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The Six Seasons: Part Three

by Freedom Cole February, 2016

Author's Note: This is a three part article giving insight into the traditional six Vedic seasons.
In the first article about the zodiac, I compared seasonal and stellar correspondences.
In the second article aims to give a felt-connection to the emotional nature of the seasons.

Chakra Wheel of the Seasons

Rtu Chakra Wheel of the Seasons by Freedom Cole

Twelve Months

Season (Ṛtu)

Months (Sāyana māsa)

Spring (Vasanta)

Madhu and Mādhava

Summer (Grīṣma)

Śukra and Śuchi

Rainy (Varṣa)

Nabhas and Nabhasya

Autumn (Śarad)

Iṣa and Ūrja

Winter (Hemanta)

Sahas and Sahasya

Cool (Śiśira)

Tapas and Tapasya

The seasons made Prajapati (the creator) sacrifice with them, and because of that he prospered. [1] This is the ancient reasoning behind Vaidik seasonal rituals: because the seasons made the creator god do it, and it made him successful. But the deeper implication is that the seasons are the Natural Order, and even the creator must follow this order – even he must be in tune with the seasons. Prajapati (as the Creator) is the year itself, consisting of twelve months. [2]

Taittirīya Saṁhitā praises the seasons, each composed of two months.[3] The Spring is composed ofMadhu and Mādhava. Madhu means sweet or pleasant, and is often used in Sanskrit literature as a synonym for the springtime.Mādhava means sweet and intoxicating, and relates to the joy of Spring.[4] Śukra and Śuchi relate to the brightness and light of the Summer. Nabhas and Nabhasya relate to the clouds and skies of the rainy months. Iṣa and Ūrja relate to the food and nourishment of the harvest time. Sahas and Sahasya relate to the strength of the enduring through the cold. Tapas and Tapasya relate to the austerity of the earth at this time.

In the Ṛgveda we see the year divided into twelve parts, but in the Taittirīya Saṁhitā (a Yajurveda text) we see those twelve months named.[5] Past scholars have pointed to the Babylonians as first dividing the year into twelve months, but these texts are comparable to, if not earlier than, the Babylonian references we have. These divisions in the Taittirīya Saṁhitā clearly have both seasonal and astronomical implications.

Taittirīya Saṁhitā (VI.5.3) speaks of the gods attaining heaven by sacrifice;[6] and realizing that man would follow, they blocked the way to Heaven by the year.[7] The sages (Ṛṣi) discerned through the season vessels (ṛtu-pātra) the way to reveal the world of the heavenly stars (svarga loka).[8] The revealed knowledge is the division of the year into twelve months[9] grouped into six seasons. [10] Through the seasons, the worshipper makes a bridge to heaven. This section of the Taittirīya Saṁhitā goes on in mythical Vaidik language to discuss Indra, Agni, Venus (Śukra), Jupiter (Bṛhaspati) and the birth of the Ādityas, all deities relevant to astrology.

When the seasons are confused, season-vessels (ṛtu-pātra) are drawn for the Maruts (wind/storm gods) who reveal the seasons. [11] Marut-patha is known as a region of air or space, and the vessel of the Maruts (Marut-pātra) is similarly a region of space created in the sky that allows the timing of the seasons to be clarified. [12] The Saṁhitā mentions different ways of calculating, which goes back to the sidereal and tropical discussion. It may be referring to sidereal calculations that were regularly updated by adjusting new sidereal information to tropical divisions.[13]

In Jyotiṣa texts we see the use of astrology to predict about the seasons. It is common to predict the year’s rainfall from astrological indications. In Āyurveda, Charaka discusses how abnormalities in the stars (nakṣatra), Sun, Moon and planets indicate that the coming season will have some abnormalities.[14] In Charaka Saṁhitā, Sage Punarvasu mentions the astrological indications necessary to prepare the herbal medicine that will be needed for community epidemics.

Changing Seasons (Ṛtu-Sandhi)

Seasons last for approximately 60 days, composed of two 30-day months. The transition between seasons is called ṛtu-sandhi. [15] Bharata’s Nāṭya Śāstra compares the transition between seasons to the common ground between two notes in an octave called svara-sādhāraṇa, an in-between note having the properties of both. [16]

The Rainy Season–Autumn transition is described as the kadamba trees still raining their flowers.[17] The ṛtu-sandhi most discussed is the Winter–Spring ( śiśira-vasanta). When the Cool Season is ending but Spring has not yet set in, the poets describe it as still cold in the shade, and yet one sweats when the midday Sun comes out. It has also been described as Lady Spring holding a sprouting mango branch, wanting to step into the flowering forests with the sound of the bees on the lotuses in the ponds.[18]

The first week of the season is called sandhi. The next period is its infancy (śaiśava) where the attributes of the season begin; and then the mature phase (prauḍhi) gives the full nature of a season. The last phase of the season is the continual transition (anuvṛtti) where the next season is beginning and the present season is ending. Officially, the ṛtu-sandhi is the last week of the previous season and first week of the next season, but the actual sandhi experienced will change depending on the location. The farther north, the longer the cold season lasts; and in the northern regions the cold comes sooner. The rains will also start in different parts of India at different times as well.

