A number of ancient cultures believed in the Cycle of World Ages, in which we gradually descend from a state of spiritual perfection and material abundance to a state of ignorance and lack.
In ancient India this was called the Cycles of the South. The doctrine of such Cycles, called “Yugas”, tells us that we are now living in Kali Yuga – the age of darkness, when moral virtue and mental faculties reach their lowest point in the Cycle.
Indian epic“Mahabharata”describes Kali Yuga as a period when the “World Soul” is black; only one fourth of the virtue remains, which slowly diminishes to zero at the end of Kali Yuga. People turn to evil. Their lives are dominated by illness, apathy, anger, natural disasters, anguish and fear of poverty. Penalties, sacrifices and religious rites are almost never performed. All creatures degrade. Everything changes, without exception.
The Kali Yuga (Iron Age) was preceded by three other Yugas: Satya or Krita Yuga (Golden Age), Treta Yuga (Silver Age) and Dvapara Yuga (Bronze Age). In the Mahabharata Hanuman gives Bhima, the prince of the Pandavas, the following description of the Yuga Cycles:
“Krita Yuga was so named because there was only one faith and all people were perfect: therefore they did not have to perform religious rites … Men did not buy or sell; there were neither poor nor rich; there was no need to work, because everything that people needed was achieved by the power of intention … Krita Yuga was disease-free; there has been no aging over the years; there was no hatred, vanity, evil, sorrow, fear. All humanity could attain supreme bliss. The Universal Soul was White … Identification of oneself with the Universal Soul was the only faith of the perfect age. In the Treta-yuga sacrifices began and the World Soul became Red; virtue has decreased by a quarter. Humanity sought the truth, and carried out religious rites; people got what they wanted through making sacrifices. In Dvapara Yuga, the aspect of the World Soul was Yellow: righteousness was halved. The Veda was divided into four parts, and although some had knowledge of the four Vedas, others knew only three or one. The mental faculties have decreased. Truthfulness diminished, and desires, sickness and distress appeared; because of which people had to repent. It was an age of decadence due to the prevalence of sin.”.
And now we live in the dark times of Kali-yuga, when goodness and virtue have almost disappeared from the world. But when did Kali Yuga begin? And when will it end?
Despite the complex theological structure that describes the characteristics of this age, the dates of the beginning and end of Kali Yuga remain a secret. The generally accepted date for the beginning of Kali Yuga is 3102 BC, thirty-five years after the completion of the great battle of the Mahabharata. This is surprisingly close to the proposed start of the current Mayan Great Cycle of 3114 BC.
In general, the date of the beginning of Kali Yuga is considered to be February 17/18, 3102 BC. – was calculated based on information from the Sanskrit astronomical treatise “Surya Siddhanta”. According to this treatise, at the beginning of Kali Yuga, five “geocentric planets” (that is, planets visible to the naked eye) – Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn – were in 0 ° of the constellation Aries (near the star zeta Piscium ).
However, modern calculations performed by Richard Thompson show that on February 17/18, 3102 BC, five geocentric planets were in the sky in an arc of about 42 °, and were scattered across the three zodiacal signs – Aries, Pisces and Aquarius. This should in no way be considered a connection. A much more correct “alignment” of the planets took place in the previous and subsequent centuries.
And the most important thing is that Surya Siddhanta does not indicate anywhere that such an alignment of the planets took place at the beginning of Kali-yuga. On the contrary, Surya Siddhanta explicitly states that this conjunction of the planets at 0 ° Aries occurs at the end of the Golden Age (Satya / Krita Yuga). The text says:
“Now, at the end of the Golden Age (Krita Yuga), all the planets, due to their unfavorable movement, except for their nodes and apses, are joined together in the first sign of Aries.” .
Unfortunately, this simple statement has been misrepresented by some early commentators. In an effort to find an astronomical justification for the date 3102 BC, it was subsequently made public as the fact of the beginning of the Kali Yuga.
In ancient Indian astronomy, it was generally accepted that at the beginning of the present order of things, all the planets begin to move from 0 ° Aries and return to the same position in the heavens at regular intervals. This leads to their universal connection. According to Surya Siddhanta, such a union occurs at the end of the Golden Age.
