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Throughout Hindu scripture, the order of the Yugas is given as Satya, Treta, Dwapara, Kali. (See my answer here for more information on Hindu timescales.). Yet in his ISKCON commentary on the Srimad Bhagavatam, Bhaktivedanta Prabhupada says this:

There is a chronological order of the four millenniums, namely Satya, Dvāpara, Tretā and Kali. But sometimes there is overlapping. During the regime of Vaivasvata Manu, there was an overlapping of the twenty-eighth round of the four millenniums, and the third millennium appeared prior to the second. In that particular millennium, Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa also descends, and because of this there was some particular alteration.

So Prabhupada seems to be suggesting that in most Mahayugas, the order of the Yugas is Satya, Dwapara, Treta, Kali, but in the 28th Mahayuga of the Vaivasvata Manvantara (the present Mahayuga), the order is Satya, Treta, Dwapara, Kali. And this seems to be a common belief in Gaudiya Vaishnavism (the sect that Prabhupada and ISKCON belong to). For instance, in this web page Swami Gaurangapada says that the order of Yugas is reversed in the present Mahayuga so that Krishna and Chaitanya Mahaprabhu (whom Gaudiya Vaishnavas consider an incarnation of Vishnu) could be born close together:

There is a confidential reason for why the cycle of yugas was changed in this Chatur Yuga with Treta Yuga coming before Dvapara Yuga.

So even though normally Dvapara comes after Satya Yuga and before Treta, He reversed the order of the Yugas and Dvapara now came after Treta and before Kali Yuga. This is because Lord Krishna wanted to distribute His Vrindavana love to all conditioned souls in the form of Lord Gauranga [Chaitanya Mahaprabhu] without a big time difference between these two advents of His so that the Vrindavana pastimes are still fresh in the hearts and minds of the people so that when He distributes them as Lord Gauranga, people will accept this love very easily.

So my question is, what is the reason that Gaudiya Vaishnavas believe that the Dwapara Yuga usually comes before the Treta Yuga, and that our Mahayuga was some unusual exception? Is it mentioned in the Chaitanya Charitamrita or some other Gaudiya Vaishnava work?

Could the reason for this belief be the fact that the root of the word Dwapara is "two" and the root of the word Treta is "three"? My understanding is that the names of the Yugas derive from the names of dice rolls. In the traditional Vedic game of dice, the best roll you could get was a 4, known as Krita, the second-best was a 3 or Treta, the third-best was a 2 or Dwapara, and the worst possible roll was a 1 or Kali. But perhaps Gaudiya Vaishnavas don't accept this etymology.

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    What is this vedic game of dice and where is it mentioned that the names of yugas are derived from the game of dice? – Sarvabhouma Apr 27 at 3:07
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Gaudiya Vaishnavas do believe the same chronological order of Yugas like other Hindu Scriptures say. That is, Satya, Treta, Dwapara, Kali.

Here is the YouTube video of Prabhupada. In this video He said that Lord Krishna appears in Dwapara Yuga, there are four yugas namely: Satya, Treta, Dwapara and Kali and have same circulation.

Krishna comes in Dwapara yuga. There are four periods of each yuga: Satya, Treta, Dwapara and Kali. So Krishna comes at the end of Dwapara yuga and Chaitanya in Kali Yuga. So all (something) have same year, have same circulation.

(By "something" I mean Prabhupada said one word that I didn't understand.)

In the purport of Srimad Bhagavatham 9.10.15 also Prabhupada gave the same order of yugas.

Among the four yugas — Satya, Tretā, Dvāpara and Kali — the Kali-yuga is the worst, but if the process of varṇāśrama-dharma is introduced, even in this Age of Kali, the situation of Satya-yuga can be invoked. The Hare Kṛṣṇa movement, or Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement, is meant for this purpose.

