Hindu cosmology


Hindu cosmology

According to Hindu mythology and cosmology, the universe is cyclically created and destroyed. The life span of Brahma, the creator, is 120 divine years (Mahakalpamu). Every day, Brahma creates 14 Manus one after the other, who in turn create and regulate the world. Thus, there are fourteen generations of Manu in one day (Kalpamu) of Brahma. Each Manu’s life (Manvantaramu) consists of 71 quartets of eras. Each quartet is composed of four eras: Krita, Treta, Dwapara and Kali. The span of Krita era is 1,728,000 human years, Treta era is 1,296,000 human years, Dwapara era is 864,000 human years and Kali era is 432,000 human years. When Manu perishes at the end of his life, Brahma creates the next Manu and the cycle continues until all fourteen Manus and the Universe perish by the end of the day. When night falls, Brahma goes to sleep for a period of time equal to fourteen lives of Manus. The next morning, he begins the creation with first Manu again. The cycle goes on for 100 divine years at the end of which Brahma himself perishes and is regenerated.Fact|date=February 2007

The present period is the "Kaliyuga" or last era of the seventh Manu’s life. According to Aryabhata, the "Kaliyuga" began in 3102 BC, at the end of the "Dvapara" era that was marked by the disappearance of Vishnu's Krishna avatar. Aryabhata's date is widely repeated in modern Hinduism.

The beginning of the new "Yugamu" (era) is known as "Yugadi/Ugadi", and is celebrated every year on the first day (Paadyami) of the first month (Chaitramu) of the 12-month annual cycle. [cite book | last = Brodd | first = Jefferey | authorlink = | coauthors = | title = World Religions | publisher = Saint Mary's Press | date = 2003 | location = Winona, MN | pages = | url = | doi = | id = | isbn = 978-0-88489-725-5 ]

The Ugadi of 1999 begins the year 1921 of the Shalivahana era (5101 Kali Era, 1999 AD). The end of the Kali Era is 426,899 years from this year in the beginning of the new Krita era of the 8th Manu's life.Fact|date=May 2008

Creation of the Universe

In the Vedas

The Nasadiya Sukta of the Rigveda describes the origin of the universe. The Rig Veda's view of the cosmos also sees one true divine principle self-projecting as the divine word, Vaak, 'birthing' the cosmos that we know, from the monistic "Hiranyagarbha" or Golden WombOr|date=September 2007. The Hiranyagarbha is alternatively viewed as Brahma, the creator who was in turn created by God, or as God (Brahman) himself. The universe maintained by Vishnu (The God of Preservation) and destroyed by Shiva (The God of Destruction). These three constitute the holy Trinity (Trimurti) of the Hindu religion. Once the universe has been destroyed by Shiva, Brahma starts the creation once again. This creation-destruction cycle is called Yuga which is the highest measuring unit of time in the Hindu religion.

Most of present day physics, believes that the world started off with the Big Bang. To ask questions like "What was there before the Big Bang?" or "What happened 1 year before the Big Bang started?" are considered as irrelevant questions, because Time and Matter, became extant only when the Big Bang started. Thus in most senses, the Rig Veda in the above mentioned verses, conveys the same idea. The idea of the non-existence of Time or Matter. And in some ways it goes further, as it also mentions non-existence of a Creator, i.e. "What caused the Big Bang?" also becomes an irrelevant question.

In The Puranas

The later puranic view asserts that the universe is created, destroyed, and re-created in an eternally repetitive series of cycles. In Hindu cosmology, a universe endures for about 4,320,000 years (one day of Brahma, the creator or Kalpa) and is then destroyed by fire or water elements. At this point, Brahma rests for one night, just as long as the day. This process, named Pralaya ("Cataclysm"), repeats for 100 Brahma years (311 trillion, 40 billion human years) that represents Brahma's lifespan. It must be noted that Brahma is the creator but not necessarily regarded as God in Hinduism. He is mostly regarded as a creation of God / Brahman.

