Hindu cosmology

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Hindu cosmology
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{{Hinduism}}In Hindu cosmology, the universe is cyclically created and destroyed.BOOK, Lost Discoveries: The Ancient Roots of Modern Science--from the Baby, Dick Teresi, 174, SimonandSchuster, Its cosmology divides time into four epochs or Yuga, of which the current period is the Kali Yuga.


According to Hindu vedic cosmology, there is no absolute start to time, as it is considered infinite and cyclic.BOOK, Sushil Mittal, Gene Thursby, 284, Hindu World, Routledge, 2012, 9781134608751, Similarly, the space and universe has neither start nor end, rather it is cyclical. The current universe is just the start of a present cycle preceded by an infinite number of universes and to be followed by another infinite number of universes.BOOK, Andrew Zimmerman Jones, 262, String Theory For Dummies, John Wiley & Sons, 2009, 9780470595848, The dominant theme in Puranic Hindu cosmology, state Chapman and Driver, is of cycles and repetition. There are multiple universes, each takes birth from chaos, grows, decays and dies into chaos, to be reborn again. Further, there are different and parallel realities. Brahma's one day equals 4.32 billion years which is a Kalpa.BOOK,weblink The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Hinduism: A-M, The Rosen Publishing Group, 180, James G. Lochtefeld, Each Kalpa is subdivided into four yuga (chaturyuga, also called mahayuga).BOOK, Graham Chapman, Thackwray Driver, Timescales and Environmental Change,weblink 2002, Routledge, 978-1-134-78754-8, 7–8, These are krita (or satya), treta, dvapara and kali yugas. The current time is stated to be one of kali yuga. The starting year, length of each, or the grand total, is not consistent in the Puranas. According to Ludo Rocher, the total of four yugas is typically 4,320,000 years, of which 432,000 years is assigned to be the duration of the kali yuga.BOOK, Ludo Rocher, The Purāṇas,weblink 1986, Otto Harrassowitz Verlag, 978-3-447-02522-5, 123–125, 130-132, BOOK, John E. Mitchiner, Traditions Of The Seven Rsis,weblink 2000, Motilal Banarsidass, 978-81-208-1324-3, 141–144, {{refn|group=note|The concept of four cosmic periods (yuga) is also found in Greek, Roman, Irish and Babylonian mythologies, where each age becomes more sinful and of suffering.BOOK, Robert Bolton, The Order of the Ages: World History in the Light of a Universal Cosmogony,weblink 2001, Sophia Perennis, 978-0-900588-31-0, 64–78, For example, the Roman version found in the early 1st-century Metamorphoses of Ovid calls it Silvern (white), Golden (yellow), Bronze (red) and Iron (black) ages. Plato too divides the concept of universal time into ages, and suggests time being cyclic.BOOK, Robert Bolton, The Order of the Ages: World History in the Light of a Universal Cosmogony,weblink 2001, Sophia Perennis, 978-0-900588-31-0, 65–68, The total number of years in the Babylonian mythology is the same 432,000 years (120 saroi) as the Indian mythologies.BOOK, Donald Alexander Mackenzie, Mythology of the Babylonian People,weblink 1915, Bracken Books, 978-0-09-185145-3, 310–314, }}One complete cycle of the four (Kṛta or Satya, Treta, Dvapara and Kali) Yugas is one Mahā-Yuga (4.32 million solar years) and is confirmed by the Gītā Śloka 8.17 (statement) "sahasra-yuga-paryantam ahar yad brahmaṇo viduḥ rātriṁ yuga-sahasrāntāṁ te 'ho-rātra-vido janāḥ", meaning, a day of brahma is of 1000 Mahā-Yuga. Thus a day of Brahma, Kalpa, is of duration: 4.32 billion solar years. Two Kalpas constitute 24 hours (day and Night) of Brahma. A Manvantara, which consists of 71 Mahā-Yuga (306,720,000 solar years) is ruled by a Manu. After each Manvantara follows one Sandhi Kāla, of the same duration as a Kṛta Yuga (1,728,000 Solar Years). It is said that during a Sandhi Kāla, the entire earth is submerged in water. According to Hindu scriptures, the world would be destroyed at the end of the Kali Yuga.

