Many of us have watched B.R Chopra's Mahabharat serial. The whole story is said to be the recitation of Time- The starting words "Main Samay Hoon" are the most enthralling words to start with. Such is Time- Omnipresent and all-knowing.
|Time as Omnipresent.|
Time is one of the important facts of this Universe. It started with the Big Bang and will continue till it's end. It is an abstract quantity which can be made measurable with different parameters. In his existence man has developed a lot of units to measure time. The units may vary, but throughout the world, all the civilizations have agreed that time is one most important thing that affects our lives.
The same feeling is reflected in the Hindu scriptures. Time or Kaal,as it is called, is said to be the creation of the Brahman and is all pervading. Even the smallest of the indivisible unit, Paramanu, has not escaped from the effect of time. The Pancha Mahabhootas which form this Universe have Time as their property. Puranas state that Time resides in all of the 'stable and moving' things ( Sthavar & Jangam).
In fact, even Time has two types- Time governing the minute particles (Paramanu) and Time governing the formation, evolution and doom of this Universe ( Param-Mahana)
Now let us begin with what the Puranas have to say regarding Time measurement-
Puranas attribute Time to Vishnu. It is this time that decides the Utpatti ( Formation) and Destruction (Laya) of the Universe. But these are quite large units for time like Yugas,Kalpas, Parardhas,etc. But what about the minuscule divisions of Time? If Parardha is the largest unit of Time, what is the smallest?
The smallest unit of Time varies with Puranas.
Nimesha is considered to be the smallest by Vishnu, Shiva, Matsya, Vayu Puranas while Paramanu is considered to be the smallest unit by Bhagvata and Bhavishya Purana. This Paramanu is 16200 times smaller than Nimesha..!!
There are some internal inconsistencies within the Puranas but more or less all agree with the system of time measurement. Since Nimesha itself is made up of Paramanus, we consider the Bhagvata Purana as an authority and state the different units of time-
The main parameter to measure time is the Sun. We know that Indian Astronomy is based on the movement of the Sun through various Ecliptic of stars and planets. The definition of Paramanu is given as the time required by the Sun to cross a length of one Paramanu or minute,indivisible particle.
Here are the units of time-
Now looking into the macroscopic measurement of time,
- Sun- Samvatsar (Saurvarsha of 365 Days)
- Jupiter or Brihaspati- Parivatsar (Barhaspatya)
- Moon- Anuvatsar (12 Lunar Months)
- Stars or Nakshatra - Vatsar
- Idavatsar- 1 Year of 360 Days