Time I Am


Back To Godhead, Vol. 12, No. 10, October 1977

Sep 19, 2013 — CANADA (SUN) — The earliest Western formulation of a general law describing the nature of Time was written by Anaximander of Miletus in the Sixth century B.C.:

    "The source from which existing things derive their existence is also that to which they return at their destruction, for they pay penalty and retribution to each other for their injustice according to the assessment of Time."

While even recorded time eludes man's attempts to understand it, the totality of time would likely overwhelm one trying to envision it. Thanks to the mercy of the Sampradaya Acaryas, however, we are given a very explicit understanding of Eternal Time. In Chapter 11 of Teachings of Queen Kunti, Srila Prabhupada writes:

    "Another name of the Paramatma feature of the Lord is kala, or eternal time. Eternal time is the witness of all our actions, good and bad, and thus resultant reactions are destined by Him. It is no use saying that we do not know why we are suffering. We may forget the misdeed for which we may suffer at this present moment, but we must remember that Paramatma is our constant companion and therefore He knows everything--past, present, and future. And because the Paramatma feature of Lord Krsna destines all actions and reactions, He is the supreme controller also. Without His sanction not a blade of grass can move. The living beings are given as much freedom as they deserve, and misuse of that freedom is the cause of suffering. The devotees of the Lord do not misuse their freedom, and therefore they are the good sons of the Lord. Others, who misuse freedom, are put into miseries destined by the eternal kala. The kala offers the conditioned souls both happiness and miseries. It is all predestined by eternal time. As we have miseries uncalled for, so we may have happiness also without being asked, for they are all predestined by kala. No one is therefore either an enemy or friend of the Lord. Everyone is suffering and enjoying the result of his own destiny. This destiny is made by the living beings in course of social intercourse. Everyone here wants to lord it over the material nature, and thus everyone creates his own destiny under the supervision of the Supreme Lord. He is all-pervading and therefore He can see everyone's activities. And because the Lord has no beginning or end, He is known also as the eternal time, kala."

As Sri Krsna explains in Bhagavad-gita: "Time I am".

    "The complete universe is a manifestation of varieties of entities, beginning from the atoms up to the gigantic universe itself, and all is under the control of the Supreme Lord in His form of kala, or eternal time. The controlling time has different dimensions in relation to particular physical embodiments. There is a time for atomic dissolution and a time for the universal dissolution. There is a time for the annihilation of the body of the human being, and there is a time for the annihilation of the universal body. Also, growth, development and resultant actions all depend on the time factor."

    (Srimad-Bhagavatam 3:10:10 Purport)

In the Atharva Veda, there are six suktas dealing with the subject of time, or kala. A distinction is made between the methods of marking time and the abstract concept of time itself. While nature's time is marked by the seasons, and human time by the practice of astrology, the sages composing Atharva Veda declare in hymns 19.53-54 that time is an abstract entity which causes all the dynamics seen in the universe.

Atharva Veda 19.53.6 declares tht time created earth, the Sun burns in time, and all existences are defined in time. 19.53.7 states that the concept of mind exists in time only, because we know the mind by the changes in our thoughts, etc., and all chanting entities exist in time only.

    "Above the modes of nature is eternal time, which is called kala because it changes the shape of everything in the material world. Even if we are able to do something temporarily beneficial, time will see that the good project is frustrated in course of time. The only thing possible to be done is to get rid of eternal time, kala, which is compared to kala-sarpa, or the cobra snake, whose bite is always lethal. No one can be saved from the bite of a cobra. The best remedy for getting out of the clutches of the cobralike kala or its integrity, the modes of nature, is bhakti-yoga, as it is recommended in the Bhagavad-gita (14.26)."

    (Srimad-Bhagavatam 1:13:46 Purport)


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