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Hindu cosmology

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In Hindu cosmology the universe is, according to Hindu mythology and Vedic cosmology, cyclically created and destroyed.


The life span of Lord Brahma, the creator, is 100 'Brahma-Years'. One day in the life of Brahma is called a Kalpa or 4.32 billion years.[1][2] Every Kalpa (one day in the life of Brahma), Brahma creates 14 Manus one after the other, who in turn manifest and regulate this world. Thus, there are fourteen generations of Manu in each Kalpa (one day of Brahma). Each Manu’s life (Manvantara) consists of 71 Chaturyugas (quartets of Yugas or eras).[3] Each Chaturyuga is composed of four eras or Yugas: Satya, Treta, Dwapara and Kali.[3]

The span of the Satya Yuga is 1,728,000 human years, Treta Yuga is 1,296,000 human years long, the Dwapara Yuga 864,000 human years and the Kali Yuga 432,000 human years.[4] 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 Bramha's day. When 'night' falls, Brahma goes to sleep for a period of 4.32 billion years, which is a period of time equal one day (of Brahma) and the lives of fourteen Manus. The next 'morning', Brahma creates fourteen additional Manus in sequence just as he has done on the previous 'day'. The cycle goes on for 100 'divine years' at the end of which Brahma perishes and is regenerated. Bramha's entire life equals 311 trillion, 40 billion years. Once Bramha dies there is an equal period of unmanifestation for 311 trillion, 40 billion years, until the next Bramha is created.

The present period is the Kali Yuga or last era in one of the 71 Chaturyugis (set of four Yugas/eras) in the life one of the fourteen Manus. The current Manu is said to be the seventh Manu and his name is Vaivasvat.[5]

According to Aryabhata, the Kali Yuga began in 3102 BC, at the end of the Dvapara Yuga 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 Yuga (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. The Ugadi of 1999 begins the year 1921 of the Shalivahana era (5101 Kali Yuga, 1999 AD). The end of the Kali Yuga is 426,899 years from 1921.[6]

Overview of Yugas:

  1. Satya Yuga (Krita Yuga):- 1,728,000 Human years
  2. Treta Yuga:- 1,296,000 Human years
  3. Dwapara Yuga:- 864,000 Human years
  4. Kali Yuga:- 432,000 Human years (5,111 years have passed; 426,889 years remain). Kaliyuga started in 3102 B.C.; CE 2009 corresponds to Kaliyuga year 5,111

Further elaborations from the Vedic texts

Rig Veda

The Nasadiya Sukta of the Rig Veda 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 Egg.[7] The Hiranyagarbha is alternatively viewed as Brahma, the creator who was in turn created by God, or as God (Brahman) Himself. The Universe is preserved 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 repeats itself almost endlessly as described in the section above on Brahma, Manu and the Yugas.

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/Kalpa of Brahma, the creator) 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 because there are said to be many creations. Instead, he is regarded as a creation of the Supreme God or Brahman.

We are currently believed to be in the 51st year of the present Brahma's life and so about 158.7 trillion years have elapsed since the birth of 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 day 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, made of 14 Manvantarahas each has 71 divisions. 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 as described earlier. The degree of happiness, prosperity and righteousness progressively decays as one proceeds from one yuga to another. 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.

Both the Rig Veda 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 Padma Purana discusses about the number of different types of life-forms in the universe. According to the Padma Purana, there is 8,400,400 life-form species, 900,000 of which are aquatic ones; 2,000,000 are trees and plants; 1,100,000 are small living species, insects and reptiles; 1,000,000 are birds; 3,000,000 are beasts and 400,000 are human species. [8]

See also


  1. Maharishi Mahesh Yogi on the Bhagavad Gita Translation and Commentary, Arkana, 1967 p. 253
  2.,M1 Time Scales and Environmental Change, Chapman and Driver, p.8
  3. 3.0 3.1 Maharishi Mahesh Yogi on the Bhagavad Gita Translation and Commentary, Arkana, 1967 p. 254
  4. Maharishi Mahesh Yogi on the Bhagavad Gita Translation and Commentary, Arkana, 1990 p. 254
  5. Maharishi Mahesh Yogi on the Bhagavad Gita Translation and Commentary, Arkana, 1967 p. 253
  6. Brodd, Jefferey (2003). World Religions. Winona, MN: Saint Mary's Press. ISBN 978-0-88489-725-5. 
  7. The Philosophy of Guru Nanak, Ishar Singh, 19985, p.134
  8. Singh, T D; Hinduism and Science


  • 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.

Further reading

  • Date Panchang — an Indian calendar published from Solapur city in Marathi language.[1]

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