chapter  24
34 Pages


ByRandy Kloetzli, Alf Hiltebeitel

There is no significant body of scholarship that systematically discusses and interpretsthe Hindu views of time in the way that Aristotelian scholarship has done in the West. Although Anindita Balslev (1983, 1993) has recently undertaken to fill this void and a variety of monographs address pieces of the puzzle, issues such as the relationship between time, motion, and soul remain unaddressed. Neither have the contributions of Hindu astrology to the understanding of time advanced much beyond the translations of some basic texts (Yavanajåtaka, V®ddhayavanajåtaka, B®hat Saµhitå, and B®had Jå†aka). However, there can be little doubt that the astrological sciences contributed significantly to concepts such as the moment (k‚a~a, nime‚a), destiny (niyati), and duration of life (åyus). Studies of time in Hindu myth and ritual are plentiful, but, with the exception of Madeline Biardeau (1981), narrowly focused. Nor have studies of time in India taken sufficient account of crosscultural comparison, though again, and rather randomly, exceptions would include Michael Witzel (1984) on archaeoastronomy, Wilhelm Halbfass (1992) in Heidegger studies, and Romila Thapar (1991, 1996, 1997) on the vexing problem of “the supposed absence of history.” A short chapter such as this will not provide the needed remedy. What it will attempt is to highlight these and other issues by exploring the richness of Hindu insights into the problem of time from multiple perspectives, including both non-Hindu Indian views as well as corresponding concerns within the Hellenistic world.