I am not a scientist. But the achievements of the Hindus fascinate me. -Author
THE Hindus were right in most of what they said – that time moved in cycles, that creation and dissolution constitute an eternal process, that there is rebirth, that the earth moves around the sun, that the universe will last for a Kalpa and so on. In all these, the Hindus were mostly right, but the west was always wrong.
The engagement of the Hindus with time and space is the oldest. They were the pioneers of space sciences. Cheiro, the great astrologer and palmist writes: “To consider the origin of the science of astrology, we must take our thought back to the earliest days of world history… to the consideration of a people the oldest of all-to the Hindus.”
We have evidence that Kanauj was a major centre of learning even before the Vedic age. It was called the, “Centre of the Universe”, which shows its status as a major centre of space studies. Vishwamitra, the great rishi of the Vedic Age, belonged to Kanauj. He was author of one of the Vedic books.
There was a good deal of speculation on various matters in those days, but the Hindus and Greeks were the only people curious about the origin of the universe, therefore of God too.
The Greeks were the only people in the west interested in the universe. But they were indifferent to history and time. The Hindus were thus the only people who were curtious about the universe and therefore of God. But the Greeks jumped to the conclusion that as time moved in cycles, there was no point in studying history.
Today the world recognises the great contribution made by the Hindus to mathematics and astrology. Karl Sagan, the famous nuclear scientist, had nothing but praise for the Hindus’ contribution to cosmology, He says: “It is the only ancient religious tradition which talks about the right time cycle.”
Look at the naivety of the Europeans! According to the Genesis the world was created 5,000 years age. Da Vinci believed that the world would come to an end in 4006 AD in a universal flood. There were Christians who believed that the world was coming to an end after a thousand years of Christ’s mission on earth. They took to the hills of Rome to protect themselves! Zoroaster reckons that the world would last for 12,000 years.
But Hindu time scale is unimaginable. The life of the universe is reckoned 4.32 billion years. It is made up of yugas, which move in cycles. There are four yugas – Sat yuga, Treta yuga, Dwapara yuga and Kali yuga. Kali yuga is the shortest.
The scale of this myth is indeed staggering. It has taken the human mind more than two thousand years to come upon again with a similar concept. In the meantime the Christian missionaries, have made fun of the Hindu concept.
Buddhists and Chinese also see time moving in cycles. Buddhists say the universe is transient in a state of continuous flux. The Buddhists’ time starts with a pristine Utopian society, gradually decaying and reaching its nadir of sorrow and suffering. But they hold out the promise of renewal.
There is no idea when the Indian civilisation began, but I believe it must be 15 thousand years ago. It was the most advanced civilisation at that time. Naturally the Indian civilisation spread all over the world, both in East and West.
The most thoughtful criticism against the Hindu theory of cyclic time came from St. Augustine, known for his “City of God.” He argued that idea of Christ returning to be crucified again and again would make the salvation theory into a cosmic puppet play.
But it is seldome realised that the linear theory is even worse. In a linear time, there can be no purpose. A purpose has to be realised. But if a purpose is realised there is an end to what it has set out to achieve. In an infinity time cannot end.