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Six Seasons Part Two by Freedom Cole

by Freedom Cole January, 2016

Author's Note: This is a three part article giving insight into the traditional six Vedic seasons. In a previous article about the zodiac, I compared seasonal and stellar correspondences. This section 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

Seasons as Vibhāva

The season themselves can trigger emotions within us.[1] Indian culture has a complex science of emotion from great antiquity.[2] Emotional experience is a complex process of multiple factors: triggers (vibhāva), affects (bhāva), feelings (ālambana), and emotions (rasa). [3]

In this context, bhāva correlates to the scientific term affect. An affect is a biological pattern that triggers emotion and directs attention in a specific way.[4] For example, the affect of fear is experienced as the speeding up of the pulse and respiration; the face becomes cold, pale, sweaty, and immobile; there is a gripping sensation in the chest; and the hairs stand.[5] That biological response is the affect of fear.

A feeling is the awareness of an affect. This awareness becomes an emotion (rasa). An emotion is the subjective experience of an affect, or what is called the affect through the lens of our perception. An affect and a feeling may last only a few seconds, but an emotion will last as long as the memory lasts.

There is a trigger (vibhāva), or a condition that excites the affect. This vibhāva is the cause (kāraṇa) of the affect (bhāva). It is composed of the excitant (uddīpana: that which inflames); and the supportive perception (ālambana[6]). The trigger (vibhāva) can be a perception, a memory, an inner drive, a cognition; and according to Vaidik and Tāntrik perspectives, the season can also act as a trigger. The seasons triggers us to feel a certain way, which evokes certain emotions and moods. (A mood is a persistent state of emotion that remains for hours or days.) Even the imagery of a season can evoke a particular mode, or make us feel something more deeply.

In the Sanskrit poetry (kāvya) literature, nature and the seasons are described in vivid depth with the intention of evoking an emotional response.[7] Imagery about the weather and its associated colors, temperature, and activities is utilized in stories to deepen the emotional expression and to bring emotional life to the story. In the Rāmāyana, Rāma cries in sorrow during the Rainy Season as he is missing his kidnapped wife; and the longing and despair are deepened through the imagery of the rain. Poetry about the seasons needs no other reason in Sanskrit literature than to describe the seasons with beautiful language. [8]

Grisma Devi

Grisma Devi

In the Summer season (grīṣma), people wear white to deal with the heat. Woman smear themselves with sandalwood paste, spray themselves with water, and wear flowers that cool them.[9] Thin, wet, white clothing is an erotic poet’s dream. Summer is the season of jasmine, and everyone enjoys the cooling moonlight, which excites the passion. [10] During the day, the heat is so unbearable. Even the shade hides under the feet of the trees seeking shade when the summer Sun is on the meridian.[11] People sleep during the noontime. Everyone is bathing in the waters – even people who you don’t normally see. One is advised to take fruits to counter the heat exhaustion, and to make love late in the night when it is cooler.[12] Āyurveda recommends increasing salt intake to increase water retention in the body when it is hot and dry. Wine is not taken, or in very limited amounts, in the Summer (and enjoyed in the Winter months). Sugar-sweetened buffalo milk cooled by the stars and moonlight is the magic drink. [13]

In the Rainy Season (varṣa), the skies are filled with clouds, and the rains make the ground muddy. In the Maṇḍūkī Sūkta of the Ṛgveda, the frogs celebrate the return of the rains after the hot Summer. It is said they are like Brahmins who observe the seasons portioned from the twelve parts of the year, as ordained by the gods (devahita).[14] The frogs start to croak, just like the Vedic students who have started school and are repeating after their teachers. [15] The mountains are said to appear to be doing Vedic recitation (as so many students are practicing during this time).[16] Peacocks love the rainy season and dance, while umbrella-like mushrooms show up like encampments of a royal army.[17]

The religious texts describe the dark clouds that cover the brilliance of the Sun as being similar to the external forms of God (Saguṇa Brahman). [18] The poetry literature describes a swelling cloud, which is partly light and dark at points, as resembling the darkening nipple of a pregnant woman.[19] The religious texts describe the overflowing gullies and unrestricted rivers as a person with uncontrolled senses after having come into prosperity. [20] The rivers are filled and rush towards the ocean like the senses of pseudo-yogis whose hearts are filled with desires rushing towards their desired objects.[21] The turbidity of the rivers swelled by the rain is the disturbance of the mind by love and passion. The poets liken the swollen rivers with impure waters, pulling down trees and breaking swales, to an unchaste woman.[22] Bhartṛhari says that even bad rainy days become good days in the embrace of one’s lover.[23]

Sharad Devi

Sharad Devi

In Autumn (śarad), the water loses the turbidity it had in the rainy season, just as fallen Yogis are purified by resorting to Yogic practice again.[24] The Ṛṣi Parāśara has very spiritual expressions of the seasons, and says that the sky is clear of clouds like the heart of the ascetic whose cares have been consumed by the fire of devotion. [25] And the receding of the water from the banks of the rivers is like the wise, who by degrees shrink from the selfish attachment to wives and children.[26] The poets look at the calming rivers and see the tiny ripples on the water as the play of the brows of artful women. [27]