We are currently believed to be in the 51st year of the present Brahma and so about 158.7 trillion years have elapsed since He was born as Brahma. After Brahma's "death", it is necessary that another 100 Brahma years pass until he is reborn and the whole creation begins anew. This process is repeated again and again, forever.

Brahma's life is divided in one thousand cycles (Maha Yuga, or the Great Year). Maha Yuga, during which life, including the human race appears and then disappears, has 71 divisions, each made of 14 Manvantara (1000) years. Each Maha Yuga lasts for 4,320,000 years. Manvantara is Manu's cycle, the one who gives birth and governs the human race.

Each Maha Yuga consists of a series of four shorter yugas, or ages. The yugas get progressively worse from a moral point of view as one proceeds from one yuga to another. As a result each yuga is of shorter duration than the age that preceded it. The current Kali Yuga (Iron Age) began at midnight 17 February / 18 February in 3102 BC in the proleptic Julian calendar.

Structure of the universe

The "Rigveda" and "Brahmanda Purana" describe a universe that is cyclical or oscillating and infinite in time. The universe is described as a cosmic egg that cycles between expansion and total collapse. It expanded from a concentrated form — a point called a Bindu. The universe, as a living entity, is bound to the perpetual cycle of birth, death, and rebirth

The four "Yugas"

#Satya yuga (Krita yuga):- 1,728,000 Human years (already past)
#Treta yuga:- 1,296,000 Human years (already past)
#Dwapar yuga:- 864,000 Human years (already past)
#Kali yuga:- 432,000 Human years (5,110 years have passed; 426,890 years remain). "Kaliyuga" started in 3,102 B.C.; CE 2008 corresponds to "Kaliyuga" year 5,110

ix "Shaka-Karta" kings of Kali yuga

The age named "Kali yuga" or the "Black Age" is now running. The age is to last 432,000 human years in all; of this number, 5,110 years have already passed (as of 2008 CE), and 426,890 years are yet to pass before the age ends.

It is prophesied in legend that six kings in "Kali yuga" will create new eras ("Shaka's") which will be named after them. Hence, these kings may be called the "Shaka-Karta" or "era-creator" kings. These six kings are:
#Yudhishthira (Dharmaraja): - Ruled in Ancient Indraprastha (Modern-day Delhi) and started his own calendar in the year 3,102 B.C (Before the Christian or current Roman calendar began). He was the eldest of the five Pandavas of the Great Indian Epic, the Mahabharata. His calendar continued for 3,044 years until king Vikrama, the second Shaka-Karta king broke it and started his own calendar or the new Shaka.
#King Vikrama: - Ruled in Ujjaini city (Present-day Ujjain city in Madhya Pradesh state of India) in the year 57 B.C. He started his own calendar by breaking the old Yudhishthira Shaka. But his dating was continued only for 135 years as the third Shaka-Karta king, King Shalivahan of the city of Paithan in Maharashtra state near the modern city of Aurangabad came to power and broke the running Vikrama Shaka. Although in North India the Vikrama Shaka is still running, it is said that some kind of understanding or truce was fixed up between these two great kings to continue both the calendars in their respective areas or kingdoms.
#King Shalivahana (Gautamiputra Satkarni): - Ruled in the old city of Paithan in Maharashtra state in the year 78 A.D., that is 78 years after the beginning of the Christian era. This king is mentioned in old Christian literature as it is written that King Shalivahan had met the founder of the Christian religion, Jesus Christ, himself on a trip to great Himalaya mountains. His Shaka will continue for 18,000 years that is for Eighteen thousand years. That comes around to the year 18,078. This Shalivahan Shaka will be broken or discontinued by the next Shaka-Karta king and his name is King Vijayabhinandan, who will appear on the banks of the river Vaitarna in the Thane district near the city of Mumbai in Maharashtra state. Shalivahana belonged to the "Satavahana" dynasty. Fact|date=February 2007
#King Vijayabhinandan (coming): - This great king's era will begin on the banks of the river Vaitarna, probably in the Thane district of Maharashtra state. This place is near the city of Mumbai. And the river Vaitarna flows in the Thane district of Maharashtra state. He will break the King Shalivahan's Shaka and start his own Shaka or calendar. This is a prophecy of Hinduism. The epoch of king Vijayabhinandan's era will occur in year 18,078 A.D. His Shaka will continue for 10,000 years. That means that in the year 28,078 A.D., his Shaka or calendar will be broken or discontinued by the next Shaka-Karta king, Nagarjuna who will appear in the state of West Bengal in India.
#King Nagarjuna (coming): - He will be the fifth great Shaka-Karta king of the Kali yuga. His era will start in the Bengal region of India in the year 28,078 A.D. He will terminate the Shaka or calendar of Vijayabhinandan and start his own calendar or Shaka and that will continue for 400,000 years afterward. Nagarjuna will have the longest-running calendar in the Kali yuga.Fact|date=February 2007
#King Kalki (coming): - He will be the last and final Shaka-Karta king of the Kali yuga. As predicted in Hinduism about there being ten Avatars of Lord Vishnu, this king Kalki will be the tenth and final Avatar of that series. He is the final Avatar of Lord Vishnu who will end the present Kali yuga and again start the cycle of Yugas. The Satya yuga will be started after this grand termination. Hindu Mythology has predicted that he will come on a white horse. This Kalki Avatar will appear in the region of Kolhapur in the state of Maharashtra in India. He will end the then running Shaka of Nagarjuna and start his own Shaka or calendar in the year 428,078 A.D. His calendar or Shaka will run for 821 years.Fact|date=February 2007

