Saturday, November 5, 2022

Time in Sanatana Dharma: Yugas, Mahayugas, Manvantaras, and Kalpas

The 4 pillars of the Kedareshwar Temple

symbolize the 4 yugas (only 3 are intact)

On the matter of the scope of time and space, there exists a significant difference between the ancient philosophy of Sanatana Dharma and that of the Semitic religions which emerged in the Middle Ages. The age of the universe varies between 6000 and 10,000 years, according to the popular Semitic doctrines. But in Sanatana Dharma, we are confronted with time spans which are overwhelmingly large—running into millions and even billions of years. 

The Big Bang model, developed in the twentieth century, suggests that the age of the universe is almost 14 billion years—this large number seems to vindicate the overwhelmingly large time spans suggested in the Vedic, Upanishadic, and Puranic texts of Sanatana Dharma. 

The Upanishads preach that the substratum of the universe (known as the Brahman) is absolute and eternal, only the created part of the universe is affected by the passage of the yugas, which are very long periods of time. Four yugas are mentioned in the Upanishads: Krita (Satya), Treta, Dvapara, and Kali. The cycle of four yugas comprise a single mahayuga. There are periods of time much larger than the yugas and the mahayuga—these are called manvantaras and kalpas. One manvantara comprises 71 mahayugas—and 14 manvantaras comprise one kalpa, which is equal to a single day in the life of Brahma. 

Thus, the length of one day in Brahma’s life is infinite from the human perspective. In the Puranas, thirty kalpas are mentioned. The present kalpa is the Varaha Kalpa which came after the passage of the previous kalpa, the Padma Kalpa. 

The cycle of creation of the universe begins with the Krita Yuga, which is the golden age of divinity, bliss, and righteousness. There is only one holy text in the Krita Yuga—the Brahma Veda. Human beings live for 4000 years; they are righteous and possess superior mental faculties. The timespan of this yuga is 4800 years, which is equal to 1,728,000 human years. When the Krita Yuga comes to an end, the Treta begins. In this yuga, the divinity, bliss, and righteousness have come down by one fourth—but people still live for 3000 years and they possess superior mental faculties. In this yuga, Vishnu divides the single Veda into four parts. The Treta Yuga lasts for 3000 divine years, which is 1,296,000 human years.

The next yuga is the Dvapara—now divinity, bliss, and righteousness have declined to half of the Treta Yuga. The Puranas are the sacred texts of this yuga. People live for 2000 years and their mental faculties have declined considerably. This yuga lasts for 2400 divine years, which is 864,000 human years. The final yuga of the cycle is the Kali, the age of hatred, foolishness, violence, chaos, and wars—the average age of human beings declines to below 100 years and their mental faculties reach the lowest level. The current universe is in the phase of Kali Yuga, which began in 3102 BC, and will last for 1200 divine years, or 432,000 human years.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Very good Analysis. Will read further ...Thanks.