Thursday, March 22, 2012

Vontikoppal Panchanga.

[click to enlarge]
Cover and first page of our copy of Sri Nandana Samvatsara Mysore Panchanga, valid from tomorrow 23.3.2012 to 10.4.2013.  The cover comes ready laminated since a few years!

Vontikoppal Panchanga - Five generations of expertise in Almanac

[From Star of Mysore: 22-3-2012 - Feature Articles]

Caption: Siddanthi Tammaiah Shastry, Siddanthi T.V. Krishna Shastry, Siddanthi V. Ramakrishna Shastry, Siddanthi R. Kumar, Siddanthi K. Mohan

By M.S. Apuurva

Most of us will have memories of our childhood with our grandfathers reading from a book full of tables and text in small font, which we could never understand. The ease with which they would decipher the information in the book remained a mystery to us. The book — Panchanga — has been a part of Hindu household since ages and no ritual is held without referring to it.

During Ugadi (tomorrow), which marks the start of a new Hindu year, it is a tradition to read Panchanga (Panchanga Shravanam). The Panchanga reveals the forces that will rule various aspects of life in the coming year. This forecast deals with the transition and effect of constellations on the social life of people. It is a belief that those who read the Panchanga as well as those who listen will be rid of their sins and blessed with a long, prosperous and happy life.

Panchanga's importance

Dharma plays a very vital role in Indian culture. Sages have allotted a specific time for every work (rituals) and this is defined in Dharma Shastra. Unlike in western traditions wherein for example, Dec. 25 every year is celebrated as Christmas, in Hindu customs, every festival has a fixed start time. Every ritual, be it naming or house-warming ceremony, must compulsorily be carried out within the designated span of time. This calculation of time is done using Panchanga. In simple words, the five attributes of Panchanga (Pancha-Anga) are: Vara – Time from one sunrise to the next sunrise; Tithi – It is the distance between the sun and moon; Nakshatra – It is the movement of the moon; Yoga – It involves the movement of both sun and moon; Karna – It is half of Tithi. The Pancha-nga has two systems — Chandramana and Souramana. The former is calculated based on the moon and the 12 months span from Chaitra to Phalguni, the latter is based on sun with the 12 months where sun travels from Mesha rashi to Kumbha.

Consisting of complex calculations mainly based on spherical trigonometry, Panchanga is propounded with the theories in Surya Siddantha. It is said that demon Maya meditated and Surya appeared before him to grant him a wish. Maya asked Surya to explain all the effects of the movement of Sun. Surya explained them through Sanskrit Shlokas. This was followed by Vakya, Aryabhatiya Siddantha and Dru Ganita (western). Vakya is followed by Tamilians and those who follow Souramana system; Aryabhatiya is used by Vaishnavas; Dru Ganita is mainly followed by people of South Kanara and Surya Siddantha by the remainder of Karnataka.

Vontikoppal Panchanga

One family from city has the pride of writing and printing Pan-changa continuously for the past 126 years. The Vontikoppal Panchanga, as it came to be known, was started by Siddanthi Tammaiah Shastry in 1887-88. Presently, the fifth generation of the family is carrying on the work.

Over the years, Vontikoppal Panchanga has been widely used across Karnataka and even abroad. When asked the reason for this popularity, Siddanthi R. Kumar says, "Ours is the only Panchanga in the world to print information in detail. We print according to all four categories — Surya Siddantha, Aryabhatiya Siddantha, Vakya and Dru Ganita — along with Chandramana and Souramana systems. Presently my son K. Manohar and I are its authors and my father is the verifier. Its printing has not stopped since it was first started by my great great grandfather."

The Vontikoppal Panchanga has been accepted as the official Panchanga by the Government of Karnataka. The dates for all utsavs under Muzrai Department and govt. holidays are given by the family during June-July and the gazette notification is given during October.

Five generations of expertise

Siddanthi Tammaiah Shastry: This panchanga was started by him. He was born in 1862 at Agara of Yalandur and started learning astrology, literature, philosophy and dharma shastra from the age of eight years. He became the President of Sri Chamarajeshwara Sanskrit Pathashala, Chamarajanagar, in 1914. During 1887-88, he started writing the panchanga and printing it in Madras. In 1925, he was named as the Asthana Vidwan by Nalwadi Krishnaraja Wadiyar. In 1942, Jayachamaraja Wadiyar honoured him with the title Jyotishya Ratna and presented a golden bracelet. For 38 years he published the Panchanga before he passed away in 1944.

