Rule of Thumb


Traditional Wisdom is in need of documentation to prevent extinction

India alone has around 800 different tribes... Not all of them are found in forests. Nevertheless their culture, traditions and knowledge, and way of life are largely in synch with Mother Nature’s cycles and seasons… a sustainable way of life within its means. In independent India tribes hoped that the persecution they faced at the hands of colonial hands will be replaced by respect and dignity.

But it was not so simple. Life is hardly as simple as a straight line! As Indian citizens the tribes too enjoy constitutional privileges, sometimes at the cost of the wild animal kingdom which are meant to thrive under the bestirring gaze of the tiger’s stride and stripe … in tiger terrain. Anthropologists believe that if the indigenous people are not protected from the harsh realities of life glamourised by the electronic media then their fragile numbers will be affected and their tribe doomed.

The reported initiation to amend animal cruelty prevention laws to appease cultural rights of tribes in the Jallikattu animal race in Tamilnadu in India and similar rituals cruel to animals is just one such instance of vote bank politics overpowering the conservation quotient of animal rights.

The need, nevertheless to document the traditional wisdom and knowledge of the tribes is critical, just to prevent their commercial exploitation from multinational pharmaceutical companies. For, commercialising traditional knowledge of tribes corrupts the social fabric of already endangered tribes tethering on the brink of alcoholism and under the exploits of drug, poaching and smuggling mafias.

Some tribes in the subcontinent profess traditional wisdom that outsmarts the best early warning / forecast bulletins of Indian Meteorological Department; others profess knowledge of siring male or female child on a particular day of the lunar cycle in a woman’s menstrual cycle. Still others are able to recognise the foetus’s gender just by placing a forefinger on the hair parting on the pregnant woman’s head – a tradition bequeathed from the times of the Indus Valley Civilisation in Harappa and Mohenjo-Daro. Even traditional wisdom driven gender discrimination in today’s times can be alarming. The tribes’ agrometeorological expertise is indeed a sustainable means of stake holder participation in conservation and management of many a modern day malady … be it hypertension or hurricane.

Tribes know the medicinal properties of herbs, roots and tubers in the forests; they certainly know sustainable living and best practices in solid waste management. Yet the tribes do not have basic standard of living like water, sanitation, potable water supply; sexual and menstrual hygiene are practised more in the breach; malnutrition hunger, poverty, illiteracy, alcoholism plague the tribes 70 years after Indian Independence.

Giving the tribes the development quotient they aspire for, calls for ascertaining if they wish to integrate into mainstream at all. For, providing higher development quotient for indigenes in tiger terrain endangers the critically endangered tigers and its faunal kingdom. Finding the right balance is possible through dispassionate but sustained discourse: just one of the tenets and purposes of Digital Discourse Foundation.

Researchers, scholars, activists, filmmakers and writers must converge to evolve best practices in a way that the indigenous people can be protected stakeholders in their own development; without isolating them and denying them their basic human rights is the challenge … summed up in two powerful words: Sustainable Development.


Lunar cycle syncs with geological cycles on planet earth

By Malini Shankar

Digital Discourse Foundation

Many oriental societies and communities like Hinduism, Buddhism and Islam follow the lunar calendar which escapes the serious engagement of the scientific community largely because of the sentimental and superstitious values attached to it. This prejudice clutters the understanding and significance traditional wisdom. But the lunar subtraction of days (from the Christian calendar) – for instance - can help us understand many unknowns in the realm of geology and geophysics.

It was beyond my platonic engagement too till the Asian Tsunami started obsessing my intellectual curiosity. On the proverbial day after – infact on 27th December 2004 I was brooding with depression and guilt that I had not been able to do anything to prevent the colossal number of deaths. Who could have, if at all? Well the Tsunami could not have been prevented surely because the epicentre of the M 9 earthquake was in the sea triggering the inevitable tsunami. But I was feeling haunted, sitting on dry land in Bangalore, India. It struck me that the Bam earthquake of Iran had also happened on 26th December a year earlier almost at the same hour. It was a bit of a Eureka moment, then it came back… the Bhuj earthquake of January 26th 2001 had also occurred at about the same time on the 26th of the month – January 2001… these were momentous calamities and took a high toll of lives. People everywhere were looking up the USGS websites to the point that the web traffic could have crashed it. But a decent study of the historical database of earthquakes later revealed to me the eerie pattern of seismic events coinciding with the lunar cycle. The Andaman Sumatra Mega Earthquake that triggered the Asian Tsunami had happened on a full moon day in the wee hours. A former colleague of mine … Ms. Meryse Sandra Tissera in Colombo told me that she had gone to the beach after Christmas celebrations the previous night. She later recalled that “she had never seen the sea so spooky”. When I pressed her for a more detailed explanation she said that is difficult to articulate, it seemed so sullen, so hollow …” she said.

