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Vayu Purana – Purva Kandha 57-61

Vayu Purana

Purva Kandha 57-61

– 57 –

The Cycle of Yugas Their Characteristics

1The Sages said: We wish to know the nature and reality of the (sets of) four Yugas which occurred formerly in the Svayambhuva Manvantara.
2Suta said: In the context of the description of the earth etc. I have already said about the four Yugas. Now I shall recount them in detail. (Listen and) understand them.
3-4Calculating everything and mentioning in detail, I shall narrate in full the six aspects viz.: Yuga, Yugabheda (difference in Yugas), Yugadharma (the particular characteristics of each Yuga), Yugasandhi (thejunction of Yugas), Yugamta (the parts of Yugas) and Yugasandhana (the joints of Yugas).
5The human year can be understood (calculated) by means of valid working knowledge. Calculating on the basis of that year, I shall explain the four Yugas.
6The time taken to utter a short syllable is equal to a Nimesa. Nimesa, Kastha, Kala and Muhurta are the units of time.
7Fifteen Nimesas constitute a Kastha, thirty Kasthas make one Kala, thirty Kalas make one Muhurta. Thirty Muhurtas make one full day and night.
8The sun demarcates the human as well as the divine days and nights. The day is intended for activity and the night is meant for sleep.
9A (human) month constitutes the day and night of the Pitris. Its division is thus: The dark half is the day for them and the bright half is their night for sleep.
10Thirty human months make one month of the Pitris. On the basis of the human calculation, three hundred and sixty months constitute a year of the Pitris.
11A hundred human years constitute three years and four months of Pitris.
12A human year in accordance with the human calculation is one day and one night of the Devas. This is the conclusion in this scripture.
13The divine day and night together make a human year. A further classification is that the Uttarayana period (northern transit of the sun) is the day and the Daksinayana period (southern transit of the sun) is the night (of Devas).
14Thirty of the days and nights of the gods or thirty human years make one divine month.
15One hundred human years make three divine months and three divine days. Thus is the divine reckoning for division of time.
16Three hundred and sixty years according to the human calculation constitute one divine year.
17Three thousand and thirty years according to human calculation constitute one year of the Seven Sages (Saptar sis) or the Great Bear.
18Nine thousand and ninety human years make one Krauncanyear (Dhruva year in Bd. P.I. 2.29.18).
19Thirty-six thousand human years should be known as one hundred divine years. Thus is the calculation of the divine unit of time.
20Persons well versed in calculation say that three hundred and sixty thousand years reckoned on the basis of human time units constitute a thousand divine years.
21It is thus that the sages sang about the divine calculation. They have formulated reckoning of the Yugas and their duration on the basis of the divine calculation.
22Wise people know that there are four Yugas in Bharata Varsa. The first one is Krita, then follow Treta, Dvapara and Kali. One should reckon these Yugas in this order.
23They say that Krita Yuga consists of four thousand years. The Sandhya (Transition period) consists of as many (i.e. four) hundred years. The Sandhyamsa (part of the junction with the next Yuga) is equal to the Sandhya period.
24In the other Yugas, their Sandhyas and Sandhyamsas there is gradual reduction of thousand and hundred years.
25Treta contains three hundred years. Its Sandhya and Sandhyamsa consist of three hundred years.
26The wise say that Dvapara contains two thousand years. The Sandhya consists of two hundred years and the Sandhyamsa is equal to Sandhya.
27The learned say that Kaliyuga consists of a thousand years. Its Sandhya is of a hundred years and the Sandhyamsa is equal to Sandhya.
28This period of twelve thousand (divine) years is known as (Maha) Yuga. The four Yugas are Krita, Treta, Dvapara and Kali.
29In this world the calculation of years is based on human level. Now I shall mention the duration of Krita Yuga in accordance with that type of calculation.
30The duration is one million tour hundred and forty thousand years. As for Kali Yuga, it is one-fourth of the adove.
31Thus the specific duration of time of the four Yugas excluding the Sandhyas and SandhyamSas is declared.
32Including the Sandhyas and Sandhyamsas the duration of the four Yugas is four million three hundred and twenty thousand human years.
33Thus seventyone sets of CaturYugas consisting of Krita, Treta etc., constitute a Manvantara.
34-36Now understand the unmber of human years constituting a Man vantara. It will be thirty crores, six millions and seven hundred and twenty thousand human years (306720000 years). The number of years constituting a Manvantara has been calculated by Dvijas, the experts in calculating time. Thus the duration of a Manvantara and that of Yugas has been stated.
