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Buddhist Cosmology: A Comparison of the Abhidharma and Kalachakra Explanations by Alexander Berzin
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Introduction The Buddhist abhidharma (special topics of knowledge) and Kalachakra (cycles of time) literatures provide two distinct presentations of cosmology, each for a different purpose. Study of the abhidharma one is undertaken primarily for developing discriminating awareness (shes-rab, Skt. prajna) by working with set theory applied to complex system analysis.
The Kalachakra presentation is designed to model the structure of the human body and is primarily for application in advanced tantric meditation to overcome karma. Each presentation is valid in the context of its own purpose and neither was formulated for the sake of navigation.
The abhidharma explanation given here is based on an extensive one-year course taught by Geshe Sonam Rinchen (dGe-bshes bSod-nams Rin-chen) on Treasure-house of Special Topics of Knowledge (Chos mngon-pa'i mdzod, Skt. Abhidharmakosha) by Vasubandhu (dByigs-gnyen).
Geshe-la elucidated the text in accord with Vasubandhu’s Autocommentary on “Treasure-house of Special Topics of Knowledge” (Chos mngon-pa'i mdzod-kyi rang-‘ grel, Skt. Abhidharmakoshabhashya) and the First Dalai Lama’s (rGyal-wa dGe-‘dun rgya-mtso) Commentary on the Hallowed “Treasure-house of Special Topics of Knowledge”: Illuminating the Path to Liberation (Dam-pa’i chos mngon-pa’i mdzod kyi rnam-par bshad-pa thar-lam gsal-byed).
The Kalachakra presentation is based on Adornment for “The Stainless Light” (Dri-med ‘ od-kyi rgyan) by Kaydrub Norzang Gyatso (mKhas-grub Nor-bzang rgya-mtsho), Presentation of the Generation Stage of Glorious Kalachakra:
The Oral Tradition of Manjushri (dPal dus-kyi 'khor-lo'i bskyed-rim-gyi rnam-bzhag 'jam-dpal zhal-lung) by Detri Rinpoche (sDe-khri 'Jam-dbyangs thub-bstan nyi-ma), and Heart-Essence (Teachings) of the Holders of the Caste (Rigs-ldan snying-thig) by Kyenrab-norbu (mKhyen-rab nor-bu).
Notes and addenda to clarify the explanations are provided in violet within square brackets.
[Compare this with the scheme of gas giants and rocky planets with molten cores.] A thousand such world systems equal a galaxy; a thousand galaxies equal a cluster; and a thousand clusters equal a super-cluster.
Therefore, a thousand, million, billion world systems equal 1000 3. According to an alternative explanation, all the world systems of a super-cluster share common gold, water and wind bases. Countless super-clusters are going through their own cycle of evolving, enduring, disintegrating, and being bare, though not synchronously with each other.
One yojana or “ ancient mile” equals 4.5 modern miles. The number “zillion,” literally “countless,” is the highest number in the traditional Indian number scheme, and is equivalent to 10 60. ] There is one wind base in common for a whole super-cluster.
For each world system there is one cylindrical water base which is 800,000 yojanas deep and one gold base which is 320,000 yojanas deep, on top of each other and on top of wind, both with the same diameter 1,203,450 yojanas. The seas and oceans are all 80,000 yojanas deep.
Mount Meru is 160,000 yojanas high with 80,000 yojanas below the water and 80,000 yojanas above. Mount Meru’s cross-section is square with each side being 80,000 yojanas in length. Thus, the portion of Mount Meru above water looks like a cube. Mount Meru is made of precious gems:
in the East, it is made of silver and white in color; in the South, beryl and blue in color; in the West, red crystal and hence red in color; and in the North, gold and yellow in color. These colors are reflected in the sky and in the waters of the directions.
As for the eight rings of mountains on the gold base, the seven closest to Mount Meru are actual mountains, while the eighth is an iron fence encircling the perimeter of the entire gold base. The mountains are called Having Yoke (Shaped Peaks), Having Plow (Shaped Peaks), Having Acacia Catechu (Forested Peaks), Having Beautiful to Behold (Peaks), Having Horse-ear (Shaped Peaks), Having (Peaks) Bent in Respect, and Having Wheel-rim (Shaped Peaks). The height of each ring of mountains above water is the same as its width and each ring of mountains is half the size of the next. The first ring is 40,000 yojanas, the second 20,000 yojanas and so on, with the eighth being 312.5 yojanas.
