From the point in the circle identified by the Drum beating right hand, the visible Universe starts. In other words the particles get manifest at this point of Brahma Chakra also known as Kala Nemi whereby time starts ticking. Particles keep moving and give rise to the cosmos we see. When they reach the point of Agni in the left hand – by then covering 90 degrees of the circle (1/4th of the entire cosmos) – dissolution happens. Beyond this they are unseen or un-manifest.
The above figure shows the region between the two hands as the existing and manifest Universe. Beyond this, particles become invisible. They keep moving continuously in this formation, but will be undetectable. It is like resting time or sleep time of Brahma in that particular segment.
For the next half of duration, there is no movement in Nataraja. This symbolizes complete non-active phase or non-manifestation but where the cosmos anyway keeps moving.
Once the last quarter is reached activation is indicated by the lifted leg and the two hands in Adhomukha (downward) and Urdhwamukha (upward) mudras indicating a struggle between opposite forces. Once that quarter is crossed, it is streaming in of particles in manifest form triggered by the sound of drum. This concept is depicted in the diagram below.
This formation fulfils all the creation axioms of Vedic Thought. Only one fourth is manifest. The Navel of Nataraja signifying the pivotal axis, all the worlds move in circles one above the other vertically and one beyond the other laterally without any limit.
In this formation infinite number of parallel Universes can exist without upsetting or overlapping with any other. There is perfect order in this system with each universe moving with its own set of laws of physics governing it. This formation thus fulfils modern scientist’s idea of parallel universes but without a time warp.
In this formation, manifestation identified with creation is governed by the Four-faced Brahma. Throughout the segment above and below and beyond, numerous Brahmas are always born as guardians of creation. The middle segment is the region governed by Vishnu, the Sustenance-giver. Once the worlds reach the end of the quarter, the fire in Nataraja’s left hand exists infinitely and eternally above and below and throughout at that juncture. No one can see the top of bottom of the Fire wall here – a feature that is woven into a legend of Brahma and Vishnu not being able to see the crown and feet of Shiva – the core legend of Maha Shivaratri!
In the above figure the manifest zone is the visible Universe. Every strand in this zone in the figure represents a Universe. We are moving along with our Universe and will someday reach the wall of Fire of Shiva from where there is no scope for manifestation as worlds and life, until we cross the remaining three fourths of the path.
We keep born again and again, bound by the deeds we do. Imagine the birth cycle is yet to continue but the Universe had gone into switched-off mode for 3/4th duration; then what would be our status? We would also be travelling along the Universe in mute form until we reach the creation zone. It is for this reason Maha Shivaratri is remembered that we shed our karmic bond as quickly and as early as possible.
The only good news is that we have just crossed the half mark of the creation zone. If people can recall the Sankalpa mantra, our location in space and time is identified as ‘Dwiteeya Parardha’ –meaning ‘second half of Para’
Para is the time of the Manifest zone (one fourth duration). Half the time is gone means we are right on top of the crown of Nataraja as in the figure below.
Vedic Thought has calculated the duration of this Para in terms of age of Four faced Brahma. It is 100 years for which the basic unit is solar year. 864,00,00,000 solar years make one day of Brahma. Reckoned from the date of Big Bang this means only one day of Brahma has gone so far and we are now in the 2nd day. But according to Vedic Thought we are in the first day of the 51st year of Brahma!
This cannot be dismissed as fantasy or figment of imagination for there are huge numbers mentioned in our texts including Tamil Sangam texts. Tolkāppiyam, the ancient grammar book of Sangam age has a sutra on how to identify huge numbers by means of end letters such as ‘ai’, ‘am’ and ‘pal’ (1-393). Six such numbers find mention in Paripaadal, a Sangam age text to refer to the duration of birth of universe and different stages of dissolution. (verse 2: lines 13 &14).
In Sanskrit the current age of our universe is given in Half life of Brahma – much like how modern science identifies the age of radioactive substances in half life! The current age is Parardha – half of Para (age of Brahma). This is much like the use of Parsecs for huge distances, but Vedic Thought gives in Time Units!
Parardha is equal to 10^17 years. We are in the 1st day of the 2nd Parardha. The manifest zone had 2 Parardhas while the entire circle has 8 Parardhas. It is here Vedic wisdom gives a hint to work out the entire duration of the cycle of our Universe as 8 X 10^17 years.
Maha Shivaratri was designed by Vedic rishis to remind ourselves whether we should allow ourselves to get trapped within the circle of Universe for 6 full Parardhas or work our way out within the remaining Parardha of creation zone, which by itself is segmented into cyclical repetition of sleep and activity every 4.32 billion years.