In the fields, the grains are bending due to their ripeness, and the āmalaki fruit is ripening to blackness. Platforms are built in the fields to protect the ripening grains from boars.[28] Autumn is compared to a young woman in the bloom of her youth,[29] as the fields are ripe with crops ready to nourish and make men wealthy. The season is seen as joyful, bountiful and playful. The earth is beautiful from the previous rains. The flowers of the forest tree and the abundant bee-laden lotuses are like eyes eagerly appreciating each other’s beauty. [30]

In the Winter season (hemanta), one can no longer sleep in the open through the nights, which are cold and long.[31] There is no difference felt between liking the Moon or the Sun. [32]

People go inside their homes and the focus is on entertaining, drinking, eating and relaxing. The monkeys are shivering, the cattle languish, the dog gets into the kitchen and won’t leave, and men draw their arms inside their shirts.[33] There is a silence from the animals outside, and the snakes move slowly, while the jujube fruits ripen. [34] The poets reference the low, southerly Sun as going in the direction ruled by Fire (Agni) during the winter, as if afflicted by the snow.[35] Even in southern India where there is no snow, they still use the imagery of snow to create the mood of the Winter season. The poets say that being inside on the Winter nights while snow is on the house makes lovers embrace each other tightly.[36] The poets see the long nights as good for amorous activity, and the intimacy brings more heat than the blankets. [37] Even the Āyurvedic texts talk of driving away the cold by the embrace of beautiful women with well-developed thighs, breasts, and buttocks.[38] Most important is staying inside where it is nice and warm.

In the Cool Season (śiśira), the cattle of the village and the wild animals become thin and shaggy. [39] It is called the Season of Blankets, as people pile them on to stay warm. The first part of Winter was fun, as the harvest was finished and there was joyous sharing; but the Cold continues on and becomes dreary. They advise taking bone-broth soup to stay healthy.[40] Women smear their breasts, buttocks and roots of the arms and thighs with saffron tea.[41] It is a slow-moving time with the gradual ripening of the white mustard plants.[42]

The end of Cool Season is the time for agriculturalists (and particularly permaculturalists [43]) to do earthworks. There is nothing growing in the fields and it is cool enough to do hard work outside. Tree-planting does not happen till the Rainy Season, but if one waits till the hot season to do earthworks, the ground will be too hard to dig.

Vasanta Devi

Vasanta Devi

The Spring season (vasanta), is personified as a goddess stepping into the barrenness, with sprouts issuing forth from her presence. The fresh onset of Spring is compared to a newly married bride[44], excited to be with her new husband and bringing joy into a new home. Spring can also be personified as a god of love – the best friend of Kāma (Cupid), and determined to pierce our hearts. Spring makes the arrows for Kāma’s bow with flowers. When everything is blooming, Kāma can strike anywhere. [45] Girls are wearing crowns made of flowers, and children are invigorated and playing.

All the animals of nature feel the love and passion of this time. The crane is constantly making love to his mate; the parrots are together in the trees; the lions cuddle; the wolves are gleaming in their cave; the rhinoceros are licking each other pleasurably; and monkeys, cats, rabbits, elephants, buffalo and deer are all described in their fondness of their mates.[46] “Who would not become lovesick in the Spring when the atmosphere is all around charged with the fragrance of tender mango leaves and flowers, and the bees are intoxicated with sweet honey?”[47]


[1] Bharata’s Nāṭyaśāstra VI.45 and VII.8 speaks of vibhāva from the seasons. Bhartṛhari in Śṛṅgāra-śataka (80) calls the seasons “that which inflame love-passion”.

[2] The Nātyaśāstra of Bharata Muni (200 B.C.E.) lists eight rasa (emotional states). A ninth was added by the Tāntric scholar and aesthetic philosopher Abinavagupta. The list of rasas are love/attraction, laughter, anger, compassion/sorrow, disgust, fear/terror, courage/valor, wonder/surprise; and the ninth is peacefulness. Western science has found that there are nine root-affects (though some scientists use only six). The nine western affects are interest/excitement, enjoyment/joy, surprise/startlement, fear/terror, distress/anguish, anger/rage, dissmell (disgust expressed via the nose), disgust, and shame/humiliation.

[3] The following is Freedom Cole’s understanding of emotions based on an integrative approach to Vaidik and Tā ntrik texts through modern affective science.

[4] The physical states were called sāttvika-bhāva and were believed to exist between the initial mental experience (also called a stāyi-bhāva), and the end-emotion (rasa or anubhāva). For example, the anger (krodha) would trigger the body to tremble (the physical state), and then this would become the rasa/anubhāva of rage (raudra). Modern research has varying opinions about whether the mental state or the physical state comes first.

