Treta Yuga1

Created by Jijith Nadumuri at 25 Jul 2010 12:24 and updated at 16 Apr 2011 07:31

See Also Yugas-Part1 Yugas-Part2 Yugas-Part3 Yugas-Part4 Yugas-Part5
12,000 BC Krita-Yuga1 Treta-Yuga1 Dwapara-Yuga1 Kali-Yuga1 2,000 BC
2000 BC Krita-Yuga2 Treta-Yuga2 Dwapara-Yuga2 Kali-Yuga2 500 AD

Treta Yuga 1

8000 BC to 5000 BC

Duration of Treta Yuga 1 was 3000 years. If we follow the ratio 1:1:1:1 instead of the ratio 4:3:2:1, its duration can as well be 1000 years. In this case Treta Yuga 1 would become the period from 4000 BC to 5000 BC. If we take the average of the ratios, then the duration of this Yuga becomes 2000 years. Then Treta Yuga 1 would become the period from 4500 BC to 6500 BC. Below are some of the events occurred in this Yuga.


7500 BC?

Marutta is mentioned as an Ikshwaku king probably a northern branch of Ikshwakus whose territories lied close to Himalayas to the north of [Ayodhya. The lineage of Marutta is mentioned at Mbh.14.4 as follows:- Manu > Prasandhi > Kshupa > Ikswaku > Vinsa > Vivinsa > Khaninetra > Suvarcha > Karandhama > Avikshit (had an Angira priest)> Marutta. Karandhama is mentioned as born at the beginning of Treta Yuga. He was a very powerful king. After Kurukshetra war, the Pandava king Yudhisthira enriched the empty treasury by mining the ruins of Marutta's kingdom in the Himalays. He obtained from there gold and other costly metals.

Saraswati Dry Up

First Phase of Dry Up: 5500 BC to 5000 BC

Shift of Population

Mbh.3.85:- It hath been said that in the Satya-Yuga (Krita-Yuga) all the tirthas were sacred; in the Treta, Pushkara alone was such; in Dwapara, Kurukshetra; and in the Kali-yuga, the Ganga alone is sacred.

All tirthas (sacred waters) indicate the whole of the southern Saraswati river system and the wet climate in this region (which now has turned to the Thar_Desert in Rajastan). During the end of Treta Yuga1 (5000 BC), the wetness of this region shrunk to a small area surrounding the Pushkara (Pushkar) lake. During Dwapara Yuga (5000 BC to 3000 BC) people lived in Saraswati river basin completely migrated to Kurukshetra in Hariyana where Saraswati and one of its tributary Dhrisadwati still flowed. During Kali Yuga, even this northern remnant of Saraswati in Kurkukshetra region (Hariyana) dried up. Dhrisadwati too dried up. Thus in Kali Yuga people depended solely on Ganga river. Thus the migration of people from Saraswati to Ganga became fully complete in Kali Yuga1 (3000 BC to 2000 BC).

Desert mentioned in Ramayana

Passages like the above one in Mahabharata indicate that the dry up of Saraswati occurred during Treta Yuga itself, probably towards the end of Treta Yuga. This would make the drying up of Saraswati to occur in 5500 BC to 5000 BC. Thus Rama who lived during this period too might have witnessed it. Interestingly in Ramayana there is a passage where Rama is mentioned as forming the wet region named Puskara, (by creating a fresh water source there) in the midst of a desert (Maru-kantara) that lied to the north of Lavana-sagara the salt-ocean (identified to be Sea). Thus this is referring to the dry region that lied to the east of Saraswati river as it merged with Arabian sea.

Vishwamitra's life in Desert

Vishwamitra was a contemporary of Parasurama and Dasarathi Rama. The following passage mentions about a terrible drought that occurred during the life of Viswamitra. Mbh.12.206:-

Towards the end of Treta and the beginning of Dwapara, a frightful drought occurred, extending over twelve years. Then there was no rain. The planet Vrihaspati (Jupiter) was retrograde and Moon was at its southernmost point. Not even could a dew-drop be seen, what need then be said of clouds gathering together? The rivers all shrank into narrow streamlets. Everywhere lakes and wells and springs disappeared.

