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How many kinds of Yugas are there?

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Abstract: In this article I explain the definition of Yuga as an alignment of celestial bodies and show how the Yuga Durations differed in Various Astronomical Siddhantas of India, depending on the number of luminary bodies that were taken into consideration and their orbital periods. I show that the oldest siddhantas like the Pitamaha Siddhanta had the shortest yuga durations, because they considered the fewest luminary bodies. The latest ones siddhantas have the longest durations because of the number of the larger number of  luminary bodies (plus shadowy bodies – the nodes), that have been taken into consideration. I try to find the yuga durations that must have been referred to by Veda Vyasa in his compilations of the Puranas and his authoring of the Mahabharata and the Srimad Bhagavatam. (See :Kaliyuga duration 360000 years, 1200 divine years, Vishnu Puranam. Tracking the growth of the Kaliyugam from 12 to 432000 years)

Background : The traditional view is incidentally the most modern one! As per this, a mahayuga is a period of 4320000 years duration.

  • Also called a chaturyuga, it has four subdivisions,  krutha, thretha, dwapara and kali.
  • Dwapara is 2 times as long as Kali, Thretha is 3 times as long as Kali and Krutha is 4 times as long as Kali Yuga.
  • Krutha Yuga is a pure period and Kali Yuga is a bad time. (Some texts explain that Dharma walks on four feet in Krutha/Satya Yuga, on 3 feet in Tretha Yuga, on two feet in Dwapara Yuga and one foot in Kaliyuga.)
  • At the end of this Kali Yuga, an avatar of Vishnu called Kalki will destroy all the evil doers. It is also believed that there is one main avatar in each Yuga and several minor avatars. The main avatar of Tretha Tyuga is Rama, the main avatar of Dwapara yuga is Krishna.
  • As per the Nannaya Bharatam, Vyasa started writing the Mahabharata in Year 1 of kaliyuga and completed it in year 4 of kaliyuga.
  • We are now in the first of 4 quarters (padas) of KaliYuga. When we pray, we say, “Jambudvipe, bharatha varshe, bharatha khande, Meroyah dakshina digbhage”. We also give some geographical info giving our relation to rivers and holy places. Then we give the calendar information like our kalpa, praharardha, manvanatara and yuga pada. Svetta Varaha Kalpe, Dwitiya Praharardhe, Vaiswata Manvantare, Kaliyuge prathama pade. After this we give the name of the year in the 60 year cycle – Prabhava, Vibhava etc” (2009-2010 is Virodhi Nama Samvatsara) and further go on with the the tithi vara and nakshatra information, knowledgeable people may give even more details of karana etc.

Definition of a Yuga : A Yuga means a joining or an alignment of planets and/or stars and/or their apogees and perigees. Yugas have to do with alignment and the more celestial bodies that have to line up, the more time it is going to take and the more corrections it is going to take. For a further simpler explanation of the basics : See : Two Kinds of Time and What is the difference between a graha yoga (conjunction) and a yuga?

Whenever any Siddhanta defines a Yuga, it refers to the Mahayuga or the Chaturyuga. While some of the Different siddhantas divide up the Mahayuga into fractions in the ratio 4:3:2:1 or 1:1:1:1,  all of them do not.

List of the Yugas described in this article :

  1. Chandramana and Souramana Yugas: Lunar and Solar Years : Approximately 1 year duration. In use.
  2. Vedic Yugas: Vedanga Jyothisham: Pitamaha (Brahma) Siddhantam: 5 years: (Dhanishta Nakshatram, Surya (Sun), Chandra (Moon) are aligned: The Pitamaha Yuga starts when Dhanishta is in Amavasya.) No longer in use.
  3. Gavam Ayanam: (Chaturyuga has 4 years, each of exactly 365 1/4 solar days, or 365 days + 1 pada) : (At the end of Kali, one pada gets added, … at the end of Krutha 4 padas get added and the leap day is completed). No longer in use.
  4. Barhaspatyamana or Brhaspati Yugas: 12 years :  (Surya, Chandra, Tishya (Pushya), Brhaspati or are aligned The 12 year Kumbha Mela is based on this.)  Barhaspatyamana or Brhaspati Yugas: 60 year variant : (Surya, Chandra, Pushya, Brihaspati plus Sani)
  5. 1000 year Chaturyugas : (The time taken for the starting point of the moveable (tropical) zodiac, to pass one 1 complete nakshatram. Derived from precession of equinoxes)
  6. SaptaRishi Yuga : 2700 years. (A pointer through the bowl of the Saptarishi Mandala moves to a different nakshatra, by the end of a century).
  7. Romaka Siddhantam : 2850 years 
  8. Poorva Surya Siddhantham : 180,000 years or 1,800,000 years.
  9. Surya Siddhantam : 4,320,000 years 
  10. Markandeya Yugas, as per the Mahabharata.
  11. Sanjaya Yugas, as per the Mahabharata.
  12. Naveena Siddhanthams : 4,320,000 years: (4:3:2:1 Ratio for Kruta, Treta, Dwapara and Kali). In Use.
  13. Aryabhatiyam: 4,320,000 years (Alignments of grahas as well as their nodes etc, 1:1:1:1 Ratio for Yugapadas:  Kruta, Treta, Dwapara, Kali are not mentioned by name)

