Dr. V.K.Maheshwari, M.A. (Socio, Phil) B.Sc. M. Ed, Ph.D.

Former Principal, K.L.D.A.V.(P.G) College, Roorkee,India

“Temporal notions in Europe were overturned by an India rooted in eternity. The Bible had been the yardstick for measuring time, but the infinitely vast time cycles of India suggested that the world was much older than anything the Bible spoke of. It seem as if the Indian mind was better prepared for the chronological mutations of Darwinian evolution and astrophysics.”

Guy Sorman, visiting scholar at Hoover Institution at Stanford and the leader of new liberalism in France

One answer to the question “What is time?” is that it is a collection of objects called “times” that ultimately reduce to relationships among events. A competing answer is that time is a substance, not a relationship among events. Before the creation of Einstein’s  theory of relativity, it might have been said that time must have these  characteristics for any event, or any pair of events   :

  • it specifies when it occurs.
  • it specifies its duration—how long it lasts.
  • it specifies what other events are simultaneous with it.
  • it specifies which happens first.

It was realized that these questions can get different answers in different frame of reference.

Time in Hindu mythology is conceived as a wheel turning through vast cycles of creation and destruction (pralaya), known as kalpa.

According to the Hindu theory of creation, time (Sanskrit ‘kal’) is a manifestation of God. Creation begins when God makes his energies active and ends when he withdraws all his energies into a state of inactivity. God is timeless, for time is relative and ceases to exist in the Absolute. The past, the present and the future coexist in him simultaneously.

In Hinduism time is known as kala. Kala means both time and death. Time is personified as the god of death, Yama, because death is a limiting factor in human life. Kala as god of death determines how long a person should live upon earth. So death and time are associated together. An individual’s time upon earth begins with his birth and ends with his death. However for the soul, there is no death. It has no time because it is without a beginning and without an end.

After a cycle of universal dissolution, the Supreme Being decides to recreate the cosmos so that we souls can experience worlds of shape and solidity. Very subtle atoms begin to combine, eventually generating a cosmic wind that blows heavier and heavier atoms together. Souls depending on their karma earned in previous world systems, spontaneously draw to themselves atoms that coalesce into an appropriate body.” – Prashasta Pada.

Surya Siddhanta: The Startlingly Accurate Astronomy Book of the 1st Millennium BC

Many people know Ravana,  in the Indian Epic the Ramayana; however, less well known are the incredible accomplishments of his father-in-law, King Maya. According to legend, the Hindu Sun god, Surya, revealed to Maya highly specific knowledge of the cosmos, presumably to allow the people of Earth to better worship him. This series of treatises is known as the Surya Siddhanta and it is the oldest book of astronomy known to exist. It is startlingly accurate.

However, the present version available is believed to be more than 2500 years old, which still makes it the oldest book on earth in Astronomy.

This book covers kinds of time, length of the year of gods and demons, day and night of god Brahma, the elapsed period since creation, how planets move eastwards and sidereal revolution. The lengths of the Earth’s diameter, circumference are also given. Eclipses and color of the eclipsed portion of the moon is mentioned.

Citation of the Surya Siddhanta is also found in the works of Aryabhata.

The work as preserved and edited by Burgess (1860) dates to the Middle Ages.

Utpala, a 10th-century commentator of Varahamihira, quotes six shlokas of the Surya Siddhanta of his day . The present version was modified by Bhaskaracharya during the Middle Ages.

The present Surya Siddhanta may nevertheless be considered a direct descendant of the text available to Varahamihira (who lived between 505–587 CE)

The Surya Siddhanta is an incredible testament to the advanced thinking of ancient Indians. In this text, one can find the roots of trigonometry as well as essential mathematical inventions such as standard notation and the decimal system. In addition, the text describes gravity over a millennium before Sir Isaac Newton developed his theory in 1687. It explains sidereal revolutions and how planets move eastward. It accurately calculates the size and position of distant planets, the length of a tropical year, and the amount of time that has passed since creation. Finally, in its discussion of how time passes at different rates under different circumstances, it contains the seeds for relativity.

