Thursday, September 4, 2008

The Garden of Eden and the Hyperboreas

That the Garden of Eden had the Hyperborean Thule for its most remote precedent is proven by the fact that from time immemorial to as late as the European Middle Ages, it used to be represented as a paradisiacal place located on the top of an inaccessible mountain surrounded by the sea – a most ancient image that is found everywhere throughout history, and a representation of the Earth that appears even on the Mercator maps, where the ocean is depicted as a torrent which, through four mouths, precipitates into the North Pole’s Gulf to be absorbed by the Earth’s bowels; and on which the Pole itself, as the supreme center, is represented as a black rock that rises to a prodigious height.

Along the same lines, the fact that there are many of these “centers” all over the world, and that they have been variously represented as a cavern, an island, a citadel, a palace, a temple, or a pyramid, only indicates that later on there was a proclivity to evoke, by means of secondary “images”, the primeval center by excellence: Mount Meru of the Hindus, depicted in Surya–siddhanta as a small mountain located in the North Pole, and a prototype that has survived mainly in the sacred mountains of Central Asia, believed by many to be the cradle of humanity, by such names as Sumer, Sumber or Sumur – all of them clearly identical to the Sanskrit Sumeru.

I will mention, in passing, that if the biblical paradise is usually believed to be located in this latter area is because it became, in the course of time, a secondary tradition from the Hyperborean; and also because the references to a paradise in Genesis are essentially symbolic, and certainly subordinated to the area in which the book was compiled. On the other hand, the fact that all these representations gave rise, in different cultures, to beautiful, evocative legends only reveals the intention to keep, over the centuries, a remembrance of such supreme center alive.

Such is the case, among the Celts, of mythical Avalon of the legends of King Arthur, an emblematic image of the perfect king whose knights, numbering twelve, had twelve seats – a usual representation of the twelve constellations – set aside around a table whose center, as a symbol of the supreme center, was reserved to accommodate the Holy Grail. This in turn was a symbol of the perfect knowledge or, rather, of the place where this knowledge is safely stored all through the vicissitudes of a full human cycle – as is also the case, for example, with soma among the Hindus or the elixir of gods among the Greeks.

For the rest, it is obvious that only in one of the two Poles could exist such ideal conditions as to make it possible an “eternal spring”, the season that rules throughout the Golden Age. In effect, in Bhagavata Purana, 5, 20:30, the Sun is depicted as revolving over the horizon throughout the year – and not just during a part of it as currently – around Mount Meru, the archetypical image of the original center. This original center is located at the core of Bhu–mandala, a schematic, most ancient representation of the Earth (and probably of the solar system, the galaxy, and the entire universe) consisting of six concentric rings separated by seas which form altogether, by surrounding the center, the seven dvipas – “islands” or continents – of the Hindu tradition. All of this would appear to ultimately take us back to a time when the plane of the ecliptic, the Equator, and the horizon of the Earth all coincided approximately – probably 50,000 years ago, when the orbit of our planet was more circular and its axis was not as tilted as it is today.

I am certainly aware that this hypothesis rather rises difficulties than solves them, not the least of which is the fact that around the timeframe thus established the Northern polar region was most probably covered by a thick snow layer, a condition that does not match the one that should prevail in a “paradise”; even so, according to René Guénon and others, certain traditional data indicate that the tilt of the Earth’s axis has not always existed – rather, it would be a consequence of what is known as the “fall of man”. And while it is most unlikely that such was the case at that time, such circumstance would immediately solve the problem.

Yet another possible solution would be to push the Hyperborean times back to over 100,000 years ago, i.e. twice as much as the combined length of two precessional periods (2 x 51,840 years), this by virtue of the existing analogies with the day and night of Brahma, which appear to occur for cycles of all orders and would therefore be perfectly applicable to the case. Even so, science deprives us of such possibility, for it appears that the last ice age, that of Wurm (130,000 years ago) had already started by that time, which would force us to look further back on to the previous one, that of Riss – which in turn would have spanned from 230,000 to 180,000 years ago – and the prolonged inter-glacial period of time that followed, of about 50,000 years (from 180,000 to 130,000 BC): here the facts do appear to fit, for this one epoch, in which more favorable conditions would have prevailed (perhaps the tilt of the earth’s axis was null, and its oscillation minimal), approximately corresponds to that of the of the man of Neanderthal’s and, in another order of things, to the winter solstice and mainly to the North within the analogical correlation with the four seasons of the year, as well as to the Hyperborean Apollo, the white race and, among the elements, water.

Of course, in this case the “fall” would not be that of Adam and Eve but that of Lucifer himself, as stated in the famous biblical passage of Isaiah (Isaiah 14: 12–15). All this as opposed to the epoch that we may call “Adamic”, which would correspond to the Cro-Magnon’s appearance and, in the respective analogical order, to the Autumn equinox and the West, as well as the red race and the element earth – in all of which are included even linguistic considerations, as the word Adam is related to both meanings, “earth” and “red”. However, approaching such diverse issues would require a detailed study. For one thing, with this particular method we would be exceeding the timeframe of the present Manvantara, which I have established as 51,840 common years, and the sphere of modern man, whom I don’t consider to be a “relative” of the Neanderthal but rather of the Cro-Magnon. Also, we must not lose sight of the fact that some scientists place the appearance of the earliest organized tribes in about 40,000 or 50,000 years ago, and probably in Central Asia, which parallels even the afore-mentioned Biblical exegesis.

Well, I must admit that it is extremely difficult to ultimately solve these issues, as is also to be satisfied that my calculation of the total length of the Manvantara is accurate. We may remember that, according to Guénon, such length would not be 51,840 years (or 12,960 x 4) but rather 64,800 years (12,960 x 5), and I absolutely cannot challenge his knowledge of these matters, nor can I pretend to be able myself to establish with absolute certainty the starting point of the Hyperborean tradition at the date I have mentioned, something that he, to my knowledge, did not even attempt, nor did he ever attempt to trace its path in detail back to any date whatsoever. As to specifically predicting future events, it is something he always avoided, let alone establishing any date for them. In other words, nothing ensures that my calculations are not wholly or partially wrong, and if I have made them – and, for that matter, if I started this work at all – is because I felt the time was ripe for it, even contravening certain precepts of the esoteric doctrines that do not absolutely support this sort of speculation. Either way, it will be an extensive recapitulation in coming posts which will establish to what extent all the data and figures considered along this series are valid, both in my determination of the length of the current Manvantara, and of its starting and closing dates.

(First published on Qassia 03 Sep 2008)

Saturday, August 9, 2008


The famous island-continent

Once a common origin is admitted for such great, enigmatic cultures like the Sumerian and the Egyptian in the Old World, and the Mayan and Aztec in the New, the question naturally arises: where could such common origin be? Many people will immediately say that it could only be in Atlantis.

However, at the risk of disappointing Atlantis’ many thousands of fans, it must be said from the start that it could not be in that emblematic island-continent. For while massive evidence has been presented for its existence, mainly in the several thousands of books that have been written about this matter over the years, a careful consideration of all the existing data, particularly the timeframe involved, will show that Atlantis was at best a secondary center that radiated, like many other worldwide culture–radiating centers at different times, at a moment when the current Manvantara was fairly advanced, i.e. when the primeval tradition, being Polar by nature and therefore centered around the Ursa Mayor, had already changed into zodiacal and was now oriented to the Pleiades – a fact that becomes specially relevant if we remember that the Pleiades were Atlas’ daughters, from which they were called “the Atlantides”.

On the other hand, there is no doubt at all that the Atlantis civilization existed. Perhaps the best evidence about it are the countless geographical names on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean that obviously derive from the same source, for example Aztlan, a mythical island which the Aztecs claimed to be their original country (and curiously enough, Atl is the word for water both in the old Mexico and the Semitic countries); and there are a lot more.

Another evidence would be what has been called the great paradox of the ancient Egypt, which seems to have passed, from as early the Old Empire times, from a simple union of proto–historic clans to a most refined civilization capable of building huge pyramids – an immense achievement which favors the hypothesis that it originated in some other part of the world, which would not be other than Atlantis.

However, it is precisely as a consequence of the catastrophic sinking of the island–continent that the biblical Flood would have occurred, which, by placing both events around the same epoch, would make the former an even more unlikely place as a common cultural origin for the current humanity – all the more when, according to certain traditional data, its lifespan would have not exceeded a “great year”, i.e. a half of a precessional period.

So to find the supreme center we must disregard the secondary and relatively recent centers like Atlantis and look farther back to the very start of the present Manvantara, then ruled by the Manu Vaivasvata of the Hindu tradition, the father of the current humanity, whom the avatara Matsya, the fish, a pre-figuration of the Babylonian Oannes, is said to have saved from the great deluge that «covered the three worlds». Such epoch would be previous to the biblical Flood by at least 40,000 years and would date back to the times of the Hyperborean Thule, located on the North Pole, where – in Homer’s words – are the «Sun’s revolutions», the home of the Celtic or Hyperborean Apollo. In effect, this is a place of delight evoked by many traditions, even the Chinese, where the Pole Star, and in general the Ursa Mayor, “the crank”, play a most significant role; but mainly by all that have an Indo-European origin, and which would be the most remote precedent of the Garden of Eden of the Judeo-Christian tradition. (More to come soon)

(First published on Qassia 7 Aug 2008)

Friday, July 25, 2008

Ancient Knowledge in the New World

Back to this side of the world, one can see the remains of magnificent pyramids whose builders, the old Mayas, developed so accurate a calendar that it established the year of 365.2422 days – a lot more precise than the Julian of 365.2500 and even the Gregorian of 365.2425 days, in use until now. The Mayas also developed a numbering system based on the position of values, whose use would only become general in Europe from the Fifteenth Century onwards, and which implied the conception and use of zero.

In this connection, it has become widely known that the Mayan calendar was based on the so-called Long Count, whose starting point was established in about 3114 BC and was supposed to end about 5,125 years later, i.e. in 2012 AD approximately. Further elaborations about this striking feature can be seen in “About Year 2012”.

As to the Toltecs and Aztecs, great builders of pyramids, and the mysterious, much older Teotihuacans and Olmecs, I have already mentioned that they apparently were the first to develop a sophisticated astronomy and an accurate calendar; probably as accurate as that of the Incas, which was altogether astronomical and agricultural and so sophisticated, that it included the biological cycles of some plants and animals. Also, I need not say that all these cultures determined with utmost precision the dates of the equinoxes and solstices; this was made, for example, in the South of Peru, by the Pre-Inca compound which features the mysterious “lines of Nazca”, regarded as the world’s largest astronomical calendar, and the Inca monolith known as Intihuatana (“the stone that ties up the Sun”), a clock or astronomical instrument that stands out at the highest point of the citadel of Machu Picchu, near Cusco.