The seven fresh water inland seas are named after the qualities of their waters:
Cool, Delicious, Light, Soft, Clear, Oderless, and
Not Harmful to the Stomach or Throat When Drunk.
The width of the seven is progressively half of each other, with 80,000 yojanas between Mount Meru and the first sea, 40,000 yojanas between the first and the second and so on. Between the sixth and the seventh it is 1,250 yojanas and between the seventh sea and the black, iron fence mountain are 322,000 yojanas of the eighth sea, namely the four salt water oceans, in which the four island worlds and eight smaller isles are situated.
Adjacent to it are the Isle of Gigantic People and the Isle of Giants.
Adjacent to it are the Isles of Pretence and of Supreme Paths to Travel.
Adjacent to it are the Isles of Voice of Doom and Companion Voice of Doom.
The Islands of Giants in the East are in the shape of a trapezoid, with each side curved and convex like a half-moon, with three sides 2000 yojanas in length and the one closest to the outer ring of the iron mountain 350 yojanas.
The isles are the same shapes, but smaller and to right and left of the side toward the iron fence.
Each world system has a cylindrical wind mandala , not a common one for a super-cluster of world systems as in abhidharma) and fire, water and earth mandalas. Abhidharma has no fire mandala and has a gold base instead of an earth one.
On top of Mount Meru there is another portion, which is only a mental form, and which is another 100,000 yojanas high, like a head on top of the body of Mount Meru. Of this “head,” the neck is 25,000 yojanas, the face is 50,000 yojanas and the crown protrusion is 25,000 yojanas high.
The space between the outermost mountain ring and the border rim of Mount Meru is 16,000 yojanas [16+1+8+8+1+16 = 50] and then this is divided into eighteen equal portions of 888.88 yojanas for each ring.
Note also that the measurements are different: In abhidharma, twenty-four fingerwidths (sor) equal one cubit (khru), four cubits equal one armspan (gzhu-‘dom), five hundred armspans equal one ancient furlong (rgyang-grags), and eight furlongs equal one ancient mile (dpag-tshad, Skt. yojana).
In Kalachakra, two thousand armspans equal one furlong, and four furlongs equal one ancient mile. Thus, a Kalachakra mile is twice the length of the abhidharma mile and is thus about nine modern miles.
Mount Meru has five curtains or veils hanging down from along its side [either straight down according to Kaydrub Norzang Gyatso or like inverted brass plates according to the Kalachakra astrology master Kyenrab-norbu – that is, they first go horizontally out toward the circumference and then hang vertically down].
The outermost curtain hits the top of the outside of the Cool Mountain and thus encloses all of the continents, lakes and mountains within.
It is ring-shaped, 25,000 yojanas across the thickness of the ring [25 of the ring + 50 in-between + 25 of the ring = 100 yojanas of the earth mandala). It is divided into twelve parts, with each part touching the next part and not separated by oceans.
These are called the Southern, Eastern, Western and Northern Continents and each of these has an Eastern, Central and Western part. The central one of each direction is marked by a shape, but not actually in that shape.
The North is marked by a half-moon 9000 yojanas and the West is a square 10,000 yojanas. [In abhidharma, the Eastern Island-World is shaped like a trapezoid, the Southern like a triangle, the Northern like a square, and the Western is round
As in the abhidharma, these are also sometimes called the Island of Giants in the East, the Rose-Apple Island in the South, the Wealth from Cows Island in the West and the Voice of Doom Island in the North. Thus, Kalachakra has two Rose-Apple Continents.
This is the same in all twelve divisions of the Great Rose-Apple Island and all are called by the same names. [Note that Himavan (Gangs-can; Having Snow) is a commonly used name for Tibet, Chin for the Dolpo region of northwestern Nepal, Li for the Kathmandu Valley, and Bhotia for the Terai region of southern Nepal.
Beyond the Great Rose-Apple Island, which is at the end of the earth mandala, the 50,000 yojanas of the water mandala is the Salty Ocean. The seventh mountain is the Fire Mountain, Vajra Mountain or Volcano and this is at the border of the water and fire mandalas.
