Hinduism

The Four Yugas or Epochs

4 yuga

According to Hindu scriptures, all mortal beings are destined to pass through four great epochs in every cycle of creation and destruction. This divine cycle turns full-circle at the end of what is known as kalpa. A kalpa is a yuga cycle, which is a period of 10,000 divine years, and is divided into four ages or yugas (Sanskrit yuga = age/epoch). According to one calculation, one yuga cycle is estimated to be 4,320,000 years, and one kalpa 4,320,000,000 years.

dwaparAbout the 4 Yugas
The four great epochs in Hinduism are: Satya Yuga, Treta Yuga, Dwapar Yuga and Kali Yuga. Satya Yug or the Age of Truth is said to last for four thousand divine years, Treta Yuga for three thousand, Dwapara Yug for two thousand and Kali Yuga will last for one thousand divine Years that equals to 432,000 earthly years.
It is also believed that three of these great ages have already passed away, and we are now living in the fourth one. What these ages exactly mean, and why this division, it’s hard to explain, because they appear too unrealistic to be true for the rational mind.

Songs of Innocence & Experience!
The four ages symbolize the four phases of involution during which man gradually lost the awareness of his inner selves and subtle bodies. Hinduism believes that human beings have five kinds of bodies, called annamayakosa, pranamayakosa, manomayakosa vignanamayakosa and anandamayakosa, which represent the ‘gross body’, the ‘breath body’, the ‘psychic body’, the ‘intelligence body’ and the ‘bliss body’ respectively.

Another theory explains these epochs of time on the basis of the degree of loss of righteousness in the world. It says, during Satya Yuga only truth prevailed (Sanskrit Satya = truth), Treta lost ¼ truth, Dwapar lost ½ truth and Kali is left with only ¼ truth. Evil and dishonesty has replaced truth in the last three ages or yugs.

narasimha-avatarDasavatara: The 10 Avatars
Throughout these four yugas, Lord Vishnu is said to incarnate ten times in ten different avatars. This is known as ‘Dasavatara’ (Sanskrit dasa = ten). During the Age of Truth, human beings were spiritually most advanced and had great psychic powers. In the Treta Yuga people still remained righteous and adhered to moral ways of life. Lord Rama of the fabled Ramayana lived in Treta Yuga. In the Dwapara Yuga, men had lost all knowledge of the intelligence and bliss bodies. Lord Krishna was born in this age. The present Kali Yuga is the most degenerated of the Hindu epochs.

Living in the Kali Yuga!
We live in the Kali Yuga — in a world infested with impurities and vices. People possessing genial virtues are diminishing day by day. Floods and famine, war and crime, deceit and duplicity characterize this age. But, say the scriptures, final emancipation is possible only in this age.

kalkiThe Signs of Kali Yuga!
Kali Yuga has two phases: In the first, humans — having lost the knowledge of the two higher selves — had knowledge of the ‘breath body’ apart from the physical self. During the second phase even this knowledge has deserted mankind, leaving us only with the awareness of the gross physical body. This explains why we are now more preoccupied with our physical self than anything else.

Due to our preoccupation with our physical bodies and our lower selves, and because of our emphasis on the pursuit of gross materialism, this age has been termed the ‘Age of Darkness’ — an age when we have lost touch with our inner selves, an age of profound ignorance!

What the Scriptures Say
ramBoth the two great epics – The Ramayana & Mahabharata – have spoken about the Kali Yuga. In the Tulasi Ramayana, we find Kakbhushundi foretelling: “In the Kali Yuga, the hot-bed of sin, men and women are all steeped in unrighteousness and act contrary to the Vedas… every virtue had been engulfed by the sins of Kali Yuga; all good books had disappeared; impostors had promulgated a number of creeds, which they had invented out of their own wit. The people had all fallen prey to delusion and all pious acts had been swallowed by greed.”

In the Mahabharata (Santi Parva) Yudhishthir says: “… The ordinances of the Vedas disappear gradually in every successive age… the duties in the Kali age are entirely of another kind. It seems, therefore, that duties have been laid down for the respective age according to the powers of human beings in the respective ages.” The sage Vyasa later on clarifies: “In the Kali Yuga, the duties of the respective order disappear and men become afflicted by inequity.”

What Happens Next?
It is predicted that at the end of the Kali Yuga, Lord Shiva shall destroy the universe and all the physical body would undergo a great transformation. After such dissolution, Lord Brahma would recreate the universe and mankind will become the ‘Beings of Truth’ once again.

~ Subhamoy Das

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  • I know this is hard to say.
    We destroyed everything which is created by creator, we didn’t even left single thing.
    We don’t have rights to leave in this holy place so called earth.
    rather to continue the destruction, better to get extent

  • Good explanation but there are some additional points. There are 1000 revolutions of the same 4 Yugas, eventually totalling 4.3 billion years in the Kala. Then for an equal duration of time there is no manifest life. After that the next Kala begins. In addition there is the concept of Manvantara, each one being started by a Manu. Our Kala is Sveta Varaha and the Manvantara is Vaivasvata. We are in the 6th Millennium of Kali Yuga.

  • Anyone interested in knowing the different perspective on the yugas is to read “The Holy Science” written by Sri Yukteswara Giri, spiritual master of Paramahansa Yogananda. Here you will come to understand that a complete cycle is only 12,000 years (6 thousand years decending & 6 thousand years ascending) and currently we are in dwapara yuga (ascending) and not kali yugas. Also you will understand the error made in thinking kali yuga will last for over million of years.

  • I learnt about these Manvantara, Kalpa, Yugas by the time I was 14 years of age or earlier and learnt by heart the 10 Dasavatara couplets before attaining the age of 16 years. But the key question always remains: everything is already fixed. We are helpless. We can not influence the good and evil content in this world. So what difference it makes whether there are 4 yugas or 10 yugas, their duration is 1000 years or 100, 000 years. This cosmogony is just a projection of mind, of a particular mind, the mind of an influential individual or group and that is the story in all religions. They are subjective and arbitrary.

  • Article is with wrong calculation…not all avatars were happened in 4 yugas…they had been in a kalpa.
    Yes and the same prediction says that people are very much interested in figures but not in the divine knowledge in kaliyuga.
    Most of the people are thinking that if everything is fixed then what to do and for what. Actually they missed the point of gaining wisdom and divine knowledge for “Anand”, the limitless love and happiness. If you forget the goal then you will be destroyed and re-happened for the journey again, again and again. For any further clarification anybody can contact me.

  • This is dwapara yuga and not kaliyug. We are currently in ascending dwapara yuga and in the transition period. For further research watch ‘SADHGURU- this is not kaliyuga’ on youtube. Also google “light age masters” if u are interested for further deep study.

  • the timings for these yugas don’t seem right, suggest author doesn’t rely just on google. Would advise that sources shown for any articles.

    Secondly yugas are not concepts…

    Thirdly the Koshas are understood by Yogis – one need not attach labels like Hinduism when discussing it.

    Finally, Rishi Markanday prophesied that the beginning of the end of Kali Yug would be when the Vedas are sold and no one would do anything about it. We are in the time now, and should prepare for the final avatara.

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