[Taken From: A Classical Dictionary Of Hindu Mythology And Religion, Geography, History, And Literature.] Yuga: An age of the world. Each of...


[Taken From: A Classical Dictionary Of Hindu Mythology And Religion, Geography, History, And Literature.]

Yuga: An age of the world. Each of these ages is preceded by a period called its Sandhya or twilight, and is followed by another period of equal length called Sandhyansa, ‘portion of twilight,’ each being equal to one-tenth of the Yuga. The Yugas are four in number, and their duration is first computed by years of the gods: -

1. KritaYuga:  4000

Sandhya: 400

Sandhyansa:  400

— — — — — — — —Total: 4,800

2. Treta Yuga: 3000

Sandhya: 300

Sandhyanaa: 300

— — — — — — — —Total: 3,600

3. Dwapara Yuga:2000

Sandhya: 200

Sandhy&nsa: 200

— — — — — — — —Total: 2,400

4. Kali Yuga:1000

Sandhya: 100

Sandhyansa: 100

— — — — — — — —Total: 1,200

— — — — — — — —Total: 12,000

But a year of the gods is equal to 360 years of men, so

KritaYuga: 4800 x 360 = 1,728,000

Treta Yuga: 3600 x 360 = 1,296,000

Dwapara Yuga: 2400 x 360 = 864,000

Kali Yuga: 1200 x 360 = 432,000

— — — — — — — —Total: 4,320,000

years, forming the period called a Maha-yuga or Manwantara, Two thousand Maha-yugas or 8,640,000,000 years make a Kalpa or night and a day of Brahma.

This elaborate and practically boundless system of chronology was invented between the age of the Rig-veda and that of the Maha-bharata. No traces of it are to be found in the hymns of the Rig, but it was fully established in the days of the great epic. In this work the four ages are described at length by Hanumat, the learned monkey chief, and from that description the following account has been abridged: -

The Krita is the age in which righteousness is eternal, when duties did not languish nor people decline. No efforts were made by men, the fruit of the earth was obtained by their mere wish. There was no malice, weeping, pride, or deceit; no contention, no hatred, cruelty, fear, affliction, jealousy, or envy. The castes alike in their functions fulfilled their duties, were unceasingly devoted to one deity, and used one formula, one rule, and one rite. Though they had separate duties, they had but one Veda and practiced one duty.

In the Treta Yuga sacrifice commenced, righteousness decreased by one-fourth; men adhered to truth, and were devoted to a righteousness dependent on ceremonies. Sacrifices prevailed with holy acts and a variety of rites. Men acted with an object in view, seeking after reward for their rites and their gifts, and were no longer disposed to austerities and to liberality from a simple feeling of duty.

In the Dwapara Yuga righteousness was diminished by a half. The Veda became fourfold. Some men studied four Vedas, others three, others two, others one, and some none at all. Ceremonies were celebrated in a great variety of ways. Brom the decline of goodness only few men adhered to truth. When men had fallen away from goodness, many diseases, desires, and calamities, caused by destiny, assailed them, by which they were severely afflicted and driven to practice austerities. Others desiring heavenly bliss offered sacrifices. Thus men declined through unrighteousness.

In the Kali Yuga righteousness remained to the extent of one-fourth only. Practices enjoined by the Vedas, works of righteousness, and rites of sacrifice ceased. Calamities, diseases, fatigue, faults, such as anger, &c., distresses, hunger, and fear prevailed. As the ages revolve righteousness declines, and the people also decline. When they decay their motives grow weak, and the general decline frustrates their aims.

In the Knta Yuga the duration of life was four thousand years, in the Treta three thousand, in the Dwapara two thousand. In the Kali Yuga there is no fixed measure. Other passages of the Maha-bharata indicate “ that the Krita Yuga was regarded as an age in which Brahmans alone existed, and that Kshatriyas only began to be born in the Treta.”