Science behind Makar Sankranti

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Makar Sankranti is one of the major festivals celebrated in India. Most of our Indian festivals are based on the lunar calendar but the festival of Makar Sankranti follows the solar calendar and thus it falls on the same day every year. Makar Sankranti is known as the harvest festival and it is celebrated throughout India by different names in different states. It is celebrated as ‘Makar Sankranti’ in North India, ‘Pongal’ in Kerala, ‘Uttarayan’ in Gujarat, ‘Lohri’ in Punjab, ‘Khichdi Sankranti’ in Garhwal, and ‘Tir Mauri’ in Sindh. And it is believed that this festival of Makar Sankranti is being celebrated since Sanatan Kaal as many of the substantiations for this can be seen in the ancient Puranas.  Such as in the story of Mahabharata, Bhisma Pitamah, who had the boon of Euthanasia chose the day of Uttarayan or Makar Sankranti for his death and that’s why this day is also known as Salvation (Moksha Karak) day. According to Bhagavad, Ganga came walking to the Ashram of Kapil muni behind Bhagirath on this day only which resulted in the release of all his fathers and that’s why this day is also known as the day of Destroyer of Sins (Paap Nashak Din). Now, according to the story from Devi Bhagavad, Lord Shiva gave enlightenment to Lord Vishnu on this day only for the salvation of the world and that’s why this day is also known as the day of knowledge (Gyaan Kaarak Din). Also, according to the story from Matsya Puran, the time frame of deities was started from this day only and that’s why this day is also known as the day of Welfare (Kalyaan Karak Din). These all are the events that happened on that day in different time frames but to understand the importance and science behind Makar Sankranti, it is intensively necessary to understand the scriptures.

We all know that in Indian Vedic Tradition, there lies only one theory behind all the scriptures and that is :

यत् ब्रह्माण्डे तत् पिंडे ।

“Whatever is there in the galaxy is present within us.”

And this simply means that there must be definitely some event going on in the cosmos on this day due to which this day holds great importance. On this day only, the Sun who lights up the entire universe goes to the Zodiac sign Capricorn of his son Saturn (Shani) or we can say that the Sun goes to the house of Saturn forgetting all their disputes and struggles. And that’s why Makar Sankranti holds such great importance. And for this, an amazing story has been mentioned in Kashi Khand of ‘Skand Puran’.

In the mentioned story, Surya Narayan got married to Daksha Kanya Sangna. Now, due to the high brightness of Surya Narayan, Sangna was not able to even see him and she had to keep her eyes covered in front of Surya Narayan. Anyhow the time was getting passed and after some time, Surya Narayan got blessed with three children named Yamaraja, Yamuna, and Vaivatswat from his wife Sangna. Now, as time passed by, Sangna face difficulties staying with Surya Narayan, and thus she thought of doing penance and taking blessings from Lord Brahma Ji. But as she could not go anywhere leaving her family, she used a technique. She placed a woman who looked similar to her named Chaaya as a doppelganger in her place. No one came to know about this. And as Chaaya was the shadow of Sangna, she faced no difficulties going in front of Surya Narayan. After some time, Surya Narayan Ji again got blessed with three children named Shani, Manu, and Bhadra but this time from Chaaya. Now, when Shani was born, he was very dark in color and so the Surya Narayan got suspicious that Shani could not be his son. He suspected that the father of Shani might be someone else. And thus in his anger, he said many bad words for Shani. Hearing that, Shani, peek at the Sun. Now, we all know that Shani was born to give Karma and the Karma of Surya Narayan was bad. So when Shani peeks at Sun, the speed of the Sun’s chariot slowed down. After a lot of effort, the speed of Sun’s chariot gets increased and due to that Surya Narayan got very angry. And as the zodiac of Surya Narayan is Leo (Sinh), he due to his anger burnt down the house Aquarius – the home of Shani which lies at 180° from the house of Sun. Now, as Shani is the Lord of Karma and Surya Narayan did the bad Karma due to his anger, he got affected by leprosy and his body started becoming white. Within no time, Yamaraja came to know about the whole scenario. Yamaraja intervened and tried to explain everything to Surya Narayan. Not only that, but Yamaraja also cured the disease of his father. Even if we only see the ancient mantra of Shani, then also we will be able to understand this complete incident. The mantra of Shani is :

