Hindu units of time
Vedic and Puranic texts describe units of Kala measurements, from Paramaṇu (about 17 microseconds) to Maha-Manvantara (311.04 trillion years). According to these texts, the creation and destruction of the universe is a cyclic process, which repeats itself forever. Each cycle starts with the birth and expansion (lifetime) of the Universe equaling 311.04 trillion years, followed by its complete annihilation (which also prevails for the same duration). This is currently 51st year of Brahma, and this is the "year" when the solar system was created according to Hindu astrology, and is the first mahayuga for humanity.
Various units of time are used across the Vedas, Puranas, Mahabharata, Suryasidhanta etc. A summary of the Hindu metrics of time (kāla vyavahāra) follows.
Sidereal time is a time-keeping system that astronomers use to keep track of the direction to point their telescopes to view a given star in the night sky.
|Unit||Definition||Relation to SI units|
|Truti||त्रुति||Base unit||≈ 0.031 µs|
|Renu||रेणु||60 Truti||≈ 1.86 µs|
|Lava||लव||60 Renu||≈ 0.11 ms|
|Līkṣaka||लीक्षक||60 Lava||≈ 6.696 ms|
|Lipta||लिप्ता||60 Leekshaka||≈ 0.401 s|
|Pala||पल||60 Lipta||≈ 24.1056 s|
|Ghaṭi||घटि||60 Vighaṭi||≈ 24 min|
|Muhūrta||मुहूर्त||2 Ghaṭi||≈ 48 min|
|Nakṣatra Ahorātram (Sidereal Day)||नक्षत्र अहोरात्रम्||60 Ghaṭī||≈ 24 h|
|30 Muhūrta||≈ 24 h|
|Unit||Definition||Relation to SI units|
|Truti||Base unit||≈ 35.5 µs|
|Tatpara||100 Truti||≈ 3.55 ms|
|Nimesha||30 Tatpara||≈ 106.7 ms|
|Kāṣṭhā||30 Nimesha||≈ 3.2 s|
|Kalā||30 Kāṣṭhā||≈ 1.6 min|
|Muhūrta||30 Kalā||≈ 48 min|
|Nakṣatra Ahorātram (Sidereal Day)||30 Muhūrta||≈ 24 h|
Small units of time used in the Vedas
|Unit||Definition||Relation to SI units|
|Paramāṇu||Base unit||≈ 26.3 µs|
|Aṇu||2 Paramāṇu||≈ 57.7 µs|
|Trasareṇu||3 Aṇu||≈ 158 µs|
|Truṭi||3 Trasareṇu||≈ 474 µs|
|Vedha||100 Truṭi||≈ 47.4 ms|
|Lava||3 Vedha||≈ 0.14 s|
|Nimeṣa||3 Lava||≈ 0.43 s|
|Kṣaṇa||3 Nimesha||≈ 1.28 s|
|Kāṣṭhā||5 Kṣaṇa||≈ 6.4 s|
|Laghu||15 Kāṣṭhā||≈ 1.6 min|
|Danda||15 Laghu||≈ 24 min|
|Muhūrta||2 Danda||≈ 48 min|
|Ahorātram (Day)||30 Muhūrta||≈ 24 h|
|Masa (Month)||30 Ahorātram||≈ 30 days|
|Ritu (Season)||2 Masa||≈ 2 months|
|Ayana||3 Ritu||≈ 6 months|
|Samvatsara (Year)||2 Ayana||≈ 365 days|
|Ahorātram of Deva|
- A Tithi or lunar day is defined as the time it takes for the longitudinal angle between the moon and the Sun to increase by 12°. Tithis begin at varying times of day and vary in duration from approximately 19 to approximately 26 hours.
- A Paksa (also Pakṣa) or lunar fortnight consists of 15 tithis.
