THE CONCEPT OF AGES
Hindu Dispensational Ages (Yuga) and the Avatars
According to the Hindu cosmology, the history of the cosmos like
the reincarnation is a cycle of birth and death. Vishnu
Purana Book I Chapter III gives a detailed analysis of the
concept ages. The cosmos goes on repeating the cycle of
creation and destruction with a pralya (deluge) in between. Within
one cycle of one day of Brahma there are four dispensations which
will work out a total of 4320,000,000 human years. The
traditional unit is the length of one Kali Yuga which is sometimes
called Charana which is 432,000 solar years. Charnas means chorus
as in music which is repeated at the end of every verse.
That should give us the idea of cycles. Here are the Four
Ages (Yuga) and their corresponding lengths.
The Four Yugas
4 charanas (1,728,000 solar
3 charanas (1,296,000 solar
2 charanas(864,000 solar
1 charanas(432,000 solar
Surya Siddhanta (490 – 1091 AD)
Surya Siddhanta of Varaha as given in his Panca Siddhantika are
almost the same as those of the Khandakhadyaka, it is clear that
the old Surya Siddhanta was made up to date by Varaha by
replacing the old constants in it by new ones from Aryabhata I's
'midnight' system. A subsequent redactor of the Surya Siddhanta
changed the constant as introduced by Varaha by following
Brahmagupta's teaching in his Brahmasphuta Siddhanta and the
Uttara Khandakhadyaka. Thus it has undergone several
redactions. From internal evidence alone Burgess came to
the conclusion that the superior limit to its date is 490A.D.
and that the lower limit is 1091 A.D.
If the Avatars are related to the Surya Sidhanta Yugas the
Avatar myths came into existence only after 490 AD at the
earliest. This will be another indication of the date of the
origin of Vaishanvism.”
Surya-Siddhanta: A Text Book of Hindu Astronomy
The Hindu cosmological time cycles as in Surya Siddhanta 1, 11–23
11). That which begins with respirations (prāna) is called real;
that which begins with atoms(truti) is unreal. Six respirations
make a vinādi, sixty of these a nādi.
(12). And sixty nādis make a sidereal day and night. Of thirty of
these sidereal days is composed a month; a civil (sāvana) month
consists of as many sunrises.
(13). A lunar month, of as many lunar
days (tithi); a solar (sāura) month is determined by the entrance
of the sun into a sign of the zodiac; twelve months make a year.
This is called a day of the gods.
(14). The day and night of the gods and of the demons are mutually
opposed to one another. Six times sixty of them are a year of the
gods, and likewise of the demons.
(15). Twelve thousand of these divine years are denominated a
Quadruple Age(caturyuga); of ten thousand times four hundred and
thirty-two solar years
(16) is composed that Quadruple Age(caturyuga), with its dawn and
twilight. The difference of the Golden (krtayuga) and the other
Ages (yugas), as measured by the difference in the number of the
feet of Virtue in each, is as follows :
(17). The tenth part of a (Quadruple) Age (caturyuga), multiplied
successively by four, three, two, and one, gives the length of the
Golden (krta) and the other yugas: the sixth part of each belongs
to its dawn and twilight.
(18). One and seventy caturyugas make a Patriarchate (manvantara
or Patriarchal Age of one manu); at its end is a twilight which
has the number of years of a Golden Age (krtayuga), and which is a
(19). In an Aeon (kalpa) are reckoned fourteen such Patriarchs
(manus) with their respective twilights; at the commencement of
the Aeon (kalpa) is a fifteenth dawn, having the length of a
Golden Age (krtayuga).
(20). The kalpa, thus composed of a thousand caturyugas, and which
brings about the destruction of all that exist (bhoo), is a day of
Brahma; his night is of the same length.
(21). His extreme age is a hundred, according to this valuation of
a day and a night. The half of his life is past; of the remainder,
this is the first kalpa.
(22). And of this kalpa, six Patriarchs (manus) are past, with
their respective twilights; and of the Patriarch Manu son of
Vivasvant, twenty-seven Ages (caturyugas) are past;
(23). Of the present, the twenty-eighth, Age (caturyuga), this
Golden Age (krtayuga) is past; from this point,reckoning up the
time, one should compute together the whole number."
