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From Hindupedia, the Hindu Encyclopedia

By Swami Harshananda

Kāla literally means ‘that which counts and spends away life’.

Kāla as Time[edit]

Kāla or time is a fundamental concept defined in various ways. Time aids us to perceive change of state in a thing. Taking the time needed to wink the eyelids as one unit called ‘nimeṣa’, a table has been denoted as follows:

Duration Time Slot
18 nimeṣas 1 kāṣṭhā
30 kāṣṭhās 1 kalā
30 kalās 1 kṣaṇa
12 kṣaṇas 1 muhurta
30 muhurtas 1 ahorātra (day + night)
30 ahorātras 1 māsa (month)
12 māsas 1 saivatsara (year)

Note: In the above table, the duration is equal to the adjacent time slot mentioned in the table.

Kāla as Dravya[edit]

Kāla has been considered as a dravya or a fundamental substance of the universe by some philosophies of Jainism. The Sāñkhyakārikā[1] considers kāla as a form of tuṣti or contentment. It is the satisfaction that comes out of the thought that the mukti or liberation will definitely come in the course of time.

Kāla as Yama[edit]

Kāla is also enlisted as one of the names of Yama, the god of death.

Kāla as God[edit]

The Bhagavadgitā[2] and the Bhāgavata[3] equate kāla with the God.


  1. Sāñkhyakārikā 50
  2. Bhagavadgitā 11.32
  3. Bhāgavata 3.29.37-45
  • The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore