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The Six Seasons - Part One

by Freedom Cole December, 2015

Author's Note: This begins a three part article giving insight into the traditional six Vedic seasons. In my previous article about the zodiac, I compared its seasonal and stellar correspondences. Here, we explore the seasons to understand the tropical zodiac, before later going into the stars. Here, we aim to get a deep felt-connection to the seasons on a physical, emotional and astronomical level.

Chakra Wheel of the Seasons

Rtu Chakra Wheel of the Seasons by Freedom Cole

In Charaka Saṁhitā1, the year is divided into two halves, each divided into three portions of two months.

The solar half of the year is from winter solstice to summer solstice. It is called the northward course (uttarāyana2) where the days of the Sun lengthen.

The lunar half of the year is from summer solstice to winter solstice, and is called the southward course (dakṣināyana) where the nights of the Moon lengthen.

Charaka divides each half-year into three seasons, making the six traditional Indian seasons.3 Each of these seasons is divided into two seasonal months.

Two Halves of the Year

The two halves of the year can easily be described as being divided by the two solstices. In this context, uttara means north (or upwards) and ayana means roadway, or course. Dakṣiṇa means south (or rightside). The two halves are called the southern and northern course of the Sun respectively.

In the image below, 4 the Sun rises at 30° southeast on the winter solstice. At the equinox it rises at directly 90° east. On the summer solstice it rises at 60° northeast. On each day of the northerly course (Uttarāyana), it rises more and more towards the north. After the summer solstice, the Sun begins to rise more towards the south each day, which creates the southerly course (Dakṣiṇāyana). The movement of the Sun in these two directions creates two astronomical halves of the year. 5

Uttarāyana is also the Sun’s movement from its lowest point in the sky (closest to Earth) at the winter solstice, towards its highest point in the sky at the summer solstice. Dakṣiṇāyana is the opposite motion, where the Sun becomes lower and lower in the sky. In Uttarāyana, shadows get shorter as the Sun gets higher in the sky. In Dakṣiṇāyana, shadows get longer as the Sun gets lower and has more of an angle to create shadows. The shadow length can be observed on a sundial, and indicates the day of the month. As the shadow shortens, our outward nature grows. As the shadow lengthens, the internal - emotional world grows. This cycle relates to the breath of the year. Uttarāyana is the exhalation, while Dakṣiṇāyana is the inhalation. The exhalation takes us outward and the inhalation brings us within. The solstices are the points in between the in and out breaths.

Seasons (Ṛtu)


Sun (Agneya)

Śiśira: Cold Season


Vasanta: Spring


Grīṣma: Summer



Moon (Saumya)

Varṣa: Rainy Season6


Śarad: Autumn


Hemanta: Winter


Each half-year is divided into three seasons (ṛtu). Half the seasons are solar, and half are lunar. These seasons are particular to Southeast Asia, but the way of looking at them can deepen the way we look at seasons anywhere. Spring (vasanta) marks the head of the year and lasts approximately 60 days. It is followed by Summer (grīśma), which is extremely hot in Asia. After this come the warm rains in the Rainy Season (varṣa). This is followed by the Autumn (śarad), which is a time of harvest. Then comes the first phase of Winter, called hemanta , followed by the second phase called śiśira. These two phases together are often called Winter, and the Cold, or Cool, Season.

In the Vedic period, deities ruled each of the seasons, and they were called on during prayers. Spring is ruled by the Vasus (the shining ones); Summer by the Rudras (destruction gods); and the Rainy Season by the Ādityas (creative potency of the forms of the Sun). Autumn is ruled by the Viśvadevas (universal principles), and the Winter seasons are ruled by the Maruts (wind gods). 7 In the Atharvaveda, the deities of the seasons were invoked in prayer, while later the seasons themselves were invoked. After the invocation of the seasons in the Taittirīya Saṁhitā (VII.1.18.1-2), the worshipper says:

“Holy order have I placed upon truth; truth have I placed upon holy order.” 8

The seasons (ṛtu) are seen to be the force of the Natural or Divine Order (Ṛta). There is law that is made by mankind, and then there is ‘that which is natural’ to the Universe: the way things are – Ṛta. The seasons cyclically unfold in their natural order. They are the external manifestation of the Natural Order of the Universe. By aligning ourselves with the seasons in ritual and lifestyle, we are aligning with the Divine Order.

