What Are the Yugas?
In the West people often view time as linear, with the future being more evolved than the past. In India, however, time is viewed a cyclical, that people slowly evolve, then slowly devolve, only to slowly evolve again. This is called the “yuga cycle,” and it is divided into four different “yugas” or ages. The highest age is Satya Yuga, then Treta Yuga, then Dwapara Yuga, and the least evolved age is Kali Yuga.
The yugas are further broken up by whether they are ascending or descending, meaning whether we are in the part of the cycle that is going up toward the higher ages, or heading down to the lower ones. The entire cycle takes 24,000 years. Sri Yukteswar, a renowned Indian astrologer and self-realized soul, gives us in his book The Holy Science some idea of what the different yugas are like.
Kali Yuga — The Age of Materialism
During Kali Yuga, humans are the least evolved, spiritually and intellectually. People are generally only able to comprehend material things, and live lives of ignorance. Will power was very low and most people passively accepted their fate. Most written accounts of ancient knowledge were destroyed.
Religion was rigid, dogmatic, and intolerant. Some people did know higher religious teachings, but they had to hide to avoid persecution. Of course in every yuga their are souls whose consciousness reflects a higher age, and the world’s last Kali Yuga was no exception, having brilliant philosophers and artists. Near the end of ascending Kali Yuga (1700 AD) the Renaissance happened and a lot of knowledge that was thought lost was found.
Dwapara Yuga — The Age of Energy
Dwapara Yuga, the age we are living in now, is referred to as the age of energy because in this age we are better able to understand and harness energy than in Kali Yuga. In this Dwapara Yuga, technology is booming and all sorts of new religions, philosophies, and scientific discoveries are popping up. We now know that matter and energy are interchangeable.
This is the age when we learn to transcend space and distance. We are already doing it somewhat, with telephone, internet, and high speed transportation, and in the future we will probably discover the secret of instantaneous travel allowing us to wander among the stars. Unfortunately, we still have a long way to go. Dwapara Yuga people are extremely self-interested, and so our motivation to achieve is usually selfish. And there are higher ways of perceiving the universe than just reason. In Treta Yuga, we learn how to use our intuition.
Treta Yuga — The Age of Thought
In Treta Yuga, we recognize that everything is interconnected. We will have strong mental powers such as telekinesis, mental telepathy, and the ability to manifest whatever we need. If there is any war, it will not be widespread; most people will be peace-loving and compassionate. It will not necessarily be more technologically advanced than Dwapara Yuga, just more spiritually advanced. Being more spiritually advanced and able to manifest at will whatever we need, we may actually leave technology behind and choose to live more simply and naturally.
The big difference that separates the lower two yugas, Kali and Dwapara, from the upper two, Treta and Satya, is self-interest. People in Kali and Dwapara Yuga are often greedy and live only to help themselves and sometimes their family and friends. In Treta and Satya Yuga however, people recognize that we’re all connected and so work for the good of everyone as much as themselves.
Satya Yuga — The Age of Spirit
Satya Yuga is currently incomprehensible to us, as is Treta Yuga, however, Sri Yukteswar does say in his book, “The human intellect can comprehend all, even God the Spirit beyond this visible world.” This is the age when we will be so spiritually advanced, that God himself is part of our everyday experience. We will be able see God in everyone and everything. Our intuition will be completely developed, and will we lives of happiness and natural simplicity. We will understand the nature of the universe, and be able to communicate telepathically to anywhere in the world.
There are many myths about this “Golden Age” in many different cultures. Some of the things that these myths share are:
- People are considered “demi-gods” and can able to fly and create things at will
- People look young their entire lives and do not get diseases
- People can communicate with animals and live in harmony with nature and each other
- The weather is perfect and there is plenty of food
- Everyone can communicate in one language
Although this cycle of the yugas is not currently accepted in Western science, there is plenty of evidence for it that is known to the West, but currently ignored. For more about this evidence, see The Yugas by Joseph Selbie and David Steinmetz. If we can better understand our past and where our world is headed, it will help us to make better decisions now. We can also hold the Satya Yuga man up as an example of how we should behave: in harmony with nature and the rest of mankind, treating everything as if it were a part of ourselves, because, underneath the appearance of life, it is.