Kalchakra


As each grain of Time is destroyed,
The next comes along and brings with it either Creation or Destruction.
This is the Dance of Shiva. 

The eternal cycle of Life and Death; Birth and Re-birth; Formation and Dissolution is called the Kaal-chakra or the 'Wheel of Time'.

Puraanic genealogies take us back into the mists of time when Human-beings were first trying to settle down on Earth and make it their Home. The Age of Kali (Kaliyugis astrologically believed to have commenced on 20th February 3102 BCE and consequently, we are currently in the 5114th year of this Era.


The Kaliyuga Zodiac


How did the ancients really perceive their world? Were they also as bewildered by these mind-boggling numbers as we are today? Or did they accept it nonchalantly and went back to their daily chores with a shrug.

The Indian calendar is ingeniously based on BOTH the Sun and Moon; it uses a solar year but divides it into 12 lunar months! In this calendar, seasons follow the Sun; months follow the Moon; and days follow both. To help the lunar months coincide with the solar year, the practice of inserting an extra month, called the Adhik Maas, arose which is inserted every 30 months since 60 months = 62 months.

Lunar days in the Indian calendar are called Tithis. They are calculated using the difference of the longitudinal angle between the position of the sun and moon. Because of this, the tithi may or may not have changed by the time the day has changed and this is why sometimes a tithi is omitted, and at others, two consecutive days share the same.


Tithis or Days in a Lunar Calendar



Astrologically, one of the oldest Calendars followed in Hinduism, is the Saptarishi calendar which begins from 6676 BCE (earlier referred to as BC). This version was in use in northern India from at least the 4th century BCE, as witnessed by the statements of Greek and Roman writers.  

Another Indian calendar is known as the Vikram Era, or the Vikram Samvat, which began in 57 BCE. This calendar derives its name from the original king Vikramaditya of Ujjain and the date is supposed to mark the victory of the king over the Shakas, who had invaded Ujjain. Another calenad which is the Official Indian calendar now is known as the Saka Calendar and starts in 78 CE.



Measurement of Time in Hinduism

The authenticity and veracity of these dates will be dealt with subsequently, but for now let us try to understand the basic units of measurement used in ancient India. These units are based on the method of calculation known as Kaal-ganana.

According to the principles of Indian time measurement, the smallest unit of measurement of Time is the involuntary time taken to drop one's eyelid or the Blink of an Eye. It is remarkable that the ancients chose such a mode of measurement because this time is Constant for all living individuals hence does not depend on any Variables!
  • This unit is known as a 'Nimish'
  • Three Units (03) of Nimish combine to form a 'Kshan' 
  • Five Units   (05) of Kshan combine to form a 'Kashtha'
  • Thirty Units (30) of Kashtha combine to form a 'Kaal'
  • Thirty Units (30) of Kaal combine to form a 'Muhurat'
  • Thirty Units (30) of Muhurat then combine to form a 24 hour period known as the 'Divas-ratri'
    This 24 hour period is also divided into an overlapping division called the 'Praher' or 'Paher'. Each 12 hour period has 4 Prahers each, thereby dividing one rotation of Earth into 8 equal parts. 

    • Fifteen Units (15) of Divas-Ratri form a fortnight or a 'Paksh'. The bright waxing Moon fortnight is called the Shukla Paksh and the dark waning Moon fortnight is known as the Krishna Paksh.

    Kalchakra Mandala
     


    In one of the higher planets called Pitralok, one fortnight of humans corresponds to one day and a similar time period counts as their night. Therefore, the Bright fortnight forms the Day of the Pitras and the Dark one forms the Night.

    • Two Units (2) of Pakshs combine to form a month or a 'Masa'
    • Six Units (6) of Maas jointly are referred to as an 'Ayan'

    The six months when Sun is in the Northern Hemisphere are called the Uttarayan and the corresponding six in the lower hemisphere form the Dakshinayan. This bright northern jurney of Sun forms One day of the Devas and the six human month Southern journey forms their Night. Thus, for the demigods, One human year is equivalent to One Day-Night period.



    Calculation of Yugas

    Lord Brahma's day and night are each known as a Kalpa and Brahma lives for a Hundred such Years. One day in the life of Brahma thus comes to be close to4.32 Billion human years!

    • Like our 12 hour division, each day of Brahma is divided into fourteen (14) divisions known as the Manvantars. Each Manvantar is ruled over by a leader of mankind known as the Manu.
    • Each Manvantar is further divided into 71 Mahayugas just as each hour of our day is divided into 60 minutes.
    • Each Mahayuga is further sub-divided into 4 Yugas each which are - Satyuga, Tretayuga, Dvaparyuga and Kaliyuga.

    In the continuum called Mahayuga, each successive Yuga is lesser in duration than its predecessor by 25%. Also, at the beginning and end of each Yuga, there exists a Sandhya which forms 10% of the duration of that Yuga. These are the durations of the respective Yugas:

    Kritayug                                      Yuga
    4000


                                          Sandhya
    400


                                          Sandhyansh
    400



    4800


    Tretayug                                      Yuga
    3000


                                          Sandhya
    300


                                          Sandhyansh
    300



    3600


    Dwaparyug                                       Yuga
    2000


                                          Sandhya
    200


                                          Sandhyansh
    200



    2400


    Kaliyug                                      Yuga
    1000


                                          Sandhya
    100


                                          Sandhyansh
    100



    1200



    Total

    12000

    In Deva Years, they correspond to the durations of 4800, 3600, 2400 and 1200 respectively and since One Deva Year is equal to 360 human years, these figures become 1728000, 1296000, 864000 and 432000 respectively. 




    Once a Chaturyuga cycle gets over, there is a deluge which drowns the entire Earth after which life begins anew with the next Chaturyuga/Mahayuga cycle.

    When these cycles of time have repeated themselves for a 100 years of Brahma, it is time for the creator-god to leave his mortal body as well. At the end of this Time, there is dissolution of the entire Creation and all living as well as non-living matter is absorbed unto itself to once again Begin at the Beginning.

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    Aum Shanti: Shanti: Shanti:
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