Thursday, March 31, 2011

A Day and Night of Brahma and the Cycle of Mass Extinctions

Note: This article has been published in the New Dawn Magazine, Special Issue Vol.6 No.1., under the title "The Cycle of Cosmic Catastrophes: Evidence from Science & Ancient Records". Different versions of this article have also been published on Esamskriti, the Graham Hancock website, and the Viewzone Magazine .

The Vedic concept of time, like that of the ancient Egyptians and the Mayans, was cyclical. The ancient Sanskrit texts tell us that, in addition to the cycles of day and night, and the cycles of the seasons, there exists another cycle of time known as the Yuga Cycle or the Cycle of the World Ages. As per the Laws of Manu and the Mahabharata, the Yuga Cycle is of 12,000 years duration, and is comprised of four Yugas or World Ages – Satya Yuga (Golden Age), Treta Yuga (Silver Age), Dwapara Yuga (Bronze Age) and Kali Yuga (Iron Age). As humanity moves from the Satya Yuga to the Kali Yuga, the level of virtue and human capabilities gradually decrease, and reaches its nadir in the Kali Yuga, the age of darkness, in which we currently find ourselves.

The belief in the Yuga Cycle was widely prevalent in the ancient world. Giorgio de Santillana, professor of the history of science at MIT, mentions approximately thirty ancient cultures that believed in the concept of a series of ages, with alternating Dark and Golden Ages, as documented in the book Hamlet's Mill (1969). The Persians, Greeks, Romans, Celts, Hopi Indians - all have detailed accounts of the World Ages which are surprisingly alike in their descriptions.

Sometime prior to 500 CE, some errors had crept into the Yuga Cycle doctrine in many Sanskrit texts. The Yuga Cycle was considered to be of 12,000 "divine years" duration, wherein one "divine year" was believed to comprise of 360 "human years". The 12,000 years duration of the Yuga Cycle was, therefore, multiplied by 360, thereby arriving at the abnormally high value of 4,320,000 years.
However, texts such as the Manusmriti (Chapter 1) and the Mahabharata (Santi Parva) still mentioned the Yuga Cycle as being of 12000 years duration. Many other ancient cultures such as the Greeks, Chaldeans, Zoroastrians also belived in a Cycle of the World ages of similar duration. Not surprisingly, many eminent Sanskrit scholars and saints of India such as Lokmanya Tilak, Sri Aurobindo and Swami Yukteswar also supported this view.  

In the book The Holy Science (1894), Sri Yukteswar had clarified that a complete Yuga Cycle takes 24,000 years, and is comprised of a descending Yuga Cycle of 12,000 years when virtue gradually decreases (Satya, Treta, Dwapara, Kali) and an ascending Yuga Cycle of another 12,000 years (Kali, Dwapara, Treta, Satya), in which virtue gradually increases.The idea of an ascending and descending cycle of yugas was also prevalent amongst many ancient cultures including the Buddhists, Jains and the Greeks. According to the Jains, a complete Time Cycle (Kalachakra) was composed of a progressive half (Utsarpini) and a regressive half (Avasarpini), which followed each other in an unbroken succession for eternity. The Greek poet Hesiod had mentioned in the Works and Days that the succession of races is not linear but cyclical, and after the "Iron Age" (i.e. Kali Yuga), the sequence of ages reverses itself.

Besides, all the known time cycles of nature are composed of ascending and descending phases. A 24 hour day is comprised of 12 ascending time periods (AM) and 12 descending time periods (PM). In the cycle of the seasons too, we can see that the intensity of sunlight gradually increases from winter to summer for a period of roughly 12 lunar hemicycles (i.e. the time taken from New Moon to Full Moon and vice versa), and then decreases from summer to winter for another period of 12 lunar hemicycles. Therefore, the Yuga Cycle should adhere to this inherent pattern of nature.

Interestingly, the complete Yuga Cycle of 24,000 years closely matches the Precessional Year of 25,765 years, which is the time taken by the sun to ‘precess’ i.e. move backwards, through the 12 zodiac constellations. In order to understand the phenomenon of precession we need to remember that the 12 constellations of the zodiac encircle our Solar System like a giant ring. As a result, the sun always rises each morning against the backdrop of a particular constellation. If you consider a fixed date on our calendar, say the Vernal Equinox date of March 21st, you will find that the sun rises against the constellation of Pisces on this date. However, in a couple of hundred years from now, the Vernal Equinox sun will rise against the backdrop of Aquarius. There is a very slow apparent movement of the heavens, because of which the background constellations appear to move backwards i.e. ‘precess’ along the zodiac. The Vernal Equinox sun takes nearly 2,147 years to move through each zodiac constellation of 30 degrees, and an entire cycle of 360 degrees is completed in approximately 25,765 years, known as the ‘Precessional Year’.

In recent years, it has been observed that the rate of precession is "increasing", which means that the duration of the Precessional Year is "decreasing". The duration of the precessional cycle has dropped by nearly 20 years in the past 100 years of record keeping. If we assume that the precessional rate will decrease at this rate for the next 10,000 years, then we would end up with a Precessional Year duration of close to 23,000 years. It is possible, therefore, that the current precessional value of 25,765 years is simply a cyclical deviation from its Mean Value, which is close to 24,000 years. As per the Sanskrit treatise on astronomy called Surya-Siddhanta, the precession of the equinoxes takes place at the rate of 54 arc seconds per year[i] (as against the current value of 50.29 arc seconds per year.) This translates into a Precessional Year duration of exactly 24,000 years!

