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"Albert Einstein stated in 1905 that time is an illusion and a relative concept, a theory later proven in practice. Interestingly, similar ideas can be found in Hindu scriptures written over 5000 years ago, long before Einstein's time."

According to the Bhagavad Geeta 11.32:

कालोऽस्मि लोकक्षयकृत्प्रवृद्धो लोकान्समाहर्तुमिह प्रवृत्तः। 

ऋतेऽपि त्वां न भविष्यन्ति सर्वे येऽवस्थिताः प्रत्यनीकेषु योधाः।। 

Shree Krishna says, "I am mighty Time, the source of destruction that comes forth to annihilate the worlds. Even without your participation, the warriors in the opposing army will cease to exist."


In Hinduism, the term "Kaal" refers to both time and death. Time is personified as Yama, the god of death, who determines the length of a person's life, linking time closely with death. An individual's journey on Earth starts at birth and ends at death. Hinduism sees time as endless, originating from one of the 36 fundamental principles of creation (tattvas) in Saivism. This concept of time lasts as long as we are connected to the physical world and is seen as a creation of MAYA, the material world, which is a key concept in Hinduism.

The Hindu system of time measurement is attributed to the sage Ganita, mentioned in both the Manusmriti and the Mahabharata. This ancient sage calculated the duration of each cycle of creation in human years. Cosmic time is organized into units called "Kalpas," each representing a day and night for Brahma. A Kalpa is considered to be 8.64 billion years, as described in the Vishnu Purana (with slight variations in different Puranas).



A Kalpa is divided into 1000 "maha yugas," and each maha yuga is further divided into four epochs called "yugas":


1. Krita Yuga or Satyuga - 1,728,000 years

2. Treta Yuga - 1,296,000 years

3. Dvapara Yuga - 864,000 years

4. Kali Yuga - 432,000 years


Each yuga has a different duration, creating a cyclical pattern that shapes the passage of time in Hindu cosmology. The first epoch, Krita Yuga or Sat Yuga, is the longest, lasting 1.728 million years. The final and current epoch, Kali Yuga, lasts only 432,000 years, much shorter than the earlier yugas. Brahma's lifespan, called Maha Kalpa or Parardha, spans 100 Brahma years, which equals 311.04 trillion human years. In the realm of gods, one day equals one year on Earth. This divine day is divided into two periods: "uttarayana" (daytime) and "dakshinayana" (nighttime), each lasting 180 days. This creates a balanced, cyclical pattern in the divine timescale. In Hindu tradition, there is a time period called "Manvantara." This is the era during which a specific "Manu," the ancestor of humanity, rules over the Earth. The word "Man" comes from the Sanskrit "Manu." At the start of each Manvantara, a new Manu appears to begin a new human lineage. Each Manvantara lasts about 308 million years and includes approximately 71 "mahayugas." During each Manvantara, seven sages, known as "Saptrishis," and one "Indra" also appear. This shows the cyclical nature of time in Hinduism, where influential figures re-emerge to maintain life and order. Unlike the Western view of time as linear, Hinduism sees time as cyclical. as mentioned in Rig veda 10.190.3-

सूरय्याचन्द्रमसौ धाता यथा पूर्वमकल्पयत् I

दिवं च पृथ्वीं च अंतरिक्षमथो स्वः II

"The Ordainer created the sun and moon just like in previous cycles. He formed the universe, Earth, the air, and light in an orderly manner."


Each time cycle has three components:

1. Srishti - Creation

2. Sthiti - Continuation

3. Laya - Dissolution


Each cycle starts with creation (Srishti), lasts for a certain period (Sthiti), and then ends in dissolution (Laya). After a brief pause, the cycle begins again. These phases are governed by the Divine Trinity: Brahma (creation), Vishnu (continuation), and Shiva (dissolution). Time, known as Kaal, initiates and ends the creation of the material world. This idea is like the scientific concepts of the "big bang" (creation) and the "big crunch" (destruction), showing that both ancient beliefs and modern science see time as the force behind the universe's beginning and end. Other concepts that are mentioned in our scriptures related to time- 1. Space-time- पूर्ण कुम्भोदिः काल आहितस्तं वै पश्यामो बहुदा नु सन्तः। [AtharvaVeda 19.53.3] "A full pot has been placed in Time and it is that which we see manifoldly." Also, in the Dakshinamurty stotram composed by Adi Shankara he states:

बीजस्याऽन्तरिवाङ्कुरो जगदिदं प्राङ्गनिर्विकल्पं पुनः 

मायाकल्पितदेशकालकलना वैचित्र्यचित्रीकृतम् । 

 "This world is like a sprout growing from a seed, transforming from a changeless state into space, time, and countless forms—all due to the power of Maya (illusion)."


Time Relativity and the Twin Paradox in Hindu Mythology

The story of Kakudami and his daughter Revati illustrates time relativity. They visit Brahma Loka for just 20 minutes, but millions of years pass on Earth. This is similar to the twin paradox in modern physics, where a traveling twin ages more slowly than a stationary twin because of high-speed travel.


Hindu Time Units

1 paramanu = 60,750th of a second

1 truţi = 29.6296 microseconds

1 nimesha = 88.889 milliseconds (a blink of an eye)

18 nimesha = 1 kaashthaa

30 kaashthaa = 1 Kaal

2 Paksha = 1 Month

12 Months = 1 Year (equal to one day and night of the gods)

6 Seasons in a year, each lasting two months


Yugas (Ages) 

Satya Yuga: 1,728,000 human years

Treta Yuga: 1,296,000 human years

Dvapara Yuga: 864,000 human years

Kali Yuga: 432,000 human years

1 MahaYuga (one cycle of the four Yugas): 4,320,000 human years

12,000 Deva years 1 MahaYuga (for gods, there is no distinction between the different Yugas)


Larger Time Periods 

71 MahaYugas = 1 Manvantara = 30,672,000 human years

1000 MahaYugas = 1 Kalpa = 4,320,000,000 human years (one day of Brahma)

100 Brahma years = 1 Maha Kalpa

Types of Pralaya (Dissolution) 

1. Nitya Pralaya: Eternal rest, like sleep or death.

2. Naimittika Pralaya: Occurs at the end of one day of Brahma, dissolving the three worlds (Bhuh, Bhuvaha, Suvaha).

3. Maha Pralaya: The great deluge at the end of Brahma's 100-year lifespan.

4. Aatyantika Pralaya: Ultimate liberation (Moksha) where an individual soul is free from karma and the cycle of birth and death.


Our View 

Hinduism views time as cyclical, with complex measurements and events that repeat endlessly. The principles of creation, continuation, and dissolution are governed by deities, and this cyclical nature is reflected in both ancient mythology and modern scientific theories.

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