ਛਤੀਹ ਜੁਗ ਗੁਬਾਰੁ ਸਾ ਆਪੇ ਗਣਤ ਕੀਨੀ ॥
Shateeh jug gubaar saa aape ganat keenee (sggs 949).

To impart the Truth (ਸਚ) and Awaken our Conscience from the slumber of pre-1469 nonsense, all 35 writers in the Sri Guru Granth Sahib (SGGS) have used terms that were already within the use and within the psyche of people of their time.

However, these terms — e.g. Yuga — have been used in the SGGS as examples (ਹਵਾਲਾ), but explicitly with new meanings and understanding to fit the new spiritual paradigms of Sikhi or Gurmat Wisdom of the SGGS; NOT to regurgitate what already existed before the Gurus!.

For example, there is the mention of the "ਛਤੀਹ ਜੁਗ: thirty-six Yugas" in the SGGS. However, here it is used to indicate long long time, innumerable ages, endless time (ਬੇਅੰਤ ਸਮਾ) etc. (which is beyond mortals understanding).

  • ਛਤੀਹ ਜੁਗ ਗੁਬਾਰੁ ਸਾ ਆਪੇ ਗਣਤ ਕੀਨੀ ॥ : (First when God was in Nirguna form) there was utter darkness for thirty-six yugas (i.e. for long long time, innumerable ages, endless time - ਬੇਅੰਤ ਸਮਾ) when God was intangible. Then on His own, God revealed Himself through His Creation (Sargun form). (sggs 949).

According to the Gurbani in SGGS, man's all calculations are in Maya (duality and relativist consciousness) or Haumai (false ego-sense).

  • ਹਉਮੈ ਸਭਾ ਗਣਤ ਹੈ ਗਣਤੈ ਨਉ ਸੁਖੁ ਨਾਹਿ ॥: All accounting is in egotism, in these, there is no Peace (sggs 36).
  • ਗਣਤੈ ਪ੍ਰਭੂ ਨ ਪਾਈਐ ਦੂਜੈ ਭਰਮੀਤਾ ॥: The Divine cannot be obtained by counting; the mortal wanders in doubtMaya, duality etc. (sggs 510).
  • ਕੁਦਰਤਿ ਹੈ ਕੀਮਤਿ ਨਹੀ ਪਾਇ ॥ ਜਾ ਕੀਮਤਿ ਪਾਇ ਤ ਕਹੀ ਨ ਜਾਇ ॥ ਸਰੈ ਸਰੀਅਤਿ ਕਰਹਿ ਬੀਚਾਰੁ ॥ ਬਿਨੁ ਬੂਝੇ ਕੈਸੇ ਪਾਵਹਿ ਪਾਰੁ ॥: (Creator-Universal Energy) is pervasive in KUDRAT (Nature), it cannot be valued. Even if one tries to find the value, it could not be described. How can a person, who only continues reflecting on Shara or Shariat (i.e. Rahat, religious codes, rituals etc.), find liberation (from the vices and Bikaar without Realizing the Creator Within)? (sggs 84).

The Gurbani (SGGS) declares God is INCALCULABLE. Hence no person can Realize God by such calculations or accounting. Because God is incalculable, and all calculations are in false ego-sense (Haumai). It’s nothing but mind’s Mayaic wanderings (Manmukh-Saakat-Mayadhaaree mindset), stubborn mindedness (Mann-Hatha: ਮਨ ਹਠ), false ego-sense (Haumai) etc.

  • ਤੂ ਕਰਤਾ ਆਪਿ ਅਗਣਤੁ ਹੈ ਸਭੁ ਜਗੁ ਵਿਚਿ ਗਣਤੈ ॥: O Creator! You are INCALCULABLE, while the entire world is within the realm of calculation. (sggs 314).
  • ਤੂੰ ਗਣਤੈ ਕਿਨੈ ਨ ਪਾਇਓ ਸਚੇ ਅਲਖ ਅਪਾਰਾ ॥: O True, Unseen and Infinite (Paarbrahm)! No one has obtained You by calculations (sggs 140).
  • ਗਣਤ ਗਣੀਐ ਸਹਸਾ ਦੁਖੁ ਜੀਐ ॥ : When we make calculations (of auspicious or inauspicious time etc.), we subject our mind to cynicism and suffering. (sggs 904).
  • ਗਣਤ ਗਣੈ ਸੋ ਜਲੈ ਸੰਸਾਰਾ ॥ ਸਹਸਾ ਮੂਲਿ ਨ ਚੁਕੈ ਵਿਕਾਰਾ ॥ ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਹੋਵੈ ਸੁ ਗਣਤ ਚੁਕਾਏ ਸਚੇ ਸਚਿ ਸਮਾਇਦਾ ॥੯॥ : One who keeps on (worldly or Mayaic) counting all the time, is always burning (restless etc.) in the world (in the hidden fire of Maya, Trishna). Doubt (anxiety, fear…) of that person does not end at all. The spirituality of Shabad enables the elimination of counts (ਗਿਣਤੀ ਮਿਣਤੀ); and creates Realization of the Creator Within. (sggs 1062).

