Yugas Mapped to Common Era

Share:- Facebook

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

For convenience the article about Yuga is divided into five parts.

  1. Emergence of the Yuga System
  2. Yuga Definitions in Mahabharata
  3. Yugas Mapped to Common Era
  4. Events in Chatur Yuga 1
  5. Events after Chatur Yuga 1

This is the third part of the article about Yuga, where we will map the extended Yuga system into modern time frames (Common Era).

Introduction

Yuga Definition originated from the observations of precession of Earth's axis of rotation by ancient Indian astronomers. After many thousands of years (probably more than 13000 years) of observations , they concluded that the axial-projection point (projection of Earth's axis upon the imaginary celestial sphere aka the sky) is moving round in a circle at the rate of 12 degrees (one Nakshatra) per 1000 years. They recognized that this knowledge can be used to record events separated by large amounts of time, of the order of thousands of years.

These ancient astronomers considered 1000 years as a unit of time called Yuga. They used the ratio 1:1:1:1 to define a 4000 year long Chatur Yuga (four successive Yugas). Subsequently, they also used the ratio 4:3:2:1 to define a 10000 year long Chatur Yuga. This ratio probably came from the game of dice, which was one of the central theme of Mahabharata. The game of dice used the ratio 4:3:2:1 during successive throws of a dice. This 10000 Yuga definition was thus the active definition during the core events of Mahabharata and was narrated thus by Sanjaya, the minister of Kuru king. After Kurukshetra war, during Kali Yuga, there were several schools of different Yuga definitions. Most active definition among them was a 2500 year long Chatur Yuga. A 1000 year long Chatur Yuga too was active. Some also continued with the 10000 year long Chatur Yuga definition. Thus the Yuga System gradually lost its credibility after Kali Yuga 1 (3000 BC to 2000 BC) and became totally obsolete by 500 AD (i.e. by the end of Kali-2, basing on a 2500 years long Chatur Yuga 2). By this time Aryabhata's 4,320,000 years long Yuga definition became prominent. It was also based on the ratio 4:3:2:1. Basing on this definition, people (Indians) after this period, believed that they are living in a near perpetual (432,000 years long) Kali Yuga which will end only in 427,000 AD, after more than 4 Lakhs (400 thousand) more years from now!

Sanjaya's 10000 year long Chatur Yuga

The mapping shown in the table below is based on the 10,000 year long Yuga Definition that was active during Kurukshetra war as narrated by Dhritarashtra's minister Sanjaya.

Yuga Durations Years
Krita 4000
Treta 3000
Dwapara 2000
Kali 1000
Yuga Common Era
Krita Begin 12000 BC
Treta Begin 8000 BC
Dwapara Begin 5000 BC
Kali Begin 3000 BC
Krita 2 Begin 2000 BC
Treta 2 Begin 2000 AD
Dwapara 2 Begin 5000 AD
Kali 2 Begin 7000 AD
Krita 3 Begin 8000 AD

As per this definition, Krita Yuga started 2000 years before the end of last Ice Age (10000 BC) and ended in 8000 BC and was 4000 years long. Subsequently Treta of 3000 years, Dwapara of 2000 years and Kali of 1000 years occurred. Kali Yuga began in 3000 BC after Kurukshetra war and ended in 2000 BC. After this a 4000 year long Krita Yuga (Krita Yuga 2) began in 2000 BC. Interestingly it ended around 2000 AD which is our current times! As per this mapping we are now in the very beginning of the second Treta Yuga!

The limitation of this model is that it does not account for many events mentioned in Mahabharata, that can be placed in a second Treta Yuga that occurred some 2000 years ago.

Markandeya's 12,000 year long Chatur Yuga

Markandeya Yuga definition is 2000 years more longer than the Sanjaya's Yuga definition. This 12000 year long Yuga seems to have developed many centuries after the Kurukshetra War. It used the concept of dawn and eve, which seems to be a 1000 year long Chatur-Yuga compounded upon the 10,000 year long Chatur-Yuga counting twice as dawn and eve. This growth of Yuga duration from 10000 to 12000 was probably introduced to synchronize it with the 12 year long Brihaspati Yuga (period of revolution of the planet Jupiter).

Yuga Durations Years
Krita 4000
Treta 3000
Dwapara 2000
Kali 1000
Krita-Dawn 400
Treta-Dawn 300
Dwapara-Dawn 200
Kali-Dawn 100
Yuga Common Era
Krita Dawn Begin 13900 BC
Krita Begin 13500 BC
Krita Eve Begin 9500 BC
Treta Dawn Begin 9100 BC
Treta Begin 8800 BC
Treta Eve Begin 5800 BC
Dwapara Dawn Begin 5500 BC
Dwapara Begin 5300 BC
Dwapara Eve Begin 3300 BC
Kali Dawn Begin 3100 BC
Kali Begin 3000 BC
Kali Eve Begin 2000 BC
Krita 2 Dawn Begin 1900 BC
Krita 2 Begin 1500 BC
Krita 2 Eve Begin 2500 AD
Treta 2 Dawn Begin 2900 AD
Treta 2 Begin 3200 AD
Treta 2 Eve Begin 6200 AD

Markandeya's Yuga definition makes the beginning of Krita Yuga close to 15,000 BC. This will be well into the last Ice Age that ended at 10000 BC. During this time Northern India would be snow covered. However a civilization can then flourish in the southern parts of India. Deva king Indra could be then living in the Southern India. However, the southern end of Saraswati basin near the Arabian Sea could be warm then, but chances of the river flowing then is very less. There can however be riverine and sea shore cultures in India then on the banks of rivers like Narmada, Godavari, Krishna and Kaveri. This culture can well be extended to the southern end of Saraswati Basin.

