Hindu Cosmic Cycle

We are always curious to know the meaning of the Sankalpam that we take before the start of a pooja or a ritual. Firstly, we need to know the Hindu Cosmic cycle.

1 Mahayuga = Sum of 4 Yugas(Krita, Treta, Dwapara and Kali) =

4,320,000 years. 1000 such mahayugas comprise a day-time of Brahma also known as a Kalpa. The kalpa is ruled by 14 manus in succession. The reigning period of a manu is one  manvantara which is 71.42 mahayugas.

There is an equivalent night-time of 4,320,000,000 years. The day-night of Brahma together constitutes one Brahma day (8.64 billion years). 360 Brahma days constitute a Brahma year while 360 years represent the lifetime of Brahma which is the life of the cosmos. Doing this simple calculation gives the age of the cosmos to be 311 trillion years.

Carl Sagan, the noted scientist says in relation to this, “”The Hindu religion is the only one of the world’s great faiths dedicated to the idea that the Cosmos itself undergoes an immense, indeed an infinite, number of deaths and rebirths. It is the only religion in which the time scales correspond, to those of modern scientific cosmology. Its cycles run from our ordinary day and night to a day and night of Brahma, 8.64 billion years long. Longer than the age of the Earth or the Sun and about half the time since the Big Bang. And there are much longer timescales still.”

We are presently in the Sveta-Varaha kalpa in the reigning period of Vaivaswatha – the 7th manu. In this manvantara we are in the 28th mahayuga. As per our Cosmology, Brahma is supposed to have completed 50 Brahma years and is in his51st year. That is why he is called “Parardha-dvaya-jivin”(ie) he lives for two parardhas. A parardha is half.

Two halves make one. He is called so as he has completed one half of his tenure. These terminologies makes better sense in relation to the Sankalpa.

The actual Sankalpa mantraand its meaning runs like this

“…. dviteeya parardhe -in the 2nd half of Brhama’s life

Svetavaraha kalpe – in the kalpaof Sveta-Varaha

Vaivaswatha manvantare – in thereining period of the current manu


Ashta Vimsati tame – in the 28thmahayuga of the current manavantara

Kaliyuge – in this kali yuga

Prathame Padhe – in the firstquarter of this yuga

Jamboodveepe – this denotes theplace where the ritual is performed. India

was known as Jambudveepa

Bharata Varshe, Bharata Kande -in the land of Bharat

Sakhabde Mero, Dakshine Parsve -to the South of the Meru mountain

Asmin Varthamane Vyavaharike -in the current period now reigning

Prabhavadi Shasti SamvatsaranamMadya – among the cycle of 60 years

starting from Prabhava

Nama Samvatsare – the name ofthe year in the 60 year Hindu calendar

….Ayane – Dakshinayane (Aadito Marghazi) or Uttarayane (Thai to Aani)

….Ritou – denotes the 6seasons or Ritus – Vasantha, Greeshma, Varsha,

Sharadh, Hemantha and Shishira

….Mase – one of the 12 tamilmonths

….Pakshe – either ShuklaPaksham (day after Amavasya till and including

Pournami) or Krishna Paksham(day after Pournami till and including


….Subha Thithou – one of the15 days between Pournami and Amavasya

(Prathama, Dvithiya, Trithiya,Chaturthi, Panchami, Shasti, Saptami,

Ashtami, Navami, Dasami,Ekadasi, Dwadashi, Trayodasi, Chaturdasi,

Pournami or Amavasya

….Vasara Yuktayam – one of thedays of the week (Bhanu, Soma, Bhowma,

Soumya, Guru, Brugu and Sthira)

….Nakshatra Yuktayam – theday’s star or Nakshatram.

After saying the above the nameof the ritual is said. The Paramacharya

says the Sankalpam is a kind ofrecord of what you performed with finer

details going down to the dayand location of the ritual. It seems to me the

forerunner for a kind ofbookkeeping or a system of maintaining minutes of

a meeting.

Sankalpam: Detailed explanation

Let us understand the meaning of the phrases that the Sankalpam is comprised of. To understand the phrases in the Sankalpam we need to understand the concept of the Cosmic Cycle and Cosmic time calculations

Cosmic Cycle

Time, as per Hindu practices, has evolved and revolves around the life cycle of Brahma, the Creator. This is known as the Hindu Cosmic cycle. Cosmic cycles are infinitely recurring periods of the universe, comprising its creation, preservation and dissolution.

Time Calculations

We start by using a calendaryear as the basis. Unless otherwise specified, year shall mean a Calendar Year. One year for humans represents one day for the divine beings. 360 such divine days make one divine year. 12,000 such divine years makes a Mahayuga comprising the 4 yugas of Krita, Treta, Dwapara and Kali yugas.

i.e. each Yuga comprises of thefollowing calendar years:

• Kali yuga 432,000 years

• Dwapara yuga 864.000 years

• Treta yuga 1,296,000 years

• Krita yuga 1,728,000 years.


Total for one Mahayuga (Also called Chatur Yuga) = 4,320,000 years or 4.32 million years.

72 Mahayugas constitutes one ‘Manvantara’ (i.e.) the life of a Manu, the law giver ( we are in the 28thMahayuga)

14 such Manvantaras make one dayor Kalpa of the Creator Brahma.

2 kalpas = 1 day and night of Brahma ( called Ahoratras )

360 ahoratras = 1 year of Brahma


Half the life span of Brahma, OR50 Brahma years. We are in the 51st Brahma Year, OR the second or Dwiteya Pararadhe

Two Parardhe : Life span of Brahma ie 100 years

After that, pralaya equal to the duration of 2 parardhas take place, and at

its end, a new cycle starts.