Other witnesses of the great advances made all over the world from remote times can be seen, even today, in the ruins of ancient cities whose existence was legendary or unknown, like Mohenho–Daro and Harappa, in India, so advanced that their streets had canalizations and their houses bathrooms, and a meaningful fact: their inhabitants apparently did not wear any offensive weapons. Here too, mysterious engraved inscriptions were found that even now can be seen in Mesopotamia where, by the way, from a deep Sumerian layer pertaining to 3000 BC or before, a statuette of Shiva meditating in Yogic stance – identical to another found in the ruins of the Mohenho–daro citadel, obviously indicating that it was made before that date – was unearthed. These findings not only suggest that already in remote times there were relationships among civilizations, but also – as further claimed by some people – that the Sumerian civilization originated in that city–state, which in fact would be a lot older than is officially accepted.

There even are traces of a vast civilization that would have encompassed the whole North of Europe, from Ireland and Britain to the Scandinavian countries, and which would date back from as early as 9000 BC. It is very possible that the builders of the great stone observatories of Stonehenge in England and Carnac in France, as well as the gigantic zodiacal circle of Glastonbury, in England, of 30 miles in circumference, which would date back from 3000 BC, came from it. Modern analysis has shown that such builders, on top of possessing a most advanced astronomical knowledge, were great geometers who, for example, knew that a triangle whose sides are proportional to 3, 4 and 5 will always contain a right angle, a property whose discovery is attributed to Pythagoras (the author of the famous theorem) but which, in all justice, should be attributed to them; in like manner, it is known that by means of an approach that not for being simple was less advanced, they could draw huge, almost perfect circles.

From these and other enigmatic vestiges, some authors have concluded that some of the posterior cultures, like the Sumerian and Egyptian in the Old World, and the Mayan and Aztec in the New, were in their respective prosperous times, and after the disappearance of some technological culture about which nothing is known at present, climbing down, and not up, the world’s civilization ladder. This notion has been reinforced by the discovery of certain documents, including the famous map of Piri–Reis, with characteristics of 12,000 – 13,000 years ago: the Antarctic coast free of ice, rivers and mountains on the Queen Maud Land, and an ocean level lower than it is currently; the map of Zenon, which shows Greenland free of ice such as it was 14,000 years ago; that of Hadji Hamed, with the land bridge of the Ice Age between Alaska and Siberia visible; that of Finaens, showing the Sea of Ross as it was 6,000 years ago, etc – and also by references to remote cataclysms which, upon extinguishing whole cities, even civilizations, would have caused a cultural reversal to various degrees of barbarianism. Such would be the case, for example, of the biblical Flood, which would have to be placed between 8000 and 10000 BC, and the destruction of Sodom and Gomorra, which is supposed to have occurred around 3000 BC, to mention but two of the better-known examples, capable to create conditions like the ones depicted. After that there would have come a slow, painful material progress of mankind toward present-day civilization, which does not remember a thing about the primordial civilization, and whose decline and imminent disappearance are predicted in turn by many scholars. (To be continued.)

(First published on Qassia 24 Jul 2008)

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Ancient Knowledge in the Old World

Against the common objection that ancient societies hardly possessed a rudimentary technical knowledge, there is increasing evidence that they actually had such advanced skills in mathematics and astronomy that only recently, after long and dark millennia, have been equaled or improved.

Such is the case, for instance, of India, whose knowledge in astronomy was so advanced that it became the ultimate goal for wisdom seekers. A very old jyotisha, Brahma–gupta, deals among others issues with such topics as the motion of the planets around the Sun, the ecliptic obliquity, the spherical shape of the Earth, the light reflected from the Moon, the Earth revolution on its axis, the presence of stars in the Milky Way, the law of gravitation – all of which would not see the light in Europe until the time of Copernicus and Newton.

In turn, Surya–siddhanta informs us that the Earth, a globe that moves through space, has a diameter length equivalent to 12,617 present-day kilometers – an extent fairly approximate to the one calculated in our days.

Now, while there exist most advanced conceptions of the space–time dislocation and the current expansion of the Universe, all data pertaining to the period of precession of the equinoxes seem to have been disguised by means of a most peculiar symbolic language, even though a careful inspection of certain texts – for example, Bhagavata Purana 5, 21:4 – will let discern its length approximately. Anyway, I have already said that it was probably in India where Hipparcus obtained his knowledge of this phenomenon, in the same way that Aristarchus of Samos received a much less sophisticated one but which scandalized his generation, even though it was shared by other philosophers like Zenon of Elea, Anaxagoras and Democritus: that of the sphericity of the Earth and its orbiting, together with all the other planets, around the Sun.

As to Democritus, the origin of his famous atomistic theory will very likely have to be found also in India, in the so-called Vaisheshika philosophic system of the legendary sage Kanada.

But long before the Greeks themselves emerged to history, it seems all this, or little less, was known in ancient Egypt. A manuscript by one Abdul Hassan Ma’sudi, preserved in the Oxford Bodleian Library, recounts for example that «Surid, king of Egypt before the great Flood, ordered the building of the pyramids and had his priests deposit the knowledge of sciences in them»; and that «he had the data pertaining to the spheres and their positions put into the biggest one, in order to perpetuate them».

In this connection, it is a proven fact that the pyramid of Kheops contained both the knowledge of the value of pi – as given by the sum of its four sides divided into the double of its height – and the golden ratio, 1.618 – obtained by dividing the surface of its base into the lateral surface and the surface of this one into the total surface – plus many other data like the mean distance from the Sun, etcetera.

In addition, eclipses were predicted, and an agricultural calendar was developed that was so advanced, that it announced the exact time of the Nile inundations. All this made Egypt, like India, the ultimate goal of all seekers for knowledge. According to Diogenes Laertius, it was here that the Greek philosophers Thales and Democritus learned geometry and astronomy, and for his part Porphyry, in his Life of Pythagoras, insists on an Egyptian origin of Thales’ ideas and, therefore, of those of Pythagoras. As to the latter, it seems his famous theorem was of common use in Egypt as early as 2500 BC.

However, it surely was in Babylon, according to recent studies, where the said theorem was known not only in its practical use but also in its theoretical formulation as early as 2000 BC, and there even is a possibility that this knowledge dates back from the old Sumerians, which in fact would place it in prehistoric times. Be it as it may, it is said that the old Babylonians invented the circle divided into 360 degrees, although this “invention” seems to have been made in many places and at different times. What is sure is, like the Egyptians, the Babylonians established an accurate agricultural calendar that not only predicted floods but also eclipses, all of which made Babylon, like Egypt and India, a great culture-radiating center.

As to China, a single example will suffice to show the extent of the advance it reached from old in the area of astronomy: An archaic manuscript describes, in the peculiar Chinese poetic stile, a “inharmonic” meeting of the Sun and Moon in Fang, a portion of the ski of China which would correspond to four stars in the Scorpio constellation. Well, calculations made by contemporary astronomers have revealed that this eclipse did occur on the 22nd October of 2137 BC – more than 4000 years ago! (To be continued.)

(First published on Qassia 11 Jul 2008)

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

The universality of esoteric knowledge

Following the works of some scholars, I have already suggested that the many correlations and analogies among diverse traditions in the matter of ages and cycles, as well as the universality of certain esoteric knowledge, can only be explained if a common origin is admitted for them all; and in other posts I have reviewed the countless coincidences among different traditions, all of them elements whose study, along with the study of certain archetypical universal forms, might help us trace back such origin.

So continuing our quest, which ideally should take us back to the primeval origin of the doctrine, in this post and the next we will deal with the quaternary cycle, considerably more frequent and of an eminently temporal nature – although it also shows spatial correlations, basically with the four cardinal points. Omnipresent in our study, its main feature is its variable length. In effect, it is a cycle that appears in all orders of existence, from the total universal manifestation to those of any historical peoples or societies, each with their own chronology and their own starting date.

One of the better known examples of these particular applications is the famous dream interpreted by the prophet Daniel (2, 1 ff), which he refers to four civilizations that he identifies with the traditional ages of Gold, Silver, Bronze and Iron (they are actually five, but the last one is irrelevant). However, it would not be difficult to find many other similar examples in all of which we will be dealing with cycles of a descending nature, where every phase is worse than the previous one; although only the Hindu tradition, the one alone that has received the primeval knowledge in one piece from the original center, has preserved that of the proportion by which the respective lengths decrease, whatever the total length of the corresponding cycle.

This latter fact carries an additional and most important conclusion itself: namely, if the length of the last period of the quaternary series is, by definition, a tenth of the total length, then such period can obviously be sub-divided into other four ages which follow the same proportion (and in fact not only the last period, but any of them). For example, if the Kali-yuga really has an effective length of 5,184 common years or a tenth of 51,840 common years, we can safely assume that it will consist in turn, always following the corresponding proportions, of four periods whose lengths will approximately be 2,074, 1,555, 1,037 and 518 years. In other words, we are talking about cycles within cycles so that one may refer, say, to the kali-yuga of the current Kali-yuga – that is, the darkest phase of the Dark Age. Naturally, this is a hypothesis that must be demonstrated, and in the following posts I will do my best to do so. Meanwhile, I will face an objection that is usually presented with regard to the doctrine as a whole: namely, whether we are not dealing with mere “numerological” speculation; for, were not the ancient so ignorant that they merely possessed some basic technical knowledge?

Without referring yet to the possibility that in remote times entire civilizations may have disappeared without leaving a trace, I will try, in my next post, to refute such objection: quite simply, I will prove that the ancient cultures possessed, among other advanced scientific information, a most precise knowledge of the chronology and calendar computation, probably born of their liking for the great observation of stars in the case of the Egyptian and Babylonian civilizations, and, particularly among the Mayas and Aztecs, for the accurate measurement of huge lapses of time. Even more, we will see that the ancient had such advanced knowledge in mathematics and astronomy that only recently, after long and dark millennia, has been equaled or improved – yet not always.

