From Academic Kids

In Hindu philosophy, the cycle of creation is divided into four Yugas (ages):

  1. Satya Yuga or Krita Yuga
  2. Treta Yuga
  3. Dwapara Yuga
  4. Kali Yuga


The spiritual states of civilization in each yuga

In Hindu tradition, the world goes through a continuous cycle of these ages. Each ascending phase of the cycle from Kali Yuga to Satya Yuga is followed by a descending phase back to Kali Yuga, then another ascending phase and so on. Alternatively, it is sometimes supposed that at the end of the descending Kali Yuga, the world will return to the Satya Yuga, and begin a new decline.

The descent from Satya to Kali is associated with progressively deterioration of Dharma (righteousness) manifested as decrease in length of human life and quality of human moral standards. In the Vishnu Purana, for example, the Kali yuga is described thus:

"In the Kali Yuga, there will be numerous rulers vying with each other. They will have no character. Violence, falsehood and wickedness will be the order of the day. Piety and good nature will dwindle slowly... Passion and lust will be the only attraction between the sexes. Women will be the objects of sensual pleasure. Dishonest will be the bottom line of subsistence. Learned people will be ridiculed and put to shame; the word of the wealthy person will be the only law."


The traditional virtues accorded highest value in the four ages are

  1. Satya Yuga or Krita Yuga - dyana (meditation)
  2. Treta Yuga - yajna (sacrifice)
  3. Dwapar Yuga - archana (worship)
  4. Kali Yuga - daana (gifts)
  1. In the highest yuga, the great majority of the people can experience spirituality by direct intuitive realization of truth. The veil between the material and the transcendent realms becomes almost transparent. According to Natya Shastra, there is no Natya performances in the Krita Yuga because it is a period free from any kind of unhappiness or misery. Satya Yuga is also called the Golden Age.
  2. Treta Yuga is the mental age, magnetism is harnessed, men are in power, and inventions dissolve the illusion of time. (Inventions are characteristic of both Dwapara and Treta yugas.) Lord Rama is said to have lived during this Yuga.
  3. In Dwapara Yuga, science flourishes, people experience the spiritual in terms of subtle energies and rational choices, inventions are abundant, particularly those that dissolve the illusion of distance (between people and between things), and power is mostly in the hands of women. The end of this age is associated with the death of Krishna, and the events described in the Mahabharata.
  4. In the lowest phase, Kali Yuga, most people are aware only of the physical aspect of existence, the predominant emphasis of living is material survival, and power is mostly in the hands of men. People's relationship with the spiritual is governed predominantly by superstition and by authority.

Temples, wars, and writing are hallmarks of Dwapara and Kali yugas. In the higher ages (Treta and Satya), writing is unnecessary because people communicate directly by thought; temples are unnecessary because people feel the omnipresence of God; wars are rare but they do occur; one such war is described in the Ramayana.

The traditional timescale of the yugas is as follows:

  1. Satya Yuga or Krita Yuga - 1,728,000 years
  2. Treta Yuga - 1,296,000 years
  3. Dwapar Yuga - 864,000 years
  4. Kali Yuga - 432,000 years

Upon conclusion of 71 ( or sometimes 7) circuits of this cycle, there is a period equally long during which the world is inundated; then the cycle begins again.

Sri Yukteswar's teachings on the yugas

An alternate view of the yuga cycle and timescale was taught by the 19th-century Indian yogi Swami Sri Yukteswar. After his chief disciple Paramahansa Yogananda came to America in 1920 and founded Self-Realization Fellowship to teach his guru's meditation technique Kriya Yoga, Sri Yukteswar's teachings on the yuga cycle, presented in his 1894 book The Holy Science, also became more widely known.

According to Sri Yukteswar, the descending phase of Satya Yuga lasts 4800 years. That of Treta Yuga lasts 3600 years. That of Dwapara Yuga lasts 2400 years. That of Kali Yuga lasts 1200 years. The ascending phase of Kali Yuga then begins, also lasting 1200 years; and so on. The ascending phase of Kali Yuga began in September of 499AD. Since September 1699, we have been in the ascending phase of Dwapara Yuga.

