SB 3.11: Calculation of Time, from the Atom
aneko ’saṁyutaḥ sadā
paramāṇuḥ sa vijñeyo
nṛṇām aikya-bhramo yataḥ
The atomic description of the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam is almost the same as the modern science of atomism, and this is further described in the Paramāṇu-vāda of Kaṇāda. In modern science also, the atom is accepted as the ultimate indivisible particle of which the universe is composed. Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam is the full text of all descriptions of knowledge, including the theory of atomism. The atom is the minute subtle form of eternal time.
saukṣmye sthaulye ca sattama
avyakto vyakta-bhug vibhuḥ
yo bhuṅkte paramāṇutām
sato ’viśeṣa-bhug yas tu
sa kālaḥ paramo mahān
Time and space are two correlative terms. Time is measured in terms of its covering a certain space of atoms. Standard time is calculated in terms of the movement of the sun. The time covered by the sun in passing over an atom is calculated as atomic time. The greatest time of all covers the entire existence of the nondual manifestation. All the planets rotate and cover space, and space is calculated in terms of atoms. Each planet has its particular orbit for rotating, in which it moves without deviation, and similarly the sun has its orbit. The complete calculation of the time of creation, maintenance and dissolution, measured in terms of the circulation of the total planetary systems until the end of creation, is known as the supreme kāla.
trasareṇus trayaḥ smṛtaḥ
kham evānupatann agāt
The atom is described as an invisible particle, but when six such atoms combine together, they are called a trasareṇu, and this is visible in the sunshine pouring through the holes of a window screen.
yaḥ kālaḥ sa truṭiḥ smṛtaḥ
śata-bhāgas tu vedhaḥ syāt
tais tribhis tu lavaḥ smṛtaḥ
It is calculated that if a second is divided into 1, 687.5 parts, each part is the duration of a truṭi, which is the time occupied in the integration of eighteen atomic particles. Such a combination of atoms into different bodies creates the calculation of material time. The sun is the central point for calculating all different durations.
āmnātas te trayaḥ kṣaṇaḥ
kṣaṇān pañca viduḥ kāṣṭhāṁ
laghu tā daśa pañca ca
By calculation it is found that one laghu is equal to two minutes. The atomic calculation of time in terms of Vedic wisdom may be converted into present time with this understanding.
daśa pañca ca nāḍikā
te dve muhūrtaḥ praharaḥ
ṣaḍ yāmaḥ sapta vā nṛṇām
It is advised herein that the bore in the copper measuring pot must be made with a probe weighing not more than four māṣa and measuring not longer than four fingers. This regulates the diameter of the hole. The pot is submerged in water, and the overflooding time is called a daṇḍa. This is another way of measuring the duration of a daṇḍa, just as time is measured by sand in a glass. It appears that in the days of Vedic civilization there was no dearth of knowledge in physics, chemistry or higher mathematics. Measurements were calculated in different ways, as simply as could be done.
martyānām ahanī ubhe
śuklaḥ kṛṣṇaś ca mānada
pitṝṇāṁ tad ahar-niśam
dvau tāv ṛtuḥ ṣaḍ ayanaṁ
dakṣiṇaṁ cottaraṁ divi
vatsaro dvādaśa smṛtaḥ
paryety animiṣo vibhuḥ
In the Brahma-saṁhitā it is stated that the sun is the eye of the Supreme and it rotates in its particular orbit of time. Similarly, beginning from the sun down to the atom, all bodies are under the influence of the kāla-cakra, or the orbit of eternal time, and each of them has a scheduled orbital time of one saṁvatsara.
iḍā-vatsara eva ca
anuvatsaro vatsaraś ca
The subject matters of physics, chemistry, mathematics, astronomy, time and space dealt with in the above verses of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam are certainly very interesting to students of the particular subject, but as far as we are concerned, we cannot explain them very thoroughly in terms of technical knowledge. The subject is summarized by the statement that above all the different branches of knowledge is the supreme control of kāla, the plenary representation of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Nothing exists without Him, and therefore everything, however wonderful it may appear to our meager knowledge, is but the work of the magical wand of the Supreme Lord. As far as time is concerned, we beg to subjoin herewith a table of timings in terms of the modern clock.
One truṭi — 8/13,500 second
One vedha — 8/135 second
One lava — 8/45 second
One nimeṣa — 8/15 second
One kṣaṇa — 8/5 second
One kāṣṭhā — 8 seconds
One laghu — 2 minutes
One daṇḍa — 30 minutes
One prahara — 3 hours
One day — 12 hours
One night — 12 hours
One pakṣa — 15 days
Two pakṣas comprise one month, and twelve months comprise one calendar year, or one full orbit of the sun. A human being is expected to live up to one hundred years. That is the way of the controlling measure of eternal time.