The Gurbani time and again reminds us that the Infinite Lord can neither be scaled, nor His infinitude be any way altered — He cannot be confined within the limits of the finite experience of our limited body-mind-intellect apparatus. In other words, man's calculating mind can never hope to catch the Infinite. Let alone the Infinite Lord, the Gurbani declares that no one can even describe the limits of a God-conscious being!

  • ਕੇਤਾ ਆਖਣੁ ਆਖੀਐ ਤਾ ਕੇ ਅੰਤ ਨ ਜਾਣਾ ॥ : No matter how much I may describe God, I still cannot know His limits. (sggs 421).
  • ਜੇ ਕੋ ਆਖੈ ਬੋਲੁਵਿਗਾੜੁ ॥ ਤਾ ਲਿਖੀਐ ਸਿਰਿ ਗਾਵਾਰਾ ਗਾਵਾਰੁ ॥੨੬॥ : If anyone pratller/babbler claims to be able to describe God, he will be known as the greatest fool of fools (ਮਹਾਂ ਮੂਰਖ)! ||26|| (sggs 6).
  • ਹਰਿ ਕੀ ਗਤਿ ਨਹਿ ਕੋਊ ਜਾਨੈ ॥ ਜੋਗੀ ਜਤੀ ਤਪੀ ਪਚਿ ਹਾਰੇ ਅਰੁ ਬਹੁ ਲੋਗ ਸਿਆਨੇ ॥ : Nobody knows the state (Play or Leelaa) of God. The Yogis, the celibates, the penitents, and all sorts of clever and talented people have failed and given up trying to understand Him.(sggs 537).

Thus, the Gurbani repeatedly tells us that the Unlimited Lord can neither be projected nor his limits be calculated. Because, in reality, we ourselves are a projection of the Lord's Nature (Jot Saroop)! Can a shadow look for the object that is responsible for its existence? Therefore, the Gurbani repeatedly asks us to overcome the calculating mind (Haumai and duality) and to just accept the Divine Hukam (System-Rule-Law of Nature) — "Only He Himself knows His state", and leave it that way. It's not that the Gurbani wants to strangle the growth of our thinking faculty, but the fact remains that such mental circus of the ego- and Mayaic-mind has no real contribution to one's spiritual growth or one's being the Gurmukh.

  • ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਸਗਲੀ ਗਣਤ ਮਿਟਾਵੈ ॥ : The spirituality of the Shabad (Enlightened State, Gurmukh Mindset…) enables the elimination of all counts (ਗਿਣਤੀ ਮਿਣਤੀ from within the mind). (sggs 942).
  • ਜੁਗ ਛਤੀਹ ਗੁਬਾਰੁ ਕਰਿ ਵਰਤਿਆ ਸੁੰਨਾਹਰਿ ॥ ਓਥੈ ਵੇਦ ਪੁਰਾਨ ਨ ਸਾਸਤਾ ਆਪੇ ਹਰਿ ਨਰਹਰਿ ॥ ਬੈਠਾ ਤਾੜੀ ਲਾਇ ਆਪਿ ਸਭ ਦੂ ਹੀ ਬਾਹਰਿ ॥ ਆਪਣੀ ਮਿਤਿ ਆਪਿ ਜਾਣਦਾ ਆਪੇ ਹੀ ਗਉਹਰੁ ॥੧੮॥ : For thirty-six yugas (i.e. for lon long time, innumerable ages, endless time - ਬੇਅੰਤ ਸਮਾ), having created pitch darkness, God remains in a state of 'Sunn' (i.e nothingness...). All that time there were no Vedas, Pursanas or Shaastras, there was only God. Withdrawn from everything, He alone was sitting in the absolute trance. Only He Himself knows His state; He Himself is the unfathomable ocean.  ||18||  (sggs 555).
  • ਨੀਲੁ ਅਨੀਲੁ ਅਗੰਮੁ ਸਰਜੀਤੁ ਸਬਾਇਆ ॥ : The Creator is eternal, infinite and incomprehensible. (sggs 1282).
  • ਹੁਕਮੇ ਜੁਗ ਛਤੀਹ ਗੁਦਾਰੇ ॥ : In His Hukam, thirty-six ages passed (i.e. for lon long time, innumerable ages, endless time - ਬੇਅੰਤ ਸਮਾ). (sggs 1036).

