According to Brahminical perspective, the universe and life is cyclical.
Indians believe that there have been several beginnings and endings of the
universe and there will be several in the future. There are many different
versions of the cyclical creation and destruction of the universe. In the
last 50 years, evidence has been accumulated in support of a theory of the
evolution of the universe. This theory holds that a big bang precipitated
a huge split-second inflation of the universe, followed by a gradual expansion
that continues to this day and is now accelerating. As in modern physics,
Hindu cosmology envisages the universe as having a cyclical nature, unlike
in Judeo-Christian-Islamic cosmology. The similarities between Brahminical
and modern cosmology do not seem accidental and some theorists have proposed
that the big bang is merely the prelude to the big crunch and the universe
is caught in an infinite cycle of expansion and contraction.
According to Carl Sagan, the distinguished Cornell University astronomer
and Pulitzer Prize-winning author (http://www.rediff.com/news/jan/29sagan.htm
"We know that the Earth is about 4.6 billion years old, and the cosmos,
or at least its present incarnation, is something like 10 or 20 billion years
old. The Hindu tradition has a day and night of Brahma in this range, somewhere
in the region of 8.4 billion years. As far as I know, it is the only ancient
religious tradition on the Earth, which talks about the right time-scale.
We want to get across the concept of the right time-scale, and to show that
it is not unnatural. In the West, people have the sense that what is natural
is for the universe to be a few thousand years old, and that billions is
indwelling, and no one can understand it. The Hindu concept is very clear.
Here is a great world culture which has always talked about billions of years.
Finally, the many billion year time-scale of Hindu cosmology is not the entire
history of the universe, but just the day and night of Brahma, and there
is the idea of an infinite cycle of births and deaths and an infinite number
of universes, each with its own gods. And this is a very grand idea…."
|1. In the beginning rose Hiranyagarbha,
born Only Lord of all created beings.
He fixed and holdeth up this earth and heaven. We shall adore Him with our
-Rigveda, Book X, Hymn 121: Who?
1. Then was not non-existent nor existent: there was no realm of
air, no sky beyond it. What covered in, and where? and what gave shelter?
Was water there, unfathomed depth of water?
2 Death was not then, nor was there aught immortal: no sign was there, the
day's and night's divider. That One Thing, breathless, breathed by its own
nature: apart from it was nothing whatsoever.
3 Darkness there was: at first concealed in darkness this All was indiscriminated
chaos. All that existed then was void and form less: by the great power of
Warmth was born that Unit.
4 Thereafter rose Desire in the beginning, Desire, the primal seed and germ
of Spirit. Sages who searched with their heart's thought discovered the existent's
kinship in the non-existent.
5 Transversely was their severing line extended: what was above it then,
and what below it? There were begetters, there were mighty forces, free action
here and energy up yonder.
6 Who verily knows and who can here declare it, whence it was born and whence
comes this creation? The Gods are later than this world's production. Who
knows then whence it first came into being?
7 He, the first origin of this creation, whether he formed it all or did
not form it,
Whose eye controls this world in highest heaven, he verily knows it, or
perhaps he knows not.
-Rigveda, Book X, Hymn 129:Creation
According to Yoga Vasishta
(2:19), the Divine Being, like a sea,
surges upwards in a wave of creation, then subsides again into its own nature.
Waves of universe rise incessantly, in infinite numbers, one after another.
According to Vaishnavite mythology, the Universe is cyclically created
and destroyed. Lord Vishnu, the eternal Supreme Consciousness, creates
Lord Brahma by meditation. In every beginning of the world in an unending
cycle of creation and destruction, Lord Vishnu lying asleep in the ocean
of milk on the coils of cobra Ananta (the infinite time), dreams a lotus
from his navel, there in the petals of the lotus lies a golden egg (Hiranyagarbha).
This egg hatches to form Brahma, the creator. Lord Brahma begins creation
by invoking eternally wakeful Sri Lakshmi, the consort of the Supreme Consciousness,
to remove inertia from His awareness.
The life span of Brahma is 120 divine years (Mahakalpamu). Everyday 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 yugas or eras: Krita (or Satya), Treta,
Dvapara and Kali. The span of Krita era is 1,728,000 human years, Treta
era is 1,296,000 human years, Dvapara 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 the 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 120 divine years at the end of which Brahma perishes. Lord Vishnu,
after a period of meditation, creates Brahma again.