(First published on Qassia 02 Jul 2008)

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

The Primordial Civilization

When I took to studying the ages and cosmic cycles, I started from the renewed interest of modern astrophysics in the behavior of time, a topic that embraces innumerable disciplines (mainly metaphysics but also philosophy, religion, archeology, astronomy, geology, and many more) and a mystery whose solution, even partial, could help us unravel, almost in their entirety, the great enigmas that have intrigued science since it became interested in them again.

Concerning this, an enigma which does not belong in the field of astrophysics, but is to me as meaningful as the ones above, is the fact that the ancient civilizations were all familiar with the knowledge that time unfolds in a circular way. This poses the first and most important question in relation to the problem: namely, how could these civilizations also know, for instance, about the space–time relativity or the current expansion of the universe, when it is generally believed, particularly in the “advanced” countries, that ancient people were ignorant and superstitious - while science itself has fully corroborated so many other historical and scientific data contained in old treatises?

Elsewhere I have suggested that the numerous correlations and analogies among the various traditions, as well as the universality of certain esoteric knowledge, can only be explained if a common origin is admitted for them all; and in other posts I have reviewed the countless coincidences among different traditions in the matter of ages and cycles, all of them elements whose study, along with the study of certain archetypical universal forms, might help us trace back such origin.

To this end, I will start our quest from the scheme of seven eras or “Worlds”, earths that become manifest in a successive or chronological way but offer a connotation that is at the same time, and primarily, spatial. This can easily be appreciated in the correlations, for example, with the seven dvipas o “continents” (literally “islands”) of the Hindu tradition, regions that manifest themselves consecutively without the remaining six – which wait, so to speak, in a dormant state – disappearing because of it. (An interesting analogy may help clarify this point: within the cycle of cell renovation of the human body, which as a whole develops along seven years, not all cells are born at the beginning of that cycle, nor do they die at the end thereof; but some, mainly due to their diverse life spans, do so while the others await their turn to appear.)

I have also mentioned another very important connotation: this one with the Pole Star, as suggested by the Islamic tradition, which refer to seven Qutbs or “Poles” that would have ruled seven successive skies. This tradition is obviously related to the one quoted by historian Berosus – whom I have referred to in a previous post – according to which several generations before the Flood – which would be the Mesopotamic one, in about 4000 BC – there emerged from the ocean seven beings of great wisdom, «animals endowed with reason», the first of which was Oannes, the Babylonian Noah, a instructor of the people. The earliest precedent of this tradition, which actually is 2,000 or 4,000 years older, would be certain Assyrian cylindrical seals that date back from 1000 to 800 BC, quite possibly associated to the Ursa Minor constellation; wherewith it appears that we are getting somewhere in our quest, as these very sages are found in Egypt: they are the seven wise men of the goddess Mehurt, or Hetep-sekhus, who came out of the water and, like falcons, ascended to heaven to preside the sciences and literature along with Toth, who counts the stars and measures and numbers the Earth. Now Toth, or Hermes, is the «savior of the knowledge existing prior to the cataclysm»; at times he is identified with Enoch, who in turn is equated to Tenoch, the founder of Tenochtitlan, deified by his people; and on the other hand, both of them, Enoch and Tenoch, are supposed to have been the progenitors o populators of the Earth, like Brahma, Abraham, the different Manus of the Hindu tradition, etc. Furthermore, the seven Egyptian wise men are said to represent the Ursa Major. Finally, the seven stars mentioned at the beginning of Saint John’s Revelation (I, 16 and 20) are considered to very likely represent the said constellation as well.

Let me refer now to the “sapta–rksha” of the Hindu tradition, a Sanskrit term that means “seven bears”, although “rksha” also means “star”, “light”, and “sapta–rksha” might therefore be translated as “the dwelling of the seven rishis or “wise men”, the seven “lights” by which the wisdom of the preceding cycles was passed down to the current cycle. Now, the fact that such term was not applied later on to the Ursa Minor but to the Pleiades, also seven, considered as deities by various cultures – e.g. the Incas – denotes, according to Guénon, that at a given moment the tradition was transferred from a polar constellation to a zodiacal one; and here we have another clue towards solving the problem. But anyway, it is clear that what is designated as the seven successive “Poles” or “Earths” are the seven stars of the Ursa Major, to which at a certain moment the projection of the Earth axis would have successively pointed as the period of the precession of the equinoxes progressed on its circular course, thus especially favoring certain regions of the Earth or "dvipas". An example will help us understand this: some 13,000 years ago, the celestial position of the North Pole was occupied by Vega, and exactly the same will occur 13,000 years from now; at present such position is occupied by Polaris, although due to the greater tilt of the Earth axis, the current path is through the stars of the Ursa Minor.

In my next post I will deal with the quaternary cycles and other clues that will hopefully help us locate where the primordial civilization was situated. Stay tuned please.

(First published on Qassia 25 June 2008)

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

About Year 2012

As I said in my "Message from the Author", since I was a young man I was fascinated by Oriental wisdom; more particularly, I was fond of anything that had to do with India. This fascination increased when I had the opportunity to study the doctrine of cosmic cycles (and later on to write about it) based on texts from Bhagavata Purana and other sources.

However, it was only after I made up my mind to translate my book "La rueda del tiempo" into English, and to start publishing fragments of this translation on Qassia and other channels, that I finally understood what probably was the real motivation behind my studies: I wanted to know WHEN the overall human cycle would end on this planet. And, would it be during my lifetime?

There was no morbid curiosity in it. Contrary to what many people may think, the doctrine of cosmic cycles is not at all pessimistic. If the stress is placed on the coming Golden Era rather than on the last stages of the present Age of Kali, it is, by far, optimistic. And we are talking about the end of our world, i.e. an order of things, and not about the end of the world. After the end of the current order of things, according to the doctrine, the Earth will know a new Golden Era in which everything will be again as it was at the start of the present great human cycle, when all beings lived in perfect and blissful harmony with the higher principles.

Be it as it may, thus far I have presented fragments of the book that cover half its chapters. Now I need to make a pause for a while in order to complete the whole translation before long. And although real hard work is awaiting me in the near future, in the meantime I will try to publish some more excerpts from it.

On the other hand, I must admit that I expect to make some money from the proceeds of the book, though this should come later. In the meantime, publishing fragments from it on other channels and formats, e.g. as Squidoo lenses, should yield as well some income. This, for me, is no trivial motivation either.

Back to “Year 2012”: those who have followed my blog series will probably know that the final date I have arrived at is any time now from 2010 to 2082, and that before the new millennium (or “New Age”, or “Golden Era”) arrives it is very likely that there is an early “beginning of end” on or about 2010-2012 plus a longer, last period of 72 years (the length of a degree of the cycle of precession of the equinoxes). By the way, this last period is referred to by the Tibetan Buddhists as “the time of no-time period”.

A friend of mine asked me once about when I was expecting the current age to end and the new one to arrive. Almost without thinking, I answered “By 2012 or so.” Maybe I was remembering reading something about 2012 on some book or article dealing with the Maya calendar, or maybe with the Persian or Judaic ones. At the time I did not suspect of the interest that this date would soon arouse.

Following are some interesting quotes about the year 2012 and the Maya Calendar from several sources (mainly Wikipedia).

December 21 — The Mesoamerican Long Count calendar, notably used by the Maya civilization among others of pre-Columbian Mesoamerica, completes its thirteenth b'ak'tun cycle since the calendar's mythical starting point (equivalent to 3114 BC August 11 in the proleptic Gregorian calendar, according to the "GMT-correlation" JDN= 584283). The Long Count b'ak'tun date of this starting point ( is repeated, for the first time in a span of approximately 5,125 solar years. The significance of this period-ending to the pre-Columbian Maya themselves is unclear, and there is an incomplete inscription (Tortuguero Stela 6) which records this date. It is also to be found carved on the walls of the Temple of Inscriptions in Palenque, where it functions as a base date from which other dates are computed.However, it is conjectured that this may represent in the Maya belief system a transition from the current Creation world into the next. The December solstice for 2012 also occurs on this day.

Also (Hindu Calendar):

In the “Brahma-Vaivarta Purana”, Lord Krishna tells Ganga Devi that a Golden Age will come in the Kali Yuga - one of the four stages of development that the world goes through as part of the cycle of eras, as described in Hindu scriptures. Lord Krishna predicted that this Golden Age will start 5,000 years after the beginning of the Kali Yuga, and will last for 10,000 years.

And: Mayan Calendar Matches Hindu Calendar

It is interesting that this prediction of the emergence of a new world is prophesied to appear about the same time that the Mayans predicted it to come! The Mayan calendar began with the Fifth Great Cycle in 3114 BC and will end on 21 December 2012 AD.

The Hindu Kali Yuga calendar began on 18 February 3102 B.C. There is only a difference of 12 years between the Hindu's beginning of the Kali Yuga and the Mayan's beginning of the Fifth Great Cycle.

It is amazing that both calendars began at about the same time over 5,000 years ago and both calendars predict a totally new world and/or golden age after about 5,000 years into their calendars! We are definitely on to something with these Mayan and Hindu 2012 predictions. Historically, this is an amazing fact since these two ancient cultures did not have any contact.

(First published on Qassia 26 May 2008)

Monday, April 14, 2008

More about “The Wheel of Time”

By the time I had retired the last Spanish version of my book La rueda del tiempo (in English, “The Wheel of Time”) from circulation, various articles by “disciples” of René Guénon, by far the most authoritative researcher in the doctrine of cosmic cycles, had started to appear, mainly on the Internet, in which they claimed the following:

(1) The length of the full human cycle is 64,840 years, equivalent to five half cycles of precession of equinoxes (5 x 12,960 years); a calculation suggested (but only suggested!) by Guénon in Some Remarks on the Doctrine of Cosmic Cycles, as well as the following point.

(2) The year 720 of the Kali-yuga (which would last 6,480 years, or a tenth of the above figure) would have coincided with that of the beginning of the Jewish Era, traditionally established as 3761 BC; therefore, also based on other tempting elaborations by Guénon in various articles, the Kali-yuga would have started in the year 4481 BC.

(3) Once the corresponding calculation was made (6480 – 4481), the end of the Kali-yuga (virtually equivalent to the end of our civilization) would be in 1999. Some even, resorting to decimal numbers, further elaborated: the catastrophe, whatever form it adopted, would visit us … on the 14 November 1999!