The Gurbani saysGod is incalculable. Perhaps one can appreciate now as to why the Gurbani seems to suggest refraining from such futile exercise. For such exercise does not offer any real inner Peace, spiritual vibration or spiritual benefit. Neither it can eradicate one's Haumai (ego) nor the veil of Maya. To the contrary, it only adds fuel to the fire (hunger for Maya)! The Gurbani further claims that no one has ever realized the Infinite God by clever calculations. To realize Him, one has to become the Gurmukh. Who through the Shabad, transcends, Maya (duality and relativist consciousness), primitive ego (Haumai) and all calculations.

  • ਹਉਮੈ ਗਣਤ ਗੁਰ ਸਬਦਿ ਨਿਵਾਰੇ ॥: Egotistic or mental calculations are relieved through the Gur-Shabad. (sggs 1065).

Hence, as indicated in the Gurbani, to speculate God's limits or to treatise Him is not only impossible, but also pointless and unnecessary. But, in spite of the fact that the Gurbani repeatedly tells us God is Infinite, Unfathomable, Eternal, Sublime and Immortal and that His limits cannot be described or measured by anybody, many are still enticed by the love of Maya and Haumai to speculate duration or age for the ' "thirty-six Yugas'!

  • ਜੁਗ ਛਤੀਹ ਕੀਓ ਗੁਬਾਰਾ ॥ ਤੂ ਆਪੇ ਜਾਣਹਿ ਸਿਰਜਣਹਾਰਾ ॥ ਹੋਰ ਕਿਆ ਕੋ ਕਹੈ ਕਿ ਆਖਿ ਵਖਾਣੈ ਤੂ ਆਪੇ ਕੀਮਤਿ ਪਾਇਦਾ ॥੧॥ : For thirty-six ages (i.e. for lon long time, innumerable ages, endless time - ਬੇਅੰਤ ਸਮਾ), God kept the universe in a state of darkness. O Creator, You Yourself know about that state. What can anyone else say or explain, only You Yourself know about the Reality of that state. ||1|| (sggs 1061).
  • ਪੜਿ ਪੜਿ ਪੰਡਿਤ ਜੋਤਕੀ ਵਾਦ ਕਰਹਿ ਬੀਚਾਰੁ ॥ ਮਤਿ ਬੁਧਿ ਭਵੀ ਨ ਬੁਝਈ ਅੰਤਰਿ ਲੋਭ ਵਿਕਾਰੁ ॥ : After all their reading, the Pandits, the religious scholars, and the astrologers argue and debate. With their perverted intellect, they don't realize the Truth. Inside they are full of greed and vices or Bikaar. (sggs 27).
  • ਬਿਦਿਆ ਕੋਟਿ ਸਭੈ ਗੁਨ ਕਹੈ ॥ ਤਊ ਪਾਰਬ੍ਰਹਮ ਕਾ ਅੰਤੁ ਨ ਲਹੈ ॥੬॥ : Millions of 'Bidiya' (knowledge, education etc.) all utter whose Praises, but still they cannot find the limit of the Supreme God. ||6|| (sggs 1163).

However, the Pujaaree (clergy) has invented mind boggling calculations. If somebody is interested in these bizarre concoctions, go on reading:

Pandits traced the theory of the manifestation and division of time by the four Yugas. The four Yugas are Sat (or Satya), Tretaa, Duaapar (or Dvaapara) and Kali Yuga. According to the one model of Pandits, time-span of these four Yugas is said to be respectively 1,728,000; 1,296,000; 864,000; and 432,000 years. The descending numbers represent a corresponding physical and moral deterioration of mankind in each age. If we add the age of these four Yugas, the total comes to 4,320,000 years, which is considered one Yuga-cycle (also called Divya-Yuga, Mahaa Yuga, or the Great Year). Thus, According to the ancient Vedic Cosmology a Yuga-cycle consists of the passing of the four shorter Yugas, totalling 4,320,000 years. One thousand such Yuga-cycles make the duration of one day of Brahma, called a Kalpa. At the end of each Kalpa there is Pralaya. A verse from the Rig-Veda says, "Four are his horns, three are his feet, two are his heads and seven are his hands" (IV.58.3). This verse is symbolically interpreted by the Vedic cosmologists as numerals 4,3,2 and 7 zeros or 4,320,000,000 years.