Similar information about the conjunction of the planets is also present in ancient Greek texts. In the Timaeus, Plato mentions the “Perfect Year”, which ends at the moment when the Sun, Moon and all the planets return to their original position, despite all their movements.
This idea was supported in the 3rd century by the Roman writer Censorinus. He argued that the orbits of the Sun, the Moon and the five planets pass through one complete “Great Year of Heraclitus”, returning simultaneously to the same sign where they once were . This “Great Year” was known by various names – “Perfect Year”, “Platonic Year”, “Highest Year of Aristotle”, etc. It was variously calculated as 12 954 years (Cicero) or 10 800 years (Heraclitus).
There is no doubt that the date of the beginning of the Kali Yuga is 3102 BC. not based on information from Surya Siddhanta or other astronomical text. The date almost flies out of nowhere. It is sometimes argued that the date was obtained from the calculations of the famous astronomer Aryabhata in the Sanskrit text Aryabhatia, where he writes:
“When sixty times sixty years (ie 3600 years) or three quarters of the Yuga have passed, twenty-three years have passed since the moment of birth.”.
This means that Aryabhata wrote the text when he was 23 years old, and 3600 years have passed for the yuga in which he lived. The problem here is that we do not know when Aryabhata was born or when he composed Aryabhatia. He does not even mention Kali-yuga, but simply states that 3600 yuga years have passed.
Scholars usually assume that the Kali Yuga began in 3102 BC and then use this phrase to confirm the creation of Aryabhatia in 499 AD. However, we cannot use reverse logic. That is, we cannot say that the Kali Yuga probably began in 3102 BC, since Aryabhatia was compiled in 499 AD, since we do not know when Aryabhata lived or finished his work.
Another source is the inscription in Aikhol from Pulakshin II of Badami, which was carved 3735 years after the battle of the descendants of Bharata or 556 years of the reign of the Saka kings. If we take the beginning of the Saki era as 78 AD, then the Bharat war took place in 3102 BC, and 35 years after the war, the Kali Yuga began in 3067 BC.
It should be remembered that there is also an old Saka era, the beginning of which is disputed. Various dates have been proposed by scholars ranging from 83 to 383. BC. If the inscription in Aihole refers to the era of Old Saka, then the era of Kali begins several hundred years before 3102 BC.
The truth is that there are no texts or inscriptions that give an unambiguous date for the beginning of Kali Yuga. There is no astronomical basis for it, and we have no evidence that Aryabhata or any other astronomer calculated this date. Until the 6th century AD the date does not appear in any Sanskrit text or inscription.
It could have been invented or taken from another calendar by later astronomers. The uncertainty surrounding the origin of this very important chronological milestone makes its authenticity highly questionable.
However, the task of finding out this date on the basis of ancient Sanskrit texts is fraught with difficulties. The reason is that the information about Cycles South contains a number of inaccuracies. In many Sanskrit texts, the Cycle of 12,000 years was artificially overstated. An abnormally high value of 4,320,000 years was obtained due to the introduction of a multiplication factor of “360”.
The coefficient denoted the number of “human years” making up one “divine year”. The famous Sanskrit scholar and national leader of India B.G. Tilak mentioned in his book The Arctic House in the Vedas (1903):
“The authors of most of the Puranas written in the first centuries of the Christian era naturally did not believe that Kali Yuga was over … Therefore, an attempt was made to extend the duration of Kali Yuga by converting 1000 (or 1200) ordinary human years into the same number of divine years. One divine year or the year of the gods is equal to 360 human years …
This solution to the problem was accepted everywhere. With this original technique, the age of Kali turned from 1200 ordinary years into a majestic Cycle of the same divine years or 360 × 1200 = 432,000 Earth years”.
However, some important Sanskrit texts such as the Mahabharata and the Laws of Manu, compiled, according to scientists, earlier than the Puranas, still retain the original duration of the Cycle of the Yuga as 12,000 years.
The Mahabharata explicitly mentions that the duration of the Yuga Cycle is based on people’s days and nights.
The Zoroastrians also believed in a Cycle of times of 12,000 years. The Great Year or Perfect Year of the Greeks was variously represented as 12 954 years (Cicero) or 10 800 years (Heraclitus). Of course, the Cycle South cannot be of different lengths for different cultures.