And here is Prabhupada's lecture on Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.16.36,

Prabhupada: So we have discussed the symptoms of Kali-yuga, this age called Kali-yuga. As there are seasonal changes, similarly, in the duration of this material existence, there are seasonal changes. That everyone has got experience. There is summer, there is winter, there is fall, there is spring. So generally the seasonal changes are accepted as Satya-yuga, Treta-yuga, Dvapara-yuga and Kali-yuga. Just like in each year we have got different seasons, changes, similarly, each millennium there are so many changes of Kali-yuga, Dvapara-yuga, Satya-yuga.

Here is one more YouTube video of Prabhupada. In this, He talks about time duration of each yugas and life span of humans.

Hence, Prabhupada also believes in the same order. But there might be something wrong with the purport you've quoted, as I said here that some edits have been done in Prabhupada's books.

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Well, as far as I know, Ahalya, the wife of Gautam Muni was cursed by Gautam Muni in rage to turn into a stone since he thought that she had extra-marital affairs with Indra. Ahalya's son (cant remember his name) knew the truth and reported the same to his father,Gautama. Gautama was pacified and thus he reassured him that Ahalya will be freed when Sri Rama in tretayuga stepped on her. But Ahalya's son was unsatisfied since it was only Satyayuga and dwapara was still to left pass. So he went to Sri Hari and urged him to swap the yugas only for the present kalpa. Sri Hari agreed and this is the apparent reason. Presently I don't have any reference for this story. But it seems to be written in some Purana. I have been often told this story in my childhood, so I thought of sharing this here. Of course I may be wrong too.And yes, you're right in saying that dwapara (dwa-2) and treta (tri-3). BTW...the dice analogy may be true too. You should ask a traditional Gaudiya vaishnava Acharya about this.Personally,I don't trust ISKCON books. If you want my advice please contact Sri Satyanarayana Das in this website: jiva.org

  • Welcome to Hinduism.SE! Unfortunately, this doesn't answer my question at all. I'm not asking about potential causes of the Yuga reversal, I'm asking what is the reason that Gaudiya Vaishnavas believe in a Yuga reversal, and why do they believe the natural order of the Yugas is Satya, Dwapara, Treta, Kali. – Keshav Srinivasan Jun 17 '15 at 17:58
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    @Keshav, I don't think Gaudiya Vaishnavas believe that unless you can point this out from the books of ancient Gaudiya acharyas. Just because some purports of ISKCON talk about that,it doesn't mean that it is the opinion of the sampradaya. Judging the entire sampradaya from an institution that has many deviant concepts is not a right thing to do according to me. If you want to ask a traditional Gaudiya vaishnava on this issue you should ask Sri Satyanarayana Das as I previously stated. – devan Jun 18 '15 at 4:22
  • I'm not saying that it's official doctrine of Gaudiya Vaishnavism or anything. I'm just saying that it seems to be a common belief among Gaudiya Vaishnavas. Even if the belief is limited to ISKCON members, I still want to know the reason why ISKCON believes this. – Keshav Srinivasan Jun 18 '15 at 4:47
  • @Keshav, you are correct that this is not the official doctrine of the Gaudiya school,and I'll add that it is not a belief within the traditional Gaudiya school too. – devan Jun 18 '15 at 4:56
  • OK, but that still doesn't answer my question, which is about what the reason for the belief is among those that do believe it. – Keshav Srinivasan Jun 18 '15 at 4:59
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I have thought about this a lot. As you noted Dwapara is second, Treta is tritiya or third. A person with basic familiarity with Sanskrit will recognize this.

So if the order is Satya, Dvapara, Treta, Kali. It can be counted 1,2,3,4. If it is Satya, Treta, Dwapara, Kali, it can be counted 4,3,2,1. Therefore Kali yuga is most important now.

In the scriptures it says that Lord Krishna only appears once every day of Brahma. It is very rare. We now happen to be in that time and place. So when the original Lord Krishna appears, the yugas become like this. This means that this Kali yuga is the most important because Lord Chaitanya has taught about Lord Krishna and how to worship him. It is very rare.

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