1. Chandramana and Souramana Yugas : 1 year duration. : This section will also help you with the basics needed understand the other sections too.

First concept :The moon is concerned only with months and the it is the only the sun that is concerned with years. So the month is concerned with the moon’s orbit and the year is concerned with earth’s orbit. There is very little influence of the one on the other. The concept of a lunar year creeps in, when you try to find out how many lunar months can be acomodated in 1 year.

What is a Lunar Month? A lunar month has to do with the moon going around the earth once. Then you say Define “Once”.

  • sidereal month, is the time it takes, for the moon to line up with the same star.  This takes 27.321661 solar days (27 d 7 h 43 min 11.5 s).
  • A synodic month is the time it takes for the moon to line up with the sun. This takes 29.53 solar days (29 days, 12 hours, 44 minutes, 2.8 seconds) and is measured from New Moon to New Moon.
  • There are many other kinds of lunar month.

What is a solar day? A solar day is the time duration of the earth’s orbit. In the most ancient of times, it was the time between two sun rises.

What is a year ? A year is the duration of the earth’s orbit.

  • A solar year is the time it takes for the earth to come back to the same point in it’s orbit with respect to the sun. (365.25 days)
  • A sidereal year is the time it takes for the earth to come back to the same point in it’s orbit with respect to the same star (nakshatras).
  • These two differ by a few minutes. In other words, it is the time the sun takes to finish one Uttarayanam and one Dakshinayanam and to come back to ‘the same place’.  But what means ‘the same place’? It is the same place with respect to the earth’s orbit around the sun. It is slightly off from the same place with respect to the stars. Why is this? Not only are we spinning around the sun, the sun is dragging us around the galactic center. It takes one sidereal year for the sun to align with the same stars.

12 lunar synodic months fit into 1 solar year with 5.25 days to spare.

Ugadi means Yugadi: Kannadigas and Telugu people celebrate a Chandramana  (Lunar) Yugadi, and Tamils  celebrate a Souramana (Solar)Yugadi, once a year, in spring. Yugadi means, the beginning of a Yuga. In Telugu, it is frequently called Ugadi, with ‘y’ dropped by scholars and laymen alike.

What is a Lunar Year? The time duration between two lunar yugadis is 12 synodic months. This is a chandramana year. The time duration between two souramana yugadis is 365 days.

Are all lunar (chadramana) years of the same duration? No! 12 lunar months are 354.36 days if you are using synodic months or 327.8599 days if you are thinking sidereal months. Some lunar years are 13 months long! Every 3 years an Adhika Masam is added, to make up for the difference in the lengths of the solar and lunar years. (It is like adding a leap day into the solar calendar once in 4 years). But now you have added 4.5 days too many. So the Sun, Moon and Stars are not perfectly aligned, as before, yet. There is a lot of complex arithmetic, which tells you when to add months (adhikamasas) and when to delete dates (tithikshayas). Some lunar days are a little shorter than others and many other corrections are to be made. This is what the Jyotisha Sastra Vedanga is all about.