Varshadevi - Rainy Season

Varshadevi - Rainy Season

There are certain Vedic rites performed with the fruits or grains of the particular season. 9 The Spring was offered the life-sap/juice (rasa); >the Summer given barley (yava); and the Rains were given the healing medicine (auṣadhi). The Autumn was given rice (vrīhī); the Winter was given pulses (māṣa); and the Cool Season was given sesame seeds (tila). 10 It is said that the seasons made Prajapati sacrifice in this way, and then Prajapati made Indra sacrifice accordingly. The Vedic texts often performed seasonal rituals as part of their sacrificial practices. The hope was to propitiate the season so that it would yield good results. For example, by ritually making the Rainy Season happy, the rains would come on time and release in the proper amount (no late rains that kill the planted seedlings, or excess rain that washes them away).

Tāntrik literature divided the day into six portions of four hours, and mapped the different seasons onto the day. This is used to ensure that specific rituals are performed at the time that correlates to the desired effects. The seasons can also be found overlain on the breath. Uttarāyana is the exhalation, and Dakṣiṇāyana is the inhalation. As each half of the year is divided into three parts, so the breath is divided into three natural parts.

Vasantadevi - Spring

Vasantadevi - Spring

After the lungs have been completely filled, the exhalation quickly comes out (Śiśira) and then it balances its force (Spring) and exasperates itself at the end of the exhalation (Summer). The Rainy Season is the beginning of the inhalation, gasping to fill with breath; while the Autumn is the balanced, even exhalation, and the Winter is the final slow filling of the inhalation. The middle of the breath is naturally more balanced, and this is the location of the equinoxes. The goal of the yogin is to slow the beginning of the breath and extend the end of the breath, so that the entire inhalation and exhalation have an even force. 11

Coming to Śiva’s Wedding

The seasons can be anthropomorphized as living beings. They come to the sacrifice in the Vedic literature to partake in the Soma. In the Taittirīya Brāmaṇa (III.10.4.1) they are seen as parts of a bird, with Spring as the head, the Winter months as the body, Summer and Autumn the wings, and the Rainy Season as the tail. In the Puruṣa Sūkta, when the gods performed the cosmic sacrifice, the Cosmic Person (Puruṣa) was the offering, Spring was the ghee, the Summer was the fuel, [the Rains were the purificatory water], and Autumn was the offering food. 12

The seasons come as beautiful women dancing to Śiva and Parvatī’s wedding in the Purāṇas. 13 They are each wearing the elements of their season. Spring has anklets made of bees as she walks upon the lotuses of the forest. She holds a mango branch with fresh sprouts. Everything sprouts, grows, and flowers where she walks. Śiva and Parvatī relate to the Sun and Moon; and the seasons dancing at their wedding is an archetypal image of the Natural Order.