Rigveda: speculation on universe's creation

The Rigveda which is variously dated, generally in the second half of the 2nd-millennium BCE,{{sfn|Flood|1996|p=37}} presents many theories of cosmology. For example:
  • Hiranyagarbha sukta, its hymn 10.121, states a golden child was born in the universe and was the lord, established earth and heaven, then asks but who is the god to whom we shall offer the sacrificial prayers?Charles Lanman, To the unknown god, Book X, Hymn 121, Rigveda, The Sacred Books of the East Volume IX: India and Brahmanism, Editor: Max Muller, Oxford, pages 49-50
  • Devi sukta, its hymn 10.125, states a goddess is all, the creator, the created universe, the feeder and the lover of the universe;Charles Lanman, Hymns by Women, Book X, Hymn 125, Rigveda, The Sacred Books of the East Volume IX: India and Brahmanism, Editor: Max Muller, Oxford, pages 46-47
  • Nasadiya sukta, its hymn 10.129, asks who created the universe, does anyone really know, and whether it can ever be known.Charles Lanman, The Creation Hymn, Book X, Hymn 129, Rigveda, The Sacred Books of the East Volume IX: India and Brahmanism, Editor: Max Muller, Oxford, page 48
According to Henry White Wallis, the Rigveda and other Vedic texts are full of alternative cosmological theories and curiosity questions. For example, the hymn 1.24 of the Rigveda asks, "these stars, which are set on high, and appear at night, whither do they go in the daytime?" and hymn 10.88 wonders, "how many fires are there, how many suns, how many dawns, how many waters? I am not posing an awkward question for you fathers; I ask you, poets, only to find out?"BOOK, Henry White Wallis, The Cosmology of the Ṛigveda: An Essay,weblink 1887, Williams and Norgate, 117, BOOK, Laurie L. Patton, Bringing the Gods to Mind: Mantra and Ritual in Early Indian Sacrifice,weblink 2005, University of California Press, 978-0-520-93088-9, 113, 216, To its numerous open-ended questions, the Vedic texts present a diversity of thought, in verses imbued with symbols and allegory, where in some cases forces and agencies are clothed with a distinct personality, while in other cases as nature with or without anthropomorphic activity such as forms of mythical sacrifices.BOOK, Henry White Wallis, The Cosmology of the Ṛigveda: An Essay,weblink 1887, Williams and Norgate, 61-73, The Rigveda contains the Nasadiya sukta hymn which does not offer a cosmological theory, but asks cosmological questions about the nature of universe and how it began:DAVID CHRISTIAN>TITLE=MAPS OF TIME: AN INTRODUCTION TO BIG HISTORYDATE=1 SEPTEMBER 2011ISBN=978-0-520-95067-2URL=HTTPS://BOOKS.GOOGLE.COM/BOOKS?ID=QTDKXRLRZP8C PUBLISHER=HARVARD UNIVERSITY PRESS PAGES=510–511, }}

Vedic: 3 lokas

Deborah Soifer describes the development of the concept of lokas as follows: The concept of a loka or lokas develops in the Vedic literature. Influenced by the special connotations that a word for space might have for a nomadic people, loka in the Veda did not simply mean place or world, but had a positive valuation: it was a place or position of religious or psychological interest with a special value of function of its own. Hence, inherent in the 'loka' concept in the earliest literature was a double aspect; that is, coexistent with spatiality was a religious or soteriological meaning, which could exist independent of a spatial notion, an 'immaterial' significance. The most common cosmological conception of lokas in the Veda was that of the trailokya or triple world: three worlds consisting of earth, atmosphere or sky, and heaven, making up the universe."Soiver, Deborah A., State University of New York Press (Nov 1991), {{ISBN|978-0-7914-0799-8}} p. 51, The Myths of Narasimha and Vamana: Two Avatars in Cosmological Perspective

Puranas: 14 lokas

The later Puranic view asserts that the Universe is created, destroyed, and re-created in an eternally repetitive series of cycles. A day of Brahma, the creator, endures for about 4,320,000,000 years.BOOK, Lost Discoveries: The Ancient Roots of Modern Science--from the Baby, Dick Teresi, 174, SimonandSchuster, In the Brahmanda Purana, there are fourteen worlds. However, other Puranas give different version of this cosmology and associated myths.BOOK, Roshen Dalal, Hinduism: An Alphabetical Guide,weblink 2010, Penguin Books, 978-0-14-341421-6, 83, In the Brahmanda version, the loka consist of seven higher ones (Vyahrtis) and seven lower ones (Pātālas), as follows:BOOK, John A. Grimes, A Concise Dictionary of Indian Philosophy: Sanskrit Terms Defined in English,weblink 1996, State University of New York Press, 978-0-7914-3067-5, 95, BOOK, Ganga Ram Garg, Encyclopaedia of the Hindu World,weblink 1992, Concept, 978-81-7022-375-7, 446,
  • Bhuloka, Bhuvar Loka, svarga, Mahar Loka, Jana Loka, Tapa Loka, and Satyaloka above, and
  • Atala, Vitala, Sutala, Rasaataala, Talatala, Mahaatala, Patala and naraka below.
The same 14 lokas (worlds) are described in chapter 2.5 of the Bhagavata Purana.BOOK, Barbara A. Holdrege, Bhakti and Embodiment: Fashioning Divine Bodies and Devotional Bodies in Krsna Bhakti,weblink 2015, Routledge, 978-1-317-66910-4, 334 note 62, The Puranas genre of Indian literature, found in Hinduism and Jainism, contain a section on cosmology and cosmogony as a requirement. There are dozens of different Mahapuranas and Upapuranas, each with its own theory integrated into a proposed human history consisting of solar and lunar dynasties. Some are similar to Indo-European creation myths, while others are novel. One cosmology, shared by Hindu, Buddhist and Jain texts involves Mount Meru, with stars and sun moving around it using Dhruva (North Star) as the focal reference.BOOK, Mircea Eliade, Charles J. Adams, The Encyclopedia of religion,weblink 1987, Macmillan, 978-0-02-909730-4, 100–113, 116-117, BOOK, Ariel Glucklich, The Strides of Vishnu: Hindu Culture in Historical Perspective,weblink 2008, Oxford University Press, 978-0-19-971825-2, 151–155 (Matsya Purana and other examples), According to Annette Wilke and Oliver Moebus, the diversity of cosmology theories in Hinduism may reflect its tendency to not reject new ideas and empirical observations as they became available, but to adapt and integrate them creatively.BOOK, Annette Wilke, Oliver Moebus, Sound and Communication: An Aesthetic Cultural History of Sanskrit Hinduism,weblink 2011, Walter de Gruyter, 978-3-11-024003-0, 259–262,

