The cyclic recurrence of the sunset and dawn
daily serves to measure life’s decay,
but burdened with his mundane tasks,
man does not grasp time’s movement;
seeing old age and pain and death,
he does not experience terror.
Drunk on the heady wine of delusion,
the world is mad in oblivion.[1]


The manifest world is created and it exists within Time. Time is the force impelling events forward (kalana) and is measured by change (pariëäm). There are three different levels of time; the supreme level of Time as a deity who motivates creation, subtle time creating the building blocks of reality and perception, and empirical time that is perceived in units.

Sound creates notes according to its frequency while light takes on color based on frequency. These frequencies are the number of waves in a portion of time. Therefore, the universe is not just made of sound, but sound frequencies, which are sound regulated by time. Time takes on qualities such as guëas, sound, color, etc., which lead to experience and emotion. Daçä is the quality of time being experienced at a particular level.

Paräçara says that the zodiac is Viñëu’s Kälarüpa; his manifestation as ‘Time’.[2] The time of birth dictates the position of planets, which indicates the karma of the individual. The time determines the unfoldment of events (via daçä) in an individual’s life. From the astrologer’s perspective, Time controls everything, and the study of astrology is the study of god as Time (kälapuruña). The birth chart is just a picture of time, and the astrologer is the one trained to read this time. Therefore, we must understand the nature of Time.


Vedas: The Eternally Turning Wheel

In the Ågveda, the natural law of the universe is called Åta. It is the way things are, the truth of how things work, the higher truth, or divine law. In the universe, everything has a time and a place; something is in line with the divine law when it is in the proper time and place. The seasons are called åtu, a fixed order or rule, they are the times of year during which certain actions are to be performed in certain ways. The word Åtu also means a right time (åtva), or the proper time for an action. When a woman ovulates it is also called the åtu, as it is the proper time to conceive. The seasons come in their proper order at their proper time. They govern the proper time to plant and the proper time to harvest. They govern the rituals and the actions of human life- all things exist and are guided by the proper time. And all things are in divine alignment (Åta) when they happen at the right time in the right place. The Ågveda symbolized Åta with solar images[3] since the Sun was the most regular (åtviya) element of time.

The order of the seasons is made by the movement of the Sun (or our movement around the Sun). The Sun is creating day and night, the months, seasons and years, which keep a steady and constant reality. The priest is called a åtvij, or one who knows the appropriate times to do ritual (yajïa), or who does ritual regularly. The Sun is the significator of dharma; that which is the right action performed by the appropriate person at the appropriate time.

The Sun is therefore the king, controlling the time of everything.[4] The Ågveda says that the Sun promotes order (Åta) and has subdued disorder (anåta), and in this way he is the incomprehensible god (acitta brahman)[5]. He is represented as a wheel indicating the order of the world in which humans live (cakraà åtasya). Çaunaka’s Båhad-devatä says the Sun is the cause of creation and destruction, of the animate and inanimate, and the past, present and future. The Sun is the Creator (Prajäpati), the eternal Spirit (Brahman) which is imperishable (akñaram).[6] The Sun is called the form of god that can be seen with the eyes (pratyakña-devatä).

The wheel of the Sun, seasons and cosmic law are the symbolic expressions of time. Time is a flow, a rhythm[7], and there are seven rhythms of the Ågveda like the seven colors/rays which are the seven horses that pull the chariot of the Sun across the sky. Time works like a wheel that spins in cycles moving forward around an unchanging axle. Everything ages, deteriorates and goes away, but the axle of time continues, unchanging, undecaying (ajara). This is basically the modern saying that “everything changes except change itself”. Change is the measurement of Time, therefore everything changes except Time who makes everything change.

In the Vedas, Time is perceived as a wheel (chakra) with a center and axle[8]. The wheel moves and everything changes but the axle, which makes everything move, remains the same. The Sun ripens everything on earth by means of days, nights, half-months, months, seasons and years[9]. The Sun rising and setting is the chakra of Time. It brings decay (jarä) to everything else, yet it is Time which is undecaying (ajara) at the axis. The Atharvaveda says that Time is Brahman, the father of Prajäpati (the creator)[10].

Everything that exists or will exist is in Time.[11] The Atharvaveda directly addresses Time (Käla) as God ‘seen in many different forms’.[12] Time produced all existence, the Sun burns in Time, the entire world is in Time, Time gives the eyes the power to see.[13] Time is not considered a phenomenon that you may or may not pay attention to, it is the cause of the world, and the whole world is situated within time and works according to it. He is the lord of all (sarvasyeçvara)[14]. Time is the cause/the driver (iñita) and the creator (jätaà), and therefore the foundation (pratiñöhita). Time is the Divine Spirit (Brahman), the power of existence (bhütva vibharti), the supreme being (parameñöhinam).[15]

Time is God. The Sun is God[16]. And there are the twelve Ädityas, and Agni who are also God. The clock has so many pieces to make it work, but it is One clock. One needs to understand the concept of God from a Vedic viewpoint. The early indologists used to argue whether the word Åta was an adjective or a subject. They defined the word as truth, either as in both the simple meaning of the word as well as a magically active cosmic power[17]. The Vedas say all these different realities are really one divine truth, eka sat, one reality. The Upaniñads say that the Time, the Sun, Viñëu, Prajäpati, “he is all these, the lord, the witness, who shines in yonder circle[18].” There are different frequencies of the Supreme, and we need to listen to all of them to understand the song of the divine. The Vedic seers were Åñis with expanded consciousness. These concepts need to be meditated upon for the nature of Time and its manifestations to be able to reveal the Supreme.


[1] Miller, Barbara Stoler, trans. The Hermit and the Love-Thief: Sanskrit Poems of Bhartrihari and Bilhaëa, p.84.

[2] BPHS, Räçi-Svarüpa-Adyäya, yadavyaktätmako viñëuù kälarupo janärdanaù | tasyäìgäni nibodha tvaà kramänmeñädiräçyaù || 2||

[3] Johnson, Poetry and Speculation of the Åg Veda, p. 82

[4] BPHS, Såñöi-Krama-Kathana-Adhyäya,v.6

[5] Åg Veda 1.152.3-5, Wheel of order (cakräm åtasya).

[6] Çaunaka’s Båhad-devatä, 1.61-62

[7] Dandekar, R.N. Åta in the Ågveda, p.2 (article in Traividyam edited by Mukherji). ”Vedic man saw definite order and harmony, regular pattern and scheme, and constancy and rhythm behind the flux”.

[8] This is seen in the Asyaväméya of Dérghatamas (1.164), Käla Sükta of the Atharvaveda (XIX.53-54), and Atharvaveda (X.VIII.4), see also commentary by Singh, S.P. Life and Vision of Vedic Seers. P. 91-116

[9] Çatapatha Brähmaëa X.4.2.19

[10] Atharvaveda, XIX.53.2

[11] Atharvaveda, Käla Sükta, XIX.53.5

[12] Atharvaveda, Käla Sükta, XIX.53.3, see also Achar, B.N. Narahari. Journal of Vedic Studies Vol. 4 (1998)

[13] Atharvaveda, Käla Sükta, XIX.53.6

[14] Atharvaveda, Käla Sükta, XIX.53.8

[15] Atharvaveda, Käla Sükta, XIX.53.9

[16] Maiträyaëa Upaniñad, VI.16

[17] Chauhan, D.V. Understanding Ågveda, p. 77

[18] Maiträyaëa Upaniñad, VI.16