• Mohammed M Masood

Happy Ugadi - Happy Kannada New Year - Happy New Mauludi Year - Ramzan Mubarak

© 2021 Mohammed M Masood

As we welcome the year 1943 Plava on this day of 1st Chaitra (1) after the Amavasya or no moon on the new moon day today , unknown to many we are also welcoming the Mauludi new year 1449 Zartab on this day of 1st Ahmadi of the new moon day. It also happens to be the 01st Ramadhan (2) tonight the 9th month in the Islamic/Hijri Calendar of the year 1442 AH. Indeed, an overall very auspicious and joyous occasion.

The traditional ritual of eating neem & jaggery on Ugadi to remind people life is a mixture of bitterness and sweetness

India is a melting pot of cultures, a land of varied diversities in terms of beliefs, traditions, languages, religions, cultures, cuisines and even calendars.

From time immemorial man has tried to record time to track various things, observe rituals, know festivals, mark occasions, events, know onset of seasons for harvesting/farming, determine holidays, know his age and some to even determine and predict their future!

By and large most calendars around the world are based on astronomical calculations and can be classified into three categories – solar, lunar and luni-solar calendars. Solar calendar is based on the time taken by the earth to make one revolution around the sun. An example would be the Gregorian Calendar which is followed today across the world. This was initially the Julian calendar which after the reform by Pope Gregory X111 became the Gregory Calendar (3). However, the Julian calendar is also in use today and is also a solar calendar (4).

The lunar calendar on the other hand is based on the time taken by the moon to orbit the earth. which is approximately 29 and half days – it is therefore common for lunar months to have either 29 or 30 days in a month. An example of a pure lunar calendar is the Hijri or Islamic calendar (5) which is always 10-11 days shorter than the solar calendar, therefore you see the Islamic festivals occurring in all seasons of the year over a period of time. It is like a moving window.

Then we have the luni-solar calendar where the months are based on the moon (lunar months) but the year is based on the sun (solar year). These calendars have the concept of intercalary days or months to harmonize it with the solar year. An example of this would be the various Hindu calendars followed in different parts of India, the Jewish or the Hebrew calendar is another example of a luni-solar calendar. We have the concept of Adhika Masa or extra month in our Kannada calendar to sync it with the solar year. Therefore we see Ugadi arriving in April this year instead of March like it did the last year (6).

It is again worth noting that within the luni-solar calendars there are two types as how the solar year is defined – tropical (sun’s movement from one spring equinox to the next) as in case of the Jewish Calendar or sidereal (from one star back to the same star again) as in the case of different Hindu calendars (7).

Our Hindu Calendar is a luni-solar calendar based on both the sun as well as the moon. It is based on solar year, but has 12 lunar months. This calendar is popularly known as the Panchang since it is based on 5 elements – Vaara (days of the week), Thithi (lunar day), Nakshatra (stars), Karana (half lunar day) and Yoga (luni-solar day). All these are based on complex calculations and movements of the celestial bodies in the space – especially the position of moon, sun and the various stars (8).

The Hindu calendar is very interesting and at the same time quiet complex based on different astronomical calculations. It is also used for astrological purposes as well - to determine auspicious times based on the position of the sun, moon and various stars at different times. It is from this calendar that the horoscopes are made which even today is the one of the most important determinable factor for majority of the marriages in India. From starting new businesses, to performing pujas, house warming ceremonies, even the time of marriage, the muhurta trading, etc are all decided based on this calendar.

Getting back our National calendar is the Shalivahana Shaka which is used along the Vikram Samvat calendar. The Vikram Samvat is mainly used by communities in Northern India. Even though the Shalivahana Shaka is our National Calendar but for all practical reasons and purposes it is the Gregorian Calendar and its dates used to conduct all official business (9).

One can download the official copy of the Rashtriya Panchang from the website of Indian Metrological Department. (10)

The year officially begins after the full moon therefore today is not the new year as per the official Indian calendar but was about 15 days back. However, our Kannada calendar like most South Indian calendars’ starts with the new moon unlike in North India which starts from the full moon. Therefore, today is the new year in Karnataka, Telangana, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, etc (11).

However, what is this Mauludi Calendar!

It is a shame that most of us don’t know how to read our official/regional calendar and it was only very recently that I developed interest in it as a result of my numismatic hobby however I am far from knowing how exactly the Panchang works.

It could be true that very few know of us know about the Hindu Calendar however unknown to many this Hindu calendar was replicated and made into an Islamic or Muslim calendar by one of the most famous rulers from South India – Tipu Sultan.

