons. what i said about sharad ritu-post monsoon, is truly noticeable. it does follow the general characteristics i mentioned. i wish we did not loose links with seasons and their significance in our lives.
thanks for asking.
please keep talking.
March 21, 2015 at 7:49 pm
posted on behalf of sobana sundar
that was a great reply. i still have questions but the things you have touched upon are all interesting. before i ask my other questions, may i ask you your background? i am curious as to how you have managed to garner so much information and that of a classical nature. obviously, your knowledge of sanskrit is deep as is your acquaintance with the works in them. when i get your reply, i will tell you of my interest in that area.
but that apart, melody after reading my blog http://refugeatmugalur.sulekha.com/blog/post/2007/09/celebrating-ganesha.htm gave me a link to your blog on vedic origin of gods. i did wanted to raise a question but decided not to do it as in general controversies start when you raise a discussion on gods. and then i wandered to this blog.
we do live away from cities – the nearest town is about 15kms away but even here it seems to me that sharad is lost between one monsoon and another. by your explanation we are now in sharad but right now we seem to be alternating between rains and hot days. as you said it could be a fault of the region we are living in rather than anything else. but this is good season for flowers. how does the raga association work? i understand when it is associated with a particular time of the day but for a season. is it that the mood created by the raga matches the mood set by the season?
March 21, 2015 at 7:49 pm
dear shobha sundar,
thank you. i am not a scholar of any sort. i am just a clueless old guy. i have written about afew subjects . just take a guess about my background.
as regards ragas, in hindustani music ragas are classified on time scale and spread out into groups called “thatts”.the ragas are classified as early morning, before noon , noon , after noon , evening, night and late night ragas. each raga has a lakshana geetha that describes its scales and its special features. there is also a raga-ragini system. pundit v n bathkhande did major work in this area..
where as in karnatic music ragas are derived from mela_kartha (major) ragas. as regards association with seasons, in hindustani system, each season is associated with a raga or group of ragas that symbolize and bring out the characteristics of the season. for example, spring (vasantha ritu) is associated with raga basanth. monsoon (varsha ritu) is associated with the malhar group of ragas that sing of heavy dark clouds, winds , rain , lightening, lovers meting in thunderous evenings etc.similarly post monsoon (sharad ritu is associated with raga malkauns , madhukauns and chandrakauns .they are a kind of haunting melodies that sing of cloudless moon , cool nights , lovers , krishna, radha etc.
this year , i think , as per lunar calendar sharad ritu starts by 12 oct.
you can raise an issue. i will try to answer if i can, within my limitations.
sorry i could not reply earlier because of ganesh.
wish you a happy ganesh.
thanks for asking.
March 21, 2015 at 7:49 pm
From: Venetiaansell on 08 Dec 2009
Dear Mr Rao, I read your post on sharad rtu with great interest. I am a student of Sanskrit and currently doing some research on the description of each rtu and in particular the flowers associated with each and would be interested to know more. Can you recommend any good books or articles about rtuvarnana in Sanskrit literature? I look forward to hearing from you. Best, Venetia
March 21, 2015 at 7:50 pm
Dear Venetiaansell Please pardon me for the delay in responding to your Note. I was away from home for over a week and could not check Sulekha.I am sorry. Another reason for delay is that, as I essayed replying to you, it seemed to get longer. I therefore posted my response as blog .Please do check Ritu varnana and Bharamasa. I have tried to cover flowers of the seasons under paragraph 11.2. I am not sure it that is adequate or serves your purpose. I think the subject needs to be dealt with independently. As regards the books and articles, please refer to the list I posted at the foot of my post. Please do let me know if I could of assistance. Wish you Godspeed in all your endeavors. Please keep talking. Regards
August 30, 2016 at 6:14 pm
Hello. I loved your text on Sharad Ritu. I needed some help please reply so that I can ask my question.
August 31, 2016 at 11:29 pm
kalikaarora commented on About
Thanks for replying.
I’m an graphic designer and I like to design artwork with meanings.
I’m designing a wedding card. The wedding is taking place in Sharad Ritu in November; the groom’s name is Sharad and the bride’s name is Kalika(means a flowering bud). I want to depict the Ritu as you Chitrasutra describes it but along with that I want to write a line in Sanskrit, that underlines the fact that new flowers blossom in Sharad Ritu.
I liked ‘subhage tvamjeeva sharadahshashhtam’. I also have two lines from Hindi Kavita- amal dhawal giri ke shilharo par baadal ko ghirte dekha hai. Sharad kamalo main moti Jaise Kalika ko khilte dekha hai.
