Kali Yuga and Catur Yugas


Apr 16, INDIA (SUN) —

What is Kali Yuga?

Commonly held view: As we understand it today, it is a period of 432,000 years duration, the fourth in a set of Catur Yugas: Krutha, Thretha, Dwapara and Kali. Dwapara is 2 times as long as Kali, Thretha is 3 times as long as Kali and Krutha is 4 times as long as Kali Yuga. Krutha Yuga is a pure period and Kali Yuga is a bad time. Today we are in the first of 4 quarters (padas) of Kali Yuga. At the end of Kali Yuga, an avatar of Vishnu called Kalki will destroy all the evildoers. This much anyone who is moderately well read will tell you.

We know that Vyasa started writing the Mahabharata in Year 1 of Kali Yuga and completed it in year 4 of Kali Yuga, as per his reckoning. (Given in the Nannaya Bharatam). When we pray, we say, “Jambudvipe, bharatha varshe, bharatha khande, Meroyah dakshina digbhage,” then give some geographical info giving our relation to rivers and holy places, Svetta Varaha Kalpe, Dwitiya Praharardhe, Vaiswata Manvantare, Kaliyuge prathama pade, name of the year in the 60 year cycle - Prabhava, Vibhava, etc.”... then go on with the tithi vara, nakshatra information. We reckon that we are still in the first quarter of the Kali Yuga.

History and the start date of Kali Yuga:

The Mahabharata war occurred towards the end of Dwapara Yuga and a Kali Yuga started around the time of Sri Krishna’s death. When did Kali Yuga begin? Arybhatta made some statements by which we believe that Kali Yuga started in 3102 BC.

  • Aryabhatta noted that 3600 or 360 years (depending on how we interpret the shloka) of Kali Yuga were just completed when he was 23 years old and when it was year 421 in the Saka calendar. From this we know that the year 1 of the saka that he was talking about occurred in the year 3179 of Kali Yuga that he was referring to. The figure of 432,000 years for the duration of Kali Yuga was given by Aryabhatta, based on the line-up of planets.

  • Markandeya said that Kali Yuga was 1200 years ago and that the Caturyuga was 12000 years old. (See Markandeya Yugas.

Markandeya was senior to Vyasa and Aryabhatta was later to Vyasa. Markandeya’s durations are quoted by Vyasa in the Mahabharata. It is very likely that Veda Vyasa was using Markandeya’s yuga durations.

  • Many scholars take the view that Markandeya was talking about a divine year which is 360 times as long as a human year. Tilak says that 1 day and night of a Deva = 1 human year of a human, because those days were measured at the poles, not in some other loka, and therefore 1 divine year = 1 human year.

The duration of the Yugas were different as per the reckoning of Markandeya and Aryabhatta. But were their start dates or Zero Points the same?

Unique eclipse pair combination just before the Bharata War:

Dr. Balakrishna has done a detailed analysis based on astronomical evens mentioned in the Mahabharata and gives two likely candidates for the Bharata war. They are 3129 BC, 27 years before Sri Krishna departed in 3102 BC, the start of Kali Yuga, and 2559 BCJ.

If the Bharata war occurred in 3129 BC, then the Zero Points of Markandeya’s Kali Yuga and Aryabhatta’s Kali Yuga coincided near the time of the Bharata war.

    1. Many scholars give different dates for the Bharata war and give different reasons to prove why they are right.
    2. As per Vyasa and others, year 1 of Kali Yuga started with Sri Krishna’s death or thereabouts, a few decades after the Mahabharata war.
    3. Saunaka and other rishis performed a Yajna in Naimisaranya to ward off the evil effects of Kali Yuga. We have plenty of literature to show that the brahmans were afraid of Kali Yuga, because they predicted (fairly accurately) that their supremacy would end in Kali Yuga.
    4. We know that Vyasa said that Kali Yuga started in the year of death of Krishna. Some say the very moment of His death, and others say, thereabouts.
    5. The brahmans were very afraid of what would happen with the death of Sri Krishna, even though Parikshit proved a great and able ruler who contained the evil effects of Kali for about 60 years, till his death.
    6. We know that Yudhisthira ruled justly for some years of Kali Yuga, and left for the hills soon after Sri Krishna’s death.
    7. Vyasa does not mention the Saka Era, which Aryabhatta does. Vyasa was not aware of the “Saka Era” that we talk about today. But the word sakam simply meant era, and that word was used as in Jayabhyudaya Yudhisthira Sakam.
    8. We know that Saraswathi river had a lesser water flow, because of Vyasa’s request ‘not to make so much noise and to let him concentrate’, when he was writing the Mahabharatam. So the drying up of the Saraswati was around this time. If we look at the time the Thar became a desert, that will give us another clue.
    9. In Markandeya’s definition of Kali Yuga, the first pada of Kali Yuga was 250 years long and started after a 100 year Kali Yuga dawn.
    10. So when we talk of the past, we overestimate the durations. Vyasa’s idea of the Dwapara Yuga was possibly 2400 years the same as Markandeya’s.
    11. The Mahapralaya (Universal Dissolution) that Markandeya told the Pandavas about was 1,200 short of 1,2000 years before their time, it was 10,800 years ago as per Markandeya. If Kali Yuga did start in 3102 BC as indicated above, then the Mahapralaya was 15,910 years ago. (See 'Ice Ages').
    12. Going by Vyasa and Markandeya and by a Kali Yuga start date of 3102 BC, we have Satya Yuga starting in 1902 BC(E) and going on till 2898 AD(CE). There are some contemporary Rishis who agree that we are in the fourth quarter of Satya Yuga and we are approaching a Yuga Sandhi, the dusk of the Satya Yuga that lasts 400 years and will start in 2498 AD (CE).

Timeline: So far:

Sri Krishna’s death, Dwaraka drowning Kali Yuga begins (3102 BCE). (The NIO and ASI estimate that the Dwaraka found under the sea maybe not later than 2000 BC - (but I have more reading to do about this. Two more underwater cities have been found near the gulf of Cambay….)

Vyasa writes Mahabharatam from Kali Yuga 1 to Kali Yuga 4 (3102 - 3098 BCE)

Pariskshit dies in Kali Yuga 60 (3042 BCE).

Aryabhatta says that he is 23 in year 360 (or 3600) Kali Yuga (2742 BCE or 498 AD).


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