Tipu Sultan liked to experiment with things – he used to like to meddle with everything around him – the calendar too didn’t escape his attention. In the 5th year of his reign, he introduced the Mauludi Calendar (12). The Hijri calendar being a lunar calendar was not aligned to the harvesting season nor was it easy to predict and plan future events with it as the Hijri lunar months have no fixed days which made it difficult for Tipu since he was extremely systematic in his planning (13).

A copper coin of Tipu from the 04th year of his reign dated in Hijri era 1200 AH.

Mint Calicut. Img: Author's personal collection.

A copper coin of Tipu from the 05th year of his reign dated in Mauludi era 1215 AM.

Mint Patan. Img: Author's personal collection. Note with the Mauludi date the numbering is from right to left unlike the Hijri year which is written from left to right.

Another factor was that Tipu realized that if he collected taxes based on the lunar calendar it will be unfair to his farmers in the long run since, they would pay tax for an additional year without doing any harvesting as the harvesting is based on the solar tropical year. Tipu had introduced a number of land reforms for the benefit of the peasants for he realized that the welfare of his state lay in the welfare of its economy and ultimately in the welfare of farmers. Tipu was most brutal to his enemies but at the same time very caring for his population especially that of Mysore.

This fact was well acknowledged by the British and they had the following to say after the fall of Mysore :

When a person travelling through a strange country finds it well cultivated, populous with industrious inhabitants; cities newly founded, commerce extending, towns increasing and everything flourishing so as to indicate happiness, he will naturally conclude it to be under a form of Government congenial to the minds to the people. This is a picture of Tippoo’s country and this is our conclusion respecting its Government”. Lieutenant Edward Moor from his personal survey and experience wrote in his A Narrative of the Operations of Captain Little’s Detachment (14) .

Therefore, with the above factors in mind Tipu introduced the Mauludi era in his 05th regal year where the year was based from the year of birth of the Prophet unlike the year of migration as with the Hijri calendar (15).

In the long history of Muslim kings in India only two kings had meddled with the calendar – Akbar and Tipu. Akbar introduced his calendar in the 30th year of his reign and commenced the era of his calendar from the year of his accession and called it the Illahi calendar (16).

His calendar was simply a copy of the Persian Calendar that was already in use with no or little innovation – from the names of the months, days, etc nothing was different apart from the name of the calendar itself. It was a solar calendarlike the Persian Calendar. He also faced the wrath and very strong opposition from the Muslim clerics for his adoption of this calendar.

An extremely rare copper coin of Tipu from his Patan dated in Mauludi era 1222 AM.

The name of his calendar written observe ''Maulud e Muhammad''. A clever move from Tipu which avoided the opposition of clerics which Akbar had to face.

Img: Author's personal collection.

Where the Illahi calendar was simple and based on the solar calendar. Tipu’s Mauludi calendar was way more complex and it was not as simple as copying the Kannada calendar for Tipu gave his owns flavor to it and made it as complex if not more as the Panchang itself.

Tipu also adopted the Jovian cycle or Barhaspatya-Maana - the 60 Jovian years based on the zodiac position of the planet Jupiter. Each has a unique name in the Hindu calendar. Also the concept of the intercalary months or Adhika Masa was adopted but unlike the Hindu calendar where these months were added by the Hindus towards the end of the year, Tipu Sultan added them in the beginning (17).

In naming his calendar months and thenames for the 60 years Tipu used the two systems of numeration known as Abjad and Abtath. In both these systems the 28 letters of the Arabic alphabet are given a numeral value, this system was originally used for the Hebrew letters (18).

One can refer to the Geo P Taylor book Coins of Tipu Sultan to understand his calendar in detail. As the book was published in 1914 it is no longer under copyright and I have added the section on his calendar here for those who are interested to learn and study his calendar in detail (19).

Tipu's Calendar Taylor
Download PDF • 4.31MB

Other notable references to study his calendar are Select Letters of Tipu Sultan to various Public Functionaries by William Kirkpatrick , Coins of Tipu Sultan by William Marsden both Tipu's contemporaries and Dawn of a new Era: Tipu Sultan and his Mauludi Calendar by Nidhin Olikara (20) (21) (22) .

One can also look at the comparison of Tipu’s Mauludi Calendar with the Kannada Calendar from the following link (23) :

Tipu preferred the use of the Mauludi calendar over the Hijri calendar as can be seen with the with his correspondence , the replacement of Hijri era with the Mauludi era on his coinage, his official instructions, even recording his DOB in the Mauludi era instead of the Hijri era, interestingly his DOB is recorded incorrectly in the Hijri era as recently discovered by research scholar Nidhin Olikara who is in the process of shortly presenting an important paper on this (24).

Interestingly the letters written by Tipu Sultan to the then Shankaracharya Sri Sacchidananda Bharati III (1770 – 1814) of Sringeri Mutt have both the Kannada and the Mauludi dates written on them (25).