- A Māsa or lunar month (approximately 29.5 days) is divided into 2 Pakṣas: the one between new moon and full moon (waxing) is called gaura or (bright) or Śukla Pakṣa; the one between full moon and new moon (waning) Kṛiṣhṇa (dark) paksha
- A Ṛitu (or season) is 2 Māsa
- An Ayana is 3 Ṛitus
- A year is two Ayanas
- A Yāma = 1/4 of a day (light) or night [ = 7½ Ghatis (घटि) = 3¾ Muhurtas = 3 Horas (होरा) ]
- Four Yāmas make half of the day (either day or night)
- Eight Yāmas make an Ahorātra (day + night)
- An Ahorātra is a tropical day (Note: A day is considered to begin and end at sunrise, not midnight.)
|Yama||याम||¼th of a day (light) or night||≈ 3 hours|
|Sāvana Ahorātram||सावन अहोरात्रम्||8 Yamas||1 Solar day|
Reckoning of time among other entities
Among the Pitṛs (forefather)
- 1 human fortnight (15 days) = 1/2 day (light) or night of the Pitṛs.
- 1 human month (30 days) = 1 day (light) and night of the Pitṛs.
- 30 days of the Pitṛs = 1 month of the Pitṛs = (30 × 30 = 900 human days).
- 12 months of the Pitṛs = 1 year of the Pitṛs = (12 months of Pitṛs × 900 human days = 10800 human days).
- The lifespan of the Pitṛs is 100 years of the Pitṛs (= 36,000 Pitṛ days = 1,080,000, human days = 3000 human years)
- 1 day of the Devas = 1 human year
- 1 month of the Devas = 30 days of the Devas (30 human years)
- 1 year of the Devas (1 divine year) = 12 months of the Devas (360 years of humans)
Among the Devas
The life span of any Hindu deva spans nearly (or more than) 4.5 million years. Statistically, we can also look it as:
- 12000 Deva Years = Life Span of Devas = 1 Mahā-Yuga.
- 2 Ayanas (6-month periods, see above) = 1 human year or 1 day of the devas
- 4,000 + 400 + 400 = 4,800 divine years (= 1,728,000 human years) = 1 Satya Yuga
- 3,000 + 300 + 300 = 3,600 divine years (= 1,296,000 human years) = 1 Tretā Yuga
- 2,000 + 200 + 200 = 2,400 divine years (= 864,000 human years) = 1 Dvāpara Yuga
- 1,000 + 100 + 100 = 1,200 divine years (= 432,000 human years) = 1 Kali Yuga
- 12,000 divine year = 4 Yugas (= 4,320,000 human years) = 1 Mahā-Yuga (also is equaled to 12000 Daiva (divine) Yuga)
- [2*12,000 = 24,000 divine year = 12000 revolutions of sun around its dual]
- 1000 Mahā-Yugas = 1 Kalpa = 1 day (day only) of Brahma
(2 Kalpas constitute a day and night of Brahma, 8.64 billion human years)
- 30 days of Brahma = 1 month of Brahma (259.2 billion human years)
- 12 months of Brahma = 1 year of Brahma (3.1104 trillion human years)
- 50 years of Brahma = 1 Parārdha
- 2 parardhas = 100 years of Brahma = 1 Para = 1 Mahā-Kalpa (the lifespan of Brahma) (311.04 trillion human years)
One day of Brahma is divided into 1000 parts called charaṇas.
The charaṇas are divided as follows:
|4 charaṇas (1,728,000 solar years)||Satya Yuga|
|3 charaṇas (1,296,000 solar years)||Treta Yuga|
|2 charaṇas (864,000 solar years)||Dvapara Yuga|
|1 charaṇas (432,000 solar years)||Kali Yuga|
The cycle repeats itself, so altogether there are 1,000 cycles of Mahā-Yuga in one day of Brahma.
- One cycle of the above four Yugas is one Mahā-Yuga (4.32 million solar years)
- as is confirmed by the Gītā Śloka 8.17 (statement) "sahasra-yuga-paryantam ahar yad brahmaṇo viduḥ rātriṁ yuga-sahasrāntāṁ te 'ho-rātra-vido janāḥ", meaning, a day of brahma is of 1000 Mahā-Yuga. Thus a day of Brahma, Kalpa, is of duration: 4.32 billion solar years. Two Kalpas constitute a day and night (Adhi Sandhi) of Brahma.
- A Manvantara consists of 71 Mahā-Yuga (306,720,000 solar years). Each Manvantara is ruled by a Manu.