Well, concerning the doctrine of cosmic cycles, the first thing to understand is the word millennium is not equivalent, as might be thought, to a thousand common years, but to an indefinite length of time usually referred to any major cosmic cycle. This is a point that will never be stressed enough, and it surely is an elemental principle that the aforementioned authors seemed to have forgotten. Even worse, not only did they evidence their inability to let go of the literal sense of the term, but also a certain proclivity to the kind of hysteria that usually attacks the masses as the end of any major cycle draws near, not to mention such frightening cycle as the one that was about to visit us.

Under these terms, the fact that the year 2000 arrived painlessly – in other words, without any fatal outcome to regret – did, by far, not mean that the validity of the doctrine of cycles became dubious. On the contrary, it merely denoted that it was all misconceived. Looked at in retrospect, on the other hand, it did not mean either that our planet had got rid of the atrocious cataclysms that usually escort the end of all major cycles, as quite obviously such end, should the doctrine remain valid, would be yet to arrive.

Be it as it may, sure as I was that Guénon would have never approved of such excesses – though still doubting whether or not his “suggestions” had been made on purpose so that such calculations failed – I set myself to the task of publishing a third edition of La rueda del tiempo with a view to clarify this point as much as possible, at the same time that correct any omission, make some points more specific, and even improve the general appearance from the previous editions.

It has not been until now, however, that I have been able to finish this task. And curiously enough, the most remarkable fact about it is, I have not had to substantially modify the previous editions, apart from correcting one or two wrong references, adding some data and refining a bit writing and syntax. On the other hand, I have hesitated as to the convenience to keep some sections, such as, for instance, the description of the Egyptian “Divine Year”, which could deviate the attention from the main subject, and I even was tempted to completely suppress a certain chapter that could seem little convincing. But I was dissuaded by the fact that, while such sections are not essential to a better understanding of the matter, they can be profitably read, in particular the latter, which briefly depicts the Kali-yuga of the present cycle – virtually the history of our so-called civilization.

Now, it is understandable that this particular view of history will frontally crash with that of the majority of readers, who, save for one or two exceptions, know very little about oriental doctrines. In this sense, it is essential to understand the concept of maha-yuga, the Hindu cycle of four yugas or decreasing ages whose lengths are proportional to 4, 3, 2 and 1 and can, in fact, be assimilated to any temporal cycle, as another fundamental point of the doctrine is that there exists a total correlation among them all; and then stop at the concept of Manvantara, this one referred to the total human cycle and whose length must be calculated as two cycles of precession of equinoxes or a total 51,840 common years. One more step, and it must become clear that if the yugas sum up proportionally 10 (because 4 + 3 + 2 + 1 = 10), the length of the Kali-yuga will be one tenth of that total, i.e. 5,184 common years.

Yet another step, consistent with the previous one, will make us understand that the characteristics of the present Kali-yuga, by virtue of the correlations to which I have referred, reflect accurately – yet in a more incisive way – those of the full cycle of 51,840 years; this, in practice, will give us a small-scale image of this cycle, including, also in a small scale but with lengths always proportional to the scale 4, 3, 2 and 1, those of the four descending yugas. The last step will be to specially focus on the last of these yugas, which we may call the kali-yuga of the present Kali-yuga – a period of time of little more than five hundred years, extremely rich in historical events and great material achievements but which unfortunately, precisely by reason of their being merely material, would appear to be leading us towards disaster at an ever increasing speed…

Thinking therefore about the Western readers, who in their great majority tend to believe in a brilliant future for mankind, I saw it convenient to commence this study by reviewing certain passages from the Bible that they may be me more familiar with; and starting from this point and from the unbelievable coincidences between those and other sacred texts from all over the World – coincidences that strangely prefigure the most recent discoveries of modern Astrophysics – to usher them through ancient universal myths such as the "Four Ages of Mankind" and the "Seven Eras of the World", to finally arrive at disquieting conclusions about the present moment and the near future of our planet – a turning point in time towards which there appear to be converging, in a most threatening fashion, cosmic cycles of various orders and magnitudes.

About “The Wheel of Time”

When I started my first version of La rueda del tiempo (in English, "The Wheel of Time") I was motivated by very special circumstances. A most precious, monumental Hindu holy scripture, the Third Canto of Bhagavata Purana, had come to my hands as if by accident, and I was marveled to learn that in such remote times the Hindus were already familiar with such advanced concepts as the expansion of the universe and the space and time relativity, both of them notions that the modern scientists would only become acquainted with from the Twentieth Century onwards. But what really amazed me were the huge lengths of time mentioned in relation to cosmic cycles. For instance, the Kali-yuga o "Dark Era", a cycle which clearly corresponds to the Age of Iron of the Greek and Roman traditions, would actually extend over 432,000 terrestrial years, a tenth of a human cycle of 4'320,000 years; and if its start was in 3102 BC, as recorded by Hindu astronomical texts, its end would arrive as late as 429,000 AD, without doubt a reassuring date in times of enormous global crisis as we are living now, but which does not absolutely correlate with data from other traditions announcing an imminent end for our troubled civilization.

The answer to my deep uneasiness would come a bit later, mainly in the form of an extraordinary article by René Guénon: Some Remarks on the Doctrine de Cosmic Cycles, originally published in French in 1937. Thanks to it, I was finally satisfied that such figures were essentially symbolic, as suggested by the fact that they are all multiple of nine – which precisely makes them "circular" o cyclic – and that they must be basically assimilated to the great cycle of precession of equinoxes, a key period of time in the development of mankind whose traditional length, 25,920 common years, also is a multiple of nine. True, at the same time I concluded that in the light of the most recent scientific discoveries, such lengths could also be taken in an approximately literal manner, something that Guénon could not be acquainted with in his time; but for the moment, it was fairly enough.

Then, as if by magic, came to my hands other articles, some of them very important and others that were not quite so, which helped me do a preliminary study and publish a first edition in 1998. This first literary endeavor contained some elements that have remained till now, the main one being my own calculation of the final date of the Kali-yuga and, therefore, that of the current human cycle. An additional element was a footnote, according to which such final date would appear to have been drawn nearer by a degree of such cycle, or 72 years - a phenomenon referred to in the texts as an overlapping of yugas.

Soon thereafter, however, I realized that this first version in Spanish not only contained some historical errors but also wrong quotes, so I tried to upgrade it by means of a second edition which was published and circulated for some years until – its cycle concluded – I opted for retiring it from circulation.

It is this version that I am now translating into English, which will be hopefully finished by the end of August of the present year, and trying to upgrade. But this story does not end here and, even at the risk of boring my blog readers, I will be back with more – lots more – very soon.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

The Circular Numbers

In my last post, I was talking about the impossibility that the reiteration of numbers with regard to cosmic cycles is only owed to the fact that they are all cyclic or “circular” and therefore readily divisible among each other; the coincidences are too numerous to be just the product of chance, particularly when they derive from places and traditions so distant from one another. There is obviously something else, maybe a wish to draw attention – though in a veiled fashion – towards a mysterious, awe-inspiring fact that would allow to penetrate the very essence of the mechanism of cycles so as to anticipate their starting and ending dates. For example, according to certain sources, the sinking of Atlantis would have occurred 7,200 years before the year 720 of the present Kali–yuga, which corresponds, if its starting date is considered to be 3102 BC, to 9582 BC. And this date is perfectly reasonable in spite of its being a product of obviously symbolic figures, i.e. based on 72 which is, as we know, the key element in the context of a circular time. We would certainly need to be blind to see a mere product of chance in all this.

Another cycle that would span between two consecutive destructions of the Earth is the one calculated by Aristarchus of Samos (310–230 BC), a few centuries after Heraclitus, as 2,484 years, a number that is also circular – yet considerably smaller than the ones previously mentioned. And here we can see yet another clue: the newer the calculation, the lesser the calculated period. This assertion is supported by a curious fact narrated by historian Herodotus (c.480 – c.420 BC): the Teban priests would have shown him 341 colossal statues, each representing a generation of priests from 11,340 years before – a period also “circular” but much closer to the “great year” of 12,960 common years.

So it comes as no surprise that also in the Bible, in whose first chapters there is an account of the two best known and most emblematic catastrophes ever to occur on the Earth – the Flood and the conflagration that destroyed Sodom and Gomorra – there are also many references to rather short, “circular” periods of time. For example, in the New Testament (Revelation 11:3, 12:6) is mentioned a mysterious period of 1,260 “days”, and the enigmatic references to “time, two times, and a half time” in Daniel 12:11, 12 and Revelation 12:14 obviously allude to the same period if, as is undoubtedly the case, each “time” consists of 360 “days”. For the rest, in Daniel 12:11, 12 there are mentioned two equally enigmatic periods: 1,290 and 1,335 “days”, numbers whose digits, even though they do not sum up nine, do sum up three, which also makes them circular.

However, it is in the larger cycles that we find the most significant correlations with the Hindu tradition. For example, it is known that in the Library of Alexandria there was a World History written by the Chaldean priest Berosus (c. 250 BC), in three volumes, the first of which comprised a period of 432,000 years from the Creation to the Flood – exactly one tenth of the Hindu maha–yuga. And a fascinating coincidence: according to the Scandinavian legends, 432,000 was the number of warriors stationed at Asgard, the dwelling of the gods.

Similar correlations are found on the other side of the World, among the ancient Mayas. For example, in Tikal, in present-day Guatemala, there is a stela – the number 10 – that records a period of 5'040,000 years, a circular number that divided by ten is that of Manus in a total universal manifestation. As to the liturgical calendar, in addition to the tuns or years of 360 days, consisting of 18 uinals or months of 20 days, the Mayas count was by katuns (7,200 days), baktuns (144,000 days), etc., all of them “sacred” circular numbers whose importance I have emphasized repeatedly – with the exception of 144,000, which incidentally is the number of saints ascended to Heaven at Revelation 7, 7.

As to the Xiumolpili, or periods of 52 years used by the Aztecs for the computation of the four ages or “Suns” by multiplying them by certain factors (apparently 13, 7, 6 and 13, even though, confirming the aforementioned tendency, the factors are bigger on the earlier versions), it is believed that they originated with the Olmecs, who had discovered that the Solar, sacred and Venusian’s calendars coincided every 37,960 days, equivalent to 104 years (or two times 52). In fact, although these cycles were so important that they were believed to require from the Mayas the remodeling of all their sacred structures at their beginning or end, at any rate we are dealing here with an anomaly – the exception that confirms the rule. However, there is an interesting correlation with the great celebrations that the Dogon in Mali, Africa, make every 52 years, rites intended, according to them, to “regenerate the World” and which apparently correspond to the cycle made by Sirius “B”, a white dwarf, around Sirius. But apart from these likely connections, it can be noted that 52 is four times 13, this number being, according to scholars, a particularly auspicious one throughout the Mayans’ world – unlike elsewhere in the World, where it is particularly ill-omened. However, what definitely links this “anomalous” system with the “orthodox” circular one is, in my view, the fact that after 52 years of the liturgical calendar of 360 days, there appears to have elapsed exactly 72 years of the magical calendar of 260 days, i.e. a total 18,720 days – a circular number by excellence, as it is made up of 18 and 72.