2. Vedic Yugas: Vedanga Jyothisham: Pitamaha Siddhantam:  5 years: (Dhanishta Nakshatram, Surya (Sun), Chandra (Moon) are aligned: The Pitamaha Yuga starts when Dhanishta is in Amavasya.) (See Brahma’s Yuga – Paitamaha Siddhantha – from PancaSiddhantika)

  • In the Uttarakanda of the Valmiki Ramayana, the word Pitamaha is used to indicate Brahma, when used without qualification.
  • 1830 solar days, 1860 lunar tithis, 62 lunar months, and 60 solar months. There are  2 adhikamasas (extra lunar months), 30 tithikshayas (deletions of tithis), 67 traverses of the moon among the stars. ie , each star ‘occurs’ 67 times.
  • The Pitamaha Yuga starts when Dhanishta is in Amavasya.
  • This will require a correction of 4.685 days in 5 years, which is done using a complex method. The  explaination given as per Kautilya Artha Sastra is given below below.
  • The names of the years are: Samvatsaramu, Parivatsaramu, Idaavatsaramu, Anuvatsaramu, Idvatsaramu. (Where is the reference to Krutha, Tretha, Dwapara, and Kaliyugas? In modern days it is common to label every year as samvatsaramu and take the names of each of the years from the Brihaspati 60 year yugas)
  • Place: As per this Sastra, on the day of Katakayanam (arrival of cancer), the night was 2/3rds of the day. This happens in Gandhar and Kashmir. Time: ‘Prapadyate Sravishthadou, Suryachandramasavudak, sarparthe, dakshinarkasthou, magha sravanayo sada. When Dhanistha Amavasya occurs, Surya is in the North, and when Asleshartha amavasya occurs Ravi (Surya) is in the South. This lead to a date of 3500 years ago. (Source : Translated and explained from Vijnana Sarasvamu, 9th Samputamu Page 548-551).
  • What does a Star Occurence mean?
    • There are 27 Nakshatrams that cover 360 degrees of the zodiac, so each nakshatram ‘covers’ or owns 13.33 degrees. The moon (Chandra) moves past  each of these nakshatrams, once every month.   The Yuga or Union of Chandra and any Nakshtra roughly lasts for approximately a solar day.
    • (Some scholars debate on whether it is midpoint to midpoint between nakshatras that have to be considered or beginning to beginning. Think about the idea that the stars are not geometrically exactly 13.33 degrees apart, but only approximately so. If you were an astronomer-mathematician of the ancient times, what would you have decided? How would you have marked the mid-points between the nakshatras?) The Chandra Nakshatra Yuga at SunRise determines the Nakshatra of the day, as a general rule. So at the time the sun is rising, the moon is within the 13 degrees of the Nakshatra of the Day!
      • Hindu Astrologers use two kinds of ChandraNakshatra Yugas in horoscopes. The JanmaNakshatra, refers to the ChandraNakshatra Yuga at birth. The JanmaLagna refers to the ascendant nakshatra or the nakshatra on the horizon at the incident of birth.

The Kautilya Arthasastra explains the details of the corrections to be applied and gives how the yuga duration is 5 years. See Also : Measurements : Kautilya.

  • It is in the month of Ashádha that no shadow is cast in midday.
  • Ashádha, during the six months from Srávana upwards, the length of shadow successively increases by two angulas and during the next six months from Mágha upwards, it successively decreases by two angulas.
  • Fifteen days and nights together make up one paksha. That paksha during which the moon waxes is white (sukla) and thatpaksha during which the moon wanes is bahula.
  • Two pakshas make one month (mása).
  • Thirty days and nights together make one month (prakarmamásah).
  • The same (30 days and nights) with an additional half a day makes one solar month (saura).
  • The same (30) less by half a day makes one lunar month (chandramása).
  • Twenty-seven (days and nights) make a sidereal month (nakshatramása).
  • Once in thirty-two months there comes one malamása defiled month, i.e., an extra month added to lunar year to harmonise it with the solar.
  • Once in thirty-five months there comes a malamása for Asvaváhas.
  • Once in forty months there comes a malamása for hastiváhas.
  • Two months make one ritu (season). Srávana and proshthapada make the rainy season (varshá). Asvayuja and Kárthíka make the autumn (sarad). Márgasírsha and Phausha make the winter (hemanta). Mágha and Phalguna make the dewy season (sisira). Chaitra and Vaisákha make the spring (vasanta). Jyeshthámúlíya and Ashádha make the summer (grishma).
  • Seasons from sisira and upwards are uttaráyana, and (those) from varshá and upwards are the winter solstice dakshináyana.
  • Two ayanas make one year (samvatsara). Five years make one yuga.
  • The sun carries off (harati) 1/60th of a whole day every day and thus makes one complete day in every two months (ritau).
  • Likewise the moon (falls behind by 1/60th of a whole day every day and falls behind one day in every two months).
  • Thus in the middle of every third year, they (the sun and the moon) make one adhimása, additional month, first in the summer season and second at the end of five years.

