Walking with the Time
The path of time has not been defined. Scientists cannot catch it entirely. And our philosophers have identified time as eternity. Looking at time from a different perspective we find that we are not out of it but in it. Time walks with us catching one of our fingers. A yogi may be free from the clutches of time for he lives in other regions of consciousness. An idiot, a mad or a nincompoop does not understand the implications of time in his life. Together they walk but are not aware of it. Every one else with some awareness and common sense, living a worldly life, realizes the effect of time on his or her body, the tangible call of time at different phases of life; the definite mark of
ageing finally leading to death. True that many do not catch the vibrations of time; the current of its passing through his body, touching his sense and mind till a time when his hairs start graying and falling, teeth begin to lose hold on gums and legs shake. Many remain unaware of his age like an uncouth country man of the time past.
The modern time is sharper. Men look sharp. There is no denying that time is passing keeping us witness to the changing Nature, conditions of our neighbours and the changing phases of market economy. We act and react with each happening.
More a modern man is sharp more he looks at himself, compares his position to others, ambition pulls him further. Progress is unlimited. A moneyed man may want more money, a man of reputation by birth and family connection try to get more reputation. The more one knows more he runs after knowledge. In every field of life’s business one may always go higher and higher.
One is bound to recognize his self-limitations, earlier or later. But there is no cause for frustration for everyone has some quality latent in himself which may bloom in time with proper care. One has to know it. On the other hand though some lucky ones may by nepotic push and pull, by traditional opportunity, by political favour or by utilizing some other privileges like caste preference or caste reservation unduly go up the ladder, it must be noted that they too suffer from the laws of limitation. Push and pull at the cost of the society may fail miserably.
In a competitive world situation one has to run to gain his or her position to the maximum extent. And in such a run time runs with him. All of us run but if we fall back time will go ahead leaving us on the road side. So the modern man has learnt the phrase- ‘Time Management’, to plan how to achieve the best in a limited time frame. But there is no guarantee that such a rat race will take us to the heights. “Keep time, look sharp, manage your time”- okay but one needs to know that time is something extremely impersonal. It waits for none, it honours everyone. Wastage of time may be a barrier to all progress and wise use of it may give us the joy of freedom.
One may pause- what is progress? What is defeat in life? He may question, Is it best to always run to gain something materialistic or to wait and see, look back? Is it worthy of us to relax and enjoy the time in entertainment? The answers are both positive and negative, they depend. While these are some of the very important and core points to ponder over, they may take us to the other areas away from time.
Catching the Time
Can we catch the time? Yes, in our circle on earth, with certain sights and sounds, some smells, with intuitive reckoning. Our biological clock tells us the rhythm of our body machines; body clock the time of our waking up from bed or our diurnal duties remind us of the time as it approaches. The smell of certain flowers at certain times tells us the time. A quivering ray of the Sun on the cornice or its position in the sky tells us the time of the day. And many people, observing the sky; the position of the moon and stars and other objects, can tell the time in the evening or night. But all these are dividing the time in our clock, devised to record the on going time as a result of the rotation of earth, moon, Sun and such bodies, in their own way.
But time is not so broken, though circled by the earth, even by the universe. It is beyond. We shall try to catch a glimpse of it, beginning with the latest prophet, going backward towards the ancient time keepers. From the beginning of civilization the scientists and philosophers were bewildered as they became aware of the presence of time and space invisibly, besides many other objects of nature surrounding them visibly and questioned their cause and effect. The big questioners and discoverers had scientific mind who had a concrete base behind their questions and findings. There were philosophers too who tried to find the answers rather than putting the questions.
Stephen Hawking’s Scientific Speculation
Stephen Hawking, the great living British scientist, has tried to probe the existence of time, space and other things in his “A Brief History of Time”.
The concluding chapter of the book, ‘Conclusion’, is interesting because he cannot arrive at any conclusion which seems quite natural for a scientist with a materialistic bend of mind, in the absence of any definite clue.
So he concludes by putting a volley of questions, may be to God himself: “Why does the universe go to all the bother of existing? Is the unified theory so compelling that it brings about its own existence? Or does it need a creator, and, if so, does he have any other effect on the universe? And who created him?” 1
Stephen is a bit frustrated and tells, in keeping with his scientific pride, “The people whose business is to ask why, the philosophers, have not been able to keep up with the advance of scientific theories. . . . Philosophers reduced the scope of their enquiries so much that Wittgenstein, the most famous philosopher of this century, said, ‘The sole remaining task for philosophy is the analysis of language.’ What a comedown from the great tradition of philosophy from Aristotle to Kant!” 2
But he is not arrogant. Humorous and understanding, he has a rational personality. He remembers that scientific theories are always susceptible to changes though many of the broad scientific discoveries and ideas are guiding us. He mentions that Newton and Einstein committed mistakes and admits that he too committed mistakes. He admits at the beginning- “Any physical theory is always provisional, in the sense that it is only a hypothesis: you can never prove it. No matter how many times the results of experiments agree with some theory, you can never be sure that the next time the result will not contradict the theory.” 3
The Concept of Time in Indian Philosophy
It is seen that by scientists and philosophers he meant only Western scientists and philosophers. But the great Oriental philosophers realized God and knew things by identity, they too formulated or wrote great philosophical treatises, not just religious books. Some of them were great adepts in astronomy, astrology and mathematics. Vedic mathematics is a great subject, being explored by some great scholars.
According to ancient or Sanatana Hindu scripture, the time is divided into equinoctial cycles of ascending and descending Arc, each divided into four Yugas; Kali, Dwapara, Treta and Satya, corresponding to the Greek ideas of four ages; Iron, Bronze, Silver and Golden Ages, wrote Yogananda. He has mentioned that a series of 13 articles by his guru, Sri Yukteswar Giri’s Yuga theory, was published in the magazine, “East-West” (Los Angeles) from September 1932 to September 1933. Yukteswar calculated each cycle to be of 24000 years. The ancients calculated the life of the universe too which was in terms of many lakhs solar years, corresponding to the present scientific speculation extending to many millions years. But ironically, none of us will remain to see the truth of such calculations extending to billions of years, which has been described as few twinkles of an eye of Brahma, the supreme Indian Godhead of creation, for our time and the divine time beyond the spheres of the universe, do not match.
In tune with the Upanishads Sri Aurobindo argues in his “The Life Divine”: “The cardinal fact is that any given Time or Space or any given Time-Space as a whole is a status of being in which there is a movement of the consciousness and force of the being, a movement that creates or manifests events and happenings; it is the relation of the consciousness that sees and the force that formulates the happenings, a relation inherent in the status, which determines the sense of Time and creates our awareness of Time-movement, Time-relation, Time-measure. In its fundamental truth the original status of Time behind all its variations is nothing else than the eternity of the Eternal, just as the fundamental truth of Space, the original sense of its reality, is infinity of the Infinite.” 4
1. Stephen Hawking. A Brief History of Time. Great Britain; Bantam Books. 1989. P.184
2. Hawking. p.185
3. Hawking. p.11
4. Sri Aurobindo. The Life Divine. Pondicherry; SABCL. Sri Aurobindo Ashram. 1970. Vol.18. p.362 –search out the page
Indian words- explained in the text
Sanatana=original, from the beginning
Yugas= equinoctial cycles of time
Kali, Dwapara, Treta and Satya= the four cycles of time, each a Yuga.
1. Stephen Hawking. A Brief History of Time. Great Britain; Bantam Books. 1989
2. Sri Aurobindo. The Life Divine. Pondicherry; SABCL. Sri Aurobindo Ashram. 1970. Vol.18