Mother Nature and Father Time: An Eternal Story
Dr. Chandrani (Pinki) Purkayastha
From origin of human race, curiosity led to all the discoveries. Time and Nature both are integral part of human life and its evolution. People throughout the centuries thought philosophically about that which gave birth to the story of mother-nature and father-time. Though not proven, it is often found that people pair Father-Time with Mother-Nature as a married couple because of their parental nature. Father-Time has been a prevalent part of many cultures throughout the ages. Time is strict just like father, and nature is always motherly. Chronos (also known as Chronus) is the personification of time itself. Indeed, the word means "time" and is the root of "chronology" and other modern words. It was, however, originally employed in a purely poetic sense. There is no God or Goddess directly associated with time per se in the annals of Greek mythology, but there may have been a Titan of Time. Saturn (referred to by the Greeks as Cronus or Kronos) was the Roman Deity of Time and an ancient Italian Corn God known as the Sower. Saturn's weapon was a scythe or sickle. Since ancient history, time has been identified with Saturn. In India, though Shiva is known as “Mahakal” that is beyond time and space. Still specifically saying, the concept of time is not associated with any deity. Rather the time schedule is considered as the smallest unit of time is a kaashta which is 18 times the amount of time it takes to blink an eyelid. 10 kaashtas make a kshanam and 12 kshanams constitute a muhoortam. 60 of these muhoortams constitute a day. 30 days constitute a month (Masha) and 3 months make up a Ritu. 12 months of course constitute a Human year. Interestingly, timescale is different at different planes. As per folk tales, the dimensions of departed souls is known as pitrus, where a human month equals the length of a day. The brighter half of a lunar month constitutes the pitru's day time and the darker half their night. In the realm of the Devas or the Gods, a human year constitutes a single day. The brighter half of the year Uttarayan makes up the day time hours while the darker half Dakshinayan makes up the night time hours. An epoch or a yuga is the next higher level of measurement. A single day in Bhrahma's life spans 2000 * 4,320,000 i.e. 8,640,000,000 human years.
Scientifically speaking, time is represented through change, such as the circular motion of the moon around the earth. The passing of time is indeed closely connected to the concept of space. Time is a part of the measuring system used to sequence events, to compare the durations of events and the intervals between them, and to quantify rates of change such as the motions of objects. Time is one of the seven fundamental physical quantities in the International System of Units. Two contrasting viewpoints on time divide many prominent philosophers. One view is that time is part of the fundamental structure of the universe; it is a dimension in which events occur in sequence. Sir Isaac Newton subscribed to this realist view, and hence it is sometimes referred to as Newtonian time. The opposing view is that time does not refer to any kind of "container" that events and objects "move through", nor to any entity that "flows", but that it is instead part of a fundamental intellectual structure within which humans sequence and compare events. This second view holds that time is neither an event nor a thing, and thus it is not measurable nor can it be traveled.
Throughout the world, folk communities have worshipped nature as a living entity, a mother, who fulfills all the wishes, fulfills all the requirements. India is of no difference, there are many regional diversity, with various modes of worship of nature in different feminine forms, which were later on combined by the story of 51 Shaktipeethas with additions too. During my research in Pendra in Chattisgarh area, I saw a folk goddess Marhi Mata, who is worshipped by sowing wheat seeds during nine days of Navratri and celebration is concluded by planting them in cultivable land on Dussehra. Marhi Mata is the folk goddess of Gonds representing Mother Nature, who is now identified as Durga, under the influence of Sanskritization. Temple of Marhi Mata is also identified as Siddha Peetha. Long ago Kamakhya was the folk goddess of Khasis as Ka- Meikha means grandmother, so she was perhaps ancestral goddess of matrilineal Khasi community, and surrounding communities also worshipped her as nature and symbolic representation of creation. Worship of Kolabou or Navapatrika i.e. worship of nature as plant form in Bengal, Odhisa, Tripura, Assam represents healthy and wealthy life. It includes Banana plant or Kola Gaach, Colacassia plant or Kochu Gaach, Turmeric plant or Halud Gaach, vegetable hummingbird or Jayanti Gaach, Wood apple Tree or Bael Ghaach, Pomegranate tree or Daalim Gaach, Arum plant or Maankochu, Paddy plant or Dhan Gaach and Ashoka Tree or Ashok Gaach. That’s why Durga is Parama Prakriti.
Scientifically speaking, as per the Gaia hypothesis, named after the ancient Greek goddess of Earth, the Earth and its biological systems behave as a huge single entity. This entity has closely controlled self-regulatory negative feedback loops that keep the conditions on the planet within boundaries that are favorable to life. The concept is based on several observations such as atmosphere is in an extreme state of thermodynamic disequilibrium owing to the activities of life, yet aspects of its composition are remarkably stable. Observations suggest that present conditions at the surface of the Earth are close to optimal for the dominant organisms. Life has persisted for over 3.8 billion years despite increasing solar luminosity and variable exchange of matter with the inner Earth. The Earth system has repeatedly recovered from massive perturbations. Interestingly as per The Daisy world model, planetary self-regulation can occur without teleology, in a manner consistent with natural selection. Since the origin of life, organisms have had a profound effect on the Earth's atmospheric composition and the climate. The ‘faint young Sun’ was initially counteracted by a carbon dioxide and methane ‘greenhouse’ atmosphere. The biological amplification of silicate rock weathering has progressively reduced the carbon dioxide content of the atmosphere and acted as a long-term climate stabilizer. Atmospheric oxygen rose in a stepwise fashion to ∼21% of the atmosphere, about which it has been tightly regulated for the past 350 million years. Feedbacks involving terrestrial and marine biota also affect the climate over shorter time scales. The predominance of positive feedback in the recent glacial–interglacial cycles suggests that the Earth system is nearing a transition to an alternative state. Eventually, self-regulation will collapse and the Earth will be sterilized, but this is unlikely to occur for at least another 0.5–1.2 billion years. ‘Nature’ itself is mysterious in nature, the more we discover, we understand yet much many more facts to know and understand.