What are 4 Yugas? And Dissolution / Age of Universe per Vedas (68)


Lesson 68 starts with 3 defects pursuing limited-worldly goals leading to rebirth. Even heaven (subtler worlds) is limited. Meaning of 4 yugas is given (kali, dvapara, treta, satya) and used to calculate age of entire universe and age of creator (Brahmaji). Finally what happens when universe goes into singularity (great dissolution).

Source: Srimad Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 8 – verse 15, 16, 17, 18, 19

Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 8 – Verse 15:

māmupetya punarjanma duḥkhālayamaśāśvatam |
na”pnuvanti mahātmānaḥ saṃsiddhiṃ paramāṃ gatāḥ ||

Having attained Me (Īśvara), those great souls do not take rebirth which is an ephemeral abode of misery. They have attained liberation, ultimate.


  • Previous verse, Krishna concludes answer of 7th Q (process of dying).
  • In following verses 15-22, Krishna speaks of 2 types of human goals.
    • Goal 1: Īśvara (Infinite, Sacred)
      • Śreyaḥ: Path of good. Delayed gratification. Needs much patience.
        • EG: Father has patience to support and discipline a spoilt child. Later, child’s success brings much joy to father/mother.
        • EG2: Business owner sees mediocre profits for excess hours. By providing excellent services with care, slowly word of mouth spreads. Years later, he/she is enjoying decent profit to hours ratio.
      • Vaidika: Found in Vedic literature. Or any scriptures which talk of both (1) Consciousness (2) Matter, and how they are ONE. Matter doesn’t exclude dharma (morals, virtues).
      • In CH8 context, called: Niṣkāma upāsana. Produces infinite goal by means of krama mukti.
        • Krama Mukti: sequential liberation. It simply means: Self-Knowledge is gained by Brahmāji (creator himself).
        • Order is: Much rituals/meditation on Lord while living > die > jīvātma goes to Brahmāloka > krama mukti (ignorance removed) > mokṣa.
    • Goal 2 is: World (Finite, Material, Secular)
      • Preyaḥ: Path of pleasant. Instant enjoyment.
        • EG 1: Slide into another relationship then exit when honeymoon is over. Food! Sight-seeing tours. Entire world of entertainment. Netflix. Icecream. Massage. Sun bathing on beach. Socializing. Worshipping God for personal pursuits. Basically majority of human activity in household with decent income.
        • EG 2: Moment one has spare money to spend beyond basic survival, it gets invested into changing chemistry of the body-mind through various experiences (instant enjoyment). Want more dopamine? Just go and socialize! Easy.
        • EG 3: Why do lotto ticket buyers re-purchase each forthnight despite infinitesimal chances? Because when mind of emotions (which speaks language of “I want to feel GOOD now”) supersedes Intellect, then intellect ends up bidding for the emotions. Instant gratification tempts/seduces humans universally across all ages.
        • Summary: Preyaḥ is path of making love to saṃsāra in creative ways.
      • In CH8 context, called: Sakāma upāsana
  • Krishna points out:
    • For intelligent person, God alone become PRIMARY goal.
    • Only indiscriminative person seeks everything, other then Īśvara (this word always refers to English equivalent word ‘God’, which has higher nature (parā-prakṛti) & lower nature (aparā-prakṛti). Or spirit & matter).
  • Why Īśvara is right goal, we revise (62):
    • In reference to World, all goals/accomplishments have 3 defects (doṣās). Every rose comes with thorn (trap).
    • Defect 1: Every pleasure mixed with pain.
      • EG: Child birth gives both pleasure/pain. Or famous movie-star has to put up with constant admirers, and lack-of-privacy even in a shopping mall.
      • Pain in form of: acquisition, preservation, loss.
        • Each more painful then last. EG: Breakup is loss, being more painful then preserving/maintaining the relationship.
    • Defect 2: Never give total satisfaction.
      • Know that there’s bigger/better.
      • EG: Whole world calls one rich. But rich person unhappy because comparing to RICHER.
    • Defect 3: Enslaved by attachment/dependence.
  • One is immune to 3 defects only if pursue Goal 1 (Īśvara). Reason:
    • Because Bhagavān represents independence, fullness, unlimited security. Hence identifying with Bhagavān, one ‘becomes’ self-dependent.
    • Also because God (fullness) is never away from me. Thus no need to chase experiences for satisfaction. Meaning one is never disappointed, since they don’t have experiences which produce the 3 defects.
  • Hence Krishna answers what is advantage of choosing path of God:
    • mām upetya: If person attains Me, advantage is punarjanma na āpnuvanti, never come to finitude/mortality again.
    • Free from duḥkhālayam, temple of sorrow. Abode of misery.
      • Source of dissatisfaction because of aśāśvatam; fleeting, impermanent nature of things.
    • And while living, have little to no ups & downs. Because ups/downs are only real if one gives reality to world and BMI (Body-Mind-Intellect).
      • EG: Notice how we remain value-neutral when at another person’s funeral or someone speaks of death of someone close to them. We listen objectively, without being pulled into their grief. Reason? No attachment to this other person. Doesn’t mean we don’t care, only that we’re OBJECTIVE.


Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 8 – Verse 16:

ābrahmabhuvanāllokāḥ punarāvartino'rjuna |
māmupetya tu kaunteya punarjanma na vidyate ||

All the worlds, O Arjuna, including the realm of the Brahmāji, are subject to return, but after attaining Me, O son of Kunti, there is no rebirth, O Arjuna.


  • What about heaven? Anything wonderful called “heavenly”.
  • Most religions define heaven as eternal. Krishna declares, “eternal heaven” is also finite goal (Goal 2).
  • In Vedas, there is 6 heavens: bhuvar, svar, mahar, jana, tapa, satya (brahmaloka)
    • Each pleasure / security / enjoyment is higher. More subtle.
    • However heaven also is limited. How?…
  • lokāḥ punarāvartinaḥ: all 14 lokās exist within time/space.
    • Explains why scripture talks “traveling” to reach. Implying time/space. Thus even heaven can’t guarantee security.
      • EG: For some jīva in lower world, Earth is heaven to them. While for humans Earth is actually limiting. In same way, all worlds (heavens) are limiting.
  • What about brahmaloka? Brahmabhuvanāt. Up to brahmaloka, even Brahmāji not permanent.
    • Brahmāji is the “creator”. Also must vacate position, like president.
      • Metaphor: Your BMI is “as though” Brahmāji for viruses / bacteria that live in it. You are their creator, sustainer, destroyer.
    • Hence everything in universe is ephemeral. Even creator.
  • Whereas, mām upetya tu kaunteya; Arjuna, if you come to Me, who is beyond time/space, then…
    • punarjanma na vidyate; no question of infinite becoming finite again. Hence permanent security.


Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 8 – Verse 17:

sahasrayugāparyantamaharyad-brahmaṇo viduḥ |
rātriṃ yugāsahasrāntāṃ te'horātravido janāḥ ||

Those people who are conversant with day and night know the day of Brahmā to be lasting up to one thousand catur-yugās and the night to be lasting up to (another) one thousand catur-yugās.


  • Krishna speaks of Brahmāji's life.
    • “ji” is not Sanskrit but Hindi. Used to differentiate from Brahman (formless reality).
    • Sanskrit has 2 words:
      • Brahma (or) Brahman: nirguṇa. Beyond time/space.
      • Brahmā: saguṇa. Not free of time.
  • What is duration of Brahmāji life?
    • 2000 catur-yuga = 1 calendar day.
      • Catur: 4
      • Yuga: duration of time, eg: month, year.
    • There’s 4 yugās:
      • kali yuga: Present. 432,000. 3 quarter sin, 1 quarter virtue. 100 years lifespan.
      • dvāpara: x 2 = 864,000. 2q sin, 2q virtue. 1000 years lifespan.
      • tretā yuga: x 3 = 1,296,000. 1q sin, 3q virtue.
      • satya yuga (kṛta; Golden Age): x 4 = 1,728,000. Total virtue, perfection, kindness, compassion.
      • All 4 = 4,320,000.
    • Brahmāji 1 calendar day/night (1000 / 1000) = 2000 x 4,320,000 = 8,640,000,000 (1 day = 4.32Bil)
    • Brahmāji lives 100 years = 8.64Bil x 365 x 100 = 315Tril 360Bil years.
  • Who knows all those things? ahorātravidaḥ janāḥ, people who studied scriptures, where all lokās are spoken of. They know such details.
  • What happens during day & night of Brahmāji? Next verse…


Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 8 – Verse 18:

avyaktād-vyaktayaḥ sarvāḥ prabhavantyaharāgame |
rātryāgame pralīyante tatraivāvyaktasaṃjñake ||

On the arrival of the day of (Brahmā) all manifest beings emerge from the unmanifest. On the arrival of the night (of Brahmā) they merge into that itself called the unmanifest.


  • What happens during Brajmāji day & night? Krishna points out that Brahmāji’s day/night is similar to jīva’s:
    • WAKING (Jīva):
      • When day begins, immediately time/space comes.
        • And BEGINS all activities, knowledge, emotions, people, responses.
        • Also worry, tendencies & habits return.
      • Meaning private world is not destroyed during sleep. But goes to dormant condition.
        • Proven by fact of continued life of yesterday.
        • Meaning, contents in causal body (kāraṇa-śarīra) are not destroyed by temporary death.
      • DREAM (Jīva):
        • Jīva “throws out” own private world. With dream space/time & objects.
          • Made out of jīva’s individual vāsanās, saṃskārās, impressions, memories.
        • Meaning, the alert-waker is “as though” Brahmāji for entire dream universe.
      • SLEEP (Jīva):
        • My world is resolved FOR me, into me.
          • Time/space/duality resolved. Transactions. Pleasant/unpleasant (sukha/duḥkha)
        • Jīva’s dissolution called: layaḥ (dissolution / melting / dissolving).
      • In same way, Brahmāji withholds entire creation during sleep for 1000 catur yugās, then throws it out for 1000 catur yugās.
        • When Brahmāji sleeps: pralayaḥ.
          • Pra: Lalya: dissolution.
        • DIFFERENCE compared to jīva:
          • Only jīva’s subjective world resolves in sleep. While world continues for people who are AWAKE.
          • Whereas when Brahmāji (macrocosmic samaṣṭi) sleeps, WHOLE creation (vyāvahārika) resolves into unmanifest condition.
      • Meaning universe is NEVER created by anyone.
        • Therefore word “creation” is misleading. Implies creatED at some time.
        • So question “Why God created world” is incorrect. Because everything is OF beginningless beginning.
        • Thus understand “Creation” as manifestation of world which was ALWAYS existent in potential form.
          • And manifested world is sustained by time.
          • Time is a subtle principle (like space) which makes transactions possible.
  • What happens when Brahmāji night comes (sleeps)?
    • Whole creation goes to unmanifest condition (avyakta avasthā). All individuals are resolved (pralīyante) into state of unmanifest.
  • Does this mean matter is destroyed upon resolution of manifest Universe?
    • Matter can’t ever be destroyed. Destruction is actually conversion of matter to energy.
      • EG: Boiling water isn’t destroyed. It disappears from vessel as vapour.
    • Similarly, visible Universe time of pralayam is converted into unmanifest matter (prakṛti / māyā / avyaktam).
  • What happens when Brahmāji WAKES up?
    • Potential energy / prakṛti converted BACK TO matter. Invisible to visible. Non-dual to duality. Activity begins.
      • EG: Potential of “flying” was converted to flying through means of Wright Brothers (aviation pioneers).
    • Also time comes. Because time & matter are always together. EG…
      • Time sustains perception of matter. And matter gives legitimacy to time.
      • For this reason we can’t say anything before “big bang”.
  • Finally, vyaktayaḥ sarvāḥ prabhavantyaharāgame: out of manifest, again they become manifest.
    • Thus universe is eternal cycle of manifest/unmanifest. Expansion/contraction. Like heart.
    • What scientists call “Universe going to singularity” is actually unmanifest (Brahmāji going to sleep).
      • Thus universe is never destroyed as it manifests again.


Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 8 – Verse 19:

bhūtagrāmaḥ sa evāyaṃ bhūtvā bhūtvā pralīyate |
rātryāgame'vaśaḥ pārtha prabhavatyaharāgame ||

On the arrival of the night (of Brahmā) that very same multitude of beings merges, having emerged again and again. On the arrival of the day of (Brahmā) it emerges again helplessly, Oh Arjuna!


  • If universe goes to unmanifest, then AGAIN to manifest, what happens to all jīvās?
    • Krishna says, jīva continues SAME destiny.
      • Meaning jīva (with it’s ignorance/desires) remains inactive in potential for 1000 catur-yugās.
        • Like animal in hibernation.
      • Then jīva emerges with intact puṇya/pāpa karma.
  • How will jīvās REMAIN during pralayam? (macrocosmic dissolution)
    • Bhagavān already given sample called sleep.
    • During sleep, jīva’s “I-sense”, knowledge/ignorance, joys/sorrows go into RESOLVED/DORMANT condition.
      • Not destroyed.
    • How do we know they remain dormant & NOT destroyed?
      • We continue thread of past habits/knowledge/ignorance. Meaning it was in potential condition.
      • Meaning even if all scriptures are destroyed, jīva’s knowledge isn’t. Carries it over next world.
    • Thus in same way, during pralaya, all jīvās go into potential condition.
  • Hence Krishna says: bhūtagrāmaḥ sa evāyaṃ bhūtvā, the SAME multitude/group of jīvās go to dormant condition. Again come back. Eternal process.
    • Meaning, no new-fresh jīva is every created. Same number of jīvās are circulated.
  • OBJECTION: If no new jīvās are created, how do we explain population growth?
    • First understand jīva does NOT only mean humans. But also insects, animals, plants… in all 14 lokās.
    • Swami Chinmaya use to say: assume plenty of forests were there. So were animals in them. As forests got destroyed, animals hunted. So they were converted to human jīvās.
      • EG: Less animals & trees on earth, more humans.
  • LOGIC why new jīva can NEVER be created:
    • Jīva is fashioned out of previous karma. If no past (pūrva) karma, what is bases of new jīva?
    • Thus jīva is NOT determined by Īśvara’s wish to populate. But by jīva’s causal body.
      • Meaning, new jīva can’t have a causal body, because causal body is made up of PAST actions.
  • OBJECTION: If new jīva can’t be created (no causal body), then HOW did the 1st jīva come?
    • Because jīvās Implying PAST karma/saṃskārās.
    • ANSWER: Jīvās were never created FIRST. All jīvās are eternal (anādi).
      • EG: What came first? Up or Where there is up, there is also down.
    • All jīvās are eternal.
      • Eternal means: no first. Just like we can’t say “when did first wave in ocean come?”.
    • New jīvās are never created. Because to say “new created” is to limit definition of limitless (which means, everything already IS in potential).
      • EG: During time of vacuum tube, transistor was in potential. Potential manifested in 1947.
    • Therefore SAME number of jīvās go through manifest / unmanifest condition.
      • Meaning we ALREADY met every jīva in the universe.
    • And despite having choice to get in/out of the cyclic merry-go-round, jīva feels helpless to get out.
  • Hence avaśaḥ, I find myself here helplessly, whether I like it or not.
    • For this reason, jīva is reborn again.
    • Meaning mortality can’t be escaped, long as pursue time bound results.


Keywords: apara-prakrti, asasvatam, ashashvatam, avastha, bhagavan, brahmaa, Brahmabhuvanat, brahmaji, duhkhalayam, dvapara yuga, jiva-atma, jivatma, karana-sarira, krita yuga, krta yuga, layah, lokas, mam upetya, maya, nishkama, niskama, papa karma, para-prakriti, prakriti, pralayah, preya, preyah, punya karma, sakama, samsara, samskaras, satya yuga, sharira, shreya, sreya, sreyah, treta yuga, upasaka, vyavaharika


Credit for help in Bhagavad Gita teaching given to Chinmaya Int. Foundation & Swami Paramarthananda

Recorded 1 Oct, 2019


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