Is there an end to this world, and if so, when will it be?
About the world, the ancient shastras, the Srimad Bhagavat, Mahabharata and the scientists today share almost the same opinion. The scientists may not say Satya Yuga, Dwarpa, Treta, Kali Yuga but more or less they say the same thing which our shashtras have already said. What is that? We are entering into the first phase of Kali Yuga. We have not entered yet. We are entering. The yuga mana, measure, is four lakh, 32,000 years. That doubled becomes Treta and that doubled again becomes Dwarpa and that doubled again becomes Kali Yuga. So you can understand we have plenty of time to live.
Even if we believe that the world is going to end after about 100 years, you do not have to worry. I think before this earth will become a difficult place for man and life to survive, I think many hundred thousand generations will have gone by. Let us not think about the death of the world, you must think about when maya shall die.
In yoga and Vedanta, world means prapancha, meaning ‘made out of five’. Akasha, vayu, agni, apas, prithvi are the pancha tattwas and from the pancha tattwa the world is made.
This is called prapancha. Prapancha also means maya, which means not an absolute reality. This world is not the visible world; we do not merely say the geological world. When you use the word ‘world’ you must also talk about the philosophical and spiritual world. This world, this samsara, this maya is not an absolute reality. This time to which the world is subjected to is also not an absolute reality.
Time, space and object which relate to this world are not absolute. Those of you who understand science, and who have also made studies about the theory of relativity and the absoluteness of time and space, will know very well that this world exists in your mind. The dukkha and sukha, the pain and pleasure, live in your mind. Death is not painful if it is the death of your enemy. Death is painful if it is the death of your friend. Anything in life is relative, depending on the conditions. Your question should be transformed into, “When will the death of the world take place?” I have replied the first phase. The second phase is, “When will maya cease to exist?” Maya will cease to exist no sooner than light has dawned in your mind. The rishis say:
Paramatmani yatra yatra manoyati
Tatre tatre samadhyam
When the ego related to the body and the mind dissolves and you become aware of the paramatman in you, wherever your mind goes, wherever your mind stands, there it dissolves, it is finished.
The existence of mind depends on the illusion of body consciousness, dehabhimanam. When there is no dehabhimanam, there is no mind, when there is no mind, there is no samsara. When there is no samsara it does not matter if an earthquake takes place today or ten thousand years hence.
26 January 1982, Mysore, Tamil Nadu