Manvantara

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Manvantara is a Sanskrit term that results from a combination of words manu and antara (manu-antara or manvantara), literally meaning the duration of a Manu, or his life span. H. P. Blavatsky defines it as "a period of manifestation, as opposed to Pralaya (dissolution or rest); the term is applied to various cycles, especially to a Day of Brahma--4,320,000,000 Solar years--and to the reign of one Manu--308,448,000--".[1]

In Theosophy

The concepts of manvantara and pralaya are based on a cyclic model of the universe of alternating phases of creation and dissolution:

As the sun arises every morning on our objective horizon out of its (to us) subjective and antipodal space, so does the Universe emerge periodically on the plane of objectivity, issuing from that of subjectivity—the antipodes of the former. This is the "Cycle of Life." And as the sun disappears from our horizon, so does the Universe disappear at regular periods, when the "Universal night" sets in. The Hindoos call such alternations the "Days and Nights of Brahma," or the time of Manvantara and that of Pralaya (dissolution). The Westerns may call them Universal Days and Nights if they prefer.[2]

When universal the state of rest (Pralaya) comes to an end, the process of re-awakening begins, and the two fundamental principles of the Cosmos—spirit and matter—appear:

Manvantaric impulse commences with the re-awakening of Cosmic Ideation (the “Universal Mind”) concurrently with, and parallel to the primary emergence of Cosmic Substance—the latter being the manvantaric vehicle of the former—from its undifferentiated pralayic state.[3]

In the Theosophical literature there are different manvantaras according to the cycle of evolution in course, whether it is that of a solar system or of a Planetary Chain. The term maha-manvantara refers to the evolution the whole universe through the "Great Age", which lasts for a maha-kalpa. In one of the Mahatma Letters the Master K.H. wrote the following:

There are three kinds of pralayas and manwantara:

1. The universal or Maha pralaya and manwantara.
2. The solar pralaya and manwantara.
3. The minor pralaya and manwantara.

When the pralaya No. 1 is finished the universal manwantara begins. Then the whole universe must be re-evoluted de novo. When the pralaya of a solar system comes it affects that solar system only. A solar pralaya = 7 minor pralayas. The minor pralayas of No. 3 concern but our little string of globes, whether man-bearing or not. To such a string our Earth belongs.[4]

Solar manvantara

At the beginning of the solar manwantara the hitherto subjective elements of the material world now scattered in cosmic dust — receiving their impulse from the new Dyan Chohans of the new solar system (the highest of the old ones having gone higher) — will form into primordial ripples of life and separating into differentiating centres of activity combine in a graduated scale of seven stages of evolution.[5]

Universal manvantara

The Manvantaras should not be confounded. The fifteen-figure Manvantaric cycle applies to the solar system; but there is a Manvantara which relates to the whole of the objective universe, the Mother-Father, and many minor Manvantaras. The slokas relating to the former have been generally selected, and only two or three relating to the latter given.[6]

Duration of the cycles

In general, Mme. Blavatsky used the chronology found in Hindu scriptures, which she claims "dovetail pretty nearly with those of the Secret works".[7] They are described in the The Secret Doctrine as follows:[8]

One Day of Brahmâ, a Kalpa (1,000 Maha-Yugas): 4,320,000,000 years

One Year of Brahmâ (360 of such days and nights): 3,110,400,000,000 years

One Age of Brahmâ, a Mahâ-Kalpa (100 such years): 311,040,000,000,000 years

All the different cycles take place within the "Great Age" or universal manvantara:

There were several "Great Ages" mentioned by the ancients. In India it embraced the whole Maha-Manvantara, the "Age of Brahma," each "Day" of which represents the Life Cycle of a chain, i. e., it embraces a period of Seven Rounds (vide "Esoteric Buddhism," by A. P. Sinnett). Thus while a "Day" and a "Night" represent, as Manvantara and Pralaya, 8,640,000,000 years, an "age" lasts through a period of 311,040,000,000,000; after which the Pralaya or dissolution of the universe becomes universal. With the Egyptian and Greeks the "Great Age" referred only to the Tropical, or Sidereal year, the duration of which is 25,868 solar years. Of the complete age--that of the Gods--they said nothing, as it was a matter to be discussed and divulged only at the Mysteries, and during the Initiation Ceremonies. The "Great Age" of the Chaldees was the same in figures as that of the Hindus.[9]

When correlated with the Theosophical cycles we have:

The total period of the existence of our Planetary Chain (i.e., of the Seven Rounds) is 4,320,000,000.[10]
  • Planetary manvantara = Seven Rounds = One Day of Brahmâ = Kalpa = 14 (minor) manvantaras + a Satya Yuga, = 1,000 Maha-Yugas = 4,320,000,000 years.

The mention of 14 minor manvantaras to finish a Planetary Chain is explained by Mme. Blavatsky by pointing out that there are two "Manus" in each round: the Root Manu at its beginning, and the Seed Manu at its end.[14]

In Hinduism

Each Manvantara is created and ruled by a specific Manu, who in turn is created by Brahmâ, the Creator himself. Manu creates the world, and all its species during that period of time, each Manvantara lasting the lifetime of a Manu, upon whose death, Brahma creates another Manu to continue the cycle of Creation.

Eventually it takes 14 Manus and their respective Manvantaras to create a Kalpa or a Day of Brahmâ (see above). Thereafter, at the end of each Kalpa, there is a period of dissolution or Pralaya wherein the world (earth and all life forms, but not the entire universe itself) is destroyed and lies in a state of rest.

See also

Online resources

Articles

Notes

  1. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, Theosophical Glossary (Los Angeles, CA: Theosophy Company, 1973), 206.
  2. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, Key to Theosophy, (London: Theosophical Publishing House, 1987), 84.
  3. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, Secret Doctrine vol. I, (Adyar, Madras: Theosophical Publishing House, 1979), 328.
  4. Vicente Hao Chin, Jr., The Mahatma Letters to A.P. Sinnett in chronological sequence No. 67 (Quezon City: Theosophical Publishing House, 1993), 184.
  5. Vicente Hao Chin, Jr., The Mahatma Letters to A.P. Sinnett in chronological sequence No. 67 (Quezon City: Theosophical Publishing House, 1993), 188.
  6. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, Collected Writings vol. X (Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, 1988), 321.
  7. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, Secret Doctrine vol. II, (Adyar, Madras: Theosophical Publishing House, 1979), 70.
  8. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, Secret Doctrine vol. II, (Adyar, Madras: Theosophical Publishing House, 1979), 69-70.
  9. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, Theosophical Glossary (Los Angeles, CA: Theosophical Company, 1973), 129.
  10. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, Collected Writings vol. XIII (Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, 1982), 301.
  11. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine vol. II, (Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, 1993), 307, fn.
  12. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, Collected Writings vol. XIII (Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, 1982), 301.
  13. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, Theosophical Glossary (Los Angeles, CA: Theosophy Company, 1973), 206.
  14. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, Collected Writings vol. IV (Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, 1991), 577.