Concept of Time

The tricky part about understanding Yugas in a historical context is that time is relative. Yugas pertaining to the mechanics of the universe and affairs of the gods have a different scale than those pertaining to human history.

Here is the definition given in Surya Siddhanta :

Time creates, maintains and destroys everything.
There are two types of time, finite and infinite.
Infinite time has no beginning or end.
We are currently aware only of finite time, which has beginnings and endings.

There are two types of finite time: practical and philosophical.
Measurable time is practical.
Time too small to be measured is “philosophical time.”

Practical time begins with a unit called “respiration” (prANa).
Philosophical time begins with an “atomic” unit (truTi).

. Surya Siddhanta is concerned only with practical time:

6 repirations = 1 “semi-pulse” (vinADI)
60 semi-pulses = 1 “pulse” (nADI)

A sidereal “day” (which includes the night), has 60 pulses.

There are 30 sidereal days in a month.
[Another system:] A “common” month instead has 30 sunrises.
[Another system:] A “lunar” month instead has 30 “phases” (tithi [relative distance of the Moon and Sun]).

A “tropical” month begins when the Sun enters a new zodiac sign.

There are 12 months in a year.

A year = 1 “day” for the gods.

Day for the gods is night for the anti-gods, and visa versa.
360 years = 1 “year” for the gods.

12,000 divine years = a “quadruple-age” (catur-yuga)
It is the same as 4,320,000 solar years.
These figures account for the “dawns” and “twilights” in the ages.

Each of the four ages in the quadruple-age possesses on less “foot” of the “bull” named dharma. The duration of each age (“yuga”) is a tenth of the catur-yuga multiplied by the number of legs the age possess. The durations of the twilight and dawn are each a 10th of this.

71 quadruple ages = 1 “patriarch-epoch” (manvantara)
The dawn and twilight of each manvantara is each equal to the length of Age 4, there is a catastrophic flood during this time.

14 patriach-epochs = 1 “aeon” (kalpa)
The aeon has its own dawn – the same length as Age 4 – so that there are 15 sets of transitional periods altogether in an aeon.

An aeon is thus equivalent to the duration of 1,000 quadruple-ages.

Everything is destroyed at the end of an aeon.

1 aeon = 1 daytime for Brahma (the creator), and his night is the same length

He lives for 100 years of such days and nights.
Half his life is past, and we are now in the first aeon of his second half [i.e. the first day” of his 50th “year”]

In this aeon, six patriarch-epochs have past, along with their transitions.
In the seventh patriarch-epochs (where the partiarch is named Vaivasvata) 27 quadruple-ages have past.

In this 28th quadruple-age, Age 1 has already passed.
Try to calculate the time that has passed till now!

From the beginning of the current day of Brahma, he spent 47,400 years setting up the creation of plants, stars, gods, anti-gods, etc.

The Surya Siddhanta also goes into a detailed discussion about time cycles and that time flows differently in differently circumstances, the roots of relativity. Here we have a perfect example of Indian philosophy’s belief that science and religion are not mutually exclusive.

This work shows that spirituality is all about the search for Truth (Satya) and that Science is as valid a path to God as living in a monastery. It is the search for ones own personal Truth that will lead one ultimately to God.

The astronomical time cycles contained in the text were remarkably accurate at the time.

