Mataji
                     Vanamali Mataji


Death

The Concept of Death in Hinduism

Vanamali Mataji

SS

Human beings find both birth and death to be very mysterious. How did this little creature come into the womb of the mother? Where was it before it came? How did it exist in the narrow confines of that frail body? These are questions which tantalise us about the birth of a baby but after the little creature comes out of the womb we can see it and have some association with it. But when someone dies the story is a little different. The person who we had been seeing and having contact with all these years, is suddenly cut off from us and no longer occupies the body which we are familiar with. This is indeed a strange phenomenon. Actually the phenomenon of
birth is the same but in the reverse order, so it doesn’t make us unhappy since we can experience the little creature with our five senses but when the same thing happens in the opposite way and life jumps out of the body and the body disintegrates, we cannot grapple with it since our five
senses are useless. They just can’t handle the situation. Even though the phenomenon of death is something we see very often, we still have not learnt how to tackle it. Just as the love of life is the greatest of all loves, so the fear of death is the greatest of all fears. We are always inclined to
think that death is a punishment meted out by an unfair Law. We don’t see that death is only the other side of the coin of Life. In Hinduism, “life and death” are not opposites- “birth and death” are opposites, but Life includes both and goes on forever!

We always fear the unknown. We always fear the dark since our senses cannot work in the dark. We fear the dark room because we don’t know what it contains. The same applies to death. Ignorance is the source of all our fears. Nobody has returned after leaving the body and told us
what is on the other side. We are ignorant of what happens to this life energy when it quits the body which it has inhabited for so many years. If we had some idea of what happens when the life leaves the body, we would not be so terrified at this natural process which is as normal as the
process of birth. Hindu scriptures, especially the Garuda Purana, give a clear account of the process of death. So this is something which everyone should understand so that they know what to expect and will not be devastated by this natural event.

Before we go into the process, we must understand that in Hinduism, death is not the end of the journey of the embodied soul which is known as the ‘jivatma.” This jivatma is actually a reflection of the “Paramatma” or the Supreme Soul. It has all the qualifications of the Paramatma. It was never born and thus it can never die. It is beyond duality and the three functions of the mind — “desa, kala and nimitta” — space, time and causation. By a special process it has chosen to limit itself into the confined space of a body. When the time for its stay in this prison comes to an end it takes off for other realms! So at the outset we are made aware of the fact that death is not a punishment, but it is actually a release from punishment. But like the
proverbial bird which has been caged for a long time, the jivatma is loathe to let go of its cage and fly into the unknown.

When the jivatma enters the embryo, it connects with the embryo through an astral cord just like it connects to the person into whose womb it enters through an umbilical cord. The astral cord cannot be seen by us since it is a subtle thing but of course the second cord is a physical thing and can be seen by us when the baby comes out of the uterus. You will notice that the first thing the doctor does after birth is to cut this umbilical cord, thus severing the connection with the womb which had been nourishing it for ten months. Thus the physical connection with the mother ends at birth and a new life begins for the baby. Of course in a human being the emotional connection may last for years! In animals it is of short duration. However the
embodied Self which we call the jivatma still has the astral cord which connects it with the body which it is occupying. This cord remains with the jivatma all through its sojourn in the body which takes on many shapes from baby-hood to adult hood.

At the time of death when the jivatma leaves its body, this astral cord is severed since it has no more use for this cord which had been imprisoning it to the physical body for so many years. This again can be compared to the umbilical cord which is cut as soon as the baby is born since it has no more use for something which had been confining it into the narrow confines of the uterus in a most tortuous and inexplicable manner. Once this is cut the jivatma can easily move out of the confining limits of the body. However for
a person who does not know the mechanics of death, this cutting of the astral cord is very traumatic just as it must be for the baby when the umbilical cord is cut. Hence all babies cry loudly as soon as they are born since they have entered a new dimension which they are not familiar with! At this stage the unprepared jivatma does not know it is dead and tries its best to re-enter the body it has just left which it can see lying below it. It will try to re-enter through any of the nine orifices of the body. That is why the Hindus say that you must immediately tie the two big toes of the body as soon as it is dead. Apparently this cuts off the entrance through the
two lower orifices. We also plug the ears, the nostrils and keep the mouth closed by tying a ribbon or cloth round the chin and over the head. This stops the jivatma’s attempts to re-enter the body through one of the various orifices.

According to Hinduism there are five vital energies which govern the functions of the various parts of the body. These control all the automatic responses of the body like breathing in and breathing out, digestion, functioning of the various organs like the heart, stomach, nerves etc. We
have absolutely no control over these. When the astral cord is disconnected, these five will slowly start to leave the body. Since these vital energies control everything they will know about the time of departure long before it is known to the person or even the doctor or the people in attendance.

Approximately 4–5 hours before death, the chakras situated below the feet get detached, symbolizing disconnection from the earth plane!! This is why the feet of the person start to get cold. At the actual time of death, the jivatma will be pushed out of the body through one of the orifices. Apparently it has no choice in this matter. The cosmic energies will decide on the gate of egress depending on the type of life which the person has lead during his sojourn on earth. Enlightened souls who have no more attachments or bonds with the body, will choose to leave through the Sahasrara chakra on top of the head which is also known as the Brahmarandra which apparently is the place through which the jivatma originally enters into the foetus which will make up his body in the future. One will be able to see a small drop of blood on top of the head showing the site of exit. This is very rare as one can imagine. Such a person will have no
rebirth and will go Satya Loka which is the highest of the lokas. Those who have led a life of debauchery with no control over their lower animal instincts will naturally exit through the two lower orifices. People who have led a noble life helping people, resorting to spiritual practices etc will exit through the higher orifices governed by the upper chakras.