37The first (Krita) Yuga has four thousand years. The remaining Yugas, viz. Treta, Dvapara and Kali, I shall explain.
38Previously, while engrossed in describing the lineage of the sages, the two Yugas have been mentioned to you as they had come in due order. It is not possible to describe separately the two connected Topics coming in the same context simultaneously.
39In the beginning of Treta, Manu and the Seven Sages popularised the sacred rites of Vedic and Smrti origin, directed by Brahma.
40The Seven Sages expatiated on the Vedic sacred rites such as Marriage, Agnihotra and the like on the basis of Rik, Yajur and Saman.
41The Svayambhuva Manu expatiated on the conduct of life based on Smrti injunctions, traditionally handed down and referring to the duties of the different castes and stages of life.
42-44The Seven Sages and Manu were endowed with truthfulness, celibacy, learning and penance. They had performed penace in accordance with the order of sages. Hence in the beginning of Treta Yuga, the Mantras manifested themselves to them without their undergoing physical or mental effort. In the first Kalpa those Mantras along with Taraka (Omkara) and others had already appeared before the Devas.
45When the (original) Siddhis ceased to exist, these (others) began to function. Thousands of those Mantras which existed in the past Kalpas manifested themselves in their intellect once again.
46The Seven Sages popularised the Rik, Yajus, Saman and the Atharvan mantras and Manu propagated the rites in accordance with Smrtis.
47In the beginning of Treta, the Vedas were one undivided and unified whole, because Dharma alone prevailed. But they are classified in Dvapara age due to the shortage of life.
48In the Kali and Dvapara ages, divine sages and Devas without birth or death were created by penance by the Self born Deity.
49Following their righteous conduct, along with their lineage, they perform their respective duties in different Yugas. The Vedic texts, with ancillaries, function with uniform meaning in every age.
50Arambha (expedition or enterprise) was a sacrifice for Ksattriyas. Havis (offering of ghee etc.) was the Taj Ha to Vaishyas. Sudras had service as Tajna and excellent Brahmanas had Japa (chanting of Mantras) as their Tajna.
51All the castes rejoiced in Treta age. They were protected righteously. They performed holy rites. They were happy and flourishing. They were blessed with progeny.
52Ksattriyas obeyed the (advice etc. of) Brahmanas, Vaishyas obeyed Ksattriyas, Sudras followed Vaishyas. People cooperated and collaborated with one another.
53Their activities were auspicious. Their holy rites and duties of castes and stages of life too were auspicious, in thought, mind, words and actions. Thus in Treta age their activities remained unimpaired.
54In Tretayuga, people were equally endowed with the same span of life, good intellect, strength, beauty, health and righteousness.
55-57Brahma had stipulated the duties of the different castes and different stages of life. But out of delusion the subjects strayed away from sacred rites. They argued and quarrelled with one another. They approached Prajapati Manu. Manu, the son of Brahma, realized the state of affairs. He, the creator, the Man, begot of Satarupa two sons Priyavrata and Uttanapada. These two were the first kings.
58Thence arose a line of kings wielding the staff of power of punishment. Since they delighted the subjects, kings were called “Rajanahi”.
59-60In order to check and control those men who commit sins in secret and (hence) are difficult to be subdued, and in order to establish righteousness on the earth, the divisions of castes have been laid down in Treta Yuga. The compilations of Vedic texts, both Mantras and Brahmanas, have been made by the sages.
61(The institution of) Yajna has been initiated by Devas, namely Yamas, Suklas and Japas all fully equipped with the requisites.
62Formerly, in the Svayambhuva Manvantara, Yajnas were set in vogue by Devas under the leadership of Indra, the enjoyer of the universe.
63Truthfulness, Japa, penance and charity are the main virtues in Treta age. The practice of holy rites and rituals declines and the virtue of truthfulness prevails.
64Renouncing their staff (of punishment due to its superfluity?) those excessively fortunate kings became performers of sacrifice and expounders of the Vedas.
65Their eyes were as large as lotus petals. Their chests were broad, and their bodies were well-built. They were vigorous and capable of slaying lions. They walked majestically like the elephants in rut.
66They wielded great bows. They were endowed with all good characteristics. They were Nyagrodha-parimandalas (as explained in the next verse).
