When was the First Vedic Homa done? - III
by Jayasree Saranathan on 25 Oct 2023 0 Comment

Vedic Homa: Initiated by Skanda and carried over by Vivasvan and Manu

With Mahabharata stating in no uncertain terms, through the words of Marka??eya, that Skanda formalised the wedding of Svaha with Agni and declaring the starting of Homa thereon, we are able to identify the chronological evolution of Vedic culture from Skanda. The significant hint is the birth of Visakha from Skanda at the time of terrible lightening which was diffused by Skanda by spewing fire and those born after that event calling themselves as the children of Visakha! The foremost among them was ‘Vivasvan’- whose son Vaivasvata was the progenitor of the current Manvantara! “Vivasvan, the son of Aditi, the first among the planets, the sun-god, was born in the constellation Visakha in the Cak?u?a Manvantara”, says Brahmanda Purana. (24-129)


Skanda existed towards the end of the 6th Manvantara known as Cak?u?a, and shortly after him the current Manvantara of Vaivasvata had started.

? Just as the Yugas follow the two kinds of time scales, namely, the Divya and the Dharma yuga, the Manvantaras appear to have been created on the basis of two scales, long-term and short-term, based on geographic and climatic changes in the long-term scale, and on a shorter scale, in terms of heroes who lived at that time. For example, according to the long-term scale, the 6th manvantara, namely, the Cak?u?a Manvantara occurred 116.6 million years ago. If Skanda lived in that manvantara, it is not possible to retain the memory of his story. It makes better sense to locate Skanda in the short measure of Cak?u?a Manvantara, a few thousand years ago.


? The birth of Vivasvan in Visakha could only mean that Vaivasvata Manu and other people of his ilk were born after the terrible calamity of the “splitting”, with fire bellowing out while there were terrible lightning strikes. Their birth happened at or after the time of Skanda. The progeny that followed hailed Visakha as their father.


? The Ik?vaku-s coming in the lineage of Vaivasvata Manu also identified Visakha as the star of their dynasty! While Rama and Lak?ma?a were moving towards the seashore carried by Angada and Hanuman, Lak?ma?a was referring to the stars seen at that time and mentioned Visakha as the supreme star of the Ik?vaku-s!


? Again, during Rama’s direct fight against Rava?a, the star Visakha is mentioned as the one adorned by the kings of Kosala, the country of Rama and the Ik?vaku-s.


? The Ik?vaku-s held Skanda as their supreme deity. At the time of Rama leaving to the forest, his mother Kausalya invokes Skanda’s name among other deities to protect him. A notable feature in this is that all except Skanda were Vedic or (perhaps) non-human deities.


? Similarly, Manu invokes only Skanda’s name along with other Vedic deities in the mantra of consecration of Indra-dvija signalling that in those times of Manu’s emergence, Skanda was a deity of worship.


? Manu’s name is also associated with the primary homa called ‘Paka yajna’. This is done from Aupasana fire. Manu seemed to have carried over the Vedic Homa (Aupasana) from Skanda with newer additions. It was only along with or after Manu, the Rig Vedic compositions had evolved.


There again a strange feature is noticed by the presence of retroflex sound of Tamil (?) substituting ‘?a’ sound of the Rig Veda. This was pointed out by Kanchi Maha Swami {Chandrashekarendra Saraswati, also known as Paramacharya (1894-1994)}.


He also brought to our notice the traditional view that the entire Rig Vedic compilation was ‘Agni Upasana’- worship of Agni - by starting and ending the compilation with the worship of Agni. He further said that Rig Veda is an anthology of stotra-s (hymns) in Mantra form. Yajur is the practical application of them in worship. Saman calms down the mind.


The three Vedas had evolved as a network to conduct the Vedic yajnas. “The Rig Veda praises deities in stotra form. Since it refers to Agni in both upakrama (beginning) and upasamhara (end), those well versed in the Vedas call the Rig Veda as agni upasana,” says Paramacharya.

This being the view of the Vediks and Acharya-s, the supporters of Aryan migration and our countrymen who claim to oppose them keep treating the Rig Veda as a history book to pick out migration of people and language. Not only that, but they also interpret the Rig Veda afresh, claiming that details about space are encoded in the Rig Veda. 


Speaking of the Yajur Veda, Paramacharya said: “Just as Rig means stotra, so Yajus means describing the ritual of worship related to yajna. Accordingly, the main aim of the Yajur Veda is the application of the mantras in the form of stuti in the Rig Veda to the subject of the yajna.” Thus, many mantras in the Rig Veda are in the Yajur Veda.


Therefore, it is foolish to make a distinction between the two that the Rig Veda came first and the Yajur Veda later. Speaking of the Sama Veda, Paramacharya says: “‘Sama’ means to appease and make the mind happy... The Samaveda makes many of the mantras which were stutis in the Rig Veda into Sama gana.” (In the Atharva Veda “There are mantras to remove all kinds of dangers and to destroy the shatrus,” he says.)


The first three Vedas are merged into a network to facilitate the conduct of Vedic yajna-s. All the yajna-s have Skanda’s havyam-kavyam as the basic homa, with Aupasana as their beginning. When the homa was done for the first time, some zodiacal changes were made, with the removal of the star Abhijit from the 27-star count of the nakshatra mandala and the star Krittika added to complete the 27-star count. From this it is known that Abhijit was never regarded as a pole star, as claimed by some based on western astronomy simulations.


Around the time this change was being made, the star Visakha also appeared in the zodiac. But since there is no mention of the addition of a new star in the Nakshatra mandala, it is understood that the Visakha Nakshatra was already part of the 27 nakshatra mandala and received a new name, Visakha. By the name of Anusha Nakshatra next to Visakha as Anuradha (meaning ‘after Radha’ or ‘next to ‘Radha’), it is understood that the previous star was ‘Radha’ which got renamed as Visakha following the events of Skanda’s time.


