The yugas (Cycles of tyme) are ancient calculation of time that describe a cycle of human development that not only predicts highly advanced ages in the future, but indicates that they have occurred in the past as well. The yuga cycle includes ages less advanced than our own, ages full of ignorance and darkness, and ages so much more advanced than our own present age that we cannot fully comprehend them. And, as is implicit in the meaning of the word “cycle,” we learn that once mankind’s peak is reached, there is inevitable decline; and once mankind’s darkest point is reached, there is inevitable advancement.
The yugas are a tradition in India that goes back thousands of years. The great yoga guru Swami Sri Yukteswar does not base his understanding of the yugas on tradition alone, however. Sri Yukteswar’s insights spring from self-realization. His understanding of the yugas is born of deep intuition. Yet his explanation is clear and succinct, and, as he intended, approachable by the Western scientific mind.
Sri Yukteswar outlines the yugas in the introduction to his book, The Holy Science. Writing in 1894, Sri Yukteswar predicted several developments that have since come to pass – the rapid development of knowledge in the twentieth century, and the discovery that energy underlies all matter. Sri Yukteswar’s explanation predates Einstein’s E=mc2 by over ten years. These were not predictions in the usual sense of the intuitive perception of singular events; rather Sri Yukteswar’s predictions arose from an understanding of the consequence of the change in mankind’s consciousness from one yuga to the next. The most recent transition from one yuga to the next was fully completed in the year 1900 AD, just five years before Einstein’s conceptions fundamentally changed our worldview.
Sri Yukteswar’s prediction, however, was not about Einstein as an individual. Had it not been Einstein who perceived and formulated the relationship between energy and matter, it would have been someone else. What Sri Yukteswar predicted was the inevitability that this knowledge would come to light, due to the fundamental change in the consciousness of mankind taking place at that time.
Sri Yukteswar is known to the world primarily through the writings of Paramhansa Yogananda, his foremost disciple and author of Autobiography of a Yogi. Sri Yukteswar and Yogananda shared a mission to present the teachings of India in such a way that Western minds could appreciate and understand them within the context of Western thinking and modern science. Yogananda lived in the United States from 1920 until his death in 1952. He was a tireless and inspiring exponent of the teachings of yoga, and was able to present the ancient teachings of India in a fresh, clear, and thoroughly modern way.
This book continues their tradition by presenting the concept of the yugas in the context of Western thinking, science, and scholarship. We believe you will find that the simple concept of the cycle of the yugas – Sri Yukteswar needed only twelve brief pages to describe it – has profound implications for both the inner and outer man. For, as you will learn as you journey through this book, the inner and outer man are inextricably linked.
Not all traditions use the same dating for the yugas. I prefer the dating of Sri Yukteswar as outlined in his book, The Holy Science. Sri Yukteswar uses the duration of the yugas found in the Vedas and the Book of Manu. Satya Yuga is 4000 years long with 400 year transitions at the beginning and the end for a total of 4800 years (4000+400+400=4800). Treta Yuga is 3000 years long with 300 year transitions at the beginning and end for a total of 3600 years (3000+300+300=3600). Dwapara Yuga is 2000 years long with 200 year transitions at the beginning and end for a total of 2400 years (2000+200+200=2400). Kali Yuga is 1000 years with 100 year transitions at the beginning and end for a total of 1200 years (1000+100+100=1200). By adding together the length of all the yugas — 4800+3600+2400+1200 — we see that the ascending and descending half of the yuga cycle each last 12,000 years, for a total cycle of 24,000 years.
Sri Yukteswar calculated that the last Dwapara Yuga ended in 700BC, shortly after the passing of Krishna. According to his calculations we passed through both descending and ascending Kali Yugas from 700BC to 1700AD, and into ascending Dwapara Yuga transition in 1700AD and into Dwapara proper in 1900AD. Our current Dwapara Yuga will end in 4100AD, followed by ascending Treta Yuga until 7700AD, followed by ascending Satya Yuga until 11,500AD.
Sri Yukteswar said that our current Dwapara Yuga bestows on mankind the awareness of energy and the fine structures of matter — thus we call it the energy age. In the energy age we have learned that all matter is energy in a condensed form. We have also begun to become more aware of subtle energy — life force, prana, chi — that is the gateway to deeper spiritual awareness. Many practices, such as meditation, yoga postures, and acupuncture, whose effectiveness arises from becoming aware of and using subtle energy, come down to us from the previous descending Dwapara energy age that began in 3100BC and ended in 700BC.
If you would like to know more about the yugas, I have a website devoted to the subject: http://www.theyugas.com
Joy to You