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I'm interested to know:

  • Is time an eternal aspect of all the worlds or is it specific to our particular world?
  • How is this concept of eternity handled? Specifically, Is it different when it is future looking as opposed to the past? In other words, how is the qualitative experience of the past reconciled with the qualitative experience of future(according to the Vedas)?
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    Eternity is understanding that you were always there. The notion of time is leela, if you become mukta you will realize that you existed along with Shriman Narayana for eternity there is no beginning and end to you. BG chapter 2 Krishna explains there is no time when you didn't exist(krishna to arjuna). – Yogi Mar 6 '17 at 20:16
  • Yes, yet it is still interesting to understand what the Vedas directly say about this :) – DirghaChintayanti Mar 6 '17 at 20:27
  • First, whether there is a cosmic multiverse or there is a universe is not defined in the vedas and is scientific speculation as it has not been established by science one way or the other. Scientific speculation is not allowed on this forum, edit your question. Time is eternal as Maya is eternal. Time is within Maya. Time is eternal in both directions. How could time be eternal in one direction? If it was only in one direction, then it would not be eternal. There is no 'loop'. Infinite past and infinite future. – Swami Vishwananda Mar 7 '17 at 9:49
  • There exists a multiplicity of worlds according to hindu cosmology, is that a fair statement to make? I meant cosmic multiverse and our universe in that sense. I have edited my question to reflect this understanding. Please let me know if further clarification is necessary. – DirghaChintayanti Mar 7 '17 at 9:54
  • The word 'worlds' in vedic terms can be interpreted in different ways. It does not necessarily mean worlds on the material plane of existence - which is a modern mode of thinking. It can also means worlds in other planes of existence such as the various lokas - heavens. – Swami Vishwananda Mar 8 '17 at 9:25
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In the Svetasvatara Upanishad there is a part called Jnana Mimamsa in the beginning. And one question is asked there as:

कालः स्वभावो नियतिर्यदृच्छा भूतानि योनिः पुरुष इति चिन्त्या ।
संयोग एषां न त्वात्मभावा-दात्माप्यनीशः सुखदुःखहेतोः ॥ २॥ (Shwetashwatara Upanishad 1.2)

Should time, or nature, or necessity, or chance, or the elements be regarded as the cause? Or he who is called the purusha, the living self?

And finally it is established that Purusha is the cause and not Time. The Upanishad also states:

स्वभावमेके कवयो वदन्ति
            कालं तथान्ये परिमुह्यमानाः ।
देवस्यैष महिमा तु लोके
            येनेदं भ्राम्यते ब्रह्मचक्रम् ॥ १॥ (Sve. Up. 6.1)

Some learned men speak of the inherent nature of things and some speak of time, as the cause of the universe. They all, indeed, are deluded. It is the greatness of the self−luminous Lord that causes the Wheel of Brahman to revolve.

And Brahman is also called as Maker of Time (Kãlãkãro).

येनावृतं नित्यमिदं हि सर्वं ज्ञः
              कालकारो गुणी सर्वविद् यः ।
तेनेशितं कर्म विवर्तते ह
             पृथिव्यप्तेजोनिलखानि चिन्त्यम् ॥ २॥ (Sve. Up. 6.2)

He by whom the whole universe is constantly pervaded is the Knower, the Maker of time. He is sinless and omniscient, It is at His command that the work which is called earth, water, fire, air and akasa appears as the universe. All this should be reflected upon by the wise.

So, Brahman is the Maker of Time. So, what can we call to Brahman related with Time? We can call him 'Time of the Time.' (Kãlaķãlo)

स विश्वकृद् विश्वविदात्मयोनि-
               र्ज्ञः कालकालो गुणी सर्वविद् यः ।
प्रधानक्षेत्रज्ञपतिर्गुणेशः
               संसारमोक्षस्थितिबन्धहेतुः ॥ १६॥ (Sve. Up. 6.16)

He who is the support of both the unmanifested prakriti and the jiva, who is the Lord of the three gunas and who is the cause of bondage, existence and Liberation from samsara, is verily the Creator of the universe, the Knower, the inmost Self of all things and their Source−the omniscient Lord, the Time of time, the Possessor of virtues, the Knower of everything.

Hence, Brahman is called 'The Time of Time' / 'Kãlakãlo' / 'The destroyer of Time' / Mahakãla.

Now, to this Mahãkala or 'Time of Time' there is a hymn called Kãla Sukta in Atharvaveda where properties of time are spoken. 19.53 and 19.54 are the Hymns to Mahakãla where Properties of Time are also spoken.