निलान्जन समाभासम् रविपुत्रम यमाग्रजम्।

छाया मार्तण्डसंभूतम। तम् नमामि शनैश्चरम्।।

– अग्नि पुराण

This story does not end here. After the intervention of Yamaraja, Surya Narayan realized his mistake and keeping his dignity aside, went to meet his son Shani (Saturn). When he reached the house of Shani i.e. Aquarius, saw the house entirely burned out. But as the Shani has two houses – Aquarius and Capricorn, he was living in his second house i.e. Capricorn. And until that time, he also understood about the whole incident and why his father was angry with him and all. So due to that, Shani also came in a kind of neutral position and welcomed and greeted his father – Surya Narayan. As he did not have anything to offer his father, he offered him Black Sesame. After eating Black Sesame, Surya Narayan got pleased and gave a boon to Shani that whenever he will come to Shani’s house, the house will become complete as it was earlier and will become wealthy and blessed and also will become a good source of positive energy for the entire world. Just because Shani got back his endeavor due to Black Sesame, we eat laddu of sesame every year on Makar Sankranti. And we also donate Sesame every year on this day. There is a verse given in ‘Brahma Vaivart Puran’ that says eating and donating Sesame on Makar Sankranti fulfills all the wishes. The Verse is:

तिलमयिं राजन् दध्याध्यश्च उत्तरायणे।

सर्वान् कामानवाप्नोति विन्दते परमं सुखम्।।

– ब्रहम् वैवर्त पुराण

Now if we understand the story carefully, then in this story the Sun is the king, and Saturn (Shani) comes into the people. So this story depicts that the king who represents the highest level of energy goes to the people. And this kind of event is called descending of energy in scriptures. This unique event takes place on the day of Makar Sankranti. On the day of Makar Sankranti, the highest level of energy that cannot be achieved on any ordinary day becomes available. And this highest level of energy that is present in the cosmos becomes available for everyone and everywhere on this auspicious day of Makar Sankranti. Now, to understand this available energy, we will have to understand the nakshatra of the Capricorn zodiac. We already know that the zodiac sign of Capricorn starts from the second phase of Uttarashada Nakshatra. Getting into details, it’s known that the lord of Uttarashada nakshatra is Sun and the deity of Uttarashada is ‘Vishwa Dev’. Vishwa Dev – the lord of the earth is not only one deity. There are in total ten deities who operate the entire world, run our lives, fulfill our wishes, and are responsible for all of our karma. It has been clearly said in ‘Vayu Puran’ that Dharma has ten sons with his wife named Vishwa. And those ten sons are called Vishwa Dev on whom our entire lives are dependent. A Shloka is given in Vayu Puran that states :

विश्वे देवास्तु विश्वाया जज्ञिरे दश: विश्रुता:

क्रतुर् दक्ष: श्रव: सत्य काल: कामो धुनिस्तथा।

कुरुवान् प्रभवानन्श्चैव रोचमानश्च ते दश

धर्मपुत्रा: स्मृता ह्येते विश्वायां जज्ञिरे शुभा:।।

– वायु पुराण

So, the necessary energy which is known as Vishwa Dev which is required to achieve success becomes available for all of us on the day of Makar Sankranti. We can get a clear idea about this by understanding the meaning of the name of each of these ten deities.

  1. ‘Kratu’ means willpower
  2. ‘Daksha’ means skill
  3. ‘Shravah’ means attention
  4. ‘Satya’ means truth
  5. ‘Kalah’ means time
  6. ‘Kam’ means desire
  7. ‘Dhuni’ means determination
  8. ‘Kuruvan’ means experience
  9. ‘Prabhavan’ means hope
  10. ‘Rochman’ means a positive attitude

So, on the day of Makar Sankranti, the sun makes all of these ten energies available in the entire cosmos. This is the science behind Makar Sankranti and that’s why it holds great importance. Now, the main question arises that what karma should we do to utilize the energy of such an important day of Makar Sankranti. And for this, one Verse has been given in Nagar Khand of ‘Vayu Puran’ and in ‘Matsya Puran’.

रवे: संक्रमणं राशौ संक्रान्ति रिति कथ्यते।

स्नान दान तप: श्राद्ध होमादिषु महाफला।।

– मत्स्य पुराण

“By taking bath, Donating, doing Yajna, doing Penance and Shraddh, one can achieve great results on the day of Makar Sankranti.”

