The Indefatigable Time - Part 10

Hare Krishna Prabhujis and Matajis,
Please accept my humble obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada and Srila Gurudeva. 

The concepts of Time in this world can be generally divided into two: linear and circular. In the West one tends to view time as linear, which means that one regards the creation of life as a one-time occurrence that develops by gradual evolution from very simple to very advanced. While the Vedic scriptures, on the contrary, says that time is endlessly revolving in cycles of birth and death, causing deterioration but also rejuvenation of life as the cycle starts up again. 

Take for example the existence of our body. From a strict material point of view, as soon as it is born, the good body gradually starts to deteriorate by the destructive influence of time, slowly breaking down by the advancement of age and sickness, until ultimate destruction in the form of death. But cyclical time makes sure that after this, we get a new start with a fresh body. As Srila Prabhupada says in the Teachings of Queen Kunti: "This is a natural cycle of this material world. It is similar to changes of season. After spring comes summer, and after summer comes fall and then winter, and then spring again. Similarly, after day comes night, and after night comes day. And just as these cyclic changes take place one after another, we change from one body to another, and it is natural to conclude that after leaving the present body we shall receive another body (bhūtvā bhūtvā pralīyate)." That we constantly go through these cycles of creation and annihilation is confirmed in the Srimad Bhagavatam (12.4.35):

nityadā sarva-bhūtānāṁ brahmādīnāṁ parantapa
utpatti-pralayāv eke sūkṣma-jñāḥ sampracakṣate

Experts in the subtle workings of nature, O subduer of the enemy, have declared that there are continuous processes of creation and annihilation that all created beings, beginning with Brahmaa, constantly undergo.

The Bhagavatam 12.10.41 teaches us that this natural cycle is the cycle of illusory material existence the Supreme Lord has created for the conditioned souls — an endless cycle that has been continuing since time immemorial (māyā-saṁsṛtir ātmanaḥ anādy-āvartitaṁ nṝṇāṁ).

Since we are in the material world, the progress of time is generally manifesting in a "positive-to-negative" order, exemplified by the “appearance” of the sun at sunrise, which represents sattva-guna (goodness) ending at the "disappearance" of the sun after sunset which represents tamo-guna (darkness). This is manifested on a bigger scale with the yuga-cycles starting with Satya-yuga which is characterized by full goodness and virtue on all levels, gradually diminishing to 3/4th the value of virtue in Treta-yuga to 2/4th in Dvapara, to only 1/4th the value of virtue left in the present age of Kali. The Bhagavatam illustrates this point by the bull of religion, which loses one leg for each change of yuga:

"You are no other than the personality of religion… In the age of Satya [truthfulness] your four legs were established by the four principles of austerity, cleanliness, mercy and truthfulness. But it appears that three of your legs are broken due to rampant irreligion in the form of pride, lust for women, and intoxication. You are now standing on one leg only, which is your truthfulness, and you are somehow or other hobbling along. But quarrel personified [Kali], flourishing by deceit, is also trying to destroy that leg." (SB 1.17.22-25):

In other words, the opposite of evolution of mankind, namely deterioration of mankind, is taking place under the influence of time on a general scale. But again the important cyclical feature of the time element constantly makes sure of the rejuvenation or rebirth of all things destroyed. And sattva-guna, which is the material representation of the eternally stable spiritual state, is there providing goodness, but it is always a struggle to maintain it because time deteriorates everything. Thus the Bhagavatam explains that at the completion of one cycle of four yugas, everything has deteriorated to utter ruin, but then when the yugas starts on a new fresh with Satya-yuga, again there is light and goodness in all respects.

However actually we have choice to step out of the time-cycle (kāla-cakra) altogether. A cycle or cakra indicates something that goes on endlessly. So in that way Caitanya Mahaprabhu, the incarnation of God for this present age of Kali, explained that the Lord also has a spiritual time-cycle called the lila-cakra.

CC Madhya 20.393
alāta-cakra-prāya sei līlā-cakra phire
saba līlā saba brahmāṇḍe krame udaya kare

The cycle of His pastimes turns like a wheel of fire. Thus Krishna exhibits His pastimes one after the other in every universe.

Srila Prabhupada explains: "Krishna's pastimes are always present in the material world in one of the many universes. These pastimes appear in the universes one after the other, just as the sun moves across the sky and measures the time. Krishna's appearance may be manifested in this universe at one moment, and immediately after His birth, this pastime is manifested in the next universe. After His killing of Putana is manifested in this universe, it is next manifested in another universe. Thus all the pastimes of Krishna are eternally existing both in the original Goloka Vrindavana planet and in the material universes." (CC Madhya 20.397 P)

Hence to get out of the influence of the wheel of time, we need to get absorbed in the wheel of (Krishna's) pastimes.

Krishna willing we shall relish more nectar from the Bhagavatam in regards to time, in the subsequent offering.

Thank you very much.
Yours in service of Srila Prabhupada and Srila Gurudeva,
Amogha-drk Krishna das