In addition to the Yuga Cycle, the Vedic texts also tell us of another large cycle of time known as a ‘Day of Brahma’, (also referred to as a Kalpa), which is equal to a 1000 Mahayugas or Yuga Cycles. The Vishnu Purana states that at the end of a ‘Day of Brahma’ the physical universe is destroyed and all life forms are extinguished. This is followed by a ‘Night of Brahma’ which is of equal duration as the Day of Brahma, when no life forms exist. At the end of the Night of Brahma, the universe is once again created by Vishnu. This phenomenon of cyclic creation and destruction events is explained by Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita:

“Those who understand the cosmic laws know that the Day of Brahma ends after a thousand Yugas and the Night of Brahma ends after a thousand Yugas. When the day of Brahma dawns, forms are brought forth from the Unmanifest; when the night of Brahma comes, these forms merge in the Formless again. This multitude of beings is created and destroyed again and again in the succeeding days and nights of Brahma.”[ii]

In order to derive the value of a Day of Brahma we need to remember that the Yuga Cycle (also known as a Caturyuga or Mahayuga), consisting of the four Yugas, is of 12,000 years duration. Therefore, a Day of Brahma lasts for 12,000*1000 i.e. 12 million years, which is followed by a Night of Brahma of equal duration. The implications are fascinating: all life forms on the planet earth are extinguished after 12 million years!  These life forms then remain in a dormant, unmanifested form for a further 12 million years. And then, at the beginning of the next Day of Brahma, new life forms are brought forth by the creative process from unmanifested matter.

We, thus, have a cyclical 24 million year period of cosmic creation and dissolution, much like the 24,000 year Precessional Year, and the 24 hours of day and night. The essential similarity between the macrocosm and the microcosm couldn’t be any clearer! It is easy to see that the time period between two successive cosmic dissolution events is 24 million years. If this information is correct, then this cycle of creation and destruction should also be reflected in the fossil records of our planet. And amazingly enough, this is exactly what has been revealed by recent paleontological evidence: every 26 million years there is a mass extinction of species on the earth!

Consider this: 66 million years ago the dinosaurs were thriving on the earth. However, today we can only find their bones and fossils in natural history museums. What happened to them? Scientists believe that 65.5 million years ago the earth went through a period a rapid death, called a mass extinction. But this episode is not the only mass extinction event in the fossil record. There are many more. And in recent years paleontologists have suggested that these mass extinctions occur in a regular cycle.
Fig 1: Stegosaurus fossil in the Field Museum, Chicago.
In 1984, paleontologists David Raup and Jack Sepkoski of the Department of Geophysical Sciences, University of Chicago, published a paper[iii] claiming that they had identified a statistical periodicity in extinction rates over the last 250 million years. In his research, Sepkoski prepared a listing of about a quarter of a million species of sea-dwelling creatures, both extinct and current, noting the point in time where they appeared and became extinct. Sepkoski confined the study to marine organisms because the chances of finding fossils are much higher under the sea-bed. The oceans are areas of net sedimentation, whereas land is an area of net erosion, which means fewer rocks and fossils are found on land. Although the study was originally devised to be a broad study of the distribution of marine life through geologic time, it, quite unexpectedly turned into a critical component of the mass extinction debate. 

David Raup, a senior colleague at the University of Chicago, suggested that Sepkoski examine the date for any evidence of a pattern in the timing of the mass extinctions. To further study extinction periods Sepkoski decided to concentrate on the last 250 million years of geologic time and to throw out animals whose point of appearance and disappearance were debated. He was left with about 500 of his original 3,500 marine families (250,000 species). Sepkoski put the data through computer analysis and was surprised to find that life forms on earth disappeared in great numbers approximately every 26 million years. Both of them checked for errors and confirmed the pattern; life seemed to disappear drastically every 26 million years. In the paper Raup and Sepkoski wrote:

“The temporal distribution of the major extinctions over the past 250 million years has been investigated statistically using various forms of time series analysis. The analyzed record is based on variation in extinction intensity for fossil families of marine vertebrates, invertebrates, and protozoans, and contains 12 extinction events. The 12 events show a statistically significant periodicity (P <0.01) with a mean interval between events of 26 million years. Two of the events coincide with extinctions that have been previously linked to meteorite impacts (terminal Cretaceous and late Eocene). Although the causes of the periodicity are unknown, it is possible that they are related to extraterrestrial forces (solar, solar system, or galactic.)”

