Yugas: Time-scale   An Indra's Time  

 Concept of Time - Gita Ch.8
by Swami Chinmayananda

Meaning

Sloka 8-17:
Those people who know (the length of) the day-of-Brahma that ends in a thousand Yugas (eons), and the night, which (also) ends in a thousand Yugas (eons), they know day-and-night.
Sloka 8-18:
At the approach of (Brahma's) day, all manifestations proceed from the unmanifested state; at the approach of night, they merge verily into that alone, which is called unmanifested.
Sloka 9-19:
The very same multitude of beings (that existed in the preceding day of Brahma), being born again and again, merge, inspite of themselves, O Arjuna, at the approach of night and re-manifest at the approach of day.

Sahasrayugaparyantam
ahar yad brahmano viduh
ratrim yugasahasrantam
te ‘horatravido janah

Chapter 8 - 17I

Those people who know (the length of) the day-of-Brahma that ends in a thousand Yugas (eons), and the night, which (also) ends in a thousand Yugas (eons), they know day-and-night.

Explanation: Einstein’s “Theory of Relativity” has pricked the bubble and it has been accepted even in the West that the concepts of time and space depend upon individual factors governing their measurements. Time hangs heavily and moves at a snail’s pace when one is in agitation or anxiously waiting for something; while, to the same individual, time flies when he is quite at ease with himself, under circumstances, happy, pleasant and entertaining. One playing cards knows not when the night was spent and he is surprised when he notices the early dawn peeping through the windows. The same person will complain that each moment has lengthened itself to become hours, when he is at some unpleasant work or in pains. One, who is enjoying the homogeneous experience of sleep, has no concept of time at all, while he is sleeping.

From the above, it has been logically concluded in the philosophy of the Hindus that time truly is the measure of interval between two different experiences. The greater the number of experiences that flood the mind to agitate it, the slower time moves; while the longer the same experience continues faster moves the time. In a given single experience there is no perception of time just as there is no concept of distance when there is only one point; distances can be measured only between two or more points. Basing their calculations upon this theory, the Pauranic Poets rightly conceived that their Gods had a larger dial for their divine watches. In the Upanishads also, we find a scale of relative intensity of Bliss-experience from a moral, healthy, young man living in conducive environments, up to the very Creator Himself. This ascending scale of joy experienced in different realms of consciousness has been found there, as showing the relative mental equipoise and tranquility at those different levels of existence.

In the calculations of Geeta it is said here that a thousand cycles constitute the daytime of the Creator; and an equally long thousand cycles constitute the nighttime of the Creator. This declaration of those “who know the true measure of the day and the night,” calculated in terms of cycles has been translated in terms of our 365-day years. Each cycle has eons (Yugas). These four eons together constitute one cycle and a thousand cycles are conceived of as constituting the daytime of the Creator.

In this and in the following two stanzas, the attempt in the Geeta is to point to the Life of the cosmic man and His concept of time. To indicate the identity between the microcosm (vyashti) and macrocosm (samshti) is the sacred labor in the categories of Vedanta. Creator, (Hiranyagarbha—the womb of all objects), is a concept which represents the total mind and intellect of all the living creatures at any given period of time in the world.

Mythology indicates God, as does any other underdeveloped and, therefore, fanatic religions in the World, as an All-powerful Ruler of the Laws of Nature, as a controller of the joys and sorrows of all the beings, and as one who functions from “yonder behind the clouds”. Vedanta is the only religion in the World, which dares to analyze this concept and show that, in reality, the Essence in this God-Principle is to be investigated and discovered in the subjective construction of the microcosm (Vyashti).

When a person delves deep into the secret ways in which the mind itself projects the world-of-objects, he not only understands the omni potency and power of the mind itself but also the concepts of the creator (Brahma), Sustainer (Vishnu) and Annihilator (Maheshwar) put upon the one and only Brahman. These three stanzas are given here, (copied below) especially to bring home to Arjuna this very subtle Vedantic concept, which is at once the beauty and the glory of Hinduism.

As the individual units, so is the sum-total of the assembly. The individual mind projects, creates and sustains what its fancies dictate — and without any regret scrapes the whole lot only to create a fresh. This constant function does take place in each individual only during the daytime, as representing the waking-state. In the same fashion the Total Mind—the Cosmic Creator—also is conceived of as creating the gross world of dense objects and intelligent beings only during His waking hours.