Siddanthi T.V. Krishna Shastry: Born in 1892, he learnt medicine, astrology, literature and Veda from his father. In 1932, Nalwadi Krishnaraja Wadiyar appointed him as the Head Master of Vontikoppal Middle School and requested him to compile Vakya Panchanga for the Palace. Since he resided in Vontikoppal, the Panchanga got its name. He passed away in 1946.

Siddanthi V. Ramakrishna Shastry: Born in 1918, he continued the publication for 80 years after the death of his father. He set up a press in city for printing the Panchanga. He was also the Hon. Member of American Astronomical Society. He retired after his son took over the responsibility.

Siddanthi R. Kumar: Born in 1950 at Kanuru, Hassan, he practiced law for a few years. He started learning from his father since the age of 14 years and lent a hand with the Panchanga since 1965. In 1980, he set up Bhagirathi Printers in memory of his mother. He started printing using offset method and recently shifted to web offset.

Siddanthi K. Mohan: Has been learning Sanskrit, astrology and panchanga calculation from his father since childhood and is presently helping his father with the preparation and printing.

When asked why no daughter of the family had continued the tradition, Kumar said, "It is not the question of son or daughter. Learning this knowledge should come in one's horoscope. I have two brothers and four sisters but only I could continue this."

American Panchanga

Vontikoppal Panchanga is the first in the world to bring out a Panchanga exclusively for America. "Many Mysoreans living in America would take this Panchanga. But this cannot be used to prepare horoscope there. Hence I started preparing one according to America latitude and longitude in 2001. Since America has 10 zones along with daylight saving, I have prepared this for New York City and have given conversions for other places," says Kumar.

Publications: Apart from Panchanga, they also print pocket calendars, wall calendars, Ready Reckoner and Muhurtha Manjari. The Ready Reckoner Nitya Kundali Mattu Grahasputa is for professionals who write horoscope, etc. Muhurtha Manjari is an advanced Panchanga. It helps in fixing dates one year in advance. The work usually begins during June-July. Their press is presently located in Hebbal Industrial Area. The printing and sales is completed one month prior to Ugadi. "We need 6 to 7 months to prepare the Panchanga. We don't use any software or computer and rely only on hand calculation," says Kumar.

Panchanga can never be repeated

"Some allege that the same Panchanga published some 100 years back is repeated. But this is impossible because the position, speed and distance of stars will keep vary hence changing our calculations. We can never use the same Panchanga and write for another year," says Kumar.

"If you want to check its accuracy, then the position of the moon or the occurrence of eclipse can be tallied with that mentioned in the Panchanga," he adds.

Today, Vontikoppal Panchanga has become a household name in Mysore and across the State. Let us hope that the tradition is carried forward by the family for generations to come. [Kumar and Manohar can be contacted on e-mail:]

SOM was printed here

Remembering the time when Star of Mysore office was in Saraswathipuram, Kumar says, "On two or three occasions, when there was power failure at SOM office just before the paper was printed, it was brought to us for printing. Both had the same Mercedes printing press and it was a time when SOM sister publication Mysooru Mithra was yet to be started."

Sunday, March 14, 2010



By Prof. A.V. Narasimha Murthy, former Head, Department of Ancient History & Archaeology,University of Mysore.

(Star of Mysore, 14.3.2010)

From the past 1,200 years, ever since Sri Adi Shankara established a Mutt at Sringeri, 36 pontiffs have adorned that Mutt without any break. Of these 36 pontiffs, it was a pleasant surprise that Mysore city has just contributed only one Swamiji for this great religious institution. That was the 33rd Jagadguru famous Sri Sachchidananda Sivabhinava Narasimha Bharati (1858-1912).

Kunigal Ramasastry was a great Sanskrit scholar patronised by Maharaja Krishnaraja Wadiyar III. To him was born a boy by name Shivaswamy. After the death of Ramasastry, the boy was taken care of by his elder brother by giving good education. This boy attracted the attention the pontiff Ugra Narasimha Bharati, famous for austere meditation. The Commissioner Bowring wanted to test his capacity for mediation. One day at 1 am, he came to the temple without being noticed by the Swamiji and saw the pontiff immersed in deep meditation. He showed his respect to the monk by removing his hat and quietly left the temple.

The Swamiji decided to take Shivaswamy as the junior pontiff, but the elder brother did not agree to this proposal. But the Maharaja intervened in the matter and Shivaswamy became the junior pontiff of Sringeri peetha. Normally the rituals are held at Sringeri but in this case, it was done at the Lakshmi Venkataramana temple in the palace (where the priest had tried to poison King Raja Wadiyar 300 years ago), in 1867.