3. Gavam Ayanam: (Chaturyuga has 4 years, each of exactly 365 1/4 solar days, or 365 days + 1 pada) : (At the end of Kali, one pada gets added, … at the end of Krutha 4 padas get added and the leap day is completed).

  • As per an article by ShamaSastry the Gavam Ayanam was in use from 3101 BC to 1260 BC.
  • The word ‘Go’ refers to an intercalary day. (like the extra day in a leap year).
  • One solar orbit takes 365 and 1/4 days. A quarter is called a pada.
  • The modern way consists of taking 365 days in an ordinary year and 366 days in a leap year.
  • One Vedic method was to take exactly 365 and a pada days.
  • The first year was called Kali or Ekata and it started in the evening and ended at midnight after 365 days and a pada.
  • The second year was called Dwapara, or Dwita and started at midnight and ended in the morning after 365 days and a pada.
  • The third Yuga was thretha or tritha, started in the morning and ended in the afternoon after 365 days and a pada.
  • These 3 are called the Visnu padas.
  • The fourth Yuga was called Krta or complete Yuga because it started in the afternoon  but ended in the evening after 365 days and a pada. Since it ended properly in the evening, it was also called Satya or Rta Yuga.

4. Barhaspatyamana or Brhaspati Yugas: 12 years : (Surya, Chandra, Tishya (Pushya), Brhaspati or are aligned. The 12 year Kumbha Mela is based on this.) Barhaspatyamana or Brhaspati Yugas: 60 year variant : (Surya, Chandra, Pushya, Brihaspati plus Sani)

See Also : Krutha (Krita, Krta) Yuga Definition in Vishnu Puranam

  • Even in modern times, we use a 60 year cycle. The names of the years are the same as the names of the years used in the Barhaspatyamana Yuga System.
  • BUT, there is an offset.
    • The Barhaspatyamana cycle starts with the year called Vijaya. The modern cycle starts with the year named Prabhava.
    • But that is not all. The modern year name Vikrama nama samvatsaram corresponds to Vijaya nama Samvatsaram in the Barhaspatyamana system.
    • Also the Guru transit occurs around May and does not coincide at all with the March/April beginnings of the years of the modern cycle.
  • Guru graha (Jupiter, Brhaspati), Sun, Saturn and Moon come back to the original aligment every 60 years. (12 years is the mean planetary orbit time of Guru, and 30 years is the mean orbital duration for Saturn. The L.C.M. (Least Common Multiple) is 60 years. The Sun and Moon rise together (Amavasya) in each rasi on an average of once a year. (There are intercalary days, months and years, to account for alignment differences, that accrue over time.So a Surya, Chandra, Pushya, Brhaspati, Sani Yuga is 60 years.
  • The 12 year Kumbha Mela Variant : You have Dhanishta, Guru, Chandra and Surya, which align once in the 12 years. 2 Dhanishta Nakshatra padas in the end of Makara Rasi and 2 Dhanishta Nakshatra padas are in the beginning of Kumbha Rasi.
    • Dhanishta (3rd and 4th Padas (quarters)) begin Kumbha Rasi (Aquarius). It takes Jupiter (Guru), 12 years on an average to return to the same rasi. Jupiter takes, on an average, 1 year to pass by each rasi or zodiac sign and the sun takes on an average a month.
    • Every 12th year Kumbha Mela is performed on a grand scale. The religious believe that the Kumbha (meaning pot) refers to a Pitcher of Amrta (nectar of immortality). There is a story of Amrtam being spilled at the 4 Kumbha Mela Places. (Prayag (Allahabad), Hardwar, Nasik and Ujjain). On a map they look like places of equidistant longitude. The Kumbh Mela is generally held every three years in rotation, from east to west at Prayag, Hardwar, Ujjain and Nasik.
  • The names of the years are : Serial Number as per modern counting.
    27. Vijaya 14. Vikrama
    28. Jaya 15. Vrisha
    29. Manmatha 16. Chitrabhānu
    30. Durmukha 17. Svabhānu
    31. Hemalambin 18. Tārana
    32. Vilambin 19. Pārthiva
    33. Vikārin 20. Vyaya (2006-2007 AD/CE)
    34. Shārvari 21. Sarvajit (2007-2008 AD/CE)
    35. Plava 22. Sarvadhārin
    36. Shubhakrit 23. Virodhin
    37. Shobhana 24. Vikrita
    38. Krodhin 25. Khara
    39. Vishvāvasu 26. Nandana
    40. Parābhava 27. Vijaya
    41. Plavanga 28. Jaya
    42. Kīlaka 29. Manmatha
    43. Saumya 30. Durmukha
    44. Sādhārana 31. Hemalambin
    45. Virodhikrit 32. Vilambin
    46. Paritāpin 33. Vikārin
    47. Pramādin 34. Shārvari
    48. Ānanda 35. Plava
    49. Rākshasa 36. Shubhakrit
    50. Anala 37. Shobhana
    51. Pingala 38. Krodhin
    52. Kālayukti 39. Vishvāvasu
    53. Siddhārthin 40. Parābhava
    54. Raudra 41. Plavanga
    55. Durmati 42. Kīlaka
    56. Dundubhi 43. Saumya
    57. Rudhirodgārin 44. Sādhārana
    58. Raktāksha 45. Virodhikrit
    59. Krodhana 46. Paritāpin
    60. Akshaya 47. Pramādin
    1. Prabhava 48. Ānanda
    2. Vibhava 49. Rākshasa
    3. Shukla 50. Anala
    4. Pramoda 51. Pingala
    5. Prajāpati 52. Kālayukti
    6. Āngirasa 53. Siddhārthin
    7. Shrīmukha 54. Raudra
    8. Bhāva 55. Durmati
    9. Yuvan 56. Dundubhi
    10. Dhātri 57. Rudhirodgārin
    11. Īshvara 58. Raktāksha
    12. Bahudhānya 59. Krodhana
    13. Pramāthin 60. Akshaya
    14. Vikrama 1. Prabhava
    15. Vrisha 2. Vibhava
    16. Chitrabhānu 3. Shukla
    17. Svabhānu 4. Pramoda
    18. Tārana 5. Prajāpati
    19. Pārthiva 6. Āngirasa
    20. Vyaya (2006-2007 AD/CE) 7. Shrīmukha
    21. Sarvajit (2007-2008 AD/CE) 8. Bhāva
    22. Sarvadhārin 9. Yuvan
    23. Virodhin 10. Dhātri
    24. Vikrita 11. Īshvara
    25. Khara 12. Bahudhānya
    26. Nandana 13. Pramāthin

