Vikram Samvat is a historical Indian calendar used in the northern part of the Indian subcontinent and Nepal. It uses lunar months and solar sidereal years. It was King Vikramaditya of Ujjain who established the Vikram Samvat in 57 BC. It was Varahamihira, the greatest astronomer of that time who helped propagate this Samvat. With the advent of epigraphic artwork in the 9th century, this calendar came into prominence. Prior to the 9th century, the same calendar system was known as Krita and Malava. The new year in Vikram Samvat begins on the first day of Chaitra Shukla paksha in North India.
According to Hindu mythology, King Gardabhilla kidnapped a nun named Saraswati. She was the great Jain monk Kalakacharya’s sister. To overcome Gardabhilla, the powerless monk sought the assistance of the Shak monarch in Sakasthana. The Shak King defeated and enslaved him. Despite being eventually liberated, Gardabhilla retired to the wilderness and was murdered by a tiger. Vikramaditya, his son raised in the jungle, subsequently conquered Ujjain and drove away the Shak. As a result, to honour this event, he established a new period known as Vikram Samvat.
Before beginning a new Samvat, the victorious monarch was obligated to discharge all debts owed by the people of his kingdom. Following this custom, King Vikramaditya paid the debts of all the inhabitants residing in his realm from the state treasury and then established a new Samvat from Chaitra Shukla Pratipada in the name of Malavgana which later came to be known as Vikram Samvata.
It starts with the new moon of Chaitra. This period is marked by the beginning of the spring season. To make sure that all the festivals and crop-related rituals fall in the right seasons, the Vikram Samvat adds an extra month every three years following scientific principles. The twelve months are Baishakh, Jestha, Ashadh, Shravan, Bhadra, Ashwin, Kartik, Mangsir, Poush, Magh, Falgun and Chaitra.
Vikram Samvat is also said to be the most accurate and scientific calendar in the world. It is based on the speed and nature of the sun. According to the Vedas, the sun is the soul of the universe which regulates the entire world and even time and nature.
The calendar has no dates. It just has lunar days such as Pratipada, Dwitiya, Tritiya…Purnima/Amavasya. This is why it was considered unsuitable for civil matters and didn’t become the national calendar of India. According to it, we will not be commemorating Independence Day on August 15 every year, but on Shravan Krishna Chaturdashi whenever it occurs. However, remembering impending events in this manner would be quite difficult. It has 354 days in a year, and the months are divided into parts: Shukla paksha and Krishna paksha.
The Vikram Samvat differs from the Shaka Samvat in that the new month begins with the Krishna Paksha, which occurs after the full moon day. The new month in the Shaka Samvat begins with the Shukla Paksha, which occurs after the new moon. This results in a discrepancy on the first day of both Samvats. The first day of the Shaka Samvat, or Pratipada, is the Shukla Paksha of Chaitra, and the sixteenth day of the Vikram Samvat. Saka Samvat started in 78 AD, whereas Vikram Samvat started in 57 BC. The gap between the Saka Samvat and Vikram Samvat is approximately 135 years. The Vikram Samvat is 57 years ahead of the Gregorian calendar.