That which begins with respirations (prana) is called real…. Six respirations make a vinadi, sixty of these a nadi

And sixty nadis make a sidereal day and night. Of thirty of these sidereal days is composed a month; a civil (savana) month consists of as many sunrises

A lunar month, of as many lunar days (tithi); a solar (saura) month is determined by the entrance of the sun into a sign of the zodiac; twelve months make a year. This is called a day of the gods. (Day at North Pole)

The day and night of the gods and of the demons are mutually opposed to one another. Six times sixty of them are a year of the gods, and likewise of the demons. (Day and Night being six months each at South Pole)

Twelve thousands of these divine years are denominated a chaturyuga; of ten thousand times four hundred and thirty-two solar years Is composed that chaturyuga, with its dawn and twilight. The difference of the kritayuga and the other yugas, as measured by the difference in the number of the feet of Virtue in each, is as follows:

A- The tenth part of a chaturyuga, multiplied successively by four, three, two, and one, gives the length of the krita and the other yugas: the sixth part of each belongs to its dawn and twilight.

B. One and seventy chaturyugas make a manu; at its end is a twilight which has the number of years of a kritayuga, and which is a deluge.

C. In a kalpa are reckoned fourteen manus with their respective twilights; at the commencement of the kalpa is a fifteenth dawn, having the length of a kritayuga.

D. The kalpa, thus composed of a thousand chaturyugas, and which brings about the destruction of all that exists, is a day of Brahma; his night is of the same length.

E. His extreme age is a hundred, according to this valuation of a day and a night. The half of his life is past; of the remainder, this is the first kalpa.

F. And of this kalpa, six manus are past, with their respective twilights; and of the Manu son of Vivasvant, twenty-seven chaturyugas are past;

G. Of the present, the twenty-eighth, chaturyuga, this kritayuga is past..

Beliefs of Hinduism associated with time

Here are some important beliefs of Hinduism associated with time as an aspect of creation.

1. Perceives time as cyclical. This is based on our own experience of time in terms of days and nights. We see this cyclical pattern in days, weeks, months, years, seasons and yugas or epochs. So from this perspective, time is a never-ending cyclical process, which is both repetitive and exhaustive. In a sense it is limited. In another it is eternal. From a spiritual perspective, time exists when we are in a state of duality but disappears when we enter into the state of unity or samadhi.

2. Each time-cycle has three components, srishti, sthithi and laya. Srishthi means creation. Sthithi means continuation and laya means dissolution. Each time cycle begins with creation, continues for certain duration of time and then dissolves into nothingness. After a brief respite, the cycle begins all over again. These three aspects of time are under the control of the Trinity, Brahma, Vishnu and Siva. Brahma is responsible for creation, Vishnu for existence and Siva for dissolution. We can see the same divisions in a day also. Each day is created in the early hours, continues throughout the day and then finally dissolves into darkness. We can see the same pattern in life also, as childhood, adulthood and old age.

3. The Hindu calculation of time comes to us from sage Ganita who is mentioned in the Manusmriti and the Mahabharata. He calculated the duration of each cycle of creation in human years. He divided the cosmic time into Kalpas, which is a day and night in the time and space of Brahma. It is considered to be equal to 8.64 billion years (Vishnu Purana). Each Kalpa consists of two Artha Kalpas of 4.32 billion years each. They are the day and night of Brahman. Each Kalpa is further divided into 1000 maha yugas. Each maha yuga is again divided into four yugas, namely krita yuga, treat yuga, dvapara yuga and kali yuga. Their duration varies. Krita yuga the first in the series has the longest duration of 1.728 million years and kali yuga, which is the last and the current, has a duration of only 432000 years.

4. The lifespan of Brahma is considered 100 Brahma years, which is known as Maha Kalpa or Parardha. It is equal to 311.04 trillion human years.

5. A day in the life of gods is equal to one year upon earth. It is divided into day and night. The day is known as uttarayana and the night as dakshinayana. They are equal to 180 days each.

6. In Hindu tradition there is another division of time called manvantara. A manavantara is the period during which the earth is ruled by a particular Manu, the father of man. The word ‘man’ comes from the Sanskrit word Manu. According to tradition, a new Manu manifests at the beginning of each manvantara to produce a new race of human beings. Each manvantara lasts for about 71 mahayugas or approximately 308 million years. In each manvantara along with Manu appear seven seers or rishis and one Indra. In all 14 Manus appear in each Kalpa over a period of 1000 mahayugas in succession. The current Manu is 7th in the line and is known as Vaivasvata Manu.

