What is Time Dilation? Mentioning of Time theory in Sanatan Dharma

In Sanatan Dharma, time is set differently from the conventional linear view in Western philosophy and science. The ancient texts, such as the Vedas and Upanishads, describe time as cyclical and eternal, following the concept of “Samsara,” the cycle of birth, death, and rebirth. This cyclical perspective suggests that time is not just a one-way street but a continuous loop where souls are trapped until they attain liberation or “Moksha.”


Time dilation is a phenomenon where time moves at varying rates for different observers, contingent on their relative motion or position in a gravitational field. There are two primary factors, velocity and gravity, which influence the passage of time in space. In simpler terms, it denotes the difference in the time that elapses when two clocks get set at distinct points in space. 

When an object’s speed increases, time dilation occurs, causing time to slow down, resulting in reduced ageing. Similarly, a strong gravitational field also decelerates the passage of time, leading to less ageing. If an object were to approach speeds comparable to light, one would observe a noticeable and substantial time dilation effect. However, it’s essential to note that achieving the speed of light is not feasible under normal circumstances with physical objects.

Yogic Experience of Time Dilation

Yoga, a central component of Sanatan Dharma, offers a practical way to explore the concept of time dilation through meditative practices. Yogis and spiritual seekers often report experiences where time seems to slow down or even stop during deep states of meditation. This altered perception of time is akin to the time dilation effect observed in high-speed travel or gravitational fields in physics.

The Bhagavad Gita also alludes to the idea of time dilation. In a conversation with Arjun, Bhagwan Krishna mentions, “I am time, the great destroyer of the world.” This statement implies that time, as perceived by the divine, operates on a different scale and dimension than the human experience of time.

Shrimad Bhagavatam: Story of Time Dilation

(Shrimad Bhagwat Mahapuran, 9th Skandh, Chapter 3, Shloka 27 to 34)

King Sharyati, a descendant of the Ikshwaku dynasty, had three sons, Uttanbarhi, Aanart, and Bhurishen. Aanart’s offspring was Raiwat, who later established the city of Kushasthali in the sea and ruled over it, along with neighbouring regions like Aanart.

Raiwat had 100 capable and efficient sons, with Kakudmi being the eldest. Kakudmi had a daughter named Raiwati. When Raiwati reached a suitable age for marriage, King Kakudmi became concerned about finding a suitable groom for her. He decided to visit Brahma-lok (the realm of Lord Brahma) along with his daughter to seek guidance from Lord Brahma.

Upon arriving in Brahma-lok, King Kakudmi found Brahma Dev in a celebration which was in progress, and he patiently waited for it to conclude. After the event ended, he respectfully approached Lord Brahma and discussed his concerns. In response, Lord Brahma lightly smiled and explained that the candidate’s King Kakudmi had in mind as potential grooms for his daughter were no longer on Earth, nor were their descendants. Over time, their lineage had faded into history.

During King Kakudmi’s visit to Brahma-lok, a significant amount of time went by – 27 Chaturyugis (a vast cosmic cycle). Lord Brahma suggested that when King Kakudmi returned to Earth, he should seek out Baldeo, an Anshavatar (a partial incarnation) of God and the elder brother of Lord Shri Krishna, as the best choice for his daughter’s groom.

Bhagavata Puran: An incident of time dilation

King Muchukunda was a member of the Suryavanshi solar dynasty. He was the son of King Mandhata, the brother of Ambarisha. In a significant battle, the Devas were about to get defeated by the Asuras (demons) and faced torment from their arrows. Desperate for help, the Devas turned to King Muchukunda for assistance.

King Muchukunda agreed to aid them and engaged in a prolonged battle against the Asuras. As the Devas lacked a capable commander, Muchukunda protected them from the Asuras’ relentless attacks until they found a suitable leader in Kartikeya, the son of Bhagwan Shiva. At this point, Indra, the king of the Devas, expressed his gratitude to King Muchukunda. He acknowledged that the Devas owed a debt to Muchukunda for his selfless sacrifice in providing them with help and protection, even at the cost of his family life.

Indra then explained the time dilation concept in the heavenly realm, where one second in heaven is equivalent to one year on Earth. King Muchukunda had fought against the Asuras for one heaven year, a considerable amount of time on Earth. As a result, Muchukunda’s kingdom and family had been lost and destroyed over time in battle.


The concept of different Lokas or realms in Hindu scriptures, with Brahma Loka at the highest and Patala at the lowest, mirrors the hierarchical cosmology. Earth is on the 7th Bhu Loka, and Swarga (where Indra rules) is on the 5th Loka. This hierarchy reflects the notion of varying levels of existence or planes of reality in Hindu cosmology.

In this context, King Muchukunda’s year-long battle in Indraloka on the 5th Loka and Revati’s experience in the 1st Loka of Brahmloka for just a few seconds illustrates the concept of time dilation within this cosmological framework. Time appears to slow down or dilate as one moves from higher Loka to lower Loka, with Brahmloka experiencing the slowest time passage compared to Indraloka and Earth.

Interestingly, this notion of time dilation due to different realms is somewhat analogous to the concept of time dilation in modern physics. In science, time dilation occurs as one moves from regions of different gravitational potentials. The greater the gravitational field (as near massive stars or black holes), the more time slows down due to the bending of spacetime.

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