The Swamiji practiced Raja Yoga and became proficient in it. As per the tradition of Sringeri Mutt he undertook tours to various parts of the country preaching moral and spiritual values of this ancient land. On such an occasion, he visited Talacauvery in Kodagu and worshipped the goddess Cauvery with gold coins. He went to Travancore in Kerala and stayed with king Setupathi. The king brought to Swamiji's notice that during Dasara one thousand animals are being sacrificed to the goddess Rajarajeswari and he had failed to stop this obnoxious practice. Swamiji called the leaders of the city and explained to them that goddess cannot be propitiated by killing animals and in fact it is a sinful act. The people accepted this advice and took an oath of not sacrificing animals. The Swamiji achieved what the Maharaja could not.

It was known to everybody that Kaladi was the birth place of Sri Adi Shankara. But in these 1000 years, people had lost touch and familiarity with that holy place and hence some undesirable elements had usurped that area in the absence of proper claimant to the birth place of Shankara. Swamiji made a lot of exploration and research with the help of scholars and officers and identified the places where Adi Shan-kara lived with his mother, the spot where Poorna river took a turn at the behest of Adi Shankara, the place where Acharya Shan-kara cremated his mother etc.

Temples for Adi Shankara and goddess Sharadamba were built by him. Thus he rediscovered the birth place of Adi Shankara at Kaladi. In this connection, an incident may be narrated here. Half a century ago, a German lady by name Greiger wrote to the Indian Ambassador in that country asking for some details regarding Kaladi. The ignorant Ambassador's staff wrote a reply stating that Kaladi is near a petty Railway Station in Kerala.

People had confused opinion regarding the correct birthday (Jayanti) of Acharya Shankara. The Swamiji, after doing a lot of calculations with the help of scholars, fixed the correct date and asked the devotees to celebrate Shankara Jayanti on a particular day. This is being followed by all the institutions both in India and abroad.

Acharya Shankara is famous for the commentaries (bhashyas) on Vedic literature (Prasthanatraya). They was not easily available to the readers as they were not printed at all. Swamiji asked the famous Vanivilas Printers and Publishers at Srirangam to take up this great task. They agreed and for the first time in Shankara's commentaries were printed and made available to readers.

Swamiji was an educationist too. He started a Sanskrit school in Sringeri (Sadvidya Sanjivani) and also one at Bangalore. In addition, he built the Shankara Mutt at Bangalore which has completed centenary. Swamiji felt that the Sharadamba temple at Sringeri was inadequate for the ever-increasing devotees. Architects and sculptors from Chettinad came forward to build the new Sharadamba temple and it was built. That is the temple we see now at Sringeri. But the pontiff could not see its inauguration in 1916 by his successor Sri Chandrashekara Bharati.
Swamiji's name spread all over. Madanmohan Malaviya, architect of Banares Hindu University, requested the pontiff to lay the foundation stone for an arts college building at Kashi. Swamiji could not go but sent the wooden sandals (paduke) of his guru for that purpose. This is significant indeed ! Frazer, an Englishman who met this Swamiji, has said that it was his good fortune to have met him twice. Swamiji was adept in giving discourses in simple language to common people. He used to say, 'don't blame Britishers always for your failure,' 'don't blindly imitate the British but take whatever is good in them.'

In one of his discourses he called upon the people of higher castes to encourage the people of lower castes so that they can be equal partners in society. His another pet subject was to tell people to be content with whatever is available. Contentment makes our life happy. Swamiji attained mukthi in 1912.

Actually this Swamiji was born in old Agrahara where Shankara Mutt stands today. The Maharaja who was close to the Swamiji ordered that a temple be built which could be visible to him at all times. This Shankara Mutt with shrines for goddess Sharadamba, Adi Shankara and the Swamiji is like a mini Sringeri in Mysore. Thus an old Agrahara-born boy became a Jagadguru and brought laurels to Mysore city. He was a religious monk with a corporate culture.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Dream come true - of air travel

Had posted an entry on my 'aero memories' some time back. Now things got real, almost out of the blue. Thanks to the government's scheme of things, the dream of looking at the earth from above [not from a hill] got to fruition. I feasted my eyes from the window seat I chose each time on the 4 flights from Bangaluru to Kolkata to Bagdogra and back, but did not use the camera to click many pictures due to on-flight instructions. This one taken on way to Bagdogra was breathtaking - flying above the clouds. Felt like they were "cloud 9"! Huge balls of cotton hanging in the air and in their small gaps, a majestic unpolluted green-blue river was seen in its real beauty almost following us. It must have been River Teesta or Mahanadi.
At one time, not that flight, the preceding one was in an Airbus A320 and that was at one time at an altitude of 11,000 metres and the aircraft speed had crossed 700kph. View of the earth from up there was amazing.

