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speed of light given by vedas September 29, 2008

Posted by Neelam in Articles.
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

This is a write-up to show that our ancient seers had sound knowledge of universe and astronomical principles. They derived the astrological results from these observations.

Everybody knows the speed of light is 186,000 miles which is actually discovered in 1675 by ROMAR.

But the hymn 1.50 of the Rigveda on the Sun, says
[O Sun] you who traverse 2,202 yojanas in half a nimesa. The usual meaning of yojana is about 9 miles as in the Artha shastra and for nimesha.
The measures of time are thus defined in the Puranas:
15 nimesa = 1 kastha
30kastha= 1 kala
30 kala = 1 muhurta
30 muhurta = 1 day-and-night

A nimesa is therefore equal to 16/75 seconds. It does come very close to the correct figure of 186,000 miles per second.”

The first quantitative estimate of the speed of light is seen in Indian vedic scholar Sayana’s commentary on the Rigveda, one of the main Hindu scriptures. It says sun light travels 2202 Yojanas in a half Nimesa. Yojana is an ancient unit of length. Arthasastra defines it as being equal to 8,000 dhanus, which is equivalent to 9 miles. A nimesa is an ancient unit of time that is equal to 16/75 seconds. Thus 2,202 yojanas in half a nimesa is equal to 185,794 miles per second after conversion. The modern estimate of the speed of light is 186,281.7 miles per second.

It is to be noted that Bhatta Bhaskara (probably in 10th century) made the same statement in his commentary on Taittiriya Brahmana, another Hindu Veda . He says this to be an old tradition.

Lets get to the details now:-

taranirviśvadarśato jyotishkridasi sūrya viśvamā bhāsirocanam

Swift and all beautiful art thou, O Surya, maker of the light; illuminating all the radiant realm. [RV: 1.50.4]

Sayana (c.1315-1387 AD) comments: “It is remembered that Sun traverses 2,202 yojanas in half a nimesa; giving light to all things, even to the moon and the planets, by night; for they are of a watery substance from which the rays of the sun are reflected.”yojana is a yoking or harnessing, that which is yoked or harnessed, a team or vehicle, or a course or path. Yojana is a stage or the distance traversed in one harnessing or without unyoking.

1 yojana is said to comprise either 4 or 8 krosha (a cry or shout, or the range of the voice in calling); and 1 krosha (or goruta ~ as far as a cow’s lowing may be heard, or a bull’s roar) may represent either 1000 or 2000 daNDa (a rod or staff).

Sound radiates in all directions, so perhaps there is some confusion in regarding a krosha either as the radius of travel in one direction or as the full diameter of travel.Man is the traditional measure of all things, and 1 danda represents 1 pauruSa (a man’s length) which equals 1 dhanvantara (bow-string) or dhanu (bow).

1 yojana measures either 4,000 or (more likely) 8,000 dhanus. Assuming that 1 paurusha is 6 ft long, then 1 yojana must represent a distance of about 14.6 km (or about 9 miles, as suggested by Monier-Williams).A full range of self-consistent units was anciently devised from the proportions of man’s own frame, although their exact conversion into modern units is unclear.

The basic unit is an angula (digit or finger), and 1 danda was perhaps originally divided into 100 digits, although 108 is the traditional value, and Aryabhatta prefers 96. Assuming a 6 ft danda, Aryabhatta’s angula is exactly ¾ inch (or about 1.9 cm).It does appear that 1 angula has always measured around 1.8 to 1.9 cm, with 1 danda or dhanu ranging from 1.83 to 2.05 m, so that 1 yojana must extend somewhere between 14.6 and 16.4 km.nimeSa means shutting the eye or winking, and as a measure of time it is a wink of the eye or a moment.Kautilya’s Arthashastra (c.320 BC) defines 1 nimesha as 1/360,000th of a day and night ~ i.e. 0.24 seconds.2,202 yojanas in half a nimesha.Given that 1 yojana is between 14.6 and 16.4 km, 2,202 yojanas must represent between 32,149 and 36,113 km. Half a nimesha is 0.12 seconds.

Sayana thus gives the speed of light as between 267,910 and 300,940 km/sec ~ the currently accepted value for the speed of light being 299,792 km/sec.

Assuming that the true speed of light was actually known to Sayana, who presented “2,202 yojanas in half a nimesha” as a verity; and accepting Kautilya’s value for nimesha; then a perfect yojana would be exactly 16,337.4636 m and a perfect paurusha or danda exactly 2.0422 m in length.

And (assuming 108 digits per danda) then 1 angula = 1.89 cm, 1 dhanurgraha = 7.56 cm, 1 dhanurmushti = 15.13 cm, 1 vitasti = 22.69 cm, and 1 hasta (cubit) = 51.05 cm.

