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This cosmic manifestation is not permanent. It is created, and it is again annihilated, and the whole energy is wound up into the body of the Supreme Lord. It comes out, and again it is wound up. Prakriti is not independent. It is dependent on the Supreme Lord. This material cosmic manifestation is a chance for the conditioned souls to return back to the eternal nature. Otherwise bhutvd bliutva prallyate (Bhagavad-gita 8.19) The material manifestation is created, it is maintained and it is annihilated and the cycle repeats itself.
The Four Milleniums
The four millenniums are called the Satya, Treta, Dvapara and Kali yugas. The aggregate number of years of all of these combined is equal to twelve thousand years of the demigods.One year of the demigods is equal to 360 years of the human beings. The cycle of Satya is characterized by virtue, wisdom and religion, there being practically no ignorance and vice, and the yuga lasts 1,728,000 years. In the Treta-yuga vice is introduced, and this yuga lasts 1,296,000 years. In the Dvapara-yuga there is an even greater decline in virtue and religion, vice increasing, and this yuga lasts 864,000 years. And finally in Kali-yuga (the yuga we have now been experiencing over the past 5,000 years) there is an abundance of strife, ignorance, irreligion and vice, true virtue being practically nonexistent, and this yuga lasts 432,000 years.In the Satya millennium, complete execution of religious principles prevailed. Gradually, the principles of religion decreased by one part in each of the subsequent millenniums. In other words, at present there is one part religion and three parts irreligion. Therefore people in this age are not very happy.
Brahma's Day And Night
The duration of the material universe is limited. It is manifested in cycles of kalpas. When a Brahma is newly born it is called mahakalpa and the end of Brahma is called mahapralaya. A kalpa is a day of Brahma, and one day of Brahma consists of a thousand divya yugas. One divya yuga consists of four yugas, or ages: Satya, Treta, Dvapara and Kali. In Kali-yuga vice increases to such a point that at the termination of the yuga the Supreme Lord Himself appears as the Kalki avatara, vanquishes the demons, saves His devotees, and commences another Satya-yuga. Then the process is set rolling again. These four yugas, rotating a thousand times, comprise one day of Brahma (Bhagavad-gita 8.17), and the same number comprise one night. Brahma lives one hundred of such "years" and then dies. These "hundred years" by earth calculations total to 311 trillion and 40 billion earth years. By these calculations the life of Brahma seems fantastic and interminable, but from the viewpoint of eternity it is as brief as a lightning flash. In the Causal Ocean there are innumerable Brahmas rising and disappearing like bubbles in the Atlantic. Brahma and his creation are all part of the material universe, and therefore they are in constant flux.
When Brahma goes to sleep in his night time, the three planetary systems below Brahmaloka are all submerged in the water of devastation. In his sleeping condition, Brahma dreams about the Garbhodakashayi Vishnu and takes instruction from the Lord for the rehabilitation of the devastated area of space. During the daytime of Brahma the living entities can exhibit their activities on higher and lower planets within this material world, but at the coming of Brahma's night they are all annihilated (Bhagavad-gita 8.19). In the day they receive various bodies for material activities, and at night they no longer have bodies but remain compact in the body of Vishnu. Then again they are manifest at the arrival of Brahma's day. Bhutva bhutva prallyate (Bhagavad-gita 8.19): during the day they become manifest, and at night they are annihilated again. Ultimately, when Brahma's life is finished, they are all annihilated and remain unmanifest for millions and millions of years. And when Brahma is born again in another millennium they are again manifest. In this way they are captivated by the spell of the material world.
