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.
Lord 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.
Namaste (I bow to the Divine One that You really are),