Cosmology

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By Krishna Maheshwari


Cosmology is the study of the origin of the universe.

In recent times, physics and astrophysics have come to play a central role in shaping what is now known as physical cosmology by bringing observations and mathematical tools to analyze the universe as a whole; in other words, in the understanding of the universe through scientific observation and experiment. This discipline, which focuses on the universe as it exists on the largest scale and at the earliest moments, is generally understood to be either

1. Big Bang Theory: begin with the big bang (possibly combined with cosmic inflation) - an expansion of space from which the Universe itself is thought to have emerged ~13.7 ± 0.2 billion (109) years ago.

or

2. modern Cyclic theory: the universe explodes into existence and collapses into almost a point singularity not just once, but repeatedly over time.

Systems of thought other than modern physics and astrophysics have described the origins of the universe in varying levels of detail with varying levels of accuracy.

The theory of the origin of the universe described in scripture matches the modern Cyclic theory of the universe propounded by modern-day scientists. Scriptures state that the universe undergoes an infinite number of deaths and rebirths.

Hinduism, according to Carl Sagan, "... 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 the 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" [1]

Mahapurana by Jinasena

The Mahapurana by Jinasena (composed in the 9th centure) states the following:

Some foolish men declare that a Creator made the world. The doctrine that the world was created is ill-advised, and should be rejected. If God created the world, where was he before creation?... How could God have made the world without any raw material? If you say He made this first, and then the world, you are faced with an endless regression... Know that the world is uncreated, as time itself is, without beginning and end. And it is based on principles.[2]

Bhagavad Gita

The Bhagavad Gita states,

All the planets of the universe, from the most evolved to the most base, are places of suffering, where birth and death takes place. But for the soul that reaches my Kingdom, O son of Kunti, there is no more reincarnation. One day of Brahma is worth a thousand yuga, known to humankind; as is each night.[3]

Thus each kalpa is worth one day in the life of Brahma, the God of creation. In other words, the four ages of the mahayuga must be repeated a thousand times to make a "day of Brahma", a unit of time that is the equivalent of 4.32 billion human years, doubling which one gets 8.64 billion years for a Brahma day and night.

This was also theorized by Aryabhata in the 6th century. The cyclic nature of this analysis suggests a universe that is expanding to be followed by contraction... a cosmos without end.

Similarity with modern scientific theory

Scientists currently propose two competing theories for the origin of the universe. One is the big bang theory that theorizes that the universe started from a zero-dimensional point and the other is that of the Cyclic Model developed by Princeton University's Paul Steinhardt and Cambridge University's Neil Turok[4]. But past incarnations of the idea have been hotly debated within the cosmological community from 2001. This theory matches the theory in scripture that the Universe has no beginning or end, but follows a cosmic creation and dissolution cycle.

Related Articles

References

  1. C. Sagan. Cosmos. Ballantine Books, New York, 1980
  2. C. Sagan. Cosmos. Ballantine Books, New York, 1980
  3. Bhagavad Gita VIII.16-17
  4. Science Express, April 2002