Four yuga, four ages separate and multiply mankind, four races, four bridges between heaven and earth. In sanskrit, yuga means “age” or “epoch”. Traditional Hindu wisdom considers that mankind has known four epoch already and that we are in the last epoch. What’s coming next?
The four yugasanskript yuga : age, epoch, are echoing with the four ages of ancient Greece. They sometimes have the same name (golden, silver, bronze and iron) which is also found in ancient Persia … what may suggest a common origin.
This time shared in long periods or divine years is inherited from a developped civilization, Atlantis for instance.
Even their order evokes a decline, confirmed by their length, each age being half the length of the previous one. According to French indianist Alain Daniélou,see below Golden Age is 32,000 years long.
It is followed by Silver Age which is 16,000 years long, then Bronze Age is 8,000 years long, and finally Iron Age is only 4,000 years long.
They are shorter and shorter, because they are harder and harder to bear. Anyway, the exact length of a cycleAlso called maha-yuga varies a lot depending on the author: some hindu sages spoke about hundreds thousands of years, and even millions of years, for one cycle.
The present estimation, 60,000 years for a whole cycle, was proposed by the french indianist Alain DanielouSee below who found these numbers in the old shivaite tradition. But he insisted on the fact that those figures, like any, are just an indicative value.
Like every ancient civilization, the vedic tradition mentioned huge and unbelievable lengths of time. They point to the extreme ancientness of our species, to the fabulous length of its history. But datations evolve faster than theories…
Indianist and musicologist researcher Alain Danielou was born in 1907 in Neuilly-sur-Seine, near Paris France. He travelled across India studying sanskrit and hindi languages, as well as hindu philosophy and theology. He translated the writings of a famous Sannyasi,Renouncing man in Hinduist tradition Swami Kârpatrî, who initiated him to the rites of shivaite hinduism. He died in Italy in 1994. He left several important essays – for French readers only: La fantaisie des dieux et l’aventure humaine, Origines et pouvoirs de la musique, Shivaïsme et tradition primordiale. where he shows the inner vision of shivaism, probably the more ancient religion of the world.
I must say that a majority of Hindouists desn’t share this point of view. For them, time is an endless ocean with no shore.
“According to Hindu scriptures, all mortal beings are destined to pass through four great epochs in every cycle of creation and destruction. This divine cycle turns full-circle at the end of what is known as kalpa. A kalpa is a yuga cycle, which is a period of 10,000 divine years, and is divided into four ages or yugas. According to one calculation, one yuga cycle is estimated to be 4,320,000 years, and one kalpa 4,320,000,000 years.”(source)
“The four great epochs in Hinduism are: Satya Yuga, Treta Yuga, Dwapar Yuga and Kali Yuga. Satya Yug or the Age of Truth is said to last for four thousand divine years, Treta Yuga for three thousand, Dwapara Yuga for two thousand and Kali Yuga will last for one thousand divine Years that equals to 432,000 earthly years.
It is also believed that three of these great ages have already passed away, and we are now living in the fourth one. What these ages exactly mean, it’s hard to explain for the rational mind.” (source)
And yet, there are things to say. The first is the enormity of the figures given in India. In the face of our faint hesitations as to the origin of man, in the face of the ridiculous age of a million years that we give to our species, the immensities given here are vertiginous.
No doubt they are very close to reality. The mistake here would be to apply the logical and rational spirit of finite oxydantalwrong spelling is volunteer which is often a pleonasm. The history of our species is not in millions, but in billions of years probably, and perhaps more.
Second conclusion, even more important. What ancient Indian thought teaches us is that time is not linear and continuous, as our Western view suggests — quite childish, actually.
Cyclical time is the ultimate encyclical. Yes, time is cyclical, all ancient philosophies tell us so. Hinduism goes even further: it gives a time scale – huge indeed – which allows to understand the extent of the phenomenon.
At the end of a gigantic revolution, time travels a good portion of eternity before returning in its tracks. But for the full cycle to be achieved, we must be patient, counting on our fingers more than four billion years. Which is about Earth’s age…
All kidding aside, we understand that the kalpa or large cycle is not on our scale. It also goes far beyond the scale of a civilization. Kalpa is the notebook of the former gods. They domesticated this planet throughout the seven days of creation.
They came a first time several billion years ago to pass the first layer. And then, over the eons, they came six more times. They did the right thing. The earth grew under their watch. So the Terraformers domesticated the wild planets.
These huge time slots don’t concern us. To get back to our scale, just look at the small cycle, the one Daniélou describes. Because cyclic time also indicates that in each great kalpa there are crowds of sub-kalpas, the mahayugas. We are in one of them. At the very end of a mini kaliyuga lost in a gigantic kaliyuga. We’re in trouble, if you ask me. But you guessed it: just open your eyes…
If it certainly exceeds the possibilities of human memory, the immense time scale of the Hindus shows us one of the great mysteries of our species: its longevity, its resistance, its invulnerability. Some supermen saw to it…
Through countless cataclysms, famines, earthquakes, floods, droughts, massacres, nuclear winters, extinctions of animal species, against all odds, against the flames of Gehenna and the Leviathan of the Abysses, our valiant species has never disappeared.
Whatever happens, the human race is holding on. Its incredible age is a powerful comfort for the future. A truth inscribed in letters of fire in the heart: beyond individual death, the human race is immortal. Until its next extinction, so that another species, more evolved, more generous, more noble, can take the place left vacant. The former gods hate emptiness.
What is immortal is not a species, a planet, a galaxy, or a universe. When Shiva Baba finishes his dance, everything will fall apart. Except HIM, of course.
What will never die is the Spirit.