Do the Vedas mention time eras known as Yugas; Satya, Treta, Dvapara, Kali?

Or is it only found in Itihasas and Puranas?

  • RigVeda 1.158.6 mention Yuga, however that's not about Satya, Treta etc. 4
    – Pandya
    Commented Oct 16, 2017 at 12:57
  • Then what's it about?
    – Ikshvaku
    Commented Oct 16, 2017 at 13:23

5 Answers 5


Yes, RigVeda mentions about 'yuga' starting with the 'asat yuga' from which deva brought forth the 'sat yuga'.

Ref. RV. 10.72 (2) - ' devana purvye yuge asat sat jayat'.

And RigVeda can tell us what preceded it not of forthcoming as done by some of the finalist scriptures which tell us that 'kali yuga' is the last one and 'sat yuga' will follow it.

  • Which translation? Couldn't find the same here. sacred-texts.com/hin/rigveda/rv10072.htm Commented Oct 29, 2017 at 12:50
  • 4
    @Rohit you are right there.I quoted only second line and Griffith translates it as - 'Existence, in an earlier age of gods..... sprang'. He translates "sat/asat" as "existence/non-existence" and "yuga" as "age" that's the differece. I would suggest to consult original even if you don't understand it ,you will get a view of the original world and some time you may have better grasp than any english translation because we are direct descendent of Rigveda. Commented Oct 29, 2017 at 13:36
  • Can you please translate the appropriate portions of your quote? Commented Jun 5, 2018 at 21:04

Vedas quite clearly mention about Yugas. Krishna Yajurveda 4.3.3 does so.

The Taittiriya Samhita mentions the names of 5 Yugas among which we are familiar with 3 of them viz - Krita, TretA and DwApara.

TS mentions Krta Ayana and relates it to spring season and Rishi SAnaga.

Similar triplets mentioned are {TretA, summer and Rishi SanAtana}, {DwApara, rainy season and Rishi Ahabhuna}, {AskandAyana, autumn, Rishi Pratna}, {Abibhu Ayana, winter season, Rishi Suparna}.

So, the 3 Yugas' usual names are quite clearly mentioned. And 2 new Yugas are also found viz - Askanda and Abibhu.

Among which, Askanda is mentioned as the Yuga where Dharma is not practiced. So, this is the Yuga what we know as Kali Yuga from the other scriptures.

And, Abhibhu is mentioned as the Yuga which comes when Askanda ends and the practice of Dharma starts again.

So, "Vedas don't mention about Yugas" is a wrong notion.

The east of the quarters; the spring of the seasons; Agni the deity; holy power the wealth; the Trivrt the Stoma, and it forming the path of the fifteenfold (Stoma); the eighteen−month−old calf the strength; the Krta of throws of dice; the east wind the wind; Sanaga the Rsi. The south of the quarters; the summer of the seasons; Indra the deity; the kingly power the wealth; the fifteenfold the Stoma, and it forming the path of the seventeenfold (Stoma); the two−year−old the strength; the Treta of throws; the south wind the wind; Sanatana, the Rsi. The west of the quarters; the rains of the seasons; the All−gods the deity; the peasants the wealth; the seventeenfold the Stoma, and it forming the path of the twenty−onefold (Stoma); the three−year−old the strength; the Dvapara of throws; the west wind the wind; Ahabuna the Rsi. The north of the quarters; the autumn of the seasons; Mitra and Varuna the deity; prosperity the wealth; the twenty−onefold the Stoma; and it forming a path of the twenty−sevenfold (Stoma); the four−year−old the strength; the Askanda of throws; the north wind the wind; Pratna the Rsi

  • Abhibhu therefore could be sort of yuga sandhya where kalki reestablishes dharma and Satya yuga starts?
    – user16618
    Commented Dec 27, 2018 at 10:32
  • What is meant by fifteenfold, seventeenfold, twenty-sevenfold etc..?
    – Pinakin
    Commented Feb 9, 2019 at 17:48
  • 2
    Also how is rainy, autumn, summer season related to any yuga? They come every year let alone a particular yuga.
    – Pinakin
    Commented Feb 9, 2019 at 17:56
  • 1
    You are questioning not me here but the Vedas which according to Swami Vivekananda is the only proof .. I don't know how they are related .. they are included to make a triplet..understand this that Vedas are not easy to understand by any means .. @ChinmaySarupria
    – Rickross
    Commented Feb 10, 2019 at 5:40
  • 1
    Very nice answer @Rickross
    – Viraj
    Commented Sep 25, 2019 at 10:01

No,vedas don't mention yugas only smritis mention them even swami vivekananda has said-

Quoting from Works of Swami Vivkananda, Volume 5, Q&A:

