What is the duration (timeline) of the four Yugas in Hindu cosmology?
I would agree with those answers, which suggest following durations:
- Krita Yuga 4800 years
- Treta Yuga 3600 years
- Dwapara Yuga 2400 years
- Kali Yuga 1200 years
Here is the scriptural proof from Moksha Dharma Parva (assuming that it's not interpolated):
I shall, in their order, tell thee the number of years, that are (thus) for different purposes computed differently in respect of the Krita, the Treta, the Dwapara, and the Kali yugas. Four thousand years
(of the deities)is the duration of the first or Krita age. The morning of that epoch consists of four hundred years and its evening is of four hundred years. As regards the other yugas, the duration of each gradually decreases by a quarter in respect of both the substantive period with the conjoining portion and the conjoining portion itself.
Krita yuga is 4000 + 400 + 400 = 4800 years. Other subsequent Yuga-s reduce by quarter, i.e. 1200 (1000 + 100 + 100) years. I have found some issues with Sanskrit translation, but have accepted above.
There are some interesting counter questions to be discussed in this regard.
Q-1: "Are these human years or some divine years?"
चत्वार्याहुः सहस्राणि वर्षाणां तत्कृतं युगम्।
तस्य तावच्छती संध्या संध्यांशश्च तथाविधः ।।२०।।
celestialyears is the duration of the first or Krita age. The morning of that cycle consists of four hundred years and its evening is of four hundred years.
They are indeed human years. The above verse (Verse-20 from MahAbhArata book > Volume-8 > Chapter-231 > Page-178), does not show anything related to deity or celestial, even though it's translated such by few people.
Moreover, if we start multiplying according to "deity" years, then it will come up with very unrealistic figures, which are simply unbelievable.
Q-2: "Then what's the relation between human year & deity year?"
In the same source, we can find relation of human years with pitri-s & divine-s:
The sun makes the day and the night for the world of man. The night is for the sleep of all living creatures, and the day is for the doing of action. A month of human beings is equal to a day and night of the Pitris. That division (as regards the Pitris) consists in this: the lighted fortnight (of men) is their day which is for the doing of acts; and the dark fortnight is their night for sleep. A year (of human beings) is equal to a day and night of the gods. The division (as regards the gods) consists in this: the half year for which the sun travels from the vernal to the autumnal equinox is the day of the deities, and the half year for which the sun travels from the latter to the former is their night.
This is the only relation I could find between humans & deities/gods.
Q-3 "How the Brahman's time is related to humans?
From the same source, 12000 years make a Yuga ( = Krita + Treta + DwApara + Kali). Thousand such Yuga-s duration make Brahman's day (i.e. morning, to be specific) and Thousand such Yuga-s duration makes Brahman's night.
The learned say that these twelve thousand years constitute what is called a yuga. A thousand such yugas compose a single day of Brahman. The same is the duration of Brahman's night.
That means Brahman's full cycle constitutes 24 million years.
Q-4: "What happens during Brahma's day & night?
The manifestation occurs only during the 1st half of 12 million years. Remaining part is completely void or Moskha.
With the commencement of Brahman's day the universe begins to start into life. During the period of universal dissolution the Creator sleeps, having recourse to yoga-meditation. When the period of slumber expires, He awakes. That then which is Brahman's day extends for a thousand such yugas. His nights also extends for a thousand similar yugas. They who know this are said to know the day and the night. On the expiry of His night, Brahman, waking up, modifies the indestructible chit by causing it to be overlaid with Avidya. He then causes Consciousness to spring up, whence proceeds Mind which is identical with the Manifest.
This has a striking similarity with what Krishna said in Gita:
BG 8.17, 8.18, 8.19 - Knowing that thousand eras constitute a day of Brahman, [and] thousand eras complete a night, are the people who know day, [and] night. On arrival of day, all manifestations originate from "Unmanifest"; On arrival of night they annihilate into [what is] known as "Unmanifest" only. This [same] elementary world only happens again & again; Annihilates upon arrival of night, [and] originates upon arrival of day.
Q-5: "If manifestation happens within 12 million years, then what about dinosaurs?"
Dinosaurs happened supposedly before 65 million years before. Even so called "big bang" happened 4.5 billion years ago. And it's difficult to fit them in the 12 million box. This could be the inspiration for those, who come up with superlative figures of each yuga (e.g. 432000 years for Kali).
However, this can be explained in following ways:
- Dinosaurs & Big bang were dated X million/billion years ago using certain technique. As certain principles change over time, this may also change. May be we don't have full knowledge of dating back.
