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THE FOUR CATEGORIES OF THE UNIVERSAL ANNIHILATION
There are four kinds of annihilation sumarized as constant, occational, material and final.
1) When a person achieves knowledge of his relationship with Krishna or when he understands his factual identity, he is then liberated from the material nature. This is called final annihilation or Atyantika.
(S.B.Canto 12 Ch.4)
At the time of devastation, when Lord Ananta desires to destroy the entire creation, He becomes slightly angry. Then from between His eyebrows, the three-eyed Rudra carrying a trident becomes manifested. This Rudra who is known as Sankarsana is the embodiment of the eleven Rudras. He appears to devastate the creation.
In each creation the living entities are given a chance to go back to Godhead. When they misuse this opportunity and do not go back home, Lord Sankarsana becomes angry and annihilates the universe.
2) When Brahma's life span is finished there occurs the Prakrtika or total material annihilation. At that time the entire universal egg is destroyed.
As the annihilation approaches there will be no rain on the earth for one hundred years. Drought will lead to famine and the starving populace will consume one another. Thus they will gradually be destroyed.
The sun will then drink the water of the oceans, of the living bodies and of the earth itself. But the devastating sun will not give rain in return.
Next the fire of annihilation will flare up from the mouth of lord Sankarsana. Carried by the mighty wind, this fire will burn throughout the universe, scorching the lifeless cosmic shell. Burned from all sides, from above by the blazing sun and from below by the fire of Lord Sankarsana, the universal sphere will glow like a burning ball of cow dung. A great and terrible wind of destruction will begin to blow for more than one hundred years, and the sky, covered with dust, will turn grey.
After that, groups of multicolored clouds will gather, roaring terribly with thunder, and will pour down floods of rain for one hundred years. At that time, the shell of the universe will fill up with water, forming a single cosmic ocean. As the entire universe is flooded, the water will rob the earth of its unique quality of fragrance, and the element earth, deprived of its distinguishing quality, will be dissolved.
The element fire then seizes the taste from water and water merges into fire. Air seizes form from fire and fire merges into air. Ether then seizes the quality of touch from air and air merges into ether. False ego in ignorance seizes sound from ether. False ego in passion seizes the senses and false ego in goodness seizes the demigods. The mahat-tattva seizes false ego and thus everything is wound up.
3) One thousand cycles of the four yugas constitute one day of Brahma. During his night Brahma sleeps and the three planetary systems meet destruction. This is called Naimittika or occational annihilation.
When Brahma's night appears, the sun and the moon are without glare. The sun and the moon do not vanish, they appear in the remaining portion of the universe.
The devastation takes place due to fire emanating from the mouth of Sankarsana. The great sages like Bhrgu and other inhabitants of Mahaloka, transport themselves to Janaloka, being disturbed by the warmth of the blazing fire that rages throughout the universe. At the beginning of devastation all the seas become ferocious and in no time all the three worlds become full of water. The fire from Sankarsana's mouth rages for 36,000 years. Then for another 36,000 years there are torrents of rain with wind, etc., and the oceans overflow. These reactions for 72,000 years are the beginning of the partial devastation of the three worlds. When Brahma goes to sleep, the three worlds below Brahmaloka are submerged in the water of devastation. In his sleeping condition Brahma dreams about the Garbhodakasayi Vishnu and takes instruction from the Lord how to recreate the devastated area.
(S.B.Canto 3 Ch 11)
There is also a partial annihilation up to the earthly planet after the period of each Manu.
4) At every moment time invisibly transforms the bodies of all created beings and all other manifestations of matter. This process of transformation causes the living entity to undergo the constant annihilation of birth and death.
Those possessed of subtle vision state that all creatures, including Brahma himself, are always subject to generation and annihilation. Material life means birth and death or generation and annihilation. The only boat suitable for crossing the ocean of material existence, which is otherwise impossible to cross, is the boat of submissive hearing of the nectarean pastimes of the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
(S.B. Canto 12 Ch 4)