Bathing means not to take bath anywhere but to take bath in any of the pilgrimage places or places which are known as Tirth where the vortex of energy is present. By taking bath at such places, we can get the energy that is available in the cosmos. To get the energy, it is advisable to do penance which means to either keep fast or recite mantras, or to do the constructive positive inhalation exercise such as meditation. It is also advisable to do Shraddh to achieve benefits. Shraddh means to do an activity for the salvation of our ancestors. And then, it is advisable to do Houm which means Yajna to please the deities. Deities mean certain positive energy zones. As soon as they get pleased, we can get happiness and glory from them. Lastly, it is advisable to do donations. When we talk about donation, many wrong perceptions lies in our minds about what to donate and whom to donate. It has been given in detail in our scriptures such as Matsya Puran and Vayu Puran regarding what to donate and whom to donate on this specific day of Makar Sankranti based on the zodiac signs.

Let’s see what to donate on this particular day of Makar Sankranti based on the zodiac sign in short:

Aries – The people of this zodiac sign should donate Jaggery, Peanuts, and Sesame.

Taurus – The people of this zodiac sign should donate White cloth, Curd, Rice, and Sesame.

Gemini – The people of this zodiac sign should donate Moong dal, Blankets, and Rice.

Cancer – The people of this zodiac sign should donate Rice, Silver, White Sesame, or Pearls.

Leo The people of this zodiac sign should donate Copper, Wheat, or Sesame.

Virgo The people of this zodiac sign should donate Green clothes, Blankets, or Khichdi.

Libra The people of this zodiac sign should donate Sugar, white clothes, or Kheer.

Scorpio – The people of this zodiac sign should donate Red cloth, Moong dal, or Sesame.

Sagittarius – The people of this zodiac sign should donate Turmeric, Yellow cloth, or Gold.

Capricorn – The people of this zodiac sign should donate a Black blanket, Sesame, or any item made of black sesame.

Aquarius – The people of this zodiac sign should donate Kidney beans, Khichdi, or Sesame.

Pisces – The people of this zodiac sign should donate Silk cloth, Chickpea Lentils, or Sesame.

For additional knowledge, let me clarify that the day of Makar Sankranti does not necessarily fall on 14th January only. It changes every century. For example, the day of Makar Sankranti used to fall on the 9th and 10th of January in the period between the 16th and 17th centuries. And the same day used to fall on 11th and 12th of January in the period between the 17th and 18th centuries. In the period between the 18th and 19th centuries, the day of Makar Sankranti used to fall on the 13th and 14th of January. In the period between the 19th and 20th centuries, Makar Sankranti used to fall on the 14th and 15th of January. And in the existing period that is between the 21st and 22nd centuries, Makar Sankranti will fall on either 14th, 15th or 16th of January every year. And to know the actual dates of Makar Sankranti, it is advisable to see the Panchang or Vedic Calendar in order to achieve the highest benefits of that day. And I advise you to consult an expert astrologer for the dates of Makar Sankranti and to get information about the certain time slots known as ‘Sankranti Punyakal’. It is said that any of the specified donations or mentioned activities are done in the time frame of Sankranti Punyakal can give infallible benefits for the next 3 months until the next solstice. Thus it is advisable to do the mentioned activities in the specific time slot suggested by an expert astrologer to achieve great benefits. May this Makar Sankranti provides all of us with happiness and great benefits in our lives.

Shubham Bhavatu

शुभम् भवतु।

Comments (3)

  1. Nidhi

    January 18, 2022 at 11:38 am

    I think you suggest told us the story behind the festival.
    As the title suggests science behind , I was searching for the science in whole article but could not find it.
    But thank you for such insightful story.

  2. Abhijit Sengupta

    April 4, 2022 at 12:07 am

    Guru Metha Ji, Pranam,
    Kindly correct me:
    ‘Sangana’ or ‘Sanjana’ ??
    Daughter of ‘Daksha’ or ‘Biswakarma’??
    She (Sangana) placed a woman looks like her OR cloned a woman…..??

  3. Bhim P Sarmah

    January 7, 2024 at 7:40 pm

    This is probably mythology, not science. Science has entirely different connotation. Only after establishment of facts/figures/data/information etc. through experimental verification or through logical development through rational arguments, the information can be incorporated into the gamut of science. To me, the author seems to mislead readers by inappropriately using the word ‘science’, instead of mythology. Honest suggestion to withdraw the word ‘science’ from the article meant for general public in favour of preseving rationality in public writings.

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