Raup and Sepkoski had also explored the possibility of the existence of a longer cycle, but they had discounted it as a weaker description of the data. In their original paper they wrote that, “It is possible that the appearance of a 26 Myr cycle actually results from a longer cycle of, say, 52 Myr in combination with a scattering of random events. This model has been tested and found to be a weaker description of the data than the simple 26 Myr cycle.” The 26 million year cycle has since been corroborated by a number of detailed analyses carried out by Sepkoski, Rampino, Caldeira and other scientists, which establishes the periodicity of the mass extinction events.
Fig 2: The original extinction data of Raup and Sepkoski. The extinction rate peaks every 26 million years.
The extinction of the dinosaurs 65.5 million years ago has since been followed by two more extinction events. We can find a surprising correlation between the mass extinction dates calculated by scientists and those arrived at from the Vedic texts. 

According to the Vishnu Purana, we are now at the middle of the first day of the 51st year of Brahma. In the current Day of Brahma, 453 Mahayugas have elapsed out of a total of 1000 Mahayugas that comprise it. Since a Day of Brahma lasts for 12 million years, this means that it has been roughly 5.5 million years since the beginning of the current Day of Brahma. Therefore, the most recent destruction event would have taken place (5.5 + 12) i.e. 17.5 Myr (million years ago). 

Using this data we can infer that, as per the Sanskrit texts, the last five destruction events should have taken place as per the following timelines: 

17.5 Myr, 41.5 Myr, 65.5 Myr, 89.5 Myr, and 113.5 Myr. 

This is very strongly correlated to the extinction dates computed by Raup and Sepkoski from the fossil records:
11.3 Myr, 38 Myr, 65 Myr, 91 Myr and 125 Myr 

And, quite incredibly, there is an exact match with the extinction event that wiped out the dinosaurs 65.5 million years ago!

Fig 3: The Mass Extinction Events specified in the Vishnu Purana are strongly correlated with the dates calculated by Raup and Sepkoski
In case of some of the extinction events, there is a slight difference between the dates calculated from the Vedic texts, and those computed by Sepkoski. We should remember that the extinction timelines calculated by Sepkoski are approximate, and depend on the sample characteristics and various assumptions inherent in the model. Other scientists have arrived at slightly different values for the extinction events. For instance, the most recent extinction event, which has been termed as the Middle Miocene disruption, is now considered to have taken place during the middle of the Miocene Epoch, nearly 14.8 – 14.5 Myr. This is much closer to the value arrived at from the Vedic texts (17.5 Myr). 

We also need to remember that the duration of the Precessional Year is not constant, and may fluctuate around the Mean Value of 24,000 years. If this is correct, then the duration of a Day and Night of Brahma will also fluctuate around a Mean Value of 24 million years. The periodicity of these fluctuations needs to be understood and considered in order to correctly calculate the previous dates of cosmic destruction.

It would be fair to conclude on the basis of the above analysis that, the 24 million year cycle of creation and destruction, comprising of a Day and Night of Brahma, is embedded in the fossil records of the planet earth. One might argue that in a mass extinction event, all species do not become extinct (the most intense extinction events result in the extinction of 90 % of all species), which contradicts the principle of complete annihilation at the end of a Day of Brahma. But that is not a valid argument. The Sanskrit texts state that all "lifeforms" are destroyed at the end of a Day of Brahma. They do not claim that all species become extinct. The same species may be created once again in the subsequent Day of Brahma.

Even now, there is no consensus in the scientific community regarding the possible trigger for these periodic extinction events, even though scientists agree that there must be a single underlying cause. Raup and Sepkoski had favored extraterrestrial factors in their original analysis:

“A first question is whether we are seeing the effects of a purely biological phenomenon or whether the periodic extinction results from recurrent events or cycles in the physical environment. If the forcing agent is in the physical environment, does this reflect an earthbound process or something in space? If the latter, are the extraterrestrial influences solar, solar system, or galactic? Although none of these alternatives can be ruled out now, we favor extraterrestrial causes for the reason that purely biological or earthbound physical cycles seem incredible, where the cycles are of fixed length and measured on a time scale of tens of millions of years. By contrast, astronomical and astrophysical cycles of this order are plausible even though candidates for the particular cycle observed in the extinction data are few. One possibility is the passage of our solar system through the spiral arms of the Milky Way Galaxy, which has been estimated to occur on the order of 100 million years. Shoemaker has argued that passage through the galactic arms should increase the comet flux and this could, following the Alvarez hypothesis, provide an explanation for the biological extinctions.  Two of the extinction events considered here (Late Cretaceous and Late Eocene) are associated with evidence for meteorite impacts. However, much more information is needed before definitive statements about causes can be made.”

The link between the mass extinction event that eliminated the dinosaurs, and meteorite impacts from outer space, was known for a few years before Raup and Sepkoski had published their paper. In 1980, the Alvarez group proposed the asteroid impact theory to explain the sudden extinction of dinosaurs at the K-T (Cretaceous–Tertiary) boundary, some 65.5 million years ago. A team of researchers, which included Nobel prize-winning physicist Luis Alvarez and his son, geologist Walter Alvarez, discovered that sedimentary layers found all over the world at the K-T boundary contain a concentration of iridium many times greater than normal (30 times background in Gubbio, Italy and 160 times at Stevns). Since Iridium is extremely rare in the earth's crust but is abundant in chondritic meteorites and asteroids (the isotopic ratio of iridium in asteroids is similar to that of the K–T boundary layer but significantly different from the ratio in the Earth's crust) the Alvarez team suggested that the iridium spike at the K-T boundary is extraterrestrial in origin and had settled out of a global dust cloud triggered by the impact of an asteroid 10 km in diameter. They proposed that this giant asteroid crashed into the earth at nearly 90,000 km/hr and produced an impact crater of diameter 250 km, which led to the extinction of the dinosaurs.
Fig 4: An artist's concept of a catastrophic asteroid impact with the Earth.

