Yukteswar’s Yugas

Yukteswar’s Yugas

I’ve occasionally mentioned the Yugas here. Basically, it’s a Vedic understanding of the cycles of time. Just as we have a cycle of hours, days, years, and centuries, the Vedas also chart ages (as in Age of Aquarius), yugas, cycles of creation, and more.

In the West, we have a rather heavily embedded meme telling us we started out as hunter-gatherers/cavemen and have evolved linearly from there into progressively better life. This worldview informs historic researchers, who almost always ascribe prior cultures as more primitive, sometimes in spite of evidence to the contrary. If we don’t understand it, it’s considered myth and superstition. But would a person of 200 years ago believe or understand a description of today’s typical living-room?

Yogananda’s master Swami Yukteswar was a renowned jyotishi. When he studied the ancient texts, he found that during the dark age Vedic scholars had made a small error in calculating the length of the yugas. They’d added a multiplier to adjust time to Deva (angel) years. This was a small error with a big impact. Common understanding is that Kali Yuga (the dark age) is 432,000 years long with a complete cycle of yugas lasting over 4 million years. By this calculation, we’re still only a few thousand years into the worst life has to offer.

Yukteswar’s correction* brought the Yugas back into a rising and falling cycle that aligns with the cycle of the ages and with what we call The Great Year in the west, the approx. 25,000 year cycle of the precession of the equinoxes**. In this model, Kali is only 1,200 years long. We passed through the trough in 500 AD (the Dark Ages) and are now about 311 years into the second age, Dwapara Yuga, the bronze or energy age***.

I recently finished reading a fascinating book called The Yugas, by Joseph Selbie and David Steinmetz. They took what Yogananda and Yukteswar had said on the subject and extrapolated out the dates, then compared them to history. It’s a pretty fascinating re-examination of our past and coming future. And it addresses many of the curious historical anomalies we’re all familiar with. I wouldn’t say I’d agree with all of their interpretations and the book is organized a little curiously but the research is diverse and largely well done.

The key detail to understand about the yugas is that it’s a cycle of expression of consciousness. (this cycle was known in most ancient cultures, like the Golden, Silver, Bronze and Iron ages of Greece) During the golden age or Sat Yuga, about 40% of time, most of us live at our full potential and enjoy “heaven on earth”. 30% of time we live close to that. 20% of time we feel individual and get into commerce and cities (like now) and for just 10% we go through a night and become quite dull, seeing only the physical world as real.

He summarizes the memes with 3 terms: (dates are for the current ascending cycle)
Satya – Golden: (7700 – 12,500 AD ascending, then a similar period descending)
Self realization, direct intuitive perception, consciousness

Treta – Silver: (4100 – 7700 AD)
Self-mastery, intuitive attunement, thought awareness

Dwapara – Bronze: (1700 – 4100 AD (current))
(enlightened) Self-interest, awakened intellect (science), energy (flow, intuition)

Kali – Iron: (500 – 1700AD ascending after a similar decent from 700 BC)
Passive acceptance, dull-mindedness, matter awareness
This period was more uncultured than now. But not before that.

They have a chart here illustrating the current rising and prior falling cycle with the shift dates. It should be noted that each yuga has a “Sandhi” or transitional period of about 10% that adds to the time of that yuga. By that calculation, we’re just over a hundred years out of the transition from a material paradigm. In many ways, the transition is still underway as we hold to the old while we rediscover who we are and what we’re capable of. Self-interest has become dominant and they suggest it will become  “enlightened” over time when we find our own happiness is supported by self-awareness and caring for  others. They suggest this shift from passive acceptance to self-interest is what has driven us into commerce, “civilization” and city dwelling.

The book goes into the tone and characteristics of the developing and future ages, then looks into the last 14,000 years of our past. As historians can trace the development of language and writing, they suggest this illustrates our evolution. The book suggests this actually illustrates our devolution in consciousness. They observe that the worlds proto-languages all appeared fully formed around the same time and suggest this was an adaptation to losing the ability to communicate mentally with others. As we lost the connection, our world culture and languages became fractured and increasingly isolated.(think Tower of Babel) We adapted first by developing oral language and traditions, then when consciousness dropped into Dwapara, the written word. The Yuga dates correspond to the known arising of the Vedic oral tradition and the later compiling and writing of the Vedas. Also the evolution from mantras into rituals.

