Time is of the Essence

Hindu Cosmology in Science Fiction


  • Susan L. Schwartz (lately )Muhlenberg College




cosmology, experiential time, cyclical and circular time, Māyā, entheogen, memory, narrative, relativity


In the academic study of religion, theories about the nature of time reside in the realm of cosmology. They shape and form assumptions about the nature of chronology, sequence, duration, cause and effect. In those beginnings are sown the seeds of endings: both define the parameters of meaning. One of the most fascinating and consistent conceits of the science fiction genre is the nature and manipulation of time. Like religion, science fiction constructs worldviews. To challenge fundamental assumptions regarding of time and space has always been one of science fiction’s most endearing qualities. In South Asian and specifically Hindu cosmology, not only is time circular and cyclical, it is fundamentally illusory. There is a mysterious and delightful congruence between Hindu cosmology and western science fiction in this respect. This article proposes to examine some of the ways in which traditional Hindu concepts of time are represented in western science fiction.


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Mahony, William, K. 1998. The Artful Universe. New York: State University of New York Press.

Malinar, Angelika. 2007. Time in India. New Delhi: Manohar.



How to Cite

Schwartz, S. L. (2014). Time is of the Essence: Hindu Cosmology in Science Fiction. Implicit Religion, 17(4), 481–486. https://doi.org/10.1558/imre.v17i4.481




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