Cyclical Time Periods

By G. de Purucker

Some students, after reading The Secret Doctrine, have spent years trying to apply the numerical keys given there in order to arrive at the exact length of the various kinds of Days and Nights of Brahma. There may be little harm in such adventures, yet one could waste a great deal of valuable time in this kind of theorizing. If given the final keys, a clever mathematician might closely approximate the correct time periods, and apply them to ascertain when some karmic event might come to pass. But, in view of the highly imperfect moral evolution of mankind, such knowledge would be replete with danger. Suppose that it were possible for a man to calculate just what is going to happen to him in the next week or month or year. The chances are that he would immediately begin to make new and bad karma for himself in trying to forestall the working out of nemesis, and thus involve himself in a new karmic web highly perilous not only to his moral stability but even to his intellectual equilibrium. Mercifully has this branch of the esoteric philosophy been most carefully shrouded in mystery throughout the ages.

Nevertheless, it is good that we should realize that all nature, as Pythagoras so wisely taught, is built on numerical relations, harmonically interacting in inflexible mathematical connections. For this reason there has never been any attempt to veil the general teaching, and even in some cases actual time periods have been disclosed. For instance, in The Secret Doctrine, Volume II, pages 68-70, we have Brahma's Age, called the mahakalpa, set down as 311,040,000,000,000 years; and one of Brahma's Days as 4,320,000,000, with a Night of equal duration, so that such a combined Day-Night period is 8,640,000,000. Furthermore, the total of the four general yugas, together making a mahayuga, is 4,320,000 years, and the full period of a manvantara is 308,448,000 years.

In examining the array of figures given by H.P.B., the difficulty lies in knowing just which manvantara or Day (or which pralaya or Night) is referred to. There are manvantaras of the entire solar system as well as of the planetary chain; and there are still smaller manvantaras, each one of which is the reign of a single Manu. Often terms are used which have different applications. For instance, the term 'solar system' may refer to our own planetary chain and its evolution. Thus seven chain-rounds of our earth chain might be called one solar manvantara for our earth chain, but the sun will be as lively as ever. When seven complete imbodiments of our planetary chain have taken place, that is a solar manvantara for our chain; for when a new manvantara for our chain shall again begin, a new sun will shine upon that chain; or, from the standpoint of our earth globe, we shall see that particular sun of the next higher cosmic plane of the solar chain on which our globe D will then begin to manifest.

A chain-round is a passage of the life-waves or families of monads from the highest globe through all the globes once. (When a chain-round passes through any one globe we call it a globe-round.) When seven such chain-rounds have been completed, that is a Day of Brahma or planetary chain manvantara. Seven of these Days of Brahma make a solar manvantara for this chain because, taking our globe earth as an instance, at the end of seven such planetary Days the seven subplanes of the cosmic plane on which our globe earth is will have been passed through and every experience gained therein. Then, in order to begin its new solar manvantara, the entire chain within our solar Brahmanda will begin its evolution on higher planes. And therefore a new sun will appear.

For the benefit of those who may be interested in numerical relations: the "full period of one Manvantara," mentioned by H.P.B. as being 308,448,000 years (The Secret Doctrine, II, 69), refers in this usage of the word manvantara to one half of a chain-round, which is the general time that it takes a life-wave to pass from the first globe (let us say globe A) of the chain to globe D, our earth. A similar time period is required in order to pass from the midpoint of our globe earth to globe G, let us say; so that one chain-round will take some 616,896,000 years. As the common teaching regarding the rounds gives their number as seven, when we multiply this last sum by 7, we obtain very closely the figure 4,320,000,000 years, which is one complete chain-manvantara, or one Day of Brahma, the Brahma in this case being the planetary chain Brahma. The difference between this rough and ready calculation and the full period of 4,320,000,000 is due to the fact that the sandhyas (twilights) have been omitted.