The human being knows a lot about the external world but knows hardly anything about the mechanism of his inner self. Of course modern medicine has done a lot of research on the gross organs but nothing at all has been done which explains how the internal machine is run. The rishis, as has been mentioned before, were more interested in the internal Being and they
discovered that the whole of the internal mechanism is under the control of 5 vayus or winds called the “pancha pranas.” These are the five vital energies which control the entire running of our inner system over which we have absolutely no control. They are known as “prana vayu, apana vayu, vyana vayu, udana vayu and samana vayu.”

Within 21 minutes of the jivatma leaving the body, the samana vayu will exit. It is the one which is in overall charge of the breath. Within 48 to 64 minutes, the prana vayu will exit. The doctor will normally declare the person to be dead when the prana vayu exits. Even now there is a small
chance of reviving the patient. If the body is left as it is, the udana vayu will exit only between 6 to 12 hours. After the udana vayu leaves there is hardly any hope of reviving the patient. The apana vayu will leave after 8 to 18 hours. Finally, if it is a normal death through old age the vyana vayu can take as much as 14 days before it leaves. But if death was by an accident or
suicide, the vyana may continue up to 90 days so that efforts made to revive the body during this period have a good chance of success. The discriminating and calculating mind filled with memories and ability to discern between different emotions will also die with the death of the body. That portion of the mind which exits with the jivatma is just a bundle of vasanas or tendencies which have been built up during the course of a lifetime. This doesn’t have the ability to discriminate so any pleasant thing which goes on around the body of the corpse will be multiplied hundred fold. Unfortunately any unpleasant thing will also be multiplied. Hence it is very important that all the people who are hanging around the body should think good thoughts and chant from the scriptures and sing bhajans (hymns) instead of weeping and wailing.

In the Bhagavad Gita, Lord Krishna tells his friend Arjuna of the importance of the last thought at the time of death. Hence in many religions, a priest or some holy man is brought to give final unction to the dying person. Amongst the Hindus the relations or friends will sit around and repeat the names of God and chant passages from the scriptures and the Bhagavad Gita so that the last thought will be an elevating one. Lord Krishna says that this is not enough because at the very last moment, the mind will naturally jump to that which has been a primary concern for him during the course of his life. Therefore Krishna says that if we want our last moment to be sweet, we should practice having noble thoughts all our life so that our mind will naturally go to that thought which has been prominent in our mind during the course of our life.

Once the astral cord has been severed, the jivatma cannot continue to occupy the body to which it has been attached for such a long time. It is pushed upwards out of the body and pulled from above — a magnetic pull to go up, which is the opposite of the force of gravity which pulls the baby down at the time of birth. It tries to re-enter the body through one of the orifices, that is why we are told to close all the nine orifices. If we observe carefully we might observe some slight movement of the hand or leg soon after it has been pronounced dead.

The jivatma continues to hear the voices of the loved ones who sitting below. Actually it even hears the thoughts of those who are standing below. It tries to talk to them and tell them that it is still there but of course nobody hears it. This is the time for its relatives to ask for forgiveness for all the negative things they may have done to it during its time on earth. It will be able to hear their thoughts. This ensures that it does not carry negative emotions like hurt, hatred, anger and greed on its onward journey.

At this point of time it will be floating along the ceiling, seeing and hearing everything that is happening in the room. Generally it will keep floating around the body until the body is cremated. It will accompany the body in the funeral procession all to way to the crematorium or burial ground, observing everything. Hence the Hindu tradition insists that cremation should be done within four hours of death if possible.

Only after the cremation does it becomes convinced that the very basis of its survival on this planet is no more. The body to which it had been attached for such a long time has merged into the five elements. Now the jivatma experiences complete freedom. The boundaries of the body which had been holding it down for so long has been broken and it can travel anywhere just by the power of is thought. However the attachment to its body and environment is so strong that for 11 to 16 days it moves about, around the places which it had occupied during its sojourn on earth. If it’s attached to its children it will stay in their room, if attachment was to money it will stay around the safe or it will wander around its favourite haunts like the garden, its normal walks etc. This is why Hinduism insists on doing the sraddhceremony for 12 days at least. These are the important rites and rituals one has to do after a person dies. It is incumbent on the eldest son and/or relatives to do these rites. So however pressing the job he is doing, he should make it his priority to do these last rites for his mother or father since this will be the best thing he can ever do for them in this life. Only these rites done for the jivatma by its closest relatives can convince it of the fact that it is indeed dead. These rites enable it to turn its thoughts to the path into which it has to go and the moment it thinks, it goes. At last it decides to go to the periphery of the earth plane and make the attempt to cross over to the other side. It is said that there is a kind of a tunnel here which it has to cross so the first 12 days after death are crucial. That is why the Hindus insist on doing kriyas (rites) for the first 11 days ending with the 12th day on which poor feeding, giving of charity etc is to be done. Some people extend it for 15 days, ending on the 16th day.

Just as we do so many things for the baby after it is born, it is equally important that the children or grand children or brothers and sisters do these kriyas correctly. All these rituals and prayers are really food for the jivatma which will help it on its onward journey. They aid in its journey through the tunnel. At the end of the tunnel there is a bright light signifying the entrance into the astral world. If it had been worshipping some deity or guru, that deity or guru would be waiting there to conduct it along the right path. Depending on the intensity of its devotion, the deity or guru might even be waiting for it at the very moment of departure from the body.

