The Brahmanda Purana

by G.V. Tagare | 1958 | 319,243 words | ISBN-10: 8120838246 | ISBN-13: 9788120838246

This page describes cycle of yugas: characteristics of yugas which is Chapter 29 of the English translation of the Brahmanda Purana: one of the oldest puranas including common Puranic elements such as cosmogony, genealogy, ethics, geography and yoga. Traditionally, the Brahmandapurana is said to consist of 12,000 verses metrical Sanskrit verses.

Chapter 29 - Cycle of Yugas: characteristics of Yugas

The sage said:—

1. I wish to hear about the nature and principle (or reality) of those sets of four Yugas, which were before in the Svāyambhuva Manvantara.

Sūta said:—

2. What I have already described in the context of (the description of) the Earth etc, the set of four Yugas is among them. I shall recount it. (All of you listen and) understand.

3-4. There are six aspects to be mentioned in regard to the set of four Yugas. viz. Yuga, the difference of Yugas, Yugadharma (peculiar characteristics of the Yuga), Yuga-Sandhi, (the junction of Yugas), Yugāṃśāka (the part of the Yuga) and the Yugasandhāna (joints of two Yugas). I shall narrate these factually in details. I shall enumerate every thing and I shall indicate the exact number (where necessary).

5. After calculating the human year by means of worldly reckoning, I shall mention the set of four Yugas calculating the same by means of human years.

The smallest unit of times is equal to the time taken for a winking. [see notes below] The time for the utterance of a short syllable should also be understood the same.

6. Fifteen Nimeṣas make one Kāṣṭhā. Thirty Kāṣṭhās make a Kalā. Thirty Kalās shall be a Muhūrta. The day and the night together consist of thirty Muhūrtas and they are equal to each other.

7-8a. It is the sun who divides the human and worldly day and night. There, the day is meant for holy rites and other activities and the night is intended for sleep.

8b-9. A night and a day of the Pitṛs make a (human) month. Their further division is as follows: The dark fortnight is their day and the bright fortnight is their night fot the purpose of sleep. Thirty human months make one month of Pitṛs.

10. Three hundred and sixty human months make one year of the Pitṛs.

11-12a. A hundred years according to human calculation are considered to be equal to three years and ten months of the Pitṛs.

12b-13. What is remembered as one human year according to worldly calculation is one day and night of the Devas. It has been so decided in the scriptural texts. The divine day and night make one year. Their further division is as follows:

14. The northern transit (of the Sun) is the day and the southern transit is the night (of Devas). The farther calculation in regard to the divine night and day is as follows:

15-16. Thirty human years are remembered as a divine month. A hundred human years should be understood to be equal to three divine months and ten divine days. This is remembered as the divine reckoning. Three hundred and sixty years according to human reckoning are glorified as one divine year,

17. A year of the seven sages (Great Bear) is considered to be equal to three thousand and thirty human years.

18. The year of Dhruva is remembered as equal to nine thousand and ninety years according to human calculation.

19. Thirty six thousand years according to the human reckoning should be known as equal to a hundred years. This is remembered as divine reckoning.

20-21. Three hundred and sixty thousand human years constitute a thousand divine years—so say the people who are conversant with numbers and calculation.

22. It is thus that the sages sang about the divine calculation. Now (I shall narrate) the reckoning of the number of Yugas according to the divine calculation.

23. Wise persons and sages have said that there are four Yugas in Bhārata subcontinent.[1] They are Kṛta, Tretā, Dvāpara and Kali.

24. The first one is Kṛtayuga by name. Thereafter, Tretā is mentioned. Then Dvāpara and Kali. One shall reckon these as the Yugas.

25-28. They say that Kṛta Yuga consists of four thousand years. The Sandhyā (junction or transition period) consists of so many (i.e. four) hundred years. The part of the junction (with the next Yuga or Sandhyāṃśa) is equal to the Sandhyā period.

In the other three Yugas also along with their Sandhyās and Sandhyāṃśas the thousands and the hundreds function under the same principle.

The extent of Tretā and Dvāpara is three thousand and two thousand years in due order. Three hundred and two hundred years constitute the Sandhyās and the Sandhyāmaśas are also equal to them. Excellent Brāhmaṇas say that Kali Yuga consists of a thousand years. Its Sandhyā is one hundred years and Sandhyāmśa is equal to Śandhyā.

