Monday, August 14, 2006


Concept of Time

The transcendence of time is the aim of every Indian spiritual tradition. Time is often presented as an eternal wheel that binds the soul to a mortal existence of ignorance and suffering.

"Release" from time's fateful wheel is termed moksha, and an advanced ascetic may be called kala-attita (' he who has transcended time').

Hindus believe that the universe is without a beginning (anadi= beginning-less) or an end (ananta = end-less). Rather the universe is projected in cycles.
Each cycle is divided into four yugas (ages of the world).

Satya yuga (golden age) 4,000,000 years

Treta yuga (silver age) 3,600,000 years

Dvapara yuga (copper age) 2,400,000 years

Kali yuga (iron age) 1,200,000 years

Pralaya (cosmic deluge ) 4000,000 years

New Creation 400,000 years

Duration of One Cycle 12,000,000 years

Total duration of the four yugas is called a kalpa. At the end of kalyuga the universe is dissolved by pralaya (cosmic deluge ) and another cycle begins.

Each cycle of creation lasts one kalpa, that is 12,000,000 human years ( or 12,000 Brahma years).

For more on yugas, refer to One Cosmic Day of Creator Brahma).

Time in Hindu mythology is conceived as a wheel turning through vast cycles of creation and destruction (pralaya), known as kalpa. In the words of famous writer, Joseph Campbell:
"The Hindus with their grandiose Kalpas and their ideas of the divine power which is beyond all human category (male or female). Not so alien to the imagery of modern science that it could not have been put to acceptable use."

According to Carl Sagan, (1934-1996) astro-physicist, in his book "Cosmos" says:
"The Hindu religion is the only one of the world's great faiths dedicated to the idea that the Cosmos itself undergoes an immense, indeed an infinite, number of deaths and rebirths. It is the only religion in which the time scales correspond, to those of modern scientific cosmology.

According to Guy Sorman, visiting scholar at Hoover Institution at Stanford and the leader of new liberalism in France:
" Temporal notions in Europe were overturned by an India rooted in eternity. The Bible had been the yardstick for measuring time, but the infinitely vast time cycles of India suggested that the world was much older than anything the Bible spoke of. It seems as if the Indian mind was better prepared for the chronological mutations of Darwinian evolution and astrophysics."
(source: The Genius of India - By Guy Sorman ('Le Genie de l'Inde') p. 195).

Swami Kriyananada (J. Donald Walters) World renowned as a singer, composer, and lecturer, founder of the Ananda Village is perhaps the most successful intentional community in the world writes:
"Hindu cosmography, for example born in hoary antiquity, strikes one in certain ways as surprisingly modern. India has never limited its conception of time to a few crowded millennia. Thousands of years ago India's sages computed the earth's age at a little over two billion years, our present era being what is called the seventh Manuvantra. This is a staggering claim. Consider how much scientific evidence has been needed in the West before men could even imagine so enormous a time scale."
(source: Crises in Modern Thought: The Crises of Reason - By Swami Kriyananda (J. Donald Walters) vol. 1 p - 94)

Princeton University’s Paul Steinhardt and Cambridge University’s Neil Turok, have recently developed The Cyclical Model.
They have just fired their latest volley at that belief, saying there could be a timeless cycle of expansion and contraction. It’s an idea as old as Hinduism, updated for the 21st century. The theorists acknowledge that their cyclic concept draws upon religious and scientific ideas going back for millennia — echoing the "oscillating universe" model that was in vogue in the 1930s, as well as the Hindu belief that the universe has no beginning or end, but follows a cosmic cycle of creation and dissolution.
(source: Questioning the Big Bang -

According to Alain Danielou: "The Hindu lives in eternity. He is profoundly aware of the relativity of space and time and of the illusory nature of the apparent world."

The Hindus, according to Sir Monier-Williams, were Spinozists more than 2,000 years before the advent of Spinoza, and Darwinians many centuries before Darwin and Evolutionists many centuries before the doctrine of Evolution was accepted by scientists of the present age.

The French historian Louis Jacolliot as quoted by Galav in the "Philosophy of Hinduism" page 17 says, "Here to mock are conceit, our apprehensions, and our despair, we may read what Manu said, perhaps 10,000 years before the birth of Christ about Evolution:
' The first germ of life was developed by water and heat.' (Book I, sloka 8,9 )
' Water ascends towards the sky in vapors; from the sun it descends in rain, from the rains are born the plants, and from the plants, animals.' (Book III, sloka 76).

Sir John Woodroffe, (1865-1936) the well known scholar, Advocate-General of Bengal and sometime Legal Member of the Government of India. He served with competence for eighteen years and in 1915 officiated as Chief Justice. He has said:
"Ages before Lamarck and Darwin it was held in India that man has passed through 84 lakhs (8,400,000) of birth as plants, animals, as an "inferior species of man" and then as the ancestor of the developed type existing to-day. The theory was not, like modern doctrine of evolution, based wholly on observation and a scientific enquiry into fact but was a rather (as some other matters) an act of brilliant intuition in which observation may also have had some part."
(source: Is India Civilized: Essays on Indian Culture - By Sir John Woodroffe p. 22).

Count Maurice Maeterlinck (1862-1949) was a Belgian writer of poetry and a wide variety of essays. He won the 1911 Nobel Prize for literature. In his book Mountain Paths, he says:
"he falls back upon the earliest and greatest of Revelations, those of the Sacred Books of India with a Cosmogony which no European conception has ever surpassed."
(source: Mountain Paths - By Maurice Maeterlinck).

The Laya Yoga Samhita stated that just as the beams of sunlight entering a room reveal the presence of innumberable motes, so infinite space is filled with countless brahmandas (solar systems). The atomic structure of matter was discussed in the ancient Vaisesika treatises. And in the Yoga Vashista it was stated, in a passage very similar to the foregoing: "There are vast worlds all placed way within the hollows of each atom, multifarious as the motes in a sunbeam."
(source: Crises in Modern Thought: The Crises of Reason - By Swami Kriyananda (J. Donald Walters) vol. 1 p - 95).

Thus, in Hinduism, science and religion are not opposed fundamentally, as they often seem to be in the West, but are seen as parts of the same great search for truth and enlightenment that inspired the sages of Hinduism. Fundamental to Hindu concept of time and space is the notion that the external world is a product of the creative play of Maya (illusion).


Matter is said to be created from sound and Om is the most sacred of all sounds, the syllable that preceded the universe and from which the gods were made. It is the "root" syllable (mula mantra), the cosmic vibration that holds together the atoms of the world and heavens. Since Om precedes all things, it is used as an invocation to prayer or sacred singing.

Omkar is the most sacred word for the Hindus. For them, it is synonymous with the Supreme Godhead, the Impersonal as well as the Personal God. It is the all-comprehensive Symbol and Name of God. It is also deemed as the *Maha Mantra* , the best aid and means for man to realize God.

Philo (50 BC) an Alexandrian philosopher, who knew of the Indian Gymnosophists set forth the theory of Logos which passed into Christianity in the Gospel of St. John and is verily the Indian conception of Vak (word) which is personified in the Vedas as a Divine Power.
(source: The Soul of India - By Satyavrata R Patel p.12).

There is a Vedic verse as follows :
Prajapati vai idam agra asit
Tasya vak dvitiya asit
Vag vai paramam Brahma
"In the beginning was Prajapati, the Bramh with whom was the Word,
and the Word was verily the Supreme Bramh."
(source: The Pranava Om - The source of Creation - An extract from the book Art Of God Symbolism - By Swami
Chinmayanand and Omkaar - The Source of Creation).

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