All discussion of Sayana’s comment has assumed that one yojana is about 14.6 km, and this is based on the western ideal of a 6 ft man. The ancient sacred Egyptian cubit measured 28 angulas or 52.92 cm; and the ancient sacred Babylonian cubit measured 51.03 cm ~ i.e. 27 angulas ~ and this cubit was well known in ancient India. There are 32,000 hasta or cubits in a yojana; and if the Sumerian sacred cubit is assumed, then one yojana is actually 16.33 km.

Therefore, 2,202 yojanas measures 35,958 km, and the speed of light is properly calculated to be 299,648 km/sec ~ and western science did not match the precision of Sayana’s estimate until 1907 !

The ordinary cubit measures 24 angulas (digits) or 6 dhanurgrahas (palms) or about 45 cm. The old Egyptian royal cubit measured 28 digits (each 1.8710 cm) or 7 palms (each 13.0970 cm) ~ i.e. 52.3881 cm. A copper bar from Nippur (c. 2650 BC) perhaps defined a Sumerian cubit of about 51.85 cm. The Persian cubit measured about 50.01 cm. The Harappan cubit was between 51.562 cm and 52.324 cm in length. Thus, an ordinary man is about 1.8 m tall, and his travel is measured by stages of about 14.5 km. The divine Egyptian ruler measured 2.09552 m, and his journey was by stages of 16.7642 km. The copper man of Nippur would perhaps have stood 2.074 high, with leaps of 16.592 km.

The Persian paurusha was about 2.0004 m long, with stages or yojanas of 16.0032 km. The Indus standard was between 2.062 and 2.093 m, with yojanas from 16.50 to 16.74 km. Given the dictum of 2,202 yojanas in half a nimesha, an ordinary man would judge the speed of light to be 266,075 km/sec; and the pharaoh’s photon would travel at 307,623.07 km/sec, but neither the royal Egyptian cubit of 28 digits nor the mortal human cubit of 24 digits is appropriate for this formula, which traditionally relies on a measure of 108 (i.e. 4 x 27) digits. The Nippur standard would provide a speed of 304,463.2 km/sec; the Persian standard gives us 293,658.72 km/sec; and the Sarasvati standard gives a figure somewhere between 302,775 km/sec and 307,179 km/sec. Assuming a perfect yojana, the constant of 2,202 could actually be any number from 2,182 to 2,222, and the resultant speed of light would still be accurate to within 1 percent. Very simply, light travels about 2,200 yojanas in half a nimesha; so that light travels about 2,200 x 720,000 yojanas in a day. And given a yojana of about 16.5 km, this means that the speed of light was anciently calculated to be about 302,500 km/sec.

The modern accepted value for the speed of light is exactly 299,792.457 km/sec.



1. Manoj Kumar N. - May 9, 2009

Excellent findings. Appreciate you may bring similar scientific facts hidden in India literature.

One such this to be studied is the 100 yojanas jumped by Hanuman in Sundar Kand from India to Srilanka.

2. dev - August 6, 2010

its very scientific study…. can you send these details .

this is not enough , you need to publish it in scientific journals to reestablish the truth

3. bluelotus - April 18, 2011

I believe that it is the Vedas which give the correct speed of light. Future research todya will fine tune the number to what the vedas say. such is my belief in the vedas, and not from a ‘religion’ point of view but from a scientific viewpoint.

4. Anonymous - July 20, 2011

For more details, go to


5. Andy - August 9, 2011

RV1.50 does not mention the speed of light (you can see the hymn transliterated here: ). It is only in the 14th century commentary.

On a side note, why not just say 4404 yojanas in 1 nimesa? I hate fractions over fractions.

6. Aryabhatta - December 25, 2011

A great mathematician. Without the inventions the world would be different.

7. Spiritmolecule - March 23, 2014

Irrespective of the fact that the speed of light calculated by the Vedas, comes very close to the modern scientifically calculated value, it proves that Vedas are written by Humans (don’t wanted to get into the point that the Vedic knowledge was composed long before they were actually written and passed over generation to generation through oral recital (Smriti)). Because if the knowledge was really revealed by God, then I would not accept even the smallest difference in the values, since God is considered most purest, most knowledgeable entity / thing etc..

8. Quora - November 24, 2014

Can anyone become an atheist by applying strict rules of logic?

No.The Vedic sages had a totally different type of approach.They were master of YOGA.Yoga is a technique of uniting your mind with the supreme power of nature. They knew many things with power of yoga. There is a hymn in Rigveda that sunlight reaches a…

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