Hindu units of time

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Hindu religious scriptures such as the Vedas and Puraṇas describe a massive range of units of Kala measurements, spanning right from Paramaṇu (time length of about 17 microseconds) to the Maha-Manvantara (311.04 trillion years). According to these texts, the creation and destruction of the universe is a cyclic process, which repeats itself forever. Each cycle starts with the birth and expansion (lifetime) of the universe equaling 311.04 trillion years, followed by its complete annihilation (which also prevails for the same duration).

Ancient Hindu units of measurement are still prevalent among the Hindu, Jain and Buddhist communities. They are used as a base for doing certain type of astrological calculations, performing religious rituals, etc.

Time units[edit]

Hindu measurements in logarithmic scale (approx.).

Various units of time are used across the Vedas, Puranas, Mahabharata, Suryasidhanta etc.[citation needed] Especially, Nimesha's multiple, it varies to 3, 10, 15, 18, 20, 27, 30, 45, 48, 60. At the lower end, these are pretty consistent. The Complete Hindu metrics of time (Kāla Vyavahāra) can be summarized as below.

Sidereal metrics[edit]

Unit Definition Equivalence
Truti त्रुटि ca. 0.031 µs
Renu रेणु 60 Truti ca. 1.85 µs
Lava लव 60 Renu ca. 0.11 ms
Leekshaka लीक्षक 60 Lava ca. 6.67 ms
Lipta लिप्ता 60 Leekshaka ca. 0.4 s
Vipala विपल
Pala पल 60 Lipta ca. 24 s
Vighaṭi विघटि
Vinādī विनाडी
Ghaṭi घटि 60 Vighaṭi ca. 24 min
Nādī नाडी
Danda दण्ड
Muhūrta मुहूर्त 2 Ghaṭi ca. 48 min
Nakṣatra Ahorātram (Sidereal Day) नक्षत्र अहोरात्रम् 60 Ghaṭī ca. 24 h
30 Muhūrta ca. 24 h
Alternate system
Unit Definition Equivalence
Truti ca. 35.5 µs
Tatpara 100 Truti ca. 3.55 ms
Nimesha 30 Tatpara ca. 106.7 ms
Kāṣṭhā 30 Nimesha ca. 3.2 s
Kalā 30 Kāṣṭhā ca. 1.6 min
Muhūrta 30 Kalā ca. 48 min
Nakṣatra Ahorātram (Sidereal Day) 30 Muhūrta ca. 24 h

Small units of time used in the Vedas[edit]

Unit Definition Equivalence
Paramāṇu ca. 26.3 µs
Aṇu 2 Paramāṇu ca. 57.7 µs
Trasareṇu 3 Aṇu ca. 158 µs
Truṭi 3 Trasareṇu ca. 474 µs
Vedha 100 Truṭi ca. 47.4 ms
Lava 3 Vedha ca. 0.14 s
Nimeṣa 3 Lava ca. 0.43 s
Kṣaṇa 3 Nimesha ca. 1.28 s
Kāṣṭhā 5 Kṣaṇa ca. 6.4 s
Laghu 15 Kāṣṭhā ca. 1.6 min
Danda 15 Laghu ca. 24 min
Muhūrta 2 Danda ca. 48 min
Ahorātram (Day) 30 Muhūrta ca. 24 h
Masa (Month) 30 Ahorātram 30 days
Ritu (Season) 2 Masa 2 months
Ayana 3 Rutu 6 months
Samvatsara (Year) 2 Ayana 360 days
Ahorātram of Deva

Lunar metrics[edit]

Tropical metrics[edit]

  • A Yāma = 1/4 of a day (light) or night [ = 7½ Ghatis (घटि) = 3¾ Muhurtas = 3 Horas (होरा) ]
  • Four Yāmas make half of the day (either day or night)
  • Eight Yāmas make an Ahorātra (day + night)
  • An Ahorātra is a tropical day (Note: A day is considered to begin and end at sunrise, not midnight.)
Name Definition Equivalence
Yama याम ¼ th of a day (light) or night 3 hours
Sāvana Ahorātram सावन अहोरात्रम् 8 Yamas 1 Solar day