[5] Bharata describes eight variations considered to be indicative of an affect (bhāva). These were described as rigidity/paralysis (stambha), perspiration (sveda), hair follicle change (romāñca), deviation of voice (svara-vikāra), trembling (vepathu), change in skin tone (varṇavikāra), shedding of tears (aśru), and loss of sense or consciousness ( pralaya). Western science has taken these aspects of the body’s experience of affect to a very deep level, and has also been studying micro-movements of the facial muscles. These physical traits and facial movements have indicated how the multiplicity of emotions arises from the primary affects. Indian science has developed these affects in the realm of drama and poetry. A poem or story will take a long time elaborating the full experience of an affect/emotion.

[6] Western psychology puts much emphasis on the affect and emotions. Āyurvedic psychology (similar to cognitive psychology) places more emphasis on the supportive perception (ālambana).

[7] Dr Raghavan, tu in Sanskrit Literature, p.11.

[8] Feller, Danielle. The Seasons in Mahākāvya Literature, p.18.

[9] Dr Raghavan, tu in Sanskrit Literature, p.119.

[10] Bhartṛhari’s Śṛṅgāra-śataka, v.87

[11] Avantivarman, as sourced from Dr Raghavan, tu in Sanskrit Literature, p.116. This is an analogy to the short shadows, when the Sun is high in the sky as it nears the summer solstice.

[12] Rājaśekhara’s 18.60: Kālavibhaga, translated by Danielle Feller, The Seasons in Mahāk āvya Literature, p.52.

[13] Aṣṭāṅga Hṛdaya , Sūtrashāna 3.32

[14] Ṛgveda VII.103.9

[15] Bhagavata Pur āṇ a X.20.8

[16] From Haracarita as sourced from Dr Raghavan, tu in Sanskrit Literature, p.16.

[17] Bhagavata Pur āṇ a X.20.12

[18] Bhagavata Pur āṇ a X.20.4

[19] Kālīdāsa, tusahara II.2 as sourced from Dr Raghavan, tu in Sanskrit Literature, p.40.

[20] Bhagavata Pur āṇ a X.20.11

[21] Bhagavata Pur āṇ a X.20.14

[22] Kālīdāsa, tusahara II.7 as sourced from Dr Raghavan, tu in Sanskrit Literature, p.42.

[23] Bhartṛhari Śṛṅgāra-śataka, v.95

[24] Bhagavata Pur āṇ a X.20.33

[25] Vi ṣṇu Purāṇa V.10.12

[26] Viṣṇu Purāṇa V.10.8

[27] Kālīdāsa, tusahara II.17 as sourced from Dr Raghavan, tu in Sanskrit Literature, p.44.

[28] Śatānanda, sourced from Dr Raghavan, tu in Sanskrit Literature, p.117.

[29] Dr Raghavan, tu in Sanskrit Literature, p.73.

[30] Bhaṭṭi, Rāvaṇavadha II.5 as sourced from Dr Raghavan, tu in Sanskrit Literature, p.77.

[31] Originally from Kālidāsa’s Rāmāyaa. Sourced from Dr Raghavan, tu in Sanskrit Literature, p.13.

[32] Rājaśekhara’s 18.42: Kālavibhaga, translated by Danielle Feller, The Seasons in Mahāk āvya Literature, p.49

[33] Lakṣmīdhara, sourced from Dr Raghavan, tu in Sanskrit Literature, p.117.

[34] Rājaśekhara’s 18.37: Kālavibhaga, translated by Danielle Feller, The Seasons in Mahāk āvya Literature, p.48

[35] Rājaśekhara in Bālarāmāyaa V.35 sourced from Dr Raghavan, tu in Sanskrit Literature, p.89.

[36] Bilhaṇa’s Vikramāṅkadeva-carita III.40 as sourced from Dr Raghavan, tu in Sanskrit Literature, p.175.

[37] Dr Raghavan, tu in Sanskrit Literature, p.57.

[38] Aṣṭāṅga Hṛdaya , Sūtrasthāna 3.15

[39] Aitareya Brāmaṇa IV.4.26 [xix.4]

[40] Rājaśekhara’s 18.36: Kālavibhaga, translated by Danielle Feller, The Seasons in Mahāk āvya Literature, p.48

[41] Rājaśekhara’s 18.48: Kālavibhaga, translated by Danielle Feller, The Seasons in Mahāk āvya Literature, p.50.

[42] Rājaśekhara’s 18.44: Kālavibhaga, translated by Danielle Feller, The Seasons in Mahāk āvya Literature, p.49

[43] The farmers built strong bunds (setu) to prevent the flow of water away from the fields, just as Yogis restrain the flow of prāṇa from senses towards objects. Bhagavata Purāṇa X.20.41. The term setu is often translated as bridge, but here it means a ridge of earth, mound, bank, causeway, dike, dam, bridge, or any raised piece of ground separating fields.

[44] Kālīdāsa, tusahara VI.19, as sourced from Dr Raghavan, tu in Sanskrit Literature, p.46.

[45] Kālīdāsa, tusahara VI.10, as sourced from Dr Raghavan, tu in Sanskrit Literature, p.57.

[46] Matsya Pur āṇ a 209.14-31

[47] Bhartṛhari Śṛṅgāra-śataka, v.86

Freedom Cole

by Freedom Cole

January, 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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