On the 11th, 12th or 16th day Hindus conduct yajnas (fire ceremonies), prayers and rituals by which the jivatma is united with its ancestors, friends, relatives and guides. All these spirits who are already there and who have not been re-born are happy to see it and welcome it to its new abode. The jivatma is then taken to the “Great Karmic Board” to review its life on the earth plane. The whole of its past life is played like a movie in this pure light. There is neither God nor judge here. The jivatma has to judge itself in the same way as it judged others in its lifetime. It might ask for revenge against the people who troubled it, or for forgiveness. It also experiences
guilt for all the wrongs it had done to others and is ready to accept self punishment in order to end the karmic bond. Since it is no longer bound by the body and the ego, its own final judgment becomes the basis for its next life. In other words the jivatma makes out a complete blue print for its future life in which all the problems it has to face, all the punishments it has to undergo and all the challenges it has to overcome are made clear. It actually chooses every detail of the type of person it wants to become. It chooses its own punishments and rewards. The amount of guilt it experiences decides the severity of the punishment. Hence we see that forgiveness is a great virtue. We have to learn to forgive and get forgiveness in this life itself.

Once this blue print has been made there is a kind of cooling period in which the jivatma is taken to various realms depending on its karmas (actions) on the earth plane. Rebirth takes place according to the blueprint we have made for ourselves. The time taken before another birth also depends on our desire to evolve further. We choose our parents and enter the mother’s womb at different times. It might be at the very moment of the egg formation or during the 3rd or 4th month and sometimes even at the last moment before birth. The laws that govern our lives are so beautifully designed that the time and place of birth, the planets that are in
ascendency etc are already there and constitute our horoscope! Many of us think that our stars are good or bad and that we are lucky or unlucky but actually all this is due to the blueprint you yourself have made for your future life.

For about 40 days after birth, the baby remembers its past life and laughs and cries sometimes. After this the memory is completely cut off and it continues with its life as if it had never existed before.

The contract he had made with the “Great Karmic Court” comes to play on the earth plane when he is born again. Most people curse God or their karma for the bad times they have to pass through on the earth plane. It is most important that all of us realize that the life we have to pass through now, whether good or for bad is the chance that a compassionate law gives us in order to help us to honour our agreement which had been totally drawn up by us. Whatever we have got now is exactly what we had asked for. No one else is to be blamed. We are truly the makers of our own destiny. The law allows us to make reparations for the wrongs we had committed in a previous life. If I am cursed with frequent and unbearable headaches now, it is due to my having hit someone on the head in my previous life. (Of course this is a simplification.) I have chosen to endure these headaches now in order to get a reprieve from my previous actions and thus enable me to continue forward on my evolutionary trend. All the people we come into contact in this life have been selected by us! They are just actors in the play of our lives for which we have already selected the script and which has been produced and is being directed by us!! Thus even the greatest criminal gets another chance to save himself. In Hinduism nobody is condemned to eternal punishment. The cosmic laws are totally just. There is nothing to be
frightened of death. It is only one side of the coin of Life.

Aum Tat Sat




The Concept Of Time In Hinduism

Vanamali Mataji





Sri Yantra





We live in the 21 st century which has given us the concept of Light years but when we probe into the concept of Time in Hinduism we will find that such things are child’s play to the Hindu mind which has always calculated time in astronomical proportions. The idea of time in Hinduism is cyclical and not linear since that is the nature of Life. A seed grows into a sapling and then a tree leaves a new seed for another tree and this cycle repeats endlessly. Every seed has the potential within it for a future tree. It carries the complete information of the tree genetically encoded within it and every tree carries within it a potential seed for a future tree. The sun causes water to evaporate and form clouds, which shed their water over land, forming streams and rivers which ultimately wind their way back to the ocean, to once again repeat the cycle.

We take all these things for granted and don’t think much about them. However our rishis deducted from these facts which are evident that the human being and the cosmos must also be following the cyclical order of Nature. The human being has a divine center called the atman which is eternal and a physical body which is mortal and is always changing. When the person dies, it’s only his body which decomposes and returns to the soil from which it has come. The jivatma (embodied atman) however has to play out its role according to the law of karma so it takes another body and again plays the part of a baby, infant, child, adult and old person and finally leaves that body also to take another body and go through a similar cycle once again.

Now let us look at the way we represent time in a clock or watch. Every second is repeated after one minute (60 seconds), every minute is repeated after one hour (60 minutes), every hour is repeated after one day (24 hours), every day is repeated after seven days (1 week), every week is repeated after four weeks (one month) and every month is repeated after twelve months (1 year). So logically speaking every year should also repeat itself after a certain period of time. In the Hindu system, a year is known as a “samvatsara”. Each samvatsara has a name. Hindu astronomers calculated that after 60 samvatsaras are over, the cycle starts once again. The reason for this is to be found in a certain alignment of the planets.

A conjunction of the sun and moon occurs when the planet Brihaspati (Jupiter) and Makara (Capricorn) come in alignment and this occurs every 60 years and that is the basis for counting a 60 year cycle. Hindu scriptures provide separate names for all the sixty years of a 60 year cycle. Beyond this we have the epochs or yugas. There are four yugas in Hinduism known as Satya Yuga which lasts for 1,728,000 samvatsaras or years, Treta Yuga which lasts for 1,296,000 samvatsaras, Dwapara Yuga which lasts for 864,000 samvatsaras and Kali Yuga which lasts for 432,000 years.