ome calendars in use in India

Several traditional calendars are in use in India today. Six of them are listed below, with information on how they correspond to the Gregorian Christian calendar:
#Shalivahan Shaka calendar (used in South India and Maharashtra): - year 1927
#Vikram Samvat calendar (used in Northern and Eastern India): - year 2061-62
#Shiv Shaka or King Shivaji’s calendar : - 331-32
#Mahavir Samvat calendar (The Jain calendar): - year 2531-32
#Kali yuga calendar : - year 5107
#Hijri (The Islamic calendar): - year 1426-27
#Parsi calendar (The Zoroastrian calendar): - year 1374-75

Literature

*Tilak, Bal Gangadhar: The Orion or Researches into the antiquities of the Vedas, The Arctic home in the Vedas.
*Sri Yukteswar Giri. The holy science. Los Angeles, Ca: Self-Realization Fellowship, 1984.
* Date Panchang -- an Indian calendar published from Solapur city in Marathi language.

Controversies

Earth's shape

Several writers have suggested that the concept of a spherical Earth may be implicit, though with ambiguity, in the "Aitareya Brahmana", an ancient Indian philosophical text dating back to the early 1st millenium BC. One of the earliest writers to make this claim was Madame Blavatsky, who suggested that the "Serpent-Mantra" of the "Aitareya Brahmana" refers to the Earth ("ilam") as the "Queen of the Serpents" ("Sarpa-rajni") who initially had a bald head but grew hair as she became vegetated:

Blavatsky has interpreted the "description of the earth in the shape of a round and bald head, which was soft at first, and became hard only from being breathed upon by the god Vayu, the lord of the air, forcibly suggests the idea that the authors of the sacred Vedic books knew the earth to be round or spherical".Madame Blavatsky (1877), "Isis Unveiled", [http://www.sacred-texts.com/the/iu/iu000.htm p. 10] , Theosophical University Press, ISBN 0-911500-03-0]

Subhash Kak has interpreted another verse of the "Aitareya Brahmana" as suggesting that the Earth's rotation may be the cause of the apparent motion of the Sun rising and setting. He cites verse 4.18, which states:Subhash Kak (2000), "Birth and Early Development of Indian Astronomy", in Helaine Selin (2000), "Astronomy Across Cultures: The History of Non-Western Astronomy", pp. 303-40, Boston: Kluwer, ISBN 0-7923-6363-9]

