Chapter 8: Attaining the Supreme
ahar yad brahmano viduh
te 'ho-ratra-vido janah
sahasra—thousand; yuga—millenniums; prayantam—including; ahaù—day; yat—that; brahmaëaù—of Brahmä; viduù—know it; rätrim—night; yuga—millenniums; sahasra-antäm—similarly, at the end of one thousand; te—that; ahaù-rätra—day and night; vidaù—understand; janäù—people.
By human calculation, a thousand ages taken together is the duration of Brahmä's one day. And such also is the duration of his night.
The duration of the material universe is limited. It is manifested in cycles of kalpas. A kalpa is a day of Brahmä, and one day of Brahmä consists of a thousand cycles of four yugas or ages: Satya, Tretä, Dväpara, and Kali. The cycle of Satya is characterized by virtue, wisdom and religion, there being practically no ignorance and vice, and the yuga lasts 1,728,000 years. In the Tretä-yuga vice is introduced, and this yuga lasts 1,296,000 years. In the Dväpara-yuga there is an even greater decline in virtue and religion, vice increasing, and this yuga lasts 864,000 years. And finally in Kali-yuga (the yuga we have now been experiencing over the past 5,000 years) there is an abundance of strife, ignorance, irreligion and vice, true virtue being practically nonexistent, and this yuga lasts 432,000 years. In Kali-yuga vice increases to such a point that at the termination of the yuga the Supreme Lord Himself appears as the Kalki avatara, vanquishes the demons, saves His devotees, and commences another Satya-yuga. Then the process is set rolling again. These four yugas, rotating a thousand times, comprise one day of Brahmä, the creator god, and the same number comprise one night. Brahmä lives one hundred of such "years" and then dies. These "hundred years" by earth calculations total to 311 trillion and 40 million earth years. By these calculations the life of Brahmä seems fantastic and interminable, but from the viewpoint of eternity it is as brief as a lightning flash. In the causal ocean there are innumerable Brahmäs rising and disappearing like bubbles in the Atlantic. Brahmä and his creation are all part of the material universe, and therefore they are in constant flux.
In the material universe not even Brahmä is free from the process of birth, old age, disease and death. Brahmä, however, is directly engaged in the service of the Supreme Lord in the management of this universe-therefore he at once attains liberation. Elevated sannyäsés are promoted to Brahmä's particular planet, Brahmaloka, which is the highest planet in the material universe and which survives all the heavenly planets in the upper strata of the planetary system, but in due course Brahmä and all inhabitants of Brahmaloka are subject to death, according to the law of material nature.