In Kalachakra, three thousand worlds are not 1000 3 as in abhidharma. Rather, the “ world sphere of a thousand” means that, taking the above world as the center, in each of the ten directions there are one thousand such worlds.
In the intermediate sphere of two thousand, take one of these world-spheres of the thousand and on each of its ten sides, it has two thousand of the same. The world sphere of the three thousand is one of these and on each of its ten sides there are three thousand such world-systems.
The world sphere of the great thousands is one of these and there is a zillion (= 10 60) world-systems on each of its ten sides. In Kalachakra, however, the main emphasis is on just one world-sphere, since it is analogous to the human body.
There are eight hot and eight cold joyless realms (hells), with each of hot realms having four neighboring joyless realms on each of its four sides. The hot joyless realms are located below Bodh Gaya, India, while the cold joyless realms are located below Tibet.
As the island worlds are 80,000 yojanas deep on top of the gold base, both the hot and cold joyless realms start 20,000 yojanas above the gold base, have 4000 yojanas between them and the highest is 32,000 yojanas beneath the ground.
Each realm is a square, 20,000 yojanas on each side. Thus, the joyless realms extend way out beyond the Rose-apple Island (the Southern Continent), since the Rose-apple Island is in the shape of a truncated triangle 2000 yojanas on each side.
Humanoids of the South, East, West and North are progressively twice the size of each other. Thus, on the Northern Island, the humanoids are sixteen times our size. Those on adjacent isles are half the size.
Therefore, there are differences among the humanoids and thus there is incentive to work. The other three are lands of luxury where the humanoids live in ease and comfort as the result of past life actions.
There are 10,000 yojanas altogether that are empty, which means a 2500 yojana empty portion between each of the four inhabited bands. Thus, the fourth band reaches a height of 40,000 yojanas, which is half way up the 80,000 yojanas portion of Mount Meru that is above water.
Thus, the second (the Divine Realm of the Thirty-three Gods) is 40,000 yojanas above that or 80,000 yojanas, that is, 80,000 yojanas above the Southern Island. The next is 80,000 yojanas above that or 160,000 yojanas.
They are divided into four levels of mental stability (Skt. dhyana). The first, second and third levels have three divine realms each, while the fourth has three ordinary and five pure abodes, which equals seventeen.
The four guardians are one-quarter of a furlong tall, that is, 125 armspans.
The outer part of the bottom half is the Vajra Flame joyless realm (Kyenrab-norbu omits this; whereas Kaydrub Norzang-Gyatso includes it] and the inner part is Great Wailing. The top half is Great Darkness.
These are the two cold joyless realms.
Humans, creeping creatures and the clutching ghosts live on the continents. The Greater Rose-Apple Island with all twelve divisions is the land of actions, while the six inner continents are the lands of luxury.
As for the divine beings on the plane of sensory desires, the guardians of the four directions are on the rim of Mount Meru, while the Divine Realm of the Thirty-three Gods is on top of its main body of 100,000 yojanas high.
Then the next four divine realms on this plane are on the bottom third of the neck of Mount Meru with the neck being 25,000 yojanas, divided by three and that divided by four makes 2083.33 yojanas each.
The plane of ethereal forms has sixteen divine realms, not seventeen as in abhidharma. They are not divided as in abhidharma into the four states of mental constancy, wth each state having three, three, three, and eight divine realms respectively.
In this space source of the subtlest seminal drop, the particles of the other four elemental sources (wind, fire, water and earth) are not prominent, but are present in an ordinary, non-prominent way. In other words, it contains a trace of them. This is because, Kaydrub Norzang-gyatso argues, from only one quality, sound, one could not derive the propensities for all of the others. Thus, because the formless divine beings have a subtlest seminal drop, they have a physical abode.
Instead, the thigh and calf of each leg are each one cubit, divided into the foot, the actual calf, the actual thigh and the hip, with each of these being half a cubit.
Note that a cubit is the measurement from the fingertip to the elbow, from the elbow to mid-chest.
Thus, from the outstretched fingertip to the wrist is half a cubit, from the wrist to the elbow is half a cubit, from the elbow to the shoulder joint is half a cubit, and from the shoulder joint to the mid-chest is half a cubit.
The top part of the water that shows [recall that all element mandalas have their bases at the same level, with only part of them showing above the mandala immediately below it] being 50,000 yojanas parallels from the elbow to the shoulder being half a cubit.