4.b. Maitreya Yugas as per Srimad Bhagavatam : (Details)

Rishi Maitreya learnt Time Measurements from Parasara (Vyasa’s father and Vasishtha’s grandson) and taught them to Vidura.

5. 1000 year Chaturyugas : (The time taken for the starting point of the moveable (tropical) zodiac, to pass one 1 complete nakshatram. Derived from precession of equinoxes)

  • Derived based on these 2 quotations, which refer the time elapsed, since Revati and her father Revata, go to Brahma loka and return to Dwaraka. In thic context,   Revati is the name of the star 99h Psc, which is the brightest star of Meena Raashi.
  • Bhagavatam : abhiyātaḥ — have passed; tri — three; nava — nine; catur-yuga — four yugas; vikalpitaḥ — thus measured. ‘for many successions of ages have passed away whilst you were listening to our songsters: now upon earth the twenty-eighth great age of the present Manu is nearly finished, and the Kali period is at hand.”
  • Vishnu Puranam : “for many successions of ages have passed away whilst you were listening to our songsters: now upon earth the twenty-eighth great age of the present Manu is nearly finished, and the Kali period is at hand.”

Explanation :

  • The fixed or the sidereal zodiac considers the nakshatras as its basis.
  • Its first degree begins as the first degree of Mesha (Aries) from a particular point in the Revati Nakshatram.
  • There is another zodiac, however, which is reckoned from the Vernal equinox point; here the first point of Aries begins from the Vernal equinox.
  • This is called the movable or the tropical zodiac. The movable zodiac continues to recede westward along the stars, which characterise the fixed zodiac.
  • This point, the first point of Aries or the vernal equinox, goes on receding westward at a rate of approximately 50.26 seconds of arc each year. This is called the precession of the equinoxes. See Also: http://www.aryabhatt.com/vediclessons/vediclesson5.htm
  • 360 degrees = 360*60 minutes = 360*60*60 seconds of arc = 1296000 seconds of arc
  • 1296000 seconds of arc/50.26 seconds of arc/year = 25785.91 years
  • So it takes 25785.91 years for 1 full circle – ‘ for Revati to ‘return”., (or for the original alignments to be viewed.)
  • If the technology of measurement at that time gave a figure of 48 seconds of arc per year for the westward recession of Aries, then it would take 1296000/48 = 27000 years for Revati to return. 27000 years is the figure you normally find in many articles. (This would mean a 4.5% relative error in measurement in seconds of arc. Which is very small).
  • If 27000 years give us 27 caturyugas, and if the ratio of the individual Yuga lengths in each caturyuga is 4:3:2:1 with the Kaliyuga being a 100 years long, then Each caturyuga is 1000 years long.

