Kalpa (time unit)

A kalpa is a Sanskrit word meaning an aeon, or a long period of time in Hindu (cf. Hindu Time Cycles ) and Buddhist cosmology.

There is a mention of the word "kalpa" in the earliest Hindu religious texts. It also occurs in Buddhist texts.

Hinduism

In Hinduism (cf. Hindu Time Cycles), it is equal to 4.32 billion years, a "day of Brahma" or one thousand mahayugas, measuring the duration of the world (scientists estimate the age of the universe at 13.7 billion years, cf. Age of the universe). Each kalpa is divided into 14 manvantara (each lasting 306,720,000 years). Two "kalpa"s constitute a day and night of Brahma. A "month of Brahma" is supposed to contain thirty such days (including nights), or 259.2 billion years. According to the Mahabharata, 12 months of Brahma constitute his year, and 100 such years the life cycle of the universe. Fifty years of Brahma's are supposed to have elapsed, and we are now in the "shvetavaraha-kalpa" of the fifty-first; at the end of a Kalpa the world is annihilated.

Buddhism

In Buddhism, there are four different lengths of kalpas. A "regular" kalpa is approximately 16 million years long, and a "small" kalpa is 1000 regular kalpas, or 16 billion years. Further, a "medium" kalpa is 320 billion years, the equivalent of 20 small kalpas. A "great" kalpa is 4 medium kalpas, or 1.28 trillion years.

The Buddha had not spoken about the exact length of the kalpa in number of years. However, he had given several astounding analogies to understand it.

1. Imagine a huge empty cube at the beginning of a kalpa, approximately 16 miles in each side. Once every 100 years, you insert a tiny mustard seed into the cube. According to the Buddha, the huge cube will be filled even before the kalpa ends.

2. Imagine a gigantic rocky mountain at the beginning of kalpa, approximately 16 x 16 x 16 miles (dwarfs the Everest!). You take a small piece of cloth and wipe the mountain once every 100 years. According to the Buddha, the mountain will be completely depleted even before the kalpa ends.

In one situation, some monks wanted to know how many kalpas had passed away so far. The buddha gave the analogy:

1. If you count the total number of sand particles at the depths of the Ganges river, from where it begins to where it ends at the sea, even that number will be less than the number of passed kalpas. [ cite book | last = Epstein | first = Ronald | authorlink = Ronald B. Epstein | title = Buddhism A to Z | publisher = The Buddhist Text Translation Society | date = 2003 | location = Burlingame, California, United States. | id = ISBN 0-88139-353-3 ]

Miscellaneous

The Guinness Book of World Records lists the 4.32 billion year Kalpa as the longest measure of time. [ cite book | last = McWhirter | first = Norris | authorlink = Norris McWhirter | title = Guinness Book of World Records 1981 | publisher = Sterling Publishing Co. Inc. | date = November 1980 | location = New York | id = ISBN 0-80690-196-9 ]

References

External links

* [http://texts.00.gs/kalpa-s.htm names of the kalpa-s]
* [http://hitxp.wordpress.com/2007/05/01/what-vedas-say-about-the-age-of-the-universe/ Vedic Time Measurement, Detailed description by Gurudev]
* [http://vinaymangal.googlepages.com/VedicTimeTravel.pdf Vedic Time Travel, Elaborate depiction by Vinay Mangal]


Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Kalpa — may refer to *A word in Sanskrit, meaning practicable, feasible, possible , and also proper, fit, able , from a root IAST|kḷp to be well ordered or regulated ; *Kalpa (Vedanga) proper practice , ritual , one of the six disciplines of Vedanga in… …   Wikipedia

  • kalpa —    A kalpa is a traditional Indian eon or unit of time, an eon. Sources differ as to its exact length, but a common measure is that a kalpa is made up of 1,000 MAHAYUGAS, or 4,320,000,000 years. This is considered to be a day in the life of the… …   Encyclopedia of Hinduism

  • Upanayanam — Upanayana, sometimes known outside India by the name, sacred thread ceremony , is commonly known for being a Hindu rite of passage ritual. Traditionally, the ceremony was performed to mark the point at which boys began their formal education.In… …   Wikipedia

  • South Asian arts — Literary, performing, and visual arts of India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka. Myths of the popular gods, Vishnu and Shiva, in the Puranas (ancient tales) and the Mahabharata and Ramayana epics, supply material for representational and… …   Universalium

  • Hinduism — /hin dooh iz euhm/, n. the common religion of India, based upon the religion of the original Aryan settlers as expounded and evolved in the Vedas, the Upanishads, the Bhagavad Gita, etc., having an extremely diversified character with many… …   Universalium

  • Buddhist cosmology — is the description of the shape and evolution of the universe according to the canonical Buddhist scriptures and commentaries. IntroductionThe self consistent Buddhist cosmology which is presented in commentaries and works of Abhidharma in both… …   Wikipedia

  • Indian philosophy — Any of the numerous philosophical systems developed on the Indian subcontinent, including both orthodox (astika) systems, namely, the Nyaya, Vaisheshika, Samkhya, Yoga, Mimamsa, and Vedanta schools of philosophy, and unorthodox (nastika) systems …   Universalium

  • Jainism — /juy niz euhm/, n. a dualistic religion founded in the 6th century B.C. as a revolt against current Hinduism and emphasizing the perfectibility of human nature and liberation of the soul, esp. through asceticism and nonviolence toward all living… …   Universalium

  • Aeon — The word aeon , also spelled eon or æon , means age , forever or for eternity . It is a Latin transliteration from the koine Greek word polytonic|ὁ αἰών ( aion ), from the archaic polytonic|αἰϝών ( aiwon ). In Homer it typically refers to life or …   Wikipedia

  • Yuga — /yoog euh/, n. Hinduism. 1. an age of time. 2. any of four ages, the Satya, the Treta, the Dvapara, and the Kali, each worse than the last, forming a cycle due to begin again when the Kali has come to an end. [1775 85; < Skt] * * * Unit of the… …   Universalium


Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.