We must understand that these yugas are not just arbitrary calculations made by the rishis. The word “Yuj” means to unite or align. When we practice yoga we align the body, mind and breath. In a yuga there is an alignment of astral bodies as seen in the samvatsaras. Many such conjunctions and alignments keep happening in the sky over the centuries, while the earth, moon and planets keep revolving around the sun, day after day, year after year. These cosmic alignments occur at specific times ranging from one year to 5 years, to 60 years to 360 years and to 26,000 years and 432,000 years and take place periodically. These alignments were used by the rishis to track time on different time scales. Each of these alignments is known as a yuga. Thus yuga is a generic unit of time. It denotes different alignments at different periods of time. As is to be expected the yugas also follow the cyclic pattern of the cosmos.

The concept of time in Hinduism is so vast that even this is not the end of recorded time. Obviously these yugas are also cyclical. Four yugas are collectively known as a Chaturyuga or a Mahayuga which adds up to 4,320,000 samvatsaras.

Seventy-one Mahayugas make up one “manvantara” over which one Manu or celestial law giver is in charge.

Fourteen manvantaras or 1,000 Mahayugas make one Kalpa (4,320,000,000 samvatsaras) which is only one day or one night in the life cycle of Brahma, the creator. 360 days and 360 nights of this type is one year in the life of Brahma. The rare occasion when the sun, moon and Brihaspati (Jupiter) meet at the planet, Sravishta repeats at an interval of 865 million years. Such a conjunction occurs five times in one Kalpa.

One parardha is 50 years in the life of Brahma, the creator. His life span is 100 years of the above calculation. Thus he lives for 2 parardhas. But these 2 parardhas are only one breath of the cosmic being — Maha Vishnu!! When Maha Vishnu breathes in, the entire cosmos of countless universes are drawn into his body. When he breathes out, all these countless universes are re-created and become manifest once again.

Each Kalpa has its own Brahma and other divine beings. We are living in the Kali Yuga in which 50 years or one parardha of the present Brahma has been completed. He has now turned 50 and is now in the morning of his 51 st year! According to human calculations this would be 15,55,20,00,00,00,000 samvatsaras! This kalpa is known as the Swetavaraha Kalpa of which 6 Manvantaras are over and we are in the 7th Manvantara known as Vaivasvata.

The Vaivasvata Manvantara has 71 Mahayugas of which 27 are over. Of the 28 th Mahayuga, 3 yugas (Satya, Treta and Dwapara) are over and we are in the 4 th yuga known as Kali Yuga. 5118 samvatsaras have passed since the start of the Kali Yuga and next year in 2018 we will be starting the 5119th year. Actually we are in the 155,521,960,853,116th year of this Kalpa, which is the second parardha of the creator Brahma, which we should remember is only a half-breath for Maha Vishnu! He will inhale at the end of this Kalpa and this particular creation will cease to exist. The whole thing will start once again when he exhales!

All the beings of this universe including Brahma, the creator and the other gods are ruled by Time. They are all created, live and are destroyed by the one Supreme and powerful Being who in this case is known as Maha Vishnu, who has no birth or death. Thus a universe exists only for one Maha Kalpa which is a period which involves the whole life span of the creator Brahma which its two parardhas. At the end of it, the universe is completely destroyed together with the creator Brahma and a new universe will be created with a new Brahma. The Vedic universe passes through repetitive cycles of creation and destruction. During the annihilation of the universe, energy is conserved, to manifest again in the next creation like the earth conserves grass seeds during summer only to have them burst into life at the beginning of the monsoons. This is the cycle which goes on endlessly both in our world and in the cosmos. So we see how Vedic chronology is totally based on astronomy and stretches across vast periods of time which are only now being envisaged by Western scientists.

Thus we see that time is cyclical. It does not start on a particular day and end at another particular day. It has neither a beginning nor an end. So it’s always represented as a circle. Hindu calculation of time is cyclical and does not depend on any mundane event like the birth of a person (Christian calendar), or the running away of a man from one city to another to save his life (Muslim calendar) but only on the movements of the heavenly bodies of the cosmos. That is to say the Hindu calculation of time is based on astronomy and actual facts which are taking place in the cosmos. Therefore we can safely say that Hindu chronology alone is scientific.


Now that our head is reeling with the vastness of Time as revealed in the Vedas let us see how the rishis were also able to conceive of the smallest units of Time.

Vedic astronomy gives a very detailed division of the Time up to the lowest sub division which is prana or respiration which has a time lapse of four seconds. The lowest sub division of prana is the same part of the day as the minute is of the circle, so that a respiration of time is equivalent to a minute of apparent revolution of the heavenly bodies above the earth.

According to western calculations 24 hours make 1 day and 1 night. In the Vedas 1 nadi is equal to 24 minutes, 1 vinadi is equal to 24 seconds, 1 prana is equal to 4 seconds, 1 nimisha is equal to 88.8889 milliseconds, 1 tatpara is equal to 2.96296 milliseconds and finally 1 truti is equal to 29.6296 microseconds or 33,750 th part of a second.

It is difficult to conceive that Hindu astronomers could even conceive much less measure such a small interval of time like a “truti” without any modern instruments. One unit of prana, which is 4 seconds, is the time an average healthy man needs to complete one respiration or to pronounce ten long syllables called “guruvakshara”.

