Occult Chronology: The Mystery of the Age of Humanity

By David Reigle on May 2, 2012 at 6:49 am

The age of the world as taught in Hindu Sanskrit texts, which is in general agreement with that taught in The Secret Doctrine, can be readily ascertained from the data given in the Hindu Sanskrit texts. This is not the case, however, for the age of humanity. The basis of the age of our present humanity as taught in The Secret Doctrine, in agreement with that taught in the Hindu Tamil Tirukkanda Panchanga for Kali Yuga 4986, is a mystery. We do not know either the data that formed the basis of the calculation, or the method used in making the calculation, of the 18,618,725 years up till Kali Yuga 4986, or 1884-1885 C.E., given for this (BCW 13.302; given in SD 2.69 as 18,618,728 up to the year 1887). Since this age of humanity as more than eighteen million years is of central importance to the anthropogenesis taught in the Book of Dzyan, I request that interested persons try to solve this problem.

The figure given from the Tirukkanda Panchanga for the age of the world (SD 2.68) can clearly be traced to the Sūrya-siddhānta, as can the deduction of the time taken for “creation” (sṛṣṭi) at the beginning of the kalpa (17,064,000 years) in the second figure given from it (1,664,500,987). The Secret Doctrine also claims the author of the Sūrya-siddhānta, Asuramaya, as one of its two sources. So we might reasonably expect the data regarding the more than eighteen million years figure for the age of our present humanity to be found in that book. I have not yet found such data there, or figured out how to deduce this figure from the data given there. The English translation by Ebenezer Burgess, despite being published in 1860, appears to be accurate for the most part. It was published in the Journal of the American Oriental Society. This older material from this journal is now available free from JSTOR. Here is the link to this translation: http://www.jstor.org/stable/592174. Five editions of the Sanskrit text can be downloaded from the Digital Library of India, at the links provided by Capt. Anand in his comment on April 27. Some of the basic information from the Sūrya-siddhānta is summarized as follows:

A kalpa (eon) is four billion, three hundred and twenty million (4,320,000,000) years.

One thousand mahā-yugas make a kalpa (chap. 1, verse 20); therefore:

A mahā-yuga (great age) is four million, three hundred and twenty thousand (4,320,000) years (chap. 1, verse 15).

Seventy-one mahā-yugas (yielding 306,720,000), to which must be added a sandhi period (1,728,000) at the end, make a manvantara (chap. 1, verse 18); therefore:

A manvantara (period of a manu) is three hundred and eight million, four hundred and forty-eight thousand years (308,448,000).

Fourteen manvantaras (yielding 4,318,272,000), to which must be added a sandhi period (1,728,000) at the beginning, make a kalpa (chap. 1, verse 19); i.e., 4,320,000,000 years.

Of the present kalpa, six manvantaras are past (6 x 308,448,000 = 1,850,688,000), and of the present Vaivasvata manvantara, twenty-seven mahā-yugas are past (27 x 4,320,000 = 116,640,000) (chap. 1, verse 22). Also past is the sandhi period (1,728,000) at the beginning of the kalpa. This yields 1,969,056,000 years. At the time the Sūrya-siddhānta was taught to the asura named Maya, the kṛta-yuga (1,728,000) of the twenty-eighth mahā-yuga had also passed (chap. 1, verse 23). This yields 1,970,784,000 years. From this must be deducted the time taken for “creation” at the beginning of the kalpa (17,064,000) (chap. 1, verse 24; note the typo here, “plants” for “planets,” uncorrected in the 1935 Calcutta reprint edition, and copied uncorrected in A. K. Chakravarty’s 2001 book, The Sūryasiddhānta, p. 64). This yields 1,953,720,000 years.

This whole calculation is summarized in chap. 1, verses 45-47, giving the result in word numbers so that there is no mistake: khacatuṣkayamādryagniśararandhraniśākarāḥ. That is: kha-catuṣka, a group of four skies, where sky or space equals 0, so 0000; yama, twins, 2; adri, mountain (the seven mountains), so 7; agni, fire (the three fires), so 3; śara, arrow (the five arrows), so 5; randhra, opening (the nine apertures of the body), so 9; niśākara, “night-maker,” the moon, so 1. Then all these digits must be read backwards, yielding 1,953,720,000. This is the number of years from the beginning of the epoch (not of the kalpa itself) to the end of the last kṛta-yuga.