The favourite dates for release of seismic energy were around the 11th and 26th or around the new moon and full moon of any given month. This was my prognosis after the obsessive intellectual curiosity took the better of me. I painstakingly documented the dates of earthquakes against their magnitude and location of epicentre as documented on USGS.

· 26 December 1939 Turkey (M.7.8),

· 26th November 1942 Turkey (M 7.1)

· 26.May 1957 Turkey (M 7.1)

· 26th April 1959 (Taiwan region (M 7.5)

· 26th January 2001 Bhuj Earthquake (M 7.6)

· 26th May 2003 Halmahera Indonesia ( M 7.0),

· 26th December 2003 Bam Earthquake (M 6.6),

· 26th December 2004 Sumatran Mega Earthquake (M 9.1),

· 26 February 2005 Simeulue Indonesia (M 6.8),

· 26. September 2005 Peru (M 7.5)

· 26th May 2006 Java Indonesia (M 6.3)

· 26th December 2006 - Taiwan region - M 6.9,

· 26th December 2006 - Taiwan region - M 7.1,

· 26th July 2007 Molucca Sea (M 6.9)

· 26th September 2007 Papua New Guinea, (M 6.8)

· 26th December 2007 Alaskan Earthquake, (M6.4)

· 26th April 2008 Nevada USA (M 5.0)

· 24th May 2013 Sea of Okhotsk, Kamchatka (M 8.3)

· 25th September 2003 (Hokkaido Japan (M 8.3)

· 25th April 1972 Mindoro Philippines (M 7.2)

· 27th February 2010 Bio-Bio Chile (M 8.8)

· 28th March.1964, Good Friday Earthquake Alaska (M 9.2)

· 26th June 1941, Andaman Nicobar Islands (M 7.7)

· 27th November 1945 off Makran Coast Pakistan (M 8.1)

· 11th December 1967 the Koynanagar earthquake in Maharashtra (M 7.7)

· 11th March 2011 Sendai Tohuko earthquake Japan (M 9)

· 11th April 2012 Northern Indian Ocean off the coast of Sumatra (M 8.2 & M 8.6)

· 11th January 2007 Kuril Islands (M. 7.7)

· 13th January 2007 east of Kuril Islands (M 8.1)

· 12th September 2007 Southwestern Sumatra (M 8.5)

· 13th October 1963 Kuril Islands (M 8.3)

· 14th November 1986 Taiwan (M 7.8)

· 12th March 1966 Taiwan (M 7.6)

· 10th November 2002 Papua Indonesia (M 7.6)

Not that on other days of the month seismic events do not occur, they do, but on the new moon or full moon of the month big ones occur, invariably triggering tsunamis especially if the epicentre is near the edge of an ocean. For instance as I write this on 18th July 2017 news reports indicate an earthquake of M 7.8 off the Aleutian Islands near Kamchatka, prompting a Tsunami warning from the Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre.

Further, as the list of dates of earthquakes and epicentres listed by me in this article above indicate, earthquakes that occur nearer to the full moon or new moon day do not necessarily coincide with 11th or 26th of the month but rather - around these dates, depending on the day of the full moon or new moon. So big earthquakes that occur on say 24th, 25th or 27th or 28th of the month or 10th, 12th, 13th of the month certainly aligns with the lunar cycle of new moon and full moon even if the dates vary a bit. Infact on the 11th and 12th of November 1987 tidal waves lashed much of the Maldives even though no earthquake occurred anywhere in the Indian Ocean rim to trigger a tsunami. The secrets held in the womb of the Moon needs to be better understood for the sake of humanity’s secure future!