The consensus among scientists who support this theory is that the impact caused extinctions both directly, by heat from the meteorite impact (which could have also triggered global firestorms as incendiary fragments from the blast fell back to earth) and mega-tsunamis, and also indirectly via a worldwide cooling brought about when matter ejected from the impact reflected thermal radiation from the sun. This would have blocked sunlight and inhibited photosynthesis, and accounted for the extinction of plants and organisms. 

In 1990, scientists confirmed that that an asteroid, 15 kilometers wide must have hit in the vicinity of the Yucatan Peninsula (in southeastern Mexico), creating the approximately 180 km wide and 10 km deep Chicxulub Crater, triggering the mass extinction. At the time of the impact, the asteroid was travelling at nearly 70,000 miles hour (roughly 20 times the speed of a rifle bullet), and the impact released about a billion times more energy than the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and a million times larger than the largest nuclear bomb ever tested. According to scientists of the Imperial College of London, the impact would have triggered massive earthquakes, landslides, continental shelf collapses and mega-tsunamis, as well as a global winter, which wiped out much of life on Earth in a matter of days.

The multiple impact theory suggests the possibility of near simultaneous multiple impacts, possibly from a fragmented asteroidal object. This is supported by the discovery of several other craters, which appear to have been formed at the K–T boundary. Among these are the Boltysh crater, a 24 km diameter impact crater in Ukraine; and the Silverpit crater, a 20 km diameter impact crater in the North Sea. Recently, another major impact structure, the Shiva Crater, has been identified at the India-Seychelles plate margin, in the Indian Ocean to the west of Mumbai, almost antipodal to the Chicxulub structure. In a paper published in 1997, paleontologist Sankar Chatterjee writes:

“This buried oblong crater is 600 km long, 450 km wide and 12 km deep and may represent the largest impact structure of Phanerozoic age. The KT boundary age of the crater is inferred from its Deccan lava floor, Paleocene age of the overlying sediments, isotope dating (~ 65 Ma) of presumed melt rocks, and the Carlsberg rifting event that split the crater into two halves…It is estimated that a 40-km diameter meteorite crashed on the western continental shelf of India around 65 Ma, excavating the Shiva Crater, shattering the lithosphere, and triggering the India-Seychelles rifting.”[iv]
Fig 5: The Barringer Meteor Crater in Arizona, 1.2 km wide, 170 m deep. It was created nearly 50,000 years ago by a small meteorite about 50 meters across, which released about 10 megatons of energy. In contrast, the asteroid that created the 180 km wide Chicxulub Crater in Mexico released about 100 million megatons of energy.
Another important discovery in this regard was made independently by Alvarez and Muller, and by Rampino and Stothers, and subsequently validated by Shoemaker, which showed that the impact craters on earth had a periodicity of either 28.4 or 30 Myr, which matches the periodicity of mass extinctions. This suggested that the impact craters must have been created during ‘comet showers’ or ‘storms’ – a large number of impacts over a relatively short period of time.

Subsequently, two teams of astronomers, Whitmire and Jackson,[v] and Davis, Hut, and Muller,[vi] independently published similar hypotheses to explain Raup and Sepkoski's extinction periodicity in the same issue of the journal Nature. This hypothesis proposes that the Sun may have an as yet undetected companion star in a highly elliptical orbit that periodically disturbs comets in the spherical Oort cloud that surrounds our Solar System, causing a large increase in the number of comets visiting the inner Solar System, with a consequential increase in impact events on Earth. This became known as the Nemesis hypothesis. If Nemesis does exist, its exact nature is uncertain. Richard A. Muller suggests that the most likely object is a red dwarf star with magnitude between 7 and 12. He also states that if the last comet shower was 13 Myr ago, then Nemesis would be at its greatest distance, about 3 light-years; if the shower was 5 Myr ago, then Nemesis would be only half that distance.[vii]

However, a binary companion of the sun has not been found till date, in spite of extensive sky surveys. It has been noted by many scientists that the orbit required for a 26 to 30 million years period is unstable against perturbations from passing stars and molecular clouds. Thus, it is extremely unlikely that the proposed companion star has been in this orbit for the past 250 million years, and hence it cannot account for the 26 million year periodicity in impact events. However, supporters of this hypothesis are still hoping that the WISE mission (an infrared sky survey that covered most of our solar neighborhood in movement-verifying parallax measurements) will be able to be able to find it, if it exists. Preliminary results of the WISE survey were released on 14 April 2011. The final release of analyzed results is scheduled to be released in March 2012. It would be fair to say, though, that the Nemesis hypothesis has lost credibility within the scientific community.