7. The current yuga or epoch is known as Kaliyuga. It is the last in the cycle of the current mahayuga or great epoch. Its calculated duration is 432000 years.

Time as a coefficient of all consciousness

The Indian philosophers are of opinion that time is a coefficient of all consciousness including external perception and internal perception. They do not recognize the perception of time as an independent entity. They believe that time is related to events or changes, and succession and duration are the two important constituents of time. They derive the perception of succession from the perception of changes, and the perception of duration from the perception of the ” specious present “. They regard the perception of the “specious present “as the nucleus of all our time-consciousness. They derive the conception of the past and the future from the perception of the ” specious present ” in which there is an echo of the immediate past and a foretaste of the immediate future. In it there is a rudimentary consciousness of the past and the future which are clearly brought to consciousness by memory and expectation respectively

The Indian philosophers discuss quite comprehensively the problems of temporal perception. The first question that arises in connection with temporal perception is whether time is an object of perception or not. According to the Vedantist philosophers, time is a coefficient of all perception. The Bhatta Mlmamsaka philosophers and Naiyayika philosophers too hold that time is perceived by both the external and the internal sense-organs as a qualification of their objects of perception.

Visual perception of time

Jayanta Bhatta has discussed the possibility of the visual perception of time. Can time be an object of visual perception ? According to the philosophers of Vaisesika philosophy, an object of visual perception must have extensity or appreciable magnitude (mahattva) and manifest or sensible colour (udbhutarupa). But time is colourless. How, then, can it be an object of visual perception ? But the Naiyayika philosophers argues : How is colour perceived though it is colourless ? Certainly an object has colour which inheres in it ; but colour itself has no colour inhering in it. And if colour can be perceived, though it is colourless, then time also can be an object of visual perception, though it is colourless. Jayanta Bhatta says that time is perceived through the visual organ ; it is a fact of experience, and so it cannot be denied, though we may not account for it as a fact of experience cannot be argued out of existence. As a matter of fact, that is visible which can be perceived through the visual organ, be it coloured or colourless ; and time can be perceived through the visual organ, though it is colourless hence none can deny the visual perception of time,

Ramakrsnadhvarin, the author of Sikhamani rightly points out that if we deny the visual perception of time because it is colourless, we cannot account for our visual perception of an object as existing at present, e.g. ” the jar exists now ” (idanlrh ghato vartate). If the present time were not an object of this perception, then there would be no certainty as to the time in which the jar is perceived to exist, but there would be a doubt whether the jar exists at present or not. But, in fact, the jar is definitely perceived as existing now; the actual perception of the jar is not vitiated by the least doubt whether the jar exists at present or not. Such an undoubted perception of an object as existing “now ” clearly shows that besides the object, an element of time also, viz. the present time, enters into the visual perception of the object.

But if time is regarded as an object of visual perception, though it is colourless, because of our visual perception of an object as existing ” now “, then it may equally be argued that akasa (ether) also is an object of visual perception, because of our visual perception of a row of herons in akasa (akase valaka). But akasa is not admitted to be an object of perception  it is regarded as a supersensible object which is inferred from sound as its substrate.  And if, in spite of our visual perception of a row of herons in akasa (akase valaka} akasa is not regarded as an object of visual perception, or of any kind of perception, whatsoever, then why should time be regarded as an object of visual perception, because of our visual perception of an object as existing ” now ” ?

It may be argued that the visual perception of a row of herons in akasa is an acquired perception like the visual perception of fragrant sandal. Just as in the visual perception of fragrant sandal the visual presentation of the sandal (i.e. its visual qualities) is blended with the representation of its fragrance perceived by the olfactory organ on a previous occasion and revived in memory by the sight of the sandal, so in the visual perception of a row of herons in akasa the visual perception of the row of herons (valdka) is blended with the idea of akasa which is represented to consciousness by another cognition by association, and so akasa is not an object of visual perception. But if this argument is valid, then it may as well be argued that the element of time which enters into every perceptive process is not an object of perception, but it is represented in consciousness by another cognition, with which it is associated in experience, and thus the element of time entering into every perception is not an object of direct perception.

