Ancient Time measurement

One more year will be passing by soon. Today we have precise time measuring instruments but in ancient times there were no such means. Nevertheless ancient sages of India developed their own vocabulary and time measuring system. In present times we may find their way too primitive but their efforts are worth taking a note. Whether to believe on their time measurement system or not is a matter of personal choice but we can, for the sake of curiosity or fun, certainly look at the passing year through the eyes of their system. Here is their idea of time measurement on the basis of Shiva Purana and several other scriptures.

  • Time taken to blink eyes is called Nimesh.
  • Fifteen Nimesha together makes one Kashta.
  • Thirty Kashta makes one Kalaa.
  • Thirty Kalaa makes one Muhurat.
  • Thirty Muhurats make one day and night.
  • Fifteen day and nights form one Paksha.
  • Two Pakshas (Shukla and Krushna) make one month.
  • One man-month makes one day-night for Pitras. Pitras are ancestors who are dead. Shukla Paksha is day for Pitaras and Krushna Paksha is their night.
  • Such six man-months make one Ayan.
  • Two Ayans (Uttarayan and Dakshinayan) constitute an year.
  • One man-year makes one day and night of deities. Uttarayan is day for deities and Dakshinaayan night.
  • Thirty man-years makes one month of deities and 360 man-months make their one year. One year of god-heads is called Divya Varsha.
  • Further time measurement is done on the basis of Divya Varsha.
  • Satya, Treta, Dwapar and Kali are the four Yugas.
  • Every Yuga has a beginning portion called Sandhya and an ending portion called Sandhyansha. Thus the sequence is Sandhya - Main Yuga - Sandhyansha.
  • Satyayuga consists of Sandhya of 400 Divya years, main Yuga of 4000 Divya years and Sandhyansha of 400 years.
  • Similarly Tretayuga consists of 300 - 3000 - 300 Divya years.
  • Dwaparyuga consists of 200 - 2000 - 200 Divya years.
  • Kaliyuga consists of 100 - 1000 - 100 Divya years.
  • Satya, Treta, Dwapara and Kali together makes 12000 divya years.
  • These four yugas together are called Chaturyuga and 1000 such Chaturyugas make one Kalpa.
  • If we convert divya years into man-years the above figures will be as follows :
Yuga Sandhya Main Yuga Sandhyansha Total
Satya 144000 1440000 144000 1728000
Treta 108000 1080000 108000 1296000
Dwapara 72000 720000 72000 864000
Kali 36000 360000 36000 432000
Total years in one Chaturyuga 4320000
  • One Kalpa contains 14 Manwantaras.
  • One Manwantar is equivalent to 71 Chaturyugas.
  • One such Kalpa makes one day-night of Brahma.
  • During Brahma's day creation begins and during his night dissolution takes place.
  • As per this day Brahma has life span of 100 years.
  • Life span of 1000 Brahmas make 1 Ghatika of Vishnu.
  • Such 1000 Vishnus make 1 Pala of Rudra.
  • Such 1000 Rudras make 1/2 Pala of Adimaya or Mahashakti.
  • Whoever has birth also has death but Mrutyunjaya, Mahakala or Param Shiva always remains above all as an Absolute Truth.
  • Now a bit confusing part. This cycle of kalpa after kalpa is beginning and endless. Ordinary mind may find it difficult to understand this concept of "infinite time" but those who have spent considerable efforts in sadhana can understand to some extent how time is dependent on mind.

If we think of this time frame we realize how tiny human beings are. Why do, then, people nurture egoistic attitude based on their wealth, education and countless other things? Anyways...

One final note before I stop. Currently 28th Kaliyuga is going on from the present Kalpa. We would be completing approximately 5112 man-years of current Kaliyuga on 31 December2010! 

I take this opportunity to wish all the readers a very happy and spiritually uplifting new year! May Mahakal Lord Shiva bless you with health and happiness.


Bipin Joshi is an independent software consultant, trainer, author, yoga mentor, and meditation teacher with over 24 years of experience in classical form of Yoga. He is an internationally published author and has authored or co-authored more than twelve books on .NET technologies. He has been awarded as a Most Valuable Professional by Microsoft. He has also written a few Marathi books including Devachya Davya Hati and Natha Sankentincha Danshu. Having embraced the Yoga way of life he also teaches Ajapa Yoga to selected individuals.

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Posted On : 26 December 2010


Tags : Shiva Scriptures Shakti Life Spirituality

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