The Brahma-saṁhitā (5.52) affirms this control in this way:
yac-cakṣur eṣa savitā sakala-grahāṇāṁ
rājā samasta-sura-mūrtir aśeṣa-tejāḥ
yasyājñayā bhramati saṁbhṛta-kāla-cakro
govindam ādi-puruṣaṁ tam ahaṁ bhajāmi
“I worship Govinda, the primeval Lord, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, under whose control even the sun, which is considered to be the eye of the Lord, rotates within the fixed orbit of eternal time. The sun is the king of all planetary systems and has unlimited potency in heat and light.”
puṁso ’bhramāya divi dhāvati bhūta-bhedaḥ
kālākhyayā guṇamayaṁ kratubhir vitanvaṁs
tasmai baliṁ harata vatsara-pañcakāya
āyuḥ param idaṁ smṛtam
pareṣāṁ gatim ācakṣva
ye syuḥ kalpād bahir vidaḥ
The partial dissolution of the universe that takes place at the end of Brahmā’s day does not affect all the planetary systems. The planets of highly learned living entities like the sages Sanaka and Bhṛgu are not affected by the dissolutions of the millenniums. All the planets are of different types, and each is controlled by a different kāla-cakra, or schedule of eternal time. The time of the earth planet is not applicable to other, more elevated planets. Therefore, Vidura herein inquires about the duration of life on other planets.
gatiṁ bhagavato nanu
viśvaṁ vicakṣate dhīrā
Those who have reached the highest perfectional stage of mystic power and can see everything in the past, present and future are called tri-kāla-jñas. Similarly, the devotees of the Lord can see everything clearly that is in the revealed scriptures. The devotees of Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa can very easily understand the science of Kṛṣṇa, as well as the situation of the material and spiritual creations, without difficulty. Devotees do not have to endeavor for any yoga-siddhi, or perfection in mystic powers. They are competent to understand everything by the grace of the Lord, who is sitting in everyone’s heart.
kaliś ceti catur-yugam
divyair dvādaśabhir varṣaiḥ
The years of the demigods are equal to 360 years of humankind. As will be clarified in the subsequent verses, 12,000 of the demigods’ years, including the transitional periods which are called yuga-sandhyās, comprise the total of the aforementioned four millenniums. Thus the aggregate of the above-mentioned four millenniums is 4,320,000 years.
dvi-guṇāni śatāni ca
As aforementioned, one year of the demigods is equal to 360 years of the human beings. The duration of the Satya-yuga is therefore 4,800 × 360, or 1,728,000 years. The duration of the Tretā-yuga is 3,600 × 360, or 1,296,000 years. The duration of the Dvāpara-yuga is 2,400 × 360, or 864,000 years. And the last, the Kali-yuga, is 1,200 × 360, or 432,000 years.
yaḥ kālaḥ śata-saṅkhyayoḥ
tam evāhur yugaṁ taj-jñā
yatra dharmo vidhīyate
sa evānyeṣv adharmeṇa
vyeti pādena vardhatā
In the Satya millennium, complete execution of religious principles prevailed. Gradually, the principles of religion decreased by one part in each of the subsequent millenniums. In other words, at present there is one part religion and three parts irreligion. Therefore people in this age are not very happy.
bahir ābrahmaṇo dinam
tāvaty eva niśā tāta
yan nimīlati viśva-sṛk
When Brahmā goes to sleep in his nighttime, the three planetary systems below Brahmaloka are all submerged in the water of devastation. In his sleeping condition, Brahmā dreams about the Garbhodakaśāyī Viṣṇu and takes instruction from the Lord for the rehabilitation of the devastated area of space.
yāvad dinaṁ bhagavato
manūn bhuñjaṁś catur-daśa
At the end of the life of each Manu there are shorter dissolutions also.
sādhikāṁ hy eka-saptatim
The duration of life of a Manu comprises seventy-one sets of four millenniums, as described in the Viṣṇu Purāṇa. The duration of life of one Manu is about 852,000 years in the calculation of the demigods, or, in the calculation of human beings, 306,720,000 years.
tad-vaṁśyā ṛṣayaḥ surāḥ
bhavanti caiva yugapat
sureśāś cānu ye ca tān
There are fourteen Manus in one day of Brahmā, and each of them has different descendants.
