The Hindu Cosmic time cycle makes a distinction between a human year, a godly year and a year in the life of Brahma. It follows that one human year is equal to that of one day in the life of the gods, and one day (or kalpa) in the life of Brahma is 4 320 000 000 human years with an equal amount of time dedicated to his sleep. The cyclical nature of the Hindu cosmic structure comes from the dissolution and rebirth of the world that takes place when Brahma goes to sleep and wakes. This cycle of dissolution and rebirth takes place for one hundred Brahma years until Brahma returns to the supreme being in which he came to be reborn again (Morgan, 89).
The composition of a day in the life of Brahma consists of dividing time up. At the most basic level, time is divided into yugas or ages. These consist of the Krta or Satya yuga, the Treta yuga, Dvapara yuga, and the Kali yuga. Each of these yugas contains a descending level of dharma. At the end of the Kali yuga there is a period of dissolution which if followed by a new Krta yuga (Mitchiner, 48). The total time that a four yuga cycle takes is 12 000 godly years or 4 320 000 human years. These are divided between the yugas with the Krta yuga receiving 4000 years, the Treta yuga receiving 3000 years, the Dvapara yuga receiving 2000 years and finally the Kali yuga receiving 1000 years, each with supplemented dawns and dusks of one tenth their totals.
The four yuga cycle is known as a mahayuga. It takes 1000 mahayuga to create one Kalpa or day in the life of Brahma which is also equal to 4320 million human years. These 1000 mahayuga are divided into 14 manvantaras or (intervals of the manus) in which seven new rsis will arrive every 71.42 mahayuga to teach man the Laws of Manu (Mittal and Thursby, 563).
It is at this time that Brahma will dissolve the universe and sleep for an equally long length of time (4320 million human years) to complete his day and then he will rise and start the process all over again for one hundred years consisting of 360 day years. This will put the life cycle of Brahma at 311 040 Billion human years. This is said to pass in a “moment, wink or blink” (nimesa) of Visnu (Mittal and Thursby, 563).
Mitchiner, J. (1982) Traditions of the Seven Rsis. Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass
Mittal, S. and Thursby, G. ed. (2004) The Hindu World. New York and London: Routledge
Morgan, K. ed. (1953) The Religion of the Hindus. New York: Ronald.
Related Research Topics
Creation and Destruction of the Universe
Laws of Manu
This article was produced by Jason M. Blades, who takes full responsibility for the contents.