29. Tugasaṅkhyō (the total number of years in all the four Yugas together) is mentioned as twelve thousand (divine) years for the four yugas viz. Kṛta, Tretā, Dvāpara and Kali.

30. In this connection the years are found to be as follows in accordance with the human calculation:[2] I shall mention the number of years in the Kṛta Yuga. Understand it.

31. The Kṛta Yuga consists of one million four hundred and forty thousand human years.

32. The duration of the Tretā Yuga is one million and eighty thousand human years.

33. The duration of the Dvāpara Yuga is seven hundred and twenty thousand human years.

34. Similarly, the duration of the Kali Yuga is three hundred and sixty thousand human years.

35-36. (Partially defective text).

Excluding the periods of Sandhayās and Sandhyāṃśas the duration of the four Yugas is three million six hundred thousand human years.

Including the Sandhyās and the Sandhyāṃśas the duration of the four Yugas is four million three hundred and twenty thousand years according to human reckoning.

37. Thus the sets of four Yugas numbering seventy-one are called Manvantara.

38-40. Understand the number of years in the Manvantara. There are three hundred and six million seven hundred and twenty thousand years according to human reckoning in a Manvantara. It is not more. This reckoning of Manvantara is remembered by Brāhmaṇas conversant with calculation. Thus the duration of a Manvantara has been recounted along with the Yugas.

41. The natural[3] (?) Kṛta Yuga is endowed with four thousand years (?). I shall mention the balance of Tretā as well as Dvāpara and Kali.

42. No matter can be mentioned in two ways simultaneously (?) Though it has come traditionally in due order, these two Yugas have not been recounted to you before.

43-46. It was not recounted because I was too much engrossed in the description of the line of sages.

In the beginning of the Tretā Yuga,[4] Manu and the seven sages expounded the various Dharmas.

The seven sages expounded the following holy rites viz. Śrauta Dharma(the holy rites mentioned in Śrutis)recommend-ed by Brahmā, such as concerning taking a wife and performing Agnihotra. They expounded matter mentioned in Ṛksaṃhitā, Yajussaṃhitā and Sāmasaṃhitā. These are the holy rites characterised as Śrauta Dharma.

Svāyambhuva Manu expounded the traditional holy rites characterised by customs and conventions. These rites are connected with the conduct of life of the people of different castes and stages of life. He expounded them along with truthfulness, celibacy, learning and austerities.

47-48. In the first Tretā Yuga, those Mantras along with Tāraka (i.e. Oṃkāra) and other examples manifested themselves without any conscious effort or previous knowledge, unto the seven sages and Manu. That is because of the penance performed by them and their saintly endeavour.

49-50. Those Siddhis (spiritual powers and achievements) which appeared before the Devas in the first Kalpa, of their own accord (appeared before these also i.e. seven sages and Manu). When the original Siddhis ceased to exist, others began to function. Thousands of those Mantras which existed in the Kalpas gone by manifested themselves in their intellect once again.

51. The Ṛk, Yajus, Sāman and Atharvan Mantras were uttered by the seven sages and Manu expounded the Smārta Dharma (Dharma as laid down in Smṛtis).

52. In the beginning of Tretā, the undivided compact Vedas alone were the bridges (i.e. the sole authority) unto Dharma. But owing to the contraction in the period of longevity they are abandoned in the Dvāparas.

53. It is by means of their penance that the sages study the Vedas during Dvāpara, etc. The Vedas are devoid of beginning and end. They are divine. They have been evolved by the self born lord before.

54. Though they are the same in meaning, righteousness, holy rites and ancillary subjects, they undergo changes in every Yuga.

55.. The Kṣatriyas have Ārambhas (enterprises) as their Yajña (sacrifice); the Vaiśyas have Havis (offerings of ghee etc.) for Yajña; the Śūdras have service for Yajña and excellent Brāhmaṇas have Japa (chanting of Mantras) for Yajña.

56. Then, in the Tretā Yuga, people of all castes were joyous (because) they were well-protected by Dharma. They regularly performed holy rites, and were happy and prosperous.

57. Kṣatriyas obeyed the Brāhmaṇas. The Vaiśyas obeyed the Kṣatriyas. The Śūḍras obeyed the Vaiśyas. The people cooperated with one another.