sambhavo yatra karmabhiḥ
bibhrat sattvaṁ sva-mūrtibhiḥ
manv-ādibhir idaṁ viśvam
āste tūṣṇīṁ dinātyaye
This verse is an explanation of the night of Brahmā, which is the effect of the influence of time in touch with an insignificant portion of the modes of material nature in darkness. The dissolution of the three worlds is effected by the incarnation of darkness, Rudra, represented by the fire of eternal time which blazes over the three worlds. These three worlds are known as Bhūḥ, Bhuvaḥ and Svaḥ (Pātāla, Martya and Svarga). The innumerable living entities merge into that dissolution, which appears to be the dropping of the curtain of the scene of the Supreme Lord’s energy, and so everything becomes silent.
lokā bhūr-ādayas trayaḥ
It is understood that the glare of the sun and moon disappear from the sphere of the three worlds, but the sun and the moon themselves do not vanish. They appear in the remaining portion of the universe, which is beyond the sphere of the three worlds. The portion in dissolution remains without sun rays or moonglow. It all remains dark and full of water, and there are indefatigable winds, as explained in the following verses.
yānty ūṣmaṇā maharlokāj
janaṁ bhṛgv-ādayo ’rditāḥ
It is said that the blazing fire from the mouth of Saṅkarṣaṇa rages for one hundred years of the demigods, or 36,000 human years. Then for another 36,000 years there are torrents of rain, accompanied by violent winds and waves, and the seas and oceans overflow. These reactions of 72,000 years are the beginning of the partial devastation of the three worlds. People forget all these devastations of the worlds and think themselves happy in the material progress of civilization. This is called māyā, or “that which is not.”
āste ’nantāsano hariḥ
We should not understand the sleeping condition of the Lord to be the same as our sleep. Here the word yoga-nidrā is specifically mentioned, which indicates that the Lord’s sleeping condition is also a manifestation of His internal potency. Whenever the word yoga is used it should be understood to refer to that which is transcendental. In the transcendental stage all activities are always present, and they are glorified by prayers of great sages like Bhṛgu.
Every living being lives for one hundred years in terms of the times in different planets for different entities. These one hundred years of life are not equal in every case. The longest duration of one hundred years belongs to Brahmā, but although the life of Brahmā is very long, it expires in the course of time. Brahmā is also afraid of his death, and thus he performs devotional service to the Lord, just to release himself from the clutches of illusory energy. Animals, of course, have no sense of responsibility, but even humans, who have developed a sense of responsibility, while away their valuable time without engaging in devotional service to the Lord; they live merrily, unafraid of impending death. This is the madness of human society. The madman has no responsibility in life. Similarly, a human being who does not develop a sense of responsibility before he dies is no better than the madman who tries to enjoy material life very happily without concern for the future. It is necessary that every human being be responsible in preparing himself for the next life, even if he has a duration of life like that of Brahmā, the greatest of all living creatures within the universe.
pūrvaḥ parārdho ’pakrānto
hy aparo ’dya pravartate
The duration of one hundred years in the life of Brahmā has already been discussed in many places in this work, and it is described in Bhagavad-gītā (8.17) also. Fifty years of the life of Brahmā are already over, and fifty years are yet to be completed; then, for Brahmā also, death is inevitable.
brāhmo nāma mahān abhūt
kalpo yatrābhavad brahmā
śabda-brahmeti yaṁ viduḥ
According to Padma Purāṇa (Prabhāsa-khaṇḍa), in thirty days of Brahmā many kalpas take place, such as the Varāha-kalpa and Pitṛ-kalpa. Thirty days make one month of Brahmā, beginning from the full moon to the disappearance of the moon. Twelve such months complete one year, and fifty years complete one parārdha, or one half the duration of the life of Brahmā. The Śveta-varāha appearance of the Lord is the first birthday of Brahmā. The birth date of Brahmā is in the month of March, according to Hindu astronomical calculation. This statement is reproduced from the explanation of Śrīla Viśvanātha Cakravartī Ṭhākura.
yaṁ pādmam abhicakṣate
yad dharer nābhi-sarasa
The millennium following the Brāhma-kalpa is known as the Pādma-kalpa because the universal lotus grows in that millennium. The Pādma-kalpa is also called the Pitṛ-kalpa in certain Purāṇas.
vārāha iti vikhyāto
yatrāsīc chūkaro hariḥ
The different millenniums known as the Brāhma, Pādma and Vārāha kalpas appear a little puzzling for the layman. There are some scholars who think these kalpas to be one and the same. According to Śrīla Viśvanātha Cakravartī, the Brāhma-kalpa in the beginning of the first half appears to be the Pādma-kalpa. We can, however, simply abide by the text and understand that the present millennium is in the second half of the duration of the life of Brahmā.