In my humble observation, big earthquakes occurring on or around the 4th 18th or 31st of the month amounts to a half cycle of the lunar cycle and possibly have to do with co-seismic activities triggered by volcanism on the tectonic plate edges. Later in this article we will understand lunar subtraction of days. The accumulation of these subtracted days is rounded off in an extra month once in three years atleast in the Hindu almanac. So this extra month variates the lunar cycle, ushering in full moon or new moon to 4th and 18th of a month triggering co-seismic activities.

Again there is no way of making a sure fire probability graph of co-seismic activity allied to volcanism. Given the lunar inaccuracy relying on the lunar cycles cannot be hundred percent safe; but makes a reliable indicator of seismic energy release if monitored with seismographs.

Scenes from Tsunami devastated Banda Aceh in Indonesia in the aftermath of the Asian Tsunami. © UN Photo

USGS graphs vindicating the number of earthquakes date-wise and location wise from USGS website do validating the probability of higher number of earthquakes on 11th and 26th of the months…

The scientific community does not subscribe to the accuracy or reliability of earthquake forecasting yet although considerable and serious efforts are being made in this direction; but if this lunar cycle theory can be further researched, quantified and peer reviewed, and thereafter if scientific establishments can intensely monitor accumulation and release of seismic energy, earthquake forecasting will possibly crystallise to that extent.

I am not in the least suggesting any superstition, but I tried understanding the significance of these coincidental geological events. Let us try to understand the lunar calendar.

The Hindu almanac has 12 months of 27 days starting with New Moon. That implies that the Hindu almanac has only 324 days. Once every three years an extra month of 41 days is adjusted into the almanac. This extra month has 41 days instead of 27 days, because a whole extra fortnight is included in this extra month. This is because the moon waxes and wanes, and the moonlight is not constant. So extra hours of moonlight are calibrated into the almanac by Hindu priests. It helps them forecast eclipses precisely in a particular geographical location decades in advance.

The lunar cycle has 27 days per month. In the Hindu lunar almanac every month has only 22.5 days; 4.5 days are calibrated with extra hours every month to accommodate a 12 month calendar. Once every three years the Hindus’ lunar almanac has an additional 13th month which is referred to as Adhika Maasa – which translates to “uber month”. But this 13th month or the extra month accommodates that extra hours of a waxing moon to stretch a whole fortnight. It occurs three months prior to the one designated as an extra month the last time the extra month was there. That means this extra month retracts / precedes the Christian Calendar month corresponding to the current year’s almanac. Thus predating the extra month three years in the future calibrates well with the lunar subtraction of 27 days cycle.

The extra month of 41 days accentuates the season of that extra (Christian calendar) month. That means if in 2018 the extra month corresponded to June - July of the Christian Calendar, in 2021 it is likely to correspond to March-April. The season in this extra month is accentuated and exacerbated. So if the season of April is accentuated with extra heat and humidity it follows that the monsoons / rainy season will be accentuated too. April 2021 can be a dreadful summer in the tropics then. This extra fortnight of summer will add to the heat and humidity, obviously. Heat and humidity triggers higher rainfall… theory of physics. So logically it should have surplus monsoons in the monsoon months.

So in 2024 it is likely that a winter month coinciding with December January is likely to have an extra month of winter. An extra winter season / month should be logically followed by a bristling summer instead of a humid one. There is no escape from heat and humidity in the Tropics, but the seasons’ cycle syncs well with the lunar almanac / lunar cycle. Here below is a list of the months of the Hindu lunar calendar.

1. Chaitra (March – April)

2. Vaishaka, (April – May)

3. Jestha (May - June )

4. Aashaadha (July - August)

5. Sravana, (August – September)

6. Bhadrapada, (August – September

7. Aswayuja, (September October)

8. Karthika, (October – November)

9. Margashira (November – December)

10. Pushya (December – January)

11. Magha (January – February)

12. Phalguna (February – March)

Over a 60 year cycle every single month of the Hindu almanac would have had an extra fortnight amounting to a 45 day month. Here’s where I need to completely deviate from traditional significance of lunar calendars … for our clearer, logical understanding.