The explanations for the mass extinction events provided in the ancient texts have been couched in mysterious symbolisms that have been impossible to decode. The Mahabharata tells us that “a fire from the mouth of the underground serpent will burn the lower worlds, then the surface of the earth, and will set the atmosphere ablaze. This mass of fire will burn with a great noise. Surrounded by these circles of fire, all animate and inanimate objects will be destroyed.” 

Similar accounts have been preserved by the Nordic people of Ragnarok, the final destruction of the world. The event states that during Ragnarok, Jörmungandr, the Midgard serpent, will rise from the deep ocean bed to proceed towards the land, twisting and writhing in fury on his way, causing the seas to rear up and lash against the land. With every breath, the serpent will spew venom, staining the earth and the sky in poison. Some of the catastrophes that occurred during the last time the universe was dissolved are still remembered and recounted: "The ash tree Yggdrasil was shaken from its roots to its topmost branches. The Earth itself was beginning to lose its shape. The stars were coming adrift from the sky and falling into the gaping void. The giant Sun set the entire earth on fire; the universe was no longer more than an immense furnace. All living things, all plant life, were blotted out. All that remained was the soil."

These descriptions seem to suggest a cosmic catastrophe of unimaginable proportions. But the exact nature of this phenomenon still eludes us. Are these descriptions hinting at a ‘galactic core explosion’? We know that the Milky Way galaxy is a ‘Seyfert’ galaxy, which periodically has highly energetic explosions taking place in its core that result in the ejection of huge amount of cosmic debris including stars, dust and cosmic ray particles. Astronomers speculate that this kind of explosive activities may occur as infrequently as once in every 10 to 100 million years, which falls pretty much in the range of the 26 million year mass extinction events. Once the core becomes explosive, the galaxy remains in that explosive stage for a few million years, and then becomes quiescent, before erupting again. 

Scientists believe that interstellar magnetic fields in the galactic nucleus will trap the emitted particles in spiral orbits causing them to reach the earth very slowly, and thereby not pose any grave threat to the earth. However, Paul LaViolette, the author of Earth Under Fire is of the opinion that “cosmic ray electrons and positrons generated in a core explosion travel radially outward from the Galactic Center at very close to the speed of light and pass through the entire galactic disk with minimal attenuation”[viii], and bombard solar systems like our own residing in its spiral arm disk. These emitted cosmic rays travel radially outward “in the form of an expanding spherical shell that has a thickness of several hundred to several thousand light years”. Such an explosive event can cause substantial damage to life on earth, and may be responsible for the periodic cataclysms that impact our planet.

It is possible, therefore, that the ancient myths may be hinting at a cyclical ‘galactic core explosion’ that takes place every 26 million years. However, such a hypothesis requires much more analysis. What is certain, however, is this: the ancients were aware of the mass extinction events that are recorded in the fossil history of the earth, as well as the cosmic phenomenon that triggers these periodic catastrophic destructions. And this information has been transmitted down to us for uncounted millennia, couched in various mysterious symbols, myths and metaphors. It is now up to us to decode this information.

[i] Surya-Siddhanta:a text-book of Hindu astronomy, Ebenezer Burgess, Phanindralal Gangooly, Chapter 1, p 1
[ii] The Bhagavad Gita 8.17-8.20
[iii] Raup and Sepkoski, Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA, Vol 81, pp 801-805, February 1984
[iv] Sankar Chatterjee, Proc. 30th Intern. Geol. Congr., Vol 26, pp 31-54, 1997
[v] Whitmire, D.P.; Jackson, A.A. (1984). "Are periodic mass extinctions driven by a distant solar companion?", Nature 308 (5961): 713–715.
[vi] Davis, M.; Hut, P., Muller, R.A. (1984). "Extinction of species by periodic comet showers". Nature 308 (5961): 715–717.
[vii] Muller, R.A. (1985). “Evidence for Nemesis: A Solar Companion Star”. LBL, University of California.
[viii] Paul LaViolette, Earth Under Fire, p 67, Bear & Company, 2005


  1. This is article is good attempt to show the proof of concepts of Vedic literature by finding the analogy between recent Geological findings and Vedic records

  2. Thanks Arun. There is a lot of truth in the ancient records, which is being validated by recent discoveries in many different fields.

  3. I have mentioned in this article that, "It would certainly be interesting if scientists were to take a fresh look at the fossil samples to detect the presence of a 12 million year gap between the extinction and creation events." In May 2012, scientists from the China University of Geosciences and University of Bristol reported that it took nearly 10 million years before life forms started appearing after the mass extinction event that took place 250 million years ago Link: During this period of 10 million years following the catastrophic event, conditions on earth were too grim for life to appear. They also said that the mass extinction had "re-set evolution" and fundamentally new, complex life forms appeared. This finding directly supports the contention that life forms appear on the earth, after a gap of nearly 12 million years following a destruction event in a Day and Night of Brahma. Thus, we can see that the fossil records reflect all the assertions of the ancient texts with respect to the large cycles of time known as the Day and Night of Brahma.

  4. Nice work and attempt, also Please check

  5. 24 million years can not be taken as something like a day of Brahma. As you yourself mentioned in this article, at the end of the Kalpa (Brhma's day) entire creation is dissolved in the sense that there is no sun, earth moon etc. So as we see earth existed for 4.5 billion years so far. So Brahma's day can not be 24 million years. In fact earth life time has to be 12 million years to support your theory as Kalpa is only from morning to evening.

