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Yuga (Sanskritn., युग]) is the term used in Hindu tradition to describe a world age. Usually only the four already past Yugas are mentioned, which together form a Maha-Yuga:

Thereby the first of these ages lasts four times, the second three times and the third twice as long as the last, most imperfect age, so that the whole Maha-Yuga lasts ten times (4 + 3 + 2 + 1 = 10) as long as the last age.

According to the "Code of Manu", the Manusmriti, is believed to be the first ancient legal text of Hinduism, the four Yugas last 4000, 3000, 2000 and 1000 years, each preceded or followed by a transitional period of 400, 300, 200 and 100 years respectively. This makes the duration of the Kali Yuga 1000 + 100 + 100 = 1200 years. The corresponding maha-yuga therefore lasts 12,000 years.[1] Rudolf Steiner, however, gives 5000 years for the duration of the Kali-Yuga; it began in 3101 BC[2] and ended at the end of 1899.

According to the Bhagavata Purana, however, the times for the yugas are to be understood as god-years, with one god-year corresponding to 360 human years. The above figures should therefore be multiplied by 360:

  • Kali-yuga: 1200 × 360 = 432,000 years
  • Dvāpara-Yuga: 2400 × 360 = 864,000 years
  • Tretā-Yuga: 3600 × 360 = 1,296,000 years
  • Satya-Yuga: 4800 × 360 = 1,728,000 years

A Maha-Yuga thus comprises 4,320,000 years. 1000 Maha-Yugas form a Kalpa, i.e. a Brahma day, which therefore lasts 4,320,000,000, i.e. 4.32 billion years. The Brahma day is followed by an equally long Brahma night, i.e. a total of 8,640,000,000 = 8.64 billion years. The entire life of a Brahma, a Maha-Kalpa, lasts 100 Brahma years of 360 such days and nights each, i.e. 8,640,000,000 x 100 x 360 = 311,040,000,000 = 311,400 billion human years, which is 864,000,000,000 = 864 billion god-years. Everything then disappears for another 100 Brahma years in a state of complete formlessness. After that, from the navel of Vishnu, a new world, a new Brahma is born.

„This age, when man was still one with the divine-spiritual beings, is spoken of as the golden age or Krita Yuga. So this is an ancient age, the essential course of which we must seek even before the Atlantean catastrophe. Then comes the next age, when people no longer felt their connection with the divine-spiritual world as strongly as they did in the Krita Yuga, when they no longer felt their impulses determined so much by living together with the gods, when their view of the spirit and the soul also darkened. But they still had a memory of living together with the spirits and gods. This was especially clear in the ancient Indian world. It was very easy to talk about spiritual things there. You could point people to the outer world of physical perception and still see, let's say, a maja or illusion in it, because people had not had these physical perceptions for so long. That was the case in ancient India. The souls in ancient India no longer saw the gods themselves, but they still saw spiritual facts and lower spiritual entities. The high spiritual entities were only seen by a smaller number of people, but even for them that very living coexistence with the gods was already obscured. The impulses of will from the divine-spiritual world had already disappeared. But there was still the possibility of gaining an insight into the spiritual facts at least in special states of consciousness: in sleep and in the intermediate states mentioned above. But the most important facts of this spiritual world, which before were still there like a co-experience, were now only there like a kind of realisation of truth, like something which the soul still knew exactly, but which only acted like a realisation, like a truth. Certainly people were still in the spiritual world, but the certainty of it in this later age was no longer as strong as before. It is called the silver age or Treta Yuga.

But then came the age of those incarnations or embodiments where man's gaze became more and more closed to the spiritual world, where he was more and more directed towards the immediate outer world of the senses, but was also fortified in this world of the senses, where the inner I-consciousness, the consciousness of humanity, emerged more and more. This age is called the brazen age or Dvapara Yuga. People no longer had such a high direct knowledge of the spiritual world as before, but at least something of the spiritual world remained in general humanity. One could describe it in a similar way, as if something of the joy of youth has remained in the present people when they have grown older. It may be over, but it has been experienced. We know it, we know it, we can talk about it as if it were something familiar to us. At that time, souls were still familiar with something that leads to the spiritual worlds. That is the essence of the Dvapara Yuga.

But then came another age, an age in which this familiarity with the spiritual world also ceased, where the gates to the spiritual world closed, so to speak. People's gaze became more and more limited to the outer sensual world and the intellect, which processes the impressions of the senses, so that people could only think about the spiritual world. That is the lowest way of knowing something about the spiritual world. What people now really knew from their own experience was the sensual-physical world. If people wanted to know something about the spiritual world, they had to achieve this by thinking. This is the time when man became the most unspiritual and therefore the most fixed and entrenched in the world of the senses. But this was necessary in order to gradually develop his self-awareness to the highest height. For only through the rough resistance of the outer world could man learn to distinguish himself from the world and to feel himself as a separate being. This latter age is also called Kali Yuga or the dark age.

I expressly note that these terms can also be used for greater epochs, for example, the term Krita Yuga can be used for an even greater period of time. For before that golden age was there which has been described, man was involved with his experience in still higher worlds, therefore one could encompass all these still older times with this name.“ (Lit.:GA 118, p. 19ff)


References to the work of Rudolf Steiner follow Rudolf Steiner's Collected Works (CW or GA), Rudolf Steiner Verlag, Dornach/Switzerland, unless otherwise stated.
Email: verlag@steinerverlag.com URL: www.steinerverlag.com.
Index to the Complete Works of Rudolf Steiner - Aelzina Books
A complete list by Volume Number and a full list of known English translations you may also find at Rudolf Steiner's Collected Works
Rudolf Steiner Archive - The largest online collection of Rudolf Steiner's books, lectures and articles in English.
Rudolf Steiner Audio - Recorded and Read by Dale Brunsvold
steinerbooks.org - Anthroposophic Press Inc. (USA)
Rudolf Steiner Handbook - Christian Karl's proven standard work for orientation in Rudolf Steiner's Collected Works for free download as PDF.


  1. Manusmriti I,68-71
  2. According to H. P. Blavatsky and also according to Hinduist tradition, the dark ages began as early as 18 February 3102 BC with the death of Krishna.