And here I will conclude this overview which has let us glimpse, through the assortment of data and figures presented, a sort of needlework of Four Ages of Mankind – of varying lengths according to the different traditions, but always circular – interwoven in the fabric of a more general scheme of Seven Eras of the World, in turn somehow correlated to the precession of the equinoxes. In the middle of it all we have glimpsed at the third and most dramatic element in the problem: the dreadful catastrophes at the beginning and end of every cycle, out of which the most emblematic is undoubtedly the Flood that usually separates the Eras from each other, and which is a favorite and specially recurring topic in the myths and legends from all over the World. In the next days and weeks I will try to recapitulate all the information provided and draw as many conclusions as possible, which will hopefully let us get a deeper insight and, at the same time, a wider view of the problem in its entirety.

(First published on Qassia, Apr 8, 2008)

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

A Few Universal Symbols

Until now, we have reviewed a number of global symbols and traditions in which the numbers four and seven play a prominent role.

Another common symbol to all of the World’s cultures and civilizations is that of a “Cosmic Egg” which, in as much as an image of the perpetual dissolution and rebirth of the universe, bears a close resemblance with the “myth” of Phoenix, which is similarly found in civilizations ranging from the Hindu to the Chinese – where it appears as the myth of Pan-ku –, the Egyptian, and even the Inca: for example, it is known that on the main wall of the Ccoricancha temple, in Cuzco, there was a representation of the Cosmic Egg that would later on be replaced with the Sun’s image that met the Spaniards’ eyes.

But we are deviating from the versions related to the scheme of four ages, among which the most typical probably are the Mesoamerican accounts preserved in sacred texts such as the Popol Vuh and the “Quiche Manuscript” where, as mentioned in my previous post, they are consistently referred to as “Suns” – although this time they are four, not seven. The Aztecs, for example, who apparently collected these traditions from the Teotihuacans, who in turn would have received them from the Olmecs, differentiated four “Suns” that ended in an equal number of destructions of the World: the first by jaguars that devoured all men (another version says by the “God of Night”), who at the time were giants; the second by hurricanes, the third by a shower of fire (or by the “God of Fire”), and the fourth by a great deluge. Though with slight variations, mainly in the order of “Suns”, this tradition was disseminated throughout the Mayan world, and there is a significant fact: the four destructions in all cases are correlated to the four traditional elements.

Also the Incas, farther South, believed that time unfolds by cycles and that every so often the universe was challenged by great upheavals, times of distress referred to as “Pachacuti”. Chroniclers of the conquest of America, like Fray Buenaventura Salinas, transmitted the tradition of the four ages previous to the Inca Empire. The last age would have lasted 3,600 years, an emblematic “circular” figure that if divided by ten, becomes the number of the circle degrees and that of the priestly days of the year: 360, an exceptionally sacred number to the majority of traditions from all over the World.

And herewith we enter the area of lengths, which most significantly are not only consistently circular but even show amazing coincidences among each other.

Particularly suggestive are those which center on the “great year” of 12,960 common years, a half of the Zodiacal Year. According to Latin author Censorinus (third century AD), who was Varro’s compilator, in this “great year”, also called “Platonic Year” and “Supreme Year of Aristotle,” there is a great winter or kataklysmos (which means “deluge”) and a great summer or ekpyrosis (which means “combustion of the world”). Now, at some point in history this “great year” was rounded up by Persians and Chaldeans as 12,000 years, a period of time which, to the former, came to be the totality of time. (To the present-day Persians, the year 2000 was the year 11,630 of that time.) And it is not unlikely that the Jews, in contact with those cultures, may have taken this “great year” and divided it, for religious reasons, by two, to establish in turn their “World’s total duration” as 6,000 years.

In this connection, however, according to the aforementioned Rabbinical tradition, each of the World’s Seven Eras would have a length of 1,656 years, a circular figure that multiplied by seven yields a total sum closer to 12,000 than to 6,000 years: 11,952 years.

In addition to the “great year” of 12,960 common years, other “Greek” cycles, similarly connected to global catastrophes, are known to have suggestive correlations in the Hindu tradition. According to philosopher Heraclitus of Efesus (540–475 BC), for instance, the period between two great conflagrations such as the one that would have submerged Atlantis, thousands of years before his time, is 10,800 years, a “circular” period of time which divided by one hundred becomes 108: a number which for Hinduists and Buddhists is an object of special veneration, as it is the number of Upanishads in the Buddhist canon and is placed before the name of the venerable acharyas or teachers of the great disciplic lines, apart from the fact that it is the number of stone figures along the lanes at the temple of Angkor in Camboya, etcetera; and whose basic form, 18, which corresponds, as we have seen elsewhere, to the number of breaths of a human being in one minute, is – among other many “coincidences” – equal to the total number of Puranas and of the Bhagavad–gita chapters. For the rest, it should be noted that the total number of the Rig Veda verses is 10,800 and those of Bhagavata Purana 18,000, distributed into twelve “Cantos” or chapters; and that within the Judean–Christian esoterism, the number of chapters of the enigmatic Book of Enoch is, again, 108.

At this point we will better make a pause, as it is impossible that this copious reiteration of numbers is only owed to the fact that they are all cyclic or “circular”, and therefore readily divisible among each other; the coincidences are too numerous to be just the product of chance, particularly when they derive from places and traditions so distant from one another. However, a discussion of this circumstance would take too long, so it will have to wait for a new post.

(First published on Qassia Apr 4, 2008)

Some Variations in the Number of Ages

In my previous post we were seeing that the notion of seven ages or Eras is common throughout the World, which evidences an almost absolute concordance in the matter of cosmic cycles among the majority of traditions.

There are, however, some exceptions. The Icelandic Edda rather refer to nine ages, such as the Sibylline books (yet preterit ones) and the Hawaiian and Polynesian legends do. As to the Chinese tradition, it talks about ten kis or ages since the beginning of the World till Confucius’ times, and the Sing–li–ta–tsiuen–chou, an ancient encyclopedia that deals with the periodicity of nature’s convulsions, refers to the very long periods of time between each other – though without specifying their number – as “great years”. The same is true of texts by Sse Ma–chien and Mo–tzu, which allude to large floods and long periods in which order and cataclysms alternate on Earth.

By contrast, other traditions, like the Greek (derived partially from the Hindu), the Tibetan, and particularly those from Central and South America, which will be addressed later on, stick more strictly to a scheme of four ages.

We have seen, for instance, that the Greek and Roman traditions talk about four preterit Ages of Mankind, equivalent to the four yugas of the Hindu tradition; and in India itself, apart from Bhagavata Purana and other Puranas, other sacred books like the Rig and Yajour Veda allude as well to four preterit ages, though differing in the lengths of each. Also, it is not unlikely that the Buddhist tradition according to which out of the one thousand Buddas who appear on a kalpa, only four have manifested till now, may be related to the four yugas that make a maha–yuga and to the one thousand maha–yugas that make a kalpa; as to the Buddha Maitreya, who is to appear at the end of the cycle to inaugurate a new “millennium”, he is clearly identical with the avatara Kalki of Hinduism and with other inaugurators of the coming “millennium”, such as the “Christ of Glory” of Christianity and the Messiah of Judaism and even the Mahdi, “the Guided One”, of Islam. And here is another remarkable coincidence: both the avatara Kalki and the Christ of Glory from Revelation 19:20 ff are supposed to appear riding a white horse.

On the other hand, the quaternary scheme very closely correlates with certain universal archetypical forms which, while dramatically separated from one another in space and time, do not vary in their innermost essence.

For example, according to the Hopi people, since the arrival of the white man in North America, we are on a fifth and final “World”, worse than the four previous ones, which will aggravate with the desertion of the four “cosmic guards” who look after the columns that support the universe. For their part, the Mayas believed in four bacabs who played a similar role­ and were identical to Atlas of the Greeks, who copied it in turn from the Orientals. (Atlas actually supports the heavenly vault, not our planet.) In turn, the Egyptians received from the Sumerians the tradition of four giants who supported the heaven’s cover, and who were correlated with four great mountains (one was Mount Ida, in Greece, another stood on the Atlas mountain range in Morocco). In China there also existed this tradition: four guardians look after the World’s columns, surrounding a fifth element (identified with the Emperor); when Kung-kung, an evil spirit, broke one of the columns with his head, taking advantage of the guardian’s negligence, all water from heaven fell down, causing a tremendous deluge. Again, the Scandinavians believed in four guardians correlated in turn with the swástika, another universal symbol (yet of unpleasant connotation because of Nazism), which is the same as that of the Hindus and Greeks and the Olin of the Aztecs (the “Sun” of Earthquakes), who in turn took it over from the Toltecs; and here we have another archetypical form that spread out over the World in a virtually identical manner…

More to come very soon.

First published on Qassia 31 Mar 2008)

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

The Universal Doctrine

The notion of Eras ended by violent cataclysms is common to the traditional cultures from all around the world, from the most primitive to those that reached a higher level of civilization. They may differ in number, length and in the characteristics of the evoked catastrophes, but at the same time the coincidences are extremely significant: in the majority of cases, as seen below, the Eras are four or seven, their lengths are “circular”, and the disasters that finish them are usually floods and conflagrations that occur in alternate fashion and are attributed to planetary influences.

Thus, for instance, according to Latin scholar Varro (116 BC – 27 AD), the Etruscan annals recorded seven preterit ages whose ends had been announced to men by diverse celestial prodigies. For its part, “Bhaman Yast”, one of the books from the Avesta, talks about seven World ages or millennia; according to Zoroaster, the prophet of Mazdeism, at the end of each there are signs, wonders and a great chaos all over the World. A Buddhist text, Visuddhi–Magga, in its Chapter “Cycles of the World”, says there are seven ages separated by global catastrophes of three kinds – by water, fire, and wind – at the end of which there appears a new Sun; after the seventh Sun, the World bursts in flames. Curiously enough, this notion of seven “Suns” also appears on the Sibylline books, where it is said that we are now in the seventh Sun (though yet two more are prophesized to come), on the Mexican Annals of Cuauhtitlan, written in Nahuatl tongue around 1570 on archaic sources, which likewise allude to seven epochs or “Suns” (the “Chicon–Tonatiuh”); and among the aborigines at North Borneo, who assert that six previous Suns having now perished, the present one is the seventh to light up the World.