“The cycle repeats itself so altogether there are 1000 cycles of mahayugas
in one day of Brahma. However there is a difference.
One cycle of the above four yugas is one mahayuga (4.32 million
is confirmed by the Gita statement "sahasra-yuga paryantam
ahar-yad brahmano viduH", meaning, a day of brahma is of 1000
mahayugas. Thus a day of Brahma, kalpa, is of duration: 4.32
billion solar years. Two kalpas constitute a day and night
A manvantara consists of 71 mahayugas (306,720,000 solar years).
Each Manvantara is ruled by a Manu.
After each manvantara follows one Sandhi Kala of the same duration
as a Krita Yuga (1,728,000 = 4 Charana). (It is said that
during a Sandhi Kala, the entire earth is submerged in water.)
A kalpa consists of a period of 1,728,000 solar years called
Adi Sandhi, followed by 14 manvantaras and Sandhi Kalas.
A day of Brahma equals (14 times 71 mahayugas) + (15 x 4 Charanas)
= 994 mahayugas + (60 Charanas)
= 994 mahayugas + (6 x 10) Charanas
= 994 mahayugas + 6 mahayugas
= 1000 mahayugas
Our current date
We are currently in the 28th kaliyuga of the first day of the 1st
year of the shvetavaraha kalpa of the second parardha of Brahma in
the reign of the 7th Manu, Manu Vaivasvata. This is the 51st year
of the present Brahma and so about 155 trillion years have elapsed
since he took over as Brahma.” wikipedia
The current Kali Yuga (Iron Age) began at midnight 17 February /
18 February in 3102 BC
There are three types of Pralaya:
"Dissolution, reabsorption; destruction; death."
A synonym for samhara, one of the five
functions of Siva. Also names the partial destruction or
reabsorption of the cosmos at the end of each eon or kalpa. There
are three kinds of periods of dissolution:
1) Laya, at the end of a mahayuga, when the
physical world is destroyed;
2) Pralaya, at the end of a kalpa, when both the
physical and subtle worlds are destroyed; and
3) Mahapralaya at the end of a mahakalpa, when
all three worlds (physical, subtle and causal) are absorbed into
– the Great Age
"Truthfully, the quantities of years assigned to a Cosmic Day are
symbolic. The Cosmic Night arrives when the ingathering of the
perfect souls is complete, which means, when the Cosmic Day is
absolutely perfected." - The
Pistis Sophia Unveiled
The Age of Cosmos and Reality Check
Brahma has 2000 MahaYugas which includes a day and a night.
There are 360 days in a year for Brahma and we are in the first
day of 51st year.
So far 360 x 50= 18000 days have passed for Brahma
This is equivalent to 18000 x 2000 x 4320000 = 155,520,000,000,000
Add the current day of Brahma which is 1,972,944,456 Humans Years
So as per the vedas, the current age of the universe is
155,521,972,944,456 Years which is about
156 Trillion years.
Using the Hubble constant and information
about the expansion of the Universe from the Hubble Space
Telescope, astronomers at the Observatories of the Carnegie
have been able to measure the age of the Universe to between 12
and 14 billion years old. (http://www.bbc.co.uk/science/space/origins/bigbang/spaceandtime.shtml)
Of course we can always fall
back on parallel universe or multiple dimensions.
Probably Indians of the 5th c
AD knew better.
Buddhist concept of Kalpa
The concept of Yugas is not limited to Hinduism. It is also
found in the later Buddhism when it got interacted with the
Christians and Vaishnavites and Saivites and as several syncretic
forms of Buddhism came into existence.
Buddhist Concept of Yugas-
The concept of Kalpa is the period of time expressed in Indian
philosophy. Generally speaking, a Kalpa is the period of time
between the creation and recreation of a world or universe.
One Mahakalpa (Great Kalpa) is subdivided into four
Asankhyeya-Kalpas (or simply called Kalpas):
Kalpa of formation (Vivarta)
Kalpa of existence (Vivatasiddha)
Kalpa of destruction (Samvarta)
Kalpa of emptiness (Samvartasiddha)
Each of the four Kalpas is
subdivided into twenty Antarakalpa (Inner Kalpa), so that
a Mahakalpa consists of 80 Antarakalpa.