The three sections like this of the right arm parallels the three continents of the East, the left arm parallels the three of the South, the right leg parallels the three of the North and the left leg parallels to the three of the West.
The three refer to from the fingertip to the wrist, the wrist to elbow and the elbow to shoulder joint.
If one takes thirty days as one month and twelve months as one year, then the lowest of the six classes of divine beings on the plane of sensory desires lives five hundred years comprised of fifty year-long days (nine million human years). The second level lives one thousand years comprised of one hundred year-long days. The lifespan increases like this by a factor of four for each of the six classes.
Therefore, the first of the seventeen classes of divine beings lives twenty intermediate eons comprised of twenty intermediate eon-long days, and the next three classes’ lifespans increase by twenty intermediate eons each, such that the fourth class lives eighty intermediate or one great eon comprised of one great eon-long days.
The hot joyless realm lifespans are given in terms of divine lifespans. The first hot joyless realm lifespan is five hundred years comprised of days equal to the lifespan of the first divine realm, that is, nine million year-long days. The second realm lifespan is one thousand years comprised of days equal to the lifespan of the second divine realm. Like this, the lifespans increase by a factor of eight up to the sixth hot joyless realm. The seventh hot joyless realm lifespan is twenty intermediate eons comprised of days equal to the lifespan of the first divine realms of the plane of ethereal forms)], and the eighth is forty intermediate eons comprised of days equal to the lifespan of the second divine realms of the plane of ethereal forms (or 3.4 x 10 31 years).
For the cold joyless realms, if there is a bin of eighty sacks or pecks of sesame seeds and one takes out one sesame seed every hundred years, the time it takes to empty the bin is equal to the lifespan of the first of the cold joyless realms.
One peck equals twenty pints; one pint equals six handfuls. If there are 15,000 seeds to a handful, then this is 1.4 x 10 10 years.
The lifespan in the West is five hundred years, two hundred and fifty years in the East, and one hundred years but variable in the South. Creeping creatures’ lifespans are variable. Clutching ghosts live five hundred years of month-long days (or fifteen thousand years).
For the sixteen classes of divine beings in the plane of ethereal forms, the lifespan is from one to sixteen eons, out of which, according to Kaydrub Norzang-Gyatso, for the lower eight, these are medium eons and for the top four, as pure places, these are supreme eons.
As for the length of time of these eons, if there is a cube-shaped pit, one yojana on each side (or nine modern miles on each side) filled with hairs and one takes out one hair every hundred years, when the pit is emptied, this is one day of a small eon.
One hundred years of these days is one small eon. Thus, one small eon equals 1.1 x 10 36 years. Medium, supreme, and great eons are the square of this number. [Note that the lifespan in the lowest joyless realm, Avichi, in abhidharma is 3.4 x10 31 years, so here in Kalachakra the lifespans are much longer.]
There are two traditions of what “square” means in this context.
Thus, if one small eon is one hundred years of those days, then one intermediate eon is one hundred times one hundred or ten thousand (10 4), a supreme eon is equal to 10 8, and a great eon would equal 10 16 small eon years. According to the Rva Lotsawa translation line (Rva-‘gyur) followed by Kaydrupjey, if one takes one hair out every hundred years of a small eon – that is, one hair every one small eon – then the time it takes for the bin to be emptied is one day of an intermediate eon.
An intermediate eon lasts a hundred years of those days. If one takes out one hair every hundred years of an intermediate eon, the time it takes for the bin to be emptied is one day of a supreme eon and it has hundred years of such days. If one takes out one hair every hundred years of a supreme eon, the time it takes for the bin to be emptied is one day of a great eon and it has a hundred years of such days.
With 21,600 breaths per day, the length of time of 777,777,000 breaths is a hundred years.
Therefore, 21,600 of these equals one day in their lives [and thus a day of their lives equals the time of one human breath), thirty days equals one month, twelve months equals one year, so they live one hundred of these years.
The first twenty intermediate eons are the intermediate eons of evolving. From the potentials for the elements and from the collective karma of those who will be reborn in this universe, there first develops the gentle breeze of the wind mandala.