An alternative interpretation of the verse by Shyam Singh Shashi suggests that it may be referring to the Sun having a bright side in day and a dark side in night being the cause of its apparent rising and setting. [citation|first=Shyam Singh|last=Shashi|title=Encyclopaedia Indica|publisher=Anmol Publications|year=1999|isbn=8170418593|page=204]

Earth's motion

According to theosophists, the earliest traces of a counter-intuitive idea that it is the Earth that is actually moving and the Sun that is at the center of the solar system (hence the concept of heliocentrism) is found in several Vedic Sanskrit texts written in ancient India.Teresi (2002).Verify credibility|date=September 2007] Blavatsky (1877), [http://www.sacred-texts.com/the/iu/iu000.htm Part One, Chapter I] .] Yajnavalkya (c. 9th–8th century BC) believed that the Sun was "the center of the lokas" as described in the "Vedas" at the time. In his astronomical text "Shatapatha Brahmana", he states:

Some interpret this to mean that the Sun is stationary, hence the Earth is moving around it, though others are less clear about the meanings of the terms.Haug (1863).] This would be elaborated in a later commentary "Vishnu Purana" (2.8) (c. 1st century BC).

Yajnavalkya recognized that the Sun was much larger than the Earth, which would have influenced this early heliocentric concept. He also is said to have accurately measured the relative distances of the Sun and the Moon from the Earth as 108 times the respective diameters of these heavenly bodies, close to the modern measurements of 107.6 for the Sun and 110.6 for the Moon. He described an accurate solar calendar in the "Shatapatha Brahmana".Joseph (2000).] The "Aitareya Brahmana" (2.7) (c. 9th–8th century BC) also states:

Notes

References

* Blavatsky, Helena P. (1877). "Isis Unveiled". Theosophical University Press. ISBN 0-911500-03-0.
* Haug, Martin (1863). "The Aitareya Brahmanam of the Rigveda, Containing the Earliest Speculations of the Brahmans on the Meaning of the Sacrificial Prayers". ISBN 0-404-57848-9.
* Joseph, George G. (2000). "The Crest of the Peacock: Non-European Roots of Mathematics", 2nd edition. Penguin Books, London. ISBN 0691006598.
* Kak, Subhash C. (2000). 'Birth and Early Development of Indian Astronomy'. In Selin, Helaine (2000). "Astronomy Across Cultures: The History of Non-Western Astronomy" (303-340). Boston: Kluwer. ISBN 0-7923-6363-9.
* Teresi, Dick (2002). "Lost Discoveries: The Ancient Roots of Modern Science - from the Babylonians to the Maya". Simon & Schuster, New York. ISBN 0-684-83718-8.
* Roger Hart, Jamil Ragep, Dick Teresi (2002). [http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=885213 "Ancient Roots of Modern Science"] , "Talk of the Nation" (NPR discussion of intercultural scientific contacts; astronomy is discussed in the first fifteen-minute segment).
* Thurston, Hugh (1994). "Early Astronomy". Springer-Verlag, New York. ISBN 0-387-94107-X.

See also

*Yuga
*Jyotish
*Hindu creationism
*Hindu idealism
*Hindu units of measurement
*Hindu calendar
*Indian astronomy

External links

*http://www.bharatvani.org/books/ait/ch22.htm
*http://www.jqjacobs.net/astro/aryabhata.html
*http://www.veda.harekrsna.cz/planetarium/index.htm Hindu planetarium
* Table of various time constants in Vedic science [http://vinaymangal.googlepages.com/VedicTimeTravel.pdf Vedic Time Travel, Elaborate depiction by Vinay Mangal]
* [http://bhagavadgitaasitis.com/8/17/en1 Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 8 verse 17]


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