Q. — Is the division of time into four Yugas astronomical or arbitrary calculation?

A. — There is no mention of such divisions in the Vedas. They are arbitrary assumptions of Paurânika times.

  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.
    – The Destroyer
    Commented Oct 16, 2017 at 14:56
  • Now, what would you say about this answer? It gave reference from Rig Veda. Commented Oct 28, 2017 at 18:40
  • @nog shine even I am little surprised btw I checked griffit s Translation.That translation is talking about the creation rather then yugas,I will also check for other translation. Commented Oct 29, 2017 at 7:18
  • @Sarvabhouma It mentions yuga not the division of time in Yugas which is what was asked to Swami Vivekananda. He mentioned about yugas a lot of time so for sure he knew there are Yugas but as said by him, the division which is found in Puranas has no basis in Vedas whatsoever.
    – Pinakin
    Commented Feb 9, 2019 at 17:51
  • @ChinmaySarupria The question is mention of Yugas only. Saying there are no yugas and quoting Vivekanda is misleading. Even if division of time to be taken, that is also present in Vedas along with names. They have basis in the Vedas. Many things are present in Itiahasas, puranas which are part of Hinduism. Check other answers posted on this same question. Everything need not be to be a part of Vedas. There are different scriptures for different purposes. Commented Feb 10, 2019 at 2:25

Vedas do mention kalpas not sure about yugas-

सूरय्याचन्द्रमसौ धाता यथा पूर्वमकल्पयत् I दिवं च पृथ्वीं  च अंतरिक्षमथो स्वः   II  RigVeda 10.190.3  II

"The Ordainer created the sun and moon like those of previous cycles. He formed in order Heaven and Earth, the regions of the air, and light."

Also if you are looking from outside of vedic samhitas then upanishads too mention yugas-

Mundaka Upanishad: (1.2.1)

तदेतत् सत्यं मन्त्रेषु कर्माणि कवयो यान्यपश्यंस्तानि त्रेतायां बहुधा सन्ततानि । तान्याचरथ नियतं सत्यकामा एष वः पन्थाः सुकृतस्य लोके ॥ १॥

That truth is this, that what observances the seers comprehended from the three Vedas and were practised intensely during the Treta yuga, you should also practise with devotion. Oh! Seekers of Truth! That is your path which will lead you to the world of those of meritorious deeds. (1).

  • I'm not sure how the quote is relevant to the question at hand. Commented Jun 5, 2018 at 21:14
  • 1
    You are confusing Kalpa with Mahayuga. A mahayuga has 4 yugas. A manvantara = 71 Mahayuga. 14 Manvantara = 1 Kalpa. The question is about Yugas and not Kalpa. Commented Jun 6, 2018 at 4:09
  • @Sarvabhouma ok.
    – Anisha
    Commented Jun 6, 2018 at 4:43
  • @RubelliteYakṣī kalpas are also time scales in hindusim just like Yuga the above quote mention kalpa s.
    – Anisha
    Commented Jun 6, 2018 at 5:11
  • 2
    The vedic samhitas also dont mention rebirth but we still believe them because of upanishads, if some vivekananda follower says that to reject anything tell him that vedas dont mention rebirth too and neither do they mention any intricate philosophy like bhagvad geeta.
    – Anisha
    Commented Jul 19, 2018 at 17:14

As I discuss in this Medium story, the four world Ages or Yugas is a Puranic invention. In the Vedic literature, there is no association of the world Ages with the purported four Yugas.

The names Kṛta, Tretā, Dvāpara and Kali has been derived from the Vedic literature and are associated with the game of dice. Again, and Again they appear in the Vedic literature in the context of the gambling.

Ṛg Veda १0.३४ speaks about a gambler grieving over the loss of his possession.

A connections between the name of the Yugas and the game of dice could be found in Taittrīya Samhitā (TS) ४.३.३.१-२ in an invocation to the five world directions (cardinal points plus zenith) which is used during the building of an altar. The game of playing dice was done near the altar (see references to Baudhyānaśrautasūtra below). Each direction is associated with different elements such as a season, a deity, a sage and a certain age in the life of a calf.

