The Saka era or the Shaka era is an ancient Indian calendar system that is believed to have been founded by the Scythians, a nomadic Indo-Iranian people who migrated to India during the 2nd century BC. The Saka era was widely used in ancient India, and it is still used in some parts of the country today. In this article, we will take a closer look at the Saka era, its history, and its significance.
What is Saka Era?
The Saka era is a traditional Hindu calendar system that is based on the lunar months. It is believed to have been founded by the Scythians, who migrated to India during the 2nd century BC.
The Saka era is based on the ancient Indian astronomical system, and it is used to determine the dates of various Hindu festivals and ceremonies. The Saka era is also used in official documents in some parts of India.
Saka Era Calendar
The Saka era calendar is a lunisolar calendar system that is used in India. The calendar is based on the position of the moon and the sun, and it is used to determine the dates of various Hindu festivals and ceremonies. The Saka era calendar has twelve lunar months, and each month is divided into two fortnights (Paksha). The first fortnight is called the Shukla Paksha, and the second fortnight is called the Krishna Paksha.
|Saka Samvat||Gregorian Calendar|
|Chhaitra||March 21 – April 20|
|Vaishakha||April 21-May 21|
|Jyeshtha||May 22-June 21|
|Ashadha||June 22- July 22|
|Shravana||July 23-August 22|
|Bhaadra||August 22-September 22|
|Ashwin||September 23-October 22|
|Kartika||October 23-November 21|
|Agrahayana||November 22-December 21|
|Pausha||December 22-January 20|
|Magha||January 21- February 19|
|Phalguna||February 20-March 20/21|
Some important facts about the Saka calendar:-
- The Saka calendar is an ancient calendar system used in India and Southeast Asia.
- It is a lunisolar calendar, meaning it takes into account both the phases of the moon and the solar year.
- The calendar starts on the first day of the month of Chaitra, which usually falls in March or April according to the Gregorian calendar.
- The Saka calendar has 12 months, each with either 29 or 30 days.
- The extra month is added to the calendar in leap years to keep it in sync with the solar year.
- The calendar is still used in some parts of India, particularly by some Hindu communities, for religious and cultural purposes.
- The Saka calendar is also used as the official calendar in some Southeast Asian countries, including Indonesia and Thailand.
- The Saka era, which starts with the beginning of the Saka calendar, is used as a chronological reference in some parts of India and Nepal.
|UPSC Exam-Related Study Notes|
|Anglo-Maratha War||16 Mahajanapadas|
Shakas – Rulers
The Shakas were nomadic people who migrated from Central Asia to India during the 2nd century BC. They established a powerful empire in northwestern India and ruled over the region for several centuries. The Shakas were known for their military prowess, and they were feared by their enemies. They were also great patrons of art and culture, and their influence can be seen in the art and architecture of ancient India.
|Maues||85-60 BCE||Established the Shaka kingdom in northwestern India|
|Azes I||60-20 BCE||Consolidated the Shaka kingdom and expanded its territory|
|Vonones||20-10 BCE||Son of Azes I, possibly ruled jointly with his father|
|Strato I||10 BCE-10 CE||Possibly ruled jointly with his father Vonones|
|Strato II||25-65 CE||Ruled over a divided Shaka kingdom|
|Kshatrapa Nahapana||1st century CE||Established the Western Kshatrapa dynasty after overthrowing the Shakas|
|Chashtana||78 CE – 130 CE||Nahapana was succeeded by King Chashtana.|
|Rudradaman I||2nd century CE||Re-established Shaka rule briefly before being defeated by the Satavahanas|
|Jayadaman||3rd century CE||Ruled over a small Shaka kingdom in Gujarat|
The decline of the Shakas
- The Shakas faced several challenges in the form of invasions, internal conflicts, and economic instability.
- The expansion of the Kushan Empire in the 1st century CE posed a significant threat to the Shakas, as the Kushans competed for control over the region and established their dominance.
- The Western Kshatrapas, who were originally subordinates of the Shakas, revolted against them in the 1st century CE and established their own dynasty.
- The Satavahanas, a powerful dynasty in southern India, also challenged Shaka rule and defeated the Shakas in several battles.
- The Gupta Empire, which emerged in the 4th century CE, gradually expanded its territory and incorporated the former Shaka kingdom into its domain.
- The decline of trade along the Silk Road, which was a major source of revenue for the Shakas, also contributed to their decline.
- The adoption of Buddhism by some Shaka rulers, particularly in the later period, may have caused resentment among the Hindu majority and contributed to social unrest.
- By the 5th century CE, the Shakas had largely disappeared as a distinct political entity, although some remnants of Shaka rule persisted in small kingdoms and vassal states in the region.
Saka Era Short Note for UPSC
The Shaka era (Saka Era) is an important topic for the UPSC (Union Public Service Commission) examination in India, as it is a part of Indian history and culture. Candidates who are preparing for the UPSC examination are expected to have a good understanding of Indian history, including the Shaka era.
|Definition||The Saka Era is a historical era used as a chronological reference in some parts of India and Nepal. It starts with the beginning of the Saka calendar, which is believed to have been established by the Shaka king, Maues, in 78 CE.|
|Year 0||The year 0 of the Saka Era corresponds to 78 CE in the Gregorian calendar.|
|Usage||The Saka Era is used as an official calendar in some states of India, including Maharashtra, and is used in some government documents and records. It is also used in some religious and cultural contexts, particularly by some Hindu communities.|
|Conversion||To convert a date from the Saka Era to the Gregorian calendar, subtract 78 from the Saka year and add 78 to the Gregorian year. For example, the Saka year 1945 corresponds to the Gregorian year 2023 (1945 – 78 + 2023 = 2890).|
|Criticism||The use of the Saka Era has been criticized for being ethnocentric and exclusionary, as it is based on the history and culture of a particular region and community. Some have argued that it perpetuates a divisive and sectarian mindset and should be replaced by a more inclusive and universal system.|