The Hindu year is divided into two sections of six months each. These are called Uttarayanam and Dakshinayanam. Uttarayanam starts on January 14 th and ends on July 14th. Dakshinayanam starts on July 14 th and ends on January 14th. In Uttarayanam the sun starts its journey towards the North and the northern hemisphere starts to enjoy spring and summer. In Dakshinayanam the sun appears to make a dramatic turn and starts its journey towards the South thus heralding the beginning of autumn and winter in the northern hemisphere.

The Hindu calendar begins in March/April. This is the time when the sun arrives at the point in Aries when the earth starts its rotation round the sun. Even today in places like Afghanistan and Iran, New Year is celebrated on March 21 st since this is the ancient Vedic concept.

Of course there is an important scientific reason why Hindus celebrate New Year in March/April. The Sanskrit word for the equator is Visvadrutta Rekha. This means a line that splits the world into two halves. An equinox is the time when the sun is exactly over the equator and days and nights are equal. In the whole of India and in most ancient civilizations, this period came to be celebrated as the start of the new calendar year. Thus the New Year was based on the movement of the sun.

When we read about these enormous periods of time the earth has passed we are all reminded of our own insignificance. We are made to realise the insignificance of time on one hand as well as the importance of every second. Despite the minute and gargantuan calculations made by the Hindus, we still believe that Time is only a mental concept. It exists only so long as we are bound to the things of this world through our senses. It is a mental concept created by the movement of our senses, the celestial objects and our perceptions. It is part of the illusion in which we live and which we take for real. In the consciousness of the Supreme Being there are no divisions of Time. There is only the present moment, one continuous, indivisible and indistinguishable state of existence.

The Rig Veda exhorts us to be conscious of every moment of time. “Study the attributes of Ushas (dawn) in order to know the science of Time.” (Rig Veda 1–92- 2). “Each dawn reduces your life span.” (Rig Veda 1–95- 1 onwards). “Time is unsurmountable. You get nothing before time or more than destined.” Vidura in the Mahabharata. Stri Parva verse 2.222

Hari Aum Tat Sat


Space In Hinduism

The Concept of Space in Hinduism

Vanamali Mataji

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Space and time are closely connected as modern scientists have discovered very recently. In fact Einstein even coined a new dimension called Space/Time. We have already discussed the concept of Time in Hinduism. So now let us look at the concept of Space. The idea of this planet being the center of the solar system is something which our rishis dismissed from the beginning. Many thousands of years ago they knew for sure that the sun was the center of our solar system. How they found this out without the use of modern instruments is still a mystery to the western scientists but the fact is that rishis who heard the vibrations of specific sounds in ether, memorized them into the vast fund of knowledge called the Vedas. They had extremely accurate, astronomical and heliocentric calculations for the movements of both our Earth and other celestial bodies. The following is the quotation from the Vedas.

“The sun never sets or rises. When people think the sun is setting, he only changes about after reaching the end of the day and makes night below and day to what is on the other side. Then, when people think he rises in the morning, he only shifts himself about after reaching the end of the day night, and makes day below and night to what is on the other side. In truth, he does not see at all.”
- Rig Veda. Brahmanas
“The world is like a potter’s wheel: the wheel looks as if it stands still, though it revolves at a terrific speed.”
- [1.27] Yoga Vasishta

They realized that the orbits of all celestial bodies are elliptical. They even noted the wobble of the Earth’s axis which creates the movement called procession of the equinoxes which is a very slow movement which completes one cycle every 25,920 years. This has been accommodated into the Hindu calendar. This has only recently been validated by modern science. Of course this is hardly noticed by civilizations which have only existed for a couple of thousand years but it was a great consideration for civilizations which have existed for millennia!

Just as Hinduism believes in unbelievable cycles of Time and has calculated Time to its smallest conceivable unit, it has also recorded the smallest unit of space which is the atom.

The Bhagavat Purana describes an atom as “paramanu” and each “anu” (molecule) consisting of at least 2 paramanus.

To quote: “The ultimate particle of the material universe is indivisible and not formed into a body. It is called a paramanu. It exists as an invisible entity even after the dissolution of all forms. All material bodies are combinations of such paramanus.”

The Rig Veda says that paramanus are the ultimate state of the manifest universe. When they stay in their own forms they are called the Unlimited Oneness.

The Parama Mahan is subtler than the paramanu. The Parama Mahan is unique . It has no difference, no spacing and leaves nothing behind.

Time can be measured by the movement and combination of these particles.

Two paramanus can combine to form an anu and three combine to form a trasaranu. The rays of light emerging from a mesh can make these move up in empty space.

In recent times it is the great scientist Kanada who wrote about atoms. Acharya Kanada is known as the father of modern atom-ism. He founded the Vaisheshika School of philosophy where he taught his ideas about the atom and the nature of the universe. He wrote a book on his research called the “Vaisheshika Darshan”

Kanada claimed that every object of creation is made of atoms which in turn connect with each others to form molecules. His theory of the atom was abstract and enmeshed in philosophy as they were based on logic and not on experimentation but modern science has corroborated his theories to a large extent.

It is said that one day while he was in the city of Dwaraka, Kanada was walking with food in his hand, breaking it into small pieces. Suddenly he realized that he was unable to divide the food into any further parts. From this moment, Kanada conceptualized the idea of a particle that could not be divided any further. He called that indivisible matter paramanu (atom). He even dissected the atom and called it an anu.

