Sunday, May 07, 2006

The TimeScale of the Mythic Indian Universe

* A lousy random rambling follows *

Calendars always held my fancy because of the way we strike out order of the chaos. Imagine the day when the sun first set and a caveman who missed the sun immediately blamed his next door neighbor for the debacle of sun setting (probably might have killed him for this crime as well). Then the next day when sun rises again probably he wouldnt congratulate his next door neighbor(remember, he is dead) and would have repented his deed thus marking the time/place for further oblations. So there is a need for calendar for one of these events.

* End of the lousy random rambling *

Well, anyways people want to remember events and things in a nice way. Since as one involved with computers we seek to attack a problem in general ways than in special ways, my thought begat a question as to whats the oldest thing one can remember? Or more generally whats the oldest memory of human civilization? Our legends, folklores, mythology and religious anecdotes. Each civilization has its own but I want to think about one which is in the Indian consciousness and the following comes from reading the myths of the hindus.

* Start of a Functional Theory *

A cycle (kalpa) is first defined as a single day in the life of a creator,(usually Brahma but thats not relevant here) which is also assigned as the lifetime of the milyway galaxy.The further breakdown of a cycle is established as being equivalent to 12,000 years of the gods.Now, this is interesting for the fact that the gods themselves are not supreme and subject to a higher accountability. The equivalence of 12,000 god-years is 4,320,000,000 earth-years. (In english that translates as four billion three hundred twenty million years and to put in context the solar system itself is currently estimated to be 4.54 billiong years.At the close of a day everything is resolved into chaos (pralaya). Slate Clean. When the creator wakes up and then does some accounting as to who goes into higher plane (beyond all 3 worlds) and then recreates all 3 worlds (only latent germ of neccesary stuff from the old is preserved for remanifestation). These 3 worlds have be populated with folks whose histories in the previous cycle deem them to be.
Apparently the night has to be equal to that of a day in the time frame of the creator for the above to ensue.
Now the most interesting question of who's watching the watcher. Namely, how is time distributed to the creator himself? This has the answer that our creator (who can never be known but aspects of him can be rediscovered) is assigned a 100 creator-years. At the end of this assigned time not only the three worlds, gods, men, all things are merged into the chaos but essentially the creator himself should self-destruct. This is called "maha-pralaya". This particular period lasts for another 100 creator-years when there will be a new creator and his new creation. The only forces are the causality from actions in the past and sometimes neccessity (which is orthogonal to reason and emotions). That is both evolution and involution are represented as neccesary but no logic is assigned to it. So far theses is the major alternations on a macro scale.

Now, consider the so called "minor" alternations in the day of the creator. A single day is composed of 14 manvantaras. (manu is the generic name for a teacher and antara is the time elapsed between sections). At the end of each section, as usual, the world is deluged swallowing continents and living beings.

Now for the further decomposition of the single day in the life of a creator into yugas.A "maha-yuga" equals a 1000 yuga cycles. A single yuga cycle can be decomposed into 4 parts as Satya,Treta, Dvapara and Kali. The first consists of one million seven hundred twenty-eight thousand (1,728,000) years., the second one million two hundred ninety-six thousand (1,296,000), the third eight hundred sixty-four thousand (864,000) and the last four hundred thirty-two thousand (432,000).

Lets see if the math adds up. A single yuga cycle equals 1,720,000+1,296,000+864,000+432,000 = 4,320,000. A thousand yugs equal a single kalpa so multiplying this number by 1000 gives us the earth years number exact. Atleast this sticks.

* End of Functional Theory *

If we were to abode by the above theory then currently the year is 2006. This is the 6006 year of Kaliyuga of the present maha-yuga (leaves us 425994 years more to go before we blow up). This "maha-yuga" is the 28th maha-yuga in the seventh manvantara of our kalpa.( for those interested in names, the presiding manu is Vaivasvata and the kalpa is called Varaha).A little more "recent" events to give a sense of where we are is that Mahabharata happened during Treta yuga and Ramayana in Dvapara.

Of if you prefer more chronological events, the birth of Brahma at the first kalpa out of a lotus (so we all know lotuses are older than Brahma :), the boar incarnation in the first, ganjendra moksham (elephant liberated from crocodile) in the fourth and the churning of the ocean in the sixth kalpa.

Phew! Fatboy slim said the same thing in much compressed format :)

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