    1. it is not permanent so says 4.5 billion some says more and some says less.some says vedas written on some where 3500 BC under water dwarka 12000 years old. that means somewhere 10000BC SCIENTIFIC DATING RAMAYANA andSCIENTIFIC DATING MAHABHART by Dr. P.V.Vartak I dont know it is right or wrong but some thing is their

    2. Hi Arjun,
      At the end of a Day of Brahma all life forms are extinguished. This means there are no living beings on the planet earth or elsewhere in the cosmos. But the earth, sun, moon etc. are made of "matter". Matter does not get "dissolved" during the Night of Brahma. In the Vishnu Purana we see that at the beginning of a Day of Brahma Lord Vishnu takes the form of a boar and dives into the ocean and brings up the earth. This means that the earth was still present, but did not harbor any life forms.

  6. Thank you for this wonderful article.

    I'd like to point out a few things. According to Sri Bhagavat Purana, more detail is given regarding the creation and destruction of the cosmos.

    At the end of Brahma's day there is one kind of pralaya (devastation), where Rudra performs tandava nrtya. After this pralaya, the earth still remains in tact, but all manifest forms are reduced down to the primary elements (earth, water, fire, air, ether).

    But, at the end of Brahma's life (100 of his years), a form of destruction called maha-prayalaya takes place. At this time, not only are all manifest life forms destroyed, but the entire creation itself enters into the body of Karanodaksayi Vishnu.

    After some time, Karanodaksayi Vishnu again breathes out, the individual universes come out, Garbosaksayi Vishnu enters into each and manifests Brahma, who then creates all planets, life forms, etc.

    I'd like to ask a question too. Where is your source for the information that it is a "misinterpretation" that the catur-yuga cycle is 12,000 divine years. According to what I've heard and read, this is clearly stated in sastra.

  7. Hi, thanks for sharing this information. I had read about Karanodaksayi Vishnu and Garbosaksayi Vishnu, but did not remember the details. So, this backs up my argument that the earth is not destroyed at the end of a Day of Brahma.

    Regarding the Yuga durations, there are two main texts where the Yuga duration is specified as 12000 years (and not divine years) - the "Laws of Manu" and the "Mahabharata". According to scholars, both of these texts were composed prior to the Puranas, and therefore more authentic. All the Puranas were put down in their written form between the 1st - 6th centuries AD, and they are full of interpolations ( i.e. late additions). Also, since the Puranas have done a lot of copy-paste from each other, once an error gets into one version, it is very easily transferred to the other Puranas.

    Here are the portions from the Manusmriti (Chapter 1) and the Mahabharata (Santi Parva) that talk about a Yuga Cycle of 12000 years. The Mahabharata specifically mentions that it is 12,000 human years.

    The Laws of Manu, Translated by G. Buhler

    "69. They declare that the Krita age four thousand years; the twilight preceding it consists of as many hundreds, and the twilight following it of the same number.

    70. In the other three ages with their twilights preceding and following, the thousands and hundreds are diminished by one.

    71. These twelve thousand which thus have been just mentioned as the total of four ages, are called one age of the gods."

    The Mahabharata, translated by Kisari Mohan Ganguli, Book 12: Santi Parva

    "Computing by the days and nights of human beings about which I have told thee, I shall speak of the day and night of Brahman and his years also. I shall, in their order, tell thee the number of years, that are for different purposes computed differently in respect of the Krita, the Treta, the Dwapara, and the Kali yugas. Four thousand years is the duration of the first or Krita age. The morning of that epoch consists of four hundred years and its evening is of four hundred years. As regards the other yugas, the duration of each gradually decreases by a quarter in respect of both the substantive period with the conjoining portion and the conjoining portion itself. The duration of the Dwapara also is two thousand years, and its morning extends for two hundred years and its evening also for two hundred. The duration of the Kali yuga is one thousand years, and its morning extends for one hundred years, and its evening for one

    The learned say that these twelve thousand years constitute what is called a yuga. A thousand such yugas compose a single day of Brahman."

    So you see that the idea of 12,000 years yuga duration is mentioned in the ancient texts. Many scholars and saints such as Sri Aurobindo, Lokmanya Tilak, Sri Yukteswar etc. had pointed this out.

    In addition, there are many ancient cultures which believed in the Cycle of World Ages. We know that the Chaldeans, Zoroastrians and Greeks also believed in a 12,000 year (or close to 12000 years) Cycle of the Ages. Clearly, the Yuga Cycle cannot be of different duration for different cultures.

    Modern scientific evidence also indicates that the Great Flood which took place at the end of the Golden Age is very likely to be the worldwide flooding at the end of the last ice age at around 9600 BC. This flood myth is also recounted in many ancient cultures. So, if the beginning of the Treta Yuga (i.e. after the Great Flood) is at around 9600 BC, then it definitely implies that we are talking of a yuga cycle of 12,000 years duration.

    So from all points of view - textual, historical, scientific - the evidence indicates that the Yuga Cycle is of 12000 years duration.