Acharya Kanada proposed that this indivisible matter could not be sensed through any human organ or seen by the naked eye, and that an inherent urge made one paramanu combine with another. When two paramanusbelonging to one class of substance combined, a dwinuka (binary molecule) was the result. This dwinuka had properties similar to the two parent parmanus.

Kanada suggested that it was the different combinations of parmanus which produced different types of substances. He also put forward the idea that atoms could be combined in various ways to produce chemical changes in presence of other factors such as heat. He gave blackening of an earthen pot and ripening of fruit as examples of this phenomenon.

Western civilization discovered Relativity and the atomic theory and used it for the manufacture of atom bombs whereas the Hindu culture applied the same knowledge to the development of new states of consciousness!

Unlike the west which lives in a historical world bound by dates and time, the Hindu culture is rooted in a timeless universe which is eternally created and eternally destroyed. The rishis were spiritual scientists who had gained an insight into the nature of Reality through deep meditative and ascetic practices. Modern physics requires experimental proof of their theories whereas the rishis wanted experiential proof. Most important was that they did not want to use their knowledge for material purposes but to find release (moksha) from the bonds of space and time.

They were not concerned about using their vast knowledge to enhance the quality of living in the way of modern conveniences for they knew that adding to physical comforts was one of the lowest types of uses to which they could put the enormous amount of knowledge which was at their disposal. There were innumerable ways of applying it especially in the realm of conducting experiments on themselves which would enable them to enhance their inner states and take them to a state of bliss which is what everybody is after but nobody seems to get. This is because we think that our happiness can be enhanced by the accumulation of more and more physical comforts and material goods and naturally this leads to further and further disappointments. Nobody thinks of looking within himself to find the source of bliss as well as of all knowledge. Our gaze is totally outer oriented hence we flounder in the sea of misconceptions clutching at comfortable straws to save ourselves or give us fleeting moments of pleasure.

Not only did the ancient Hindus know about the smallest bit of matter which occupies space but they also knew of the extent of space and even discovered the fact that space is expanding. (The concept of the expanding universe is a very recent discovery in the West.)The earth is only a small dot in the vast expanse of space which is expanding at an inconceivable rate. In the cyclical order of creation, it happens that every creation is preceded by destruction and followed by another creation.

“After a cycle of universal dissolution, the Supreme Being decides to recreate the cosmos so that embodied souls can once again experience worlds of shape and solidity. Very subtle atoms begin to combine, eventually generating a cosmic wind that blows heavier and heavier atoms together. Souls depending on their karma earned in previous world systems, spontaneously draw to themselves atoms that coalesce into an appropriate body.”
— The Prashasta Pada.

This was written a few thousand years ago!

The concept of parallel universes are also found in the Brahma Vaivarta Purana.

“And who will search through the wide infinities of space to count the universes side by side, each containing its Brahma, its Vishnu, and 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

Thus Hinduism has an unimaginable cosmological view of human beings having existed for trillions of years and the fact that they will continue to populate many universes in the future.

We have seen how the Vedas and Puranas dealt with the smallest particles of matter occupying space so now let us examine the Hindu idea of infinite space. The Puranas vividly describe the fourteen parallel realities which are co-existing and intersecting with us on multiple levels. Of course modern science is still to discover this but considering that the Hindus knew so much of our world which is only very slowly being revealed to the west, we can safely say that their descriptions of these worlds must also be real. Their astronomical discoveries are extremely precise and agree with many of the results of modern astronomy. Their culture and knowledge of astronomy baffles all our present understanding which is actually only touching the fringes of this colossal universe.

There are several statements in the Vedic texts about the universe being infinite. On the other hand it is to be noted that they do give the exact, finite, distance to the sun! In the Vedas, Aditi is the mother of the gods and she is actually a personification of the concept of Infinity! The famous hymn “Purnamada, purnamidam, purnad purnamudachyate, purnasya, purnamadaya, purnamevavashishyate,” gives a wonderful description of Infinity.

It means “That is infinite and this is infinite. If you take the infinite from the infinite, Infinity alone will remain!”

Just imagine how ancient this hymn is and then you will realise the extent of their knowledge of the paradoxical properties of Infinity!

Another hymn from the Yajurveda refers to the outer world as an altar made of bricks in which numbers are given in multiples of ten that go up to ten hundred, thousand million. Obviously their idea of space was infinite!

The 6th chapter called the “Creation of the Universe”, in the Satapata Brahmana, speaks of the creation of the earth as having taken place after the other stars. As usual abstractions were normally personified in the Vedas and Puranas. Here Prajapati is the name given to the creator and out of him come the various stars called, Ashva (Vivaswan), Rishabha, Aja, Kurma which come before the creation of the earth. Vivaswan of course refers to the sun while Rishabha (the twin asses), refers to Gemini, Aja is Capricorn and Kurma, Cassiopeia.

The Puranas view the universe as having a diameter of about 500 million yojanas. But beyond this universe lies the limitless Pradhana which has within it, countless other universes! Many of our Puranas like the Vishnu Purana, Srimad Bhagavata Purana, Padma Purana and Vayu Purana have mentioned the different universes. This is a modern discovery of the 19th century western scientists.

The Vedas speak of three types of space- physical space, psychological space and the Infinite space of the super consciousness. This Infinite space exists everywhere. It is that pure consciousness of the Supreme Brahman which fills everything, inside and outside. The word “Brha” means full. This is the background of everything which is in us also and on which the play of our own limited space can work. This limited psychological space of divided consciousness in us, is what creates the divisions of Time and the separative ego. Physical space is that in which the elements exist. Both these of course are dependent on the Infinite space of Super Consciousness.