  1. Charaka Saṁhitā, Sūtrasthāna VI (Tasyāśhita)
  2. Charaka actually uses the term Ādityasyodagayana - the Sun moving northward. Uttarāyana is the more common terminology, which complements the next verse using dakṣināyana for the southern course of the Sun.
  3. Charaka Saṁhitā , Sūtrasthāna VI.4. In different texts and different time periods and different Kingdoms of ancient India, there were other divisions of three, four or five seasons. The oldest texts use three seasons of four months (hence the cāturmāsya sacrifices and the three-axled wheel in gveda I.164.2 and I.164.48). The Taittirīya Sahitā VII.1.10.3-4 (and VII.3.8) mentions the five nights of sacrifice station one in the five seasons of the year. We see a standard five-season system (correlating to the five-savatsara cycle as indicated in Taittiriya Saṁhitā I.4.14 when mentioned with the intercalary saṁvatsara) wherein the winter (hemanta) and the cool season (śiśira) are consciously merged (as noted by the dual form of the nomenclature in Taittirīya Sahitā I.6.2.3; I delight in the winter-cool seasons; delighted may they two delight me; hemantaśiśirav tūnām prīṇāmi tau mā prītau prīṇītām). In this way, the gveda primarily uses five seasons, while the Yajurveda and Brāhmaas are using six. Taittirīya Saṁhitā VI.5.3.2 utilizes six seasons, so both systems are present in the same text.
  4. Map for Sacramento, the capital of California, which is 38° north: about the northernmost tip of Jammu and Kashmir. This image has accurate angles and each dot on the Sun’s path relates to an hour of time.
  5. Modern texts books only discuss the seasons from a heliocentric view, which does not educate a person from their embodied geocentric standpoint of living on Earth. The change of season is created by the Earth’s movement around the Sun, but it is observed and calculated from our standpoint on Earth as the Sun moving its position.
  6. I use the term Varṣa and its English translation of rains or rainy instead of ‘Monsoon’ which is the Portuguese and Dutch variation of the Arabic word ‘mausim’.
  7. In the Taittiriya Ārayaka (I.3-4) Spring is ruled by the Vasus; Summer byRudra-gaṇa; the Rainy Season by the Ādityas; Autumn by Ṛbhus (skilled artisan gods); and Winter seasons are ruled by the Maruts. In Taittirīya Saṁhitā (VII.1.18) Spring is associated with the Vasus and Gāyātrī meter; Summer is associated with Rudra and Triṣṭubh meter; the Rainy season is associated with the Ādityas and Jagatī meter; the Viśvadevas are associated with the Autumn and Anuśṭubh meter; and the Winter seasons are associated with Paṅkti meter and the gods of the Angiras. They are also delineated in Taittiriya Brāhmaṇa II.6.19. The deities of each of the seasons are invoked in prayers in the Atharvaveda III.10.9, V.28.13, XI.6.17, and XIX.37.4.
  8. āhaṁ dīkṣām aruham ṛtasya patnīṁ gāyatreṇa chandasā brahmaṇā cartaṁ satyeˈdhāṁ satyam ṛteˈdhām
    Taittirīya SaṁhitāVII.1.18.1-2. Translation above by Arthur Keith.
  9. Dr Raghavan, tu in Sanskrit Literature, p.6.
  10. Taittiriya Saṁhitā VII.2.10.1-2
  11. There is much more detail relative to the three-part yaugik breath and the location of the lungs that each part fills – to be learned directly from a skilled teacher.
  12. Ṛgveda X.90.6
  13. Brahma Purāṇa 36.7. The seasons appear as beautiful women, each made of the elements of their season.
Freedom Cole

by Freedom Cole

December, 2015

About Freedom Cole

Freedom Cole is a teacher of Vedic Astrology, Yoga and the Vedic Sciences. He teaches traditional Vedic Astrology in a practical way which is useful in the modern world. He teaches with the traditional usage of Sanskrit, meditation, chanting/mantra through modern technology. Freedom’s teachings are filled with the deep understanding of the unity of all things.

Freedom was born into a family that practices yoga and has been teaching yoga and meditation since he was a teenager. He has studied with various teachers and is initiated by Paramahamsa Hariharananda Giri of Puri in the tradition of Kriya yoga. Freedom has a BA in Psychology from the University of Massachusetts. He has studied Ayurveda with the New England Institute of Ayurvedic Medicine, the International Academy of Ayurveda, the California College of Ayurveda, and mentored with various doctors in India.

Freedom studied with various astrology teachers in the US and India until meeting Paramguru Pandit Sanjay Rath in 2001. He has lived for extended periods in India studying with his Jyotish Guru in in Delhi, Bhubaneshwar, Puri and the Kamoan Himalayas. He was given the dīkṣā of the sacred thread by his Sanskrit Guru Vāgīśa Śāstri of Varanasi and was given his Vaiṣṇava dīkṣā by Baba Balia of Orissa.

Freedom is dedicated that people have access to true Vedic knowledge within a modern context. He focuses on using this knowledge to free the mind and give a universal perspective. Freedom shares the gross, subtle and transcendental level teachings in all topics of discussion.

Freedom’s personal website is and his Vedic Astrology wesbite is

Pujas events can be seen at

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