The 27 nakshatras - symbolised as the wives of the moon - had only female names until then. Radha was a feminine name. When changes were made in the zodiac in Skanda’s time, some stars of the zodiac were given masculine names. The feminine name Radha became the masculine name Visakha. Abhijit is a masculine name, which initially existed as a feminine name, Shasi.  In the Bhagavad-gita (10-21), Krishna says that he is Shasi among the nakshatras.  The same is told by Krishna to Uddhava in Bhagavata Purana (11-17-27) where he mentions Abhijit in the place of Shasi. 


To this day, we are following the changed names and the concepts of space made during the time of Skanda. Having established the beginning of the Vedas by associating it with Skanda, our next task is to determine the age of Skanda. The date is enumerated in two ways which match with each other.


Date of Skanda from Tamil literature

The Tamil literary past had spanned across three Ages of Tamil Sangam of which the earliest was initiated by none other than Skanda, who was known as Ugra Kumara of Pandya. He was born to Tadathaka, later glorified as Minak?i, married to Chokkanatha, identified as an incarnation of Lord Siva. Skanda with his father constituted an Assembly for the purpose of developing Tamil in three ways, viz., prose, poetry and drama.


In all the Assemblies conducted even after Skanda had exited the world, his name was invoked, and a learned person was chosen to represent Skanda to adjudicate the material presented. The place where these gatherings took place was Southern Madurai, capital of Skanda (Pandya-s), which must have been part of Southeast Asia in the Indian Ocean. At one point of time, when Southern Madurai was destroyed by the fury of the sea, they established a capital at Kapatapuram, also known as Alavai, where the poets gathered and developed Tamil.


Valmiki’s Ramayana states that the Pandya-s were in Kavatam which was the shortened name of Kapatapuram during Rama’s time (Va-Ra: 4-41-29). The assemblies convened here were called the Second Sangam Period. This place too was destroyed by the fury of the sea, and the Pandya-s established a capital in present-day Bharat at Madurai. 


The Third Sangam period started in Madurai by which it is known that the first two capitals were not situated on the soil of present-day Bharat. One of the Third Sangam Assemblies was conducted 2000 years ago by a Pandyan King named Ugra Peruva?uti. From inscriptional evidence we are able to establish without doubt that this Assembly was conducted 200 years before the start of the Common Era.[1]


The commentary presented at this Sangam Assembly by poet Nakkirar to a Grammar work called ‘Irayanar Agapporul’ contains the duration of each of the Sangam periods along with the number of participant-poets and some of their names. One such name refers to the Lord of Dwaraka who attended an Assembly of the 2nd Sangam. This could be a reference to K???a who founded Dwaraka. After his exit, Dwaraka was lost to the seas. In corroboration of this information of Nakkirar, there exists a verse in Mahabharata spoken by K???a that the king of the Bhoja-s, belonging to his clan, had conquered the Pandya-s by his learning.[2] 


This appears like a reference to establishing his mastery over some form of knowledge, which in the case of the Pandya-s could only refer to successfully publishing a composition in Tamil in the Assembly of Sangam that requires one and all in the Assembly to endorse it unanimously. The correlation between the two different references establishes that K???a attended the session of the Sangam Assembly in which a member of his clan published his literary work.[3]


With this cross-reference from the Mahabharata corroborating the long history of Sangam Assembly, let me delve into the duration of each Sangam Age narrated by Nakkirar. According to him,

the first Sangam lasted for 4440 years,

the second for 3700 years and

the third for 1850 years (till the time he presented his work).


Now adding up these years until the start of the Common Era we arrive at the following years.

3rd Sangam started around 1850 BCE.

2nd Sangam started around 5550 BCE.

1st Sangam started around 9990 BCE.


Skanda’s time, therefore, was 9990 BCE or 10,000 BCE, i.e., Skanda lived twelve thousand years ago, which coincided with the end of the Ice Age. It was only after that that the sun’s heat gradually began to increase, and the sun was called ‘Vivasvan’ in Vedic culture. This period is called Holocene by scientists, and during this period the population of the whole world began to grow and Vedic culture began to grow and take root. As culture grows, so does language. Tamil was started by Skandan. Sanskrit also developed. Another important point of Skanda’s history is that these two languages emerged and grew up together as inseparable sisters.




[1] In verse 367 of Purananuru, the poetess Auvaiyar praises the Pandyan King Ugra Peruva?uti who was seen along with the other kings, Chola and Chera. Perhaps that was the occasion of the Sangam Assembly. The Chola king Peru narkilli who did Rajasuya yajna was spotted along with Ugra Peruva?uti as per the poem. These two kings appear in Tiruvalangadu Copper plate inscriptions and Sinnamanur Copper plate inscriptions respectively. Auvaiyar, contemporary of Ugra Peruva?uti, was also a contemporary of Adiyaman Neduman Anji. This is known from the numerous verses she penned on him, now available in Tamil Sangam corpus. Neduman Anji’s time period has been established by epigraphers from Jambai inscriptions, to be around 200 BCE. Therefore, the date of the last Sangam assembly was around 200 BCE. However, I have given the lowest margin at the beginning of the Common Era.


[2]caturyu? sa maharaja bhoja indra sakho bali

     vidya balad yo vyajayat pa??ya krathaka kaisikan (Mahabharata 2.13.20)


[3] The composition must have been only in Tamil. The Sangam founded with the goal to promote grammatical Tamil had never entertained a composition from any other language.

(To be concluded …)

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