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What is Time?

Time is a difficult word which is almost impossible to define. Generally, Time is considered as the sequence of events and existence which passes through past, present and future. According to Vishnu purana, Time is what is added at the time of creation and substracted at the time of destruction. Usually the movement of time is linear. But for great duration of time the movement of time is circular. According to puranas, time period is known as Satya, Treta, Dwapara and Kali. After Kali, again Satya yuga comes. So the movement of time is circular.

Many years ago, A conference was held at New Delhi. The topic was Time. It was an international conference. Experts and Scholars of different subjects came-Historians, Sociologists, Political Scientists, Anthropologists, Philosophers and Scholars of Physics, Chemistry, Botany, zoology had come to the conference. Some said-time is circular, some said-Time is linear Some said Time is both-linear and circular. Throughout History, Time is an important subject of study in religion, philosophy and Science. In Navigation and astronomy, Time is very important. In economics also time is very valuable. Time is money.

Artefacts from the Palaeolithic suggest that the moon was used to reckon time as early as million years ago. Lunar calenders were first to appear with years of either 12 or 13 lunar months. The reforms of Julius Caesar in 45 BC put the Roman world with a solar calendar. During the French revolution, a new clock and calendar were invented as part of the dechristianisation of France. Also it was a step to rationalise and to replace Gregorian calendar. A large variety of devices have been invented to measure time. It is called Horology. The most precise time keeping device of the Ancient world was the water clock.

Ancient Cultures Such as Incan, Mayan, Babylonians, Ancient Greeks, Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and others have a concept of wheel of Time. Time is regarded as cyclical, consisting of repeating ages that happen to every being of the universe between birth and extinction. In philosophy, Time was questioned through History. What is time and whether it is real or not. Plato believed that time was made by creator as the same instant as the Heavens. Time is a period of motion of the heavenly bodies. Time did not exist on its own but was relative to motion of objects. Due to orbital periods the concept of duration of time evolved. The Vedas say that the universe goes through repeated cycles of creation destruction and rebirth with each cycle lasting 4320 million years.

Saint Augustine thought over time and said-what then is time. If no one asks me, I know. If one asks, I know not. He began to define time by what it is not rather than what it is. Again He Said-we grasp the past by memory, the present by attention and future by expectation.

Can Time be stopped? Apparently it can be. For example-when a world cup Football or cricket is going on, the time stops for one month. So Shakespeare has said- By all courtesy and in all power, we must stop time.

On the whole Time is time. The inpact of time is more important that the concept of Time.

(The views expressed are the writer’s own.)

Radhakanta Seth is an Income tax officer in Sambalpur.  He is a Freelance writer and his articles have been published in some Oriya dailies like Sambad, Samaj, Dharitri and English dailies like The Telegraph and in a sociological journal ‘Folklore’ published from Kolka

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