Our further road travel was equally thrilling. Winding roads, uphill and down hill, curves and steep hairpin bends through the lovely hills took us to beautiful Gangtok. Subsequently, the tour organizers took us to Thukla, Chhangu lake, Darjeeling, Tiger Hills, Gangamaya Park, Darjeeling Zoo, Tea estates, Mirik and later to Kolkata. More of these in another place. Here are some pictures in this album: Image hosted by
by dinakarkr

Take a peek at my daughter's blog:

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Destiny in someone else's hands

[Hope you have visited that link]

It so happened that the Boss and my 'first choice person' above when they retired, were presented a scroll in the form of rhyming poems [scroll to see my post in this blog] at different times. I was much satisfied with the way both compilations happened!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Childhood Deepavali memories

After Dasara holidays it was Deepavali which we eagerly looked forward to when we were young, in the 1960s and early 70s. It was not solely for the chance to buy and enjoy fireworks, but it really meant a festive atmosphere everywhere. Such was the spirit.

It would begin with buying cloth lengths [cotton only] for all the male members in the family. For me and brother it was for a set of shirt and half pants to be stitched at Tailor Narayana Rao’s shop close to our house. Ready-mades were less preferred, though some shops sold them.
Then it was the purchase of fireworks with our grandfather. Our loudest sounding item was ‘elephant cracker’ with that Red Fort picture on the packet, which exploded with a tolerable sound and there was an odd one that fizzed too, much to our delight! We used to buy just a couple of chains of these but a lot more of those cheap ‘horse crackers’. These were much smaller. Some adventurous boys used to burst them holding in their fingers, while it was concealed into cigarette to explode at the lips – the seniors played this mischievous fun trick. So feeble were these. All crackers in the chain were separated to increase the number instead of burning chains at one go, so that we will have ‘more’ time to spend!

‘Atom bombs’ [now banned, but still manufactured and sold] were not much popular, though ‘Lakshmi cracker’ and ‘China chuvva’ [close equivalents] were bought by us in very small numbers as we grew older – a sense of promotion! But since I have always hated big noise, this was not an item on the list. But we enjoyed it from distant somewhere that reverberated in the city skies. Skies were so silent then, esp. before dawn, except for the disturbed crows and house sparrows [now gone from the region]. I was actually afraid to burst a cracker myself or being close to it!

For the two of us, the expense would be hardly twenty five or thirty rupees at the most. Compare it to the thousands that people spend now! We just bought a few crackers, some sparklers, match sticks, incense sticks [for igniting fireworks], flower pots, threadlike sparklers and ‘ground-wheels’. No rockets and other dangerous things. It was also a common thing to ask others ‘for how many rupees did you buy fireworks?’

The ladies of the house would clean all the copper vessels in the bath and fill with fresh water [24-hour supply then] the previous evening. Mother would exhibit her talent with rice-flour rangoli in front of the house – a beautiful pattern would be drawn. [See my 'crafts in the family' post in this blog - picture]. We were woken up at 4 a.m the next day for oil bath. Already, some cracker noise would be heard at a distance, envious we were not ‘first’ to burst. People were ready with all the enthusiasm to celebrate the festival. Special dishes for lunch, new clothes would be worn and fireworks played.

Boys were curious to know what other boys would burst. It was fun. People did not make much of a show by exchanging greetings for the festival like now. We have come to a state when we wish others on any day –‘Happy Independence day' or 'Happy Ganesh Festival' for example! I don’t remember they did that in the 1970s! Patriotism existed in greater spirit, than now, in spite of not greeting the fellow citizen!

Then, it was less people, less noise. The festival did not have a nuisance value generally. The sky did not choke. Now it chokes. More people, more show, more noise, more poison smoke, more of all the negatives! The festival-enjoyers show least concern to other neighbours or passers-by. The Police stipulate the time for bursting crackers. Yet, nobody listens or heeds to rules showing utter disregard to others in society. Bombs go up at anytime of the day or night with shocking intensity. Smoke fills the air and settles like fog, creating breathing problem esp. to the sensitive. Stars cannot be seen during the festival nights. Also, many accidents take place due to carelessness. It can be very painful. My young brother had burnt his fingers playing with ‘fire’. Accidents should not teach us, we should be forewarned.

