Vedic Time: We are chewing the chewed!

Madan Gopal Das

Madan Gopal Das

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Vedic Time -How old is the human civilisation? 

In my last blog post, we had a look at the geographic descriptions of the universe found in the Srimad Bhagavatam. Similarly stunning is the description of time. And yes, in the Vedic view, the world is older than 6,000 years, unlike the descriptions of the Bible. 

On the other hand, the time frames given by modern scientists, the age of the sun and the age of the Earth well compare to the time frame in The Vedas. However, if we look at the age of human society, the Vedas paint a completely different picture than we get from Wikipedia and school books.

The Vedas describe human societies, kings, and civilisations all over the universe that are millions and billions of years old. If you are interested in this, I suggest you search on YouTube for the keyword “forbidden archaeology”. You will find much interesting information that certainly does not fit into the narrative of “science”, raising many questions about the origin and age of human and human-like civilisations that far predates our history. And it is not about cavemen and Neanderthals. All questions raised by these odd findings, seemingly not fitting into a picture of our understanding of history, are perfectly answered by the Vedas: Human society is millions of years old. The civilisations predating our current history, which means 5000 years and older, were far more advanced. They might not have had computers and smartphones, but they had other technologies based on a better understanding of the metaphysical workings of the universe. There are descriptions of interplanetary travel, nuclear weapons of pin-pointed accuracy, and test tube babies. Incredible temples and buildings worldwide witness the technological superiority of the civilisation that predates modern history. And I’m not talking about Stone Henge in the UK.

How old is human society?

So what is the Vedic conception of time?

As we can experience in nature, they’re endless cycles that repeat themselves. The waning and waxing of the moon every month, the change of seasons from spring to summer, to autumn, to winter, and the passing of day and night. Day and night change year out and year in the same way, but still, every day and every night is different. Also, every year is different though the same spring, the same summer, the same autumn, and the same winter repeat themselves endlessly. This is what we observe. From that, we can understand the nature of time. Time is linear as well cyclic. Time is linear in the sense that no moment is the same as the other, and time is moving forward without stopping. Time inc cyclic because there are always cycles that repeat themselves. That is the Vedic version. 

Vedic Concept of Time

The broad vision of the Vedas

One peculiar thing about the Vedas is that they always look at the bigger, universal picture. When they describe time, they describe it from the biggest possible cycles. After all, we already know day and night, the waxing and waning of the moon, and the change of the seasons, but we do not know about the bigger universal cycles. We cannot also know because, with our limited lifespan, we could never see the patterns of those cycles lasting for millions of years. We must depend on the higher authority of the Vedas to know that. 

The Vedas speak of a cycle of four ages. They’re called yugas in Sanskrit. There is Satya-yuga, Treta-yuga, Dvapara-yuga and Kali-yuga. All these four cycles together last for 4,320,000 years. The Kali-yuga, the shortest of the yugas, lasts a tenth part of this, 432,000 years. The Dvapara-yuga is twice as long as the Kali-yuga and lasts 864,000 years. Treta-yuga is three times as long as Kali-yuga and lasts for 1,296,000 years. The Satya-yuga lasts four times as long as the Kali-yuga, for 1,728,000 years.

Currently, we are in the Kali-yuga. It started 5,000 years ago.

Each Yuga can be divided into 12 parts; the first and last parts are transitory periods. That means the first 36,000 years of the Kali-yuga are transitory. Of these 36,000 years, 5,000 years have passed. That means the Kali-yuga will be fully raging only after 31,000 years from now. Modern history only knows 5,000 years, which means the awareness of the civilisations before Kali-yuga has been erased from human consciousness. Whether this happened deliberately out of a conspiracy or it is simply the nature of this Kali-yuga, I cannot tell. Probably both to some extent. In any case, it is so important that there is a Renaissance of the Vedic wisdom so that people will become aware of their whereabouts in the universe in terms of time and place.

The broad vision of the Vedas

The four Yugas

In the Satya-yuga, the people are most elevated in character, bodily vigour, lifespan etc. The quality of life is much higher, nature is much more powerful, and the mind of the people is very pure. Therefore their lifespan is 100,000 years. The people in Sattya-yuga are unparalleled in their mental strength. Each Yuga has its recommended spiritual practice. In the Sattya yuga, people were very qualified, and they were recommended to practise ashtanga-yoga. Astanga-yoga requires tens of thousands of years of practice, discipline and purity of mind, which is not given in the other yugas. Still today, ashtanga-yoga is practised, but the original purpose is lost. Nowadays, it has mostly become a wellness thing instead of a serious practice that will grant spiritual perfection to the practitioner. In the Satya-yuga, the four pillars of dharma, religious life fully manifest in everyone. They are namely, cleanliness, austerity, mercy and truthfulness. The four legs of a cow symbolise these four pillars.

In Treta-yuga, the people are not as qualified anymore. The lifespan is reduced to 10’000 years. One of the four qualities of dharma has been destroyed in this age due to pride. That might be false pride or justified pride, but pride destroys the capacity to do austerities. In Treta-yuga, the people achieved perfection through very elaborate and costly fire sacrifices. We still make sacrifices in this age; they are called “homa”, and they still have power, but not enough to bring an individual soul to spiritual perfection. 