The ṛtu-sandhi are known to cause disease. The human body has adapted to a particular environment, and then situations change. This is why colds and flus are most common at the beginning of the Winter time. It is the transition to the cold, not particularly the cold itself, that creates sickness. The majority of epidemics will break out during these ṛtu-sandhi as well, since people’s immune systems are weaker at this time. [19] In Āyurveda, seasonal routines are very important in order to stay in balance during a season and its transition. During the two weeks of ṛtu-sandhi, one begins to change one’s diet slowly. If the change happens too quickly that can also disturb the body’s balance (asātmya).[20]


In Āyurveda the goal is to protect health, and only when one has failed at this is disease being treated. The various rules and regimes (carya) employed to stay in balance as the seasonal environment changes are called ṛtucharya. Most Āyurvedic texts mention these practices in the first few chapters to highlight their fundamental importance.[21] Charaka says that one who follows the seasonal routines will have strength (bala) and good lustre (varṇa). [22]

The environment is in continual motion (nityaga), which means there is a need for continual adaptation to change. The goal of Āyurvedic seasonal routines is to help the body keep its equilibrium through the regular seasonal variations. The Āyurvedic texts list details about foods, clothing, daily routines, massage, conduct, frequency of sex, sunlight, etc. The issue arises that the climate varies all over the world – the seasonal routine followed in Southeast Asia cannot be followed in Europe, Africa, or the Americas. In the Indian Summer, vāta accumulates because the heat is dehydrating; but on the east coast of the USA, the summer months are hot and extremely humid. The rainy season in India is hot Summer rain, compared to the Winter rain of California. These differences show up in the type of plants and vegetation that grow in a particular location.

When we understand the basic concept of how to keep equilibrium, it does not matter where we are, as we will be able to adjust accordingly. Balancing is about eating easy-to-digest, hot foods when it is cold outside; and when it is hot, eating and drinking cooling foods. When it is dry, one should make sure to moisten and oil the body’s tissues, and when it is moist be sure to avoid congestive foods. Āyurvedic seasonal routines (ṛtucaryā) seek to give knowledge of how to adjust to the seasons. This requires both an awareness of the environment and awareness of one’s own body. The path to having this awareness brings wholeness in the body, mind and spirit. When we are ‘connected’ and aware, then we are walking towards wholeness.

A wise person does not wait till they are sick to seek the knowledge of connected balanced living. It is important to make it part of a healthy life and keep sickness away. Since seasonal routine is very individual to the location where one lives, I recommend taking classes or seeing your local Āyurvedic practitioner regularly until you have a grounded concept of how the environment affects your body’s biology, and what can be done to stay in balance. A local practitioner will have a concept of the local climate to be able to share the ‘what’ and ‘when’ of your local seasonal routines.

The Seasons as Teachers

The seasons can be calculated astronomically, or they can be felt by observation and awareness. Being aware of the temperature and humidity and how it affects our body is connecting and aligning with our physical environment. By being aware of the emotional shifts that we experience as the seasons change, and consciously working with them, we are aligning our mind and emotions to the planetary mind. By being aware of the movement of the Sun and the length of the days, and adjusting our schedules accordingly, we are aligning with the greater solar system surrounding us.

Living in a modern box with electricity and technology disconnects us from nature and the seasons. This disconnection gives the false sense that we are autonomous from the environment that we live in. But we eat the environment, and are made of the environment, and are impacted by its changes. We are made of these seasons, and they guide our feelings, emotions, and activities.

I hope you have now connected to the seasons in a deeper way than you did before, and learned new ways to perceive them. May this awareness continue to grow as the seasons themselves become your teacher.


Harold H. Bender. On the Naturalistic Background of the “Frog-Hymn”, Rig-Veda 7. 103 Journal of the American Oriental Society, Vol. 37 (1917), pp. 186-191. Published by: American Oriental Society
DOI: 10.2307/592920. Stable URL:

Thakkar, J., Chaudhari, S., & Sarkar, P. K. (2011). Ritucharya: Answer to the lifestyle disorders. Ayu, 32(4), 466–471.

Dash, Bhagawan and Sharma R.K. Caraka Saṁhitā: Text with English Translation and Critical Exposition Based on Cakrapāṇi Datta’s Āyurveda Dīpikā. Chowkhamba Sanskrit Series Office, Varanasi (India), 1997.

Danielle Feller. The Seasons in Mahākāvya Literature. Eastern Book Linkers, Delhi, India, 1995.

A.V. Gopalachariar. Bhartrihari’s Sringara Sataka and Vairagya Sataka: With Sanskrit Commentary, English Notes, Translation and Introduction. V. Ramaswamy Sastrulu and Sons, Madras 1954. Accessed 25 November 2015.

