Hindu Cosmology: Incredible truth of Vadic India

philosophy of cosmology

Hindu Cosmology upholds the idea that creation is timeless, having no beginning in time. Each creation is preceded by dissolution and each dissolution is followed by creation. The whole cosmos exists in two states - the unmanifested or undifferentiated state and the manifested or differentiated state. This has been going on eternally. There are many universes - all follow the same rhythm, creation and dissolution (the systole and diastole of the cosmic heart). According to the Bhagavad Gita this srishti (creation) and pralaya(dissolution) recur at a period of 1,000 mahayuga or 4.32 billion years or 4,320 million years:

For a thousand ages lasts One day of Brahma, And for a thousand ages one such night;
This knowing, men will know (what is meant by) day and night.
At the day's dawning all things manifest; Spring forth from the Unmanifest;
And then at nightfall they dissolve again, In (that same mystery) surnamed "Unmanifest"


The Rig Veda describes the origin of the universe as:

"Then was not non-existence nor existence: there was no realm of air, no sky beyond it. What covered in, and where? and what gave shelter? Was water there, unfathomed depth of water? Death was not then, nor was there aught immortal: no sign was there, the day's and night's divider. That One Thing, breathless, breathed by its own nature: apart from it was nothing whatsoever. Darkness there was at first concealed in darkness this. All was indiscriminated chaos. All that existed then was void and form less: by the great power of Warmth was born that Unit. Thereafter rose Desire in the beginning, Desire, the primal seed and germ of Spirit. Sages who searched with their heart's thought discovered the existent's kinship in the non-existent. Transversely was their severing line extended: what was above it then, and what below it? There were begetters, there were mighty forces, free action here and energy up yonder. Who verily knows and who can here declare it, whence it was born and whence comes this creation? The devas are later than this world's production. Who knows then whence it first came into being? He, the first origin of this creation, whether he formed it all or did not form it, Whose eye controls this world in highest heaven, he verily knows it, or perhaps he knows not" - (Rig Veda 10.129.1-7)

Structure of the universe

The Yugas

Satya or Krta (1,728,000 years): Satya means "truth"; the age is also known as Krta, "action," i.e., the age in which the people did unquestioningly what their benevolent elders told them.
Treta (1,296,000 years): Treta means "three," the third age, counting backwards from the present: also the age in which the feelings and forces of good are as three parts, and those of evil as one; also the age in which people were specially "protected," trayate, by their elders.
Dva-para (864,000 years): Dva-para means "two-sided," hence doubt also.
Kali (432,000 years) which rotates in succession. Kali means "discord," "struggle".

And all of these add to 4,320,000 years. Now, these four yugas, taken together, constitute one Mahayuga. One thousand Mahayugas are one day of Brahma. Brahma's one day is one Kalpa. So one day of Brahma will be 432 crores or 4,320 million years or 4.32 billion years. A similar expanse of time will make His one night, and that is another Kalpa. Our wildest imagination staggers in conceiving Brahma's life-span. This is the expansive view of time. No other culture had this unique vision of the infinity of time as well as the infinity of space.


Why saying 'I am a Hindu' should be respected

Saying "I am a Hindu" is bound to meet with denigration in the West and even in India - more so if someone born in the West states to have formally become a Hindu.

Yet for someone in the West to say that they have become a Buddhist or a Muslim does not meet with the same negative response. Nor does it occur for someone in India, even from a Hindu background, to say that they have become a Christian or a Muslim.

Like a number of Westerners starting in the 1960s, I became immersed in Hindu based practices of yoga and vedanta, extending to the worship of Hindu deities like Shiva and Devi.
When people asked me what religion I followed, I realised that I was clearly a Hindu in my way of life from puja and pilgrimage, to mantra and meditation. I decided to formally become a Hindu to affirm this, particularly when I saw Hindus in India remaining under extensive conversion assaults.

Students of Yoga and Vedanta
However, most in the West who take up yogic teachings do not formally call themselves Hindus, even if they adopt Sanskrit names relating to Hindu deities. This is owing to deep-seated propaganda against Hinduism as characterised by backward social customs, not enlightened spiritual teachings.

Many yoga students claim to be followers of their particular guru or sect. Others claim to be part of a universal tradition of yoga that includes all religions, of which Hinduism is only one. Yet all follow ideas and practices rooted in the Vedas, Bhagavad Gita and Yoga Sutras - primarily Hindu sources - overlooking the fact that they are benefitting enormously from Hindu teachings.

Some say practicing yoga will make a Christian into a better Christian. I had given up my Catholic background because I could not accept the theology, rituals, or conversions efforts behind it. The law of karma, rebirth and the pursuit of liberation in Hinduism made much more sense to me, not the heaven, hell, sin and salvation of Christianity.

If practising yoga and meditation, with statues of Shiva and Devi in my shrine, made me into a better Christian, it was not something any mainstream Christian group would acknowledge or recommend.
There are those in the West who want to become Hindus, but find little support. The most helpful group I discovered was Hinduism Today magazine and some thoughtful, articulate Western Hindu swamis associated with it. In India, most helpful was the Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP) and authors Ram Swarup and Sitaram Goel, who wrote extensively on modern challenges to Hindu dharma.

The situation for Hindus today
To tell Christians or Muslims today that one has become a Hindu is to invite ridicule and charges of idolatry and superstition. Academicians disparage Hinduism as a strange sensational set of cults, ignoring its profound meditation-based philosophies - a negative approach they would not take relative to any of the other great religions of the world.

The success of the Hindu community in the US and UK has muted these criticisms, but not removed them. Hindu-Americans still have to face both religious and racial prejudices for the images of their deities and the color of their skin.

You will not find a single department of Hindu Studies at any major India universities, even BHU (Banaras Hindu University). You can find a lone Hindu department at Oxford in UK, run largely by non-Hindus, but none elsewhere at any major universities in the West. This is though Hinduism is the third largest religion in the world and has the oldest and most diverse literature of any religion.

Clearly there has been a long history of maligning and suppressing Hindu dharma that continues worldwide today. There has been a deliberate strategy both to discourage people from becoming Hindus and to discourage Hindus from asserting their own identity. The influence of vested interests from missionary, colonial and Marxist groups is easy to discern behind these concerted efforts, often with extensive political and media support.

Today in India when Hindus question this long-standing and well-funded anti-Hindu bias that they continue to face, they find themselves demeaned as "intolerant".

Fortunately, there is a slow awakening to the value of Hindu dharma and its rishi traditions. To respect Hinduism is to respect our ancient spiritual roots and our potential for higher consciousness.

Padma Bhushan Dr David Frawley(aka Pandit Vamadeva Shastri) @davidfrawleyved
Vedacharya, author, Yoga, Ayurveda and Jyotish teacher, 
Padma Bhushan awardee by President of India