This differs from the traditional schedule of mainstream Hinduism presented above, which holds that the yugas are much longer, and that we are today at the beginning of a 432,000 Kali yuga that began in 3102BC.

In The Holy Science, Sri Yukteswar writes the traditional view is based on a misunderstanding. He says that at the end of the last descending Dwapara Yuga (about 700 BC) "Maharaja Yudhisthira, noticing the appearance of the dark Kali Yuga, made over his throne to his grandson [and]...together with all of his wise men...retired to the Himalaya Mountains...Thus there was none in the court...who could understand the principle of correctly accounting the ages of the several Yugas."

Nobody wanted to announce the bad news of the beginning of the descending Kali Yuga, so they just kept adding years to the Dwapara date (at that time 2400 Dwapara). By the deepest point of the Kali Yuga (around 500 BC) that made the date 3600. As the Kali began to ascend again, scholars of the time recognized that there was a mistake in the date (then being called 3600+ Kali, although their texts said Kali had only 1200 years). "By way of reconciliation, they fancied that 1200 years, the real age of Kali, were not the ordinary years of our earth, but were so many daiva years ("years of the gods"), consisting of 12 daiva months of 30 daiva days each, with each daiva day being equal to one ordinary solar year of our earth. Hence according to these men 1200 years of Kali Yuga must be equal to 432,000 years of our earth."

Sri Yukteswar also writes that our sun is part of a binary star system, orbiting another star, with an orbital period of about 24,000 years. As our sun moves through this orbit it takes the whole solar system closer to and then further from some "grand center called 'Vishnunabhi', which is the seat of the creative power, 'Brahma', [which]...regulates...the mental virtue of the internal world."

The "yuga" cycle corresponds to the phenomenon described as "precession of the equinoxes" whereby the positions of constellations shift across the horizon over a period of (if it continues at current rates) 25,600 years. The usual explanation for this is that it is due to precession, whereby Earth's poles wobble over time much like the motion of a toy top. However, according to California venture capitalist Walter Cruttenden of The Binary Research Institute, the same observed phenomenon could be explained equally well or better by elliptical motion of our solar system through space, such as would be caused by it orbiting (and being orbited by) a binary companion. (Such elliptical motion would cause the "precession" to vary in speed over time, resulting in a complete cycle of length very close to 24,000 years.)


See also


Academic Kids Menu

  • Art and Cultures
    • Art (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Art)
    • Architecture (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Architecture)
    • Cultures (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Cultures)
    • Music (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Music)
    • Musical Instruments (http://academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/List_of_musical_instruments)
  • Biographies (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Biographies)
  • Clipart (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Clipart)
  • Geography (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Geography)
    • Countries of the World (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Countries)
    • Maps (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Maps)
    • Flags (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Flags)
    • Continents (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Continents)
  • History (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/History)
    • Ancient Civilizations (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Ancient_Civilizations)
    • Industrial Revolution (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Industrial_Revolution)
    • Middle Ages (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Middle_Ages)
    • Prehistory (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Prehistory)
    • Renaissance (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Renaissance)
    • Timelines (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Timelines)
    • United States (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/United_States)
    • Wars (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Wars)
    • World History (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/History_of_the_world)
  • Human Body (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Human_Body)
  • Mathematics (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Mathematics)
  • Reference (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Reference)
  • Science (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Science)
    • Animals (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Animals)
    • Aviation (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Aviation)
    • Dinosaurs (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Dinosaurs)
    • Earth (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Earth)
    • Inventions (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Inventions)
    • Physical Science (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Physical_Science)
    • Plants (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Plants)
    • Scientists (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Scientists)
  • Social Studies (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Social_Studies)
    • Anthropology (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Anthropology)
    • Economics (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Economics)
    • Government (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Government)
    • Religion (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Religion)
    • Holidays (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Holidays)
  • Space and Astronomy
    • Solar System (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Solar_System)
    • Planets (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Planets)
  • Sports (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Sports)
  • Timelines (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Timelines)
  • Weather (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Weather)
  • US States (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/US_States)


  • Home Page (http://academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php)
  • Contact Us (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Contactus)

  • Clip Art (http://classroomclipart.com)
Personal tools