Water having become scarce, the places set up by charity for its distribution became desolate The Brahmanas abstained from sacrifices and recitation of the Vedas. They no longer uttered Vashats and performed other propitiatory rites. Agriculture and keep of cattle were given up. Markets and shops were abandoned. Stakes for tethering sacrificial animals disappeared. People no longer collected diverse kinds of articles for sacrifices. All festivals and amusements perished. Everywhere heaps of bones were visible and every place resounded with the shrill cries and yells of fierce creatures The cities and towns of the earth became empty of inhabitants.

Villages and hamlets were burnt down. Some afflicted by robbers, some by weapons, and some by bad kings, and in fear of one another, began to fly away. Temples and places of worship became desolate. They that were aged were forcibly turned out of their houses. Kine and goats and sheep and buffaloes fought for food and perished in large numbers. The Brahmanas began to die on all sides. Herbs and plants were dried up. The earth became shorn of all her beauty and exceedingly awful like the trees in a crematorium. In that period of terror, when righteousness was nowhere, men in hunger lost their senses and began to eat one another.

These passages clearly indicate a drought like situation. The 12 year period mentioned in this passage could be one of the peek periods of drought. The geography closely matches with the dried up Saraswati river basin in Rajasthan. However some passages which mention about stakes for tethering sacrificial animals, markets, shops and temples and places of worship seems to be later addition probably occurred later in the (250 BC) Treta-Dwapara junction of Chatur Yuga-2 which will be discussed in next article. There was a global level drought situation in peaking at 257 BC and spanning around 12 years.

These could as well be the sacrificial stakes, markets, shops, temples and places of worship of tribes who flourished on the Saraswati valley, the remnants of which we now see as the archeological sites in this region. A Saraswata king too is mentioned at Mbh.3.129.

Sage Saraswata in Desert

At Mbh.9.49 too we finds mention of this twelve year drought. During this period too the Vedic tradition was disrupted. Sage Saraswata is here mentioned as reviving the Vedic tradition by teaching Vedas to Brahmanas who had lost the knowledge of Vedas due to constant migrations from the drought affected areas. Saraswatas were an ancient tribe who lived on the banks of Saraswati since Krita Yuga. They had kings and sages among them. Sage Angira who was the founder of the Angira clan of Sages too is mentioned as belonging to the Saraswata tribe at Mbh.3.83.

Subsequent phases of Saraswati dry up

It seems that the drying up of Saraswati was due to multiple factors including drought phases lasting for twelve or more years as well as due to neotectonism in north west India that lead to the rise of Aravali mountains disrupting the Saraswati river system in the south. Tectonic activity also caused rise of Delhi-Haridwar ridge that cut rivers that fed Dhrisadwati and Saraswati. Subsequently Saraswati drifted it course to west. Yamuna that fed Saraswati moved to east and joined Ganga. Satadru which also fed Saraswati drifted and completely joined with Sindhu. Thus the Saraswati river started drying. The time period for this dry up is variably kept between 5000 BC to 3000 BC. It is possible that the initial dry up occurred during 5500 BC to 5000 BC period. After that the river might have flowed with water for some time and dried up again. This cycle might have repeated many times, starting towards the end of Treta Yuga. This continued in the whole of Dwapara Yuga (5000 BC to 3000 BC) and the river disappeared completely by the start of Kali Yuga (3000 BC).

Search for Ganga

During the period when Saraswati started drying up (5500 BC), Saraswati region was ruled by an Ikshwaku king named Sagara mentioned as son of Jadu. Many of Sagara's sons established kingdoms all around Saraswati river basin, especially in the southern course of Saraswati. Due to the drying up of Saraswati and the prolonged drought, their kingdoms perished. Destruction of Sagara's sons is attributed to the anger of a sage nemed Kapila, a Saraswata sage belonging to the Vedic traditions that existed on the banks of Saraswati. This myth was created probably because people did not like these rulers. The people of these kingdoms might have attributed the reason for drought and the subsequent decline of the kingdoms upon these sons of Sagara. Sagara indeed had a son named Asamanjas who was rejected by people. Asamanjas used to drawn children of citizen in Sarayu river. This Sarayu was a tributary of Saraswati or a portion of Saraswati river itself.

