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Chief Editor: Dr. Sreenivasarao Vepachedu


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 (
"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 oblation.

-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 (dissolution) recur 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:

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:  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 human years.
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 human years.
Shiva's lifetime is equal to 87,071,293,440,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 human years.
One glance from the Mother of the Universe is 87,071,293,440,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 human years.

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 One.

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, respectively".

Other versions of the Hindu cosmology can be found here:

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.

Buddhist Cosmology

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Vepachedu Educational Foundation, Inc
Copyright Vepachedu Educational Foundation Inc., 2006.  All rights reserved.  All information is intended for your general knowledge only and is not a substitute for any advice. Please read disclaimer.

Om! Asatoma Sadgamaya, Tamasoma Jyotirgamaya, Mrityorma Amritamgamaya, Om Shantih, Shantih, Shantih!
(Om! Lead the world from wrong path to the right path, from ignorance to knowledge, from mortality to immortality and peace!)

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