A Day and Night of Brahma: The Evidence from Fossil Records
By Bibhu Dev Misra (IIT, IIM)
Bibhu Dev Misra is a graduate of the Indian Institute of Technology and the Indian Institute of Management and has been working as an Information Technology consultant for more than 12 years, for various organizations across the world. He is also an independent researcher and writer on topics related to ancient civilizations, myths, symbols, religion and spirituality and has travelled to many places of historical, religious and architectural importance. His articles have appeared in various internet websites and magazines. He can be contacted at email@example.com and via his personal blog: http://bibhudev.blogspot.com
More articles by Bibhu Dev Misra:
The Opet Festival of Ancient Egypt: Has it been derived from the Jagannatha Rathyatra of Puri, India?, April 2011
The Vedic concept of time, like that of the ancient Egyptians and the Mayans, was cyclical. As per their cosmovision, in addition to the cycles of day and night, and the cycles of the seasons, there exists another cycle of time known as the Yuga Cycle or the Cycle of the World
Ages. The 'Laws of Manu' inform us that that the Yuga Cycle is of 12,000 years duration, and is comprised of four Yugas or World Ages – Krita or Satya, Treta, Dwapara and Kali. As humanity moves from the Krita Yuga to the Kali Yuga, the level of virtue and human capabilities, both physical and mental, gradually decrease, and reaches its nadir in the Kali Yuga, the age of darkness, in which we currently find ourselves.
However, sometime during the dark ages, the Yuga Cycle duration was artificially inflated to an abnormally high value of 4,320,000 years by introducing a multiplication factor of '360', which was represented as the number of 'human years' which constitutes a 'divine year'. The fallacy of this approach was rectified by the renowned Vedic seer, Swami Yukteswar. In the book The Holy Science (1894), Yukteswar clarified that a
complete Yuga Cycle takes 24,000 years, and is comprised of an ascending Yuga Cycle of 12,000 years when virtue gradually increases (Kali, Dwapara, Treta, Krita) and a descending Yuga Cycle (Krita, Treta, Dwapara, Kali) of another 12,000 years, in which virtue gradually decreases.
The interpretation of Swami Yukteswar can be intuitively understood, since everything in nature moves in ascending and descending cycles. We know that the Babylonians, Egyptians, Mayans and the Incans all used a daily time system that comprised of 12 ascending time periods (our AM) and 12 descending time periods (our PM) for a 24 hour day. In the cycle of the seasons too, we can see that the intensity of sunlight gradually increases from winter to summer for a period of roughly 12 lunar hemicycles (i.e. the time taken from New Moon to Full Moon and vice versa), and then decreases from summer to winter for another period of 12 lunar hemicycles.
The belief in the Yuga Cycle was widely prevalent in the ancient world. Giorgio de Santillana mentions approximately thirty ancient cultures that believed in the concept of a series of ages, with alternating Dark and Golden Ages, as documented in the book Hamlet's Mill (1969). The Greeks, Romans, Celts, Hopi Indians - all have detailed accounts of the World Ages which are surprisingly alike in their descriptions. Interestingly, the complete Yuga Cycle of 24,000 years closely matches the 'Precessional Year' of 25,765 years, which is the time taken by the sun to 'precess' i.e. move backwards, through the 12 zodiac constellations. In recent years, it has been observed that the rate of precession is 'increasing' which means that the duration of the Precessional Year is 'decreasing'. It is possible, therefore, that the current precessional value of 25,765 years is simply a temporary deviation from its 'average' value of 24,000 years, as documented in the ancient Vedic texts.