In the book Holy Science (1894), Sri Yukteswar explained that the complete Yuga Cycle lasts 24,000 years, and consists of an upward Cycle of 12,000 years, when virtue gradually increases, and a downward Cycle of another 12,000 years, when virtue gradually decreases.
Therefore, after we complete the 12,000-year descending Cycle of Satya-yuga -> Kali-yuga, the sequence changes itself, the ascending Cycle of 12,000 years Kali-yuga -> Satya-yuga begins. Yukteswar states that “Each of the periods of 12,000 years produces radical changes both in the outer, gross material, world, and in the inner, intellectual, or electrical world. This period is called Daiva-Yuga (electric pair)”.
The 24,000 year duration of a complete Yuga Cycle is approximately equal to the Precessional Year of 25,765 years. The Precession Year is the time required for the Sun to “precess”, i.e. backward movement through the 12 zodiacal constellations.
Interestingly, Surya Sidhanta indicates 54 arc seconds per year for precession, as opposed to the current value of 50.29 arc seconds per year. This translates into a precessional year of 24,000 years! Thus, there is a high probability that the current precession value may simply be a temporary deviation from the mean.
The concept of the upward and downward Cycle South was not taken out of thin air by Yukteswar. This idea is still prevalent among the Jains of India, who are one of the country’s oldest religious sects. Jains believe that the complete Cycle of Time (Kalachakra) has progressive and regressive halves.
During the progressive half of the Cycle (Utsarpini), there is a gradual increase in knowledge, happiness, health, ethics and spirituality, while during the regressive half (Avasarpini) there is a gradual decrease in these qualities.
Each half cycle consists of six smaller periods, and together the two halves of the Cycle make up a complete circle of time. These two half-Cycles eternally follow each other in a continuous sequence, like the Cycles of day and night, or the rising and falling moon.
The ancient Greeks also seem to have believed in the ascending and descending Cycles of the ages. In the poem Works and Days, the Greek poet Hesiod (c. 750 – 650 BC) speaks of the World Ages and introduces a fifth century between the Bronze and Iron Ages, called the Age of Heroes. In The Cosmos of Hesiod, Jenny Strauss Clay writes:
“Based on the myth in Plato’s The Politician, the Hellenist Vernant also argued that the temporal structure of the Hesiodic myth, that is, the sequence of races, is not linear, but Cyclical. At the end of the Iron Age, which he divides into two, the Race Cycle begins again with a new Golden Age or, more likely, the Age of Heroes, as the sequence changes itself … Vernant himself offers a solution, noting that “in fact there is no one Iron Age, except for two typeshuman existence”.
It is very interesting. Jean-Pierre Vernant, a recognized expert on ancient Greek culture, believes that the sequence of the Cycle of the Ages is reversed, according to Hesiod’s calculations.
Moreover, he claims that the Iron Age consists of two parts, which exactly corresponds to the interpretation of Yukteswar, in which the descending Kali-yuga is replaced by the ascending Kali-yuga. In this context, it can be assumed that the “Age of Heroes”, which immediately followed the Bronze Age in Hesiod’s calculations, corresponds to the descending Kali Yuga.
Testimonies from various sources prove that the duration of a complete Yuga Cycle is 24,000 years. A complete Cycle consists of ascending and descending Cycles of 12,000 years each. This brings us to the question of the relative duration of the various Yugas in a Complete Cycle. There are also transitional periods at the beginning and end of each Yuga called Sandhya (dawn) and Sandhyansa (dusk). The Sanskrit texts provide the following meanings for the duration of the Yugas with their dawns and dusk.
Yukteswar and Tilak point to many inaccuracies in the doctrine of the South Cycle. Therefore, the question should also be raised about the accuracy of the relative duration of the Yugas mentioned in the Sanskrit texts.
About thirty ancient cultures mention the Cycle of the South in mythical tales, as reported by Giorgio de Santillana, professor of the history of science at MIT, in Hamlet’s Mill (1969). However, we have very little information about the duration of the different Ages in this Cycle.
It’s pretty amazing. Almost all stories tell us that virtue and righteousness diminish as we move from the Golden Age to the succeeding Ages. Some of them mention that Virtue is reduced by a quarter in each Age. However, there is little information about the duration of the centuries themselves. If the duration of each subsequent Yuga decreases in relation to the previous Yuga, shouldn’t this important point be noted in the legends?
