Saturday, September 15, 2007

Universal Time Scale

In Bhagavad Gita, Lord Krishna tells Arjuna:

"All the worlds from Brahma's world (the universe) are periodic. Arjuna.
They, those who know the day and night, know that the day of Brahma is a thousand yugas long and a night is a thousand yugas long.
From the unmanifested, all the manifest things spring forth on the arrival of the day (of Brahma). On the onset of night all these sink into what is called the unmanifested.
Partha, (Arjuna), this multitude of created things having existed over and over again and helplessly destroyed at the onset of night, spring forth on the onset of day."

All this sounds a lot like the modern theory of an oscillating universe that begins with a big bang that sends all matter flying out until it comes to a halt and collapses back into a tiny speck, leading to another big bang, and so on. An entire cycle according to present-day cosmological ideas could take 10,000million to 20,000 million years. It seems incredible that the ancient Hindus could hit upon this idea thousands of years ago. Some scholars have tended to dismiss this agreement of the order of length of the cycle as a mere coincidence.

2 comments:

Santosh said...

Dick Teresi author and coauthor of several books about science and technology, including The God Particle. He is cofounder of Omni magazine and has written for Discover, The New York Times Magazine, and The Atlantic Monthly. He says

"Indian cosmologists, the first to estimate the age of the earth at more than 4 billion years. They came closest to modern ideas of atomism, quantum physics, and other current theories. India developed very early, enduring atomist theories of matter. Possibly Greek atomistic thought was influenced by India, via the Persian civilization."

The cycle of creation and destruction continues forever, manifested in the Hindu deity Shiva, Lord of the Dance, who holds the drum that sounds the universe’s creation in his right hand and the flame that, billions of years later, will destroy the universe in his left. Meanwhile Brahma is but one of untold numbers of other gods dreaming their own universes.

The 8.64 billion years that mark a full day-and-night cycle in Brahma’s life is about half the modern estimate for the age of the universe. The ancient Hindus believed that each Brahma day and each Brahma night lasted a kalpa, 4.32 billion years, with 72,000 kalpas equaling a Brahma century, 311,040 billion years in all. That the Hindus could conceive of the universe in terms of billions.

The similarities between Indian and modern cosmology do not seem accidental. Perhaps ideas of creation from nothing, or alternating cycles of creation and destruction are hardwired in the human psyche. Certainly Shiva’s percussive drumbeat suggests the sudden energetic impulse that could have propelled the big bang. And if, as some theorists have proposed, the big bang is merely the prelude to the big crunch and the universe is caught in an infinite cycle of expansion and contraction, then ancient Indian cosmology is clearly cutting edge compared to the one-directional vision of the big bang. The infinite number of Hindu universes is currently called the many world hypothesis, which is no less undocumentable nor unthinkable.

(source: Lost Discoveries: The Ancient Roots of Modern Science - By Dick Teresi p. 159 and 174 -212). For more refer to chapter Advanced Concepts).

homer js said...

one problem i see with such scientific ideas found in religious text is that, we don't hear about any predictions they make out of their understanding which could be verified now... thats what i think will make people not dismiss such great ideas as mere contradictions!! Wish some scholar has time to work on it :-( Like how CBMR was predicted by big bang and eventually verified ~20 years after!

btw, 10K or 20K million years seem a very small number for the cycle... according to cyclic model (updated version of the almost-abandoned oscillatory theory) it will be trillions of years between the Bang and the Crunch...