That gives 400 years of Krutha Yuga, 300 years of Thretha Yuga, 200 years of Dwapara Yuga and 100 years of Kali Yuga.

6. SaptaRishi Yuga : 2700 years. (A pointer through the bowl of the Saptarishi Mandala moves to a different nakshatra, by the end of a century).

Saptarsi’s motion is central to many Indian calendars and was used extensively in many parts of Indian subcontinents including Kashmir and Nepal.

  • Vishnu Purana IV, 24.105-106, Matsya Purana, 273, 42-44, Vayu Purana 99,421-423, Bhagvada Pura, XII, 2.27-32.
  • For example, Bhgvad Purana, XII, 2.32, Vishnu Purana, IV, 24.112, where it is a question of movement from the Magha to Purvashadha (d and e stars in Sagittarius), which represents 10 centuries between Parikshit and King Nanda of the Magadha dynasty.
  • Incidentally, this estimate agrees with Vinu Purna, IV, 23.42, which places the period more precisely between the birth of Pariksit and the royal consecration of Nanda at 1,015 years).

Varahamihira quoted the views of Vrddha (Senior) Garga, in the 13th chapter of his Brhat Samhita: Where he explained the movements of the Saptarishi Mandala.

  • The periodic movement of the Saptarishis : “The Sages traverse through each lunar mansion for a period of 100 years (satam, satam varsah). Whichever constellation makes them conspicuous when they rise to the east of it, in that they are said to be situated” – (4) Therefore the Saptarishis have a period (Yuga) of 2700 years. (This is caused by the wobble of the earth’s axis).

The oldest reference to the Saptarshi cycle is in Vishnu Purana. The relevent Shloka from is reproduced here:

  • “Take those two stars of Saptarshi (seven sages) which are seen first after the rise. The nakshatra which is seen in the middle of it at equal distance at the night, is said to be residence of Saptarshi for 100 years of man’s life. Oh great brahmin they were in Magha (Regulus, Leo) at the time of Parikshit.” (Vishnu Purana, IV 4.105-106)
  • One interpretation that the pointer is passing through centre of the bowl would mean that the observation was done around 3200 – 3100 BC. At that time, the four stars (of the bowl) had declinations of 67 deg, 65 deg, 70 deg and 74 deg respectivly, which means the observer should be certainly below 25 deg N and most probably below 16 deg N which passes through Goa and lower Andhra Pradesh.

7. Romaka Siddhantam : 2850 years

8. Poorva Surya Siddhantham : 180,000 years or 1,800,000 years.

9. Surya Siddhantam : 12000 years of the Devas make a Caturyuga (set of 4 yugas). These 4 Yugas including their Sandhyas and Sandhyamsas (sixth part) (eves, seams, period where one yuga ends and another begins) consist of 4,320,000 solar years. (12 Solar Months1 solar year and this makes 1 day of the Devas. 360 Ahoratras of the Devas make a year(vatsara) of the Devas.)

10. Markandeya Yugas, as per the Mahabharata.

Markandeya replied, ‘…..O best of kings and pre-eminent of men, after the dissolution of the universe, all this wonderful creation again comes into life. Four thousand years have been said to constitute the Krita Yuga. Its dawn also, as well as its eve, hath been said to comprise four hundred years. The Treta-Yuga is said to comprise three thousand years, and its dawn, as well as its eve, is said to comprise three hundred years. The Yuga that comes next is called Dwapara, and it hath been computed to consist of two thousand years. Its dawn, as well as its eve, is said to comprise two hundred years. The next Yuga, called Kali, is said to comprise one thousand years and its dawn, as well as eve, is said to comprise one hundred years. Know, O king, that the duration of the dawn is the same as that of the eve of a Yuga. And after the Kali Yuga is over, the Krita Yuga comes again. A cycle of the Yugas thus comprised a period of twelve thousand years. A full thousand of such cycles would constitute a day of Brahma. O tiger among men, when all this universe is withdrawn and ensconced within its home–the Creator himself–that disappearance of all things is called by the learned to be Universal Destruction.

