Good times, bad times
18 October 2008

Ocotober 18 2008

dali clock

Here’s a good follow-up to my entry on October 2, “Just in time” regarding inauspicious times to travel and why Srila Prabhupada didn’t travel on Thursday afternoons. These questions come up periodically and the following explanations from Shyamasundara prabhu and Bhanu Swami give the detailed and technical explanations. When in doubt, go to the experts! 

[Shyamasundara prabhu is one of the foremost Vedic astrologers and you can find a link to his site on the “Contacts” page.]

 From: Shyamasundara (Dasa) ACBSP (Astrologer)
Date:     01-Aug-94
Subject:  travel and Muhurta
Mother Urmila requests information about why Srila Prabhupada didn’t travel on Thurday afternoon and asks:

“Is this a general principle or something Prabhupada did because of personal astrological considerations?”

My understanding is that he learned this habit from his association with his own Guru Srila Bhaktisiddhanta who was a renowned astrologer in his purva-ashrama. The reason is that on Thurday afternoon the Rahukalam–the time of Rahu becomes prominent.

 strange times

(This is mentioned in the philosophy paper.)

The method of calculating when the Rahukalam will take place is as follows. First you must know when the sun rises for each day of the week. Then for each day the Rahukalam starts at a different time after sunrise and lasts for 90 minutes. The start times of the Rahukalam for different weekdays are:

Sunday–         10.5 hours after sunrise
Monday–          1.5     ”
Tuesday-          9         ”
Wednesday      6         ”
Thursday        7.5       ”
Friday             4.5       ”
Saturday         3          ”

If the Sun were to rise at 6:00 AM then the Rahukalam on Thursday would correspond to 1:30-3:00 PM. [From Muhurta by B.V. Raman pg 201.] Needless to say the sun rises at various times at different seasons and at different latitudes. We also see that Rahukalam is not on Thursday only.

If one doesn’t have the facility to calculate the exact planetary positions at the time of a journey then the above calculation would serve as a ready reckoner. But it should be stressed that this is really only for layman.

From astrological texts it is noted that there are numerous flaws which could severely afflict a time for travel. This is especially significant in the case of long or important journeys. No time is perfect.


What to do? What is done is to try as best as possible to choose a time which is a free of as many flaws as possible and to strengthen the chart of travel by strengthening the position of the lagna and the Moon. Thus if Jupiter is in the lagna at the start of travel it greatly relieves the affliction.

Texts on Muhurta give both evil combinations and ones that cancel. For example one should never travel if Mars is in the 8th, or if the 8th is otherwise afflicted. The 8th is the house of death and Mars there would indicate  accidents. Considering that in the USA alone there are about 50,000 people killed on the road every year (more than the total US dead in the Vietnam war!) it would be wise to check out the time of travel before you literally risk your life by traveling at “break-neck speed” as Prabhupada said.

melting time

Choosing a good Muhurta is a lot more difficult than most people think for the very reasons stated above. Good times are just not that easy to get. For example as mentioned above about Jupiter in Lagna and Mars in the 8th. Better to have Mars somewhere else than Guru in lagna. It may be that you have a combination with Guru in lagna and Mars in the 8th. Avoid Mars in the 8th at all costs. Strengthen the lagna in other ways such as having Venus in lagna etc.

Regarding : “Over the years, I have heard many versions of this as well as many versions of how to circumvent it, e.g. put your suitcases outside the door on Wednesday.”

I have never heard of this. What I heard was that Bhaktisiddhanta, in order to avoid travelling on ekadasi, would pack his bags and leave them outside on the day before so that it would be considered that the journey had already started.

From a strictly astrological view the ekadasi tithi is not in itself unfavorable for travel. In fact it is considered very good. But as Vaisnavas we prefer to spend ekadasi doing more service and thinking of Krsna etc. Which is hampered by travel.

There are different restrictions for direction of travel on certain days. For example: do not travel towards the east on Sunday or Monday. But if the journey starts after 8 ghatis then it is okay (provided other considerations are good). [1 ghati=24 minutes. Ghatis are counted from the moment of sunrise.] Under no circumstance should a journey commence if the Moon is the Nakshatra Bharani or Krittika.


Text 22259
From:     Bhanu Swami (Madras)
Date:     07-Aug-94
Subject:  marriage times
If Prabhupada was observing late Thursday afternoon, it seems it was bar-bela not rahu-kalam.  Bar bela, kala bela and ratri bela are mentioned in the Navadvipa Panjika, so they are common knowledge in Bengal. Panjika notes that these times are bad for travel, causing death. Where the shastric source is I dont know.

check your time

Rahu kal is common is south india.   If we combine the timings of rahu kala bar bela and kala bela, we see that all of Thursday afternoon becomes bad. As well Sunday and Friday mornings and Tuesday early afternoon become bad.  So why didn’t Srila Bhaktisiddhanta follow all of these timings?  Maybe Thursday was obvious because of the long period of possible dangers.

Note also that Mars hora will also fall at 2 PM on Thursday, so that we be an added consideration.

rahu kalam

Sunday–   4.30 PM
Monday–     7:30 AM
Tuesday-     3. PM
Wednesday   12 Noon
Thursday   1:30 PM
Friday    10.30 AM
Saturday   9:00 AM

sunday          ,     10.30 noon
monday                3.00  pm
tuesday                7.30 am
wednesyday      12.00 noon
thur.                     4.30
friday                   9 am
saturday              1.30pm

kala bela                             all three combined:
sunday             12.00                  10.30 -1.30
monday             7.30
tuesday             1.30                    1.30 -4.30
wednesday       9
thursday          3 pm                   1.30- 6
friday              10.30                    9-12
saturday:          6 am and 4.30 pm

These tithis are bad for travel according to the panjika: caturthi, sasthi, astami, navami, dvadasi, caturdasi, purnima amavasya and sukla pratipat.

So there you go folks (or maybe you don’t go, according to the time). Enjoy working out your travel times, choose the method of transport that suits you best


 and always chant Hare Krsna!

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