Martin Haug. Aitareya Brahmanam of the Rigveda: Earliest Speculations of the Brahmans on the Meaning of the Sacrificial Prayers and on the Origin, Performance, and Sense of the Rites of the Vedic Religion. Government Central Book Depot, London 1863. Accessed 24 November 2015

Berriedale Keith, Arthur. The Veda of The Black Yajus School: entitled Taittiriya Sanhita, part 2: Kāṇḍas IV-VII. Motilal Banardidass, Delhi. Originally published 1914, reprinted 1967.

Dr V. Raghavan. Ṛtu in Sanskrit Literature. Shri Lal Bahadur Shastri Rashtriya Sanakrit Vidyapeetha, New Delhi, 2009.

Subramania Sarma. Taittirīya-Brāhmaṇa. Chennai, 2005. Accessed on 24 November 2015.

Sharma, Prof. Priyavrat. Caraka-Saṁhitā: Agniveśa’s treatise refined and annotated by Caraka and redacted by Dṛḍhabala. Jaikrishnadas Ayurveda Series 36. Chaukhamba Orientalia, Varanasi 2011. Vol.1, pp. 42-47.

Taittirīya-Saṁhitā: Searchable non-accented transliterated text. Accessed 23 November 2015.

Swami Tapasyananda, trans. Srimad Bhagavata: The Holy Book of God. Sri Ramakrishna Math, Madras, 1980.

Valiathan, M. S. The Legacy of Caraka. Orient Lonman: Hyderabad, 2007.

[1] Taittirīya Saṁhitā VII.2.10.1

[2] Taittirīya Saṁhitā VII.2.10.3-4 In the sacrifice of twelve days they are divided into four sets of three: in three the sacrificer prepares for ceremony; in three he embraces the sacrifice; in three he cleanses the vessels; and in the last three he cleanses his inner nature (ātmānam antarataḥ śundhate).

[3] Taittirīya Saṁhitā (4.4.10) first lists the nakṣatras and their lords, then praises the seasons, each composed of these two months (4.4.11). These months are also mentioned in Taittiriya Saṁhitā I.4.

[4] Interpretation of the meaning from by Raghavan, Ṛtu in Sanskrit Literature, p.5

[5] Charaka Saṁhitā just mentions the twelve-fold division, but Suśruta Saṁhitā (Sūtrasthāna VI.6) clearly mentions the name of the seasons and their corresponding seasonal months.

[6] The Vedic gods have their homes within the constellations of the stars (nakṣatra) which is known as svarga loka. Similar verses are seen in Aitareya Brāmaṇa II.1.1 [ii.1] (how the gods attained svarga) and II.4.5 [ii.29] (seasonal cups), and Kauṣītaki Brāhmaṇa XIII.9 (seasonal cups).

[7] The year (savatsara) in Vedic literature is very commonly a symbol for the concept of time – that which is constantly turning.

[8] This is a reference to the astronomical understanding of the interplay between the seasons and the movement of the stars.

[9] This is a reference to the tropical (seasonal) months as mentioned by previous agricultural data, as well as the mention of the movement of the Sun in its southern and northern courses (Taittirīya Saṁhitā VI.5.3.4). See twelve months of six seasons also mentioned in Kauṣītaki Brāhmaṇa XIII.9 and XIV.1.

[10] As the seasons are each composed of two months, they are said to have two faces: dvādaśa māsāḥ saṁvatsaraḥ, saṁvatsarasya prajnātyai, saha prathamau gṛhyete sahottamau, tasmād dvaudvāv ṛtū, ubhayatomukham ṛtupātram bhavati, kaḥ|| hi tad veda yata ṛtūnām mukham…

[11] Taittiriya Saṁhitā VI.5.5

[12] This is a rich section filled with astronomical and astrological lore that has the potential for a huge depth of further interpretation to be brought out from it, with possibly even discussion about the references to sidereal and tropical movement of the year.

[13] Similar to the present ayanāṁśa calculations.

[14] Charaka Sa hit ā , Vimānasthāna III.4

[15] Ocassionally called ṛtvantare: the inner space between the two seasons.

[16] Dr Raghavan, tu in Sanskrit Literature, p.172.

[17] Dr Raghavan, tu in Sanskrit Literature, p.92.

[18] Bhāravi, Śarad-varṇana in Kirātārjunīya X.25 as sourced from Dr Raghavan, tu in Sanskrit Literature, p.75.

[19] Charaka Sa hit ā , Vimānasthāna 3; Suśruta, Sūtrasthāna 6.17

[20] Aṣṭāṅga Hṛdaya , Sūtrasthāna 3.58-59

[21] Suśruta Saṁhitā , Sūtrasthāna VI; Charaka Saṁhitā, Sūtrasthāna VI; Aṣṭaṅga Hṛdaya, Sūtrasthāna 3

[22] Charaka Saṁhitā , Sūtrasthāna VI.3

Freedom Cole

by Freedom Cole

February, 2016

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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