So, who can bring us news of the great ocean? Is there any record of how long we have been struggling in the water to stay afloat in the well of this material world, sometimes going up to the higher planets, sometimes coming down? Only the Supreme Lord Himself or His empowered representative can possibly free us from confinement in this dark well. Under their guidance we can come to know of the limitless ocean of the spiritual sky. This process—hearing from higher authorities—is called the deductive, or descending, process of knowledge. It is the only authorized way to learn transcendental knowledge. By this method alone is eternal truth transmitted.
And what can we learn by this process? Lord Kṛṣṇa describes the spiritual and material worlds as follows in the Bhagavad-gītā (8.17-20):
- By human calculation, a thousand ages taken together form the duration of Brahmā's one day. And such also is the duration of his night. At the beginning of Brahmā's day, all living entities become manifest from the unmanifest state, and thereafter, when the night falls, they are merged into the unmanifest again. Again and again, when Brahmā's day arrives, all living entities come into being, and with the arrival of Brahmā's night they are helplessly annihilated. Yet there is another unmanifest nature, which is eternal and is transcendental to this manifested and unmanifested matter. It is supreme and is never annihilated. When all in this world is annihilated, that part remains as it is."
People become awestruck when they learn that the life span on Brahmaloka is many millions of years. One has to undergo severe austerities and renunciation, accepting the sannyāsa order of life, in order to reach Brahmaloka. However, we must consider one essential fact: even Lord Brahmā, the presiding deity of that planet, is not immortal. Those who have researched the Vedic scriptures in depth can calculate the lifetime of Brahmā. Human beings count 365 days in their year, and the cycle of four yugas comprises approximately 4,320,000 such years. A thousand cycles of four yugas make up one day-time (twelve hours) of Lord Brahmā's life. In this way his month and year can be calculated, and Brahmā lives for a hundred years of his time. But despite this vast life span—311 trillion 40 billion human years—Lord Brahmā is a mortal being, and this universe created by him is also perishable. Thus it is not strange that human beings, who are also his creation, should perish. As human beings seem immortal to a tiny insect, so Lord Brahmā and the demigods seem immortal to us. In fact, however, no material body of any form is ever eternal.
At the end of Lord Brahmā's day, when night approaches, a partial dissolution inundates the universe up to the Svargaloka, the abode of the demigods. All the living entities of this world are created at the dawn of Lord Brahmā's day and annihilated at dusk, and this creation and annihilation go on in a continuous cycle.