Manus Appearing In Brahma's Day
After the end of Brahma's night, the creation of the three worlds begins again in the daytime of Brahma, and they continue to exist through the life durations of fourteen consecutive Manus, or fathers of mankind. At the end of the life of each Manu there are shorter partial dissolutions also. Each and every Manu enjoys a life of a little more than seventy-one sets of four millenniums, as described in the Vishnu Purana. The duration of life of one Manu is about 852,000 years in the calculation of the demigods, or, in the calculation of human beings, 306,720,000 years. After the dissolution of each and every Manu, the next Manu comes in order, along with his descendants, who rule over the different planets; but the seven famous sages, and demigods like Indra and their followers, such as the Gandharvas, all appear simultaneously with Manu. There are fourteen Manus in one day of Brahma (14 x 71 milleniums = 1000 divya yugas = 1 Brahma's day), and each of them has different descendants. In the creation, during Brahma's day, the three planetary systems - Svarga, Martya and Patala - revolve, and the inhabitants, including the lower animals, human beings, demigods and Pitas, appear and disappear in terms of their fruitive activities.
Dissolution of the Three Worlds
The dissolution of the three worlds is effected by the incarnation of darkness, Rudra represented by the fire of eternal time which blazes over the three worlds. The innumerable living entities merge into that dissolution, which appears to be the dropping of the curtain of the scene of the Supreme Lord's energy, and so everything becomes silent.When the night of Brahma ensues, all the three worlds are out of sight, and the sun and the moon are without glare, just as in the due course of an ordinary night. It is understood that the glare of the sun and moon disappear from the sphere of the three worlds, but the sun and the moon themselves do not vanish. They appear in the remaining portion of the universe, which is beyond the sphere of the three worlds. The portion in dissolution remains without sunrays or moonglow.
The devastation takes place due to the fire emanating from the mouth of Sankarsana, and thus great sages like Bhrgu and other inhabitants of Maharloka transport themselves to Janaloka, being distressed by the warmth of the blazing fire which rages through the three worlds below. At the beginning of the devastation all the seas overflow, and hurricane winds blow very violently. Thus the waves of the seas become ferocious, and in no time all the three worlds are full of water. It is said that the blazing fire from the mouth of Sankarsana rages for one hundred years of the demigods, or 36,000 human years. Then for another 36,000 years there are torrents of rain, accompanied by violent winds and waves, and the seas and oceans overflow.
The Supreme Lord, the Personality of Godhead, lies down in the water on the seat of Ananta, with His eyes closed, and the inhabitants of the Janaloka planets offer their glorious prayers unto the Lord with folded hands. People forget all these devastations of the worlds and think themselves happy in the material progress of civilization. This is called maya, or "that which is not."Now one may think that "Such a huge manifestation of the material world, it is once created and again annihilated. Then God must be very much concerned about this creation and annihilation." But the Lord says, "No." na ca mam tani karmani nibadhnanti dhananjaya: "My dear Arjuna, all this world is going on automatically. There is no concern about it." Just like a wealthy man dismantles many big houses and constructs skyscrapers through his agents by paying them, but he himself has no concern about it. Similarly, the material nature and many other agents of the Lord perform this creation and annihilation automatically, parasya saktir vividhaiva sruyate svabhavikl jnana-bala-kriyaca (Chaitanya Charitamrita Madhya 13.65, purport).
The duration of one hundred years in the life of Brahma has already been discussed before. Fifty years of the life of Brahma are already over, and fifty years are yet to be completed; then, for Brahma also, death is inevitable.We are completely under the grip of the stringent laws of material nature, and we are repeatedly put into that stringent laws of material nature so that we may come into our consciousness that "Why we are suffering this repeated birth and death?" But we have become dull and so much accustomed to this habit because it is continuing since time immemorial. So we don't take it very seriously that why we are dying and why we are getting body again and why we are suffering these miseries. So this is called ignorance. Especially in this age of Kali yuga we are not very serious. We think this is the process of life. No. This is not the process of life. If we desire, we can have our eternal life without having to undergo the tedious cycle of birth and death.
Thus by understanding the creation and dissolution of our own universe from the scriptures, we get a clear picture of how things came about, "not by some accident that a bunch of flotsam and jetsam suddenly started making orbits of its own accord. Some power put all this into orbit and keeps it there" in the words of former astronaut John Glenn.