In the next age, the Dvapara-yuga, the qualification of the living entities decreased again. Illicit relationships with the opposite sex destroyed another pillar of dharma, the purity of the mind. The lifespan was reduced to 1,000 years in that Yuga. In the Dvapara-yuga, the recommended process for spiritual perfection was temple worship. 

The bodily vigour, height, and also quality of food decrease continuously. Also, mental capacity and purity reduce as the ages advance. 

Finally, in the Kali-yuga, human beings live a maximum of 100 years, the body height has decreased much, and the processes of the previous ages are too difficult, or in other words, the humans in this age are not qualified to use these previously recommended processes for spiritual enlightenment. Mostly they are used as business models for so-called Brahmanas. In Kali-yuga, the only method the Vedas recommend for spiritual perfection is chanting the holy names. Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hara Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare. In the Kali-yuga again, another pillar of dharma has been destroyed, namely, the pillar of compassion. It has been destroyed by the bad habit of intoxication. In the Kali-yuga, dharma stands only on one pillar, truthfulness. But also, this truthfulness is under attack by so much falsehood and lying propaganda. 

At the end of the Kali-yuga, Human society deteriorates into a bunch of robbers of a very short height that even eat their children. At that time, an incarnation of the lord named Kalki will intervene, kill all those who are of low consciousness and herald a new Satya-yuga.

 

The four yugasTime beyond the four yugas

This is the bigger picture that Veda is giving to us. If we accept this, we will see our problems today in a completely different light. We will become disinterested in the daily news and inclined to understand the welfare of the eternal soul. 

But the Vedas go even further. They describe even greater cycles. These four yugas lasted for 4,320,000 years are one divya yuga. One thousand of these Divya-yugas comprise one day of lord Brahma. Lord Brahma is the first living entity in the universe who has been given the responsibility of creation. That means 4,320,000,000 of our earthen years are 12 h for Lord Brahma, and his night is again the same. Lord Brahma is the first manifested living entity in the universe. With his birth, the universe starts, and when his life comes to an end, universal annihilation takes place. Lord Brahma lives for 100 years. By that, we can understand what the longevity of the universe is. 

4,320,000 X 1000 x 2 x 360 x100=311,040,000,000,000

That is 311 quadrillion and 40 trillion years. That is the longevity of the universe, according to The Vedas. Currently, half of it has passed. 

Yet again, this period of time comprises one exhalation of Lord Vishnu. Lord Vishnu is a partial manifestation of the Supreme Lord, who is in charge of the material manifestation. He is lying in the ocean of all causes and is in meditative sleep. Whenever he is breathing out, innumerable universes manifest from the pore of his skin, much like, when we breathe out underwater, there are countless bubbles. When Lord Vishnu again breathes in, the universes and all the living entities take shelter within the body of Maha Vishnu and are in an unmanifested condition. Then again, when breathing out, all the universes and the activities of all the living entities on the material plane resume. This breathing in and breathing out of Lord Vishnu is the biggest cycle that the Vedas describe. 

Time beyond the 4 yugas

The demise and rise of mankind

Within the cycle of Lord Brahma, there are smaller cycles that last for 71 Divya yugas. That means 71×4,320,000 years. That is 

306,720,000 years. These are the periods of the rule of one Manu. Manu is the forefather of humanity. From him, the whole of Human society comes. Whenever there is a change in Manu, humanity is wholly eradicated. And will descend again under the new Manu. Also, various demigods, like lord Indra, the king of heaven, change whenever a new Manu takes over. There are fourteen such Manus in the day of Lord Brahma. That means the whole of mankind is born and is extinguished 14 times within one day of lord Brahma. That is every 306,720,000 years.

Calculating 1,000 Yuga cycles divided into 14 gives us 71 cycles, with the rest of four cycles. (14×71=996). One Manu lives for 71 x 4,320,000 years =306,720,000 years. Between each Manu, and before the first and after the last Manu, there is always a transitory period that lasts as long as one Satya-yuga. That is 1,720,000 years. One Sattya-yuga is 2/5 of one Divya Yuga (all four yugas combined 4,320,000). With the 14 Manus, there are 15 transitory periods of 1,720,000 years, or 30/5 times the Divya-yuga. The sum of all the transitory periods thus equals the length of precisely four Yugas. 996 Yugas of the reign of the 14 Manus, plus the 15 Transitory periods, make the day of your Brahma last for 1,000 Divya yugas. 

At the end of the day of Lord Brahma, a partial devastation takes place. All the planets are up to Druva Loka, which means the lower planetary systems, the earthly realm, and the heavenly planets are burned to ashes and drowned in water. Those saints and highly elevated yogis with enough power will take refuge in the ethereal realms of the four highest planetary systems. Only after 1,000 cycles which means 4,320,000,000 years, the night of lord Brahma, the lower parts will be again revived and populated for another 1000 cycles. At the end of Lord Brahma’s life, the whole universe will be unmanifested and go into Lord Vishnu’s body. 

Lord Vishnu is lying on the causal ocean, and whenever he breathes out from his pores, the only innumerable universes manifest. When he breathes in, they go back inside his body. So all the living entities sleep during this time, and in the next creation, they take up their work again. Only liberated souls do not participate in this creation and destruction. They live beyond the influence of time in the various Vaikuntha planets in the spiritual world.

The demise and rise of mankind

Time on Earth vs time in heaven. 

The Vedas introduce us to another very interesting concept. In different planetary systems, time passes at different speeds. For example, one day on the heavenly planets in Swagaloka is one year on Earth. That means the life span of a human being of less than 100 years is just a little more than three months in heaven. That means for us, the time goes much faster than the experience for the demigods. 

1000 Yuga cycles that last 4,320,000,000 of our earthen years is for the demigods 12 million years and for Lord Brahma only 12 h. Indra, the King of Heaven, rules for a period of the reign of one Manu. That is 71 Yuga cycles. They last for 306,720,000 years on Earth, that is, 852,000 years of the demigods and 51 minutes and 7.2 seconds for Lord Brahma. From the experience of Lord Indra, he rules for 852,000 years. For us, it is 306,720,000 years and for Lord Brahma, only 51 minutes and 7.2 seconds. 

Time on Earth vs time in heaven

Time repeats itself – not the same, but similar.

The concept of time is cyclic, but at the same time, it is also linear because each cycle is different from the one before. That is the inconceivable, incredible power of the supreme that he’s able to manifest unlimitable universes with never-ending resembling cycles, but at the same time, it’s never the same. 

For example, we can see the face. Currently, around 8 billion human beings live in our earthly realm, and all faces consist of two eyes, one nose, one mouth and two ears. Though these components are always the same, no two faces are the same. They may be similar or alike, but not the same. Similarly, though there are always the same cycles, none are alike. There might be similarities, but they are never 100% equal. 

What we experience in this world right now, like the pandemic three years ago and the ongoing Ukraine crisis, similar events must have happened in other Kali-yugas before. They are not the exact same, but they are similar. That time a Trump might have had brown hair and made his millions with the internet instead of real estate. So the fights people are fighting now they were fought before, and they will be fought again, again and again. So is it worth the fight? Can we make this world a better place? What is it then worse than doing? What is it worth fighting for? What is the true action that really matters? Therefore, the Vedic Saint Prahlada Maharaja said that activities on the material plane are “chewing the chewed”. What has already been done is done again and again. 

This question, what is the worse fighting for, will lead us to spiritual exploration. This spiritual exploration is the advanced subject matter of the Vedanta and the Upanishads, the part of the Vedas that deals with spiritual elevation. And The Vedas encourage us to ask these questions. The human form of life is meant to ask such questions. 

Time Repeats itslef

Shorter Cycles – the astrological prove

We have talked about the yuga cycles lasting for incredible 4,320,000 years. But are there also smaller cycles? If we look into the astrological texts of the Vedas, they also mention comprehensible cycles of 60 and 360 years.

In the Panchanga system, there are 60 different years. They start with the dark moon in spring. Also, in the Chinese lunar years, there are 12 zodiacs combined with five elements, which also gives 60 years. 

Then there is a cycle of 360 years. A circle has 360° so similarly, 360 years form another cycle. We can use these cycles to predict the outcome of worldly events. It means any significant event in the world. We can look back 60 years or 360 years. If something similar happens, we can predict what will happen by the outcome of the previous event. 

Expamles

Two examples Ukraine Crises – 9/11

The Ukraine crisis started in 2014. At that time, the Government in Kyiv changed from a pro-Russian government to a pro-Western Government. Eastern Ukraine was pro-Russi and declared independence. It resulted in a bloody civil war that took the life of 12,000. That civil war led to the Russian invasion in February 2022. Looking back 360 years, 2014 – 360, we arrive at 1654. In that year, the beginning of the Russian-Polish war occurred. That war lasted for 13 years. It was on the same territory as today’s conflict. The reason for the conflict was also the same; in the Eastern region of that time, the people declared their loyalty to Russia, leading to an armed conflict. During these 13 years of war, there were also battles in the Nord towards Sweden, which indicates the involvement of other nations as well. The outcome of that was was gain of territory for Russia and marked the beginning of a century-long prosperity for Russia. Shortly after that, the period of Peter the Great started. During this conflict, the Russian army, which was before not a standing army, became trained and well-equipped. This happened exactly 360 years before 2014, the beginning of this conflict. The similarities are striking. According to the principles of cyclic time, the outcome will be very similar. That is what Astrological texts say. 

Another example is the fall of the twin towers on the 9th of September 2001. This event led to the involvement of US-led Nato in many wars in the Middle East. Go 60 years back to the year 41, a very similar event happened, which was pearl harbour, which led to the US involvement in the second world war. Again similar events with similar outcomes are exactly 60 years apart. 

It is amazing what wealth of knowledge is stored within The Vedic heritage. It gives us a crystal clear understanding of who we are, where we are, and when we are, and if we are inquisitive, the question of what we are supposed to do also will be answered.

Vedic astrology is part of this very heritage, and it is meant to help us to see what is going on in our life, why and in which direction we should go.

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