In those few sources where the duration of the Yugas is indicated, we find that all the Ages of the Cycle have the same duration. For example, Zoroastrians believe that the world lasts 12,000 years, which are divided into four equal Eras of 3,000 years each.
A Mexican source known as Codex Rios (also called Codex 3738 and Vatican Codex A) states that each Era is 4008, 4010, 4801, and 5042 respectively, for a total of 17,861 years. We see that in this case the duration of each Age is almost the same.
Therefore, the duration of the four Yugas in Sanskrit texts (i.e. 4800, 3600, 2400 and 1200 years) deviates from the norm. The duration of each Yuga in this sequence is reduced by 1200 years compared to the previous one. It is an arithmetic progression that is rarely seen in Natural Cycles.
The unnaturalness of this sequence raises the question of whether the duration of the Yugas was changed at some point in the past. Perhaps in order to create the impression that the duration of each Yuga decreases in tandem with a decrease in virtue from one Yuga to the next.
Here is the most startling fact: two of the most famous astronomers of ancient India, Aryabhata and Paulis, both believed that the South Cycle was composed of the South of the same duration! In the 11th century, the medieval scholar Al-Biruni traveled throughout India for 13 years, interviewing and interviewing scholars, reading Sanskrit texts, observing religious rites and customs.
He has compiled a comprehensive commentary on Indian philosophy, science and culture. In his work “India” Al-Biruni mentions that the doctrine of the Cycle of the South was based on the findings of the Indian astronomer Brahmagupta, who, in turn, received knowledge from the Sanskrit texts of the smriti. He makes an interesting statement in this regard:
“Further, Brahmagupta says that“ Aryabhata regards the four Yugas as four equal parts of the Yuga Cycle. Thus, he presents a doctrine different from the one mentioned in the smrti books. And the one who is different from us is the enemy “.
Aryabhata believed that the four Yugas are of the same duration. The fact is extremely pertinent! Al-Biruni unambiguously confirms this: “Therefore, according to Aryabhata, the Kali Yuga lasts 3,000 years …
The original doctrine of the Yuga Cycle appears to be very simple: the duration of the Yuga Cycle is 12,000 years, with each Yuga lasting 3,000 years. This Cycle is encoded in the Saptarishi Calendar that has been used in India for thousands of years. The calendar was widely used during the Mauryan period (4th century BC), and is still used in parts of India today.
The term “Saptarishi” refers to the “Seven Rishis” or “Seven Sages” representing the seven stars of the Big Dipper. They are revered as enlightened rishis who appear at the beginning of each Yuga to spread the laws for civilization.
In the Saptarishi calendar, the Cycle is 2700 years. The Big Dipper is said to have been in each of the 27 Nakshatras (lunar constellations) for 100 years, which is a Cycle of 2700 years. The 2700-year Cycle is also referred to as the “Era of Saptarishi” or “Saptarishi Yuga”.
Throughout the year, the constellation Ursa Major is clearly visible in the northern hemisphere. The seven stars represent the Seven Sages (Saptarishis). The constellation Ursa Major is prominent in the mythology of many cultures.
If in the Saptarishi Calendar 2,700 years represent the actual duration of the Yuga, then the remaining 300 years out of the total duration of the Yuga of 3,000 years (which is a tenth of the duration of the Yuga) automatically become a “transition period” before the properties of the subsequent Yuga fully manifest themselves. Accordingly, this intermediate period can be divided into two separate periods of 150 years each. One of them occurs at the beginning of the Yuga and is called Sandhya (that is, dawn), and the other, at its completion, is called Sandhyansa (that is, twilight).
The total duration of the Cycle of the South, excluding the transition periods, is 10,800 years (2,700 x 4), which coincides with the duration of the “Great Year of Heraclitus” in the Greek tradition! This clearly shows that the basis of the Cycle of World Ages in India and Greece was the 2700-year Cycle of Saptarishi …
Obviously, the Yuga Cycle is used in the Saptarishi Calendar. It is 12,000 years out of four Yugas of equal duration, 2,700 years each, separated by transition periods of 300 years. The complete Yuga Cycle of 24,000 years consists of an upward and downward Cycle of the Yugas, which follow each other for eternity, like a change of day and night. For the last 2,700 years we have been going through an ascending Kali Yuga, and this Yuga is coming to an end in 2025.
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