On the other side of the World, in North America, the legends of the Hopis, who from old were apparently familiar with the fact that the Earth rotates on its axis, speak rather of four ages or “worlds”. Having the three previous ones succumbed to fire, snow, and water, the current one would be the fourth (another version says the fifth) world, which will in turn be consummated when the Earth stumbles on its own axis as a great blue star, referred to as “Sasquasohum”, precipitates upon it. Apparently, however, the humankind will have to go through seven worlds in total.

The scheme of seven ages or Eras is also predominant in the mysterious Chaldean legends about seven “kings of kings,” the last of whom, Xisuthros, saves his kin from the great flood; in the seven Manus of the Hindu tradition, in which also the last one, Satyavrat, with the name Vaivasvat, saves a few chosen from the flood; and in the seven “Edomite Kings” from the Hebraic Cabbala, who like the previous ones govern by turn upon seven “Earths” which may be taken both in a temporal and spatial sense. Seven “Earths” appear as well in the Islamist esoterism, in this case governed by seven “Poles” (in a presumable allusion to the phenomenon of precession of the equinoxes), a reference which also figures among the ancient Egyptians, who apparently recorded seven successive Pole Stars; and for its part the Rabbinical tradition, which crystallized on the post Hebrew Exile, asserts that there have been six successive re-creations of the Earth, after an equal number of global catastrophes; on the fourth Earth lived the generation of the Babel Tower, and now we are on the seventh. According to Philo, the Jew philosopher born around 20 BC, some perished by floods, others by conflagrations.

On the other hand, in an obvious correspondence with the seven “days” of the biblical Creation, we have elsewhere seen that the Hermetic tradition refers to seven “creation days” of 25,920 years each – the length of a precessional cycle.

As can be seen, the notion of seven ages or Eras is common throughout the World, which manifests an almost absolute concordance on this mater among most traditions. There are, however, a few exceptions that I will discuss in detail some other time.

(First published on Qassia Mar 29, 2008)

More about the Kali Yuga

So the questions about the Kali-yuga that were pending solution are: Are we really in the Kali–yuga, the age of quarrel and darkness? If so, in which phase of it? And, is it possible that we have been in it so long (more than 5,000 years)?

I will try to answer all three of them in this post.

As a matter of fact, giving answer to every question will depend on the point of view that we take. We are dealing with directly opposite perceptions of a vast problem that also implies, considering the long time involved – virtually the whole history of our so-called civilization – such additional questions as: Were the Greeks and Romans really greater than the Egyptians, the builders of huge pyramids and majestic temples several thousands of years before the Greeks made their appearance in the world? Among the Greeks themselves, were the contemporaries of Socrates, Plato and Aristotle wiser than Pythagoras, Heraclitus and Tales’ colleagues? And – skipping the wide time-span – were the European Middle-Ages really inferior to the Renaissance, and if so, in what sense? What can be said, for example, of the Empire of Charlemagne, the earlier Romanic churches, and of Gothic art, which was an entirely original art and not an imitation of classic art as that of the so-called Renaissance was?

Again, is the present time an age of immense progress as depicted by the technocrats, or rather a progression into chasm in every sense?

As is commonly known, India is at present probably the only country in the world where the traditional spiritual values have been kept almost in their entirety. So it is only natural that, from an eminently spiritual perspective, the traditionalist Hindus view the whole of the last 5,000 years of history as a process of gradual deterioration in all orders and life conditions, a process in which the nefarious atmosphere of the Kali-yuga has finally spread through everything, and materialism, real or disguised, has set its supremacy on the world. This is particularly due to the fact that, not existing a qualified priesthood anymore, the administration of society has fallen on the hands of the lower-class people whose sole motivation is personal gain. As a consequence, there exist a growing anxiety in the minds of men, increasingly impatient, greedy and violent, and a mounting degradation of customs that ends out in family disintegration and a disorderly sexual conduct which will inevitably result in a large part of the world population being “unwanted,” that is, born from illicit coupling, including sexual assault, or simply “by accident.” As if all this were not enough, there is an increasing deterioration in the quality of everything, even food; and there appear awful and previously unknown diseases that result from the increase of artificial needs and the proliferation of the most pernicious habits. It is in sum, for those Hindus that have not been seduced by the false glow of Western progress, an atheistic, violent and degraded Era in which goodness virtually does not exist anymore (according to Varaha Purana, “demonic beings are born in it”), an Era which can only lead to a final cataclysm.

For the rest, such symptoms have not gone unnoticed to some Western reputed scholars, among them Oswald Spengler, the famous author of The Decline of the West, and Alexis Carrel, the author of the notorious and most controversial L'Homme, cet inconnu (“Man, The Unknown”); but above all by René Guénon, for whom we are essentially dealing with a process whose ultimate cause merely resides in the increasing estrangement from the principle from which the whole manifestation derives, a situation that has become irreversible and is primarily characterized by a progressive secularization and materialization of the world – in other words, by a gradual darkening of the primeval spirituality. This fatally results in a total reversion of the universal values, a reversion that aggravates as we move toward the end of the cycle and which is nourished by the fallacy of an unrelenting evolution and progress. Actually Guénon distinguishes a fifth cyclic phase within the Kali–yuga which he calls “the age of increasing corruption,” which entails the risk of total annihilation of mankind. We would be now on the dreadful times announced by the sacred books of India where «all castes will be intermingled», where «family itself will no longer exist». Disorder and chaos prevail in all orders and have reached a point that exceeds by far all that had been previously seen; a stop would no longer be possible, since according to the warnings from the traditional doctrines, we have indeed entered the final phase of the Kali-yuga, «the darkest period of the Dark Age».

It is amazing that this accurate diagnosis on the time was formulated nearly one century ago, at a time in which many voices prophesized a scientific and technical advancement that would “very soon put an end to all the worlds’ evils”, a progress that would bring “unlimited happiness” to humankind. Well, since then there have only been atrocious wars, the nuclear devastation threat was started, unknown diseases appeared, and moral, social and political decay has reached extreme levels throughout the world to such an extent, that the entire society would seem to drift inexorably toward anarchy. Violence has become common to an unheard-of extent particularly in the large cities, which are literally submerged in drugs and pornography, and where it shows up in atrocious modes like urban terrorism. Actually we only need to open the papers to become horrified at the profusion of news on religious and racial slaughter and unbelievably brutal terrorist deeds and, on the other hand, to be appalled by the gradual, increasingly accelerated deterioration of the environment, the growing contamination of rivers, seas and lakes, the extinction of forests and whole animal species by the hand of man, the more and more frequent natural disasters which, caused basically by the current global warming (in turn forced by a disproportionate boom of the industrial activity) include the progressive desertification of the Earth, atmospheric exhaustion, draughts, floods, earthquakes and cataclysms resulting in casualties by the millions every year… do I need to continue? Indeed, there is every reason to believe that we are in the last days of the present cycle and that the end of our civilization, as we know it, is close at hand, irrespective of what the believers in a “future of material and moral progress” of the human race may claim. This admitted, we would only need to deal with how that end would be like.

According to Bhagavata Purana (3, 11:29 ff), at the end of the “millennium” the devastation is produced, at an early stage, by the «fire that is emitted by the mouth of Sankarsana», which wreaks havoc on the “three inferior worlds” during one hundred years of the demigods (36,000 human years). This version matches exactly a Nordic tradition according to which at the time of the world destruction (the ragnarok), from the mouth of Surt, “the Black One”, radiate devastating flames. Naturally, the allusions to fire may refer to great volcanic eruptions or to the increasingly frequent forest fires that currently take place all around the world. Then, during other 36,000 years, there are gales and torrential rains accompanied by raging waves that cause the seas to overflow, a devastation which, in the view of the experts in the Hindu scriptures, occurs at the end of the period of each Manu. Of course, on the human level, the afore-mentioned figures are to be considered symbolic; in connection with the Manvantara as was previously defined in my last post, the 72,000 years of devastation, which in the context correspond to the 4,320 millions of years of a Brahma’s day, very likely are only equivalent to 72 years, so that what I have just referred to as “the beginning of end” would actually be situated around the year 2010 AC, a border line suggested at the end of that post. Moreover, if other factors that would take too long to detail were brought into the calculation, we would see that such “beginning” might actually be already occurring, as is unfortunately clear from the unprecedented rise in the climatic disorders of our days – one of whose most visible manifestations is the recurring onslaught of the "El Niño" phenomenon – which would be announcing an imminent disaster of universal proportions.

(First published on Qassia Mar 8, 2008)

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

The Kali Yuga

According to Bhagavata Purana (1, 14:1 ff), the advent of the present Kali–yuga, the age of quarrel and hypocrisy, was heralded by portents of a terrifying nature: the sacred images in temples seemed to weep and mourn, deception and misunderstanding polluted the dealings among relatives, and everywhere people became increasingly greedy and violent. Above all this, there prevailed severe disruptions in the characteristics of seasons.

This would have occurred in 3102 BC as the Dvapara–yuga (or third yuga) of the twenty-eighth “millennium” of the seventh and present Manu, Vaivasvata, came to an end.

Confirming the starting date, Aryabhata, a famous Hindu astronomer born in 476 BC, writes that he was 23 years old when 3,600 years of the present Kali–yuga had elapsed, which yields 3,600 – 23 – 476 = 3101 BC. The difference of one year can be accounted for by the use of a “zero” year in the conversion to the Western calendar.

Now as I said in a previous post (“More about Maha-yugas and Kalpas”) the precise start, on the midnight of 18 February in 3102 BC, was presided by an alignment of the seven traditional planets, including the Sun and Moon. According to the jyotisha–shastras, the texts of astronomy of the old Hindus, this is perfectly normal: the Surya–siddhanta, for example, which measures the time in days from the beginning of the Kali–yuga, assumes that the positions of all planets, in their two cycles, are aligned at “zero” day in relation to the star Zeta–Piscium, which is used by the said shastras to measure the celestial longitudes. Such alignment would have had minimal deviations and anyway, it would be a very rare phenomenon, as from that date to our days were only found three intervals of ten years in which there had been such exact alignment.