    You may want to read my detailed article on the Yuga Cycle "The End of the Kali Yuga in 2025" where I have identified the Yuga Cycle beginning/ending dates, along with the geological cataclysms that take place during the transitional period between the yugas.

    1. FYI

      The Laws of Manu, Translated by G. Buhler

      67. A year is a day and a night of the gods; their division is (as follows): the half year during which the sun progresses to the north will be the day, that during which it goes southwards the night.

      68. But hear now the brief (description of) the duration of a night and a day of Brahman and of the several ages (of the world, yuga) according to their order.

      69. They declare that the Krita age (consists of) four thousand years (of the gods); the twilight preceding it consists of as many hundreds, and the twilight following it of the same number.

      70. In the other three ages with their twilights preceding and following, the thousands and hundreds are diminished by one (in each).

      71. These twelve thousand (years) which thus have been just mentioned as the total of four (human) ages, are called one age of the gods.

    2. The Mahabharata, translated by Kisari Mohan Ganguli, Book 12: Santi Parva

      "Vyasa said, 'Only Brahma, which is without beginning and without end, unborn, blazing with effulgence, above decay, immutable, indestructible, inconceivable, and transcending knowledge, exists before the Creation. 2 The Rishis, measuring time, have named particular portions by particular names. Five and ten winks of the eye make what is called a Kashtha. Thirty Kashthas would make what is called a Kala. Thirty Kalas, with the tenth part of a Kala added, make what is known as a Muhurta. Thirty Muhurtas make up one day and night. Thirty days and nights are called a month, and twelve months are called a year. Persons conversant with mathematical science say that a year is made up of two ayanas (dependent on sun's motion), viz., the northern and the southern. The sun makes the day and the night for the world of man. The night is for the sleep of all living creatures, and the day is for the doing of action. A month of human beings is equal to a day and night of the Pitris. That division (as regards the Pitris) consists in this: the lighted fortnight (of men) is their day which is for the doing of acts; and the dark fortnight is their night for sleep. A year (of human beings) is equal to a day and night of the gods. The division (as regards the gods) consists in this: the half year for which the sun travels from the vernal to the autumnal equinox is the day of the deities, and the half year for which the sun travels from the latter to the former is their night. Computing by the days and nights of human beings about which I have told thee, I shall speak of the day and night of Brahman and his years also. I shall, in their order, tell thee the number of years, that are (thus) for different purposes computed differently in respect of the Krita, the Treta, the Dwapara, and the Kali yugas. Four thousand years (of the deities) is the duration of the first or Krita age. The morning of that epoch consists of four hundred years and its evening is of four hundred years. (The total duration, therefore, of the Krita yuga is four thousand and eight hundred years of the deities). As regards the other yugas, the duration of each gradually decreases by a quarter in respect of both the substantive period with the conjoining portion and the conjoining portion itself. (Thus the duration of the Treta is three thousand years and its morning extends for three hundred years and its evening for three hundred). The duration of the Dwapara also is two thousand years, and its morning extends for two hundred years and its evening also for two hundred. The duration of the Kali yuga is one thousand years

      The learned say that these twelve thousand years (of the deities) constitute what is called a yuga. A thousand such yugas compose a single day of Brahman.

    3. Whenever (of the gods) or (of human beings) is mentioned within brackets it is an "Interpretation of the Translator" and is NOT mentioned in the text.
      On the other hand, the Mahabharata explicitly states that, "Computing by the days and nights of human beings about which I have told thee, I shall speak of the day and night of Brahman and his years also. "
      This shows that the calculations are based on a normal day and night of human beings of 24 hours duration.

  8. Please see work done at the Binary Research Institute on binary companion to our sun.

    1. Yes, I am aware of their hypothesis. As of now there is no evidence for a binary companion to the Sun having a periodicity of 26 million years for explaining the mass extinction phenomenon. It seems even less likely that a binary companion with a periodicity of 24,000 years (corresponding to the precession cycle) exists, as proposed by the binary research institute. Such a binary companion would have a very small orbit, and if it existed it would have been detected by now.

  9. Hi Bibhu,

    I was revisiting this excellent article after browsing your latest one on Balarama and Khonsu.

    I have one curiosity in my mind. According to many calculations, the sun completely revolves around the center of Milky Way galaxy once every 220-240 million years. This number is 10 times the Brahma day/night or mass extinction cycle. I wonder if the galactic interpretation holds some ground based on this fact. Maybe this particular phase has more similarities with the phase preceding/succeeding the mass extinction that happened ~250 million years ago? Maybe the solar system experiences extra-galactic forces from outside the Milky Way galaxy that repeats with a periodicity of roughly 26 M years?

    I guess our own lifespans are too short to form any solid interpretations of such large time scales. It is a wonder that so many ancient sources hold such highly correlated records. The truth will ultimately prevail!

    Thanks for all your research and jotting down the enlightening articles. You should write a book.

    Best regards,
    Kaushik (NH 94-98)

    1. Thanks for the comments Kaushik. Yes, I too have noted that the time period for a complete revolution of the solar system around the Galactic Center is roughly equivalent to 10 times the duration of a Day and Night of Brahma. But I am not sure of its implications. It could be, as you pointed out, that certain conditions repeat after every 240 million years.
      Regarding the mass extinction events themselves, the ancient texts tell us that the entire universe gets dissolved. Therefore, the forces at play could be both galactic as well as extra-galactic. Of course, it is difficult to fathom what these forces might be. But as long as we keep thinking, we might be able to find the answers someday.