67The word ‘Nyagrodha’ denotes two (both the) arms. Hence Nyagrodha means Vyama (extended arms). He whose height extends as much as a Vyama, he whose girth and height are equal, should be known as a Nyagrodha-parimandala.
68The following seven, viz. a discus, a chariot, a jewel, a spouse, a treasure, a horse and an elephant, ‘are regarded as super-gems (atiratna).
69They say that the following seven are the inanimate jewels of the sovereigns of the worlds, viz. a discus, a chariot, a jewel, a sword, an excellent bow (the fifth ratna), a flag and a treasure.
70The seven jewels (of an emperor) possessing life are mentioned as follows: queen, family-priest, commanderin-chief, chariot-maker, minister, horse and elephant (lit. elephant-cub).
71These fourteen jewels are divine. They have been naturally acquired by the noble-souled ones. These fourteen jewels should be assigned to all emperors (i.e. all emperors should possess these).
72In all the Manvantaras of the past and future, the emperors are born on the earth with a part of Vishnu.
73-74The precious gems are conducive to the welfare of all emperors of the past, present and future born in the Yugas Treta etc. These four are very wonderful, viz. strength, piety, happiness and wealth (among the emperors).
75Wealth, dharma, love, fame and victory attained by kings without any conflict are on a par with one another.
76They excel even the sages by means of (spiritual powers such as) Anima (minuteness) and others the power of Lordship, learning and penance. They overpower Devas, Danavas and human beings by their strength and austere penance.
77They are born with super-human marks visible on their bodies. They have a circle of hair on their forehead (between the eyebrows); their tongue sweeps their mouths. Their teeth and lips are copper-coloured; their hair stand facing up; and they have the Srivatsa scar (on the chest).
78Their arms extend to their knees; their palms are marked with net and bull; they are very tall (Nyagrodha-parinahas); they have shoulders like those of lions; their penises are well shaped. Their gait is as stately as that of a lordly elephant. Their chin bones are broad.
79There are lines of wheel and fish on the soles of their feet and of conch and lotus on their palms. They live up to eighty-five thousand years as kings without signs of old age.
80They have unimpeded movement in four places, viz. in the firmament, in the ocean, in the nether regions and on the mountains.
81Sacrifice, charity, penance and truthfulness are the holy rites in Treta Age. During this age, Dharma functions in accordance with the division of castes and stages of life.
82Dandaniti (administration of Justice), aims at the establishment of the bounds of decency. All the subjects are jolly, well built, free from ailments. Their minds are fully contented.
83Only a single unified Veda with four sub-divisions prevails in Treta Age. People live up to three thousand years.
84Surrounded by sons and grandsons, people die in due order (of seniority in age). This is the characteristic feature of Treta Age. (Now) understand the Treta-Sandhya (Transition from Treta Yuga’).
85The traits of Treta Age continue to one-fourth of the Sandhya and the traits in the Sandhya continue to one-fourth of the Yuga.
86Samsapayana said: How did Yajna function in the beginning of Treta age formerly in the Svayambhuva Manvantara? Please explain it precisely.
87-88How did they again make the classification and arrangement of the castes and stages of life when the Sandhya too had elapsed along with Krita Age and a fraction of it alone remained, and Treta age set in? How was Yajfia made to function, after gathering all the requisites.
89-90On hearing this, Suta said: O Samsapayana, now listen to this. I shall mention how in the beginning of Treta Age Yajna was set in vogue. When there was plenty of rain, the plants grew and agriculture became established. People set about building houses, hermitages and cities. Then Indra the, enjoyer of the universe, arranged the division of castes and stages of life and compiled the Mantras into Samhitas. He prescribed (specific) Mantras for rites leading to fruits here and hereafter.
91Thus, Indra, the enjoyer of the universe, along with other Devas, initiated Yajna (the institution of sacrifice) together with all its requisites.
92When the horse-sacrifice was instituted, the sages arrived there and began to perform sacrifices with the holy sacrificial beasts. On hearing about it, people assembled there to witness it.
93-97When the Rtviks were busily engaged in sacrificial rites, when the Vedic mantras were recited, when the leading Adhvaryus moved about hurriedly and quickly, when the holy sacrificial beasts were being killed, when the offerings of ghee were poured into the fire by the divine Hotris, when the noble Devas were invoked and when they partook of their shares in the sacrifice, the sages began to worship Devas in the form of sense-organs (i.e. their presiding deities) who existed in the beginning of the Kalpas. The Adhvaryus who were great sages got ready at the time of praisa to slay the animals. On seeing the animals in their pitiable condition, the great sages collectively asked Indra—“What is this sacrificial rite of yours?
