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New Release: Nakkhattapadāni (Stars/Asterisms) and Basic Buddhist Calendrics—A Simplified Guide

Greetings in Dhamma,
I would like to briefly introduce and share another work that was finalized recently.

The purpose of this work is to provide a basis for the theoretical knowledge of and practical compliance with the Buddha’s vinaya rule regarding the stars/asterisms (nakkhattāni) and cardinal directions (disā). It is incumbent upon wilderness-dwelling bhikkhus to possess at least some degree of learning as it relates to these. It also aims at demonstrating, with pertinence to all bhikkhus, how to calculate the half-months (pakkhā) and determine the seasons (utū) – by and large independent of technological assistance – tendering ample illustrations and simple mathematical formulas for that end.

The paper provides answers to the following questions:

  • What is the vinaya-legal situation regarding an acquaintance with the stars/asterisms for bhikkhus based upon the Pāḷi canon, its commentaries and sub-commnetaries and, to a lesser extent, the Chinese canon?
  • What kind of calendar was used by the early Buddhist saṅgha and what is its predecessor?
  • How does one navigate and tell the time of the night by means of the stars/asterisms, without any assistance from modern technology (vinaya requirement)?
  • What makes a calendar Buddhist?
  • Did the Buddhist count the months and seasons always from full moon to full moon (pūrṇimānta scheme), or is there any evidence in Pāḷi literature to suggest that they counted from new moon to new moon (amānta scheme)?
  • What season marks the beginning of the Buddhist year and how long does the Buddhist era last?
  • How does one calculate the fortnights of the lunar months to tell which pātimokkha comes next and which No. it is in the season without technological assistance?
  • How does one calculate the extra days and months (adhikavāra and adhikamāsa) to be inserted occasionally to keep the lunar year in sync with the solar year, again, without any technological assistance?
  • What are the 27/28 stars/asterisms the Buddha was talking about?

Mettā 2u!
A. Bhikkhu

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