Why Always 18 Akshauhini?

Why Eighteen Akshauhinis?

Eighteen is a very special numeral in Sanskrit.

You have to understand our ancient mathematics a little.Ancient Indians were obsessed with mathematics and accuracy. Proper rituals should be conducted at perfectly auspicious time and exact time. We were obsessed with Astrology and that gave rise to science of Astronomy. In the most ancient of books, Surya Siddhant, the ancient Indian trigonometric and algebraic mathematics is detailed. It is one of the five such ancient books,there are more, I don’t want to read more. Only thing, this book Surya Siddhantwas supposedly written by God in charge of Sun.

The Surya Siddhanta is one of the earliest doctrines(siddhanta) in archaeoastronomy of the Hindus. Its original version is by an unknown author (look up in the sky and ask for autograph! Hand raised!!). It describes the archeoastronomy theories, principles and methods of the ancient Hindus. This siddhanta is supposed to be the knowledge that the Sun god gave to an Asura called Maya (the one who also moonlighted as an architect. By the way,to be an architect, your mathematics has to be damn good!)

Surya Sidhhant spend chapters on kinds of time, length of the year of gods and asuras and men and yakshas and pitras, day and night of Brahma, the elapsed period since creation, how planets move eastwards and side real revolution. The lengths of the Earth’s diameter and circumference are also given. And they are most accurate in ancient world. Eclipses and color of the eclipsed portion of the moon is mentioned. This explains the archeo-astronomical basis for the sequence of days of the week named after the Sun, Moon, etc. Musings that there is no above and below and that movement of the starry sphere is left to right for Asuras makes interesting reading.

So, among the jewels gifted to us in an Akshaypatra in form of Surya sidhhant, we get to know of three trigonometric functions. Jya, Kotijya and utkramjya. There are functions of arcs of circles and later were passed on to modern languages and from jya root, the modern word is Sine and Kotijaya is Cosine.

The ancient Indian students maybe used the formula Sehat Jitni Utna Khaiye (sarva Jya Utkramja Kotijya)
(Add Sugar To Coffee, All Sine TAN COS!!)

Jya came from Jiva, Jiva literally means soul. One who has soul is Jivita or alive. So Jya represents soul.

The ancient Indian used a system now called katapayadi (numerical notation) of depicting letters to numerals for easy remembrance of numbers as words or verses. Assigning more than one letter to one numeral and nullifying certain other letters as valueless, this system provides the flexibility in forming meaningful words out of numbers which can be easily remembered.

(Now katyapadi was in use by Haridatta in 683 AD but we have considerable proof that Aryabhatta used it 200 years before calling it by different name and then even Vararuci used it in texts written down in 4th cen AD. But, we have literary evidence that Vararuchi may be inheriting these from Katyayana, who is author of Vartikas mentioned in Panini text written down in 3rd cen BC. Now that Ashthadhyayi date is pushed to 6th cen BC as per recent researches and that algebra was known to ancient Indians along with calculus even earlier indicates Katyapadi or similar system has been in vogue since advent of the written word. )

Example the value of Pi would be 
ssmāhatāścakra kalāvibhaktoḥ
vyāsastadarddhaṃ tribhamaurvika syāt

Literally 3.1415926536

This method of using words for numbers lends itself to many funny Rupyamas (Metaphors or sayings)

So how many days are in each month?

palahāre pālu nallū, pularnnālo kalakkilāṃ
illā pālennu gopālan – āṃgḷamāsadinaṃ kramāl

Milk is best for breakfast, when it is morning, it should be stirred. But Gopālan says there is no milk

pala (പല) is 31, hāre (ഹാരേ) is 28, pālu പാലു = 31, nallū (നല്ലൂ) is 30, pular (പുലര്) is 31, nnālo (ന്നാലോ) is 30, kala (കല) is 31, kkilāṃ (ക്കിലാം) is 31, illā (ഇല്ലാ) is 30, pāle (പാലെ) is 31, nnu go (ന്നു ഗോ) is 30, pālan (പാലന്) is 31.

So that brings us back to 18.

Jiva is the soul, jya is derived from Jiva and the numeral to represent Jaya is 18.

The Veda Vyas named his book Jaya or 18!!!

Buddhism, Christianity and Islam have their own founders;Hinduism does not have a founder. The basis of Hinduism is certain great principles based on traditional conventions. Individuals have a place in Hinduism only as the models of these principles. The closest we have to Acharyato Hinduism is Vyasa. Mr. Krishna Dwaipayana Vyasa.

Hinduism or Sanatana dharma is a structure built on the foundation stones of Vedas, Bhagvada Gita and Vyas sutras. Vyassutras define Upanishads, the head of Vedas, Gita advises how those principles are implemented in daily life (it is so true for me you can’t even begin to understand, Gita completely regulates my life!!), This trinity (and do we Hindus love the trinities!!) is called Prasthana Traya.

As for the Upanishadas, Upanishads mahan hain, Upanishads great hai, Upanishads dhanya hai, Upanishads pujya hai, Upanishads jaisa principles ka sangraha duniya meinnahi, balki humein ehsaas hai ki Upanishads toh purushkrita hi nahi …. Apuraseya hainapuraseya hain”

Upanishadas are considered Apuraseya (basically not humancreation higher) and that means that our belief is that Sanatana Dharma wascreated by higher power.

Ved Vyasa composed Brahmasutras and set up guru paramapara to create Vedanta to study Vedas continuously lest they be forgotten. And he composed the Great Ship Mahabharata to house and protect Bhagvada Geeta inside it to sail through the oceans of time and remain as refreshing to humanity as it was at the point of the creation at Dharmakshetra Kurukshetra.

