Vedic Timekeeping

VEDIC UNITS AND THEIR EQUIVALENTS IN HUMAN YEARS

 Satya Yuga = 1 million 728 thousand human years (1,728,000)

Treta Juga = 1 million 296 thousand human years (1,296,000)

Dvapara Yuga = 864 thousand human years (864,000)

Kali Yuga = 432 thousand human years (432,000)

Maha Yuga = all 4 Yugas - 4 million 320 thousand human years (4,320,000)

Manvantra = 71 Maha Yugas - 306 million 720 thousand human years (306,720,000)

Sandhi Kala = 4 Charanas – 1 million 728 thousand human years (1,728,000)

Manu = 1 Manvantra + 1 Sandhi Kala – 308 million 448 thousand human years (308,448,000)

1 Kalpa = 1000 Maha Yugas - 4 billion 320 million human years (4,320,106,000)

1 Brahma Day = 2 Kalpas (day and night) - 8 billion 640 million human years (8,640,106,000)

1 Brahma Month = 259 billion 200 million human years (259,200,106,000)

1 Brahma Year = 3 trillion 110 billion 400 million human years (3,110,400,106,000)

1 Brahma Life = 100 Brahma's Years 311 trillion 40 billion human years (311,040,106,000,000)

 DEVA'S (DEITIES') UNITS EQUIVALENTS

1 Deva Day = 1 human year (360 days)

1 Deva Month = 30 human years

1 Deva year = 360 human years

1 Maha Yuga = 12,000 Devas' years

SMALL VEDIC UNITS  EQUIVALENTS IN SECONDS AND MINUTES

1 Paramanu - the smallest vedic unit = around 13 microseconds (13 millionth part of a second)

1 Anu = 2 Paramanus around 26 microseconds

1 Trasarenu = 6 Anus around 0.16 miliseconds

1 Truti = 3 Trasarenu around 0.47 miliseconds

1 Vedha = 100 Trutis around 47 miliseconds

1 Lava = 3 Vedhas around 0.14 seconds

1 Muhurta = 48 minutes (2880 sec)

BIG VEDIC UNITS EQUIVALENTS IN HUMAN YEARS

1 Brahma Life = 1 blink of Vishnu (1 blink of an eye is about 2.5 sec)

1 Vishnu Day = 1 quintillion 119 quadrillion 744 trillion human years (1,119,744 1012)

1 Vishnu Month = 33 quintillion 592 quadrillion 320 trillion human years (33,592,320 1012)

1 Vishnu Year = 403 quintillion 107 quadrillion 840 trillion human years (403,107,840 1012)

1 Vishnu Life = 100 Vishnu years - 40 sextillion 310 quintillion 784 quadrillion human years (40,310,784 1015)

1 Vishnu Life = 1 blink of an eye of Rudra

100 Rudra Years = 1 Brahma Vrat

1 Brahma Vrat = 1 Creation (about 5,240 octillion human years) approx. (5,240 1027)

 

We are now in the first Vrat. So far we have had six Manvantras, and now we are in the seventh Manvantra.

In this Manvantra 27 Maha Yugas have passed already (about 1.96 billion human years).

At the same time, we are now in the first Charana of Kali Yuga, which means 5,100 years of Kali Yuga have passed, and another 426,890 years remain.

Interestingly, the oldest trace of life on Earth that scientists have discovered so far is 1.9 billion years old.

More about the Vedas and the Vedangas

Ved Vyasa

The oldest spiritual scriptures of India and of the world are called the VEDAS. Veda literally means "knowledge", specifically the highest knowledge about God and man. For Hindu people Vedas are the spiritual truth, said to have been a direct revelation from God (DEV VANI- the voice of God) to four ancient Rishis (self-realised saints) during their meditations. This truth was then passed on orally. Hence the Vedas are also called SHRUTI, which means "das Gehörte" – “the things heard”.

There are four Vedas: Rig,  Sama, Yajur and Atharva Veda.

Each Rishi received only one of them, and then passed it on: Agni Rishi – Rig Veda, Vayu Rishi – Sama Veda, Aditi Rishi – Yajur Veda, Angiras Rishi – Atharva Veda.