Jamboo dveepE

Then , the Sankalpa refers to the geographical position of the place where the ritual is performed. This could be the historical or mythological name of the place. Sri Bhagavatham deals with the geography of the world in a great detail. It divides the world into seven dweepas. India is in Jambu dweepa and America in Krauncha dweepa.

BhArata varshE, Bharata:khaNDE, SakAbde, merO: dakshiNE pArSvE

In the geographical part to the south of the Meru Mountain in the land of Bharata. Meru is the mythological heavenly mountain, and our planet Earth is south of it. Technically , this also means that this particular term merO:

dakshiNE pArSvE would be applicable to all parts of the world.

……nAma samvatsarE

Resuming the reference to time,the Sankalpa proceeds further as follows:

Samvatsaram is a Year. Hinducalendar has a 60 year cycle. Next year is Nandhana corresponding to the Year (2012 -2013)

……AyaNE (Ayanam)

As per calendars based on thesolar system the year is divided into two halves in accordance with the movement of the sun, Northwards and Southwards. The former is termed Uttaraayanam and the latter Dakshinaayanam.

Dakshinayanam (6 months) – Aadi to Margazhi

Uttarayanam (6 months) – Thai to AaNi

……Ritou (Rithus)

The year is divided into 6 seasons or RITUS, which correspond to 2 months

each of the Lunar Calendar. These are as follows:

• Chithirai & Vaikasi =Vasantha Rithu (March-April, April-May)

• Aani & Aadi = Greeshama Rithu (May-June, June-July)

• Aavani & Puratasi = Varsha Rithu (July-Aug, Aug-Sep)

• Iypasi & Karthigai =Sharadh Rithu (Sep-Oct, Oct-Nov)

• Markazhi & Thai = Hemantha Rithu (Nov-Dec, Dec-Jan)

• Masi & Panguni = Shishira Rithou (February/March)

……Subha-tithau (Thithis)

These are days of the month calculated from the day after Pournami, till

Amavasya, or vice versa.

Pournami/Amavasya + 1: Prathama

+ 2. Dvithiya

+ 3. Trithiya

+ 4. Chaturthi

+ 5. Panchami

+ 6. Shashti

+ 7. Saptami

+ 8. Ashtami

+ 9. Navami

+ 10. Dasami

+ 11. Ekadasi

+ 12. Dvadashi

+ 13. Trayodasi

+ 14. Chaturdasi

+ 15. PourNami OR Amavasya

……mAsE (Months)

• Chitirai – Mesham April – May

• Vaikasi – Rishabam May – June

• Aani – Mithunam June – July

• Aadi – Kadakam July – August

• Aavani – Simham August – Sep

• Puratasi – Kannya Sep – Oct

• Iypasi – Tulam Oct – Nov

• Karthigai – Virchikam Nov -Dec

• Markazhi = Dhanur Dec – Jan

• Thai – Makaram Jan – Feb

• Masi – Kumbam Feb – March

• Panguni – Meenam March – April

……pakshE (Paksham)

Shukla Pakshe: day after Amavasya till and including Pournami

Krishna Pakshe: day after Pournami till and including Amavasya


……vAsara (days of a week)

• Sunday: Bhanu Vasara;

• Monday: Indu /Soma Vasara;

• Tuesday: Bhowma Vasara;

• Wednesday: Soumya Vasara;

• Thursday: Guru Vasara;

• Friday: Brugu Vasara;

• Saturday: Sthira Vasara

……nakshatra yuktAyAm (Nakshatram)

Aswani/ Aswinee ,

BharaNi/ apabharaNee ,

Kaarthikai/ Krutthikaa ,

ROhiNi/ ROhiNee ,

Mrugaseersham/ Mrugasiras ,

thiruvAdhirai/ AardhrA ,

Punarpoosam / PunarvasU ,

Poosam / Pushyam,

Aayilyam/. AaslEshA ,

Makam / MaghA ,

Pooram/ Poorvabhalgunee ,

Hastham/ HasthA ,

Chittirai/ ChithrA ,

SvAthi / SvAthee ,

VisAkam/ VisAkaa ,

anusham/ anurAdhA ,

KEttai/ JyEshtA ,

Moolam/ Moolaa ,

PoorAdam/ , PoorvAshADaa ,

UttharAdam/ UtthaAshAdaa ,

ThiruvONam/ SravaNam ,

Avittam/ Dhanishtaa ,

Sathayam/ Sathabhishak ,

PorrattAthi/ Poorvabhadhra ,

UttharattAdhi/UthrabhdhrA ,

Revathy/REvathee .


The following is a worked out example of the Sankalpam. This is for Yajur

Upakarma for Saturday,16th August, 2008. The Ritual Year was

Sarvadhari,it was Dakshinayane (since it was Adi month) Kataka Mase, the

ritual name for the month ofAdi, Shukla Pakshe since it was pournami and

paksham would change the nextday, Pourniasyam, the name for

Pournami,and since it was Saturday, it was Sthira vaasa. The star of the

day was Sravana.

SrI govinda govindagovinda!

asya SrI-bhagavata:

mahA purushasya

vishNor AgjnayA


aadhya brahmaNa:





prathamE pAdE,

Jamboo dveepE,

BhArata varshE,

Bharata: khaNDE,


merO: dakshiNE pArSvE

asmin vartamAnEvyAvahArikE,

PrabhavAdi shashTi samvatsarANAmmadhyE

Sarvadhaari Naamasamvathsare


greeshma rithou

kataka Maase

Sukhla Pakshe

Pournamaasyaam subhathithou

sthira vaasara

SravaNa Nakshathra



Subha-yOga, Subha-karaNa,

Yevam guNa,-viSeshaNaviSishTAyAm,

asyAm ……AsyAm Subha-tithou,

SrI-Bhagavad-AjnayA, Sri Bhagavat-kainkarya-roopam