hy anāder jagad-ātmanaḥ
The great sage Maitreya has given a considerable description of the time of different dimensions, beginning from the atom up to the duration of the life of Brahmā. Now he attempts to give some idea of the time of the unlimited Personality of Godhead. He just gives a hint of His unlimited time by the standard of the life of Brahmā. The entire duration of the life of Brahmā is calculated to be less than a second of the Lord’s time, and it is explained in the Brahma-saṁhitā (5.48) as follows:
jīvanti loma-vilajā jagad-aṇḍa-nāthāḥ
viṣṇur mahān sa iha yasya kalā-viśeṣo
govindam ādi-puruṣaṁ tam ahaṁ bhajāmi
“I worship Govinda, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the cause of all causes, whose plenary portion is Mahā-Viṣṇu. All the heads of the innumerable universes [the Brahmās] live only by taking shelter of the time occupied by one of His breaths.” The impersonalists do not believe in the form of the Lord, and thus they would hardly believe in the Lord’s sleeping. Their idea is obtained by a poor fund of knowledge; they calculate everything in terms of man’s capacity. They think that the existence of the Supreme is just the opposite of active human existence: because the human being has senses, the Supreme must be without sense perception; because the human being has a form, the Supreme must be formless; and because the human being sleeps, the Supreme must not sleep. Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, however, does not agree with such impersonalists. It is clearly stated herein that the Supreme Lord rests in yoga-nidrā, as previously discussed. And because He sleeps, naturally He must breathe, and the Brahma-saṁhitā confirms that within His breathing period innumerable Brahmās take birth and die.
There is complete agreement between Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam and the Brahma-saṁhitā. Eternal time is never lost along with the life of Brahmā. It continues, but it has no ability to control the Supreme Personality of Godhead because the Lord is the controller of time. In the spiritual world there is undoubtedly time, but it has no control over activities. Time is unlimited, and the spiritual world is also unlimited, since everything there exists on the absolute plane.
naiveśituṁ prabhur bhūmna
āṇḍakośo bahir ayaṁ
As explained before, the entire material world is a display of sixteen diversities and eight material elements. The analytical studies of the material world are the subject matter of Sāṅkhya philosophy. The first sixteen diversities are the eleven senses and five sense objects, and the eight elements are the gross and subtle matter, namely earth, water, fire, air, sky, mind, intelligence and ego. All these combined together are distributed throughout the entire universe, which extends diametrically to four billion miles. Besides this universe of our experience, there are innumerable other universes. Some of them are bigger than the present one, and all of them are clustered together under similar material elements as described below.
lakṣyate ’ntar-gatāś cānye
koṭiśo hy aṇḍa-rāśayaḥ
The coverings of the universes are also constituted of the elements of earth, water, fire, air and ether, and each is ten times thicker than the one before. The first covering of the universe is earth, and it is ten times thicker than the universe itself. If the universe is four billion miles in size, then the size of the earthly covering of the universe is four billion times ten. The covering of water is ten times greater than the earthly covering, the covering of fire is ten times greater than the watery covering, the covering of air is ten times greater than that of the fire, the covering of ether is ten times greater still than that of air, and so on. The universe within the coverings of matter appears to be like an atom in comparison to the coverings, and the number of universes is unknown even to those who can estimate the coverings of the universes.
viṣṇor dhāma paraṁ sākṣāt
Lord Mahā-Viṣṇu, who is resting in yoga-nidrā on the Causal Ocean and creating innumerable universes by His breathing process, only temporarily appears in the mahat-tattva for the temporary manifestation of the material worlds. He is a plenary portion of Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa, and thus although He is nondifferent from Lord Kṛṣṇa, His formal appearance in the material world as an incarnation is temporary. The original form of the Personality of Godhead is actually the svarūpa, or real form, and He eternally resides in the Vaikuṇṭha world (Viṣṇuloka). The word mahātmanaḥ is used here to indicate Mahā-Viṣṇu, and His real manifestation is Lord Kṛṣṇa, who is called parama, as confirmed in the Brahma-saṁhitā:
īśvaraḥ paramaḥ kṛṣṇaḥ
anādir ādir govindaḥ
“The Supreme Lord is Kṛṣṇa, the original Personality of Godhead, known as Govinda. His form is eternal, full of bliss and knowledge, and He is the original cause of all causes.”
Thus end the Bhaktivedanta purports of the Third Canto, Eleventh Chapter, of the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, entitled “Calculation of Time, from the Atom.”