TheVedas were transmitted orally all the way up to Maharishi Ved Vyasa who then wrote them down. Vedas are as old as the Universe, and are said to have been on Earth for at least 20,000 years. It is believed that the Aryans, who moved to India from their original homeland near the Arctic area, carried most of these earlier scriptures with them. Later they were recorded in Sanskrit - the language created by readjusting and perfecting the original Vedic language of the Aryans.

The word Sanskrit literally means purified or perfected. The written Sanskrit characters that also existed in the Vedic language are called DEVA-NAGARI ("divine inhabitants"), and are considered symbols containing divine energy. The Aryans who came to India referred to themselves as “Aryans”. The expression – “Hindu”, as we call them now, is of more recent origin.

Rig-Veda and Sama-Veda were written in verse, Yajur-Veda in prose, and the Atharva-Veda mainly in prose and partly in verse. The Vedas contain a total of more than 24,000 mantras. Rig-Veda, the oldest and most extensive, contains 10,000 mantras.

The hymns of the Rig and Sama-Veda are dedicated to various deities and gods of nature like gods of earth, fire, rain, etc., and their aim is to forward blessings from gods for peace, happiness and prosperity.

The ceremonies contained in Yajur-Veda served the same purpose. One part of the Vedas also consists of rules for interpreting Vedic ceremonies and philosophical discussions about God, the soul and the afterlife.

Each of the four Vedas consists of four parts, which are called Veda-Samhita. The four parts are:

  • SAMHITAS (“collection”, “compilation”) – Form the first part of each of the four Vedas. A Samhita is a collection of hymns and mantras to invoke various deities, and of certain established rules of interpretation. 
  • BRAHMANAS – Instructions for priests, and rules for the rites and oblations as expressions of honour to the gods. They are the second of the four parts of each Veda containing inspirational stories, as well as deep philosophical discussions and details about Yagyas (Yagya is an ancient ritual of offering oblations into the fire).
  • ARANAKAS (from aranya= forest) "Forest debates" – The third part of each of the Vedas. These texts contain esoteric, mystical knowledge, mostly focused on the inner meaning and effect of the Vedic ceremonies.
  • UPANISHADS – Literally means, "To sit at the Master's feet and listen to His words or teachings." The Upanishads form the philosophical and spiritual essence of the Vedas and transmit the highest knowledge about God, the soul and the world, as well as about the importance of ceremonies and sacrifices. They are mostly written in the form of a conversation between a disciple and his teacher (questions and answers).

The Upanishads teach that in the whole Universe there is only one reality, and that is God. Everything that ever existed, exists and will exist in the Universe originates from Him, and disappears back into Him, in the eternal cycle of creation, maintenance and destruction. He is the sun, the moon and the stars, the planets, every living being, all living and non-living matter and every virtue, every vice, all the good and the bad, every thought, every feeling and every act. He is time and space and all that exists in the Universe. He is eternal within the Universe and simultaneously He transcends it. He is unformed, eternal, boundless and omnipotent. He is manifest and unmanifest. He is manifest in His creation and is unmanifest when all that is created disappears in Him. The highest and purest principle of God is His unmanifest existence, when the whole Universe disappears in Him, when the sun, the moon, the stars, the planets, all animate and inanimate ceases to exist, and time and space disappear. This unmanifest essence is the only existing reality.

The Upanishads contain one of the highest ideas about God and His relationship with human beings and the Universe. Rightly they are given the highest place among the great religious philosophies of the world.

The great philosopher Schopenhauer said: "In the whole world, there is no study so beneficial and so elevating as that of the Upanishads. They were my comfort in life and will be my consolation in death."

There are 108 most widely known Upanishads (eg. Brihadaranyaka Upanishad, Chandogya Upanishad, Taittiriya Upanishad, Kena Upanishad, Iso Upanishad, Mundaka Upanishad, Svetasvatara Upanishads, Mandukya Upanishad). Each of these major Upanishads is connected to one of the four Veda Samhitas. The idea of​ the one, unformed and infinite God, as the true reality of the Universe, inseparable, and at the same time beyond everything, is based on the philosophical discussions from the Upanishads. The teachings about the immortal soul, the law of karma, the consequences of actions and the law of evolution of living beings through the process of rebirth according to their own karma or actions, are based on the Upanishads.