- Assume that the dating is 100% accurate. In such case, we may think of video game analogy. Super Mario is the most famous game in the world. It has multiple stages (i.e. 30+ depending on version). Each stage has its own imagination for animals & plants. However, Mario can be limited within this 30+ stages. If someone digs into the evolution of those animals & plants, then they may really find the duration beyond those 30+ rounds. But in reality, they never evolved like that. Mario, plants, animals, queen & dragon just existed.
The duration of the 4 yugas is:
- Satya Yuga - 4800 years
- Treta Yuga - 3600 years
- Dwapara Yuga - 2400 years
- Kali Yuga - 1200 years
This theory was given by Sri Yukteswar in his book "The Holy Science" written in 1894 on the request of Mahavatar Babaji.
This theory differs from the traditional theory given in the scriptures:
- Satya Yuga - 1728000 years
- Treta Yuga - 1296000 years
- Dwapara Yuga - 864000 years
- Kali Yuga - 432000 years
Sri Yukteswar has given a very detailed explanation on why these wrong figures crept into the books but I will here outline the error that led to this inflated figure. It all started with a word "deva" years. 1 deva year is believed to be 360 human years. Now the scholars who did the calculation wrongly multiplied the original yuga duration with 360. So, if you multiply original theory with 360 you will get the inflated figures.
The original yuga figures are also mentioned in the Laws of Manu and the Mahabharata. The yugas also work in a cycle of ascending and descending arc.
The right part is the descending arc and the left one is ascending. Right now wer are living in Ascending Dwapara Yuga. In descending arc, as time passes conditions get worse but in the ascending arc, things improve as time passes. After the present yuga, we will enter into ascending Treta Yuga. You may have noticed that 2 Satya Yugas and 2 Kali Yugas are together, on the other hand, in the yuga theory of the scriptures, it is said that after Kali Yuga ends, a new Satya Yuga starts but this is not true. In Kali Yuga, more and more people are entangled in worldy life so how can the world change suddenly if we move directly from Kali Yuga to Satya Yuga. Sri Yukteswar's theory solves this problem in which we don't suddenly make a transition from Kali to Satya.
His theory can also be proved using a simple example. Suppose you want to go from one location to another. We will pass through 2 cities before we reach the destination. The city from which we will start is A, the next city is B, the next one is C and finally our destination is D. Now let us believe that A is Satya Yuga, B is Treta Yuga, C is Dwapara Yuga and D is Kali Yuga. We will pass through all these yugas. On reaching our destination D i.e Kali Yuga, how will we return? Directly to A(Satya Yuga)? No, we will again have to go through the same cities by which we came. So, from D(Kali Yuga), we will again come to another C(Dwapara Yuga), then B(Treta Yuga) and finally A(Satya Yuga).
Using some advanced planetary software, a study was conducted to find out the date of Ramayana which came at 5114 BC. This date fits perfectly in Sri Yukteswar's Yuga theory as I discuss here.
According to Sri Yukteswar, Kali Yuga ended in 1699. After the Kali Yuga ended, there was a rise in people's capacity to think, their works. This can be seen by the various inventions that happened after 1699 some of which are:
These inventions are just tip of the iceberg. There are many many more inventions that happened after 1699, i.e, with the onset of Ascending Dwapara Yuga. This new age was the cause of the rapid development in all areas. The Internet, the various technologies, this website itself came in this Dwapara Yuga. You can ask yourself one question - why didn't Hinduism.SE came 500 years ago? Because people's mind were not capable enough to develop all these things.
Chhatrapati Shivaji, who is believed to be an incarnation of Lord Shiva, was born at the end of Kali Yuga. He was born around 1630 and died in 1680. 19 years after his death, Kali Yuga ended. Why did Shiva chose this time? It may be because this period marked the end of Kali Yuga.
According to Sri Yukteswar (The Holy Science), the duration of the four Yugas are:
- Satya Yuga: 4800 years
- Treta Yuga: 3600 years
- Dwapara Yuga: 2400 years
- Kali Yuga: 1200 years
Remark: Personally, I do not know if Sri Yukteswar right, but this answer should be given until the lighting is done on this matter. Sometimes masters transmit erroneous information for subtle reasons...
The Time Period of 4 Yuga's
Sat Yuga - 1,728,000 Solar Years
Treta Yuga - 1,296,000 Solar Years
Dwapar Yuga - 864,000 Solar Years
Kali Yuga - 432,000 Solar Years
@Sébastien Palcoux, Sri Yukteswar might be speaking in the terminology of demi-gods. One year of demi-gods is equal to 360 years of human beings, for more information read here. If you convert it in a human being year, then your answer will be equal to the traditional theory (kali yuga - 432,000 years; as given in @Yogi's answer). Sri Yukteswar in terms of demi-god years might be correct, and didn't find a circumstantial evidence about Yukteswar denying the theory of demi-god (divine) years. Appreciate if someone could add reference to his rejection of divine years.