The eight are subparticles of the four element sources (‘byung-ba’i khams) – earth, water, fire and wind – and subparticles of the four derivative elements (‘byung-gyur) subparticles of sight, smell, taste and touch.
Sound is a vibration, not a conglomerate of many subparticles together.
On the plane of ethereal forms, particles have no smell or taste component, since the divine beings there have no smell sensors or taste sensors.] Energy-wind is the support of the universe [as it is also the support for subtlest consciousness in anuttarayoga tantra).
As a universe evolves, above the wind mandala comes a cloud with the essence of gold. Huge rain produces the water mandala. This is churned by the wind, producing a golden mandala on top (like butter).
Then another cloud with the essence of all the elements produces a second rain, which produces another water mandala. The wind churns this and, from the best elements, comes a Mount Meru. From the medium quality elements and a second churning, come the seven golden mountains. From a third churning and the least quality elements, come the four continents.
During the first of the twenty intermediate eons of evolving, the divine realms above Mount Meru appear first, starting with the three Brahma realms and then developing downwards. In other words, the divine realms in the first state of mental constancy on the plane of ethereal forms appear first, since for most great eons, the divine realms above the Brahma Realms are still enduring.
During the next nineteen intermediate eons, the various life forms evolve, starting from the divine beings of the Brahma realm (Fastidious First) and progressing downwards. Since Brahma appears first, he thinks that he creates all that appears after him, and from this comes the notion of a creator god.
They are born by miraculous emanation and they all look alike with bodies made of light, no reproductive organs, but full sense organs. They have extra-physical powers, live on the food of absorbed concentrationd have no excretion.
Rain comes and wind solidifies the top of the accumulated water into soil with a taste as sweet as honey. From past tendencies of disturbing emotions, attachment to taste arises. One person sticks a finger in the soil and tastes it.
The others imitate this and thus the custom of eating begins. As the result of eating solid food, their bodies become heavier and lose their natural radiance. With the diminishing light, the external luminaries of the sun, moon and stars appear, halfway up Mount Meru (40,000 yojanas above sea level) at the height of the first ring of golden mountains.
These luminaries travel on the wind on the peaks of this mountain.
Those who eat much become uglier and those who eat less stay more beautiful.
They look down on the uglier ones and the first quarrelling arises. The sweet soil becomes depleted and so people begin to eat the moss that grows on the ground. Greed increases, and thus quarrels and arguments increase, and the moss becomes depleted. The same happens with the shoots of flowers.
After this, people eat wild, huskless grain that needs no cultivation. As people eat grosser food, they develop bodily faculties to eliminate waste and also reproductive organs. Due to past tendencies, desire for each other arises. The more vulgar people begin to copulate and others throw rocks in disgust. Therefore, to have sex in private, people build the first houses.
They do not want to pick grain each day. Because there is so much hoarding, people become increasingly more fearful that they will not get a proper share of the food. From this situation, theft arises, as well as mistrust and the division of land into private tracts.
Those with the most stored grain feel that if they had a king to protect them and to settle disputes, it would be good. They choose the person who is the most handsome and who has the most pleasant personality.
Thus, the earliest kings are popularly elected. The king decides over land and grain disputes, and gets one-sixth of the crops as salary. This starts lines of cosmic emperors ruling with a wheel of authority over several island-worlds (chakravartin emperor).
Then come the twenty intermediate eons of enduring. The first of the twenty is the great period of decrease, when the human lifespan on the Southern Continent goes from 80,000 years to ten, decreasing at a rate of one year every two hundred years.
The first Buddha of this eon appeared when the lifespan was 60,000 years, the second at 40,000, the third at 30,000, and the fourth, Shakyamuni, when the lifespan was one hundred years. The fifth, Maitreya, will come when the lifespan increases to 80,000 years again.
The present illuminated eon is called the “fortunate eon” and has one thousand Buddhas (during its twenty intermediate eons of enduring). It will be followed by sixty dark eons (each lasting eighty intermediate eons) and then a star-like eon with 20,000 Buddhas.
degeneration of lifespan – when lives pass ever faster and no one lives thousands of years as they did in golden ages;
degeneration of disturbing emotions and attitudes – when these are rampant even among those with robes, who have left their households;
degeneration of outlook – especially among householders, without any respect or belief in anything constructive;
degeneration of beings – when people and animals become smaller than in ancient times, weaker and less able physically to care for themselves;
degeneration of the times – when natural resources deplete, the environment degardes, and epidemics, wars, and so on occur.