Asamanjas had a son named Ansuman. Sagara installed Ansuman in throne as his successor. Ansuman had a son named Dilipa. His territories probably lied around the northern course of Saraswati (in Hariyana). He searched for a mighty river to re-established the impoverished Ikswaku kingdom of Saraswati valley and finally found river Ganga as suitable for future settlements. Dilipa could not however establish his kingdom in Ganga river valley. It was his son Bhagiratha who finally established the Ikshwaku kingdom on the banks of Ganga and its tributaries. This is the historical fact hidden in the myth of Bhagiratha's search for Ganga. This is how the Ikshwakus migrated from the Saraswati river basin as it turned into a desert and established themselves at Ganga river basin on the banks of Ganga and its tributaries. The city of Ayodhya was then established on the banks of one of the tributaries of Ganga. The Ikshwaku's renamed this river as Sarayu, in memory of Saraswati or the ancient Sarayu.


Born : approximately in 5200 BC

The following references places the life time of Parasurama (the Rama with the weapon named Parasu) towards the end of Treta Yuga:- Mbh.1.2:- In the interval between the Treta and Dwapara Yugas, Rama the son of Jamadagni great among all who have borne arms, urged by impatience of wrongs, repeatedly smote the noble race of Kshatriyas. Mbh.12.339:- In the Treta age I shall take birth as Rama in the race of Bhrigu, and exterminate the Kshatriyas who will become proud of their strength and possessions.

Military and Ascetic nature of Parasurama

Parasurama's lineage is traced to Richika believed to be the same as the Rishika tribe who at some period in history lived to the north of [[Kashmir. Arjuna in his northern military campaign encountered Rishikas along with the Lohas (Leh). Tracing his lineage further we get that his ancestry is traced to the ancient sage named Bhrigu. Hence Parasurama is also called a Bhargava. Rishikas seems to be a branch of Bhargavas, who were militarily active though they were also a tribe of sages. Arjuna's battle with them attests their military prowess. During the time of Parasu-Rama's father Jamadagni or even before him they migrated to the Gangatic plains and finally settled in Haihaya kingdom ruled by a king named Kartavirya Arjuna. This king appears in the lineage of Yadava kings but whether he really was a Yadava is questionable. During this period there were widespread violence between Kshatriya rulers like Kartavirya Arjuna and tribes like the Bhargavas who were considered as Brahmanas. Jamadagni was a victim of this Kshatriya violence. Parasurama revenged the wrongs of the Kshatriyas committed upon his father by annihilating many Kshatriya rulers. He was well versed in archery and other weaponry. However the major weapon he used was battle-axe (Parasu) which gave him the name Parasu-Rama. He got it probably from the Rishikas (mythologically from Lord Siva, whose abode Kailasa too is in north, close to the kingdom of the Rishikas). There was also another tribe named Parasikas. It is not clear if they too used the weapon Parasu (battle-axe).

Parasurama's war

Parasurama was probably assisted by a Bhargava army that consisted of Rishikas and Parasikas with an infantry division that predominantly used battle-axes (Parasu) as the main weapon. Such an army will be formidable to the conventional army of the Kshatriyas who used bows and arrows as their main weapon and used chariots as their main vehicle for achieving velocity and quick movements in battles. It would be much like the Phalanx formation of the Greek armies. This might have given victory to Parasurama against many Kshatriya armies. Legends in Mahabharata and other texts indicates that Parasurama won twenty-one wars against Kshatriyas. There is a possibility that these twenty-one wars were spread in generation starting from Bargava Aurva a predecessor of Parasurama and yet another hero who revolted against the oppressive deeds of Kshatriya rulers.