Another example suggests why the Egyptian pyramids begin with the best work and slowly degrade. (book excerpt) The book goes into many such examples.

Yogananda indicated there had been many such yuga cycles, saying civilized man has been around for 50 million years. The book talks about why we see little evidence of that. But not none.

Finally there is an interesting discussion about Yukteswar’s reference to the sun’s “dual”. I’ve usually heard this to mean an unknown binary star around which our sun is orbiting. (The vast majority of stars like ours have now been found to be binary) This 25,000 year orbit is what is said to cause the earths slowly rotating tilt and thus the cycle of the ages and yugas. They note that while this might be what he was referring to, both the Sanskrit term for the orbital point and the word “dual” may actually be a geometric term for the axis of the ecliptic. It’s an obscure thing from projective geometry but if you’ve ever explored Buckminster Fuller, you’ll have seen the models where there are forms within forms. The inner form is the inverse or dual.

I appreciate the work they’ve done to compile all this research to corroborate the idea. It’s certainly a very different take on our history, where we are and where we’re going. Happily, the news is largely good.  😉

The book’s web site, with articles (book excerpts), blog, and references.

* Yukteswar reviews his discovery in the Introduction to his 1894 book, The Holy Science. It’s still in print. The correct numbers are also in the Manu Samhita. (ever heard of the Laws of Manu?)
Curiously, I’d actually noticed the error myself when trying to reconcile Vedic time with astronomical and experienced time.

**Dr. David Frawley suggests both cycles could be correct. One is human scale, one Devic. This is similar in idea to the dasha and bhukti cycles in jyotish, one within the other.

***It should be noted that this model shows the Sat yuga/golden age/Age of Enlightenment as rising in about 7700 AD. Krishna’s (and others) out-of-cycle prediction of a Sat Yuga in the current time is a different subject. This book is about the underlying cycle.

Last Updated on May 7, 2019 by Davidya

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  1. Share L

    It’s fun how this blog is such a good expression of Dwapara. First of all, because it’s written. And secondly because it flows with clarity.

    Hmmm, I was just noticing the term dwapara. I think para means transcendent but am not sure. Wonder what dwa means here. Very interesting.

    I like the living room analogy. And I’m glad the news is largely good (-:

    1. Maritama Radha Ananda

      There are those of us who have been practicing meditation for years and have seen miracles manifest more frequently.
      I saw an Epiphany of a man’s head and shoulders appear out of a bag of Gipson (plaster of paris cristaline substance) in a loft in NYC. I studied with an American teacher who was a follower of Yogananda and Ramamurti S. Mishra MD founder of Ananda Ashram in the Catskills. I have seen as if my eyes were open while they were closed. The Ajna Chakra (third eye) is the portal to another dimension. I have astral traveled and have revelation. There are codes in the Gregorian Zcalendar spelled vertically and in the Alohabet on a chevron with MN at the top. Much more I wrote about in my Yahoogroups Blog of over 4,000 pages.
      Maritama Radha Ananda
      Formerly initiated as Ma Amritananda by Jain master Muni Sushil Kumar Maharaj Christian Meditation practitioner and teacher

      1. Welcome to the blog, Maritama
        Many here have been meditating for decades also. What is most important is the unfolding of consciousness to support the rising age. Miracles and appearances are fun but just side effects of a deeper unfolding. It’s what is common to all that will lift all boats.

  2. Share L

    Also Maharishi Mahesh Yogi once spoke of simultaneity and sequence being equally true. Though he wasn’t exactly speaking of time, I wonder if this concept can be applied to time. It does seem that time is both a sequential unfoldment and a here and now simultaneity.

  3. Davidya

    Thanks, Share
    Only 2 pillars of Dharma are supported in Dwapara, so it likely refers to that.

    He may not have directly referred to time but such concepts are related to time. And it can indeed be experienced a number of different ways. Sequentially within it, concurrently simultaneous or both together. For example, where one rests in the eternal while experiences the unfolding. Or where one observes the entirety of space-time and can move along any specific timeline.

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  6. John Wright

    St Augustine said that when he thought about time,he didn’t understand,but when he didn’t think about it,he did.Einstein called it a “persistant illusion” i have no doubt we go through cycles of time,but at the same time we are timeless,eternal.do what you must in time,while placing most of yourself in eternity and you’ll be fine.Jesus said “there will be wars and rumors of wars,be not troubled” follow that advice and you’ll have no problems with whatever age we’re in(of course that’s easier said than done) go with God’s Grace.

