Bhagavad Gita

Monday, June 8, 2009

‘I am Time grown old to destroy the world ...’

The Cycles of Time:

To understand this verse, the reader needs to have some understanding of the theory of the Cycles of Time in Hinduism. The 4 Ages are:

1. The Satya or Krita Yuga, a Golden Age
2. The Treta Yuga, the Age of Ritual
3. Dvapara Yuga, the Age of Doubt: Man loses the sense of the
divine reality of the world and grows away from natural
4. The Kali Yuga, the Age of Conflict and confusion began in
3012 BC and will end with the nearly total devastation of
the present humanity

In Hindu metaphysics time is cyclical and each period of manifestation is called a KALPA of Brahma, equivalent to 4.32 billion human years.

The KALPA is subdivided into 14 MANVANTARAS.

We are now in the seventh MANVANTARA of this KALPA.

Each MANVANTARA is divided into 71 MAHA-YUGAS of 4,320,000 years each.

We are in the 28th MAHA-YUGA of this MANVANTARA.

Each MAHA-YUGA is made up of four yugas

Each Yuga is preceded by a period of a dawn and followed by a period of twilight. [Linga Purana 1.4.3-6]

When you study the Hindu theory of the Cycles of Time and the Yugas, you will find a confusing divergence of opinion concerning the dates of their duration. Considering that we are now living in the Age of Confusion, the Kali Yuga, it is not surprising to find so much disagreement on these matters.

What is more important to me than precise numbers is the fact that we are living in an era where there is almost no memory of the previous cycles of time. Most of us wrongly believe that civilization begins with written history, but writing is actually the symptom of a degenerative culture. It is sound that communicates meaning, not the markings that seek to represent it.

Reach beyond the limited frequencies of this Veil of Illusion you have been confined within all of your life. The experience of expanding and projecting your thoughts, consciousness, and imagination back into primordial time is in itself liberating, revealing, and uplifting.

The Duration of Time as a Function of Consciousness

The realization that time is in fact a function of consciousness will alter your perception of reality. We all experience time relative to our own specific consciousness in any given moment. You can verify this for yourself by simply reflecting on, for example, how time flies when you are happy - as opposed how time drags when you are stuck in traffic or heart broken.

Another example would be to consider the frenzied consciousness of an ambitious ‘type-A’ personality. The would-be-executive runs around nonstop day after day, balancing a bazillion enterprises in order to gain money, prestige and power, keeping busy-busy-busy, and avoids any possible solitude or contemplation.

Compare this with the consciousness of a Tai Chi Master who moves so slowly as to defy nature and yet can knockout his opponent from across the room, or an ascetic hermit yogi who never moves, never goes anywhere or does anything - but by remaining at the center of his being, becomes One with the Universe.

Time does not exist outside the temporal illusory hologram

All increments, meaning measurements of time and space, are relative to the consciousness of the perceiver and thus the product of variations in waveform frequencies, based on and the result of the specific degree of the illusion of Separation from Oneness.

This is similar to the quantum physics theory, The Copenhagen interpretation, Part II: Reality is created by observation. Or you might say more accurately, reality is created by the consciousness of the observer.

In ‘While the Gods Play’, the French scholar Alain Danielou explains that the length of a moment is established by the rhythms of consciousness that perceive it:

It is energy, by producing vibratory waves having direction and length, that will give birth to the rhythms whose perceptions will create the dimension of time, the measure of space, and at the same time the structures of matter.

For man, the perception of the dimension of time is determined by his vital rhythms, his heartbeat…

The relative duration of each of the four Yugas is 4:3:2:1. This implies that the Golden Age is the longest and our current Kali Age is the shortest. My understanding is that time actually continues to speed up in the Twilight of the Kali Yuga and increases ever more so, as we reach the end. The Cycles of Time are comparable to classical Indian Ragas that begin slowly, serene; increase in tempo and passion, and end in a frenzy of energy.

