Written by Sri Swami Chandrashekarendra
"Hindu sastras are all nonsensical, “exclaim critics of our religion.
say that north of the earth is the Meru Mountain, that our one year is
day for the celestials residing there, and that the sun revolves round
They believe that, besides the ocean of salt, there are oceans of
sugarcane juice and milk, in fact several kinds of oceans. They describe
the earth with its five continents as consisting of seven islands. It is
prattle. “Why should the ocean be salty? Who put the salt in it? Why
should not there have been an ocean tasting sweet or of milk? Is the
about the seven islands and the seven oceans absurd? What to the
sastras say about the position of the earth, the same sastras that speak
about the seven oceans, and so on? "Meru is situated on the northern tip
of the earth,” they state. "Directly opposite to it is the Pole star
The northern tip of the earth is the North Pole. Is the Pole star
opposite to it? No. "Eons ago,” scientists explain, "it was so. But
changes took place and the earth tilted a bit. “The sastras refer to a
when the Pole star was directly opposite the North Pole and at that time
the seven islands and the seven oceans must have existed. When the
rotating earth tilted a bit the oceans must have got mixed and become
salty and in the process the seven islands must have become the five
If there is a place above the North Pole it must be Meru where we have
our svarga or paradise. Let us imagine that this earth is a lemon. A
on its top is the Meru peak. In relation to that spot any other part of
fruit is south. Where can you go from there, east or west? You can go
only south. You will learn this if you mark a point on the top of the
For all countries of the earth, for all "varsas", north is Meru. "Sarvesamapi
On the North Pole it is six months day and six months night. We must
have been taught this in our primary classes. It means our one year is
day on the North Pole. This is what is meant by saying that our one year
one day for the celestials.
When the earth rotates, the northernmost and southernmost points are
not affected. In some places there will be sun for 18 hours and in other
places only for six hours. There are many differences in the durations
day and night with regard to different places on earth. Only on some
does the sun rise directly in the east and is overhead without departing
even by one degree. On other days it rises from other angles (from
to south-east). Such is not the case on the North Pole. There the sun
shines six months and the other six months it is darkness. And, again,
during the sunny months it would seem as if the sun were revolving
round this place(the North pole).
The six-month period when there is sun in the North Pole is called
uttarayana and the similar sunny period on the South Pole is daksinayana.
The North Pole is called “Sumeru" and the South Pole "Kumeru".
("Sumeria" is from Sumeru. In that land, it is said, the Vedic gods were
worshipped. ) Just as the North Pole is the abode of the gods, the South
pole is the abode of the fathers (pitrs) and hell. To see the gods and
pitrs who are in the form of spirits and the denizens of hell one must
obtain divine sight through yoga. Merely because we do not possess such
sight we cannot deny their existence. There was Blavatsky who was born
in Russia, lived in
America and later came to India. She speaks about the worlds of the gods
and of the spirits. A great scientist of our times, Sir Oliver Lodge,
the existence of spirits and deities and stated that mankind could
from them. If you ask why Jyotisa, after dealing with the science of
astronomy, should turn to spiritualism, the answer is that there is no
contradiction between the two as supported by the example of a scientist
like Sir Oliver who too turned to spiritualism.
Our sastras came into existence at a time when mortals mixed with the
gods. We would be able to appreciate this fact if we tried to understand
the samkalpa we make at the time of performing any religious function.
The samkalpa traces the present from the time of creation itself. From
Jyotisa we learn the position of the grahas at the commencement of the
yuga: then they were all in a line.
Some calculations with regard to heavenly bodies today are different
from those of the past. And, if the findings at present are not the same
seen in the sastras, it does not mean that the latter are all false. The
sastras have existed from the time the grahas were in a line and the
North pole was directly opposite the Pole star. Since then vast changes
have taken place in nature. Valleys have become mountains, mountains
have become oceans, and oceans have become deserts and so on.
Geologists speak about such cataclysmic changes, and astronomers tell us
about the change in the courses of the heavenly bodies. So what we see
today of the earth and the heavenly bodies is different from what is
mentioned in the sastras.