  7. Davidya

    Hi John
    The illusion of time is non-different than the illusion of creation or Maya. The idea of posts like this is to describe the larger cycles of time taking place within creation. The truth of who we are is much deeper than the time-space construct. We are deeper even than eternity, though eternity is a good first step. 😉

    If you’re familiar with the idea of “Maya as illusion”, you might be interested in this post. Illusion is just one mode of perception. Creation is also a ladder home.

    From a higher perspective, all of creation occurs within our cosmic nature and is not other than That. In other words, the illusion is only in how we might be seeing it, most particularly in separation. Creation is not other than Creator.

    To your comment, I agree: if we put our greater part in that which is beyond all things, we will live a richer fuller life, untroubled by the dramas unfolding around us.

    This specific post was to give readers a more detailed idea of Yugas and to present a non-traditional understanding that takes us out of the rather dark idea that we’re long to be trapped in the dark age. I use a lot of ideas that I periodically stop to explain in some further detail, such as this post.

    Thanks for sharing and God’s grace is with you.

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  22. Lilian

    Thank you for this David. This has triggered some valuable intuitive understandings of my internal trajectory.

    That all seems programmed into my life: to reintegrate my human life with my spiritual path. To feel my spiritual untuition and knowledge come back to life in productive ways.

    A bit of challenging life experience does wonders to push us forward, eh? To get the crust off and to start flowing with the new energy of this age.

    I’m grateful that I’ve got Rose to push me forward with this and hopefully get all enlightened early (this lifetime or close enough) in this upswing.

    It’s amazing how the saints of the dark ages (St Columba (and the monks here in Scotland), St Augustine etc) carried the torch to carry knowledge through. I imagine there were “arcs” carrying vedic knowledge through this time also, but I don’t know that tradition. Does anyone here know the history of that? These must have been special souls.

    1. Hi Lilian
      Yes, and notable what we call the Dark ages in the west was at the bottom of the yuga trough.

      The Vedic tradition was originally oral, passed down within families and traditions for thousands of years. The verses where memorized several ways, including backwards, to ensure their survival.

      But with the known coming dark ages, the sage Vyasa organized and wrote down some of the key texts to help with their survival. Some did make it through orally but a lot was lost. Even some of the texts where lost.

      But this has resulted in the survival of the oldest known human texts.

      Part of the issue today is that some of the texts assume knowledge we no longer have or reference texts that have been lost.

      There is something of a revival of the oral tradition in India now and gradually, copies of various old texts are being discovered and converted into a common script. A text on Sanskrit gender was recently discovered, unlabeled and misfiled in a library.

    2. btw – a note on “challenging life experience”
      it can certainly have that effect – but only if we’re willing to grow. There are a lot of people fighting change and creating a much bigger challenge for themselves, a much rougher process.

  23. Lilian

    What I find particularly inspiring is that the golden ages decline as fewer people in the collective consciousness are enlightened, so the collective consciousness itself drops out of enlightenment.

    More souls gaining enlightenment at this time (ie being self-reliant enlightenment experts lol) would give so much strength and stability to the collective consciousness if they incarnate in the ages to come…

    David, I imagine that you have this role of collective consciousness raiser in this life. 🙂

    1. Well – it’s common for souls to stop coming back into the challenging sphere of human life after enlightenment. It’s one of the perks of the process – stepping off the cycle of death and rebirth.

      However, some of the awake are catalysts for others. We know from history that even in a darker age, a great teacher will create a legacy of enlightened students that will last for hundreds of years. Buddha would be an example there.

      We’re now in a time where the growth of the awake is happening exponentially. Even in my small circle here, new shifts happen all the time.

      So it’s not necessary that everyone awake stick around. Just that they help keep the ball rolling.

      I would say it’s not David that has a role raising anything other than the occasional deck. But raising of consciousness as a whole is happening though this expression. 🙂

    1. Hi Chris
      Well, this was an interesting surprise. My first question was what was the article doing on such a site? Was it copied from somewhere else? Turns out Dr Frawley seems to have posted quite a few there, some political and some philosophical. The article is also on his own web site but posted much later.