58. Their activities were auspicious; so also were their castes and stages of life. They were pure in the thoughts of the mind, in the utterance of words and in their physical activiry.

59-60. In the Tretā Yuga, the initiation of all activities was never fruitless. It became fulfilled. In the Tretā Yuga, span of life, intelligence, strength, beauty, health and piety were common to all. At that time, Brahmā established different castes and stages in life.

61. Again, the subjects out of delusion kept up those Dharmas (but) with mutual antagonism. They then approached Manu.

62. Svāyambhuva Manu, the Prajāpati (lord of the subjects) saw the reality of situation. After meditation, he begot two sons of Śatarūpā.

63. They were Priyavrata and Uttānapāda. They were the first kings. Thereafter, kings were born. They wielded the staff of Law and Order.

64. Those kings were called Rājans because they delighted and pacified the subjects. Those with hidden sins could not be controlled by those kings.

65. Yama, king of Dharma and son of the Sun-god is remembered as their chastiser. The classifications of castes are said to have been begun in the Tretā.

66. It was then that Mantras were gathered together by the sages who were the sons of Brahmā. It was only then that the Yajñas were initiated by the gods.

67-68. In the Svāyambhuva Manvantara, the Yajña was formerly initiated by the Devas by means of all requisites, gathered by Yama and Śukra along with Viśvabhuj and Devendra of great prowess. Truthfulness, chanting of Mantras, penance and charity constitute Dharma in the Tretā.

69. At the end of a thousand Righteous activities, the Dharma of nonviolence begins to function. It is then that heroes are born with great strength and span of life.

70. They had renounced punishments. They were extremely fortunate and highly righteous. They were expounders of Brahman. Their eyes were extensive like the petals of a lotus. They had broad, wide chests and their limbs were well-knit together.

71. The sovereigns of the world in the Tretā Yuga were capable of agonizing even lions; they were extremely vigorous. Their mode of walking was like that of intoxicated elephants. They were great wielders of bow (great experts in archery).

72-73. They were fully equipped with all good characteristics. They were Nyagrodhaparimaṇḍalas. The word Nyagrodha denotes the two arms. Hence, Nyagrodha means Vyāma (Extended arms). He whose height extends as much as a Vyāma, he whose girth and height are equal, should be known as Nyagrodhaparimaṇḍala (a well-built man).

74. The following seven things viz. a discus, a chariot, a jewel, a spouse, a treasure, a horse and an elephant—these are considered to be the seven jewels of emperors.[5]

75. They say that the following seven are the inanimate jewels of the sovereign over the world, viz. a discus, a chariot, a jewel, a sword. The excellent shield is the fifth, the flag and the treasure.

76. (The seven jewels of an Emperor) having life are mentioned as follows: The Queen, the family priest, the commander-in-chief, the chariot-maker, the minister, the horse and the elephant.

77. These jewels are divine ones. They have been (naturally) acquired by the noble-souled ones. These fourteen (jewels) should be assigned to all Emperors.

78. In all the Manvantaras of the past and future, emperors are born on the Earth from a part of Viṣṇu.

79..Emperors are. born in the Tretā Yuga of all the Manvantaras of the past, present and future.

80. The following four shall be very wonderful and excellent in regard to those kings:—viz. strength (or army), Dharma (virtue, piety), happiness and wealth.

81. Wealth, dharma, love, fame and victory are acquired by the kings on a par with one another and without coming into conflict.

82. They over-power even the sages by means of Aṇimā (minuteness) and other Aīśvarjas, the power of lordship, learning and penance.

83. (They overpower) Devas, Dānavas and human beings by means of strength and austerity.

They are also born with superhuman characteristic features present in their own bodies.

84-86. The hairs are soft and glossy; the foreheads are high; the tongue is one that wipes off clean. The lips and eyes have the lustre of copper; (their chests) are marked with Śrīvatsa scar; the hairs are lifted up.

The arms extend as far as the knees; the hands are copper-coloured. They are slim in the hips; their girth is as much as the extended arms. They have the shoulders of the lion and they urinate like lions.

Their gait is like that of lordly elephants; they have large chin-bones; they have the lines of wheel and fish on the soles of the feet and those of conch and lotus in the palms.