The date of creation according to Jyotisa agrees more or less with the
view of modern science.
Kali yuga--the age of Kali--has a span of 432, 000 years. Dvapara yuga
twice as long, 864, 000 years, Treta yuga is 1, 296, 000 years and Krta
yuga 1, 728, 000 years. The four yugas together, called maha yuga, are
320, 000 years long. A thousand mahayugas add up to the period of 14
Manus. The regnal period of a Manu is a manvantara. There are royal and
republican rulers on earth, but God has appointed Manu as ruler of all
worlds. There are fourteen Manus ruling the world successively from the
creation of man. The word "manusya" and “manuja" are derived from
Manu. So too the English word "man". In the samkalpa for any ritual we
perform we mention the year of the seventh Manu, Vaivasvata. If we go
back to the first Manu, Svayambhuva, we arrive at a date for the origin
the human species which agrees with the view of modern science.
The Sanskrit word, "man", means to think. Manu was the first of the
human race with its power of thinking. There is a saying in English:"
is a thinking animal”. “Since man's distinctive characteristic is his
to think the descendants of Manu came to be called "manusyas.”
The life-span of the fourteen Manus put together make one day
(daytime) of Brahma, that is 4, 320, 000, 000 years. His night has the
same length. While one day of Brahma is thus 8, 640, 000, 000 years his
one year is 365 such days and his life-span is 100 such years. The life
his cosmos is the same. When Brahma's life comes to an end the
Brahman alone will remain and there will be no cosmos. Then another
Brahma will start creation all over again. It is believed that Hanuman
be the next Brahma.
Bhuloka, Bhuvarloka, Suvarloka, Maharloka, Janaloka, Tapoloka and
Satyaloka comprise the seven worlds. The gods, mortals and so on live in
these worlds. Bhuloka, Bhuvarloka and Suvarloka form one group.
"Bhurbhuvassuvaha,” we pronounce this so often while performing
rituals. The remaining four belong to higher planes. When Brahma goes
to sleep at night the first three worlds will be dissolved in the
(deluge). This is called "avantara-pralaya"("intermediate deluge"). All
other worlds will perish when his life-span ends.
Scientists say that the heat of the sun is decreasing imperceptibly.
Without the warmth of the sun there will be no life on earth. Scientists
have calculated the time when the sun's heat will be reduced so much
that life on earth cannot be sustained. Then this world itself will
The date on which this will occur agrees with that given by our sastras
the next "avantara-pralaya".
Half of Brahma's allotted life-span is over. This life-span is divided
seven "kalpas". Now we have come more than half way of the fourth
kalpa, "Svetavaraha". We mention in samkalpa how old Brahma is at the
time we perform a rite, which year we are in of the saka era, also the
according to the 60-year cycle beginning with Prabhava--all details of
almanac including the day, the asterism and the lagna. The date of
Brahma's appearance, according to this calculation is said to agree with
the view of modern science of when this cosmos came into being.
Brahma is called "Parardha-dvaya-jivin". It means he lives for two
"parardhas". A "paradha" is half the number meant by "para". When
Brahma is called "Paradha-dvaya-jivin" it means he lives as many years
is meant by 2*1/2 paras. Two half paras are the same as one para. Then
why say "parardha-dvaya" instead of just one "para". The reason for this
is that Brahma has already completed half of one para and is going on
So it is meaningful to use the term "half of para"[two half-paras].
Fourteen Manus reign successively during one daytime of Brahma which
lasts a thousand caturyugas. So one manvantara is 71 caturyugas. Now
running is the 28th caturyuga, the Vaivasvata manvantara. And of it, it
Kali Yuga now. In our samkalpa we mention all this and, in addition, the
day according to the moon, the Lagna, etc. We also mention how we are
situated in the space, from the Brahmanda down to the locality where we
are performing the function (for which the samkalpa is made). It is all
similar to writing the date and address on a letter.