In the year 1858, the mathematician missionary Rev Ebenezer Burgess introduced the famous Surya Siddhanta text to American Oriental Society. The Surya Siddhanta, a Sanskrit work explains the principles associated with Indian astronomy. Aryabhata, the famous Indian astronomer (5th century CE) is known to have consulted the Surya Siddhanta text. Ebenezer makes the following comment about the Maha-Yuga time cycle (4.32 million years) in this text. (In this post we understand the connection between Brahma and Manus and between Manu cycle and precession cycles)
Vast as this period is, however, it is far from satisfying the Hindu craving after infinity. We are next called upon to construct a new period by multiplying it by a thousandTranslation of the Sûrya-Siddhânta, A Text-Book of Hindu Astronomy; With Notes, and an Appendix (jstor.org)
Measuring Brahma’s age in Kalpa cycles
Ebenezer expresses his astonishment that the Hindu astronomers imagined an even bigger eon namely the 4.32-billion-year Kalpa. Little did he know that in less than two centuries, discoveries in astronomy will show the age of our Solar system to be 4.85 billion years and the age of the universe to be 13 billion years. The Kalpa period is the length of the day in the life of the mythical Prajapati, the creator.
A day in the life of Brahma is two Kalpa units. Brahma engages in creation activity during the daytime Kalpa and sleeps in the nighttime Kalpa. Certainly, he dreams during his sleep. Those parts of creation which arise during his dreamtime are incoherent. Cruel beings such as Rakshasas manifest when Brahma is not fully awake. The question One Creator or Two? is pertinent in this context. Brahma delegates his power to Manu beings.
Brahma is 50 years old. He engages afresh in creation activity when he wakes up every day. Creation activities proceed coherently when Brahma is fully awake.
Brahma is the cosmic mind. Actually, we exist inside Brahma’s mind
Who are the 14 Manus
Most Indians know that a Kalpa cycle includes fourteen Manu periods. However, most do not know that 12,000 precession cycles fit within the duration of one Manu period. The phrase Manu, in the context of astronomy, is more a symbolism than a legendary being. How? These related posts provide answers. The symbolism of Manus, Manu and the Evolution of Sight, Shinshumara or Dhruva Matsya?
Precession is the term which astronomers use to describe the slow shift of seasons over several centuries. The author of the Surya Siddhanta text seems to have even guessed over how long this slow shift takes to cycle through a full calendar year. The author describes a Maha-Yuga as containing 12,000 Deva years. What is a Deva year?
What is the science behind Deva year?
A Deva year contains 360 Deva days. In fact, one human year is a day in the life of a Deva. Is there some logic behind this? Today astronomers recognize the fact that there is an additional spin during Earth’s journey around the Sun. This spin is unique. It does not cause a day or night like the other 365 spins. A few decades ago, the logic behind the Deva Day was not obvious but today it is.
Similarly, one of these tiny time units in Surya Siddhanta is connected to the functioning of the Brain. Scientists can use this unit to measure the time for a Neuron to fire! Two centuries ago, researchers concluded that these time units are pure imaginations of primitive humans. Ebenezer’s judgement about these smaller time units is equally interesting.
Thus, having no instruments by which they could measure even seconds with any tolerable precision, they vied with one another in dividing the second down to the farthest conceivable limit of minuteness; thus, seeking Infinity in the other direction also!Translation of the Sûrya-Siddhânta, A Text-Book of Hindu Astronomy; With Notes, and an Appendix (jstor.org)