Here the question arises: why should the passage from one age to the next be determined by an alignment like the one depicted, if it is rather the cycle of precession of equinoxes the key factor for determining the length of the human cycle? To give a precise answer is not very easy; but if we consider that the circumference described by the Earth’s axis does not have a real starting point (since, as in a common year, it is actually conventional), it is very likely that some triggering factor, like the planetary synods or grouping of all the planets on one side of the sun while the Earth is on the other (which occur every 180 years approximately) could cause additional climatic disturbances to precipitate the passage from a yuga to the next. With regard to this, there is a suggestive connection with the fact that the "El Niño" phenomenon, which such dreadful disorders caused in recent years, appears to have begun in the year 3100 BC approximately; and we may also remember the concept of a “perfect year,” the time the planets take to align themselves back again at their startup point, which coincides with the “great year” of 12,960 common years of the Greek and Roman traditions.

In connection with the probable starting point of the present Kali–yuga, some authors have highlighted the fact that, at some time in the sixth century BC, the traditional doctrines underwent diverse re-adaptations and reformulations in several key areas of the world: in Greece by Pythagoras, in Persia by Zarathustra, in China by Confucius, etc., re-adaptations which, given the universality of the phenomenon, would have been a sort of preparation for the start of a new Era. We must admit that this date around the sixth century BC, while imprecise, sounds more plausible as a starting point than 3102 BC, which crashes frontally with the believe in an uninterrupted progress of humanity from the development of agriculture and the invention of writing onwards. Yet in favor of 3102 BC can be argued, apart from the unusual planetary alignment depicted, the singular coincidence with the “zero year” of the start of the Mayan and Egyptian civilizations (in 3113 BC the former, around 3100 the latter), without a doubt significant as such start coincides with the beginning of writing around the world and seems to draw, for the same reason, a veil between history proper – the written history – and pre-history, about which virtually nothing is known with absolute certainty. In the other hand, it has been suggested, based on astronomical calculations, that the great epics Mahabharata would date back from 3100 BC as it would be partially contemporary of Satapatha Brahmana, where it is said that the Krittikas (the Pleiades) «do not turn from the East» – i.e. they were on the celestial Equator. Add to all this the persistent allusions, both in oral and written tradition, to ancient, highly sophisticated civilizations that were spiritually more advanced than ours and disappeared as a consequence of dreadful cataclysms which erased all traces of their passage on Earth, and the picture becomes more complete: if one or more of these civilizations existed before our written history, it would push the specific weight of history back by several millennia and turn the year 3102 BC into a comparatively recent date.

But let us deal with the difficulty that is obviously central in our study: ¿Are we really in the Kali–yuga, the age of quarrel and darkness? If so, ¿in which phase of it? And, ¿is it possible that we have been in it for so long?

I will try to answer these questions on my next post. Stay tuned please.

(First published Qassia 25 Feb 2008)

Monday, March 10, 2008

The Manvantara

I would like to talk a little bit more about the Manvantara, the ancient Hindus’ measure of time, and how it can help find out the real (and not symbolic) length of the present human cycle. To this end, a quick look into my three previous posts may be in order for an easier grasp of what follows.

Let’s therefore consider the Manvantara, in as much as a strictly human earthly cycle governed by a particular Manu, as a small-scale image of the maha–yuga of 4’320,000 common years. Irrespective of the number of zeros that complement this figure, its symbolic length will then be 4320 and, always following the proportion 4 + 3 + 2 + 1 = 10, those of the corresponding yugas will be 1728, 1296, 864 and 432 respectively, all of them circular numbers – because the sum of their digits is nine – and therefore submultiples of 25,920, the length of the cycle of precession of the equinoxes – which likewise is a circular number.

In the other hand, if we additionally consider that on the cosmic level it is precisely the precession of the equinoxes which most strongly influences the length of the human cycle, it will be legitimate to assume that this length should comprise a whole number of such cycles. The question that arises then is, which can be that number?

In his extraordinary article Some Remarks on the Doctrine of Cosmic Cycles, originally published in French in 1937, René Guénon proposes an answer to this question. Assuming that rather than the cycle of precession of the equinoxes it is its half, or “great year” of 12,960 common years which, given the particular importance it has for such traditions as the Greek and the Persian, makes up the main foundation for the cyclic ages, Guénon suggests that such number should be five, mainly by virtue of its relationship with the duration of the reign of Xisuthrus (the biblical Sisera, a character manifestly identical to Vaivasvata, the Manu for the present Era), a duration that the Chaldeans established as 64,800 common years (5 x 12,960). To support this thesis, Guénon, on top of noting that the real age of the Earth’s present humanity may well be represented by a duration of 64,800 years, proposes quite reasonable correspondences for five such as the five bhutas or elements of the material world, etc.

Now, while this sort of calculation has never been encouraged by ancient traditions, if we accepted 64,800 common years as the total length of the present Manvantara, the length of the Kali–yuga – the fourth and final age of the present human cycle – would be 6,480 years, or a tenth of that; and if we stick to 3102 BC as its starting point, a simple subtraction (6,480 – 3,102) would produce the year 3378 AD as its ending date – without doubt a reassuring date for times of severe global crisis as those we are living now (though not quite so as the one anticipated by the orthodox Hinduism in about four hundred twenty thounsand years from now), but which does not agree at all with certain data from other traditions which, as has been mentioned previously, announce an imminent end for our degenerated civilization.

It should be noted that these calculations are all subordinated to admitting the year 3102 BC as a likely starting date for the present Kali–yuga, which despite of all the arguments that may be put forward for it, will hardly be by many critics. Even so, let’s accept for a moment such date and go on with our line of speculation: Assuming the yugas to be four and not five, would it not be more natural that the duration in question should comprise four equal periods, that is, to multiply 12,960 by four? After all, the arguments for five periods are not conclusive, as the material proper elements are only four (as the fifth, ether, is non material). And on the other hand, should we use four – the number of seasons in a year – as a factor, the total length of the Manvantara would then be 51,840 years (4 x 12,960), therefore comprising two full precessional periods assimilated respectively to Day and Night. Again, 4,320 being a third of 12,960, the real lengths of each yuga would be given by the product of the symbolic durations by twelve, which is the number of months of the year and of the signs of the Zodiac, so that in a way we would be converting the symbolic durations – based on the linear scale 4 + 3 + 2 + 1 = 10 – into circular proper, i.e. based on a twelve-month cycle. In either case, the length of the Kali–yuga would become 5,184 years (72 x 72), whether we divide 51,840 by ten or multiply 432 by twelve; and so, by means of a subtraction similar to the one above (5,184 – 3,102) we would get 2082 as the final year of the present human cycle, a date that unfortunately is more akin than the previous one with the ominous course of the world’s current events and the severe, all-pervading climatic disturbances in our days that might be announcing a global, profound, irreversible, and perhaps not very distant, disruption.

And although I do not pretend to play the soothsayer as I am certainly aware that such forecasts can do more harm than good, it will not be superfluous to insist that the end of an astronomical cycle can overlap that of another and strongly influence it, maybe attracting it towards itself, thus rendering the date for border line events even closer.

(First published Qassia Feb 19, 2008)

Sunday, March 2, 2008

The three great astronomical cycles

I have previously alluded to the dramatic contrast between the Zodiacal Year of 25,920 common years, which for the hermetic tradition would match a human cycle of four ages, and the length of 4’320,000 years that the Hindu tradition in turn assigns to the cycle of four yugas – a length that might appear to be excessive and even arbitrary at first sight as, unlike the former, bears no relation with any known astronomical cycle. However, I have already noted that the key to this issue would be to consider the latter symbolically, at least in connection with the human proper cycle – i.e. the one of the most recent humanity, or Homo Sapiens Sapiens.

With this in mind, I will endeavor now to bring both ends together and establish the real length of the human cycle thus considered by approaching the problem from a new point of view: that of the so-called Manvantara, or “shift” of Manu (the “Father of Mankind”), an ancient Hindu measure of time that in spite of its being primarily septenary and having a length that, as derived from the texts, would be nearly 72 maha–yugas – which apparently increases the difficulty – actually is for the scholarly, with the exception of those who insist on taking these data literally, identical to what I have described as a single maha–yuga.

In effect, the connection with the duration of the human cycle is obvious: the term Manvantara more precisely means “the shift to a new humanity,” in this case our humanity, apart from the fact that from the related word Manusya, which literally means “mankind”, there derive the Latin humanitas, the German mann, the English man, etc., etc., Man being, on its part, “Mankind” proper, the Universal Father, the Adam of the Nordic legends. On the other hand, it is interesting that in the world history there exist variations of the name, Manu, applied to founders of diverse cultures such as the Egyptian (Menes), the Cretan (Minos) and even the Inca, whose first monarch, Manco Capac, was the head of a lineage which extended over fourteen kings – that is, the same number of Manus appearing in a Brahma’s day. For the rest, it is important to note, as indicated by René Guénon, that a Manu is not a mythic, legendary or historic character but, rather, the “prototype of Man” for any cosmic cycle or state of existence to which he gives his Law.

All this sheds light over one of the most impenetrable issues connected with the cycle of four yugas, i.e. the apparent contradiction between multiple human cycles, on the one hand, and a single human cycle on the other – a problem that was pending solution until now. Now we can say that as concerns at least our planet, it is not accurate to speak of a succession of human cycles but of a great “general” human cycle, that of the present mankind, which encompasses all other human cycles whatever their order or magnitude.

Now, since we are assuming that this “general” human cycle – the length of which we are endeavoring to find out – approximately represents the age of the present human race and not of its more or less remote ancestors, the best course will be to previously determine which astronomical cycles are likely to influence it. The problem identified in such terms, such cycles can only be the following:

(I) The Earth’s eccentricity cycle, which results in ice age cycles that approximately occur every 100,000 years and are separated by interglacial periods of 10,000 years. This cycle, which appears to be the main framework within which the present mankind has evolved on Earth, is produced by the lengthening of our planet’s orbit around the sun, which changes every 90,000 to 100,000 years from a circular shape to a more elliptic one and back to start again. When the orbit is circular, the distribution of heat over the Earth during the year is uniform, and when it is more elliptic the Earth is closer to the sun and therefore warmer at some times of the year, the seasons accentuating on a hemisphere and waning on the other due to the modulating effect of the two cycles that are mentioned below.

