A Day and Night of Brahma: The Evidence from Fossil Records (cont.)
By Bibhu Dev Misra (IIT, IIM)
In addition to the Yuga Cycle, the Vedic texts also tell us of another large cycle of time known as a 'Day of Brahma', also referred to as a 'Kalpa' which is equal to a 1000 Mahayugas or Yuga Cycles. The Vishnu
Purana tells us that at the end of a 'Day of Brahma' the physical universe is destroyed and is dissolved into the waters of the Primordial Ocean. This is followed by a 'Night of Brahma' which is of equal duration as the 'Day of Brahma' when no life forms exist. At the end of the 'Night of Brahma', the universe is once again created by Vishnu from unmanifested matter. This phenomenon of cyclic creation and destruction events is also explained by Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita:
“Those who understand the cosmic laws know that the Day of Brahma ends after a thousand yugas and the Night of Brahma ends after a thousand yugas. When the day of Brahma dawns, forms are brought forth from the Unmanifest; when the night of Brahma comes, these forms merge in the Formless again. This multitude of beings is created and destroyed again and again in the succeeding days and nights of Brahma.”
In order to derive the value of a 'Kalpa' i.e. a 'Day of Brahma' we need to remember that as per the Vedic and Puranic texts, the Yuga Cycle (also known as a Mahayuga), consisting of the four yugas, is considered to be of 12,000 years duration, which is half the duration of the Precessional Year. Therefore, a 'Day of Brahma' lasts for 12,000*1000 i.e. 12 million years, which is followed by a 'Night of Brahma' of equal duration. The implications are fascinating: all life forms on the planet earth are extinguished after 12 million years! These life forms then remain in a dormant, unmanifested form for a further 12 million years. And then, at the end of the 'Night of Brahma', new life forms are brought forth by the creative process from unmanifested matter.
Thus, we have a cyclical, 24 million year period of cosmic creation and dissolution, much like the 24,000 year precessional year, and the 24 hours of day and night. The essential similarity between the macrocosm and the microcosm couldn't be any clearer. It is easy to see that the time period between two successive 'cosmic dissolution' events is 24 million years. It occurred to me that if this information is correct, then this cycle of creation and destruction should also be reflected in the fossil records of the planet earth. And amazingly enough, this is exactly what has been revealed by recent paleontological evidence: every 26 million years there is a
mass extinction of species on the earth!
Consider this: 66 million years ago the dinosaurs were thriving on the earth. However, today we can only find their bones and fossils in natural history museums. What happened to them? Scientists believe that 65 million years ago the earth went through a period a rapid death, called a mass extinction. But this episode is not the only mass extinction recorded in the fossil record. There are many more. And in recent years paleontologists have suggested that these mass extinctions occur in a regular cycle.