As per this mapping, we are now living in the second Krita Yuga. This model also does not give any scope for a second Treta Yuga in our past as hinted by some narrations in Mahabharata.

A 2500 year long second Chatur Yuga

One of the most likely possibility by which Yugas can be mapped to common era considers a smaller Chatur Yuga after the 10000 year long first Chatur Yuga. This possibility arose because there was a confusion about Yuga System during the first Kali Yuga (3000 BC to 2000 BC). Then different people calculated Yugas differently. The next 1000 years (2000 BC to 1000 BC) was considered differently as an ascending Kali Yuga and as the second Krita Yuga. There were debates. Finally the belief that Krita Yuga, not an ascending-Kali Yuga, succeeded the Kali Yuga gained prominence. Subsequent Yugas had one quarter less than the previous ones. Thus the 1000 year long Krita-2 was succeeded by a 750 year long Treta-2, a 500 year long Dwapara-2 and a 250 year long Kali-2. The total duration of the second Chatur Yuga thus became 2500 years. This was about 1/10th of the total duration of one revolution of axial-precession (26000 years) and had some credibility. Its duration was also close to 2700 long Saptarshi Yuga.

Durations of Chatur Yuga 1
Yuga Durations Years
Krita-1 4000
Treta-1 3000
Dwapara-1 2000
Kali-1 1000
Durations of Chatur Yuga 2
Yuga Durations Years
Krita-2 1000
Treta-2 750
Dwapara-2 500
Kali-2 250
Yuga Common Era
Krita Begin 12000 BC
Treta Begin 8000 BC
Dwapara Begin 5000 BC
Kali Begin 3000 BC
Krita 2 Begin 2000 BC
Treta 2 Begin 1000 BC
Dwapara 2 Begin 250 BC
Kali 2 Begin 250 AD
Krita 3 Begin 500 AD
Treta 3 Begin 1500 AD
Dwapara 3 Begin 2250 AD
Kali 3 Begin 2750 AD
Krita 4 Begin 3000 AD

As per this mapping we had two periods of each of the four Yugas in the past. This is needed to explain some of the events narrated in Mahabharata. Mahabharata grew even after Kurukshetra War period. Especially the books 3 (Vana), 12 (Santi) and 13 (Anusasana) contains narration of events occurred up to 500 AD, which as per this mapping, is the end of the second Kali Yuga (250 AD to 500 AD). Mahabharata thus contains information of events occurred in two Chatur Yugas:- Chatur-Yuga-1 (12,000 BC to 2000 BC) and Chatur-Yuga-2 (2000 BC to 500 AD).

Some Krita Yuga events took place in remote past, close to the end of the last Ice age, which can be appropriately placed in Krita Yuga 1 (12,000 BC to 8000 BC). Examples are the mention of four-tusked, light colored tall elephants like Airavata, weapons made of bone and skeletal remains (Vajra of Indra), release of waters from permafrost (by Indra after slaying Vritra) etc. Some Krita Yuga events that mentions about sacrificial compounds, temples, educational centers etc can be similarly placed in Krita Yuga 2 (2000 BC to 1000 BC).

Similarly some events fall into Treta-1 (8000 BC to 5000 BC)) while some others fall into Treta-2 (1000 BC to 250 BC). This will be good news for some researchers who want to place Ramayana events around 600 BC to 500 BC, which will be then falling in Treta-2. While such a placement is done by these researchers based on their studies, I, for the moment, place Ramayana events (birth and life of Rama) in Treta-1, more precisely towards the end of Treta-1 (5000 BC). A 600 BC-500 BC date for Ramayana events will make it contemporaneous to the emergence of Buddhism (600 BC to 400 BC). Then it should have been recorded in Buddhist texts with very high intensity. That is however not the case.

Regarding Kurukshetra War, I place it around 3000 BC, because that is the date most of the researchers agree with. (B. N. Achar: 3067 BC; K. Sadananda: 3067 BC; P. V. Holey: 3143 BC; as against P. V. Vartak: 5561 BC; S. Balakrishna: 2559 BC and I. N. Iyengar: 1478 BC). Thus it occurred towards the end of the first Dwapara Yuga. The era of Mahabharata is thus Dwapara-1 (5000 BC to 3000 BC).

The beginning of Kali Yuga-1 (3000 BC) was dominated by a personality named Kali and its end (2000 BC) by another named Kalki. Following this model we are now in the third Treta Yuga (1500 AD to 2250 AD)!