    2. I have read your article with interest. Looks like additional studies are affirming the 24 million year extinction cycle (26-27 mya as estimated by crater studies). But I am not able to reconcile the age of the Earth while using this timescale i.e. yuga based on human years instead of divine years.

      Age of the Earth is conventionally believed to be 4.5 billion years ago. If we use the Divine year multiplicative factor, the start of 51st day of Brahma would have been approx 2 billion years ago. 50th night of Brahma would have been 4.32 Billion years long. The age of earth is estimated to be somewhere in between. Earlier it was believed that life (oxygen producing) appeared on earth about 2 billion years later. In such a case the 51st day of Brahma can be kind of reconciled. Recent research seems to indicate that the life appeared soon after creation of Earth. Do you have any resources that can help in reconciling age of Earth with the yuga calculations?

      Do you feel that the Time dilation due to high gravity can explain the different divine and human times? For e.g observations related to earth follow a yuga cycle in terms of human years, whereas the cosmic happenings would follow a pattern that is expressed in terms of divine years.


    3. Hello Sreedharan,
      Glad to know you found the article interesting, and thanks for leaving a comment.
      Regarding your question about the 360 multiplication factor: As you have already pointed out, the 50th Night of Brahma extended from around 6 billion years - 2 billion years ago. No creative activity takes place during this time, all matter is reduced to its primary state. So how can the earth be created in the midst of the Night of Brahma, around 4.6 billion years ago? Also recent evidence indicates the life arose on earth around 3.8 billion years ago. How can any life form be created during the Night of Brahma? The 360 multiplication factor, therefore, makes it impossible to reconcile the Age of the Earth with the concept of the Days and Night of Brahma.
      On the other hand, if we do not use the multiplication factor, we do not run into any such problems. Since a Day and Night of Brahma is 24 million years, it means that roughly (4.6 billion / 24 million) i.e. 191.6 Days and Nights of Brahma have elapsed since the earth was created. Since we are halfway through the first day of the 51st year of brahma, it means that the earth was created during the 50th year of brahma, when (360-191) i.e. 169 days and nights of brahma had elapsed. There are no intractable problems with this approach, and the outcome is perfectly acceptable.
      Regarding Time Dilation - yes, I think its due to high gravity. The gods live in a different realm with higher gravity where time passes slowly for them as compared to us. But I do not agree with the arbitrary value of 360 human years being equal to a year of the gods. It makes more sense for me to believe that a complete precessional cycle of 24,000 years is a day and night of the gods, just as a complete cycle of 24 hours is a day and night of humans. So a day of the gods = 12,000 years and night of the gods = 12,000 years.


  10. Thanks for the response.

    I think you meant billion instead of million in the first paragraph. But I get the idea. I too had trouble reconciling the time period using the 360 days as multiplicative factor.

    But if we do not use the multiplicative factor, the first day of Brahma is 432 billion years. But as per current understanding the universe is about 13 billion years old. One year of Brahma is about 8.64 billion years. Hence even if we consider the start of 50th year as starting point, it does not quiet match up to the time of beginning of the universe. What am I missing?

    As far as the multiplicative factor is concerned, our galaxy may not be the only galaxy based on which measurements can be made on a universal scale. The sheer expansiveness means that there may be many such numbers in various galaxies and hence a time that speaks about a relative concept of 1/2 a human year as day/night expresses a kind of relativity between human and divine years makes sense to me. But this is just based on the references in the various texts about various time scales and their inter-relationship.


    1. Thanks for pointing out the error in my earlier response. I meant billion years instead of million years, of course. I have corrected my response, so that any one reading the comments does not get confused.
      Regarding the Big Bang - the theory is full of absurdities and assumptions, and certainly incorrect, as pointed out by many astronomers, most notably Halton Arp. I recommend that you read his work on quasars. We do not known when and how the universe started, but it is certainly older than 13 billion years. Black holes and neutron stars could be hundreds of billions of years old - there is no way to date them at present.
      So it is not necessary for the yuga theory to be aligned with the Big Bang estimates. If a Day and Night of Brahma is taken as 24 million years then the age of the universe works out to (24*360*50 + 5)i.e. roughly 432 billion years.
      Regarding the 360 multiplication factor - Even within our own galaxy there may be "alternate realms" where 1 day is equivalent to 1 earth year. But I do not think that particular "alternate realm" is that of the gods. I cannot offer any proof for this, but my intuitive feeling is that the 360 multiplication factor was entirely made up to extend the yuga durations. The number 360 was conveniently chosen since it is the number of days in a human year.


    2. Thanks for the reference to Halton Arp and his work on Quasars. Will read up on them.

      I am in the process of mapping the yugas to the epoch/era/eons and try to organize what is present in scriptures with what has been discovered so far. Please point me to any resources that you think would be helpful.

    3. I have 3 articles on the yuga cycles. You can refer to them and look at the references. Apart from that I cant think of any specific resources.