Thursday, 20 September 2012

The Story of Time

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-
                                                              2 Paramanu = 1 Anu
          3 Anu = 1 Trasarenu
                                                               3 Trasarenu = 1 Truti
100 Truti = 1 Vedh
3 Vedh = 1 Lava
       3 Lava = 1 Nimesha
3 Nimesha = 1 Kshana
 5 Kshana = 1 Kashta
15 Kashta = 1 Laghu
    15 Laghu = 1 Ghatika
    2 Ghatika = 1 Muhurta
                                                            6/7 * Ghatika = 1 Prahar
             4 Prahar= 1 Night/ 1 Day
                    1 Night + 1 Day= 1 Ahoratra or Day of 24 Hrs

*The reason why 6 or 7 Ghatika make one Prahar is because the length of night or day changes according to the season.  Hence it is either 6 or 7 Ghatikas according to the fluctuation.

There is a problem with the math of Kshana and Kashta. Here, Kshana is a smaller unit than Kashta while in Vishnu Purana it is a larger unit than Kashta. 
Also in Vishnu Purana another unit called Kalaa is introduced between Kshana and Kashta where 30 Kashtas make one Kalaa and 30 Kalaa one Kshana.

Apart from these, certain astronomical measurements also exist which have units like Prana, Vikala, Danda,etc. The Sankhya Parimana cites Varaha Purana for some units of time.
This system of measurement has been common in ancient India and also shows the minute thinking of our ancestors with which they divided time up to Paramanu.

Now looking into the macroscopic measurement of time,
15 Days = 1 Paksha 
( Shukla Paksha= Poornima & Krishna Paksha= Amavasya)
2 Pakshas = 1 Lunar Month *
( Shravan, Bhadrapad, Margasheersha,etc)
2 Lunar Months = 1 Season or Rutu 
6 Lunar Months = 1 Ayana
( Dakshinayan and Uttarayan)
12 Lunar Months = 1 Human Year *

* A normal month is of 30 Days while a Lunar Month is mainly of 29.5 Days.
* 1 Year also has different definitions. 
As I have said earlier, Sun moves around the ecliptic or orbits of different planets and stars. But apart from the Sun ,we have different stars on whom a year can be calculated. They are-
  • 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
Based on the Lunar months, further Time is classified into Yugas-
There are 4 Yugas- Krita, Treta, Dwapar and Kali of 4000,3000,2000,1000 Human Years respectively. A Sandhi is introduced in the respective Yugas before and after the Yugas which is 1/10th of the time of that Yugas. Thus Kritayug has 4800 Years = 4000 + 400 + 400 Sandhikal and so on.
These 4 Yugas combined make one Mahayuga of 12000 years.
As pointed out in my earlier posts, these are Human years. But it was later modified to Divine years or Divya Varsha where 1 Divine year= 360 Human Years.
So one Mahayuga of 12000 years becomes 12000*360= 4320000 years.

According to the Bhagvata Purana, the above data was limited to the people living in Trilokas- Earth, Swarga and Patal. But beyond these three Lokas, lives Brahmadeva. So the life of Brahmadeva is accounted as follows-
One night or one Day of Brahmadeva is said to be of 1000 Mahayugas. In this time, it is said that 14 Manus live. But as we have seen in Manu and Manvantara, one Manvantara is the time for which Manu and his sons reign and not of such a large time.
                                                 1000 Mahayugas = 1 Kalpa or Day/Night of Brahma
  2 Kalpas = 1 Day of Brahma
50 years of Brahma's life = 1 Parardha
2 Parardha = 100 yrs of Brahma's life

After 100 years of Brahma's life, the Universe is said to dissolve into Parabrahma. 
It is said that 1 Parardha of Brahma's life is over and the second one is going on. In that, the current Kalpa is called Varaha Kalpa while the one before that was Brahma Kalpa.
If we actually trace the age of Brahma with the above data, it comes out to be 15700 Trillion Years..!!!!
But if we consider only human years and not divine years, it comes out to be 438 Billion Years.

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