The first time the lifespan reaches ten years, there is a seven-day holocaust of weapons, when the people are dwarf-like, deformed, foul-smelling, and so aggressive that they use whatever they can to kill each other.
The survivors flee to caves, see the disadvantages of murder, and then the times improve.
When survivors see the disastrous results of acting negatively to each other and to the environment, then the times improve. The third time the lifespan reaches ten years, there is a seven-year, seven-month, seven-day famine.
According to An Anthology of Special Topics of Knowledge (Chos mngon-pa kun-las btus-pa; Skt. Abhidharmasamuccaya), all three occur each time: when the lifespan is thirty then there is famine, when twenty plague, and when ten weapons.
With no divine beings left to cause rainfall, then in the twentieth intermediate eon, all realms up to and including the first-level constancy Brahma realms are destroyed by the burning of seven suns that come into existence one at a time.
The first burns up all vegetation; the second dries up all streams and smaller rivers; the third dries up Lake Manasarovar and the four great rivers that flow from Mount Meru (Mount Kailash); and the fourth and fifth dry up the oceans, reducing them to a few drops.
The sixth dries up everything, not leaving even a drop of moisture; the seventh causes the earth and Mount Meru to go up in smoke; and the seventh causes everything to go up in flames so that not even the ashes remain.
Note that each of the billion world-systems in a supercluster has its own realm of first-level mental constancy, but just one common realm of second, third, and fourth-level mental constancy for the entire supercluster.
The environment of the fourth-level mental constancy cannot be destroyed by any of the four elemental sources – solid, liquid, fire, or gaseous. The environment of each of the divisions there disintegrates when the potentials for limited beings to remain there are finished and they die.
Kalachakra indirectly mentions the cycles of evolving, enduring, disintegrating, and being bare, but not many of the details. Kalachakra has a special discussion, however, of the particles of the elemental sources (khams).
His Holiness the Dalai Lama explains that the particles of the eight types of abhidharma subparticles (leaving out sound) are probably included here. Water particles have four qualities, leaving out odor.
This situation also has the label of being called space particles. [Because space particles, with the quality of sound, endure throughout all four cycles of a universe, one could say that they are eternal. Kalachakra explains that this is the deeper hidden level of meaning of the eternal sound of the Vedas and Samkhya.]
Detri Rinpoche explains that a space particle also refers to the space between particles at the time particles disperse from being together; that is, they are in a situation with space in-between them.
Then from the potential of the collective karma of the limited beings that will be born in a particular universe, wind particles come to adhere to each other and, from this, comes blowing wind. From fire particles sticking together comes the aspect of lightning with wind (like static electricity). From water particles sticking together comes rain with wind and fire/lighting.
From earth particles sticking together comes rainbows with wind, fire, and water. Space particles abide as the pervader of all the others and, here, this refers to affectable space as the place for things, the space they occupy.
As for the origin of the sun, moon, planets and so forth, first the constellations and zodiac signs arise. Then, at zero degrees Cancer, the sun first arises and this is the beginning of the first actual year.
The sun then orbits counterclockwise and when it reaches zero degrees Aries above the vertical axis or central meridian of the Central Eastern Continent [[[Wikipedia:equivalent|equivalent]] to the ascendant from the perspective of the Central Southern Continent), the moon first arises, that is, with a new moon. This is the beginning of the first lunar-date day and why the zodiac begins with Aries.
This is also the first Monday, and now Sunday and Monday alternate.
When it reaches ten degrees Virgo and the meridian, Jupiter and Thursday arise. At twenty degrees Gemini and the meridian, Venus and Friday arise. At zero degrees Sagittarius and the meridian, Saturn and Saturday arise.
Kalachakra does not have a full discussion of the development of limited beings and their enduring as in the abhidharma. However, during the disintegration phase of a universe, first earth particles no longer adhere to each other, then water, fire, and wind particles come apart progressively, and what remains are merely space particles.
The second three periods are the three chapters or periods of practicing – discriminating awareness, absorbed concentration and ethical self-discipline periods, when people practice primarily these disciplines.
Two thousand five hundred years from Buddha’s passing away was marked in 1956 CE.
