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Showing posts from June, 2008

23 Ghatotkach and Abhimanyu

When one reads Mahabharata in its current form, it is always made amply clear that the Mahanayak - the supreme hero - of this epic is Lord Krishna. Although Krishna appears on the scene much later after the feud has happened, he is almost always at the center of the story - and as Krishna is the supreme hero, so is his greatest devotee and friend Partha Arjuna. So much so that Arjuna is considered to be the incarnation of Nara, the supreme Man, and Krisha is considered Narayana - the Supreme God (Vishnu).

Arjuna kills all the Maharathis (generals if you please) in the war --- Bhishma, Drona, Karna --- except the Kaurava brothers. The Kauravas --- all 100 of them, including Dussasana and the eldest Duryodhana --- are all killed single-handedly by - and this is where we come to the second greatest character - Bhima

Bhima is known for his prowess with his favorite weapon the mace (gada, in Sanskrit), just as Arjun is known for his archery. Bhima is as much responsible and central to all …

22 Multiple Yugas – Part 5 Final

In this last post on the topic of Time, I will try to sum up the entire discussion so far. Here is a schematic I have attempted on the subject:

So, there you go. That concludes our discussion on the nature of time and our relative position in it – which started from the post on “How many Hanumans?”

How are we doing? Makes one feel really small, is it not? Like a grain of sand in a desert! Do we still think we can nuke this planet and that it will make a difference in the ‘Overall scheme of things’? Is this not what Vishwaroopa is all about?

Now do you know why Arjuna feels perplexed when Krishna shows him the Vishwaroopa – complete with all the cycles of time, and all the different universes?

Well, you know, there are only two ways of reacting to this – either be an Arjuna and marvel at this beautiful concept of Time its cycles, or get completely lost. The problem with the latter is that once you get lost, you cease to see the meaning – and then you ask yourself ‘what does this mean to me…

21 Multiple Yugas – Part 4

1. A ‘Manavantara’ – Bringing It All Back ------------------------------------------------------ Again, let’s bring this back to Human understanding. A day of Brahma has 14 Manvantaras (like 12 hours). Similarly one night has 14 Manavantaras.
Each Manavantara is made of 71 Mahayugas, plus the sandhis. Each sandhi is equal in time as one krita yuga – note, this is not one Manayuga, neither one yuga, but one krita yuga, i.e. 4 Charanas of a Mahayuga.
So let us back-calculate and check where we get to:
1 Mahayuga = 4,320,000 years
1 Manvantara = 71 Mahayuga
1 day of Brahma = 14 Manavantaras + 15 sandhis = 14 x 71 Mahayugas + 15 x 4 Charanas = 994 Mahayugas + 60 Charanas
Now, 60 Charanas mean 6 Mahayugas (each Charana is 1/10th of a Mahayuga). So: 1 day of Brahma = 994 Mahayugas + 6 Mahayugas = 1,000 Mahayugas.
Which is the same calculation we did earlier for 1 Kalpa (Day of Brahma).
2. So, where are we? ----------------------------- Now, to see where we are in this whole scheme of things:
We don’t know w…

20 Multiple Yugas – Part 3

1. Total Life Span of the Universe
----------------------------------------------------- Now let us calculate the total time span of the universe.
It is said that before the creation of the universe Lord Vishnu is sleeping in the form of Narayana in the ocean of all causes on the back of Shesha naag.
While He is sleeping, a lotus sprouts of his navel. Inside this lotus, Brahma resides. Brahma represents the universe, which we all live in, and it is this Brahma who creates life forms. This universe represented by Brahma is not a permanent universe, it is temporary, Brahma lives for 100 years say the vedas and then dies and then a new universe (Brahma) is born.
So as per vedas our universe lives for 100 Brahma years. Now we shall see how long each year of Brahma is. But for that, we need to get to the day of Brahma.
2. A Day of Brahma ------------------------- 1,000 such Mahayugas = 1 Kalpa
1 Kalpa = 1 day of Brahma = 4,320,000,000 years of man (4.32 billion years)
Which is – hold your breath – t…

