Most people know the feeling of trying to accomplish something, yet nothing seems to work. You make telephone calls, but no one answers; you search for a parking space, but none can be found; no store stocks what you are looking for. You cannot find a taxi. Obstacles are everywhere. And then there are times when everything just works. One is successfully able to return all phone calls; the right people are available. There is always a parking space available. Every store has in stock what you are looking for and the bus is on time. And then there are mixed periods; some things work and other things do not work. Only half of what needs to be done can be accomplished. This is the nature of time. It has ebbs and flows, positive and negative “moods.” Recognizing the shifting nature of time, Hinduism has been particular about choosing the proper moment to begin an important activity. This can be compared to catching a wave to surf. Catch the right wave in the right place and it will you carry along seemingly without effort. Therefore, choosing the right moment is especially important for occasions such as marriage, moving into a new home, starting a construction project, taking a new job or even having a child. A family that is not otherwise religious may still have a concern for choosing the right moment for their son’s or daughter’s wedding.In Sanskrit the word for a moment is “muhurta.” Specifically, a muhurta is a period of 48 minutes, and there are 30 such muhurtas in a day. These moments are sometimes compared to flowing water with ups and downs and ins and outs, and so there are certain moments when the flow of time is favorable and when the flow of time is unfavorable. It is, therefore, important to choose the right moment to begin a new project as this will affect the outcome of that endeavor. In fact, not only do each of the thirty 48 minute segments of time have their different moods, some auspicious and others inauspicious, different days of the week (varas), different lunar mansions (nakshatras), different lunar days (tithis), different phases of the moon (pakshas), the direction of the sun (ayana) and even whether it is night time or day time are all considered favorable or unfavorable for different endeavors. Therefore, when choosing a favorable time for any given event all these factors have to be considered. This is what is meant by ‘choosing the moment” (muhurta) and it is the job of an expert priest or astrologer to select the proper time for the proper activity.
Rahu Kaala and Choghadia
Choosing the proper muhurta can be difficult so there are numerous systems that attempt to simplify the process. One method is called rahu kaala and the other is called called choghadia. Rahu Kala is two consecutive 48 minute muhurtas that occur each day, which are considered particularly negative. Auspicious events such as marriage or moving into a new home are never begun during rahu kaala. On Saturday, for example, this time is between 9:00 AM and 10:30 AM; on Sundays it is between 4:30 PM and 6:00 PM, on Mondays it is between 7:30 AM and 9:00 AM, and so on. In this way, each day of the week has two consecutive muhurtas (96 minutes) of “negative” time where important endeavor events are avoided. An interesting thing about Rahu Kalam is that many people think that these are fixed periods that occur at the same time every day, but in fact they shift according to daylight savings time and the rise times of the sun at different times of the year. The fixed Rahu Kalam times that many people assume to be correct are always based on standard time and a 6 AM rise time for the sun, and so these set times must always be adjusted to account for daylight savings and the sun’s local rise time.
The choghadia system is similar, yet a little more complicated. Cho means four and ghadi is an old measure of time of about 24 minutes. Thus a ‘cho-gadhia‘ is a period of 96 minutes, two muhurtas. In this system day and night is divided into a repeating system of favorable and unfavorable periods called chogadias each lasting about an hour and a half. In both cases there are charts designed to help one choose the best time to begin an activity.
Moving into a Home
Choosing a proper muhurta is often a complicated process, but just to give the reader an idea of how this is done, I provide the following guidelines. Maximization of light is the first consideration. In the case of moving into a new home, it is always best to enter during the daytime instead of the night time. The morning is best because there is more light remaining in the day. It is also best to move during the sun’s northern course and during the waxing (light increasing) phase of the lunar month for the same reasons. The second consideration is planetary influence. Tuesday and Saturday are governed by Mars and Saturn respectively. Mars is the planet of war, and Saturn is the planet of hardship and so Tuesdays and Saturdays should be avoided. The other days of the week are favorable. The third consideration is lunar influence. As far as lunar mansions (nakshatras) are concerned, certain ones are conducive for endeavors that demand stability. Others are conducive for movable situations such as travel, others for artistic endeavors, others for war and destruction, other are “general purpose,” and so forth. Obviously, the last thing one wants when moving into a new home is instability or war, so choosing a fixed lunar mansion is ideal or at least one should choose a nakshatra that is general purpose. One must also examine the lunar days (tithis). The different lunar days have their “moods” and influences. The new moon, for example, is generally not favorable for moving into a home. For other reasons the 8th and the 14th lunar days may also not be favorable for entering the home for the first time. The final consideration is murhurta of the particular day. This is where the systems of Rahu Kaalam and Choghadia come into play.
In this way, each of these factors must be considered when selecting a good time to move into a new home. However, there are often many other non time related factors that need to be considered. For example, a family may not be able to afford to wait 5 or 6 months for the sun to change from a southern course to a northern course before moving into a new home. Building codes, construction inspections and loan requirements may also affect the times when a family can move. In this way many practical matters must be taken into consideration when choosing the moment. Taken together these matters can become highly complicated. Indeed they often conflict with each other and so compromises must be made. This is why a help of a competent priest is necessary. It may not be possible for the general reader to fully understand the technique of muhurta, but at least the reader now has a general understanding of what is involved in choosing the right moment. With some variation, a similar process must be considered when choosing a time for marriage or when opening a new business or for some other important endeavor. This is muhurta, choosing the proper moment.