The Yuga Cycle is a cyclic age in Hindu cosmology where eternal time repeats itself. But what does this mean? Here’s a quick breakdown of the Yuga Cycle.
Let’s start with something simple. What is a yuga? A yuga is a cosmic age, a basic unit of time, according to the Vedic system of measuring universal time. Unlike Western conceptions of universal time as linear, the Vedas describe the universe as being in an endless cycle of creation, destruction and recreation.
This cycle is the Yuga Cycle and the four yugas: Satya Yuga, Treta Yuga, Dwapara Yuga and Kali Yuga, are four distinct cosmic ages that together form one full Yuga Cycle. Below we will discuss the four yugas that comprise one yuga cycle.
In the Satya Yuga, the Golden Age, people were adept in meditation and possessed remarkable strength and longevity, living up to 100,000 year. Society was not plagued by wars, famine or conflict, there was no disparity among cultures. People enjoyed worldly comforts and lived in harmony with the natural environment. It was a time of complete peace.
Yet as time progressed people neglected their religious practices. Their desire for material comforts surpassed their basic needs which fostered a spirit of competition and consequently a class-based society. This was the dawn of the Treta Yuga.
In the Treta Yuga, people began engaging in collective nonviolent religious sacrifices to appease the gods. To facilitate these collective sacrifices, they divided the society into four classes of people. People were dutiful, moral and compassionate, willingly remained in their class and did what needed to be done for the good of the whole society. There was no conflict among classes.
In the Treta Yuga, the Silver Age, people lived up to 10,000 years and regardless of class divisions continued to live in peace and prosperity.
Towards the end of the Treta Yuga, people turned away from the religious way of life. Members of all levels of society began exploiting their positions toward personal enrichments and financial gain at the expense of other members. Collective sacrifices were no longer practiced as people took up private religious practices.
In the Dwapara Yuga, the Bronze Age, selfishness and irreligion overran people’s inherently good nature. People were fearful and mistrusting, engulfed in corruption and andoned religion entirely, living only up to 1,000 years.
Toward the end of the Dwapara Yuga, Mother Earth pleaded with Brahma, the universal creator, to intervene. Brahma then appealed to Lord Vishnu who sent Krishna to restore virtue to the world. Krishna’s presence on Earth kept ignorance and irreligion at bay, yet when Krishna returned to his own realm in the spiritual sky, the Kali Yuga began.
The Kali Yuga saw all social order turned on its head. Religious and political leaders refused to educate and protect their citizens, they abandoned virtue entirely and became the chief criminals in society.
In the Kali Yuga, the Iron Age, people became absorbed by materialistic pursuits, becoming devoid of all spirituality and morality and engulfed in all sorts of war and conflict, living short lives of 100 years.
Remember the Yuga Cycle is a cyclic age
It is important to remember that the Yuga Cycle is a recurring, never-ending cycle of four distinct cosmic ages. As the Kali Yuga comes to an end the Satya Yuga begins, followed by the Treta Yuga and the Dwapara Yuga and ending again with the Kali Yuga. Each yuga cycle lasts 4,320,000 years and repeats the same four yugas in every subsequent cycle.