Reckoning of time among other entities[edit]

Reckoning of time amongst the Pitṛs (ancestors)[edit]

  • 1 human fortnight (15 days) = 1 day (light) or night of the Pitṛs
  • 1 human month (30 days) = 1 day (light) and night of the Pitṛs
  • 30 days of the Pitṛs = 1 month of the Pitṛs = (30 × 30 = 900 human days)
  • 12 months of the Pitṛs = 1 year of the Pitṛs = (12 months of Pitṛs × 900 human days = 10800 human days)
  • The lifespan of the Pitṛs is 100 years of the Pitṛs (= 36,000 Pitṛ days = 1,080,000 human days = 3000 human years)[citation needed]

Reckoning of time amongst the Devas[edit]

The life span of any Hindu deva spans nearly (or more than) 4.5 million years. Statistically, we can also look it as …

  • 12000 Deva Years = Life Span of Devas = 1 Mahā-Yuga.

The Viṣṇu Purāṇa Time measurement section of the Viṣṇu Purāṇa Book I Chapter III explains the above as follows:

  • 2 Ayanas (6-month periods, see above) = 1 human year or 1 day of the devas
  • 4,000 + 400 + 400 = 4,800 divine years (= 1,728,000 human years) = 1 Satya Yuga
  • 3,000 + 300 + 300 = 3,600 divine years (= 1,296,000 human years) = 1 Tretā Yuga
  • 2,000 + 200 + 200 = 2,400 divine years (= 864,000 human years) = 1 Dvāpara Yuga
  • 1,000 + 100 + 100 = 1,200 divine years (= 432,000 human years) = 1 Kali Yuga
  • 12,000 divine year = 4 Yugas (= 4,320,000 human years) = 1 Mahā-Yuga (also is equaled to 12000 Daiva (divine) Yuga)
  • [2*12,000 = 24,000 divine year = 12000 revolutions of sun around its dual]

Reckoning of time for Brahma[edit]

  • 1000 Mahā-Yugas = 1 Kalpa = 1 day (day only) of Brahma

(2 Kalpas constitute a day and night of Brahma, 8.64 billion human years)

  • 30 days of Brahma = 1 month of Brahma (259.2 billion human years)
  • 12 months of Brahma = 1 year of Brahma (3.1104 trillion human years)
  • 50 years of Brahma = 1 Parārdha
  • 2 parardhas = 100 years of Brahma = 1 Para = 1 Mahā-Kalpa (the lifespan of Brahma)(311.04 trillion human years)

One day of Brahma is divided into 10,000 parts called charaṇas. The charaṇas are divided as follows:

The Four Yugas
4 charaṇas (1,728,000 solar years) Satya Yuga
3 charaṇas (1,296,000 solar years) Treta Yuga
2 charaṇas (864,000 solar years) Dvapara Yuga
1 charaṇas (432,000 solar years) Kali Yuga
Source: [2]

The cycle repeats itself, so altogether there are 1,000 cycles of Mahā-Yuga in one day of Brahma.

  • One cycle of the above four Yugas is one Mahā-Yuga (4.32 million solar years)
  • as is confirmed by the Gītā Śloka 8.17 (statement) "sahasra-yuga-paryantam ahar yad brahmaṇo viduḥ rātriṁ yuga-sahasrāntāṁ te 'ho-rātra-vido janāḥ", meaning, a day of brahma is of 1000 Mahā-Yuga. Thus a day of Brahma, Kalpa, is of duration: 4.32 billion solar years. Two Kalpas constitute a day and night (Adhi Sandhi) of Brahma
  • A Manvatara consists of 71 Mahā-Yuga (306,720,000 solar years). Each Manvatara is ruled by a Manu.
  • After each Manvatara follows one Saṃdhi Kalā of the same duration as a Kṛta Yuga (1,728,000 = 4 Caraṇa). (It is said that during a Saṃdhi Kalā, the entire earth is submerged in water.)
  • A Kalpa consists of a period of 4.32 Billion solar years called followed by 14 Manvataras and Saṃdhi Kalas.
  • A day of Brahma equals
(14 times 71 Mahā-Yuga) + (15 × 4 Charaṇas)
= 994 Mahā-Yuga + (15 * 4800)
= 994 Mahā-Yuga + (72,000 years)[deva years] / 6 = 12,000[deva years] viz. one maha yuga.
= 994 Mahā-Yuga + 6 Mahā-Yuga
= 1,000 Mahā-Yuga