Each Small Kalpa is divided into a period of increasing and
decreasing. In the increasing period, the length of human life
increases by one year every century to 84,000 years and the
length of the human body to 8,400 ft. Then it comes to the
decreasing period, during which the length of human life
decreases gradually to the ten years and the human body to 1
foot in height. There are other distinctions of the Kalpas. A
Small Kalpa is represented as 16,800,000 years, a Kalpa as
336,000,000 years and a Mahakalpha as 1,334,000,000 years
Christian concept of Yugas - aeons
We should remember that the Surya siddhanta and Vishnu Purana
were all Post Christian constructions. It would be
interesting to compare the corresponding concepts in
Christianity as seen through the teachings of Jesus which were
later expanded out by Paul. Unfortunately we have no
written heritage from St.Thomas. So we cannot really
comment on what Thomas brought into India. As the
theology of dispensational ages and ‘ages to come’ developed
in the rest of Christendom we can certainly assume that some
basic notions of it came in to India which contributed to the
Yuga concept of Hinduism.
Here are some quotes related to ages as presented by Jesus:
(Mat 12:32) And whoever says a word against the Son of
man will be forgiven; but whoever speaks against the Holy
Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the
age to come.
(Mat 13:39) and the enemy who sowed them is the devil;
the harvest is the close of the age, and the reapers
(Mat 13:40) Just as the weeds are gathered and burned
with fire, so will it be at the close of the age.
(Mat 13:49) So it will be at the close of the age.
The angels will come out and separate the evil from the
(Mat 24:3) As he sat on the Mount of Olives, the
disciples came to him privately, saying, "Tell us, when will
this be, and what will be the sign of your coming and of
the close of the age?"
(Mat 28:20) teaching them to observe all that I have
commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, to the close
of the age."
(Mar 10:30) who will not receive a hundredfold now
in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and
mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and in
the age to come eternal life.
(Luk 18:30) who will not receive manifold more in
this time, and in the age to come eternal life."
(Luk 20:34-35) And Jesus said to them, "The sons of
this age marry and are given in marriage; but those who
are accounted worthy to attain to that age and to the
resurrection from the dead neither marry nor are given in
(1Co 2:6) Yet among the mature we do impart wisdom,
although it is not a wisdom of this age or of the
rulers of this age, who are doomed to pass away. (1Co
2:8) None of the rulers of this age understood
this; for if they had, they would not have crucified the
Lord of glory.
(Eph 1:21) far above all rule and authority and power
and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only
in this age but also in that which is to come;
(Heb 6:5) and have tasted the goodness of the word of
God and the powers of the age to come,
(Heb 9:9) (which is symbolic for the present age).
According to this arrangement, gifts and sacrifices are
offered which cannot perfect the conscience of the
(Rom 16:25) Now to him who is able to strengthen you
according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ,
according to the revelation of the mystery which was kept
secret for long ages
(1Co 2:7) But we impart a secret and hidden wisdom of
God, which God decreed before the ages for our
(1Co 10:11) Now these things happened to them as a
warning, but they were written down for our instruction,
upon whom the end of the ages has come.
(Eph 2:7) that in the coming ages he might show
the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us
in Christ Jesus.
(Eph 3:9) and to make all men see what is the plan of
the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all
(Col 1:26) the mystery hidden for ages and
generations but now made manifest to his saints.
(1Ti 1:17) To the King of ages, immortal,
invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and
(2Ti 1:9) who saved us and called us with a holy
calling, not in virtue of our works but in virtue of his own
purpose and the grace which he gave us in Christ Jesus
(Tit 1:2) in hope of eternal life which God, who never
lies, promised ages ago
(Rev 21:5) And he who sat upon the throne said, "Behold,
I make all things new." Also he said, "Write this, for
these words are trustworthy and true."
One cannot fail to see that Christ and the later Apostles
definitely taught about this age (the current age in which we
live and die) and also about ages to come. Jesus
declares at the end of this age when the world has gone to the
dogs, he will send his angels and make a separation and there
will be another age opens up. But this is not a two age
picture because Paul speaks about the ages to come and John in
his revelation declares that Jesus will make ALL things new.