According to the Bhagavad Gita (The Way to the Eternal Brahman, VIII: 17,
18) this srishti
(creation) and pralaya
at a period of 1,000 Mahayugas or 4.32 billion years or 4,320 million years:
For a thousand ages lasts
One day of Brahma,
And for a thousand ages one such night;
This knowing, men will know (what is
meant by) day and night.
At the day's dawning all things manifest
Spring forth from the Unmanifest;
And then at nightfall they dissolve again,
In (that same mystery) surnamed "Unmanifest."
See also: http://www.vedanta-newyork.org/articles/cosmology_in_vedanta.htm
According to Puranic Encyclopedia by Vettam Mani, Krita yuga comprises
1,440,000 human years, Treta yuga 1,080,000 human years, Dvapara yuga 720,000
human years and Kali yuga 360,000 human years. Thus the quartet of four
yugas consists of 3,600,000 human years.
In his seminal History of the Shakta Religion, N. N. Bhattacharyya explained
that "[those] who worship the Supreme Deity exclusively as a Female Principle
are called Shakta. The Shaktas conceive their Great Goddess as the personification
of primordial energy and the source of all divine and cosmic evolution. She
is identified with the Supreme Being, conceived as the Source and the Spring
as well as the Controller of all the forces and potentialities of Nature.
Nowhere in the religious history of the world do we come across such a completely
female-oriented system." (See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shaktism)
Swami Veda Bharti says, as reported by Linda Johnson in Hinduism, at any
given moment there are trillions and upon trillions of Brahmas, Vishnus,
and Shivas manifesting their universe within the endless expanse of the Divine
Mother's awareness. The time frame according to Shaktism:
One day and night in the life of Brahma is 8,640,000,000 human years.
The lifetime of Brahma is 311,040,000,000,000 human years.
One day and night in the life of Vishnu equals 37,324,800,000,000,000,000
The life of Vishnu is 671,846,400,000,000,000,000,000 human years.
One Day and night in the life of Shiva is 4,837,294,080,000,000,000,000
Shiva's lifetime is equal to 87,071,293,440,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000
One glance from the Mother of the Universe is 87,071,293,440,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000
The Big Bang was prefigured in Brahmanical thought as the event whereby the
One (Brahma) separated itself from itself. Firstly, as scripture holds, 'the
One became Two', thus initiating the cosmic spirit (Purusha) and the physical
universe (Prakriti). The Big Bang, by this imagery, is the physical counterpart
and result of the primordial act of division of the non-spatial, eternal
Our known galaxy is known as Parameshti Mandala
, and it is said
to rotate around Svayambhu Mandala
, the center of all galaxies with
a time period of 4.32 billion years, also. Interestingly, the 18th century
German philosopher Immanuel Kant suggested that the universe might actually
consist of rotating systems rotating around larger rotating systems." Pursuing
this chronology further in detail, "It can be shown that the present day
of Brahma began exactly 5 Brahma hours, 28 minutes and 40 seconds ago as
of April 1, 1986. Going a step further, they calculate the age of our present
universe is 19.252 billion years, amazingly close to the modern-day estimate."
Modern historians have also documented that "according to some ancient Hindu
scriptures, the Sun is 108 Sun-diameters from the earth and the moon 108
Moon-diameters away. The modern values for these figures are 107.6 and 110.6,
Other versions of the Hindu cosmology can be found here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hindu_cosmology
According to Jain beliefs, the universe was never created, nor will it
ever cease to exist. Time is divided into Utsarpinis (Progressive Time Cycle)
and Avsarpinis (Regressive Time Cycle). An Utsarpini and a Avsarpini constitute
one Time Cycle (Kalchakra). Every Utsarpini and Avsarpini is divided into
six unequal periods known as Aras. During the Utsarpini half cycle, ethics,
progress, happiness, strength, age, body, religion, etc., go from the worst
conditions to the best. During the Avsarpini half-cycle, these notions deteriorate
from the best to the worst. Jains believe we are currently in the fifth
Ara of the Avsarpini phase, with approximately 19,000 years until the next
Ara. After this Avsarpini phase, the Utsarpini phase will begin, continuing
the infinite repetition of the Kalchakra. http://www.answers.com/topic/jainism
Buddhist Cosmology http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buddhist_cosmology