Based on the subject, the Vedas can be divided into two parts:

  • GYANA-KANDA includes topics related to GYANA (knowledge) and VIGYANA (science): This section covers Aranyakasand Upanishads – the theoretical and philosophical records that convey universal spiritual knowledge not limited to any particular divine concept or a particular deity. They also contain knowledge of spiritual principles and cosmic laws and of the impact and the ruling of the Tattvas – the cosmic elements and principles.
  • KARMA-KANDA covers topics related to KARMAS (deeds) and UPASANAS (oblations): This part focuses on the practice. It includes hymns, prayers and mantras, Samhitasand Brahmanas, customs and ceremonies. Karma Kanda elaborates the performance of ANUSTANA (a specific sequence of exercises and techniques) and TAPASYA (effort to achieve self-realization, sometimes involving solitude, asceticism. It is derived from the word root tap which depending on context means "heat").

Each of the Vedas is characterised by some MAHA-VAKYA (maha= great, vakya= word). MAHA-VAKYA is there to convey knowledge about the union of JIVA (the Individual Self) and BRAHMAN (the Highest Self):

  1. PRAJNANAM BRAHMA (Rig-Veda or Aitareya Upanishad)
    "BRAHMANIS PURE CONSCIOUSNESS"
    Here consciousness refers to the perfect, pure divine light, the unity with God.
  2. TAT TVAM ASI (Sama-Veda or Chandogya-Upanishad)
    "DIVINE PRINCIPLE (Tattva) IS THE TRUTH, AND THOU ARE THAT (Brahman)”
    You are not the body, but the Atma.
  3. AHAM BRAHMASMI (Yajur Veda or Brihad Aranyaka Upanishad)
    "I AM BRAHMAN"
    This means Jivatma (the Individual Self) and Paramatma (the Universal Self) are one.
  4. AYAM ATMABRAHMA (Atharva Veda or Mandukya Upanishad)
    “THIS ATMA IS BRAHMAN”
    The light of the Soul itself is God or Brahman.

Vedangas – Six Limbs of the Vedas

Subsequently added to the Vedas are six VEDANGAS – "The limbs of the Vedas" (auxillary texts, interpretations):

  1. NIRUKTA (etymology) explanations of words, written by Yaskacharya.
  2. VYAKARANA (grammar)
  3. JYOTISH (astrology, vediccalendar)
  4. CHANDAS (metrics) chants, verses
  5. SHIKSHA (phonetics) language teaching, rules on accents (there are 60 shikshas, the most important originating from Paniniand Manduki).
  6. KALPA: ceremonies, rules of ceremonial

Kalpasutras

Kalpa, as one of the six disciplines or ancillary Vedic sciences, is written (as all of the Vedangas) in the form of sutras. A Sutra is both the presentation style, and the text as a whole. Literally it means a thread or yarn. In this case it refers to a short rule or saying. When these two meanings are combined together, “Sutra” means the threading and weaving of short rules. Kalpasutras are rules about ceremonies.

There are three types of kalpasutras:

Srauta sutras: Describe the solemn ceremonies and the fire sacrifices performed by the priests with their assistants, and are adapted either from the Srutis or the Vedas.

Grihya sutras: (Griha= house) Deals with the ceremonies performed by the householders, i.e. people from secular life.

Dharmasutras: Contain rules and commandments for the social, political, public and religious life. The word Dharma literally means "something that unites". It also has other meanings, and one is faith. From these texts Indian law and ethics were subsequently developed (Dharmasastra).

Dharmashastras

As the number of inhabitants and the associated complexity of social, economic and political problems rose, the practice of the oral transmission of ceremonies disappeared. Gradually Srauta Sutras and Grihya Sutras went into oblivion. Dharmasutras that contain social, economic, political and religious rules have been retained and continue to be utilised.

