Tuesday, November 22, 2022

Hindu Cosmology and Concept of Yugas

Statue of Kalki in Gujarat

on a wall of Rani Ki Vav

Sister Nivedita and Anand K. Coomaraswamy have given a brief explanation of Hindu cosmology and concept of yugas in the book that they jointly authored, and published in 1914, Myths and Legends of the Hindus & Buddhists. Here’s an excerpt from the book's Chapter 8, “Conclusion”:

“In speaking here of the Hindu cosmology, it is chiefly our solar system that is to be understood; but it will be clear that similar principles are applicable to any other system, or to a whole universe composed of many systems. No original creation of the universe can be imagined; but there are alternations, partial and complete, of manifestation and withdrawal. At the commencement of a cycle (kalpa) the world is created by the Brahma aspect of Ishvara; during the cycle it is sustained by Vishnu; and at the end, as Shiva, he destroys it. This cosmic process takes place according to the following time scheme:

“A cycle, or Day of Brahma, a kalpa, the period of the endurance of the solar system, is 12,000 years of the devas, or 4,320,000,000 earth-years. At the beginning of each Day when Brahma wakes, the "Three Worlds" so often spoken of in the myths, together with the devas, rishis, asuras, men, and creatures, are manifested afresh according to their individual deserts (karma, deeds); only those who in the previous kalpa obtained direct release (nirvana, moksha), or who passed beyond the Three Worlds to higher planes, no longer reappear. At the close of each Day the Three Worlds, with all their creatures, are again resolved into chaos (pralaya), retaining only a latent germ of necessity of remanifestation. The Night of Brahma is of equal length with the Day. The life of our Brahma or Ishvara is one hundred Brahma-years, at the end of which time not only the Three Worlds, but all planes and all beings Ishvara himself, devas, rishis, asuras, men, creatures, and matter are resolved into chaos (riiaha-pralaya, "great-chaos"), enduring for another hundred Brahma-years, when there appear a new Brahma and a new creation. It will be seen that both major and minor alternations of evolution and involution are represented as necessitated by natural law, the latent force of past action (karma). Causality governs all conditioned existence. The whole scheme is highly scientific.

"The Day of Brahma is divided into fourteen manvantaras, over each of which presides a Manu, or teacher. Each manvantara is followed by a Deluge, which destroys the existing continents and swallows up all living beings, except the few who are preserved for the repeopling of the earth. The name of our Manu is Vaivasvata, who is the source of the Laws of Manu, formulating the basic structure of Hindu society. The Day of Brahma is also divided into 1000 yuga-cycles (maha-yuga); each consisting of four ages, the Satya, Treta, Dvapara, and Kali yugas, of which the last three are periods of progressive degeneration from the first. The four yugas together last 4,320,000 years; the first 1,728,000, the second 1,296,000, the third 864,000, and the last 432,000. The present year (A.D. 1913) is the 5013th of the Kali yuga of the present maha-yuga ; this maha-yuga is the twenty-eighth of the seventh manvantara of our kalpa, called the Varahakalpa, because in it Vishnu incarnated as a boar (varaha); and this kalpa is the first day of the fifty-first year of the life of our Brahma.”

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