“I am the Self, O Gudakesha, seated in the hearts of all creatures. I am the beginning, the middle and the end of all beings.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 10.20)Download this episode (right click and save)
Time travel has been the fantasy for so many writers since so long back. Wouldn’t it be neat to go back to any time in history and relive events? Just sit there and observe. You know what the outcome is, so there is no need to worry.
Wouldn’t it be great to fast forward through boring times. Let me see what the final matchup will be in a tournament instead of having to wait for the early rounds to finish. Let me see what life on earth will be like in a hundred years.
Such travel is impossible due to the very definition of time. Time is the manifestation of the material elements at a specific moment. There is no way to go forward or backward since time continues to operate. There is a way to get an idea of the past, present and future without breaking the laws of nature. The way is through the eyes of scripture, shastra-chakshu.
1. Look to the past
We know about the past through recorded history. It is recorded in book form and also in an aural tradition. For instance, we know where and when we were born based on the testimony of others. Our mother was there. Our father was likely around as well. Their authority alone can establish the time and place of our birth.
Before that there are others with their own testimony. One thing we know about the past is that everyone has died. No one has continued to live on. Of course people are living today, and there is no way of knowing exactly what will happen in the future. We are sure from the past that every person who took birth eventually passed on. The past is a good indication of what will happen going forward.
2. Look at children being born
This is looking at the present. We see new life arriving before our very eyes. This arrival is the same as what occurred previously. These souls are coming from somewhere. The Bhagavad-gita sheds light on the mystery.
“As the embodied soul continually passes, in this body, from boyhood to youth to old age, the soul similarly passes into another body at death. The self-realized soul is not bewildered by such a change.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 2.13)
The souls are arriving from previously completed lives. Death leading to birth. This is called transmigration. The process applies continually. In the last five minutes I have changed. The shift is more subtle than if I was to compare over a longer period of time, but the change is there nonetheless. This means that the soul is different from the body. The soul remains constant, whereas the body continues to change. The transmigration of the soul gives a good idea of what will occur going forward. People will die and people will be born.
3. Look at the universal form
This is accomplished through reading scriptural works like the Bhagavad-gita. The universal form is known as the virata-rupa. It has been shown only a few times in history, and the only person who can show it is the Supreme Lord. When He was on the battlefield of Kurukshetra some five thousand years ago as Shri Krishna, He showed a unique version of it to the distressed warrior Arjuna.
“All the sons of Dhritarashtra along with their allied kings, and Bhishma, Drona and Karna, and all our soldiers are rushing into Your mouths, their heads smashed by Your fearful teeth. I see that some are being crushed between Your teeth as well.” (Arjuna, Bhagavad-gita, 11.26-27)
In addition to cramming everything in the material creation into a single image, there is also motion to the universal form. It shows past, present and future. Arjuna saw all the soldiers for the opposing army rushing into Krishna’s mouths. This was an indication of what was to happen in the future. Creation, maintenance and destruction. These three things will happen in a material existence. Thus in one sense the future is certain.
4. Look at statements about Kali Yuga
The present age is known as Kali Yuga. This is a time where quarrel and hypocrisy run rampant. Kali is designated through a comparison to past ages, or time periods. The qualities of Kali Yuga were described prior to its advent. The Shrimad Bhagavatam has detailed predictions about what life will be like in the dark age.
“O learned one, in this iron age of Kali men have but short lives. They are quarrelsome, lazy, misguided, unlucky and, above all, always disturbed.” (Shrimad Bhagavatam, 1.1.10)
Many of these predictions have already come true. There will be more decline in dharma, or righteousness. There is even a Purana known as Bhavishya, which means “future.” Thus shastra alone facilitates time travel into the future.
5. Look at the day of Brahma
Krishna says that the person who understands the length of Brahma’s day and night actually understands time. We are interested with what will happen in one hundred years, but even a thousand years is nothing compared to the overall timeline of the creation. And the creation goes through cycles, endless ones at that. The first living entity, Lord Brahma, lives for an extremely long time. Despite being around for billions of years, even he must die.
“By human calculation, a thousand ages taken together is the duration of Brahma's one day. And such also is the duration of his night.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 8.17)
Through understanding the length of Brahma’s day and night, we see that the specifics of time in the material world are not that important. The future over which to be concerned is the soul’s destination. There is a way to find eternal happiness, and it is through bhakti-yoga, or devotional service. In the spiritual land of Vrindavana, time is present but it lacks a negative influence. There is no destruction. There is simply nectar at every moment, overflowing but never to the point of being too much. A taste of this timelessness can be experienced even in the mortal world through pure devotion to Krishna, who is the beginning, middle and end of everything.
Where in the future I’ll be,
Through shastra a way to see.
Bhagavatam predictions to make,
In age of Kali slumber difficult from to awake.
Through the past also seeing,
How death destiny for every being.
Taste of eternal life through Krishna’s grace.
Through Him time’s influence to erase.