Bible scholars have been able to talk about dispensational
ages, which are usually taken as seven ages each with its own
messengers, and messages, which culminated in the ultimate
incarnation of Jesus, which provides redemption for ALL
mankind. But we can see only a few saved in this age. We
know all about this age. We know much about the age to
This Age and the Age to Come.
The Old Testament predicts the future coming of God or the
Messiah; most forms of post biblical Judaism (see esp. 2
Esdras) go further and differentiate this age from the age
to come, which is also known as the kingdom of God. This
two-age schema is echoed in Matthew 12:32 and Ephesians
1:21, but the New Testament transforms the traditional
pattern: with the coming of Christ, the blessings of the
future are manifested among God’s people in the present age
(cf. Heb. 6:5). In terms of this age as a time of sin
and darkness, aion is sometimes synonymous with kosmos or
“the world” (cf. Mark
4:19; Rom. 12:2; 1 Cor.
1:20). During this time, Satan appears as the
“god” of this age (2 Cor. 4:4) and sin prevails (Gal. 1:4; 2
2:12). The citizens of this age are living in darkness and
must rely on the devices of their own human wisdom (Luke
16:8; 1 Cor. 1:20; 2:6, 8;
3:18). But so long as Christians remain in the
world, they are cheered by the spiritual presence of Jesus
until the close of this age (Matt. 28:20).
Cataclysmic signs will signal the
close of the present era (synteleia [tou] aionos, Matt.
24:3). According to the New Testament, the end of the age
will bring the return of Christ and the judgment of the
13:39–40, 49). When the age to come arrives, the dead
will rise to inherit eternal life (Luke
20:34–35). Jewish and later Christian
apocalypticists loved to speculate about the blessings of
this future age, but the simple message of the Bible is that
the coming age will bring a good inheritance (Mark
18:30). Paul’s advice to Christians is to
invest for the age to come by practicing generosity and good
deeds in this present age (1 Tim.
---Gary Steven Elwell, Walter A., Evangelical Dictionary of
(Isa 64:4) For since the beginning of the world
men have not heard, nor perceived by the ear, neither
hath the eye seen, O God, beside thee, what he hath
prepared for him that waiteth for him.
(1Co 2:9) But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor
ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the
things which God hath prepared for them that love him.
At the end of this age only a
few enters the new age where Jesus is King. But at the
end of the AGES Jesus makes ALL THINGS NEW. This is the
cycle of ages, deluges in between each age, seperation and
judgment in between the ages and at the end of one kalpa
everything returns to the original state of oneness in
consonance with God. Will that state remain eternally.
Yes. If man is made into a machine. If we still
have free will – the Sons of God will still make wrong choices
as Lucifer the Angel did. The Maha Kalpa may repeat
itself. But that depends on those who are in that age and is
not revealed to us. This is because we should not find
an excuse for the salvificatory work required of man here and
now. “Secret things belong to the Lord out God, but the things
that are revealed belongs to us and to our chlldren for ever,
that we may do all the words of this law” Deu 29:29
I have presented the Surya
Siddhanta in Christian terms. The Theology of
Avatara in Vaishnavism is also parallel to the way God talk to
Heb 1:1-3 God, who at sundry times and in divers
manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets,
hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son,
whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he
made the worlds; Who being the brightness of
his glory, and the express image of his person, and
upholding all things by the word of his power,
There is a logic behind the concept based on the creative
power of every man who is created in the image of God
“There are active powers within us which are ever busy with
the past and the future, and which no limits of time can
confine. Memory repeats and, with the aid of imagination,
reproduces the past. But the mind rests not at the confines of
memory, but follows onward and downward through all the
historic period, and into the shadowy ages of the unrecorded
and the unknown. And hope and fear, incited by the desire of
immortality, lead onward and upward into the ages of the
eternal future. We feel that forces and influences operating
through long succeeding periods of the past have made us what
we are, and that the same forces, or others adapted to our
nature, will continue to develop our character and shape our
destiny, and make us what we shall be in the ages to come.”
The Ages to Come: Or, The Future States,