Source:  http://www.lifepositive.com/chinmayamission/gita/content.asp?act=597


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The cosmic time-scale:

(See also http://www.hinduism.co.za/creation.htm
)

A note on the time-scale of Brahma's Days and nights:

(by Swami Sivananda)

 

Dvapara Yuga = 432,000 Years
Tretayuga (= twice Dvapara Yuga) 864,000 years
Kritayuga (=thrice Dvapara yuga) 1,296,000 years
Kaliyuga (=four times Dvapara Yuga) 1,728,000 years
The four yugas add up to a Mahayuga = (1+2+3+4=10 times Dvapara yuga)
comprised of 4,320,000 years
71 such Mahayugas with an additional Sandhya, at the close of 1,728,000 years make one Manvantrara of 308,448,000 
14 such Manvantaras with another Sandhya, at the close of 1,728,000 years constitute one Kalpa of 4,320,000,000 (1000 maha yugas)
Two Kalpas make a day and night of Brahma 
of 8,640,000,000 (2000 Maha Yugas)
360 such days and nights make one year of 
Brahma consisting of 3,110,400,000,000 
100 such years constitute His lifetime of 311,040,000,000,000 

The world is absorbed in the Avyakta or the Unmanifested or Mulaprakriti during the cosmic Pralaya (involution of the world). Just as the tree remains in a latent state in the seed, so also this whole universe remains in a latent state in a latent state in a seed-form in the Mulaprakriti during Pralaya. This is the night of Brahma. This is the cosmic night. Again the world is projected at the beginning of the Mahakalpa (evolution). There comes the cosmic dawn or cosmic day. This eternal rhythm of cosmic day and night (evolution and involution) is kept up in the macrocosm. 

Nothing that comes under this ever-revolving wheel of cosmic day and night lasts for ever. That is the reason why the seers of the Upanishads, the sages of Yore, lived in the transcendental Supreme being, the imperishable Self, the indestructible Purusha, the supreme goal of life, the highest end of man, which is beyond the cosmic day and night. Just as the seeds that are fried can hardly germinate, so also those who have attained to the imperishable Brahman, the Absolute, the Eternal, cannot return to this world of sorrow, pain and misery.

They know neither day nor night. They are one with Existence Absolute. 
The manifested and the unmanifested dwell in Brahman. Brahman is beyond the manifested and the unmanifested. When the world and the body are destroyed Brahman is not destroyed. The waves come out and subside, but the ocean remains unaffected. So also the worlds come and subside, but Brahman the source of everything, the source of Mulaprakriti, ever remains unaffected. Just as ornaments come out of gold and then go back to gold when they are melted, so also all the worlds come out of Brahman and go back to Brahman. Gold is in no way affected by the various forms such as earrings, bracelets, anklets, etc., that have been made of it. Even so Brahman is not in the least affected by the projection and destruction (dissolution) of the words and the bodies of beings. It remains always as It is.


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A story from Hindu Mythology to illustrate the relative vastness of Brahma's time: 
Several aeons elapse on earth before the expiry of Brahma's 'one second' :

Indian mythology has this story about king Kukudmi who had a beautiful daughter Revati with many eligible suitors. In a dilemma over how to choose the right husband for her, Kukudmi took her to see no less a person than the creator Brahma himself. Brahma was involved in some work at the time and told Kukudmi to 'wait a second' till he could attend to him.

Kukudmi waited and when Brahma made himself available, presented his problem to him. Brahma laughed. "Your brief wait here has meant that several aeons have elapsed on the Earth. So all those prospective husbands for Revati are no more". He advised Kukudmi to get back to Earth and marry his daughter to Balarama, the brother of Krishna.

Read the complete article by J.V. Narlikar HERE.

Indra's Lesson

This story comes form the Upanishads, the sacred writings of Hinduism. 
It is told by Joseph Campbell to Bill Moyers in the PBS series The Power of Myth.

There is a wonderful story in one of the Upanishads about the god Indra. Now, it happened at this time that a great monster had enclosed all the waters of the earth, so there was a terrible drought, and the world was in a very bad condition. It took Indra quite a while to realize that he had a box of thunderbolts and that all he had to do was drop a thunderbolt on the monster and blow him up. When he did that, the waters flowed, and the world was refreshed, and Indra said, "What a great boy am I."

So, thinking, "What a great boy am I," Indra goes up to the cosmic mountain, which is the central mountain of the world, and decides to build a palace worthy of such as he. The main carpenter of the gods goes to work on it, and in very quick order he gets the palace into pretty good condition. But every time Indra comes to inspect it, he has bigger ideas about how splendid and grandiose the palace should be. Finally, the carpenter says, "My god, we are both immortal, and there is no end to his desires. I am caught for eternity." So he decides to go to Brahma, the creator god, and complain.

Brahma sits on a lotus, the symbol of divine energy and divine grace. The lotus grows from the navel of Vishnu, who is the sleeping god, whose dream is the universe. So the carpenter comes to the edge of the great pond of the universe and tells his story to Brahma. Brahma says, "You go home. I will fix this up." Brahma gets off his lotus and kneels down to address sleeping Vishnu. Vishnu just makes a gesture and says something like, "Listen, fly, something is going to happen."