The months synchronous to June July in the Hindu almanac coincide with summer solstice and eat up quite a few lunar hours of the Hindu lunar almanac. In the Christian calendar both July and August have 31 days whether or not it is a leap year. Could this overlapping of two days every year contribute to a 40 das period of Lent which is marked by the lunar calendar? I am seeking an understanding of the significance of lunar calendar marking Lent in the Christian community / Christian calendar. Lent and Good Friday are calibrated on the lunar calendar in Christendom.

To my understanding it appears that the lunar traction has a very significant impact on tides, ocean currents, magmatic activity and thereby natural triggers of climate change too. Needless to reiterate the impact of climate change has bearings on agriculture, biodiversity, microclimate, fishing, horticulture, industrial production, food security, livelihood security, terrain, trade, tourism, and tax, shipping, aviation economy and statecraft on the whole.

The Islamic almanac also subtracts days from the Christian calendar accounting for the dates of Ramadan going backward / subtracting year on year. Surely Islamic scholars know the significance of lunar mapping of geological phenomena… it needs documentation, publication and peer review in the public domain.

The Buddhist almanac of Sri Lanka too has 12 months of 27 days each. The Buddhist almanac starts the month with full moon and the Full moon has tremendous cultural significance for Sri Lankans. The months in the Buddhist almanac include:

1. Dhuruthu, (January)

2. Navam (February)

3. Mædhin (March)

4. Bak (April)

5. Vesak (May) - the holiest month for Sri Lankan Buddhists

6. Poson (June)

7. Æsela (July)

8. Nikini (August)

9. Binara (September)

10. Vap (October)

11. Il (November)

12. Undhuvap (December)

The collective effect of seasons can have a cascading effect that lasts for about one to four years. That means in case of an extra fortnight in April or any summer months the following monsoon will be powerful. The cumulative effect of good monsoons on the weather is a cooling effect. … Because the circulation of ocean currents and even the circulation of magma synchronises to squeezing the upwelling of magma in certain porous / volcanic fields triggering allied volcanic and co-seismic events.

These cycles sync perfectly with El Nino and La Nina. El Nino as we know brings unseasonal weather. La Nina does the opposite atleast theoretically. Australian winters are wet and wild, India goes dry with drought and Sri Lanka is hammered with torrential rain in the El Nino period. California is pounded with unseasonal rain and Indian Ocean rim states especially in hinterland Africa face threat of famine, malnutrition and starvation. European winters are either washed away or whitewashed in snow. No wonder El Nino is dreaded world over. When ocean currents reverse it has calamitous impact on regional weather.

Seamount activity in the South Pacific Ocean has the power to reverse the “normally” anti-clockwise currents in the Southern Pacific triggering El Nino Southern Oscillation. Rendering havoc on the currents of the South Pacific Gyre El Nino treats every Lat Long block of planet Earth to unseasonal weather.

El Nino’s mysteries are geological. Understanding the lunar cycle and the submarine volcanic activities are key to understanding the extreme weather phenomenon. © NASA.

Geological cycles not always run into millennial differences; understanding the lunar cycle will help us get a grip of near term geological phenomena surely… Understanding the cycles of El Nino can be a tad easier if we monitor seamount activity in the South Pacific Ocean as this link clearly suggests and another blog by this writer on (

To understand the geological perspective of climate change, do read

In my childhood I used to wonder why the lunar calendar of the Hindus is so complicated, but only after my obsessive engagement with self-taught seismic studies and research could I make sense out of it. I am sure the scientific community will beg to disagree, neither do I wish to contest their thorough research. I would only beseech the geologists to try and make sense of the lunar cycles. It can potentially save thousands of lives that maybe lost in earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanic eruptions and hydrometeorological calamities.

I make it clear that I am not advocating or endorsing superiority of any tradition or religion, just that I analysed this and given my penchant for writing, am blogging. I long to understand the significance of the Buddhist and Islamic almanacs, I am more interested in Earth Sciences than religion… hope that underscores my religious neutrality sufficiently. I have dwelt more on the Hindu almanac in this article than the Islamic or Buddhist almanacs only because having been born in a Hindu family I was exposed more to this and have understood it a tad more than I have understood other almanacs. Surely if we can understand cross cultural significance of traditional wisdom we can make this world a better place to live in for all of us, animals included.

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