प्राची॑ दि॒शां व॑स॒न्त ऋ॑तू॒नाम॒ग्निर्दे॒वता॒ ब्रह्म॒ द्रवि॑णं त्रि॒वृथ्स्तोमः॒ स उ॑ पञ्चद॒शव॑र्तनि॒स्त्र्यवि॒र्वयः॑ कृ॒तमया॑नां पुरोवा॒तो वातः॒ सान॑ग॒ ऋषि॑र्दख्षि॒णा दि॒शां ग्री॒ष्म ऋ॑तू॒नामिन्द्रो॑ दे॒वता ख्ष॒त्रं द्रवि॑णम्पञ्चद॒शः स्तोमः॒ स उ॑ सप्तद॒शव॑र्तनिर्दित्य॒वाड्वय॒स्त्रेताया॑नां दख्षिणाद्वा॒तो वातः॑ सना॒तन॒ ऋषिः॑ प्र॒तीची॑ दि॒शां व॒र्षा ऋ॑तू॒नां विश्वे॑ दे॒वा दे॒वता॒ विट् द्रवि॑ण सप्तद॒शः स्तोमः॒ स उ॑वेकवि॒शव॑र्तनिस्त्रिव॒थ्सो वयो द्वाप॒रोऽया॑नाम्पश्चाद्वा॒तो वातो॑ऽह॒भून॒ ऋषि॒रुदी॑ची दि॒शा श॒रदृ॑तू॒नाम्मि॒त्रावरु॑णौ दे॒वता॑ पु॒ष्टं द्रवि॑णमेकवि॒शः स्तोमः॒ स उ॑ त्रिण॒वव॑र्तनिस्तुर्य॒वाड्वय॑ आस्क॒न्दो-ऽया॑नामुत्तराद्वा॒तो वातः॑ प्र॒त्न ऋषि॑रू॒र्ध्वा दि॒शा हे॑मन्तशिशि॒रावृ॑तू॒नाम्बृह॒स्पति॑र्दे॒वता॒ वर्चो॒ द्रवि॑णं त्रिण॒वः स्तोमः॒ स उ॑ त्रयस्त्रि॒शव॑र्तनिः पष्ठ॒वाद्वयो॑ऽभि॒भूरया॑नां विष्वग्वा॒तो वातः॑ सुप॒र्ण ऋषिः॑ पि॒तरः॑ पिताम॒हाः परेऽव॑रे॒ ते नः॑ पान्तु॒ ते नो॑ऽवन्त्व॒स्मिन्ब्रह्म॑न्न॒स्मिन्ख्ष॒त्रेऽस्यामा॒शिष्य॒स्याम्पु॑रो॒धाया॑म॒स्मिन्कर्म॑न्न॒स्यां दे॒वहूत्याम् ।। ४.३.३.१-२

We also find the name of the Yugas in the Vajasaneyi Saṃhitā ३0.१८:

अक्षराजाय कितवं कृतायादिनवदर्शं त्रेतायै कल्पिनं द्वापरायाधिकल्पिनम् आस्कन्दाय सभास्थाणुं मृत्यवे गोव्यच्छम् अन्तकाय गोघातं क्षुधे यो गां विकृन्तन्तं भिक्षमाण ऽ उपतिष्ठति दुष्कृताय चरकाचार्यं पाप्मने सैलगम् ॥ ३॰.१८

Furthermore, another reference is also found in Taittrīya Brāhmaṇa ३.४.१६;

अक्षराजाय कितवम् । कृताय सभाविनम् । त्रेताया आदिनवदर्शम् । द्वापराय बहिःसदम् । कलये सभास्थाणुम् । दुष्कृताय चरकाचार्यम् । अध्वने ब्रह्मचारिणम् । पिशाचेभ्यः सैलगम् । पिपासायै गोव्यच्छम् । निर्ऋत्यै गोघातम् । क्षुधे गोविकर्तम् । क्षुत्तृष्णाभ्यां तम् । यो गां विकृन्तन्तं माँ सं भिक्षमाण उपतिष्ठते ।

That the word Kṛta mean success can be derived from the Baudhyānaśrautasūtra २.८-९, wherein the meticulous details for setting up the sacred ritual fires are described. Therein it is stated that दक्षिणतोऽधिदेवनं करोति, towards the south he prepares the gambling place, then he pours forty-nine dice तदेकान्नपञ्चाशतोऽक्षान्निवपत्यथ. Continuing in verse ९ it says that four persons sit around the dice. “The Kṛta – the game is over”, so saying they depart, कृतंकृतमित्येव व्यपगच्छन्ति. “The cow has been won”, so saying they get up, द्यूता गौरित्युक्त्वोत्तिष्ठन्त्यथैभ्यो.

The use of the word Kali can be found in the Atharva Veda ७.१॰९.१ इदमुग्राय बभ्रवे नमो यो अक्षेषु तनूवशी । घृतेन कलिं शिक्षामि स नो मृडातीदृशे ॥१॥, wherein the prayer for success in gambling are brought forward. In this hymn, Kali is invoked and is propitiated with clarified butter as a means of helping the gambler.

Thus, the association of the four Yugas in the Vedic literature has been limited to the four results of the throw of the dice. Unlike the astronomical time scales as postulated in the Puranas, Vedas are closer to scientific reality.

  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. Commented Oct 27, 2019 at 11:36
  • @Keshav Srinivasan Thank you. I was not aware of this feature.
    – user965167
    Commented Oct 27, 2019 at 14:55

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