Next morning, at the gate of the palace that is being built, there appears a beautiful blue-black boy with a lot of children around him, just admiring his beauty. The porter at the gate of the new palace goes running to Indra, and Indra says, "Well, bring in the boy." The boy is brought in, and Indra, the king god, sitting on his throne, says, "Young man, welcome. And what brings you to my palace?"

"Well," says the boy with a voice like thunder rolling on the horizon, "I have been told that you are building such a palace as no Indra before you ever built."

And Indra says, "Indras before me, young man--what are you talking about?"

The boy says, "Indras before you. I have seen them come and go, come and go. Just think, Vishnu sleeps in the cosmic ocean, and the lotus of the universe grows from his navel. On the lotus sits Brahma, the creator. Brahma opens his eyes, and a world comes into being, governed by an Indra. Brahma closes his eyes, and a world goes out of being. The life of a Brahma is four hundred and thirty-two thousand years. When he dies, the lotus goes back, and another lotus is formed, and another Brahma. Then think of the galaxies beyond galaxies in infinite space, each a lotus, with a Brahma sitting on it, opening his eyes, closing his eyes. And Indras? There may be wise men in your court who would volunteer to count the drops of water in the oceans or the grains of sand on the beaches, but no one would count those Brahmin, let alone those Indras."

While the boy was talking, an army of ants parades across the floor. The boy laughs when he sees them, and Indra's hair stands on end, and he says to the boy, "Why do you laugh?"

The boy answers, "Don't ask unless you are willing to be hurt."

Indra says, "I ask. Teach." (That, by the way, is a good Oriental idea: you don't teach until you are asked. You don't force your mission down people's throats.)

And so the boy points to the ants and says, "Former Indras all.Through many lifetimes they rise from the lowest conditions to the highest illumination. And then they drop their thunderbolt on a monster, and they think, 'What a good boy am I.' And down they go again."

When the boy is talking, a crotchety old yogi comes into the palace with a banana leaf parasol. He is nakes except for a loincloth, and on his chest is a little disk of hair, and half the hairs in the middle have all dropped out.

The boy greets him and asks him just what Indra was about to ask. "Old man, what is your name? Where do you come from? Where is your family? Where is your house? And what is the meaning of this curious constellation of hair on your chest?"

"Well," says the old fella, "my name is Hairy. I don't have a house. Life is too short for that. I just have this parasol. I don't have a family. I just meditate on Vishnu's feet, and think of eternity, and how passing time is. You know, every time an Indra dies, a world disappears--these things just flash by like that. Every time an Indra dies, one hair drops out of this circle on my chest. Half the hairs are gone now. Pretty soon they will all be gone. Life is short. Why build a house?"

Then the two disappear. The boy was Vishnu, the Lord Protector, and the old yogi was Shiva, the creator and destroyer of the world, who had just come for the instruction if Indra, who is simply a god of history but thinks he is the whole show.

Indra is sitting there on the throne, and he is completely disillusioned, completely shot. He calls the carpenter and says, "I'm quitting the building of this palace. You are dismissed." So the carpenter got his intention. He is dismissed from the job, and there is no more house building going on.

Indra decides to go out and be a yogi and just meditate on the lotus feet of Vishnu. But he has a beautiful queen named Indrani. And when Indrani hears of Indra's plan, she goes to the priest of the gods and says, "Now he has got the idea in his head of going out to become a yogi."

"Well," says the priest, "come in with me, darling, and we will sit down, and I will fix this up."

So they sit down before the king's throne, and the priest says, "Now, I wrote a book for you many years ago on the art of politics. You are in the position of the king of the gods. You are a manifestation of the mystery of Brahma in the field of time. This is a high privilege. Appreciate it, honor it, and deal with life as though you were what you really are. And besides, now I am going to write you a book on the art of love so that you and your wife will know that in the wonderful mystery of the two that are one, Brahma is radiantly present also."

And with this set of instructions, Indra gives up his idea of going out and becoming a yogi and finds that, in life, he can represent the eternal as a symbol, you might say, of the Brahma.

So each of us is, in a way, the Indra of his own life. You can make a choice, either to throw it all off and go into the forest to meditate, or to stay in the world, both in the life of your job, which is the kingly job of politics and achievement, and in the love life with your wife and family. Now, this is a very nice myth, it seems to me.

Joseph Campbell

Source: http://www.geocities.com/Athens/Acropolis/3497/indra.html 

Please see also http://www.aaronsrod.com/time-cycles/index.html 

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