To come up to the year 1884 C.E., we must add to this the time of the tretā-yuga (1,296,000), the dvāpara-yuga (864,000), and the number of years of the kali-yuga that have passed (4,986) of this twenty-eighth mahā-yuga, a total of 2,164,986 years. This yields 1,955,884,986 years. Once we correct the typo of 6 for 9 in the hundreds place, as discussed in the previous post, this is essentially the same figure as that given in BCW 13.301 (1,955,884,685) and SD 2.68 (1,955,884,687), both derived from the Tirukkanda Panchanga. This is the number of years from the beginning of the epoch to the year 1884 C.E.

Now we want to find out the age of just our own Vaivasvata humanity, the number of years that have elapsed in the Vaivasvata manvantara. We can do this in two ways. Using the data from the Sūrya-siddhānta, that twenty-seven complete mahā-yugas have already passed in the Vaivasvata manvantara (chap. 1, verse 22), we calculate 27 x 4,320,000 = 116,640,000 years. To this we must add, of the twenty-eighth mahā-yuga, the passed kṛta-yuga (1,728,000), the passed tretā-yuga (1,296,000), the passed dvāpara-yuga (864,000), and the elapsed years of the kali-yuga up to the year 1884 C.E. (4986), or 3,892,986 years. This yields 120,532,986 for the number of years that have elapsed from the beginning of the Vaivasvata manvantara to the year 1884 C.E.

This should match the number arrived at earlier by calculating from the beginning of the epoch to the year 1884 C.E. (1,955,884,986), minus the number of years up to the beginning of the Vaivasvata manvantara. For the number of years up to the beginning of the Vaivasvata manvantara, we get the following: the six past manvantaras (6 x 308,448,000 = 1,850,688,000), plus the sandhi period at the beginning of the kalpa (1,728,000), yields 1,852,416,000; minus the time taken for “creation” at the beginning of the kalpa (17,064,000), yields 1,835,352,000 years. Indeed, 1,955,884,986 minus 1,835,352,000 gives us 120,532,986 years. This is merely a check to be sure that the figures we are using match.

So we have 120,532,986 elapsed years of the Vaivasvata manvantara up to the year 1884 C.E., from which we must figure out how the 18,618,725 year age of physical humanity was derived. Subtracting 18,618,725 years from 120,532,986 years, we have 101,914,261 years to account for. We can try to do this in two ways. We may try to do this in terms of the yugas, which is the only information that the Sūrya-siddhānta gives us. Or we may try to do this in terms of the root-races, since we are told that the 18,618,725 year age of physical humanity is to the middle of the third root-race, and we are now past the middle of the fifth root-race.

According to The Secret Doctrine, each “round” or manvantara has 49 root-races, with seven on each of seven postulated “globes.” Since a Theosophical “round” equals two manus or manvantaras (because the second of these is a “seed” manu), the Sūrya-siddhānta information that we are in the seventh or Vaivasvata manvantara agrees with The Secret Doctrine information that we are in the fourth round (SD 2.309). But neither the Sūrya-siddhānta (chap. 1), nor the Viṣṇu-purāṇa (book 1, chap. 3, and book 3, chap. 1), nor The Laws of Manu (chap. 1) speak about 49 root-races or about seven globes. Yet if we cannot calculate how the 18,618,725 year figure was derived by the Tirukkanda Panchanga from just the yuga information, then we may try calculating this figure from the root-race information.

