A Personal Note on The Day and Night of Brahmā

Regarding verse 17 of this chapter (8): “An age of Brahmā is a maha yuga, Great Age. There are four ages within a Great Age, which, when added together, amount to 4,320,000 of our years. There are one thousand of these Great Ages in one day of Brahmā, and the same for one night.”

It is my thinking that this huge timeframe of 4,320,000 of our years represents the length of time each of us spends coming and going through rebirths into Brahmā’s worlds. In other words, that’s how long it takes to get off the merry-go-round if we do nothing to speed up the process and just go on living ‘normal’ lives.

The four ages within each Great Age define the nature of our circumstances in these incarnations. Of the four ages, there is only one in which beings live harmoniously and are relatively ‘happy’. I don’t know about you, but I would rather go for the gold ring now.

Durga Ma

VIII:17-18 The Day and Night of Brahmā, Part 1

Previously, we learned about the World of Brahmā, and that we must rise above this realm in order to achieve liberation from death and rebirth. In these verses we will get an idea of how long we have been on this journey to freedom and eternal happiness.

Those who know that a day of Brahmā is a thousand yugas, and a night of Brahmā is a thousand yugas, are day and night knowing people.

  • Brahmā – God as Creator
  • Yuga – An age

An age of Brahmā is a maha yuga, a Great Age. There are four ages within a Great Age, which, when added together, amount to 4,320,000 of our years. There are one thousand of these Great Ages in one day of Brahmā, and the same for one night.   

This gives us a another picture that is far bigger than our usual sense of time, and some idea of how long we have been on this journey to freedom and unending happiness. One lifetime is but a blip on God’s radar. This kind of time is beyond our comprehension, but there are some who do comprehend it: the “day and night knowing people”.

In the previous issue, we found that the World of Brahmā not only refers to worlds where those not liberated from death and rebirth will return, but that it also applies microcosmically to the human body. Lord Krishna is revealing all this to Arjuna for the purpose of demonstrating the process by which liberation is attained.

In Sanskrit texts, prana and apana are usually translated as ingoing breath and outgoing breath because the breath is the way the Life Energy noticeably enters and leaves the body. Life Energy functions as sun (prana, the warmth of day) and moon (apana, the cool of the night) in the body—days and nights of Brahmā. Their cycles are yugas.

From the un-manifest, all manifestation comes forth at the arrival of day. At the arrival of night they are reabsorbed into what is known as un-manifest, again.

  • Un-manifest (avyakta) – not manifest, invisible, not perceptible to the senses.

From the un-manifest, the night, things are beyond the range of our perception. Everything becomes perceptible by the senses with the arrival of day, to be dissolved again into the night.

These cycles of day and night are the yugas within the body as a whole. At the end of the day you go to sleep, and anything you perceive is not perceived by your senses but by your power of perception. We experience this in our sleep as dreams. 

Day and Night

We are all used to thinking of darkness as being associated with evil. So as you read, try to remember that ‘dark’ (night) is simply the opposite of ‘light’ (day).

Nowadays, we are bombarded with the idea of light as divine (silently suggesting that dark is the opposite of divine, or evil). Many people have had experiences of seeing this divine light in their meditation. This is all well and good, but it creates limitation when we ignore its opposite: darkness.  

Anyone can meditate. Everyone does meditate. Most people who meditate regularly, meditate during dawn or dusk, evidence of innate knowledge that this natural transition, when darkness and light are united together, is the key to a true meditative state. 

‘Day’ refers to any situation in which things are perceived through the senses, causing the attention to become externalized and taking the life energy with it. But the means of reaching our goal requires that the energy be internalized and concentrated so that we can reach a meditative state and equanimity (samadhi). So ‘day’ isn’t really the good guy after all. Night is more to the point.

Night is when we naturally sleep—the attention and prana are not leaving the body but are restrained within it (pranayama), and the gateways to external perceptions, the senses, are closed (pratyhara). 

Sleep is the most natural form of meditation. Persons practicing Experiential (Surrender) Meditation often report that they find themselves meditating in their sleep and having the most inspiring experiences. 

The real reason sleep is not given its due is not because of darkness being associated with evil, but because Yoga and meditation have become misunderstood as things we can only accomplish through control by using our will. Once this error is corrected, we come closer to understanding the mysteries of meditation. For instance, yogic teachings on such things as yoga nidra, ‘the sleep of union (yoga)’, finally become correctly understood. Then we find ourselves in possession of knowledge that is extremely valuable to us in achieving a true meditation state, equanimity and Divine Union.