The truth is that the visual perception of an object as existing ” now ” is not an acquired perception like the acquired perception of fragrant sandal, because in this perception the element of time (now) is felt as an object of direct visual perception  nor is it like the visual perception of a row of herons in akasa because akasa does not enter into the perception as a qualification (visesana} of its object. The present time is perceived as a qualification of every object of perception. Whenever an object, event, or action is perceived, it is not perceived as timeless, but as existing or occurring in time, or qualified by the present time.

And time is not only an object of visual perception, but of all kinds of perception. It is perceived by all the sense-organs, external and internal, as a qualification of their objects.  Here we are reminded of Kant’s doctrine that time is the form of external and internal perception.

Perception of Time as an Independent Entity

But though time is an object of perception, it is never perceived as an independent entity. One of the essential characteristics of time is succession, and succession is never perceived apart from changes. So we can never perceive time apart from actions or changes which occur In time. The temporal marks of before and after, sooner and later, etc., are never perceived apart from actions or changes. And if there is no distinct perception of time apart from that of changes, is it not natural to conclude that there is no perception of time, but only a perception of changes? Is time nothing but change or action ? Some hold that time apart from action is a fiction of imagination; time is identical with action or change ; time and action are synonymous. Hence there is no perception of time at all, but only that of actions(karyamatravalambana).

The Naiyayika philosopfers admits that there is no perception of time apart from that of actions. But from this it does not follow that there is no perception of time at all ; for an element of time always enters into the perception of actions as a constituent factor  actions are never perceived without being qualified by time ; actions unqualified by time or timeless actions are never perceived. The perception of time is inseparable from the perception of actions  but they are not identical with each other. Hence the legitimate conclusion is that time cannot be perceived as an independent entity, but only as a qualifying adjunct (visesana) of events or actions ; there is no perception of empty time devoid of all sensible content, but only of filled time or time filled with some sensible matter. Just as there is no perception of mere actions unqualified by time, so there is no perception of empty time devoid of all sensible content. When we perceive succession or simultaneity, sooner or later, we do not perceive mere actions, but we perceive something else which qualifies these actions, and that is time. Time, therefore, is perceived not as an independent entity, but as a qualification of the objects of perception ; there is no perception of empty time.

But it may be seen that,if time is an object of perception, why is it perceived not as an independent entity, but only as a qualification of perceptible objects ? Jayanta Bhatta says that it is the very nature of time (vastusvalhava] that it can be perceived only as a qualification of perceptible objects. This is the final limit of explanation. We can never account for the ultimate nature of things.

So time is an object of perception. The Bhatta Mlmaiiisaka also admits that time cannot be perceived by the sense-organs as an independent entity, but it is perceived by all the sense-organs as aqualification (visesana) of their own objects.

This psychological analysis of the perception of time is parallel to that of William James. ” We have no sense,” he says, ” for empty time. . . . We can no more intuit a duration than we can Intuit an extension devoid of all sensible content”  Kant’s notion of a pure intuition of time without any sensible matter is psychologically false.

Perception of the Present

Time could be linear or closed. Linear time might have a beginning or have no beginning; it might have an ending or no ending. There could be two disconnected time streams, in two parallel worlds; perhaps one would be linear and the other circular. There could be branching time, in which time is like the letter “Y”, and there could be a fusion time in which two different time streams merge into one. Time might be two dimensional instead of one dimensional. For all these topologies, there could be discrete time or continuous time.