We may recall that for the age of humanity in this kalpa (also called a “day of Brahmā,” and consisting of fourteen manvantaras), the Tirukkanda Panchanga gave 1,664,500,987 years (SD 2.68). This represents a deduction of about 300,000,000 years from the beginning of evolution (1,955,884,987 years), allowing for the kingdoms up to the human kingdom to evolve. This 300 million years is apparently referred to in the stanzas from the Book of Dzyan given in The Secret Doctrine, vol. 2, stanza II, śloka 5, “The wheel whirled for thirty crores more,” and, “. . . After thirty crores she turned round.” A crore, Sanskrit koṭi, is ten million; so thirty crores is three hundred million. This deduction as made in the Tirukkanda Panchanga is 291,384,000 years, the length of a manvantara (308,448,000) minus the time taken for “creation” (sṛṣṭi) at the beginning of the kalpa (17,064,000 years). But I have not found in the Sūrya-siddhānta any mention that such a deduction for the evolution of the lower kingdoms should be made. So perhaps the compilers of the Tirukkanda Panchanga did have access to a more complete manuscript of the Sūrya-siddhānta than is now available, as Blavatsky suggests (SD 2.50-51, 67).

However we do it, via the yugas or via the root-races, we must account for the 101,914,261 preceding years, and the 18,618,725 year age of physical humanity, totaling 120,532,986 elapsed years of the Vaivasvata manvantara up to the year 1884 C.E. The 101,914,261 preceding years would be distributed over the seven root-races of the first globe, the seven root-races of the second globe, the seven root-races of the third globe, and the first two and a half root-races of our present fourth globe. That is, the 101,914,261 years would be distributed over twenty-three and a half root-races, while the 18,618,725 years would cover the period of about two root-races. We must figure out how the Tirukkanda Panchanga arrived at the 18,618,725 year figure. Can it be derived from the Sūrya-siddhānta? What is the data that formed the basis of the calculation of the 18,618,725 years up till Kali Yuga 4986 (1884-1885 C.E.)? What is the method used in making the calculation of the 18,618,725 years up till Kali Yuga 4986?

Category: Occult Chronology | 8 comments

  • Lanoo_Harvey says:

    Readers might also be interested in the detailed explanations of the stanzas of Dzyan made by Nick Mojzesz at: http://users.ez2.net/nick29/theosophy/stanzas.htm

    Unfortunately, they weren’t available when I wrote my book!

  • David Reigle says:

    It is certainly helpful, Lanoo Harvey, to take cognizance of the findings of science such as the Cambrian Explosion and the Permian-Triassic extinction. I did not know about either of these. Allowing for errors in their dating as well, these major events should fit in with occult chronology.

    The recent conclusions of science have been compared with what was given in Theosophy by David Pratt in his article “Geochronology: Theosophy and Science” (http://davidpratt.info/geochron.htm). He also has related articles on his site. If we have occult chronology approximately correct, and if the current dating of science is approximately correct, then the Cambrian Explosion would have been in the previous manvantara or round.

    Not all readers of this blog may know about your 1999 book that gives the stanzas of the Book of Dzyan in modern poetical language. It is titled, “O Lanoo! The Secret Doctrine Unveiled.” More information about this helpful book can be found at: http://www.olanoo.com.

  • Nicholas Weeks says:

    This site gives the TofC, a summary of chapters, and some of introduction to one translation. It will help give an overview for those who have never read the ancient text:


  • Lanoo_Harvey says:

    Whilst it is interesting to speculate and calculate, I’m not sure that the answer can be found just by reference to esoteric texts, which seem to be deliberately vague or misleading. I am not a big fan of scientists (they keep changing their minds about everything) but we might still take pointers from them.

    For example, the Cambrian Explosion (580 million years ago to 530 million years ago) saw evolution accelerate from simple single-cell organisms to complex physical structures that begin to resemble life as we know it. Perhaps this is the period described in Stanza VI of Anthropogenesis?

    And 250 million years ago the Permian-Triassic extinction took place, the “Great Dying”. There was a mass extinction of insects; 96% of all marine species were wiped out; 70% of all terrestrial vertebrates disappeared. Could this be the end of Atlantis described in Stanza XI?

    I have always wanted to push Lemuria and Atlantis further back than traditionally accepted, as this would explain the lack of archaeological evidence.