Every atom of matter contains within itself a replica of the universe. In fact every atom of every rock will contain infinite data about the creation of the universe. Every molecule of air and every drop of water contains a tiny universe. This is visible only to the seer and the sage who can penetrate into the heart of a rock and discover its secrets. The scientist on the other hand whose only tool is his penetrating intellect tries to discover the secrets of the universe by the devastating process of blasting and dissecting. He has to break open the rock to discover its components. He has to tear open the petals of the flower to discover its secret but in doing so he misses out the true meaning of the universe which hides its secret in the heart of every flower and every rock!

Actually many of our ancient scriptures speak about the relativity of Time and Space. We might be tricked into thinking that these are only flights of imagination but when we see the conclusions of modern science we are forced to believe that these ideas have come from a sophisticated tradition of super cognitive and analytical thought. The recurring question is of course how they managed to find all these facts without the use of modern technology?

Till very recently Western science tried to separate the investigator from the object of investigation. They wanted the experiment to be totally unbiased by the personal beliefs of the experimenter. The Hindu system from the very beginning knew of the deep interconnection between the observer and the observed. Direct experience was considered to be the basis of all proof. The substratum was always the intelligence of the observer which turns into the very act of observing and finally the experience itself. Great names of quantum physicists like Schrodinger and Moore have given credit to this method of experimenting. It was only recently that the west understood that one could not totally divorce the experimenter from the experiment.

Hindu scriptures have delegated space into many ‘Lokas” or worlds just as they have divided Time into many eons which are cyclic and go on forever. Both Time and space are indestructible.

Fourteen lokas are described in Hinduism. There are 7 Vyarthis or upper worlds and 7 Patalas or lower worlds.

The highest of the Vyarthis is known as Satya Loka or the world of Brahma (the creator). Even though this is not eternal, those jivatmas who attain this loka will not have any re-birth.

2nd is Tapa- Loka which is the abode of some of the greater gods.

Then 3rd comes Jana-Loka which is the abode of the sons of the creator Brahma. The Prajapathis and others live here.

The 4th is Mahar Loka which is the abode of the great rishis and sages.

Fifth is Swar Loka or Swarga, which corresponds to the Puranic idea of heaven where the gods like Indra, Varuna and so on live. They are in charge of the world. This is the space between our sun and the pole star. Most of the lesser gods 330 million, and other celestial beings like Gandharvas and Apsaras live here.

The 6th is Bhuvar Loka or Pitru Loka which comes into our atmosphere — the space between the earth and the sun. This is inhabited by semi-divine beings and the ancestors.

The 7th of course is our earth. This is inhabited by human beings and animals. According to the Vishnu Purana the earth is only one of thousands of inhabited worlds that can be found in the universe.

Next we come to the 7 Patalas or nether worlds.

The one closest to our world is Atala Loka which is ruled by Bala, the son of the demon architect Mayan who possesses magical powers.

The 2nd is Vitala Loka which is ruled by Hara, one of the forms of Shiva. He is attended by his ganas or host of goblins, and ghosts. Gold is prized in this world and those who worship gold will end up in this region.

The 3rd is Sutala Loka which is ruled by the pious asura king called Maha Bali. Lord Vishnu himself is supposed to have become the guardian of his gate!

The 4th is Talatala Loka which is the realm of the demon architect Mayan who is well versed in sorcery.

The 5th is Mahatala Loka which is abode of the Nagas or serpents who are the sons of Kadru. All the fierce names to be found amongst snakes, like Takshaka are to be found here.

The 6th is Rasatala Loka which is the abode of the demons who are mighty and cruel. They are constantly at war with the gods in Swar Loka.

The 7th realm which is the lowest is known as Patala Loka which is the abode of the Nagas or serpents. Serpents have always been considered in Hinduism as having extra-sensory perception. They have no ears but they are very close to the earth since their whole bodies slide over the earth all the time so they are the first to know of any approaching natural calamity like an earthquake or tsunami or any such thing. This region is supposed to be as beautiful as Swarga or Heavan. The heavenly sage Narada describes it thus.

“This region is more opulent than the upper regions of the universe, which include heaven. The life here is of pleasure, wealth and luxury, with no distress. The demon architect Mayan has constructed palaces, temples, houses, yards and hotels for foreigners, with jewels. The natural beauty of Patala is said to surpass that of the upper realms. There is no sunlight in the lower realms, but the darkness is dissipated by the shining of the jewels that the residents of Patala wear. There is no old age, no sweat, and no disease in Patala.”

According to the Vishnu Purana “Naraka” or Hell is another extension of space which lies below Patala. It is the realm where sinners are punished. Many different types of Narakas are described in the Garuda Purana and the Bhagavat Purana which give appropriate punishment to wrong doers. But this is not the equivalent of Hell as found in Christianity and Islam. Yama the King of Naraka is also Dharmaraja or the God of Justice. It is only a temporary phase for the wrong doers in which they are punished for a certain amount of time. As soon as they balance their punya and papa (merit and sin) they are given another chance to redeem themselves by taking birth in this world.

All the worlds are only temporary places of stay. When the body falls and dies on earth, the God of Death known as ‘Yama Dharma Raja’ — Yama, the lord of justice, tallies the person’s good and bad deeds while on earth and decides whether the jivatma goes to a heaven or a hell, for how long, and in what capacity. The jivatma acquires a body appropriate to the world it enters. At the end of its time in those worlds when its good and bad deeds have been neutralised, it returns to the earth (reborn as a life form on the earth). It is only from the earth, and only after a human life, that the jivatma can attain supreme salvation, the state that is free from the cycle of birth and death.