      I was also surprised by some of the comments. In previous articles of his I’d seen, he stood with the traditional cycle of ages, suggesting the precessional cycle was a possible sub-cycle much like sub-dashas. But here he argues for the Yukteswar timeline, suggesting the larger cycle was “speculation of medieval thinkers.” To my mind, the larger cycle is the timeline of the devas as you convert between the two with a single multiplier representing them. When I studied the topic, the traditional view seemed to make the mistake of applying deva time to human timelines. Correcting that made much better sense and aligned more with the precessional cycle and my own experience. Then I found Yukteswar’s argument.

      I quite agree with a number of points. I also like the points about us not understanding a descending cycle or a higher age (unless we remember them).

      I don’t think there is such a thing as a “perpetual” golden age – at least not in material form. I also don’t agree on the timing of the fall of so-called Atlantis. Although the closing act there was after a fall from a higher more global age.

      There is a bit of materialism in the article, like suggesting this all happens due to solar orientation. Rather, I see the outside as a reflection of deeper inner processes.

      His closing comments on Vega also don’t quite make sense. Through the processional cycle, we rotate between 4 pole stars with Vega typical at the golden age.

      The galactic center at Mula is also interesting as it’s one of 3 Ketu nakshatras. Ketu is about separation and liberation. One of the 3 is typically prominent in the charts of great sages.

      Thanks for sharing.

  24. A friend sent me a still more recent article by Dr Frawley. In this one, he supports not only the Yukteswar cycle but proposes a scheme much like the dasha cycle in Jyotish.

    This means that we’re in Dwapara Yuga but in the Kali subcycle. Further, we’re in the Treta sub-sub cycle, ie: Dwapara-Kali-Treta.

    We go into Dwapara-Kali-Satya in 2020 (theres a major conjunction then) and Dwapara-Dwapara in 2100.

    He doesn’t seem to think theres anything else afoot but why then the acceleration of people awakening? Still, it’s an excellent insight to add to the model. Makes a lot of sense.

  25. 1899 + 120 = almost today. Let s put our modest attempts to celebrate 120 th year of Dvapara, as its gonna starts soon! I feel that min critical mass of agreement should be done to make it happens. Time to return!

    1. Not sure if it’s typical of all Yugas but the anniversary of the start of Sat Yuga is Nov 17 this year. Its called Akshaya Navami.

      Recognizing the underlying cycles of time I find a useful exercise. But keep in mind there is another cycle underway thats outside this pattern – that is the one of global awakening. It’s been said this will lead to a mini-Sat Yuga in the current time.

      As it’s within a lower age and not as long, it won’t flower as fully. But it’s nonetheless a remarkable time to be alive.

      Some are suggesting the major conjunctions of 2020 mark the primary shift. We’ll see.

      1. Eira

        Just saw this now, Nov 17 of 2020… yes I know it isn’t necessarily the same date of Akshaya Navami this year, but the coincidence was a bit intriguing nonetheless.

        What are your thoughts thus far? It’s been an intense and interesting year so far, for so many people. I gotta say, I’ve had several losses of loved ones and other challenges in addition to the Covid consternation, yet the shift of awareness recently experienced more and more has made the grief and frustration of much less impact than I would have supposed. The drama button is turned way down. It’s like the intellect is trying to catch up and not really knowing what to do with the lack of identification with problems. I guess a few decades of quietly doing the program on a regular(-ish) basis is suddenly paying off in a somewhat unexpected way.
        Also I have to thank you for your Dealing with the Hard Nuts post. It’s been a great help dealing with some deeply entrenched knots that held me back for long enough.

        Being able to mostly float above the drama doesn’t mean not engaging with life though. There are lots of people around really struggling that need emotional or practical support, and my own responsibilities require me to be grounded and present. But it’s easier than I thought it would be due to that subtle shift.

        What a fascinating thing to be allowed to experience!

        1. Hi Eira
          I think the Yukteswar approach does accurately reflect human-scale time. There are many signs we’ve moved into the energy age (Dwapara) although still in early stages. Still a lot of Kali.

          However, there is also this other trend with a deeper influence that is bringing a golden age within that, one that has been suggested to last until the end of the golden age expected by the above, about 10k years. This is creating a lot of awakening.

          But this massively deepens the phase transition we’re in. Those who have been doing self work and spiritual practices are ahead of the curve here and helping to smooth the way in the collective. Many of the very awake are doing things to help further.

          But many are unaware of what is taking place and are resisting the change and suffering. Mixed in are difficult trends of time that can help the transition but are also amplifying issues for those fighting it. Dharma is at a brief low point.

