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The 4 Cycles of Yuga January 4, 2024

The 4 Cycles of Yuga

The Worst is Yet to Come
I first delved into this intriguing time cycle of Yuga while reading Hatha Yoga Pradipika. Unfortunately, we are at the worst epoch in its 4 cycles - Kali Yuga where decay, separation and turmoil define the landscape. It began 5,000 years ago and things get worse until it ends 400,000 years from now. Hang on to your seats!

Understanding Time
We understand time only in the context of our lifespan. But in the scheme of bigger time scales (.eg. Yuga Cycles where one cycle could exceed 1 million years), our understanding of time is like that of the Mayfly whose lifespan is only 1 day (or 2) - but to the Mayfly, that is the end-all and be-all of the universe. In cosmological time scales like the Yuga Cycles, our lifespan is a blink of an eye.

4 Maha Yuga Cycles (Ages in Hindu Cosmology)
These cycles describe the 4 stages of decline and ascension in human morality and spiritual consciousness. These cycles repeat themselves endlessly - think of time not as linear but as a loop where Kali Yuga loops back to Satya Yuga. Thus, time never had a beginning and it has no end.

    (from GPT4)
  1. Satya or Krita yuga - 1,728,000 earth years, Age of Truth. Golden Age. It is characterized by righteousness, virtue and spiritual enlightenment. It's an era where people live in harmony with nature, with their fellow human beings and live in compliance with the universal laws. They have a deep understanding of their spiritual nature. There is no scarcity. People live in abundance. There is an absence of evil. The average lifespan for humans was 100,000 years.
  2. Treta yuga - 1,296,000 years. This follows Satya yuga and begins the decline of moral and ethical values and virtue. Relative to the next 2 stages, this is still a virtuous stage. People live for a shorter time of 10,000 years. Society becomes structured with hierarchies of kings, rulers, soldiers, etc. There are wars and famines. Religious structures and rituals emerge with deities and Gods. Things continue to slide down as the era ends.
  3. Dwapara yuga - 864,000 years. It gets worse here from Treta yuga. Materialism increases and spirituality is on a continuous decline. Connection with the divine wanes. This becomes a balance between spirituality and materialism. People are consumed by desire, ambition and avarice. But there are technological and intellectual advancements too. Still, morality and spirituality continue to decline. The average lifespan for humans was 1,000 years.
  4. Kali yuga - 432,000 years, the age of darkness, degeneration, moral decay and spiritual ignorance. Disease, suffering, mental and emotional distress become common. Deception and violence mark this era. This is as bad as it gets. We are on this cycle which began 5000 years ago and will continue its decline for the next 400,000 more years. So if things are fucked up now, it'll get worse. But despite all the negativity, humans can still rise up through awareness and being devoted to their spiritual practice (yoga). The average lifespan for humans was 100 years.
The 4 Cycles of Yuga
Satya, Treta, Dwapara and Kali Yuga Cycles

Ending Thoughts
Even though this Kali Yuga cycle is a shithole, it's the only choice we have - nothing we can do about it. Besides, we were born into this and we grew up with this reality, so this is simply life as we know it. It's not all that bad considering you see fleeting glimmers of human compassion and kindness. Every once in a while, you see triumphs of the human spirit.

Being philosophical about it, this is perhaps the most exciting time in the 4 epochs because this is where the "tire hits the asphalt". Moreover, as my friend Kris worded it, "This is the greatest movie ever played and we get to participate in it". We are not just passive observers but active stakeholders retaining control of our thoughts and actions. Analogy: we are rafting the turbulent rapids in Kali Yuga while in Satya Yuga, we are canoeing a placid lake.

Having devoted many years of my life to yoga, I cannot help but think what's it like during the Satya Yuga when man was divine and we were practically the deities at that time. What kind of reality was that? In the sacred yogic scriptures, it is said that with Siddhi activation, you can transcend time and space - you can go back or forward in time to experience what the other Yugas were all about.

--- Gigit (TheLoneRider)
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