According to an another model of some Pandits, the descending phase of Satya Yuga lasts 4800 years, Tretaa-Yuga 3600 years, Dvaapara Yuga 2400 years, and Kali-Yuga 1200 years. The ascending phase of each Yuga also lasts at least equal to the descending phase as well. Yet, according to an another estimate, Kali-Yuga = 8640 years (one third of the precession or 4 astrological ages), Dvaapara Yuga (two Kali Yuga) = 17,280 years (two thirds of the precession or 8 astrological ages), Tretaa Yuga (three Kali-Yuga) = 25,920 years (one precession of the equinoxes), and Satya Yuga (four Kali Yuga) = 34,560 years (one and a third of the precession of the equinoxes). There are more estimates based on different models out there by the Indian as well as westerner cosmologists!

Consider this further division of the time by Pandits. Time in the ancient Indian mythology is measured with Brahma's time cycle. It is believed that he too has a limited time-span after which he will be recreated into a new version. But using his life span as the largest measure, the smallest moment has been described. One Kashtha (also spelt Kastha) comprises twelve parts of the smallest unit of time, Nimeshsa (also spelt Nimisa). Fifteen Nimeshas make one Kashtha. Thirty Kasthas make one Kala. Thirty Kalas one Muhurta and there are thirty Muhurtas in one Divaratra (one day). Fifteen Muhurtas constitute the day and fifteen Muhurtas make up the night. In other words, nine hundred Kalas make one day and night. Fifteen days make one Paksha and twenty-four Pakshas make one year. One day (not including night) of Brahma is 4,320,000,000 of human years in length. The same Brahma's day is called one Kalpa. In the end of the Kalpa comes Pralaya. The duration of this Pralaya, (there are many kinds of Pralayas; this one is called "Naimittik Pralaya") is also of the same duration as of Kalpa - means 1,000 human 4-Yuga periods - and this is called Brahma's night. Thus 2,000 human 4-Yuga periods is Brahma's one day and one night.There are 14 Manu in one Kalpa. Manu's cycle is also called Manvantara. Brahma's life is divided in one thousand Yuga-cycles (Mahaa-Yuga, or the Great Year). Each Maaha-Yuga has 71 divisions, each made of 14 Manvantara (1000) years. Each Mahaa-Yuga lasts for 4,320,000 years. After Brahma's "death", another 100 of his years pass until he is reborn and the whole creation begins anew. This process is repeated again and again, forever. Following is a summary of all this:

360 days of mortals make a year ............................................. 1
Satya Yuga contains ................................................. 1,728,000
Tretaa Yuga contains ................................................ 1,296,000
Dvaapara Yuga contains .............................................. 864,000
Kali Yugacontains ...................................................... 432,000
The total of the said four Yugas constitute a
Maaha-Yuga ............................................................. 4,320,000
Seventy-one of such Mahaa-Yugas form the
period of the reign of one Manu .............................. 306,720,000
The reign of 14 Manus embraces the duration
of 994 Mahaa-Yugas, which is equal to ................ 4,294,080,000
Sandhis ( i.e., intervals between the reign of each Manu, which amount to
six Mahaa-Yugas), equal to ........................................................................................................................................... 25,920,000
The total of these reigns and interregnums of 14 Manus, is 1,000 Mahaa-Yugas,
which constitute a Kalpa, i.e., one day of Brahma ...................................................................................................... 4,320,000,000
As Brahma's Night is of equal duration, one Day and Night of Brahma would contain 2000, 4-Yuga periods.... ........... 8,640,000,000
360 of such days and nights make one year of Brahma ......................................................................................... 3,110,400,000,000
100 such years constitute the whole period of "One Age of Brahma.", Mahaa-Kalpa or Mahamanvantara....... 311,040,000,000,000

Wow! Now let us pause and think:

  • If man cannot agree on the age of the four Yugas — Satya Yuga, Tretaa Yuga, Dvaapara Yuga and Kali Yuga — then how can anybody estimate the duration of the "thirty-six Yugas"?
  • Which Brahma's life span these calculations are referring to? Because, according to the Gurbani there are innumerable Brahmas!.
  • Furhermore, we do not know with certainty if the term "thirty-six Yugas" refers to the 9 sets of the 4-Yuga periods (Satya Yuga, Tretaa Yuga, Dvaapara Yuga and Kali Yuga) or the thirty-six sets of the Yuga-cycle periods (Mahaa-Yuga, Divya-Yuga or the Great Year). As mentioned earlier, both are different. Also, in the above calculations, the term "thirty-six Yugas" is nowhere to be seen!
  • Nonetheless, last but not least, how all of this can help any one in his spiritual progress — becoming the Gurmukh (enlightened mind)?

— T. Singh