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The Four Yugas or Epochs

Four Yugas

Yuga (युग) in Hindu philosophy is the name of an 'epoch' or 'era' within a cycle of four ages. These are the Satya Yuga, the Treta Yuga, the Dvapara Yuga, and finally the Kali Yuga. According to Hindu cosmology, life in the universe is created, destroyed once every 4.1 to 8.2 billion years, which is one full day (day and night) for Brahma. The lifetime of a Brahma himself may be 311 trillion and 40 billion years. The cycles are said to repeat like the seasons, waxing and waning within a greater time-cycle of the creation and destruction of the universe. Like Summer, Spring, Winter and Autumn, each yuga involves stages or gradual changes which the earth and the consciousness of mankind goes through as a whole. A complete yuga cycle from a high Golden Age of enlightenment to a Dark Age and back again is said to be caused by the solar system's motion around another star.

There are four Vedas:

  • The Rig Veda -"Royal Knowledge"
  • The Sama Veda - "Knowledge of Chants"
  • The Yajur Veda - "Knowledge of Sacrificial Rituals"
  • The Atharva Veda - "Knowledge of Incarnations"
There are 108 extant Upanishads, of which 10 are most important: Isa, Kena, Katha, Prashna, Mundaka, Mandukya, Taitiriya, Aitareya, Chandogya, Brihadaranyaka.

Durations of four yugas

According to the Laws of Manu, one of the earliest known texts describing the yugas, the length is 4800 years + 3600 years + 2400 years + 1200 years for a total of 12,000 years for one arc, or 24,000 years to complete the cycle (one precession of the equinox). There is no mention of a year of the demigods or any year longer than the solar year, which is consistent with description in The Holy Science. However, the more recent and popular interpretation from the Srimad Bhagavatam states the following: "The duration of the Satya millennium equals 4,800 years of the years of the demigods; the duration of the Dvapara millennium equals 2,400 years; and that of the Kali millennium is 1,200 years of the demigods... As aforementioned, one year of the demigods is equal to 360 years of the human beings. The duration of the Satya-yuga is therefore 4,800 x 360, or 1,728,000 years. The duration of the Treta-yuga is 3,600 x 360, or 1,296,000 years. The duration of the Dvapara-yuga is 2,400 x 360, or 864,000 years. And the last, the Kali-yuga, is 1,200 x 360, or 432,000 years in total." (Śrimad Bhagavatam 3.11.19) . These 4 yugas follow a timeline ratio of (4:3:2:1).



The evidence from different sources supports the notion of a complete Yuga Cycle of 24,000 years, comprised of an ascending and descending cycle of 12,000 years each. This brings us to the question of the relative durations of the different Yugas in the Yuga Cycle, and the transitional periods, which occur at the beginning and end of each Yuga, and are known as Sandhya (dawn) and Sandhyansa (twilight) respectively. The following values are provided in the Sanskrit texts for the duration of the Yugas and their respective dawns and twilights.

  • Satya Yuga (Golden Age) : 4000 years + 400 years dawn + 400 years twilight = 4800 years

  • Treta Yuga (Silver Age): 3000 years + 300 years dawn + 300 years twilight = 3600 years

  • Dwapara Yuga (Bronze Age) : 2000 years + 200 years dawn + 200 years twilight = 2400 years

  • Kali Yuga (Iron Age) : 1000 years + 100 years dawn + 100 years twilight = 1200 years

The ages see a gradual decline of dharma, wisdom, knowledge, intellectual capability, life span, emotional and physical strength.

  • Satya Yuga :- Virtue reigns supreme. Human stature was 21 cubits. Average human lifespan was 100,000 years.
  • Treta Yuga : - There was 3 quarter virtue & 1 quarter sin. Normal human stature was 14 cubits. Average human lifespan was 10,000 years.
  • Dwapar Yuga : - There was 1 half virtue & 1 half sin. Normal human stature was 7 cubits. Average human lifespan was 1000 years.
  • Kali Yuga : - There was 1 quarter virtue & 3 quarter sin. Normal human stature was 3.5 cubits. Average human lifespan will be 100 years. Towards the end of the Yuga this will come down to 20 years.



Each yuga is an age with specific characteristics in which incarnations of Krsna appear. The four yugas make up a cycle called divya-yuga, which lasts 4,320,000 years. One thousand of these yugas equal one day of Brahma, which is called a kalpa. Brahma's lifespan is 100 years of his time. In each yuga there is a specific process of self-realization (yuga dharma).

SATYA YUGA - (sometimes also called krta-yuga): the golden age lasts 1,728,000 years. The process of self-realization in this yuga is meditation on Visnu. During this yuga the majority of the population is situated in the mode of goodness and the average life span at the beginning of the yuga is 100,000 years.

TRETA YUGA - also called the silver age, lasts 1,296,000 years and the process of self realization is the performance of opulent yajnas(sacrifices). The average life span is 10,000 years and the godly qualities decrease one fourth compared to the Satya yuga.
It is during this age that Varna-asrama-dharma is introduced.

DVAPARA YUGA - or the bronze age, lasts 864,000 years and the process of self realization is the worship of the deities within temples. Godly qualities are reduced to 50% by now and the average life expectancy is only 1000 years.

KALI YUGA - the iron age of hypocrisy and quarrel lasts 432,000 years. Lord Krishna appeared in His original, trancendental form right before the beginning of Kali Yuga. The process of self realization is sankirtana, the chanting of the Holy Names of the Lord. God consciousness is reduced to 25% of the population and life expectancy is only 100 years. By now already 5000 years of Kali yuga have passed and it is predicted that by the end of the yuga people will hardly be older than 20 years and their only food will be meat.


The four yugas and Brahmajnana

It should be obvious that the life style in the four Yugas is the same as life style of people of the four Hindu Varnas.

  • Krita/Satya Yuga - Brahmana Varna
  • Treta Yuga - Kshatriya Varna
  • D(v/w)apara Yuga - Vaishya Varna
  • Kali Yuga - Shudra Varna

The Varna of a person is determined by the two attitudes, Positive and Negative,

  • Brahmana Varna - Positive and Negative attitudes merge to become one and the same
  • Kshatriya Varna - Positive and Negative attitudes are separate
  • Vaishya Varna - There is just Positive attitude and no negative attitude
  • Shudra Varna - The two attitudes are absent.

Brahmana Varna gives best quality of life and authority but can be used under ideal conditions only. All activities of life are interlinked and eternal. This forces Brahmana to be honest. Shudra Varna gives maximum freedom but least quality of life. In this Varna all activities are independent of each other and transient. The enormous flexibility makes it the ideal Varna for chaotic conditions. The Varnas were banned because Hindus tried to have both the authority of Brahmana Varna and the freedom of Shudra Varna. The Varnas were therefore, replaced with the Virtual Yugas .


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