See : 1200 year Kali yugam started in Parikshit’s time : Vishnu Puranam

1 kalpa (Brahma’s day or 12 hours of Brahma) constitutes 1000 Caturyugas or Mahayugas.

11. Sanjaya tells Dhritarashtra about the Yugas, as per the Mahabharata.

चत्वारि भारते वर्षे युगानि भरतर्षभ
कृतं तरेता दवापरं च पुष्यं च कुरुवर्धन

पूर्वं कृतयुगं नाम ततस तरेतायुगं विभॊ
संक्षेपाद दवापरस्याथ तथ पुष्यं परवर्तते

चत्वारि च सहस्राणि वर्षाणां कुरुसत्तम
आयुः संख्या कृतयुगे संख्याता राजसत्तम

तत्र तरीणि सहस्राणि तरेतायां मनुजाधिप
दविसहस्रं दवापरे तु शते तिष्ठति संप्रति

न परमाण सथितिर हय अस्ति पुष्ये ऽसमिन भरतर्षभ
गर्भस्थाश च मरियन्ते ऽतर तथा जाता मरियन्ति च (Link)

In this passage the name of kaliyuga is given as puSya. The duration of Kruta Yuga is 4000 years, Thretha is 3000 years, Dwapara is 2000 years and Pushya (Kali) Yuga is 1000 years. This passage occurs in the Bhishma Parva, just before the Bhagavad Gita.

12. Naveena Siddhanthams : 4,320,000 years: “All the planets started their journeys at one common point in the sky.” That is, in the beginning, all the planets were lined up along a ray drawn from the Sun. Then they began circling (the Sun) at different speeds; different speeds because they are located at different distances. Then the Indian astronomers suggested that the common point in the sky be identified as the location where we find the star “Aswini,” the first of the twenty seven stars (really, constellations) of the Hindu calendar. Stated differently, they imagined a time when all the nine planets (mercury, venus, earth, mars, jupiter, saturn, and the two shadow planets Rahu and Ketu), the apogees of their orbits, and their nodes (i.e., the points where their orbits intersect the path of the Sun are all near the star Aswini (or the modern Beta of Aries). They suggested that we use that instance as the beginning of time for calendar purposes. Now suppose we count the periods of orbital revolutions of the planets, roundoff the periods to the nearest integers, and find their least common multiple (LCM). That number turns out to be approximately 4.320 billion years, a number not too far from the length of a Kalpa, defined earlier. One thousandth of this is 4.32 million years or a Maha Yuga. A tenth of this Maha Yuga is the duration of Kali Yuga. Let us begin at the present time and work backwards. The current era is called Kali Yuga. According to tradition, this era began with the death of Krishna, about 5,000 years ago. According to the ancient sages of India, Kali Yuga will last for 4,32,000 years. Immediately prior to Kali Yuga was a stretch of time called Dwapar Yuga; it was twice as long as Kali Yuga, or 2 x 4,32,000 years. Prior to that was Treta Yuga of 3 x 4,32,000 years. Before that, it was Krita Yuga with a duration of 4 x 4,32,000 years. All these four yugas together is a Maha Yuga, the Great Era. So a Maha Yuga is 4.32 million years, ten times as long as Kali Yuga. Incidentally, the beginning of the latest Maha Yuga coincides roughly with, what modern science calls, the emergence of humanoids.

13. Aryabhatta was a genius. He worked out the time it would take for 5  planets, the Revati Nakshatram, the sun, the moon and Rahu, Ketu to align. That is why the Yuga and Kalpa lengths that he calculated are of the same order of magnitude as the big bang. He was able to do this because, he was a brilliant astronomer and mathematician and he had also figured out that it is the earth that goes around the sun and not vice versa. 

Aryabhatta did this a VERY long time before Copernicus. (This is well established.) Aryabhatta’s Yuga corresponds to the Mahayuga of the Naveena Siddhanthams. However, he did not go with the 4:3:2:1 rule for the Krutha, Tretha, Dvapara and Kali. He divided his Yuga into 4 parts called Yugapadas. In the Aryabhattiyam, he said that 6 Manvantaras, 28 Yugas and 3 yugapadas had elapsed since the beginning of this kalpa to the Bharata war. In the Naveena Siddhantams the last yuga Kali yuga is only one tenth the duration of the Mahayuga. So the Naveena siddhantams believe that 9 tenths of the 28th Mahayuga were over by the time of the Bharata war. Aryabhatta says that only 3 fourths of the 28th Yuga (of 4,320,000 years) was over by the time of the Bharata war and that he was 23 yrs old 360 (or3600) years after the Bharata War.