Many 1000 year long Chatur Yugas

A variation to the mapping mentioned above is based on 1000 year long Chatur Yuga. Remember that the original Yuga based on axial-precession was 1000 years long (time taken for axis-projection point to traverse one Nakshatra (12-degrees) in the sky). First Chatur Yuga was 10000 year long as it used the ratio 4:3:2:1 as a multiplier to make 4000 year long Krita, 3000 year long Treta and so on. Subsequent Catur Yugas used the ratio to divide the 1000 years making 400 year long Krita, 300 year long Treta and so on. Thus many Chatur Yugas repeated in every millennium since 2000 BC.

Durations of Chatur Yuga 1
Yuga Durations Years
Krita 4000
Treta 3000
Dwapara 2000
Kali 1000
Durations of other Chatur Yugas
Yuga Durations Years
Krita 400
Treta 300
Dwapara 200
Kali 100
Yuga Common Era
Krita Begin 12000 BC
Treta Begin 8000 BC
Dwapara Begin 5000 BC
Kali Begin 3000 BC
Krita 2 Begin 2000 BC
Treta 2 Begin 1600 BC
Dwapara 2 Begin 1300 BC
Kali 2 Begin 1100 AD
Krita 3 Begin 1000 AD
Treta 3 Begin 600 AD
Dwapara 3 Begin 300 AD
Kali 3 Begin 100 AD
Krita 4 Begin 0 AD
Treta 4 Begin 400 AD
Dwapara 4 Begin 700 AD
Kali 4 Begin 900 AD
Krita 5 Begin 1000 AD
Treta 5 Begin 1400 AD
Dwapara 5 Begin 1700 AD
Kali 5 Begin 1900 AD
Krita 6 Begin 2000 AD
Treta 6 Begin 2400 AD
Dwapara 6 Begin 2700 AD
Kali 6 Begin 2900 AD
Krita 7 Begin 3000 AD

The limitation of this model is that the Yugas are too short and too numerous so that it is difficult to make any accurate placement of events mentioned in Mahabharata and other texts in any of the Yugas. One possibility is considering that all the events mentioned in Mahabharata as confined up to Kali 3 (before 0 AD) or up to Krita 4 (before 400 AD) or even upto Kali 4 (1000 AD). Two or three consecutive 1000 year long Chatur Yugas:- Chatur Yuga 2 (2000 BC to 1000 BC), Chatur Yuga 3 (1000 BC to 0 AD) and Chatur Yuga 4 ( 0 AD to 1000 AD) still poses difficulties in proper placing of events upon Yugas.

As per this model, we are in Krita Yuga 6 since 2000 AD!

A 4000 year long Chatur Yuga 1

The first Chatur Yuga was considered as 10000 years long based on the definition current during Kurukshetra War (Sanjaya's definition, based on the ratio 4:3:2:1). There is a variant for this. It is the 4000 year long Yuga based on the ratio 1:1:1:1. This is a valid variation that can be derived from the original Yuga definition of 1000 years. There is a possibility that this definition was current in periods before Kurukshetra war. With this possibility we get the following Chatur Yuga 1:-

  1. Krita Yuga 1(6000 BC to 5000 BC) : 1000 years long
  2. Treta Yuga 1(5000 BC to 4000 BC) : 1000 years long
  3. Dwapara Yuga 1(4000 BC to 3000 BC) : 1000 years long
  4. Kali Yuga 1(3000 BC to 2000 BC) : 1000 years long

Averaged 7000 year Chatur Yuga 1

Assuming that a 4000 year long Chatur Yuga was active before Kurukshetra war (probably many centuries before it) and a 10,000 year long Chatur Yuga that was current during Kurukshetra War, we can mathematically reconstruct a Chatur Yuga that is the average of both of these. Based on this Kali Yuga 1 will be 1000 years long ((1000 + 1000) / 2). Dwapara-1 will be 1500 years long ((1000 + 2000) / 2), Treta-1 will be 2000 years long and Krita-1 will be 2500 years long. Adding up we get a 7000 years long Chatur Yuga 1 as follows:-

  1. Krita Yuga 1(9000 BC to 6500 BC) : 2500 years long
  2. Treta Yuga 1(6500 BC to 4500 BC) : 2000 years long
  3. Dwapara Yuga 1(4500 BC to 3000 BC) : 1500 years long
  4. Kali Yuga 1(3000 BC to 2000 BC) : 1000 years long

Averaging is a mathematical approximation. But this is the best we can do to represent a Yuga definition that continuously change the duration of the Yugas with respect to time.

Conclusion

It is hoped that, further analysis of the ancient Indian texts, including Mahabharata may help us eliminate one or other Yuga definitions and enable us to arrive at a more concrete Yuga time framework. This will allow us to accurately narrate ancient Indian history starting from the end of last Ice age (10000 BC) or beyond.

References

  1. How many Yugas are there?
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

Created by Jijith Nadumuri at 16 Jul 2010 11:24 and updated at 18 Dec 2010 13:59

Share:- Facebook

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License