- After each Manvantara follows one Saṃdhi Kāla of the same duration as a Kṛta Yuga (1,728,000 = 4 Charaṇas). (It is said that during a Saṃdhi Kāla, the entire earth is submerged in water.)
- A Kalpa consists of a period of 4.32 Billion solar years followed by 14 Manvataras and Saṃdhi Kalas.
- A day of Brahma equals
- (14 times 71 Mahā-Yuga) + (15 × 4 Charaṇas)
- = 994 Mahā-Yuga + (15 * 4800)
- = 994 Mahā-Yuga + (72,000 years)[deva years] / 6 = 12,000[deva years] viz. one maha yuga.
- = 994 Mahā-Yuga + 6 Mahā-Yuga
- = 1,000 Mahā-Yuga
The Surya Siddhanta definition of timescales
The Surya Siddhanta [Chapter 14 Mānādhyāyah (मानाध्यायः)], documents a comprehensive model of nine divisions of time called māna (मान) which span from very small time units (Prāņa [प्राण] - 4 seconds) to very large time scales (Para [पर] - 300000.04 Trillion solar years).
The current date
Currently, 50 years of Brahma have elapsed. The last Kalpa at the end of 50th year is called Padma Kalpa. We are currently in the first 'day' of the 51st year. This Brahma's day, Kalpa, is named as Shveta-Varaha Kalpa. Within this Day, six Manvantaras have already elapsed and this is the seventh Manvantara, named as – Vaivasvatha Manvantara (or Sraddhadeva Manvantara). Within the Vaivasvatha Manvantara, 27 Mahayugas (4 Yugas together is a Mahayuga), and the Krita, Treta and Dwapara Yugas of the 28th Mahayuga have elapsed. This Kaliyuga is in the 28th Mahayuga. This Kaliyuga began in the year 3102 BCE in the proleptic Julian Calendar. Since 50 years of Brahma have already elapsed, this is the second Parardha, also called as Dvithiya Parardha.
The time elapsed since the current Brahma has taken over the task of creation can be calculated as
432000 × 10 × 1000 × 2 = 8.64 billion years (2 Kalpa (day and night))
8.64 × 109 × 30 × 12 = 3.1104 Trillion Years (1 year of Brahma)
3.1104 × 1012 × 50 = 155.52 trillion years (50 years of Brahma)
(6 × 71 × 4320000) + 7 × 1.728 × 10^6 = 1852416000 years elapsed in first six Manvataras, and Sandhi Kalas in the current Kalpa
27 × 4320000 = 116640000 years elapsed in first 27 Mahayugas of the current Manvantara
1.728 × 10^6 + 1.296 × 10^6 + 864000 = 3888000 years elapsed in current Mahayuga
3102 + 2016 = 5118 years elapsed in current Kaliyuga.
So the total time elapsed since current Brahma is
155520000000000 + 1852416000 + 116640000 + 3888000 + 5115 = 155,521,972,949,117 years (one hundred fifty-five trillion, five hundred twenty-one billion, nine hundred seventy-two million, nine hundred forty-nine thousand, one hundred seventeen years) as of 2016 AD
The current Kali Yuga began at midnight 17 February / 18 February in 3102 BCE in the proleptic Julian calendar. As per the information above about Yuga periods, only 5,118 years are passed out of 432,000 years of current Kali Yuga, and hence another 426,882 years are left to complete this 28th Kali Yuga of Vaivaswatha Manvantara.
- Age of the universe
- Hindu astronomy
- Hindu calendar
- Indian mathematics
- Indian science and technology
- Indian weights and measures
- List of numbers in Hindu scriptures
- Vedanga Jyotisha
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- Burgess, Chapter 1, Verse 21
- Burgess, Chapter 1, Verse 22
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- Burgess, Ebenezer Translation of the Sûrya-Siddhânta: A text-book of Hindu astronomy, with notes and an appendix Originally published: Journal of the American Oriental Society 6 (1860) 141–498 , p17"
- Victor J. Katz. A History of Mathematics: An Introduction, 1998.
- Translation of the Surya Siddhanta (1861)
- Daily Hindu Calendar
- Exegesis of Hindu Cosmological Time Cycles
- Surya Siddhanta, Chapter I with Commentary and Illustrations
- Vedic Time Converter