Aemilius wrote:There is in Har Dayal's Bodhisattva Doctrine in Buddhist Sanskrit Literature a little chapter about time in the context of the career of a bodhisattva. It is very useful, Har Dayal makes it clear that the mathematical figures were larger in India, than the ones they had afterwards in China. Har Dayal gives in his book different interpretations of the length of Kalpas, Dayal quotes Poussin who gives one interpretation of the length Kalpas that is similar to Thomas Cleary's.
I found Dayal's book on Google Books. Very interesting text, thanks for the reference.
The Poussin quote is regarding the value of an asankhyeya, yes (on p.78)? He says, (according to Dayal) that it is 10^206th power. Just in line with my own conclusions I posted above. Starting with a Laksa, which is 10^5 power, increasing by 100 each numeral - after 103 more steps, we arrive an 10^211 - pretty close. He began at 10 instead of a laksa, a little slip-up. But that figure is unfathomably smaller than Cleary's figure.
- (Which is so absurd a thing to say at any time in a person's life! "10^206th power is unfathomably smaller." Only discussing Buddhist texts could a person ever find themselves writing such a line.) -
Let me see if I can pick it out, here in Cleary's translation ... well, Cleary has already surpassed it at the fifth numeral - which is the kinkara. He says it equals 10^320 power. Those numbers are not straight numbers in his translation - they are 10^xx number of powers (i.e., the number of zeros after 1). I don't think any Buddhist text can be found anywhere with numbers that large. Flipping to p.890, the 32nd numeral he has it equaling 10^42984079360th power. Zowie. I think I'll stop.
Here's a fun link to put all this into perspective (or, a concrete frame of some sort): https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Observable_universe Scrolling down to the section called Matter Content, we get a rough estimate that there maybe 10^22 to 10^24 number of stars in the observable universe. And that the number all the atoms in that universe is something like 10^80! Wow.