The Vedas and their grand concept of TIME – Yugas, Kalpas, Manvantaras, and Brahma

The sheer grandeur with which the concept of “TIME” in its macro sense is discussed in the Vedas boggles the mind. Often, modern interpreters make the mistake of trying to look at similarities between these calculations and those arrived at by modern science as if validation by modern science is the only way the Vedas could be redeemed.

The more important point according to me is to soak in the grandeur and conceptual brilliance of the minds that could think at such a grand cosmic level and come up with numbers that run into Trillions without the help of modern telescopes, satellites and all the other paraphernalia of modern astronomy and science. That their numbers are so close to what modern science says is testimony to the greatness of those seers and vedantins.

In the Srimad Bhagavata (Skandha-III; Chapter-11; Verses 21-23) it is said:

For the Brahmaloka and the realms outside the Universe, a day of Brahma is equal to the 4 yugas multiplied by a 1,000. His night is of equal duration. Creation starts at Brahma’s waking and continues for the entire duration of his day. When he approaches his (Brahma’s) night, he stops all activities, dissolves everything in himself and sleeps…

A short summary of the concept of macro-time as envisaged in the Vedas and explained in the Bhagavata is given below:

  1. There are 4 yugas and each yuga consists of a fixed number of years. {Note that the number of years in each Yuga is in the descending ratio of 4, 3, 2, 1}

    • Satya Yuga: 17,28,000 years (1.728 million years)
    • Treta Yuga: 12,96,000 years (1.296 million years)
    • Dvapara Yuga: 8,64,000 years (0.864 million years)
    • Kali Yuga: 4,32,000 years (0.432 million years)
  2. The 4 Yugas together constitute 1 Maha Yuga (Chatur Yuga) =  43,20,000 years (4.32 million years)

  3. 1,000 such Maha Yugas (i.e 4.32 million years X 1,000) = 43,20,000,000 years (4.32 billion years) makes 1 KALPA or “1 day of Brahma”

  4. Each Kalpa is divided into 14 Manvantaras with each Manvantara headed by a Manu. In other words each Manvantara consists of 71.4 Chatur Yugas. 14 such Manvantara cycles adds up to 1 Kalpa. We are believed to be in the reign of the 7th Manu – Vaivasvata (which is what we say in the Sankalpa mantra “Vaivasvata Manvantare“) and within this Vaivasvata Manvantara we are in the 28th Chaturyuga (again we say this in the Sankalpa mantra “Ashta-vim-shatatitame“)

  5. A similar 4.32 billion years constitutes the “night of Brahma” adding up to a total of 8.64 billion years (which is very close to the modern scientific belief that the earth will not be inhabitable when it reaches the age of 7.5 to 8 billion years and is also the accepted period spanning creation through dissolution)

  6. From now the numbers  are so mind boggling they take one’s breath away: As we have seen 8.64 billion years is the one full day of Brahma. 365 such days constitute 1 year of Brahma! and on this basis his lifespan is a 100 years!! 311 to 315.36 Trillion years!!!

The image below is perhaps easier to comprehend:

vedic timeImage Source: mcremo (Image is not used for any commercial purpose. Copyright belongs to original creator)

The Vedas, Vedangas, Upangas, and Upavedas – An introduction (The Vedas-2)

In the previous post on the Vedas we looked at how the vedas were “Apourusheyam” (Read here) i.e not the revelations of one prophet or messiah but rather timeless truths that have no single authorship and that the Vedas are the fundamental books of Sanatana Dharma – all other books and commentaries like the Bhagavad Gita etc. are merely commentaries or at best derivatives of the vedas. In this post we look at the 18 sub-divisions of the Veda (Referred to as the Vidya Sthanas).

It is often the practice to call all of these under one name – “Dharma Shastras” because they are repositories of both Vidya (Knowledge) and Dharma (Codes of right conduct). In the chart below I have made an attempt to depict the Vedas and their subdivisions in a single chart:

Veda-vidyastahnasIn discussing the Vedas, one often talks of the Veda-Purusha or Veda-Maata – i.e. the personification of the Vedas in terms of the human body. In Sanatana Dharma the use of the body to explain dharmic and scientific concepts is an established practice – Thus you have the “Vastu-Purusha” for example. The Temples of Sanatana Dharma are also symbolic expressions of the human body with the consecrated deity representing the Atman or Soul (being a part of and derived from the Universal Paramatman/Consciousness).

The table below shows the six (6) vedangas of the Vedas and their purpose/purport:

Vedangas Represented by/as Purport
Shiksha Nose The life-breath of the Vedas
Vyakarana Mouth Sound (Grammar)
Chandas Feet Metric Composition Refers to the
Nirutta Ears Vedic Dictionary. Presents the true meaning of each word.
Jyotisha Eyes Astronomy and Astrology.
Kalpa Hands Action. Induce one to action

More about the Vedas and the Vedangas in the subsequent posts