“May You Live Long”: Religious Implications of Extreme Longevity in Hinduism
Hinduism is already familiar with extreme longevity at the level of individuals and for whole classes of beings. The Hindu doctrine of the four ages (caturyuga) assumes that human beings have lived for long periods of time in the remote cosmological past. In this schema, the basic unit of computation, the kalpa, is known as the Day of Brahmā, the creator, and consists of 4,320 million earthly years. It is followed by a night of the same duration. Just as our solar year contains approximately 360 days and nights, a year of Brahmā also consists of 360 days and nights. And just as our life may be said to consist of 100 years, so does his. His life cycle therefore contains 311,040,000 million of our human years. The end of his life is followed by a temporary dissolution of the universe and then a re-creation (Basham 1967, 320).
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