|Divine Years||Mortal Years|
|Yuga||Life Span||Length Sandhi||Total||Length Sandhi Total|
|KÎta||400||4,000 400||4,800||1,440,000 144,000 1,728,000|
|Treta||300||3,000 300||3,600||1,080,000 108,000 1,296,000|
|Dvapara||200||2,000 200||2,400||720,000 72,000 864,000|
|Kali||100||1,000 100||1,200||360,000 36,000 432,000|
|No additional sandhi|
|Manvantara Length (mahayuga x 71)||306,720,000|
|Kalpa Length (manvantara x 14)||4,294,080,000|
|With additional sandhi|
|Manvantara Length (mahayuga x 71 + KÎta Yuga)||308,448,000|
|Kalpa Length (manvantara x 14 + KÎta Yuga)||4,320,000,000|
There are five main periods of Astronomy in India. They are:
(1) Vedic (lasting from ca. 1000 BCE to 400 BCE),
(2) Babylonian (lasting from ca. 400 BCE to 200 CE),
(3) Greco-Babylonian (lasting from ca. 200 CE to 400 CE),
(4) Greek (lasting from ca. 400 CE to 1600 CE) and
(5) Islamic (lasting from ca. 1600 CE to 1800).
Of particular interest to us are the Vedic, Greco-Babylonian, and Greek periods. The first provides astronomers a basis for their theories and the latter two coincide with the development of the Visnu Purana (fifth century CE) and the rise Gupta Empire (fourth century CE).
During the Vedic period, ideas were being formed which would be greatly exploited during the Gupta period. One such idea was the significance of the conjunction of planets. The following is a passage from the Jyotisa Vedanga:
Svar akramete somarkau yada sakaÑ savasavau
Syat tadadi yugam maghaÒ tapaÒ Úuklo ‘yanam hy udak
When the Sun and the Moon occupy the same region of the zodiac together with the asterism sravistha, at that time begins the yuga, and the (synodic) month of Magha, the (solar seasonal) month called Tapas, the bright fortnight (of the synodic month, here Magha), and their northward course (uttaram ayanam).
In this Vedic passage, only a simple conjunction of two planets, the Sun and the Moon are required to mark the start of a new yuga. A short discussion is necessary on the history of the term yuga. In the evolution of the term, there were four main stages
(1) early Vedic,
(2) middle Vedic,
(3) late Vedic and
During the early Vedic period, the term yuga was originally used to mean one human lifespan. In the middle Vedic period, this idea was changed to being just a period of two, three, four, five or six years. As the late Vedic period approached, it became more common for the term yuga to be a “five-year, soli-lunar intercalation cycle.” So in the JyotiÛa Vedanga, the term yuga is referring to this five-year cycle, not the Krta, Treta, Dvapara, Kali, or mahayugas of the Puranas. However, this text does show a basis for later more complex ideas of conjunctions of planets marking beginnings of yugas.
The idea of conjunctions of planets being significant was very popular in the Mediterranean. This came down to India during the Greek period of influence (early fifth century) and mixed with the Vedic ideas described above. The old theory was heavily expanded upon. It was now said that the beginnings and ends of a kalpa are marked by a conjunction of the planets at the beginning of Aries. This was later simplified so that the beginnings and ends of a mahayuga are marked by a mean conjunction of the seven planets. The last such conjunction was at 6 AM on February 18, -3101 Julian (3102 BCE). This is believed to be that start of the current Kali Yuga.
Knowing the start of the Kali Yuga allows for some interesting calculations. The four that will be examined here are:
(1) the age of the current mahayuga / how long until yuganta,
(2) the age of the current manvantara,
(3) the age of the current day of Brahma, and
(4) the age of the life Brahma.
For the first set of calculations, I shall count the divine years as years of men. The Kali Yuga, including both sandhi periods, has a length of 1,200 years. This added to the start of the Kali Yuga, 3102 BCE, yields 1902 BCE. This marks
(2) the end of the mahayuga and
(3) the start of the Krta Yuga.
In the early fifth century when Gupta period astronomers made these very same calculations, they must have discovered something very odd. According to these numbers, a Krta Yuga had started approximately twenty-three centuries prior to them. This clearly could not be the case because it was firmly established that “this” was the Kali Yuga.
Where could there be an error? The text cannot be incorrect and neither were the calculations so the only room for error was in the interpretation of the text. I propose that this was one of the reasons the use of divine years was popularized. Using divine years, the length of the Kali Yuga is 432,000, and this added to 3102 BCE yields 428,899 CE. Using this new interpretation, it was shown that they were not living in a new KÎta Yuga, but were still in just the sandhi period of the current Kali Yuga (the sandhi period lasts until 32,899 CE). Assuming that today is February 18, 2003, this Kali Yuga has an age of 5,104 years with 426,896 years remaining. While this is depressing because it shows there is a long way until the next KÎta Yuga, it was an easier number to believe because it proved yuganta had not taken place. Knowing that start of the Kali Yuga, it is possible to find the age of the mahayuga:
k = 432,000
The manvantara corresponds to the age of man and as calculated, it started roughly 120 million years ago. This is in sharp contrast with popular science where it is generally accepted that modern man (Homo Sapiens) evolved 100 thousand years ago.
During a day of Brahma, he wakes up creates the universe and when he sleeps at night, the universe is dissolved. Therefore a day of Brahma equals the age of the universe. As calculated earlier, the current age of the day of Brahma is around 2 billion years. This is also off from popular science, which dates the start of the universe as 15 billion years ago.
The fourth calculation made, the age of Brahma has no clear counterpart. Before the Big Bang occurred, it is theorized by Carl Sagan that “all the matter and energy in the universe was concentrated at extremely high density – a kind of cosmic egg ... the entire universe, matter and energy and the space they fill occupied a very small volume.” Perhaps when our universe is in this egg it can be likened to when Brahma is asleep and when he wakes up, the egg is cracked open and the universe is created.
The point of these connections must be understood. It would be ridiculous to look at all these numbers and think they mean more than they do. Man was not created 120 million years ago, nor was the universe created 1.9 billion years ago. Then what is the significance of working out these numbers? By analyzing the numbers from different calculations, it is possible to find how the myths were formed and how they relate to each other. But more importantly, these calculations offer perspective. We believe we know everything. Our science tells us when monkeys became men, it tells us how all energy was created from a single point, and it tells us this with such great certainty. There are many careful equations and practices to find this information. But looking back at the ancient astronomers, their tools were incredibly precise as well. They must have felt with great certainty that their conclusions were correct because all the numbers supported them, yet all that they believed is now considered incorrect. Chapter 8, Verse 17 of the Bhagvadgita:
Sahasrayugaparyantam ahar yad Brahmano viduÒ Ratrim yugasahastrantaÑ te ‘horatravido janaÒ
Those who know the day of Brahma, Which is of duration of a thousand mahayugas And the night which is also of a thousand mahayugas They know day and night.
Perhaps knowing the day of Brahma does not mean knowledge of the durations of periods, but of the fact that time is constantly being cooked, and that whatever one may know now may not exist tomorrow.