Some deny the existence of the present time and consequently of the perception of the present. When a fruit falls to the ground, it is detached from its stalk and comes gradually nearer and nearer to the ground, traversing a certain space and gradually passing from one position to another, say, from A to B  from B to R, and so on until it comes to the ground. When the fruit has passed from A to B  the space between A and B is the space traversed, and the time related to that traversed space is that which has been passed through (patitakala or the past) ; and when the fruit will pass from B to R, the space between B and C is the space to be traversed, and the time related to this space is that which is to be passed through (patitavyakala or the future)  and apart from these two spaces, the traversed space and the space to be traversed, there is no third space left intervening between them which may be perceived as being traversed and give rise to the perception of the present time. So the present time does not exist. Here by the present time is meant the mathematical time-point which is the boundary line between the past and future. But such a time- point is never an object of actual perception. Hence there is no present time at all.  This argument reminds us of Zeno’s dialectic against the possibility of motion.

Vatsyayana rightly points out that time cannot be conceived in terms of space but only in terms of action.  Thus Vatsyayana  holds that there can be no spatial representation of time. According to him, time is perceived as qualifying an action  an action is perceived as occurring in time. When, for instance, the action of falling has ceased, and is no more, it is perceived as past ; and when the action of falling is going to happen and not yet commenced, it is perceived as future ; and when the action of falling is going on, it is perceived as present. Thus time- consciousness is found in the perception of action. When an action is no more it is perceived as past , when it is not yet begun, it is perceived as future ; and when it is going on  it is perceived as present.

If an action is never perceived as going on, how can it be perceived as no more or as not yet ? For instance, if the action of falling is not perceived as going on, how can it be perceived as having ceased, or as going to happen ? As a matter of fact, what is meant by the past time or the time ” that has been fallen through ” (patttakala] in the present case, is that the action of falling is over or no more and what is meant by the future time or the time ” to be fallen through ” (patitavyaksla) is that the action of falling is going to happen and not yet begun, so that at both these points of time, past and future, the object is devoid of action ; but when we perceive that the fruit is in the process of falling, we perceive the object in action. Thus time is perceived not in terms of space but in terms of actions  when they are perceived as going on or in the process of happening, they are perceived as present , when they are perceived as over or no more, they are perceived as past, and when they are perceived as going to happen and not yet begun, they are perceived as future. The consciousness of the present is the nucleus of the”  consciousness of the past and the future  the past and the future are built upon the present. Time is perceived only through an action ; the actual happening of an action is perceived as present ; and unless an action is perceived as happening or present, it can never be perceived as past or future, inasmuch as the action does not really exist in the past or in the future but only in the present. Hence the perception of the present cannot be denied as all our time- consciousness is centred in it.

The whole controversy hinges on the meaning of the present time. Vatsyayana takes it in the sense of the ” specious present ” or felt present .which is a tract of time. His opponent takes It in the sense of the mathematical time-point or indivisible instant which is never a fact of actual experience. Vatsyayana is right in so far as he gives a psychological explanation of the specious present which is the basis of our conception of the past and future.

The one issue upon which philosophers are deeply divided: What sort of ontological differences are there among the present, past and future? There are three competing theories. Presentists argue that necessarily only present objects and present experiences are real, and we conscious beings recognize this in the special “vividness” of our present experience. So, the dinosaurs have slipped out of reality. However,  the past and present are both real, but the future is not real because the future is .The third point of view is that there are no objective ontological differences among present, past, and future because the differences are merely subjective. This view  can be called eternalism.”

Time may be viewed either as one-dimensional or as bi-dimensional. Either it may be regarded as having only linear extension or succession, or it may be regarded as having simultaneity and succession both.

The Vedantist philosophers and some Naiyayika philosophers hold that the sensible present is not a mathematical point of time but has a certain duration ; the sensible present is a tract of time extending over a few moments it is an extended present or the ” specious present ” (vitata evakalah). According to them the ” specious present” having a certain duration yields us one unitary presentation without flickering of attention.