But again and again we are brought back to the original concept of the Infinite, Supreme Being who is totally unattached and in whom all these different universes exist.

“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.”
- Srimad Bhagavata Purana.

In other words Time and Space are just concepts. In the state of the Supreme neither of these exists. Therefore the insistence in Hinduism to attain that state of bliss which is beyond the concepts of Time, Space and Causality.

Aum Tat Sat


Shakti

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Shakti is the primeval force, the first emanation of power from the
Absolute — Brahman. She is the creative aspect of the Brahman. It is
through her that the One becomes the Many! She is the womb of the
universe.

Hinduism is famous for its symbolism and from ancient times the
pictorial representation of God took the form of both male and female.
The transcendental, formless and motionless Absolute came to be
associated with the male and its multi-formed, active, manifested
energy, with the female. This two- in-one existence came to be known
as Purusha and Prakriti or Shiva and Shakti. This union can be compared
to the dynamo and the force that charges it. The Purusha is inactive,
consciousness and Prakriti is unconscious action. In Hinduism time is
cyclic and one creation is followed by destruction and again another
creation and destruction. During the time of dissolution, Shakti lies
quiescent and is only a potential. But at the time of creation, Shakti
separates from Shiva and pierces the Bindu or point from which
everything expands with the sound of “Hreem” and creates this entire
paraphernalia of existence. (This is very much like the Big Bang theory
in which the cosmos explodes from a single point).

In Hinduism, sound is a vibration of the Undifferentiated Intelligence of the Brahman and acts as a catalyst which sets into motion the unfolding of the manifest universe. This vibration is known as “Sabda Brahman”- the Absolute as “sound”. It is a wavelength that can be experienced only by the Divine.

This sound vibration splits Shakti into two opposite fields of magnetic
force called — “nada and bindu”. Bindu is the centrifugal, positive male
force and Nada the centripetal, negative, female force. Bindu is the
ground from which nada operates. It is nada which unfolds the manifest
universe. This duality of poles is the magnetic force that holds together in a state of vibration all the molecules of the physical world.
Shakti or energy is the physical ultimate of all matter as science has
proved. “Matter is only energy in motion”. All that we know and
experience with our mind and senses is nothing but the manifestation of Shakti. The transcendental aspect of the Purusha is something which we can never know.

Hinduism has always extolled the superiority of the feminine principle
in all things concerning the physical world. With its ability to pictorise
everything, Shakti has been depicted as Goddesses in various forms.
Every male god is endowed with his own feminine Shakti. But the
interesting thing is that the name of the god is always preceded by the
name of his consort — Lakshmi/Narayana, Gauri/Shankara,
Radha/Krishna etc. Even in the normal names given to girls, the word,
Devi (goddess) used to be added. This is to say that originally Hinduism
encouraged everyone to look upon all women as personifications of the
Goddess.

This is the basis of the Shakti cult in which the divine is worshipped in
the form of Devi or the Divine Mother. Our relationship with our mother is our primary relationship. Therefore all of us can have an instant rapport with the Divine Mother since the mother is one with whom anyone can have an intimate relationship. She is the eternal womb of all creations, human, sub-human and animal. Wherever you see maternal love, in a bird, or animal or human, know that to be but one spark of her divine love, for she is the universal mother! The umbilical cord which binds us to this Divine Mother is one which can never be broken. Our dependence on her is absolute! Unfortunately the modern age seems to have forgotten this basic truth, that we are totally dependent on her for our very existence. We call her “dirt” and treat her like dirt!! In India she is venerated. The first thing we do in the morning when we rise out of bed is to touch the ground and ask her to forgive us for the transgressions done to her during the course of the day — stamping her, digging her, throwing garbage on her, spitting on her etc.

All of us regardless of the religion we belong to, are followers of Shakti since all of us long for power, beauty and wisdom. All these come from her alone.

There is another interesting aspect of Hinduism which is not to be found in any other religion. It has always recognised that this world is one of duality and since the universe is the projection of Shakti, she will have many forms, both positive and negative. She is the source of beauty and ugliness, wisdom and ignorance, happiness and unhappiness! Hindus are encouraged not to just worship her beauteous form as Lakshmi, the goddess of beauty and auspiciousness but to worship her in her hideous form as Kali, the destroyer. Not just to worship her as Saraswati, the giver of all wisdom and art, but also to worship her as
Mahishasuramardini, the destroyer of evil and Chandika, the terrible,
whose wrath lets loose the typhoon, the flood and the tsunami! This
recognition that all things both positive and negative stem from one
source is unique to Hinduism. The One God of Hinduism is an all-
inclusive, transcendental as well as immanent God from which nothing
is left out and therefore nothing is condemned. He is available to
everyone regardless of whether one believes in him or not. The One God of the Semitic religions is a transcendental and exclusive God-exclusively belonging to those who believe in him! Those who don’t
believe in him are condemned as heretics, bound to go to hell!

Hinduism believes Shakti to be Maya, the enchantress who has bound us to this enthralling universe with bonds of love. Since she is the one who has bound us she is also the one who can release us. By her grace alone can we be released from the darkness of ignorance, the bondage of maya and taken to the abode of bliss. Thus two, nine-day periods are set aside during the course of the year, exclusively for her worship. This is known a “Navaratra.”

Hari Aum Tat Sat




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