Veda Vyasa had one weakness: (actually 12 also but that’s another article)

Number 18 or Jaya !!!

jayo nametihasoyam srotavyo vijigisuna

Because Mahabharata became an epic through which the meaning of Vedas is explained, it is the fifth Veda and is the eternal script-text because its soul is Jaya. Mahabharata is the text to have a soul the jiva. Hence 18 the Jaya.

• Mahabharata has 18 Parvas (though several are pamphlets while others are libraries in themselves.)
• There are 18 chapters in Gita.
• The war lasted 18 battles.
• The Akshauhini count is always stated even on last day as 18
• Kunti, Gandhari and Dhritrashtra die in forest fire 18 years later.
• Dwarka falls 18 years after that.
• Kunti and Pandu spends 18 years in forest.
• Lakhsha graha happens 18 years after that.
• Subhadra-Arjuna vivhaha happens 18 years after that
• Rajsuya preparations start 18 years after Khandava daha
• Krishna was 18 when he killed Kamsa
• Jarasandha attacked 18 times.
• To do rajasuya yagna, 16 priests are mentioned plus Yajmana and his wife
• 18 18 18 18 18 18

Jaya jay jaya jaya jaya jaya jaya jaya
Jaya jay jaya jaya jaya jaya jaya jaya
Jaya jay jaya jaya jaya jaya jaya jaya

Jaya Ho!

Jai ho, jai ho, jai ho,

Aaja, aaja jind shamiyane ke tale
Aaja jariwale nile aasman ke tale

Jai ho, jai ho

Ratti, ratti sachi maine jaan gavayi hai
Nach, nach koylo pe raat bitayi hai
Akhiyon ki neend maine phoonko se uda di
Neele tare se maine ungli jalayi hai

Aaja, aaja jind shamiyane ke tale
Aaja Aaja jariwale nile aasman ke tale

Jai ho, jai ho, jai ho, jai ho
Jai ho, jai ho
জয় হে, জয় হে, জয় হে, জয় জয় জয় জয় হে।।
Every sacrifice needs 18 entities, 16 ritviks, Yajmana and his wife. Thus, 18 implies Sacrifice. 
Mahabharata is the sacrifice of all, those who observe Dharma with Son of Dharma, Dharma on Earth Dharmaraja as Yajamana of that Sacrifice. This is the great sacrifice preformed by Jiva, the son of Dharma, for the ultimate soul, using the sixteen Ritvikas, Five work organs, five knowledge organs, Five pranas, Mind as 16th and Intellect is Draupadi, the wife. 
When one’s deeds are for sacrifice, that becomes svadharma the spiritual quest. 
JAYA is the supreme soul which pervades everything and performing svadharma is the journey to enlightenment that is encapsulated in JAYA the Mahabharata.

Jaya is the final goal, not in sense of just a victory, in sense of achieving Jiva, the Pandavas are Sadhana (tools) and their achievement the siddhi of that jiva, the Jaya.

Kauravas thought that they can achieve everything at all times with their might. The great warriors such as Bhishma and Drona were on their side as well. Each of them alone were capable of conquering the world. The Kauravas had more military strength and equipment. They conducted the affairs without considering the propriety or otherwise, righteousness or otherwise, defying good men, mocking at advices and even challenging Krishna.

Did they not achieve many things? The answer is, yes, indeed. But in the end, they destroyed others and they themselves perished.
vardhatyadharmen. a narastato bhadran. i pasyati
tatah. sapatnannjayati samulastu vinasyati

While enjoying the kingdom and supreme power, they were burning inside waiting for that final end. They were never content.

Pandavas had done everything with the permission and blessings of Krishna. 
Still, did they not suffer from many afflictions? Yes, but the fact is that in any dangerous or difficult situation, they had an inner satisfaction.

Always they had the faith that they are living for Dharma and Dharma will save them. They also had the comfort arising out of this belief. There is an internal flow of satisfaction between and below the pains and difficulties that occur, while following a great ideal. This makes them adhere to Dharma.

While searching for the root of Dharma, Manu also adds the phrase atmanastus. tireva ca. (fulfilling Atma’s thirst)

This satisfaction of atmaa is the biggest compensation received by the observer of Dharma. Pandavas definitely had enough of this. This is what supported them in the life struggle. The reason for the firmness-at-war (Yudhisthara) of the Pandavas is the state of being the son of Dharma (Dharmaputra) or literally the rule of dharma (Dharmaraja).

Till you are conscious that you are an individual, you should do your Dharma, remembering the God, with faith and the atmaa’s courage derived thereof.

yatra yogesvarah. krishna. 
o yatra partho dhanurdharah.
tatra srirvijayobhutirdhruva nitirmatirmama (Geeta 18:78)

Thither Krishna the Lord of Yoga is hither the great bowman Arjuna is 
They are the prosperity, jaya, greatness and eternal justice, the godhood themselves

Mahabharata is Dharma-sacrifice (18) of Dharma, Yudhha-sacrifice (18) of Arjuna, Pratigya-Sacrifice (18) of Bhima and knowledge sacrifice (18) of Vyasa.

Thus this Veda of victory (18) celebrates the all encompassing victory (18) of sacrifice (18), the form of
method, and the victory (18) of ultimate Dharma, the form of aim.

That is why every time Poet uses the term 18 Akshauhinis as well. Reminding the sacrifice of the armies engaged in pursuit of Jaya.

There are lot of sources to thank but am most obliged to Triveni magazine and Swami Siddhinathananda and A. Purushothaman.

Pranshu Saxena

Post Author: Mahabharata World

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