There was one fire accident at a house on our Devaparthiva Road. We had been to the Dasara Exhibition [old building] in 1970 or so. By the time we returned home [by walk], we saw people gathered and fire engines standing. On one of the houses, hay was stacked [they owned a couple of cows] on the terrace and a rocket had started a fire. Luckily only a part of the house was gutted. We saw how the firemen worked for the first time.

Scientifically, they say that this festival of lights, Deepavali, is timed when insects are more after the monsoon rains. So this smoke, only when emanated in moderation, helps control the insects. But we are overdoing it to an extent of causing concern to human comfort and environmental pollution, leave alone the insects. It confuses birds and animals as well. Look at the amount of rockets and other colourful fireworks and the amount of poisonous smoke they leave behind.
Are we not harming our own environment in our own little ways? That is not what the previous generation left behind for us. At least now that it is being pointed scientifically the exact reasons for various climatic changes, let us be warned and act wisely. And leave behind, not smoke, but a better environment for the next generation to live in.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Analyses of Man and Woman

ANALYSIS OF MAN (purely in a lighter vein)

Symbol: MaW2 (Mighty, Almighty, Woman wooer)
Molecular weight: 55kg, equivalent to "Reference Woman" as defined by FAO/WHO Expert Group.
Origin: Darwin's Brain Trust!
Zoological name: Romeocca Mangentilus. Ima
Physical Properties: Short-tempered, egoistic, possessive, demanding. Wants to have the cake and eat it too! Always feels that grass is greener on the other side! Would like to have a submissive spouse!
Chemical Properties: Possesses great affinity towards fair sex. Blushes at ladies' attention. Turns violet when his girl talks to other Men! Turns white in trouble, tries to win hearts of other young girls that he is still attractive to the fair sex!!
Reaction: Acidic if challenged; Alkaline if ignored and neutral if necessary!!
Occurrence: Hopping around ladies' colleges and hostels. May also be found at the doors of theatres!
Uses: A good escort for defence of fair sex especially after night shows!
Caution: Unpredictable, Unsteady, breaker of hearts and mischier monger proving Darwin's theory!!
ANALYSIS OF A WOMAN (purely in a lighter vein)

Nomenclature: Woman
Symbol: Wo
Occurrence: Ubiquitous and abundant
Origin: Unknown
Size: Standard -- 42-24-36
Availability: In all sizes except the standard. Some are upside down to the standard.
Mass: 35-55 kgs.
Length: Between 1 and 2 metres

++Structural: Mostly petit frame with 75 % surface tension.
++Physical: At times highly dynamic, but no initiative in times of crises; possesses little strength and force; exhibits alpha, fronted by a better looking specimen.
++Chemical: boils at nothing and melts under sentimental conditions; freezes at sensitive moments, bitter by nature; violently reacts after a brief solitude and improper treatment leading to explosions; turns red even on a little provocation and becomes pale during crises.
++Conductivity: An equally good conductor of both love and hate.
++Thermal: Cold sentimentality under hot conditions and exaggerated sentimentality under cold conditions.

=Susceptibility: Systems:
Eyes- Susceptible near all saree and dress emporia
Ears- Susceptible to all fashionable earrings, earlocks, eardrops, etc.
Tongue- Susceptible to all gossip.
Nose- Susceptible to exotic smells.
Mouth- Susceptible to all pickles in general
Mind- Highly susceptible under sentimental conditions. Very high infatuation towards gold, silver, etc., and invitations.

- General- An ornamental piece fit for an ivory tower; acts as a tonic when judiciously used, otherwise a non-reversible poison even in sub-lethal doses. An accelerator of spirit and simian enthusiasm even among ascetics.
- Economic- Rise in value under speculative conditions, increases demand, and fall in value decreases demand, a paradox in economic parlance. An instrument for equitable distribution of wealth; acts as an effective income reducing agent. An article of ostentation and possesses snob-appeal. A popular bait in all shops and supermarkets to net the victims.
- Caution- Beware of feminine wits and potentialities. Stop, look twice, listen and recede. 660 V. Inexperienced hands should neither touch nor feel. Never try to find the origin. A cul-de-sac. A land of no return.
[Reproduced from a club souvenir, unknown compiler]

Secret Answers in our rooms!

This was an e-mail forward some time back. I have saved it, because of its true worth. Look at the comparison with the objects that we actually have in our rooms everyday, yet they go unnoticed! Worthy reminders to become better!