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The Four Yugas and Mahabharata

 
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Therese Hamilton



Joined: 22 Feb 2011
Posts: 1209
Location: California, USA

Posted: Thu Aug 20, 2015 11:04 pm    Post subject: The Four Yugas and Mahabharata Reply with quote

THE FOUR YUGAS AND MAHABHARATA

Anyone who has read Swami Sri Yukeswar’s The Holy Science knows that the system of Yugas the author discusses is of much shorter duration than the long periods most Indians have come to accept as the true duration of the four Yuga periods. Sri Yukteswar states that the astronomers and astrologers who calculate the almanacs have been guided by the incorrect annotations of certain Sanskrit scholars who maintain that the length of Kali Yuga is 432,000 of which (in Sri Yukteswar’s time) still had 427,000 years remaining.

Sir Yukteswar says that this error entered the almanacs in about 700 B.C. during the reign of Raja Parikshit, just after the completion of the last Descending Dwapara Yuga. At this time the Raja with the wise men of his court retired to the Himalaya mountains. There was no one left in court who knew how to correctly calculate the Yugas. As no one dared to introduce the dark Kali Yuga, it was decided that the ordinary solar years by which the Yugas were calculated were really “Divine Years”, which extended the Kali Yuga to 432,000 years. Sri Yukteswar outlined the correct years of the Yugas this way:

Satyayuga: 4000 + 800 sandhi years = 4800 years
Treta: 3000 + 600 sandhi years = 3600 years
Dwapara: 2000 + 400 = 2400 years
Kali: 1000 + 200 sandhi years = 1200 years
Total 24,000 years: Ascending plus Descending cycles.

According to this calculation we are now in the ascending Dwapara Yuga which according to Sri Yukteswar began around 499 A.D. He based this figure on mathematics in Suryasiddhanta. We find surprising support for Sri Yuktesar’s calculations in the Mahabharata. This came to my attention in Dr. Sudhikant Bharadwaj’s Suryasiddhanta: An Atro-Linguistic Study (Parimal Publications, 1991).

In the chapter “The Text, Authorship and Date,” the author compares the details of the Suryasiddhanta with the Mahabharata. He says the theory of the four Yugas is mentioned in the Mahabharata twice. The first mention is in the Vanaparva, Chapter 18 and the other in Harivamsa’s Purana, an appendix of the Mahabharata. Quoting Dr. Bharadwaj:

“The two theories represent a striking difference suggesting that the theory of Vanaparva is the older one and that in the Harivamsa Purana the later. In the theory described in the Vanaparva the division of the yugas is the usual one, and the day of Brahma is also stated to be of 1000 yugas in the Suryasiddhanta. But the number of years in the yugas differ from those in the Suryasiddhanta.”

These much shorter years happen to be exactly the same as Sri Yukteswar stated, even down to the computation of the years in each Yuga division which includes the addition of sandhi years. (page 89 in Bharadwaj’s book) If those years are treated as “Divine Years,” then the years are the same as the years in the Suryasiddhanta.

Dr. Bharadwaj writes that the later concept of “Divine Years” was introduced in the system so that the period of each Yuga became very large. He concludes that the Suryasiddhanta was written sometime between the period of the composition of the earliest part of the Mahabharata and the time when the appendix was composed and added. He says there is further collaboration in the text where it is said that the beginning of Krtayuga (Satya Yuga) was said to take place at the time of the conjunction of the Sun, Moon and Jupiter in Pushya asterism, and that the measure of that yuga will naturally be of smaller size. (page 90)

It’s very interesting to find this support for Sri Yukteswar’s Yuga theory. As we see the rapid development of civilization in recent centuries, it’s indeed difficult to place that development in a dark Kali period. Sri Yukteswar mentions the groundbreaking scientific developments of recent centuries, and I’ve also written an article slightly correcting the 499 A.D. date from the Suryasiddhanta.

So are we truly in the ascending Dwapara Yuga rather than deep into Kali Yuga for thousands of years to come? Is the usual acceptance of a greatly prolonged Kali period as error which has been accepted as fact in India? Anyone who may be interested in this topic is invited to read The Holy Science, Dr. Bhardwaj’s book and the article I wrote on the subject of Yugas:

http://users.snowcrest.net/sunrise/aayugacycles.htm
“When Does Dwapara Yuga Really Begin?”
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Mark
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Joined: 30 Sep 2005
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Location: Edinburgh, Scotland

Posted: Sat Sep 05, 2015 10:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I can see the appeal of Swami Sri Yukeswar’s The Holy Science. Not least as the much shorter time periods can be linked more easily to human history. Equally, psychologically, its surely more pleasant to accept the view we are are entering an ascending cycle of the Dwapara yuga rather than descending into an exceptionally long Kali Yuga.

However, on a comparative basis its worth reminding people that the traditional notion of a long count of ages found in the Vedas also finds support in ancient Jain and Buddhist texts. These traditions also support the idea we are entering an era of spiritual darkness associated with the Kali yuga. Indeed I would contend this idea was quite likely imported to later Hinduism from these traditions.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jain_cosmology

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buddhist_cosmology#Temporal_cosmology

As you will notice however, these immense cycles in Jainism or Buddhism also have sub periods.

Therese wrote:
Quote:
As we see the rapid development of civilization in recent centuries, it’s indeed difficult to place that development in a dark Kali period. Sri Yukteswar mentions the groundbreaking scientific developments of recent centuries, and I’ve also written an article slightly correcting the 499 A.D. date from the Suryasiddcanta.


Certainly many of the developments of science and medicine have been positive for human wellbeing. Although we are also encountering influences such as the rampant growth of philosophical materialism which is arguably the other side of the coin. Over the next century Islam is projected to replace Christianity as the dominant faith on the planet.

http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2015/04/23/why-muslims-are-the-worlds-fastest-growing-religious-group/

Whether, that is a sign of ''progress'' or ''decline'' is of course a purely subjective matter open to personal interpretation. Nevertheless it certainly represents an epoch changing development in the religious composition of our planet.

As I understand it these cycles are primarily a description of spiritual awakening not material progress.

Mark
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Therese Hamilton



Joined: 22 Feb 2011
Posts: 1209
Location: California, USA

Posted: Sun Sep 06, 2015 3:31 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Mark wrote:
Quote:
As I understand it these cycles are primarily a description of spiritual awakening not material progress.

It would seem they are both from the examples Sri Yukteswar gave in The Holy Science. If we are indeed at the junction of a more enlightened age, there is going to be inevitable chaos and conflict as the old "Piscean" way of thinking makes a last attempt for supremacy. We won't know until some years in the future if civilization is changing for the better. Many of us here now may not be around then! There do seem to be universal predictions of major upsets (geological, economic and spiritual) due for the earth. All we can do is wait and see.
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