The Kali Yuga began in 3606 BC

Alain Danielou’s dates differ from others, but somewhat agree with the Mayan Calendar and the Hopi predictions. Danielou says that the Kali Yuga began in 3,606 BC and most scholars also do agree with this date. However he gives the duration of the Kali as 6,048.72 years.

Danielou says that the Twilight of the Kali Yuga began in 1939 with the discovery of atomic fission. According to him, the final catastrophe will take place during this twilight and the last traces of this present mankind will have disappeared in 2442.

The fact that this date of 1939 coincides with the discovery of atomic fission curiously fits in rather well with Oppenheimer’s recalling the verse from the Bhagavad Gita at the moment of the explosion of the first atomic bomb.

With or without Arjuna

Krishna tells Arjuna that this cyclical cleansing will take place with or without him. Arjuna’s choice to fight or not is irrelevant in the grand cosmic scheme (XI.32). The enemy now awaiting battle on the fields at Kurukshetra, the thousands who are arranged in formation, arrayed (avasthitah) in chariots, on horseback and high upon elephants, will each one cease to exist (na bhavisyanti).

... of all these hosts of hostile chiefs arrayed
There stands not one shall leave alive the battlefield!
- Ganguli

Krishna is essentially telling Arjuna that his involvement here ‘counts for nothing’ (Gambhirananda). With the Vision of the Cosmic Form still looming high above them, Krishna encourages Arjuna, perhaps commands him to stand up and defeat his enemies (satrun) - who have already been killed by Vishnu. Arjuna is only the chosen instrument (XI.33)

Dismayed No longer be!
Arise! obtain renown! destroy thy foes!
Fight for the kingdom waiting thee when thou hast vanquished those.

By Me they fall - not thee! the stroke of death is dealt them now,
Even as they show thus gallantly; My instrument art thou!
- Ganguli

Krishna assures Arjuna of victory and urges him to go forward into battle and to kill even those men, Bhishma and Drona, who were once his beloved teachers (XI.34). Arjuna’s love for and memory of these two men has made him falter, but they have joined the enemy. Bhishma and Drona have unwittingly become the servant of the darkside, the demonic. Arjuna cannot fail, for these hundreds of thousands of warriors are as good as dead now. They have already been slain (hatan) by Vishnu acting through Krishna.

Abhinavagupta’s commentary (B.Marjanovic) reflects the higher meaning. The Vision of the Cosmic Form is the manifestation of consciousness in this universe. It is consciousness itself that will devour it’s own polarities, knowledge and ignorance, light and dark in the temporal illusory hologram. This must occur in some manner at the close of every Yuga in every Manvantara - world without end!

Arjuna on his knees ...

The Vision of the Cosmic Form has left Arjuna terrified and trembling. Perhaps this is why such visions are so hard to come by; they would overwhelm even the greatest bravest warrior in the world. Arjuna humbly gets down on his knees and in reverence acknowledges what he has seen as the Lord of all Lords, the Great Self (mahatman) and the original cause (adi katre). He praises Krishna (XI.35-40).

For Thou art, now I know,
Father of all below,
Of all above, of all the worlds within ...

Again, Thou God! again
A thousand thousand times be magnified!
Honour and worship be -
Glory and praise, - to Thee
Namo, Namaste, cried on every side;
Cried here, above, below,
Uttered when Thou dost go,
Uttered where Thou dost come! Namo! we call;
Namostu! God adored!
Namostu! Nameless Lord
Hail to Thee! Praise to Thee Thou One in all
For Thou art All!
- Ganguli

Arjuna then apologizes to Krishna for any impulse, any offense he may have given in jest or affection in the course of their ordinary friendship when he thought of Krishna as only a man. He then begs Krishna to return to his familiar human form (XI.45-46), to change from that terrifying divine form with one thousand (sahasra) arms back into the familiar one, as most translations say, with four arms (caturbhujena)!

Let me once more behold
The form I loved of old,
Thou of the thousand arms and countless eyes!
This frightened heart is fain
To see restored again
My Charioteer, in Krishna's kind disguise.

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