Please suggest me a line or two. I’ll be ever grateful and it shall also complete me artwork.
Thanks in advance.
August 31, 2016 at 11:30 pm
In reply to kalikaarora.
Dear Kalika . That was lovely. Sharad is indeed the season of lovers, bright moon light , fragrant flowers .
Please see some quotes. You may pick any. I am not sure , it meets your expectations. Yet ; I loved the concept.
Good Luck , be happy and be lucky
Srimad Bhagavatam describes the resplendent beauty of Sharad Rtu in Venu Gitam (Canto 10). It sings of clear blue skies, the bloom of the lotus bus into resplendent flowers, and the spread of their fragrance padmakara sugandhina.
Flower buds, that had hitherto been soaked and ruined by incessant monsoon rains, now bloom joyfully–kusumita vanaraji – adorning the trees with colour. The aroma and nectar of these flowers attract the buzzing honey bees (sushmi bhrunga). With fragrance, colour and cheer all around, can the cuckoos and peacocks help themselves but sing and dance to their hearts content – dvija kula gushTa sarah sarin mahIdram.
kusumita vanaraji sushmibhrunga dvijakula gushta sarah sarIn mahidram
madhupatir avagahya charayangAha saha pashupAla balahaschukUja veNum
Sharad is also the favorite season of women pining for love. With the arrival of the Sharad and the appearance of the bright moon, the face of the eager lovers light up; their blush , bright red lips glow like Banduka flowers ; and their jeweled anklets jingle as they run to greet the swans(Ṛtusaṃhāra – Kālidāsa)
स्त्रीणां विहाय वदनेषु शशाङ्कलक्ष्मीं
काम्यं च हंसवचनं मणिनूपुरेषु।
क्वापि प्रयाति सुभगा शरदागमश्रीः॥
strīṇāṃ nidhāya vadaneṣu śaśāṅka-lakṣmīṃ kāmyaṃ ca haṃsa-vacanaṃ maṇi-nūpureṣu |
bandhūka-kāntim adhareṣu manohareṣu kvāpi prayāti subhagā śarad-āgama-śrīḥ ||
Śharad is the season for lotuses and water lilies that fill the autumnal breeze with their fragrance – delighting the hearts of the lovers. Sharad Ritu is symbolized by a beautiful woman whose eyes resemble Nilotpala (blue-lotus) and whose gentle smile is graceful and bright like Kumuda (white-lotus)
मुखसरोजरुचं मदपाटलामनुचकार चकोरदृशां यतः।
धृतनवातपमुत्सुकतामतो न कमलं कमलम्भयदम्भसि॥
Mukha-saroja-rucaṃ mada-pāṭalām anucakāra cakora-dṛśāṃ yataḥ |
dhṛta-nava-ātapam utsukatām ato na kamalaṃ kam alambhayad ambhasi ||
In Sharad Ritu, the face of eager young Lady Love glow and sparkle like red lotus; their eyes, red-pink filled with the expectant excitement put Chakora to shame
वरयुवतिमुखाभं पङ्कजं जृम्भते ऽद्य।
divasa-kara-mayūkhair bodhyamānam prabhāte
vara-yuvati-mukh’-ābhaṃ paṅkajaṃ jṛmbhate ‘dya
In this season, the Padma opened at dawn by the sun’s rays unfolds with the glow of a beautiful young woman’s face.
कुमुदमपि गते ऽस्तं लीयते चन्द्रबिम्बे
हसितमिव वधूनां प्रोषितेषु प्रियेषु॥
kumudam api gate ‘staṃ mlāyate candra-bimbe
hasitam iva vadhūnāṃ proṣiteṣu priyeṣu ||
So too the Kumuda withers as the orb of the moon sets, just as women’s smiles fade when their lovers are away.
तरङ्गसङ्गाच्चपलैः पलाशैर्ज्वालाश्रियं सातिशयां दधन्ति।
Taraṅga-saṅgāc capalaiḥ palāśair jvālā-śriyaṃ s’-ātiśayāṃ dadhanti |
Sadhūma-dīpt’-āgni-rucīni rejus tāmr’-otpalāny ākula-ṣaṭpadāni ||
The red-lotuses swaying to the waves in the pond glow like flames. And the bees that cover the blazing lotus create the illusion of smoke.