One of the important property of time which I also discuss here that time causes the Universe to appear in multiform:

पूर्ण कुम्भोदिः काल आहितस्तं वै पश्यामो बहुदा नु सन्तः । [AtharvaVeda 19.53.3]

A full pot has been placed in Time and it is that which we see manifoldly.

Similarly Kãla Suktam also states:

कालो ह भूत भव्यं च पुत्रो अजनयत् पुरा ।
कालिदृचः समभवन्यजुः काल अजायत ।। (AtharvaVeda 19.54)

Time is that which was and which shall be produced. From time sprang the Rig Veda, SamaVeda and YajurVeda.

This verse explicitly proves that Mahãkãla is same as Purusha as the Purush Suktam of the Vedas also state:

पुरुष एवेदं सर्वं यद्भूतं यच्च भव्यम् ।
तस्माद्यज्ञात्सर्वहुत ऋचः सामानि जज्ञिरे ।
छन्दांसि जज्ञिरे तस्माद्यजुस्तस्मादजायत ॥९॥

Purusha is all that was and that shall be. From his sacrifice came Rig Veda, SamaVeda, YajurVeda and Chhandas.

Other properties of Time described in Kãla Sukta are:

From Time sprang the Waters, sprang the regions, Brahma, Holy Fire. The Sun ascends by Time, and in Time sinks again to rest. By Time freshly blows the wind, mighty through Time is the Earth: on Time rests the mighty Sky. In Time erst the text produced what is and what is yet to be. From Time sprang the Richas, and from Time was the Yajus born. They formed in Time sacrifice, eternal portion for the Gods.In Time the Gandharvas and Apsarasas and worlds abide. Atharvan and this Angiras in Time are supreme o'er heaven.Both this world and the world that is most lofty, the pure worlds and pure intermediate spaces, Yea, having conquered all the worlds by Brahma, Time as God Supreme is supplicated. (Atharvaveda 19.54)

And in the 53rd chapter:

Prolific, thousand-eyed, and undecaying, a horse with seven reins Time bears us onward. Sages inspired with holy knowledge mount him: his chariot wheels are all the worlds of creatures. This Time hath seven rolling wheels and seven naves immorality is the chariot's axle. This Time brings hitherward all worlds about us: as primal Deity is he entreated. Time is laid an overflowing beaker: this we behold in many a place appearing. He carries from us all these worlds of creatures. They call him Time in the loftiest heaven. He only made the worlds of life, he only gathered the worlds of living things together. Their son did he become who was their Father: no other higher power than he existeth. Time created yonder heaven, and Time made these realms of earth.  By Time, stirred to motion, both what is and what shall be  expand. Time created land; the Sun in Time hath his light and heat. In Time rest all things that be: in Time doth the eye discern. In Time mind, in Time breath, in Time name are fixed and joined. These living creatures, one and all, rejoice when Time hath  approached. Time embraces Holy Fire, the Highest, Brahma in himself. Yea, Time, who was father of Prajāpati, is Lord of All. He made, he stirred this universe to motion, and on him it rests. He, Time, having now become Brahma, holds Parameshthin up Time created living things and, first of all, Prajāpati.From Time self-made Kasyapa, from Time Holy Fire was born. (Atharvaveda 19.53)

Thus above mentioned are the properties of Time mentioned in Kãla Sukta of Atharvaveda. In conclusion we can say Brahman is 'Time of Time' hence called 'Kãlakãla'. And he is also the Maker of Time in different realms hence called 'Kãlakãra.'

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    good answer. see also Pancadasi II.38 and Chandogya VII.24.1 – Swami Vishwananda Mar 8 '17 at 9:42
  • Thanks for the answer - a few questions remain, 1) so does this mean that vedas don't talk about the reason for the qualitative differences in the way we perceive the past and future? 2) Also, my question was not regarding what does time cause, it was what causes time. So the first two block quotes are not relevant to the answer, you might want to edit them out... – DirghaChintayanti Mar 8 '17 at 10:03
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    ...3) Brahman is the maker of time is not being contested, the question at hand is whether it is an aspect of all the infinite "worlds" (including lokas etc,.) - what i'm asking is do the vedas state that time is an aspect of all these worlds (whose underlying cause is brahman undoubtedly) or is it possibly that it is not present in some of the other worlds amongst the innumerable worlds sustained by Brahman? – DirghaChintayanti Mar 8 '17 at 10:03
  • @anuvaramban The first quotes are necessary to make clear that there is difference between 'Time' and "Time of Time'... By 'Kalakaro' we can understand that Brahman is the maker if time, we can now intrepret it as he can make time flow differently in different directions and so on... – Tejaswee Mar 8 '17 at 10:12
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    I fail to understand why It is not sufficient to start with Brahman is kalakaro verse to support your purport. – DirghaChintayanti Mar 8 '17 at 10:28

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