Multiverse in Hinduism

The concept of multiverses is mentioned many times in Hindu Puranic literature, such as in the Bhagavata Purana:Every universe is covered by seven layers — earth, water, fire, air, sky, the total energy and false ego — each ten times greater than the previous one. There are innumerable universes besides this one, and although they are unlimitedly large, they move about like atoms in You. Therefore You are called unlimited (Bhagavata Purana 6.16.37)BOOK,weblink The Power of Stars, Springer, 137, Bryan E. Penprase, BOOK,weblink A Traveler's Guide to the Afterlife: Traditions and Beliefs on Death, Dying, and What Lies Beyond, Mark, Mirabello, 23, Inner Traditions / Bear & Co,
Analogies to describe multiple universes also exist in the Puranic literature:Because You are unlimited, neither the lords of heaven nor even You Yourself can ever reach the end of Your glories. The countless universes, each enveloped in its shell, are compelled by the wheel of time to wander within You, like particles of dust blowing about in the sky. The śrutis, following their method of eliminating everything separate from the Supreme, become successful by revealing You as their final conclusion (Bhagavata Purana 10.87.41) BOOK, Fritz Jahr and the Foundations of Global Bioethics: The Future of Integrative Bioethics,weblink 348, Amir Muzur, Hans-Martin Sass, LIT Verlag Münster, The layers or elements covering the universes are each ten times thicker than the one before, and all the universes clustered together appear like atoms in a huge combination (Bhagavata Purana 3.11.41)BOOK,weblink The Bhagavata Purana: Sacred Text and Living Tradition, 60, Ravi M. Gupta, Kenneth R. Valpey, Columbia University Press, BOOK,weblink The Cosmology of the Bhagavata Purana: Mysteries of the Sacred Universe, 200, Motilal Banarsidass, Richard L. Thompson, And who will search through the wide infinities of space to count the universes side by side, each containing its Brahma, its Vishnu, its Shiva? Who can count the Indras in them all--those Indras side by side, who reign at once in all the innumerable worlds; those others who passed away before them; or even the Indras who succeed each other in any given line, ascending to godly kingship, one by one, and, one by one, passing away (Brahma Vaivarta Purana)BOOK,weblink The Wisdom of the Serpent: The Myths of Death, Rebirth, and Resurrection, 86, Joseph Lewis Henderson, Maud Oakes, Princeton University Press,


According to Carl Sagan: {{cquote|"The Hindu religion is the only one of the world's great faiths dedicated to the idea that the Cosmos itself undergoes an immense, indeed an infinite, number of deaths and rebirths. It is the only religion in which time scales correspond to those of modern scientific cosmology. Its cycles run from our ordinary day and night to a day and night of Brahma, 8.64 billion years long, longer than the age of the Earth or the Sun and about half the time since the Big Bang."BOOK, Carl Sagan, Cosmos,weblink 2013, Ballantine, 978-0-345-53943-4, 273, }}

See also

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  • {{Citation | last =Flood | first =Gavin D. | authorlink = Gavin Flood | year =1996 | title =An Introduction to Hinduism | publisher =Cambridge University Press| url=weblink}}
  • Haug, Martin (1863). The Aitareya Brahmanam of the Rigveda, Containing the Earliest Speculations of the Brahmans on the Meaning of the Sacrificial Prayers. {{ISBN|0-404-57848-9}}.
  • Joseph, George G. (2000). The Crest of the Peacock: Non-European Roots of Mathematics, 2nd edition. Penguin Books, London. {{ISBN|0-691-00659-8}}.
  • Kak, Subhash C. (2000). 'Birth and Early Development of Indian Astronomy'. In Selin, Helaine (2000). Astronomy Across Cultures: The History of Non-Western Astronomy (303-340). Boston: Kluwer. {{ISBN|0-7923-6363-9}}.
  • Teresi, Dick (2002). Lost Discoveries: The Ancient Roots of Modern Science - from the Babylonians to the Maya. Simon & Schuster, New York. {{ISBN|0-684-83718-8}}

Further reading

External links

{{Brahmanda}}{{Use dmy dates|date=December 2010}}{{Legendary progenitors}}

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