87-89. The kings are eighty-five thousand in number and they shine without ageing.

The movements of the sovereigns in four viz. the sky, the sea, the subterraneous regions and in mountainous region, are unobstructed.

Sacrifice, charity, penance and truthfulness are mentioned as the Dharmas specially significant in the Tretā.

At that time Dharma (Righteousness) begins to function with the classification of castes and stages of life. Daṇḍanīti (Polity, administration of law and order) functions for the establishment of the bounds of decency.

90-92. All the subjects are delighted and well built. They are free from ailments. Their minds are full (i.e they are joyous).

It is remembered that there was only one Veda with four feet (parts) in the Tretā Yuga. At that time men lived upto three thousand years, endowed with sons and grandsons. They used to die in due order. This is the characteristic feature of Tretā Yuga. Understand the Tretā Sandhyā (the transition from Tretā Yuga or junction). The characteristic features are reduced by one-fourth in the Sandhyā from the main Yuga and still further reduced by one-fourth in the Sadhyāṃśa from the Sandhyā.

Notes on the Yuga-period:

Though this Purāṇa followed the vedic tradition, and regarded a Yuga-period as consisting of five years (vide Supra ch. 21.131-132 and Note thereon), here the author follows Manu 1.61-74, 79-86. According to him the 1st Yuga, Kṛta extends over 4000 years of gods with a twilight period (sandhyā) of 400 Divine (of god’s) years before its actual advent and a transitional period to the next Yuga (Sandhyāṃśa) of 400 celestial years. The three other Yugas viz Tretā, Dvāpara and Kali consist respectively of a period of 3000, 2000 and 1000 divine years preceded by and followed by Sandhyā and Sandhyāṃśa each extending over a period of 300, 200 and 100 gods’ years. This theory is adopted by Purāṇas e,g. Kūrma-purāṇa. I. chs 51 and 53, Nārada-purāṇa. I. ch. 41, Mahābhārata. Vana chs 149, 188, VP. I. 3, Vā. P. chs 21, 22, 57, 58.

Notes on calculating yugas:

Brahmāṇḍa-purāṇa 5-21 give the divisions of Time adopted in calculating Yugas. The smallest unit of time is the period required for winking of the eye and is called Nimeṣa:

15 Nimeṣas=Kāṣṭhā; 30 Kāṣṭhās=Kalā
30 Kalās=Muhūrta; 30 Muhūrtas=Day and night
30 days=A Month;=One day (and night) of Pitṛs
30 Human months=l Month of Pitṛs
360 Human months=l Year of Pitṛs
Human Uttarāyaṇa (6 months) = Day of the Devas
Human Dakṣiṇāyana (6 months) = Night of Devas
1 Human year=a complete Day (day and night) of Devas
30 Human years=a month of Devas
360 Human years=One year of Devas
3030 Human years=l Saptarṣi year
9090 Human years = 1 Dhruva year
360,000 Human years=1000 Years of gods.

Footnotes and references:


It is strange that Yugas should be restricted to India (Bharata) only.


According to this Purāṇa the period of Yugas is as follows:

Yuga   Years
Kṛta   1440,000
Tretā   1080,000
Dvāpara   720,000
Kali   360,000
  Total 3600,000 Years

(with Sandhyā and Sandhyāmśas 4320,000 years.)


Probably Prathamam ‘The first’ as in Vā.P. 58.38.


VV. 43-92 describe the Yuga-dharma of the Tretā Yuga:

Vedic Mantras and Siddhis of the previous Kalpa which were ‘lost’ at the end of that Kalpa manifested themselves to sages. The Vedas formed only one undivided Saṃhitā. God Brahmā (re-) established the duties of various castes and stages in life (Varṇāśrama-dharma). The institution of kingship was firmly rooted. It was a covetable picture of a happy, society. Cf Mt. P. Ch. 142.


VV. 74-77 describe two lists of seven ‘jewels’ of an emperor (Cakravartin). Here 14 jewels are mentioned. A similar list of royal jewels is found in Pāli literature. The representation of the 2nd cent B.C. of a Cakravartin at Jagayyapetta shows these ‘jewels’ and one more feature—at the touch of Cakravarti’s hand above (towards the sky) it shows gold coins.

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