Speed of Light in the Vedas


“Nimisharda” is a phrase used in Indian languages of Sanskrit origin while referring to something that happens/moves instantly, similar to the ‘blink of an eye’. Nimisharda means half of a nimesa. (Ardha is half)
In Sanskrit ‘Nimisha’ means ‘blink of an eye’ and Nimisharda implies within the blink of an eye. This phrase is commonly used to refer to instantaneous events.

Below is the mathematical calculations of a research done by S S De and P V Vartak on the speed of light calculated using the Rigvedic hymns and commentaries on them.

The fourth verse of the Rigvedic hymn 1:50 (50th hymn in book 1 of rigveda) is as follows:

तरणिर्विश्वदर्शतो जयोतिष्क्र्दसि सूर्य |
विश्वमा भासिरोचनम |

taranir vishvadarshato jyotishkrdasi surya |
vishvamaa bhaasirochanam ||

which means

“Swift and all beautiful art thou, O Surya (Surya=Sun), maker of the light, Illuming all the radiant realm.”

Commenting on this verse in his Rigvedic commentary, Sayana who was a minister in the court of Bukka of the great Vijayanagar Empire of Karnataka in South India (in early 14th century) says:

tatha ca smaryate yojananam. sahasre dve dve sate dve ca yojane
ekena nimishardhena kramaman.

which means “It is remembered here that Sun (light) traverses 2,202 yojanas in half a nimisha”

NOTE: Nimisharda= half of a nimisha

In the vedas Yojana is a unit of distance and Nimisha is a unit of time.

Unit of Time: Nimesa

The Moksha dharma parva of Shanti Parva in Mahabharata describes Nimisha as follows:

15 Nimisha = 1 Kastha

30 Kashta = 1 Kala

30.3 Kala = 1 Muhurta

30 Muhurtas = 1 Diva-Ratri (Day-Night)

We know Day-Night is 24 hours

So we get 24 hours = 30 x 30.3 x 30 x 15 nimisha

in other words 409050 nimisha

We know 1 hour = 60 x 60 = 3600 seconds

So 24 hours = 24 x 3600 seconds = 409050 nimisha

409050 nimesa = 86,400 seconds

1 nimesa = 0.2112 seconds (This is a recursive decimal! Wink of an eye=.2112 seconds!)

1/2 nimesa = 0.1056 seconds

Unit of Distance: Yojana

Yojana is defined in Chapter 6 of Book 1 of the ancient vedic text “Vishnu Purana” as follows

10 ParamAnus = 1 Parasúkshma

10 Parasúkshmas = 1 Trasarenu

10 Trasarenus = 1 Mahírajas (particle of dust)

10 Mahírajas= 1 Bálágra (hair’s point)

10 Bálágra = 1 Likhsha

10 Likhsha= 1 Yuka

1o Yukas = 1 Yavodara (heart of barley)

10 Yavodaras = 1 Yava (barley grain of middle size)

10 Yava = 1 Angula (1.89 cm or approx 3/4 inch)

6 fingers = 1 Pada (the breadth of it)

2 Padas = 1 Vitasti (span)

2 Vitasti = 1 Hasta (cubit)

4 Hastas = a Dhanu, a Danda, or pauruSa (a man’s height), or 2 Nárikás = 6 feet

2000 Dhanus = 1 Gavyuti (distance to which a cow’s call or lowing can be heard) = 12000 feet

4 Gavyutis = 1 Yojana = 9.09 miles


So now we can calculate what is the value of the speed of light in modern units based on the value given as 2202 yojanas in 1/2 nimesa

= 2202 x 9.09 miles per 0.1056 seconds

= 20016.18 miles per 0.1056 seconds

= 189547 miles per second !!

As per the modern science speed of light is 186000 miles per second !

And so I without the slightest doubt attribute the slight difference between the two values to our error in accurately translating from vedic units to SI/CGS units. Note that we have approximated 1 angula as exactly 3/4 inch. While the approximation is true, the angula is not exactly 3/4 inch. –

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