The Surya Siddhanta definition of timescales[edit]

The Surya Siddhanta [Chapter 14 Mānādhyāyah (मानाध्यायः)], documents a comprehensive model of nine divisions of time called māna (मान) which span from very small time units (Prāņa [प्राण] - 4 seconds) to very large time scales (Para [पर] - 311.04 Trillion solar years).[citation needed]

The current date[edit]

Currently, 50 years of Brahma have elapsed and this is the first 'day' of the 51st year.[4] This Brahma's day, Kalpa, is named as ShvetaVaraha Kalpa. Within this Day, six Manvantaras have already elapsed[5] and this is the seventh Manavatara, named as – Vaivasvatha Manvantara (or Sraddhadeva Manavatara). Within the Vaivasvatha Manavantara, 27 Mahayugas[5] (4 Yugas together is a Mahayuga), and the Krita,[6] Treta and Dwapara Yugas of the 28th Mahayuga have elapsed. This Kaliyuga is in the 28th Mahayuga. This Kaliyuga began in the year 3102 BC in the proleptic Julian Calendar.[7] Since 50 years of Brahma have already elapsed, this is the second Parardha, also called as Dvithiya Parardha.

The time elapsed since the current Brahma has taken over the task of creation can be calculated as

432000 × 10 × 1000 × 2 = 8.64 billion years (2 Kalpa (day and night) )
[citation needed] 8.64 × 109 × 30 × 12 = 3.1104 Trillion Years (1 year of Brahma)
3.1104 × 1012 × 50 = 155.52 Trillion Years (50 years of Brahma)

(6 × 71 × 4320000 ) + 7 × 1.728 × 10^6 = 1852416000 years elapsed in first six Manvataras, and Sandhi Kalas in the current Kalpa

27 × 4320000 = 116640000 years elapsed in first 27 Mahayugas of the current Manvantara

1.728 × 10^6 + 1.296 × 10^6 + 864000 = 3888000 years elapsed in current Mahayuga

3102 + 2013 = 5115 years elapsed in current Kaliyuga.

So the total time elapsed since current Brahma is

155520000000000 + 1852416000 + 116640000 + 3888000 + 5115 = 155,521,972,949,115 years < as of 2013 AD >

The current Kali Yuga began at midnight 17 February / 18 February in 3102 BC in the proleptic Julian calendar.[8] As per the information above about Yuga periods, only 5,115 years are passed out of 432,000 years of current Kali Yuga, and hence another 426,985 years are left to complete this 28th Kali Yuga of Vaivaswatha Manvantara.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Burgess, Ebenezer Translation of the Sûrya-Siddhânta: A text-book of Hindu astronomy, with notes and an appendix Originally published: Journal of the American Oriental Society 6 (1860) 141–498 Chapter 14, Verse 12
  2. ^ Burgess, Chapter 14, Verse 10
  3. ^ Burgess, Ebenezer Translation of the Sûrya-Siddhânta: A text-book of Hindu astronomy, with notes and an appendix Originally published: Journal of the American Oriental Society 6 (1860) 141–498 , Chapter 14, Verse 9
  4. ^ Burgess, Chapter 1, Verse 21
  5. ^ a b Burgess, Chapter 1, Verse 22
  6. ^ Burgess, Chapter 1, Verse 23
  7. ^ Burgess, p17
  8. ^ Burgess, Ebenezer Translation of the Sûrya-Siddhânta: A text-book of Hindu astronomy, with notes and an appendix Originally published: Journal of the American Oriental Society 6 (1860) 141–498 , p17"
  • Victor J. Katz. A History of Mathematics: An Introduction, 1998.

External links[edit]