“Kalachakra – The wheel of Time” as the name suggests essentially denotes that time is cyclical. But is it cyclical or it is linear simultaneously?
Time has solely claimed its unshakable place in every sphere of our lives. It is the only reference point in all our plans and discussions and even our journey through life.
In the following sections, we will venture to conceptually understand with respect to our ancient scriptures, the salient properties of time.
Eternal hunger of Time:
कालः पचति भूतानि, कालः संहरते प्रजाः |
कालः सुप्तेषु जागर्ति, कालो हि दुरतिक्रमः ||
kālaḥ pachati bhūtāni, kālaḥ saṃharate prajāḥ |
kālaḥ supteṣhu jāgarti, kālo hi duratikramaḥ ||
This verse was uttered by Vidura, the court minister of Kauravas.
The literal meaning oh this verse is as follows:
“Time devours everything. It annihilates all those who are born.
It stays awake when we are in deep sleep and it is unconquerable”.
Vidura was considered to be one of the wisest minds in that era and though being a child of a maidservant, rose to the heightened position of the court minister.
When a man of such stature utters a verse that makes us so helpless in front of something which we can’t even see or feel is scary.
The Nature of “Kala”
It is not that, we are not leveraging the mathematical aspects of time in our day to day life but we are missing every moment, the essence of it.
Let us look at what the other scriptures say about time!
पुनः प्रभातं पुनरेव शर्वरी पुनः शशांकः पुनरुद्यते रविः ।
कालस्य किं गच्छति याति यौवनं तथापि लोकः कथितं न बुध्यते ॥
” Again the day will come, again the night will fall,
but this will never be going to affect the Time, only we will lose our days but we do not understand it“
So true! We have taken the time for granted. We know this but are just not aware of the fact that we are not here for that long and with the passing moments, we are slowly fading into the projections of memories rather than a perception.
Scripture says, time is cyclical and that it revolves around an axis which remains unaffected from its rotation.
Indian spirituality strives to attain the position of this axel and then transcend it.
Albert Einstein in his famous quote says, “The distinction between the past, present, and future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion.”
What he is saying is mind-boggling!!!
Let us compare it with one of our verses chosen from Indian scriptures.
|| यथा स्वप्ने मुहूर्ते स्यात्: संग्वत्सरः शतभ्रमः
तथा माया विलाशोयन्ग जायते जागृति भ्रमः ||
“Like we feel a single moment as a year in our dreams, similar to it, is the Maya that weaves this game of space and time which is nothing but an illusion“.
So, we can see that inquisitive minds always perceived the logical truth though separated with eons.
Theoretical perceptions of Time:
There are few conceptions of time in modern science.
For the theory of relativity, time dilates depending on the velocity we move. So, for a person traveling nearest to the speed of light will measure time to be moving slowly compared to the person who is relatively at rest.
But wait !!!, Travelling nearest to the speed of light!!! This is something we cannot experience at least for now so?
Proving mathematically that time is an illusion can motivate us for some time but cannot alleviate us from the pain and sufferings we feel irrespective of age, gender, or breed.
Understanding its nature itself generates a cycle of sequence which repeats itself. So time in a way is cyclical but its periphery is so extensive that our lifespan is just a dot on the circumference of it.
That’s the reason it looks linear. We are also a prisoner of time. We cannot go back or forth on our timeline, so in a way we are not moving with time, time is flowing back from future to past or it seems like that, and it’s convincing to believe that time is lost in memories so that is why time heals with oblivion [ कालः सर्व विरोपयति: Time heals everything].
Time was created with the instantaneous expansion of space at some timeless (???) moment. This is the modern concept of creation and it will repeat itself. Probably, this has happened previously too so it cycles forever.
Science may provide an answer to it, plausibly a better explanation but will it be enough to end this cycle of creation and dissolution?
The gateway to stillness:
In Sanskrit, we call this universe as “Jagat” [ जगत् ] (Ja = which’, Gat = moves). So which moves with time is this universe and along with that, we move. It does not happen according to our will but with some unknown rule which compels us to abide by it. We do not have control over it. But somehow, we have managed to live with it and enjoy our freedom (if we can say so!) within the confinement of this bondage.
With deep contemplation following the formulas or “Sutras” from various scriptures, we could figure out that our body and gross mind emerged from this moving and everchanging universe and it will end with it. So in other words, we cannot bypass time with this body. It will perish. But there is something inside which does not change. Remember the axel? which stays still even the wheel is moving!
This axel is our inner self or truly the pure consciousness which remains unchanged as time does not exist there either space.
The space-time dance stills and ceases to exist. Only an absolute Truth sustains.
Our mind is a projection of this Truth and the consciousness reflects on our mind. As our mind gets conditioned with this impure space-time existence, it distorts the reflection of the Truth. And thus this world gets created.
So, Hindus are knowingly or unknowingly so inclined towards this violent form.
Our scriptures painted this creation with personified figures and numerous metaphors but the underlying goal is to get into the center, back to the source where time cannot play its game and the continuous illusion of birth and death desists forever. A complete stillness with bliss and ecstasy at its culmination.
Speaking on this material level, we must say that we do not have any conclusion yet.
Transcending to our pure consciousness, we will find ourselves already free because we know that time is just as a projection on the mind and mind is unaffected with it just like the screen which holds the pictures or movies but remains unchanged.
Vedanta takes us on this path of self-inquiry and leads us to the point where we can say with all bliss and joy that ” I am beyond birth and death and I and only I exist formless and unchanged”.
ॐ असतो मा सद्गमय ।
तमसो मा ज्योतिर्गमय ।
मृत्योर्मा अमृतं गमय ।
ॐ शान्तिः शान्तिः शान्तिः ॥
Do not keep me in the world of Unreality, but take me towards the reality of Eternal Self,
From the darkness of ignorance, take me towards the light of pure consciousness,
Do not keep me in the realm of extinction, but take me towards the realm of timelessness by self-realization,
May there be Peace, Peace, and Peace.