  • David Reigle says:

    Thanks to the feedback of Jacques Mahnich and Doss McDavid, two large errors in my last four paragraphs were pointed out. It is really good to have this excellent feedback, from longtime students of Theosophy, so that our joint research can progress toward the correct answers to the problems raised. In order to avoid causing confusion to new readers who may find this material on web searches, I have removed these faulty four paragraphs from my post. I have now replaced them there with six new paragraphs.

    Jacques in his comment pointed out the problem in the first of these four paragraphs, relating to the number 1,835,352,000 and adding to it 2,164,986 to make 1,837,516,986. For the eighteen million year figure, we have to work with the elapsed years of the Vaivasvata manvantara itself, not with the elapsed years from the epoch of the kalpa up through the elapsed years of the Vaivasvata manvantara. I have tried to correct this problem in the new paragraphs added to the post.

    Doss wrote in an email to me: “Does the 1,546,132,987 years represent the time from the beginning of the first root race on globe D or globe A? The calculation given in your article uses the former assumption. It seems to me that the latter is more likely in which case most of this time is spent on globes A, B, and C with only several hundred million years for the first ethereal races on globe D which seems to fit with what she has written in other places. The first root races would still be enormously greater than the more recent ones but at least the discrepancy is not so great. Is this a possible explanation?”

    As I replied to him, “This is exactly it. I fell asleep on this one.” I had not allowed for the previous three globes in this round, taught in Theosophy. Although there is no mention of these in the Sūrya-siddhānta or other Hindu texts, these will have to be figured in to arrive at the eighteen million years figure that is given. It is not just the first two and a half root-races that must account for the large number of preceding years; it is also the three times seven root-races on globes A, B, and C. So the huge discrepancy that I spoke of is not a discrepancy.

  • David Reigle says:

    The ten books that have English translations of the Sūrya-siddhānta, listed at the link provided by Nicholas, include only three different translations. The translation by Bapu Deva Sastri was first published in 1861, a year after the translation by Burgess was first published, and apparently was made independently of Burgess’s. It is somewhat less literal than Burgess’s. The one listed by Phanindralal Gangooly is actually Burgess’s translation. Gangooly was the editor of its 1935 Calcutta reprint, which has again been reprinted more recently. It includes a helpful 45-page Introduction by Prabodhchandra Sengupta written in 1935 for the reprint. The one by Bimala Prasada Siddhanta Sarasvati (1874-1936) was made from Sanskrit into Bengali (published 1896), and then recently translated from Bengali into English. All three translations of the Sūrya-siddhānta were made on the basis of the commentary by Raṅganātha, but none of them include a translation of this commentary. Another book, The Sūryasiddhānta (The Astronomical Principles of the Text), by A. K. Chakravarty (Kolkata, 2001), includes a rearranged translation. Although not stated to be so, my comparisons of a number of these verses show that they are the Burgess translation.

  • Jacques Mahnich Jacques Mahnich says:

    I concurr with most the reasoning and maths up to a certain point where I could not make sense. When it is said : “we add 2,164,986 years to this, making our present Vaivasvata humanity then 1,837,516,986 years old.”,the starting point is the beginning of the 4th round (Vaivasvata Manvantara) estimated at 1,835,352,000. The 2,164,986 is the elapsed time between Surya Siddhanta time (1,955,884,686) and our year 1884. I do not see why we can add it to the 4th round start time.
    My understanding of the SD (II.68 and 69) : “III-Time, from the first appearance of “Humanity” on planetary system = 1,664,500,987 years. This places the start of humanity during the 6th manvantara (at 40% of the 6th manvantara). Then it is written : “IV-The number that elapsed since the “Vaivasvata – or the human period- up to the year 1887, is just 18,618,728 years, which places the human “arrival” during the 24th maha-yuga of the 7th manvantara. So it gives some 18 million years for human development (up-to-now, and we should be far from being perfect….:). We probably need to dig further inside if we want to have a clear idea of the timetable according to the tradition and match it with the SD.

  • Nicholas Weeks says:

    The Burgess translation and a few others, some with a traditional commentary are still in print:


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