19 Multiple Yugas – Part 2

Now let us go a little deeper in our understanding of time.
1. Significance of Years of Gods

A divine year (i.e. 360 years of man) is a very useful unit of time measurement at this level. One cycle of the four yugas together is 12,000 divine years. Each of these years is composed of 360 days, and each of their days is equal to one human year.
So Krita-yuga is 4000 divine years in length, Treta-yuga is 3000 divine years in length, Dvapara-yuga is 2000 divine years in length, and Kali-yuga is 1000 divine years long, with the addition of the conjoining portions of the Sandhya and Sandhyansa.
(Each yuga is preceded by a period called a Sandhya and followed by a period of time known as a Sandhyansa – which is 10% of the yuga’s time span each).

SandhyaActual YugaSandhyansaTotal div. YearsKrita yuga 400 4,000 400 4,800 Treta yuga 300 3,000 300 3,600 Dwapar yuga 200 2,000 200 2,400 …

18 Multiple Yugas – Part 1

I would like to spend some of my posts on the excellent topic of "metrics of time measurement" according to Hinduism. Of all the intriguing heritage that we have received from thinkers of ancient India, this is perhaps the most fascinating work.

What is most interesting is that all the possible sources where this topic is discussed - the mythical Puranas like Vishnu Purana, Vayu Purana, the Bhagavatam, along with Bhagavad-gita, literary epics such as Mahabharata and the scholarly works like Surya Siddhanta -- all of them -- agree on the measurements of the duration of yugas, kalpas and so on, with some very minor deviations.
I remember when I had to visit New Delhi once somewhere in the year 1998, Prof. Mohan Apte asked me to go to the Indian National Science Academy on Bahadurshah Zafar Marg and buy a copy of Surya Siddhanta for him if they have one. I was lucky to get one there, and while returning managed to read parts of it, although I could barely grasp any of it.

The Sury…

17 How Many Hanumans?

How Many Hanumans?

Just as the story of Panchmukhi Hanuman where he goes to Patala (see my earlier post), there is also another story about Hanuman going to the nether-land, and this one is rather controversial *. I am going to narrate it anyway since I love the insight / world view it gives and also because this leads to the topic of my next posts.

So after Rama conquered Ravana, returned to Ayodhya, and after all the episodes of Uttar-Ramayana (Luv-Kush etc.), it was time to go. Rama and Laxmana's work on the earth was over. However Hanuman, who had returned to Ayodhya to be with Rama was of the opinion that they were still needed. Rama thinks of a way of letting Hanuman know the real nature of time and a man's position in the wheel of time (Yugas). Thus while speaking, Rama lets his ring slip into a hole in the ground. Ever ready to serve Lord Rama, Hanuman jumps into the hole and follows the ring. The ring keeps rolling ahead into the …

16 Panchmukhi Hanuman

If you are driving down from Mumbai to Goa, or to Pune on the old highway, you need to cross Panvel. While you negotiate your way through the traffic mainly caused by the state transport (S.T.) buses, you pass a small shrine under a banyan tree. It declares the lord of the property to by "Panchmukhi" (five-faced) Hanuman. पंचमुखी हनुमान ।

Although shrines of Hanuman are in abundance across the Indian subcontinent, especially in hilly terrains like Maharashtra, shrines of "Panchmukhi" Hanuman are a rarity. Of course, there is more likelihood to find one in the Southern parts of the country. The images of the Great Vanara (not Monkey) God in Northern India usually depict him as pulling his chest apart to show Lord Rama and Sita, or flying through the air carrying an entire mountain in one hand. But none of these have Hanuman depicted as having more than one heads.

The form of Hanuman as "Sri Panchamukha Anjaneya Swami" (Anjaneya = "son of Anjani"…