Friday, January 18, 2013

Vikram Samvat, India’s most important indigenous dating system

Vikram Samvat or the Vikrama Era is the most important of the India’s many systems of dating that were or are in use in India. It was traditionally introduced by the legendary King Vikramaditya of Ujjaini who drove the Sakas out of Ujjain and thus founded the era to mark his victory. Since Chandra Gupta II (c. 376-415) of the Gupta Dynasty is the only king who assumed the title of Vikramaditya and drove the Sakas out of Ujjain, he cannot be person who introduced the Vikrama Era which began in 58 BC. It is so because the Gupta King lived some 400 years after the beginning of this era. So the legend is certainly incorrect.  

There is a school of thought which says that Era of Vikram was founded by the Malava tribe identified with the Malloi referred to by the Greek historians. It was after the Malavas that the region around Ujjaini, north of the Narmada River, got its name and came to be known as Malwa.  Some scholars credit Azes, an early Indo-Scythian king, for founding the Vikram era but this theory has found few acceptances.

Vikrama Era was more popular in North India. Its new year began originally with the month of Kartitika. However, by the medieval period while its new years commenced in the bright half of Chaitra in North India, in the South India in the dark half of the same month. Today it is the official calendar in the Himalayan country of Nepal.

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