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I've had a question for quite a while now, but no one seems to know the answer.

It is my understanding that Diwali is the Indian New Year, but no one seems to know the number of the year. (It isn't 2015.)

Before the British invaded India and switched them to the British calendar system, Indians must have kept the date in years in some type of Indian system.

For example, in China they use the British calendar system, but they also have a Chinese one. Currently the Chinese year is 4713.

I am unable to find anything similar for the Indian Calendar. India had lots of astronomers and mathematicians in the past, so it doesn't make sense to me that they wouldn't have devised a time keeping system that adequately described years for the past and for the future.

So I would appreciate it if someone could tell me what year it is, with references.

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First of all, there isn't really such a thing as "the Hindu calendar". Most Hindu calendars are based on the system described in the Surya Siddhanta, an ancient astronomical treatise, but then subsequently a lot of regional variations on the Surya Siddhanta system developed. Still, most Hindu calendars are lunisolar, in the sense that they have lunar months and sidereal solar days.

Now as far as the zero year goes, different Hindu calendar systems have different zero years, but these are the most prominent:

  1. 3102 BC - This is the zero year of the so-called Yudhishthira Samvat calendar, believed to have originated with the king Yudhisthira (although I'm not sure if Yudhisthira's involvement is mentioned in scriptures). It is the year when Krishna departed the Earth (which I discuss here), and for that reason it is also the start of the Kali Yuga. In religious contexts, this is the zero year that's most often used. For instance, people might say "Ramanujacharya was born on such-and-such year of the Kali Yuga."

  2. 56 BC - This is the zero year of the Vikram Samvat, created by the king Vikramaditya to commemorate his victory against the Scythians. This is the calendar commonly used in North India.

  3. 78 AD - This is the zero year of the Shalivahana Samvat calendar, AKA, the Saka calendar, instituted by the king Gautamiputra Satakarni to celebrate his own victory against the Scythians. (It looks like nothing much changed in a hundred years!) This has been adopted as the national calendar of India.

Notwithstanding all this, if you were to walk up to an educated Hindu and ask him what the zero year of the Hindu calendar is, they would most likely say 3102 BC.

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    So it would be the year 5117 according to the Indian calendar? 5117 = 3102 + 2015 Assuming that the Indian year is 365 days approximately. – Neil Mar 16 '15 at 3:37
  • @Neil Yeah, in fact Wikipedia has a module which shows the current year in various calendars, and it shows 5116/5117 for the Kali Yuga: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Module:Year_in_other_calendars – Keshav Srinivasan Mar 16 '15 at 3:51
  • @Neil You're welcome. I suggest you register an account so you can more easily post questions in future. You can sign in with Gmail. – Keshav Srinivasan Mar 16 '15 at 4:58
  • @KeshavSrinivasan Kindly add actual reference to your dates. There are many researches which completely disputes these dates. – Rama27 Oct 20 '17 at 5:03
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after answer of keshav sriniwasan & comment of neil i wanna add a little more detail that we r in 5117th yr of 28th Kaliyuga of 7th Manvantar of 51st year's 1st day...while i wanna add a unique fact about brahma's time calculation that this is surya siddhanta while go on the link of vateshwar siddhanta that we according to it r in www.new1.dli.ernet.in/data1/upload/insa/INSA_1/20005b65_135.pdf 8th yr's 6th month's 15 days complete & 6 manvantar's 27th chaturyuga's 4th yuga's same 5117th yr...just adding knowledge:)

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sir indian national calendar is published every year and in that SAKA Era, Kali Yug and Gregarian is given. the said calendar is available at http://www.packolkata.gov.in/others.php

Kali Yug caledar will give the number of the year.

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