Screen Shot 2016-08-28 at 1.50.03 PMLord Shiva wears a sliver of the moon in his hair to suggest the dark of the moon. Shiva Ratri is celebrated on the darkest night of the moon each month for this reason. The word Krishna literally means ‘dark, black, the dark half of a lunar month’. So the importance of Night and darkness is inescapable.

  • Shiva Ratri – Shiva, ‘Lord of Yoga’, Ratri ‘dark of the moon’.

So now you can consider yourself a (somewhat) day and night knowing person.

Read a short personal note on the day and night of Brahmā.

Namaste (I bow to the Divine One that You really are),
Durga Ma

VIII:15-16 Brahmā’s World

In the previous verses we learned that through the practice of uniting (yoga) by resorting to God, surrendering ourselves to God, cycles of death and rebirth can be avoided. Now we will learn about the conditions under which this becomes possible.

15 – 16
Having come to Me, those great souls who have accomplished the highest are not born again into this impermanent place of suffering and unhappiness. Worlds up to
 Brahmā‘s World are subject to successive rebirths, Arjuna, but in approaching Me, rebirth is not found, Son of Kunti

In this chapter, Lord Krishna has taken to calling Arjuna by epitaphs referring to his mother, Kunti, also known as Pritha, who represents Earth. The name Kunti derives from a root meaning ‘spear or lance’, and Pritha, from ‘battle and strife’, suggesting the difficulties of this world, and urging Arjuna to get on with it.

We who are more fortunate and cannot see this world in these terms, are mistaken. This world is indeed a place of suffering and unhappiness, but we don’t like to hear things like this. We prefer to think that if we can just do better we can find fulfillment here on earth. We believe we can change things if we try harder. Evidence to the contrary is right before our eyes, but we refuse to see it.

I have always said that everyone has two life purposes, one that is unique to each individual, and one that is the same for everyone. Union with God and liberation from repeated births and deaths is the purpose that is the same for everyone. By not putting this first, we waste precious time and the opportunity to accomplish this release, while simultaneously effecting the remission of suffering for the world and those who inhabit it (truly, this is so). We make this mistake by constantly trying for a better part in the play of Life. But happiness is always temporal here. If we open our eyes to the Truth, we can attain happiness that is unending, and benefit everyone in the process. 

The worlds of Brahmā are subject to successive rebirths
There are many worlds of death and rebirth, some better and some worse than our own. These worlds are the worlds of Brahmā, God as Creator. In the larger scheme of things, Brahmā’s World consists of these worlds where we arrive upon rebirth. But there is another meaning here that translates to something more personal and immediate.

Brahmā’s World

At a personal level, Brahmā’s World of death and rebirth is up to the diaphragm, and encompasses the first three chakras: the first chakra, muladhara, ‘root holder’, the second chakra, svathishthana, ‘one’s own place’, and the third chakra, manipura, ‘jewel city’.

In this diagram, seven chakras are numbered from the bottom up on the left, and three granthis on the right:

Chakras & Granthis

Chakras & Granthis

To become liberated from death and rebirth, the escalating evolutionary force, kundalini, must rise above Brahmā’s World. The World of Brahmā lies in the region of the first first three chakras, and is delineated by the brahmagranthi, the ‘knot of Brahmā’. To get past this boundary between Brahmā’s World and the next, this knot must be pierced so that the evolutionary force can ascend through the central channel (sushumna) to the higher worlds. First, however, this force must be activated within the individual—kundalini must be awakened. But there is a catch: 

Kundalini is for yogis seeking liberation, and the fettering of fools. — Hatha Yoga Pradipika

Awakening Kundalini is not a simple matter. Those who are not interested in liberation should not disturb Her. One who awakens Her for anything other than this purpose is asking for trouble. But for the yogi (one who has achieved yoga), She is the respected and venerated Divine Mother, and the yogi wants this Divine Goddess on his side, for it is She who will deliver him.

“The worlds of Brahmā are subject to successive rebirths, Arjuna. But in approaching Me, rebirth is not found.”
Brahmā’s World, everything up to and including the brahmagranthi, is associated with the things in life and in ourselves that will cause us to be reborn into another physical world of suffering and temporal happiness. But if we get with the program and resort to God, surrender to God, in the constant practice of yoga (uniting), we are headed in the right direction. We are approaching God. With kundalini ascending to realms above the World of Brahmā, we are positioned to become “great souls who have accomplished the highest,” free of the cycles of death and rebirth.

These two verses are describing the longest part of the journey to liberation and unending happiness. In the next verses we will learn more about how this is accomplished.

Namaste (I bow to the Divine One that You really are),
Durga Ma