Public and private customs, and the way they were practised, were subject to many changes that ultimately resulted in new records being written on these issues. They were written in verse and called Dharmashastras. Some of them are only the rearranged Dharmasutras, reflecting the requirements of that period in time and the increase in population.

The most important and oldest Dharmashastrais Manavadharmashastraor Manusmrti (Code of Manu).

The Vedas are also the treasure of the oldest Aryan culture. They give an overview of its social system and the way of life, its customs, art and science.

Astronomy and Astrology

They originate from activities relating to the observation of the stars and the movement of the planets, and are contained in the Vedas due to their importance in determining the exact time for the performance of ceremonies.

Geometry

Its primary purpose was to describe shapes and give a more detailed measurement of lines and characters that had to be respected on the sacrificial altar.

Grammar

It results from the need of determining the rules of pronunciation of the recitations, ceremonial hymns and mantras.

Puranas

The word Purana literally means "old, ancient". They are instructive stories, tales about gods and heroes whose aim is to teach people aboutmoral life. They also are attributed to Maharishi Vedvyasa. There are many Puranas, the most important are the Mahapuranas. The most famous Mahapurana is the Bhagavata which speaks about 10 incarnations (avatars) of Lord Vishnu, especially that of Lord Krishna. Together with the Ramayana and the Mahabharata (the two most important epics in Hinduism), the Puranas constitute what is sometimes regarded as the fifth Veda.

Smriti

Smriti means remembrance. It is knowledge that has been transmitted through the ages (traditions) and then later recorded by rishis and brahmins according to the memory of the teachings they heard from their masters (as distinct from Srutis – knowledge directly revealed from God through Dev Vani). The term Smriti also refers to religious scriptures and books of law containing this transmitted knowledge.

Smriti, like all other scriptures of Hindu philosophy, acknowledge the authority of the Vedas and the Upanishads, and relate to the teaching about God and the creation of the Universe. They treat the practical use of these highly philosophical ideas in daily life – in its social, political, economic and religious aspects. They include the rituals described in the Vedas, adjusted to changes in social context. These scriptures mirror the daily life of a post-Vedic Hindus from birth to death. They describe the social circumstances in which they lived and the close connection between daily life and faith. They connect daily religious rituals with daily duties and activities from the moment of awakening to bedtime.

There are 80 Smritis, of which Manusmrti or Manavadharmasastra (Code of Manu) is considered to be the oldest and most important. Despite some small differences, the essence of all the Smritis is the same and can be briefly characterised as follows:

  • Believe in the Vedas as the word of God.
  • Read and study them and act in accordance with the rules contained therein, and in accordance with the existing social order.
  • Live according to the teachings of the Holy Scriptures in every moment of your life.
  • Think of God when you get up in the morning, in everything you do, every moment of the day and when you go to bed at night. Think of him when you eat and drink, while performing the daily duties you have in society – as a priest, judge, solicitor, minister, regent, soldier, artist, businessman, etc. Think of Him in happiness and distress, at birth and at death and at every religious ceremony in your home.
  • Live with your neighbours, friends and relatives according to the highest moral and religious precepts. Perform the sacrifices that are prescribed for your social position.
  • Do not marry out of passion, but for the wellbeing of society and family. Consider marriage as a sacrament and a sacred institution, and not as a mere contract.
  • Fulfil your obligations towards the king and your country, neighbours, superiors and subordinates.
  • Reach salvation by realising the highest ethical ideals of the Holy Scriptures in your daily life.

SMRITIS are divided into two groups:

  1. Prose sayings and discourses called KALPASUTRAS,
  2. Sayings in verses called DHARMASHASTRAS.

Bhagavad Gita

The longing to know God is rooted deeply in the human soul. From the need to satisfy this deep request for spiritual knowledge, many religions and teachings have developed since the beginning of mankind. They are handed down for generations in the form of certain rules of life, which, together with the religious rites and prayers, are intended to lead us to the realisation of God.

By recognising weak points in the existing religious books, records, thoughts and dogmas created by people, the Bhagavad Gita based its religious postulates not only on divine origin, but also on logic, reason, ethics, moral and philosophical teachings about life and work.

