Time: Part 1 – The Chatur Yuga

Posted on April 17, 2010


The scriptures, including Ithihasas and Puranas, quote that Time is without beginning or end; and that the cycle of creation and destruction is perpetual.

One can find analytical as well as descriptive details on the subject spread across various chapters in Mahabharata. For example, Markhandeya rishi (Vana Parva: when Yudhishtira meets with him) and Bhishma (Santi Parva: when he is in his bed of arrows) are among the few who discuss the nature of time. For now, we will review just the analytical calculations found in Bharata.

Chatur Yuga - A cycle of 4 Yugas

  • 1 year for humans constitutes 1 Day for Devas (Mbh 12:230).  Thus,

1 Divine year = 360 human years

  • The time-span of the four yugas are as follows (Mbh 3.187 & 12.230):
Krta/Satya Yuga = 4800 divine years = 1,728,000 years
Treta Yuga = 3600 divine years = 1,296,000 years
Dwapara Yuga = 2400 divine years = 864,000 years
Kali Yuga = 1200 divine years = 432,000 years

The duration for the above Yugas as explained in the Bharata include allowance for Sandhi (morning) and Sandhyamsha (evening). For example, Satya Yuga = Sandhi (400) + Main Yuga (4,000) + Sandhyamsha (400) = 4800 divine years. The proportion of Sandhi or Sandhyamsha to the main yuga is 1/10th, and this  proportion holds true for all the four yugas.

  • One cycle of the above four yugas constitute a Chatur Yuga (Mbh 3.187). Thus,

1 CHATUR YUGA = 12,000 divine years = 4,320,000 human years

  • When the Kali Yuga is complete, the Krta yuga (of the next cycle) begins (Mbh 3.187). Thus the cycle continues.