(II) The cycle of precession of the equinoxes or Zodiacal Year, the length of which is usually rounded as 26,000 years but, as we know, has traditionally been calculated as 25,920 years. What makes this cycle particularly important as a most likely trigger of the human phenomenon on our planet is the fact that when a half of a wobbling period of the Earth’s axis has elapsed, i.e. after 13,000 years approximately, the seasons become reversed: for example, 10,000 years ago, when the Earth was at its farthest from the Sun, in the northern hemisphere it was summer and not winter, as is today (and vice versa).

(III) The cycle of variation of the Earth’s axis tilt over the course of approximately 40,000 years from a minimum of 21.5 degrees to a maximum 24.5 degrees, a variation that obviously accentuates or moderates the overall effect of the precessional period; currently the angle of tilt is 23.4 degrees and decreasing, thus attenuating the difference between summer and winter.

Acting coordinately, these three great astronomical cycles – named “Milancovitch cycles” after the Yugoslavian astronomer who first studied them – subject the Earth to a very complex astronomical pattern that has produced the ice fluctuations throughout the ages, although out of all three it is the period of precession of the equinoxes the one which, by leveraging the combined effect of the other two, seems to have played the main role in the development of the current earthly humanity. Thus, some scientists estimate that approximately 40,000 years ago, when the southern hemisphere was the nearer one from the Sun, and as ice gravitated on the North, at various places, probably in Central Asia, there appeared tribes united by their need to face the hard geophysical conditions that prevailed at that time; and thirteen thousand years later, when the northern and southern hemispheres exchanged their positions before the Sun, some tribes appeared also in the southern hemisphere.

Approximately 18,000 ago, on the other hand, the Earth began to come out of the last ice age responding to a combination of all three astronomical factors, although the inter-glacial proper period did not commence until approximately 10,000 years ago. Now, there is every reason to believe that this inter-glacial period is about to end, and many scientists claim that within a span of time that may range from a few to a thousand years from now, the Earth will have entered a new ice age of 100,000 years; to trigger the process there will only be required a summer with a very weak solar glow, unable to defrost the Northern hemisphere glaciers. And irrespective of the signs of an imminent catastrophic defrost caused by the so-called “greenhouse effect” – the planet warming caused in turn by the excess of industrial emissions – the predominant view appears to be at best (maybe we should say at worst) that this factor would only lengthen the process.

Be it as it may, at this point it should be obvious that, by interlacing and influencing one another, all three great astronomical cycles exert a decisive impact on the life on Earth, an effect that can at times be beneficial and other times devastating. At times, for example, the end of one of them will match the end of another, which will make it particularly severe. Of course, the scenario is even more complicated, for it includes the effect of other minor cycles such as the so-called “small ice ages” or cycles of very strong winters occurring unexpectedly every 180 years approximately, which are apparently caused by the so-called “planetary synods” – the grouping of all the planets on one side of the sun while the Earth is on the other – which occur every equal number of years approximately; or like those cycles of great solar activity that occur every 11 and 80 years mainly (the 11-year cycle has later on been specified as 11 years and 29 days), which appear to influence markedly on the occurrence of draughts, volcano activity and the shifts in the Earth’s magnetism; or again, like the maximum and minimum solar cycles of 500 years each, mentioned in some recent works, which would have furthered the emergence, by turn, of the great historical civilizations. All this without doubt is an engrossing subject, a study of which would require, however, a lengthy space; so for the moment I will stop here and will be back with more in a few more days.

(First published Qassia Feb 17, 2008)

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

More about the maha-yuga and kalpas

I would like to talk a little bit more about the maha-yuga or Hindu cycle of four decreasing ages or yugas.

Perhaps the most vivid description of this key cycle is the one provided by the story of the bull Dharma as narrated in Bhagavata Purana 1, 4:17 ff. There is depicted how Dharma, “Religion,” steadily loses, one by one, his four legs on every successive age: In Satya–yuga, the primeval age in which mankind fully keeps the religious principles, and which is characterized by virtue and wisdom, he is supported by the four principles of austerity, cleanliness, truthfulness, and mercy; in Treta–yuga, the Era in which bad habits appear, he loses austerity; in Dvapara–yuga, as bad habits proliferate, he loses cleanliness; and in Kali–yuga, the Era of quarrel and hypocrisy and of the biggest degradation and spiritual darkness of all four, in which we are now, he additionally loses veracity and is only supported by mercy, which declines gradually as the time of devastation closes by.

This devastation occurs at the end of a final, ghastly period in which men become like dwarves, have extremely short life spans, and decay to unimaginable extremes of depravity. The description of this last period, which appears on the Twelfth Canto of Bhagavata Purana, usually arouses disbelief and rejection from Western readers, although such daunting images are by far not uncommon in the Western tradition (as attested, for example, on biblical texts such as Deuteronomy 28: 53, 57; 2 Kings 6:28–29; Ezekiel 5:10; Lamentation 4:10, etc., etc.). For the rest, in the current cycle such devastation would still take place about four hundred twenty thousand years from now, a date that awaits reassuringly remote in the future – at least from our limited historical perspective, and as long as we take it literally and not symbolically – and which greatly differs from those that other traditions like the Jewish and Persian establish, within the current era, as the end of time – although, as certain considerations that I will talk about in a subsequent post suggest, on the earthly-and-human proper levels the end of this cycle could very well be, so to speak, as close-by as around the corner.

Additionally, the Supreme Lord himself, as the avatara Kalki, is said to appear at the end of the Kali–yuga to destroy the demons, save his devotees and inaugurate another Satya–yuga, another Golden Age, thus starting a new cycle of four yugas.

As to the beginning of the Kali–yuga – a crucial date in our study, as it should let us calculate, once established its actual (and not symbolic) length, its ending date – Surya–siddhanta, which is perhaps the oldest astronomical treatise in the world, establishes it at midnight of the day that corresponds in our calendar to the 18th February of 3102 BC, when the seven traditional planets, including the Sun and Moon, were aligned in relation to the star Zeta Piscium. While this date certainly sounds implausible, as it contradicts all our notions about the known history on top of raising an apparently insoluble problem – i.e. the obvious incompatibility between the existence of multiple human cycles, on the one hand, and a single human cycle on the other – for the moment I will just mention that such alignment was not long ago confirmed by astronomical calculations made by computer software published in the United States by Duffet-Smith.

Let’s take a look now into the bigger cycles. If we remember, a Brahma’s day consists of one thousand maha–yugas, and his night of an equal number of them. The “day” and “night” therefore are 4’320,000 x 1,000 x 2 = 8,640’000,000 common years long. Now, since Brahma lives one hundred of his years (of 360 “days” each), a simple calculation (8,640’000,000 x 100 x 360) unveils the total length of the immense cycle of cosmic manifestation: 311’040,000’000,000 common years – a duration that theoretically is just that of a breathing period of the Maha–Vishnu, the Great Universal Form, and symbolically corresponds to the two complementary phases into which each cycle of manifestation is divided – in this case a dual, alternating movement of expansion and contraction, exhalation and inhalation, systole and diastole.

Some preliminary observations are in order here.

In the first place, regarding cosmic cycles, the Hindu tradition, like the Chinese and other ancient traditions, has always expressed their lengths mainly by symbolic numbers so as to conceal a certain knowledge that is considered confidential. Thus, in some cases, some figures may have been “disguised” by either multiplying or dividing them by a factor, or by adding to them a greater or lesser number of zeros – which does not modify their respective proportions; such may well be the case with the maha–yuga of 4’320,000 common years. For those Hindus who would not dare to question them, however, the plain, literal yuga lengths should perhaps be considered not so much strictly referred to the Earth but rather to the cosmic level; and in fact, all the difficulties inherent in the problem would be solved by including within the framework of the doctrine different planetary systems in which the cycles of four yugas unfolded successively. This hypothesis raises, however, metaphysical issues that are beyond the scope of our study, so while not excluding that in a next post I may deal with this cycle more extensively, here I have limited to mention it.

As to the kalpa of 4,320 millions of years – an appropriate study of which would indeed require a whole treatise – I must, for one thing, make it clear that its frequent identification by Western scholars with the total cosmic manifestation has been overrun by the age that modern science attributes to the universe, an age that would place it rather on a planetary level or, at best, galactic. And in effect, according to the orthodox Hindus for whom the kalpa is simply synonymous with a Brahma’s day without its corresponding night, the end of the kalpa comes with a partial dissolution of the universe by water; and as regards its duration, the doctrine abides strictly by the aforementioned figure. Now, the fact that this length of time virtually matches the 4,500 millions of years estimated by modern science for the Earth’s age (let alone the “ultimate” figure of 4,310 millions mentioned in my introductory post), certainly points to the possibility that it represents the lifetime of our planetary system; if so, it would not be unlikely that the Earth were currently very close to the end of a Brahma’s day and that its corresponding night was now approaching, even if it takes ten or twelve millions of years yet to arrive. However, all this is not by far that simple: For one thing, the related texts are in some cases quite enigmatic as suggested, for example, by the reiteration of the phrase “Those who know...” (Bhagavad–gita 8:17), so the possibility remains that the 4,320 millions of years do not actually mean the daytime but the full Brahma’s day, so that the length of the daytime would be 2,160 millions of years, and an equal number of years that of the night. So here again, the possibility that the figures may have been somehow disguised should be taken into account.

Finally, the immensely vast length of 311’040,000’000,000 common years that the texts implicitly assign to the great cycle of cosmic manifestation accommodates indeed comfortably the 15 billions of years estimated by modern physics as the age of the universe; and even if such length were deemed exaggerate – say it was a thousand times lesser, i.e. the actual figure was only 311,040’000,000 years, which is certainly not impossible if we stick to the foregoing considerations – even so the 15 billions of years would fit comfortably within that period. At any rate, it would mean that our universe is still very young and that we are now, within the immense cycle of universal manifestation, virtually at the beginning of an expansion period.

And indeed, it is amazing that it took literally millennia for the modern scientific circles to again conceive this ancient notion of a universe that “breathes,” i.e. a universe that has two phases, one in which it expands and the other in which it contracts; two phases which, by virtue of the correspondences to which cycles of any order of magnitude are subject, can be respectively assimilated to a Brahma’s day and its corresponding night, as well as to both phases of what the Hindus call a Manvantara – an old Hindu measure of time which, in my effort to integrate what we may call the Western and Eastern sides of the doctrine, I will deal with very soon in some detail .

(First published Qassia Feb 15, 2008)