The Bhagavad Gita clarifies to us that there are no shortcuts or favouritism on the path towards God-realisation, and that the highest goal can only be achieved by proper and relentless striving. I.e. By developing and acting according to the reason and power of discrimination (Viveka), and through unwavering faith and devotion.

Each teaching and prayer must be first understood through our mind and wisdom, and then taken into our heart and utilised on our spiritual path.

All Hindu philosophical schools or systems respect the authority of the Vedas or the Vedic teaching, recognising the immortality of the soul, the laws of karma and the process of rebirth and evolution through many lives until the final self-realisation. Some of them believe in the limitless potential of the human soul and the ability to achieve supernatural powers such as clairvoyance, etc. However, the use of such powers is not to be seen with favour unless it serves for the overall happiness of mankind.

Other holy scriptures:

  • 80 Smritis,
  • 18 Puranas.

According to the classical teaching there are 14 Vidyas(scriptures):

  • 4 Vedas,
  • 6 Vedangas,
  • Puranas,
  • Mimansa Sastras,
  • Njaja Sastra,
  • Dharmasutras (law)

Vedas and Upanishads

Gayatri Mantra

 Om bhur bhuvah svaha tat savitur varenyam
bargo devasya dhimahi dhiyo yonah prachodayat

OM let us mediate on the blessed Divine Light, worthy of honor, that pervades our hearts. May it illuminate all our possibilities, guide our intellect and enlighten our understanding.

The Vedas

The Vedas are the oldest spiritual scriptures of the world. Veda literally means “knowledge”, specifically the highest knowledge about God and man. Vedas are the spiritual truth, said to have been a direct revelation from God through Dev Vani - the voice of God to Rishis (self-realised saints) during their meditations. This truth was then passed on orally through an unbroken chain of a Master-Disciple relationship. Hence the Vedas are also called Shruti, which means “das Gehörte” – “the things heard”. There are 4 Vedas: Rig, Sama, Yajur and Atharva Veda. The Rishis who received them, and then passed them on were:

Agni Rishi – Rig Veda, Vayu Rishi – Sama Veda,
Aditi Rishi – Yajur Veda, Angiras Rishi – Atharva Veda

The Vedas were transmitted orally all the way up to Maharishi Ved Vyasa who then wrote them down. Vedas are as old as the Universe, and are said to have been on Earth for at least 20,000 years. Rig-Veda and Sama-Veda were written in verse, Yajur-Veda in prose, and the Atharva-Veda mainly in prose and partly in verse. The Vedas contain a total of more than 24,000 mantras. Rig-Veda, the oldest and most extensive, contains 10,000 mantras. The hymns of the Rig-, Yajur- and Sama-Veda are dedicated to various expressions of the Divine (deities and gods of nature) like gods of earth, fire, rain, etc., for receiving blessings of peace, happiness and prosperity. One part of the Vedas also consists of rules for interpreting Vedic ceremonies and philosophical discussions about God, the soul and the afterlife. Each of the four Vedas consists of four parts, which are called Veda-Samhita. Each Veda is characterized by a Mahavakya (maha – big, vakya – word) which transmits the essence of the teaching about the union of Jiva – the Self and Brahman – the Absolute, the Highest Self.

PRAJNANAM BRAHMA (Rig-Veda and Taittririya Upanishad)
Brahman is Pure Consciousness”

 TAT TVAM ASI (Sama-Veda and Chandogya-Upanishad)
“Thou are That” You are not the body, but the Atma.