          I wrote this article recently addressing some of this:

          It sounds like you’re doing well, exemplifying the points. Transitions are needed and if we can be with them but not in them, they can flow through unimpeded to completion. Experiences like that also help stabilize presence in a grounded way, building the platform for the shift.

          We live in remarkable times. Not an easy process but it will be profoundly rewarding.

  26. Saw this documentary on the cycle of ages recently.

    I would not say they cover it well but it does illustrate some of the main ideas. About 17 min in, they show a comparison of the yugas and Greek ages, then add the zodiac. But then they swing it around to the autumnal equinox from the spring saying this is what the ancients did (which ones?). They illustrate the video with this alignment thereafter. And yet they continue to refer to Spring-measured ages.

    For example, Libra is rising in the fall currently whereas Pisces rises in the spring. We usually say we’re in the end of the Piscean age, coming up on Aquarius. And yet they’re illustrating Pisces as in the Golden age, not where we are now.

    Most old cultures start the year in the spring.

  27. Chris

    Hi David, I hope you’re well!

    When you have a moment, I have a question related to an article you posted a couple of years ago: https://www.vedanet.com/keys-to-the-yugas-or-cycles-of-the-ages-subyugas-in-the-sri-yukteswar-yuga-cycle/
    In the article, Frawley mentions the 2020 dating for a sub yuga (mini-Sat Yuga) shift and/but also wrote “We are not beyond further World Wars or global calamities.” “one can still not rule out some major restructuring of human civilization and a good deal of suffering along the way.” and “One should expect more positive developments after that time”
    In some of your comments above you didn’t endorse, but just carefully mentioned that some say this dating and shift is real:
    “It’s been said this will lead to a mini-Sat Yuga in the current time.”
    and “Some are suggesting the major conjunctions of 2020 mark the primary shift. We’ll see.”
    So, in reflecting now on Yukteswar’s Yuga calculations, and descriptions of a potentially rocky road before ‘growing into’ such a great shift, do you have any reflections on the seeming synchronicity between the appearance of the coronavirus and the proposed timing of a shift to Dwapara Kali Satya?

    1. Hi Chris
      Yes very well thanks and enjoying the rise of spring. And yes, we’re in it now.
      I’d say Yukeswars model corresponds to my experience. And it makes sense it would be a sub-cycle of devic time. This is much like dasha cycles. You can then extend the idea into sub-sub-cycles as Frawley has done.
      But the cycles are not entirely even due to other kinds of cycles. For example, the previous drop from Dwapara into Kali and into our last dark age was quite fast.

      In the current time, we have a corresponding much faster-then-usual rise. It brings with it the opportunity to take it all the way to Sat Yuga, a golden age.
      In the late ’60’s and early ’70’s, it wasn’t clear if we’d be able to catch that wave. Efforts were made to spread Yoga techniques for samadhi. Thousands of meditation teachers were spread all over the world. Millions learned.
      By the mid-70’s in became clear we’d caught the wave. Then the concern was how smooth the transition would be. To shift in a few decades what normally takes hundreds of years could lead to some drama.
      The mini-sat yuga is predicted to be 10,000 years. From a Yukeswar calculation, that will carry us right through the rising ages to the usual Sat Yuga period. In the Snakes and Ladders game, we’ve landed on the longest ladder.
      As my article mentions, each change of cycle has a sandhi or transition period. Like water roils before it comes to a smooth boil, transitions can be a bumpy period.
      Several major efforts have been made over the years to help smooth the transition but they tend to dissipate. I was hoping it would be a little smoother than this but a recession is also predicted. No surprise at this point. (Note that how it will affect us personally can be quite different from how the collective is experiencing it. How we respond will also vary.)
      Expectations vary but things are supposed to be more obvious in 2024. Yet if I compare the current time to past golden ages, we have a long ways to go yet.
      Personally, I have a strong sense of it but not how long it will take.
      A nice smooth progression is the ideal. It should move towards that over time, as more people let go.

      1. Rita Di Carlo “MaRi”

        There’s that date which I associate with
        the final transition predicted by Gautama Buddha, 2024, “The Realm of the Heavenly Beings.” Starting with 476 BC every 500 years certain Chang’s would take place, the last of which would be that realm, in 2024. I have been seeing an increase of movement in to that realm. I had the revelation in 1979.
        MaRitama Radha Ananda

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