According to Prabhakara, in the consciousness ” I know this ” (aham idam janami) there is a simultaneity of three presentations, viz. the presentation of the knower , the presentation of the known object (this)) and the presentation of knowledge (or the relation between the knower and the known). This is Prabhakara’s doctrine of Triputl Samvit or triple consciousness.

Some Naiyayika philosophers hold that sometimes the present is perceived as extended or with a certain duration, for instance, when we perceive a continuous action, e.g. cooking, reading, etc. The sensible present is not momentary, but has a certain length of duration (vartamanaksano dtrghah) ; it is not made up of a single moment, but composed of a number of moments (ndndksanaganatmaka).

The Naiyayikaphilosophers  and the Vedantist philosophers  hold that a continuous and uniform impression bears clear testimony to the unbroken and uninterrupted existence of its object ; and consequently, it apprehends an extended present with a certain duration.

Some Naiyayika philosophers and the Vedantist philosophesr clearly recognize the importance of duration apart from which succession has no meaning. The Buddhist philosophers have argued that a presentation cannot apprehend the past and the future as they are not presented to consciousness ; it can apprehend only the present which is constituted by a single moment. The Naiyayika philosophers urges that even a momentary glance (nimesa-drsti] can apprehend the continued existence of an object. Why should, then, perception be regarded as apprehending the instantaneous present ?  Even supposing that a momentary glance cannot apprehend the past and the future, but only the present, what is the span of the present time perceived by a continuous and uniform impression (animesa-drsti} ? Is it a time-point or a tract of time ? Is it an instant or a length of duration ? The sensible present continues as long as the continuous and uniform impression persists without an oscillation of attention, and as long as it is not interrupted by another impression ; so that this single unitary presentation apprehends not an instantaneous present but a lengthened or extended present with a certain duration.

Most philosophers  believe time travel is physically possible. To define the term, we can say that in time travel, the traveller’s journey as judged by the traveller’s correct clock takes a different amount of time than the journey does as judged by the correct clocks of those who do not take the journey. The physical possibility of travel to the future is well accepted, but travel to the past is more controversial, and time travel that changes the future or the past is generally considered to be impossible.

You may have heard the remark that you have no time to take a spaceship ride across the galaxy since it is 100,000 light years across. So, even if you were to travel at just under the speed of light, it would take you over 100,000 years. Who has that kind of time? This remark contains a misunderstanding about time dilation. This is 100,000 years as judged by clocks that are stationary relative to Earth, not as judged by your clock. If you were in the spaceship that accelerated quickly to just under the speed of light, then you and your clock might age hardly at all as you traveled across the galaxy. In fact, with a very fast spaceship, you have plenty of time to go anywhere in the universe you wish to go.

Indian philosophers also believe the difference in time dimensions in other planes .we can find references of travelling to different planes and outer space and its impact on time status,in many mythology  events,(like marriage episode of Balram, the brother of Lord Krishna , with Raveti, the daughter of King Raivat, who just returned from Swarga after one month and find one complete yuga has passed here.)

A psychological investigation must not be guided by metaphysical speculation ; but metaphysics must be based on psychology. Psychologically considered, there is no mathematical point of time, but only a tract of time. That time must be regarded as present which is grasped by a single continuous impression without a break or interruption. And such an unbroken and uninterrupted impression apprehends the present as an unbroken and uninterrupted block or duration of time. Hence the sensible present is not an instant, but has a length of duration.

An object is apprehended by consciousness as having a continued existence. A pulse of consciousness, though existing at present can apprehend the past as well as the future as past and future.  The feeling of the past is not a past feeling and the feeling of the future is not a future feeling. For instance, a present recollection apprehends the past ; a present flash of intuition (pratibha jnana) apprehends the future ; and a present inference apprehends both the past and the future.

