next up previous contents
Next: China Up: Other nations Previous: Other nations

India

The traditional Indian cosmology states that the universe undergoes cyclic periods of birth, development and decay, lasting 4.32×109 years, each of these periods is called a Kalpa or ``day of Brahma''. During each Kalpa the universe develops by natural means and processes, and by natural means and processes it decays; the destruction of the universe is as certain as the death of a mouse (and equally important). Each Kalpa is divided into 1000 ``great ages'', and each great age into 4 ages; during each age humankind deteriorates gradually (the present age will terminate in 426,902 years). These is no final purpose towards which the universe moves, there is no progress, only endless repetition. We do not know how the universe began, perhaps Brahma laid it as an egg and hatched it; perhaps it is but an error or a joke of the Maker.

This description of the universe is remarkable for the enormous numbers it uses. The currently accepted age of the universe is about 1018 seconds and this corresponds to about 7 Kalpas+335 great ages. A unique feature of Indian cosmology is that no other ancient cosmology manipulates such time periods.

In the Surya Siddanta it is stated that the stars revolved around the cosmic mountain Meru at whose summit dwell the gods. The Earth is a sphere divided into four continents. the planets move by the action of a cosmic wind and, in fact, the Vedic conception of nature attributes all motion to such a wind. It was noted that the planets do not move in perfect circles and this was attributed to ``weather forms'' whose hands were tied to the planets by ``cords of wind''


next up previous contents
Next: China Up: Other nations Previous: Other nations
Jose Wudka
9/24/1998