Aryabhatta Yugas from Aryabhattiyam

Aryabhatta Yugas from Aryabhattiyam

Just as Markandeya had worked out the precession of equinoxes a VERY long time before Hipparchus and Ptolemy. (Proof of this statement is pending,)

  1. Which Yuga System was Vyasa was using? We know that Aryabhatta lived after Vyasa and could not have influenced him. We know this because of a statement that Aryabhatta made. He said that he lived 6×60 years after Kali Yuga started. (Some people say that he said 60×60 years after Kali started..  is the word shahtyabdanam shadbhih or is it shastyabdanam shahstih..? : Page 70; 9th samputamu, Vijnana Sarvasvamu, Telugu Encyclopedia) We believe that he lived 360 years into kaliyuga and not 3600 years after. Either way, he lived after Vyasa, who wrote the Mahabharatam from 1 year Kali to 4 year Kali.
  2. When did Vyasa live? We know that Markandeya and Vyasa were contemporaries. In the Mahabharata, Vyasa gives Markandeya’s explanation of the Yugas and Markandeya talks to the Pandavas etc. Maya Danava’s Surya Siddhantam was a Kruta Yuga composition available to Vyasa. In addition his great grand father Vasishta, his father Parasara and Vyasa himself composed 3 of the 18 Astronomical Siddhanthams.

Some data points:

  • Ravana’s grandfather, Pulastya was of Krutha Yuga (Uttarakanda, Ramayanam)
  • Ravana annoyed Vedavathi in the Krutha Yuga and was killed by Sri Rama in the Tretha Yuga. It is also said that Krutha Yuga ended at the time of Vedavathi’s death. (Uttarakanda – Ramaynana)
  • Sri Rama who killed Ravana and was younger to him, was of Threta Yuga. (Source : general deduction).
  • Sri Krishna was of Dwapara Yuga. His death marked the beginning of KaliYuga (Mahabharatam and Bhagavatham)
  • Veda Vyasa was born in the Tretha Yuga as the Dwapara Yuga was approaching.
  • Maya Danava composed the Surya Siddhantam towards the end of Krta Yuga. He gave his daughter Mandodari in marriage to Ravana. He built the Maya Sabha for the Pandavas in IndraPrastha in the Dwapara Yuga. So he lived for a part of Kruta Yuga, the entire Tretha Yuga and a part of Dwapara Yuga. (If we assume that he lived for 120 years, and that Tretha Yuga lasted for 60 years, then we can imagine that he lived for the last 30 years of Krta, the 60 years of Tretha and the first 30 years of Dwapara.. do we have any basis to assume that the Brhaspati (Guru) Yugas were meant?
  • Markandeya was present at Sri Rama’s wedding and till the end of the Bharata war.
  • (If we take a 60 year long duration for Kaliyuga 120 for Dwapara, 240 for Tretha and 480 for Satya Yugas., then Mayasura and Markandeya would have to live for more than 300 years….)

When did Kaliyuga begin?

Date of the MahaBharata War.

Kalahana’s Rajatarangini : Date of Mahabharata War

Generations between Rama and Krishna.

Authorship and Copyright Notice: All rights reserved: Satya Sarada Kandula

Caution : Living Document : Linking is safe. Quoting is not safe. Reproduction without permission, and deleting data links, are likely to lead to misinformation and confusion for which the karma rests with the reproducer, and not with me. There are no authorized copies of this document on the web anywhere.

Written by Satya Sarada Kandula

December 13, 2008 at 12:04 pm

4 Responses

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  1. As a staunch Hindu believer this is the best site I ever came across..This gave many answers to many of my Qs and doubts…Who ever complied this and has that kind of insight I salute that person…

    Prema vati

    August 2, 2012 at 12:29 pm

  2. Thanks for these valuable info. your conditions suit me fine ……I am not that lucky to have the of insight in to these documents you have but I would have done the same had I been blessed like you…..that not solicit attention..

    Prema vati

    August 2, 2012 at 3:20 pm

  3. thank you!

    indrajaveda

    August 2, 2012 at 5:32 pm

  4. […] Mahayuga. […]


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