The Naiyayika philosophers  replies that peripheral action does not exist for a moment, but continues for some time. The perception of an object depends upon the intercourse of a sense-organ with an object, and this intercourse is not momentary, but persists for some time ;peripheral stimulation is not a momentary act, but a somewhat prolonged process ; and consequently perception does not apprehend an instant or a ” time-point “, but a tract of time with a certain duration,

Vatsyayana says that sometimes the present is perceived as unmixed with the past and the future, for instance, when we perceive that a substance exists. And sometimes the present is perceived as mixed up with the past and the future, for instance, when we perceive the continuity of an action, e.g. cooking, cutting, etc. Thus Vatsyayana admits that the present is sometimes perceived as having a certain duration.

According to the Vedantist phjlosophers , too, a continuous and uniform impression (dharavahikaluddhi] is a single unitary psychosis with a certain duration ; it is not a series of momentary impressions in rapid succession, as the Buddhist philosophers hold. In the continuous impression of a jar the mental mode which assumes the form of the jar is one and undivided as long as the jar is presented to consciousness without any flickering of attention, and is not interrupted by another psychosis. It is not made up of many momentary psychoses, because according to the Vedantist philosophers , a psychosis continues in the field of consciousness as long as the mind does not assume the form of a different object. So the Vedantist also admits that a continuous and uniform presentation does not apprehend an instantaneous present, but an extended present with a certain duration. Thus the Vedantist philosophers and some Naiyayika philosophers hold that the sensible present has duration, while the Buddhist philosophers hold that the sensible present is instantaneous or momentary. Certainly the former view is psychologically correct. The Buddhists deny the  specious present ” because it contradicts their fundamental doctrine of impermanence or momentariness.

The practically cognized present is no knife-edge, but a saddle- back, with a certain breadth of its own on which we sit perched, and from which we look in two directions into time. The unit of composition of our perception of time is a duration with a bow and a stern, as it were, a rearward and a forward looking end.”

Time is a real however it has many facets and it may not be possible to nail down our perception of time to any single one.

Is time more like a straight line or instead more like a circle? If your personal time were circular, then eventually you would be reborn. With circular time, the future is also in the past, and every event occurs before itself. If your time is like this, then the question arises as to whether you would be born an infinite number of times or only once.

Indian philosophers strongly believe the essentiality of time as a dimension for the existence. That is why they believe in the existence of past , present and future. According to them past provide base and future is the by-product of present. Time is continuity. Remotely it appears that this concept of time gave the base to the theory of reincarnation and rebirth.

The present is a fleeting moment; whatever is happening now (present) is confined to an infinite simply narrow point on the time line which is being encroached upon by what we think of as the past and the future. Present resembles the sharp point of a recording laser or needle; it may be mental awareness of the recording  of memory as it is being inscribed into our brain..

Unlike the present we see past and future as measurable durations of time. Past historical events,  are all measurable durations or extensions in time, just like a recorded material on tape. This similarity suggests that past is just a recorded memory, while future can be compared to an unrecorded tape. Historical events have in them the same time characteristic as stories that are just creations of human imagination. Both contain in them the time concepts of earlier, the later, the past present and the future; this again suggests that past really is similar to memory of events.

Future appears to be a projection created by our past experiences stored in our memory. The fact that the present which gives us the most real feel of time cannot be measured while the inaccessible past and future can be measured as durations strongly suggest that the way we perceive time is an illusion. Time is most likely is a concept created by our mind by merging consciousness, memories, anticipation, perception, change and motion. There however is a real underlying process and there is a cause for this process the Time is a real phenomenon a continuous change through which we live. Time becomes evident through motion; sunrise sunsets, night and day, the changing seasons, the movement of the celestial bodies all is indicative of continuous change.

The Hindu holy book, the Rig Veda (X:129), has a much more realistic view of the matter:
“Who knows for certain? Who shall here declare it?
Whence was it born, whence came creation?
The gods are later than this world’s formation;
Who then can know the origins of the world?
None knows whence creation arose;
And whether he has or has not made it;
He who surveys it from the lofty skies,
Only he knows- or perhaps he knows not.”

(source: Broca’s Brain: Reflections on the Romance of Science – By Carl Sagan p. 106 – 137).


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