Kalachakra: Hindu Concept of time

It is well known that Hinduism believes in the cyclical nature of time and hence the name Kalachakra, wheels of time. Just like the wheel is in motion time continues to be in motion for an eternity. However, time has been divided into various units from the smallest called Paramanu to the largest termed as Maha-Manvantara. We also know that time is measured in relation to Lord Brahma. This topic is as vast and never ending as the universe itself. Detailed in this article are a few basic concepts of time that we put to use in our day to day life.

Yugas

The four Yugas

There are four Yugas or epochs in each cycle of the universe. They are Satya, Treta, Dvapar and Kali. Each of these Yugas has its own characteristics and features. Kaliyuga is the smallest while Satya Yuga is the largest of all Yugas. Similarly, it is said that the life span of humans successively reduces from Satya to Kaliyuga. Moral debauchery is believed to be the highest during Kaliyuga and it ends with Pralaya or complete annihilation of the universe. After a period of rest the entire universe will be recreated by Lord Brahma and the same process will continue forever. A complete cycle of the four Yugas is called Maha-Yuga. 71 Maha-Yugas constitute a Manvantara and each Manvantara is ruled by a Manu. We are at present in Vaivasvatha Manvantara.

Samvatsara

A year is called Samvatsara and it consists of 12 Masas (months). 30 Muhurtas (48 minutes each) make a day and 30 days make a month/ masa. There are further divisions of each day into nimishas, kshanas etc with the smallest one being Paramanu which amounts to 26.3 micro seconds. Ritus are seasons and they are six in number with each Ritu lasting for a period of 2 months. Vasanta (Spring), Grishma (Summer), Varsha (Monsoon), Sharada (Autumn), Hemanta and Shishira (Winter) are the 6 Ritus of the year. There are 60 Samvatsaras in total and each Samvatsara has its own name. The first Samvatsara is Prabhava and the last one is known as Akshaya. We are currently in the 30th Samvatsara which is called Durmukhi. The next one, which will commence from April 2017, is known as Hevilambi.

Division of Yugas in Human years

Samvat

An Era is known as Samvat and it usually commemorates an important event. The present Era is Vikram Samvat which began after Emperor Vikramaditya of Ujjain defeated the Sakas and reclaimed his ancestral throne. For an Era to be approved it must have the sanction of scholars and sages of that period. There are numerous Eras but Vikram Samvat is the most popular one which is used by Hindus at large today.

 Other divisions

Other units of time include Paksas, based on the waning and waxing of the moon. The dark fortnight is called Krishna Paksa while the light one is called Sukla Paksa. One-fourth of a day or night is known as Yama.

The lifespan of Brahma is of 100 years after which the entire creation would be absorbed by God, in other words Pralaya would occur bringing destruction to the universe. At present, Brahma is in his 51st year and this Kalpa is called Shveta-Varaha-Kalpa. The present Kali Yuga will end after 426,882 years and then the entire process of destruction and creation will start afresh.

Time is thus ever moving and relative but the sole aim of a Hindu is to get Moksha from this never ending cycle of rebirths, in other words conquering time or Kala.

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