A letter of Tipu Sultan to the Shankaracharya, the late Dr. A . K Shastry discovered over 3 dozen of these letters written by Tipu in the possession of the Mutt. His royal emblem with the word 'Bismillah' written inside the Sun.

The reason for this preference apart from the aforementioned reasons was that Tipu had very well understood the working of the Hindu calendar from which he had invented his Mauludi calendar – he not only knew about the astronomical movements of the stars but also the corresponding astrological significance behind the position of the stars – this is very well elucidated in the Persian stone plaque found during the excavation work at the time of the construction of the KRS dam which was the brainchild of Tipu (26) and is now put up at the entrance of the dam.

The translation of the Persian inscription on the plaque is as follows (27):

IN THE NAME OF GOD, THE COMPASSIONATE, THE MERCIFUL On the 29th of month Taqi of the solar year Shadab 1221. One thousand two hundred and twenty one. Dating from Mowlood of Muhammed (may his soul rest in peace) on Monday at dawn before sunrise under the auspices of the planet Venus, in the constellation Tarus, Hazrath Tippoo Sultan the shadow of God, the Lord, the bestower of gifts laid the foundation of the Mohyi Dam across the river Cauvery to the west of the capital. By the grace of God and the assistance of the Holy Prophet the Caliph of the worlds, and the Emperor of the Universe. The start is from me but its completion rests with God.
On the day of commencement the planets, Moon, Sun, Venus, Neptune, were in the sign Aries in a lucky conjunction.
By the help of God, the most high, may the above mentioned Dam remain till the day of resurrection like the fixed Stars. The money amounting to several lakhs which the God-given government have spent is solely in the service of God. Apart from the old cultivations, any one desirous of newly cultivating the arable land, should in the name of God be exempted from various kinds of production whether of corn or fruits, of the one fourth part levied generally from other subjects. He will only have to pay 3/4 of it to the benign government. He who newly cultivates the arable land, himself, his posterity and other relatives will be the masters of the above as long as earth & heaven endure. If any persons were to cause any obstruction or be a preventer of this perpetual benevolence, such an inhuman being is to be regarded as the enemy of man-kind, as the accursed satan, and sperma hommis of those cultivators’ nay of the entire creation.

To conclude I would say that the Mauludi Calendar is as complex and mystifying as the personality of Tipu Sultan.

However the message of Unity in Diversity is brought forth by it where both communities of Hindus and Muslims can celebrate this day together and with this I again wish everyone a very Happy New Year – Ugadi as well as Mauludi.

© 2021 Mohammed M Masood

Notes & References:

  1. [ , accessed on 12/04/2021]

  2. [ , accessed on 12/04/2021]

  3. Mohammed M Masood, When the Calendar Jumped Days - A brief narrative of the Gregorian Calendar [ , accessed on 12/04/2021]

  4. L. E. Doggett, Calendars [ , accessed on 12/04/2021]

  5. ibid

  6. ibid

  7. Editors, Anaadi Foundation, Indian Calendar Part 2: The basis of day, month and year [ , accessed on 12/04/2021]

  8. Editors, [ , accessed on 12/04/2021]

  9. Editors, [ , accessed on 12/04/2021]

  10. India Meteorological Department, Rashtriya Panchang [ , accessed on 12/04/2021

  11. Editors, , North Indian and South Indian Lunar Months [ ]

  12. Geo.P.Taylor, The Coins of Tipu Sultan

  13. Mohammed M Masood, Mirror into Character: Tipu Sultan and his Coinage, Coin News March 2018 pp 49-50

  14. Edward Moor, A narrative of the operations of captain little's detachment

  15. Geo.P.Taylor, The Coins of Tipu Sultan

  16. Danish Moin, Coinage of Haidar Ali and Tipu Sultan. A Typological Study

  17. Geo.P.Taylor, The Coins of Tipu Sultan

  18. ibid

  19. ibid

  20. William Kirkpatrick, Select Letters of Tippoo Sultan to Various Public Functionaries

  21. William Marsden, Numismata Orientalia Illustrata. The Oriental Coins, ancient and modern, of his Collection, described and historically illustrated pp 699-725

  22. Nidhin Olikara, Dawn of a new Era: Tipu Sultan and his Mauludi Calendar [ , accessed on 12/04/2021]

  23. Vishvas Vasuki, [ , accessed on 12/04/2021]

  24. Nidhin Olikara, A re-examination of Tipu Sultan’s date of birth as per the date specified by himself and presenting an online Mysorean Mauludi calendar , Unpublished

  25. Dr. A.K. Shastry, The Records of the Sringeri Dharmasamsthana

  26. Vikram Sampath, Splendors of Royal Mysore p.328

  27. Chandan Gowda, The secure selves of the past [ , accessed on 12/04/2021]


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