As an end result, Parasurama became a much dreaded person among the royal houses of Kshatriyas. Parasurama, the son of Jamadagni (aka the first Parasurama) was a contemporary of Aja the Ikshwaku king at Ayodhya. He also challenged Dasarathi-Rama (of Ramayana fame) who was the grandson of Aja and son of Dasaratha. But then he was old and weak and could not impress Dasarathi-Rama. After the encounter with Rama of Ayodhya, Parasurama choose to retire from military life and became an ascetic like his forefathers.

Other Parasuramas

Like I mentioned earlier many Parasuramas fused into one. It is impossible for the same Parasurama who gave up weapons and became an ascetic (after encountering Dasarathi-Rama), towards the end of Treta Yuga to reappear again towards the end of Dwapara Yuga and teach military science to Bhishma and Karna, the two great warriors of Kurukshetra war (of Mahabharata fame) and to engage in a dual fight Bhishma in his prime youth. These were two different Parasurama's in the lineage of the first Parasurama. The impact of the first Parasurama was so great that anybody in his (Bhargava) lineage, wielding a battle-axe would be termed as a Parasurama (or as a Bhargavarama). In course of time they all became son of Jamadagni and thus their histories fused together to look like the history of a single Parasurama who lived like an immortal!


Born: approximately in 5100 BC

Mbh.12.339:- Towards the close of Treta and the beginning of Dwapara, I shall take birth as Rama, the son of Dasaratha in Ikswhaku's royal line.

Rama leaves Ayodhya

The above mentioned narration clearly indicate that Rama, the son of Dasaratha, was born towards the end of Treta Yuga. He was probably a youth when Parasurama was in his old ages. He was also known as Raghava Rama due to his forefather Raghu who was a famous king. From the epic Ramayana (Rama's travels), we comes to know that Rama traveled far and wide due to various reasons. Leaving Ayodhya (Ayodhya in Faisabad, Uttar Pradesh) he followed the southern route formerly traversed by sage Agastya. His first settlement was Chitrakuta (Chitrakut), a hilly terrain in the boarder of Uttar_Pradesh and Madhya_Pradesh. Then he traveled further south, crossed Vindhya mountains and entered into peninsular India.

Rama's southern journey

Here he lived at Panchavati, which was then mostly covered by forests and was called Dandakaranya, the forests of Dandaka. Remnant of the name Dandakaranya forest is now seen in Dantewada, the southern most district of Chattisgad. Panchavati is popularly identified with Nasik in Maharashtra. Another strong candidate is Bhadrachalam in Andhra_Pradesh. This location is probable if we consider that Rama, deprived of his right to throne by his step-mother Kaikeyi, went to live in his mother's kingdom viz. Dakshina Kosala. This kingdom lied to the north of Bhadrachalam in Chattisgad and western parts of Orissa. While living in Panchavati Rama encountered Rakshasa rulers like Khara, who reigned at Janasthana in this region under Ravana the emperor of the Rakshasas. Ravana had his capital at Lanka (Srilanka). The whole of the eastern coastal region of southern-India as well as the Godavari river basin was under his direct or indirect rule. Rama's wife Sita was abducted by Ravana. Rama, in search of his wife met kings of the Vanara tribe like Sugriva and Vanara leaders like Hanuman in their kingdom named Kishkindha (identified to be the regions around the Tungabhadra dam and Hampi in Karnataka). With the help of Vanara army Rama marched to Pandya kingdom (southern Tamilnadu and finally reached Lanka (Srilanka). After defeating Ravana and regaining Sita, Rama returned to Ayodhya.

Further Reading

  1. - Historical Rama
See Also Yugas-Part1 Yugas-Part2 Yugas-Part3 Yugas-Part4 Yugas-Part5
12,000 BC Krita-Yuga1 Treta-Yuga1 Dwapara-Yuga1 Kali-Yuga1 2,000 BC
2000 BC Krita-Yuga2 Treta-Yuga2 Dwapara-Yuga2 Kali-Yuga2 500 AD

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