Furthermore, when a planetary chain has completed its chain-manvantara, there then ensues a rest period or Night of equal length -- 4,320,000,000 years. In addition, the cosmic mahakalpa -- here signifying the kalpa of our solar system or its complete manvantara or one Year of Brahma -- is composed of 360 of the solar Brahma's Days, which are the planetary chain Days, as above alluded to. As there are a hundred of the solar Brahma's Years in the full period of a solar mahakalpa (Brahma's Life), this last figure must be multiplied by one hundred, and we thus attain the figure 311,040,000,000,000.

It has taken some 320,000,000 years since the first geological sedimentary deposits were made on our earth in the beginning of this fourth round, and this is but a trifle more than the "full period of one Manvantara," given by H.P.B. as being 308,448,000 years -- which is but another way of saying the 'manvantara' of our fourth round inaugurated by Vaivasvata, the root-Manu of this round. (If the reader will analyze the various passages in The Secret Doctrine regarding the different reigns of the Manus of our planetary chain as applied to the time periods of the seven rounds, he will better understand these numerical allusions; in particular see Vol. II, pp. 709-15, as well as pp. 307-9.)

The fact of the repetitive analogies in nature is the master key in making computations dealing with all these time periods. Just because the small reflects throughout its structure and its destiny whatever is the structure and destiny of the great, the same general mathematical rules will apply both to a microcosm -- whatever it may be -- as well as to a macrocosm, such as a solar system.

It might be as well to state here that the esoteric year contains 360 days, equal to the 360° of the zodiac, whether of the signs or of the constellations; and in a past period of the solar system our earth year was actually 360 days long. Since then, due to a number of cosmic interacting causes, under the governance of the fohatic magnetisms of the zodiacal constellations, the speed of rotation of the earth somewhat increased, so that the present year contains roughly 365 1/4 days. This acceleration has now probably reached its maximum, in which case the rotation of the earth will slowly again decrease and in time pass through and beyond the median point of 360 days, so that the year will then contain somewhat less than 360 days, possibly as few as 354. When this minimum period has been reached, the earth's rotation will again quicken slightly, and in time will pass through the median point of 360 days until it reaches again its maximum. Thus it is that during the planetary chain's manvantara the average rotational yearly period is 360 days.

This is the reason that 360 days is recognized in occultism as the standard year; and many cultured nations, such as the Babylonians, Egyptians and Hindus, all famous throughout antiquity for their astronomical skill, used the 360-day period in their calculations for the length of a year. This is shown in the case of the Hindus by a passage in the very old astronomical work, the Surya-Siddhanta (I, 12,13), which first states the standard occult year of 360, and then refers to the year as consisting of 365 1/4 days more or less. This is a truly profound and remarkable treatise, dealing with yugas and time periods of various lengths, divisions of time into infinitesimals, cycles of sun, moon and planets as well as with eclipses. In the opening verses it is stated that Surya, the sun, through his solar representative, communicated to Asuramaya "the science upon which time is founded, the grand system of the planets" (I, 5), and that this occurred at the end of the krita or satya yuga (I, 46-7). If we reckon back from the present day, we have already run through some 5000 years of the kali yuga, 864,000 of the dwapara, and 1,296,000 of the treta which followed the satya yuga. This would mean that the Surya-Siddhanta is over two million years old. As H.P.B. says in her Secret Doctrine (II, 49-50), the knowledge contained in this work was transmitted to this great Atlantean astronomer during the closing epoch of the fourth and the beginnings of the fifth root-race.

We should not think, however, that the sun came down from heaven and dictated these very words, but rather that the solar glory illuminated the brain of this adept. In other words, in paying homage to Surya, Asuramaya was raising his inner nature to the solar ray of which he was an incarnation, and thereupon was inspired and taught by his own solar divinity some of the secrets of the universe.

Modern scientists, scholars and mathematicians ascribe to the ancient Babylonians our present reckoning of 360 degrees in a circle, each degree divided into 60 minutes, although this same practice was as well known in ancient India as it was in Egypt and elsewhere. Why? Simply because of the vast knowledge of occult astronomy and astrology in the archaic Mystery schools, wherein the 'standard' year was usually employed for secret calculations, as well as being also the basis of civil and economic computations.

  • (From Fountain-Source of Occultism by G. de Purucker. Copyright © 1974 by Theosophical University Press)

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