This marks the start of the count of 5104 and thus the teachings will disappear in 4224 CE [32 years before they are predicted to end according to sutra).
Buddha taught Kalachakra in the stupa at Shridhanyakataka (dPal ‘bras-spungs) in Andhra Pradesh, South India. The King of Shambhala, Suchandra (Zla-ba bzang-po), came with 96 lesser kings and then brought the teachings back to Shambhala, wrote down the Root Tantra and composed a commentary to it.
He ruled for three more years. He was the first of the line of seven religious kings. The next six kings each ruled for one hundred years. Then Manjushri Yashas (‘Jam-dpal grags-pa), the first Kalki (rigs-ldan; Holder of the Castes), wrote The Abridged Kalachakra Tantra (bsDus-rgyud, Skt. Laghutantra). His son, Pundarika (Pad-ma dkar-po), wrote the commentary Stainless Light (Dri-med ‘od, Skt. Vimalaprabha).
In the 98 th year of the Twenty-fifth Kalki, Rudrachakrin (Drag-po ‘khor-lo-can), that is, 2424 CE, which is 1800 years after the beginning of the Muslim period, there will be a great war, which Shambhala helps win.
Up to this point, 3304 years will have passed [3 + 600 + 221 + 182 + 2200 + 98].
After the war, the Kalachakra teachings will flourish for another 1800 years, which are the later four yugas or ages, each of 450 years. 3304 + 1800 = 5104. After this period, Rudrachakrin’s teachings of Kalachakra will last for 1800 years on each of the other eleven continents in turn, and therefore, altogether last 21,600 years.
---The Motion of the Heavenly Bodies, Seasons and So Forth]]===
Night and day vary on one side of Meru and the other as the sun rotates around Mount Meru. The days get longer and shorter, and thus the seasons arise due to the sun going too far to the north or the south. Kalachakra
The constellations as well as the heavenly bodies of the sun, moon and planets [all referred to as “planets” gza’] rotate clockwise around Mount Meru, and thus they rise in the East and set in the West.
However, the motion of the heavenly bodies relative to the constellations is counterclockwise; that is, each night at the same hour, Mars moves further east as the constellations at the ascendant move further west.
To describe the rotation of the seasons, draw twelve imaginary epicycles (go-la), one for each of the twelve continents of the Great Rose-Apple Island. [Epicycles are small circles drawn around the circumference of a bigger circle.]
This is a ring consisting of 25,000 yojanas of the earth mandala (where the Great Rose-Apple Island is) and 50,000 yojanas of the water mandala. Thus, the circle drawn on the dividing line between the northern and southern parts of the Greater Rose-Apple Island (at 12,500 yojanas from Cool Mountain) is the equivalent of the Tropic of Cancer;
For the epicycle at the Central Southern Continent, Aries is halfway between the Cool and Fire Mountains, on the right side; that is, toward the east on the circumference of the bigger circle [on the equator].
Wherever the sun is closest to Cool Mountain, it is at its highest in the sky and therefore it is the summer solstice, and where the sun is closest to Fire Mountain, it is at its lowest in the sky and therefore the winter solstice.
Where the sun is equidistant, it is halfway up in the sky and this is either the spring or the autumn equinox.
Thus, when the sun is in Aries, it is the spring equinox in the Central Southern Continent, the summer solstice in the Central Eastern Continent, the autumn equinox in the Central Northern Continent, and the winter solstice in the Central Western Continent.
However, divide the areas over which the third, sixth and ninth epicycles pass [from the middle of the Eastern Western to the middle of the Central Western Continents, from the middle of the Eastern Northern to the middle of the Central Northern Continents, and from the middle of the Eastern Eastern to the middle of the Central Eastern Continents] into thirty-one portions.
Divide the area over which the twelfth epicycle passes[from the middle of the Eastern Southern to the middle of the Central Southern Continent) into thirty-two portions.
Not only are the length of days different around Mount Meru due to the sun being further north or south, there are also different length days in the six lands of each continent, going from the Tropic of Cancer up to Cool Mountain, also due to sun being further south or north in the sky.
Moreover, it has symbolic meaning in reference to the human body. For Westerners, this Kalachakra presentation is also interesting since there are many suggestive ideas, such as lands of action and luxury, how civilization begins and ends, and so forth.