 AHAM BRAHMASMI (Yajur Veda and Brihad Aranyaka Upanishad)
“I am Brahman”

AYAM ATMA (Atharva Veda and Mandukya Upanishad)
“I am Atma”

The four parts of each Veda

SAMHITA – A collection of hymns and mantras of each Veda
BRAHMANA – The second of the four parts of each Veda, brahmanas are rules for pandits, priests with instructions for rituals, sacrifices and yagyas addressed to deities. They contain very interesting and inspiring stories, deep philosophical discussions and details about Yagyas.
ARANAKAS - (derived from the word aranya = forest) "Forest debates". Aranyakas are the third part of each of the Vedas. These texts contain esoteric, mystical knowledge, mostly focused on the inner meaning and effect of the Vedic ceremonies.
UPANISHADS - Upanishad literally means "To sit at the Master's feet and listen to His words or teachings." The Upanishads form the philosophical and spiritual essence of the Vedas and transmit the highest knowledge about God, the soul and the world, as well as about the importance of ceremonies and sacrifices. They are mostly written in the form of a conversation between a disciple and his teacher (questions and answers).

The Upanishads

The Upanishads teach that in the whole Universe there is only one reality, and that is God. Everything that ever existed, exists and will exist in the Universe originates from Him, and disappears back into Him, in the eternal cycle of creation, maintenance and destruction. He is the sun, the moon and the stars, the planets, every living being, all living and non-living matter and every virtue, every vice, all the good and the bad, every thought, every feeling and every act. He is time and space and all that exists in the Universe. . He is eternal within the Universe and simultaneously He transcends it. He is unformed, eternal, boundless and omnipotent. He is saguna (manifest) and nirguna (unmanifest). He is manifest in His creation and is unmanifest when all that is created disappears in Him. The highest and purest principle of God is His unmanifest existence, when the whole Universe disappears in Him, when the sun, the moon, the stars, the planets, all animate and inanimate ceases to exist, and time and space disappear. This unmanifest essence is the only existing reality. The Upanishads contain one of the highest ideas about God and His relationship with human beings and the Universe. Rightly they are given the highest place among the great religious philosophies of the world. The great philosopher Schopenhauer said: "In the whole world, there is no study so beneficial and so elevating as that of the Upanishads. They were my comfort in life and will be my consolation in death."

There are 108 most widely known Upanishads. Some of the most famous are Brihadaranyaka Upanishad, Chandogya Upanishad, Taittiriya Upanishad, Kena Upanishad, Iso Upanishad, Mundaka Upanishad, Svetasvatara Upanishad and Mandukya Upanishad. Each of these major Upanishads is connected to one of the four Veda Samhitas. The idea ofthe one, unformed and infinite God, as the true reality of the Universe, inseparable, and at the same time beyond everything, is based on the philosophical discussions from the Upanishads. The teachings about the immortal soul, the law of karma, the consequences of actions and the law of evolution of living beings through the process of rebirth according to their own karma or actions, are based on the Upanishads.

 

Yagya - the essence of the Vedic culture

The yagya comes from the Sanskrit word yagya which means sacrifice, worship. Sacrifice and surrender through service, both internal and external is one of the basic principles of Hinduism. One of the forms of this principle is yagya. The yagya involves ritual offerings of oblations into the fire like grains, flowers, ghee - clarified butter, milk, spices, wood ... Yagya is performed by pandits who prepare the space, perform the oblations and chant mantras, ie. the Vedic hymns. In order for yagya to be performed properly it is necessary to follow the detailed and precise instructions from the Vedas, which pundits are learning from early childhood and who dedicate their whole life to learning Vedas and performing Vedic ceremonies. There are two basic types of yagya - srauta performed by pandits and grihya ceremony performed by the householder, along with his wife. Srauta ceremonies are more detailed, richer and more complicated, and their goals extend far beyond the well-being of a household. Srauta yagya includes the participation of four pandits. They are known as hotr, adhvaryu, udgatr and brahmin, each of which performs a strictly defined part of the ceremony: one prepares a place for the rite according to the instructions of the Vedic science about space - Vastu Shastra, the second sings mantras, the third performs the ritual, and the fourth oversees the correctness of the above and corrects errors with special mantras. The performance of the yagya itself consists of four main parts, which are present in each ceremony. In the first part a fireplace is created (depicted, built and richly decorated), which is also a mandala that at this stage does not contain life or pran-shakti. In the second part this character is filled with life energy, hence this level is called prana pratistha. The third part is called upacar, and that is the part during which the evoked energy intensifies and increases. The fourth part is called parayan or prasthan - the energy release, in which yagya culminates.