This is the first article in our Yuga series, where we introduce you to the Hindu concept of Yuga, Manavantara, Kalpa, and Ahotram. The Hindu scriptures, clearly mention that all living beings go through a continuous cycle of creation and destruction. This is not only true in the case of beings on earth, but also celestial beings like our devas.
1. Yuga: Meaning
It is mentioned in various scriptures that even Brahma the creator of our holy trinity is not immortal. The word Yuga in Sanskrit means an era as per Hindu. In cosmology, a Yuga means the age period or the face of the earth.
2. Four Yuga: Timeline
There are four Yugas in the order, as Satya Yuga, also known as Krita Yuga, Treta Yuga, Dwapar Yuga and Kali Yuga. As per the time on earth. Satya Yuga lost 1,728,000 human Years. Treta Yuga lasts 1,296,000 human years. Dwapar Yuga lasts 864,000 human years and Kali Yuga lasts 432,000 human years. Each Yuga is progressively shorter than the preceding one corresponding to a decline in the moral and physical state of humanity, since the Hindu notion of time is circular rather than linear, the universe is considered to be in a continual flow throughout these four periods of time.
3. Maha Yuga: The Yuga Cycle
As time progresses from stage to stage human society degrades to a level lower than before, after this, the blissful Satya Yuga begins again, according to the prevailing Hindu calculations, we are currently living in the Kali Yuga. These four Yugas together form a Maha Yuga. One MahaYuga is the sum of all the ears in Satya Yuga, Treta Yuga, Dwapar Yuga, and Kali Yuga. therefore, one MahaYuga is 4,320,000 years long, the duration of one Maha Yuga is often known as the Yuga cycle.
4. Manvantara: The never-ending cycle created by Brahma
71 Maha Yuga or Yuga cycle form one Manavantara. Manavantara is a Sanskrit term that results from a combination of the words Manu and Antara, literally meaning the duration of a Manu or his life span. Each Manavantara is created and ruled by a specific Manu who, in turn, is created by Brahma or the creator himself Manu creates the world and all its species. During that period, each Manavantara lasts the lifetime of a Manu upon whose death Brahma creates another Manu to continue. The cycle of creation of the universe.
5. Lord Vishnu’s Avatar
Vishnu on his part takes new avatars and we have new Indra, devas and new Saptarishis also appointed. Each Manavantara lasts for 306,720,000 years, which is equal to 852,000 divine years, as one divine year is equal to 360 human ears on earth. On the whole, there are 14 Manavantaras and we are currently living in the seventh of the 14th Manavantara, which is ruled by Vaivasvata Manu who is also called Shraddhadeva or Satyavrata, along with his family, seven Saptarishis and some species of animals were rescued by Lord Vishnu’s Matsya avatar from the great flood or Pralaya.
6. The Fourteen Manu
In Sanskrit, the term Manav, meaning a human is derived from the name Manu denoting the human race are his children. The fourteen Manus of the fourteen Manavantara in order are Swayambhu Manu, Svarochisha Manu, Uttama Manu, Tapasa Manu, Raivata Manu, Chakshusha Manu, Vaivasvata Manu, Savarni Manu, Daksha Savarni Manu, Brahma Savarni Manu, Dharma Savarni Manu, Rudra Savarni Manu, Deva Savarni Manu, and Indra Savarni Manu. It is interesting to notice personalities like Parashurama, Kripa, Ashwathama, Vyasa, etc. who were born in the current seventh Manavantara will become one among the seven Saptarishis. In the eighth Manavantara and the asura king, Bali will become the Indra or the king of heavens, in the eighth Manvantara.
8. Kalpa: Timeline
These 14 Manavantara together make one Kalpa. A Kalpa means Aeon or a ‘day of Brahma’. A Kalpa is equal to 4.32 billion years and measures the duration of the world in its creative and active state. At the end of each Kalpa, there is another period similar to Kalpa, which is a period of dissolution or Pralay, where the world and all its life forms are destroyed or lie in a state of rest. This is called the night of Brahma. These two Kalpa one day and one night of Brahma together make one Ahotram, which means one complete day of Brahma.
9. Cycle of Creation: Brahma
With each Ahotram, Brahma starts his new cycle of creation all over again in an endless cycle of creation, followed by absorption or destruction for which shiva the destroyer in our holy trinity is invoked towards the end of each cycle. 360 Ahothrams of Brahmadev make one Brahmadev year and a hundred Brahmadev years is the total lifespan of one Brahma. Now the age of Brahma is divided into two halves. The first fifty years are called the Prathame Paradhe and the second fifty is called Dvithiya Paradhe in Sanskrit. Para means fifty. We are in the Dwitiya Paradhe, which means the second half of Brahma’s lifespan because the universe is in its current active state.
10. Hindu Cosmology and Multiverse
After completion of hundred Brahmadev years, Brahmadev dies and the Brahmand or the universe is destroyed, there are countless such Brahmandas or universes with countless Brahmadevs in them. While this representation of Hindu cosmology seems like a never-ending period, this is only a drop in the ocean of vastness of the supreme almighty, which is rightly described by Arjun in chapter 11 and verse 16 of Bhagavad-gita, which translates as I see your Infinite form in every direction, with countless arms, stomachs faces and eyes. Oh Lord of the universe, whose form is the universe itself, I do not see in you any beginning middle, or end.