Sharad is also the season of Malathi – a fragrant white jasmine
प्रचलितोडुनिभैः परिपाण्डिमा शुभरजोभरजो ऽलिभिरादद ||
Pracalit’-uḍu-nibhaiḥ paripāṇḍimā śubha-rajo-bhara-jo ‘libhir ādade ||
The bees, ever clustering around the endless stretches of Mālatī flowers, soft as drops of fresh water, looked like quivering stars(Ṥiśupālavadha – Māgha)
सन्दृष्टाः कुवलयिनो मया विभागाः॥
sandṛṣṭāḥ kuvalayino mayā vibhāgāḥ ||
The broad sterns of white lotuses swing when stirred by the wings of the gees honking lustily. But the forlorn love pining for her lover gazed at them between one tear falling and the next welling up, they indeed appeared dark blue (Uttararāmacarita, Bhavabhūti)
September 3, 2016 at 2:13 am
September 2, 2016 at 7:21 pm
Thank you, thank you so very much!
So many to choose from! Thank you again!
I’m so happy about this!!
I was wondering if there’s any couplet with both or one of the two words – Sharad and Kalika . I know i shouldn’t even ask for more but still I have faith that I’ll get something from your knowledge bank.
Else I am thinking of going with ‘Subhage Twanjeev sharadahshattam’. How do you think it is? Should it combined with something?
September 3, 2016 at 2:14 am
Kiṃśuka-kalika-antar-gatam sarad-indukalā-spardhi-kesaraṃ bhāti |
The flaming red (kesara) Kimshuka flower bud (kalika) vies with the moon of Sharad (sarad-indukalā-spardhi)
रक्तनिचोलकपिहितं धनुरिव जतुमुद्रितं वितनोः॥
rakta-nicolaka-pihitaṃ dhanur iva jatu-mudritaṃ vitanoḥ ||
Like lac-smeared bow of Manamtha concealed within a red sheath
Verse 11 in the vasanta section of the Subhāṣitaratnabhaṇḍagaram
September 4, 2016 at 1:21 am
The Tvam jeevana verse reads in full as ;
Mangalyam tantu naanena, Mama jeevana hetuna;
Kante badhnaami shubhage, Tvamjeeva sharadahshhatam.”
Oh the auspicious one , the cause of my life , I am adorning you with this Mangala-sutra . May we live together for a hundred Sharad-ritus
God Bless you
May you live happily together for sharadahshattam
September 7, 2016 at 2:58 am
1. The Mantra || Mangalyam tantunanena mama jeevana hetuna: kanthe badhnami subhage twam jeeva sarada satam ||
I think, is from the fourteenth chapter (kāṇḍa) of the Atharvaveda.
It is recited by the Groom while he ties the Mangala-sutra around the neck of the Bride, solemnizing the marriage. By the way, tying the Mangala-sutra might have come into the marriage ritual some during the later periods (there is no mention of such practice in the Rig-Veda)
2. Another important part of the marriage is Saptapadi (Saat phere) or seven steps where, after tying the Mangala-sutra, the newlywed couple take seven steps around the Agni . At the conclusion of the seventh step, the couple legally become husband and wife.
During these Seven-steps the Bride and the Groom take marriage vows:
Sakaa -Sapthapadha -bhava Sakaayov -Saptha padhaa -Bhaboova
Sakyam -the’ -Ghame’yam Sakyaath -the’ Maayosham -Sakyan me’
Maayosta -Samayaava -Samayaava Sangalpaavahai -Sampriyov
Rosishnu -Sumanasyamanov Ishamoorjam – abhi -Savasaanov
Managhumsi -Samvrathaas smu Chiththaani -Aakaram -Sathvamasi
Amooham -Amoohamasmi saa -Thvam -dhyowraham
Pruthivee thvam -Retho’ aham -retho’ Bhruthvam -Manohamasmi
-vak thvam -Saamaa ham asmi -Rukthvam -Saamaam
Anuvradhaa -bhava Pumse’ Pumse’ -Puthraaya -Veththavai
Sriyai -Puthraaya -Veththavai ehi -Soonrurute’||
By these seven steps that you have taken with me, you have become my best friend. I will never move out of this relationship. God has united us in this bondage. We shall perform all activities together with love and affection and with good feelings. Let us be friendly in our thoughts. Let us observe our duties and rituals together. If you are the lyrics, I am the music. If you are the music I am the lyrics. If I am the heavenly body you are the earthly world. While I am the life source and you are the carrier of the same. I am the thoughts and you are the speech. When you are like the words, you work with me who is like the meaning of it. With your sweet words, come with me to lead a prosperous life begetting our progeny with children.
For more, please see : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saptapadi
3. It is OK either way ; or you can write the Verse in full and write the explanation. It is about space-management and the design
4. I am posting this on the net , so that it might be useful to others looking for similar answers.