I differ with the answer given by Parth Trivedi, it may be the opinion of
Brahmakumaris but your logic is perplexing. You said,
Yuga is measurement for years. If the 4 yugas are measured with different number of days then it is not proper unit!!!
You can't say it is not a proper unit, moreover yuga is not a unit of measurement (like kilometers or meters). If you consider it as a unit, then we need to draw some calculations.
According to Hinduism the nature of humans is made of 3 properties(गुण).
Accordingly, if we relate 3 properties(satva, rajas, tamas) as an unit of measurement. These 3 units must be equal in all humans as they are not. So, we can't generalize it to all.
Sébastien Palcoux and Creator found good numbers from some scripture/ literature / Wikipedia.
I recently visited "Brahmakumaris".
I would like to share this what they said about "Yugas". What they said to me, I could think as it was logically true.
This is just a belief of
Brahmakumaris, so There is no dispute with Hindu scriptures. I am just sharing their belief. And as per my understandings it was logically true.
According to the
Yuga consists of 4 ages in a single cycle of 5000 years.
Yuga = 5000/4 = 1250 Years
In this cycle, the Sat Yuga or Golden Age emerges as the very first yuga and lasts for a period of 1250 years.
The hindu swastik is the symbol of dividing the four Yugas in
exactly 1250 years.
Why I thought it is logically true? What I think?
- There is nothing like satiyuga or kaliyuga, it is just a time in which people follow either Shubha (good) or Labha (Benefits).
In our Gujarat State we draw swastika near our door of home and we write Shubha on left side and Labha at right side. swastika stands for lucky charm. means both good and benefit.
How swastika is related to Yugas??
Tretayuga, People follow what is good. They do not think for badness/benefit of self.
kaliyuga, people follow what is beneficial regardless of whether it will harm others or not.
This trueness of these two, we can understand by the example of Rama and Krishna. Rama followed what dharma(ethics of that time of Tretayuga) says and Krishna followed what benefit holds in Mahabharata. We can also understand how the thoughts of people changed with Yuga.
- Yuga is measurement for years. If the 4 yugas are measured with different number of days then it is not proper unit!!!
1 Yuga = 1250 years <-- This should be common unit like 1 km = 1000 meters.
Do we ever consider 2km=3456meters??
3 According to Hinduism the nature of humans is made of 3 properties(गुण).
Satva, Rajas and Tamas.
According to Brahmakumaris,
Satiyuga is satopradhan stage (
Golden Age according to Bible)
Satva(Deities) more, Rasjas less, Tamas few (Asuras) - People do not do sins - Nature is perfect - No accidental deaths - People live exactly 150 years - They follow proper stages of life (Brahmcharya, Grihastashram, Varnaprasthasharm and Sanyaas) - They do with the law of अकर्म Akarma - So no harmness to others and that is why they are called gods(pure souls)
In Golden age the souls were complete in all respects. Vishnu is called "sarva guna sapanna"(16 guna).
Tretayuga Silver Age
Satva little bit less but still more, Rajas Medium, Tamas Growing (Ravana)
In silver age, there was a slight decline in divine qualities. But even then there was sovereignty of complete peace and happiness.
Rama is 14 guna.
Dwaparyuga Couper Age
- Satva Medium, Rajas More, Tamas Medium
Copper age follows the Silver Age. By this time, the souls, who had transmigrated through several lives, become body-conscious. The vices like lust, anger, greed, attachment and ego cast their shadows on them. And they had thus fallen from the state of purity and worthiness and become vicious and unworthy. As they forget their true selves and broke with purity, natural laws came to be violated. Even nature deviated from her usual course, having thus begun to harm them, even though slightly.
It is in this age that various religions were established. A good many faiths began appearing like branches coming forth from the World-Tree.
Abraham founded Islam; Buddhism was founded by Budha; Jesus Christ founded Christiniaty; Shankaracharya established the class of recluses and hermits; Mohammed Prophet established the Muslim religion.
The previous deity religion came to be known as Hindu religion because they lost their deity-hood or divinity in them.
The population also increased considerably. Whereas in the beginning,
everything was one, now there are many religions, many kingdoms, languages, cultures and dynasties. Thus grew mutual strife, divisions and disunity and this state of affairs continued.
kaliyuga Iron Age
Satva Less, Rajas More, Tamas More
In the Iron Age that follows the Copper-Age, problems, difference of views and disputes begin to increase. The souls in this age are over-powered by vices and darkness of ignorance. They become vicious and impious. There is quite a crop of dissensions due to religious, communal and sectarian difference. Women are treated with utter contempt. Nature becomes instrumental in causing distress to man. Disease, grief, old age, premature death, death by accident, etc afflicted mankind.
The duration of one World Cycle is 5000 years. Ages repeats.