98Desirous of a rite involving violence to life you have started an extremely sinful activity. O leading and excellent Deva, in this Yajfia of yours the slaughter of animals is not a desirable act.
99An evil activity has been started by you for destroying Dharma through animal-slaughter. This is not Dharma. This is an evil, sinful act. Violence can never be a Dharma.
100-101If Your Honour wishes to perform the Yajna do it as per injunctions in the Vedas. You may worship by means of the Yajfia that will not cause the violation (dissipation) of Dharma. O great god, perform the Yajna with the sacrificeworthy seeds, which does not involve violence (Himsa) —the seeds which are kept for the maximum period of three years and which do not germinate (into sprouts). O Indra! This great Dharma (rite) has been laid down formerly by the self-born god (Brahma).”
102In this way Indra, the enjoyer of the universe, was asked by the sages, the seers of Reality: ‘Say with what objects, mobile (living) or immobile (inanimate), Yajna shall be performed?’
103The great sages eagerly seeking truth got tired of the dispute. Coming to a compromise with Indra they asked lord Vasu:
104The Sages said: “O excessively intelligent king, O son of Uttanapada, how was the procedure of Yajna seen by you? Please tell us. O lord, clear our doubts.”
105On hearing their words, the king remembered the Vedic texts and, without pondering over the strong or weak points, he explained the facts about Yajna. The king said: “The Yajna shall be performed as laid down in the sacred texts.
106It shall be performed with sacrificial animals or seeds and fruits. Violence is the nature of Yajna. This is what appears to me.
107Inasmuch as the Mantras in the Samhitas, as revealed to the sages endowed with penance and the visions of Taraka and other mantras, are indicative of violence, what I have said now is based on that authority. Hence it behoves you to forgive me.
108O Brahmanas, if those statements in Mantras are authoritative, let the Yajna function on those lines, otherwise those statements will become false”. Thus those sages of Yogic communion were rendered unable to reply (silenced by him).
109-110Glancing at the world below they said—“For that purpose be quiet. Though a king, you have uttered a lie. So enter the nether world”. As soon as this was uttered, the king entered the nether world. Having been a resident of the upper regions, he now became a resident of the nether regions.
111Thanks to that statement of the sages, he became a resident of the nether regions. Attempting to clear doubts in Dharma matters, King Vasu (in the netherworld) went below.
112No person, even if he be very learned, should express a decisive opinion all by himself, in regard to the disputed points of Dharma. The way of Dharma is very subtle. It has many loopholes and is inscrutable.
113Excepting Svayambhuva Manu, none of Devas and sages can pronounce a judgment on Dharma.
114So, violence was not approved as a means to Dharma by the great sages. Thousands and crores of sages have attained heaven by means of their activities.
115For the same reason, the sages do not unduly praise charity or Yajna. By making gifts of even insignificant articles such as bulbous root, fruit, vegetables or water pot, in accordance with their means, the sages have become established in heaven.
116Adroha (absence of ill-feeling), Alobha (absence of covetousness), Dama (self-control), Bhutadaya (kindness to living beings), Tapas (penance), Brahmacarya (celibacy), Satya (truthfulness), Anukrosa (compassion and tenderness), Ksama (forgiveness) and Dhrti (fortitude)—these are roots of Dharma but extremely difficult to achieve.
117Yajna consists of piety and Mantras; Tapas is of the nature of observance of fast; one attains Devas through Yajna and Vairagya (detachment) through penace.
118Brahmanhood is attained through Karmasannyasa (renunciation of the fruits of Karman). Assimilation (in the supreme Atman) is obtained through detachment. Kaivalya (complete identity with Brahman) is obtained through perfect knowledge. These are the five goals of life.
119Thus, formerly, in the Svayambhuva Manvantara, a dispute arose between Devasand sages in regard to the practice of Yajna.
120Then, after witnessing that wonderful procedure (of Yajna) through violence and disregarding the suggestions of Vasu, the sages returned to the place whence they had come.
121-123When the sages had gone away, Devas completed the Yajna and attained the fruits. It is heard that many Brahmana-Ksatriya kings had attained Siddhis through penance. These include Priyavrata, Uttanapada, Dhruva, Medhatithi, Vasu, Sumedhas, Virajas, Sankhapat, Rajas, Pracinabarhis, Parjanya, Havirdhana and other kings. These and many other kings attained Siddhis and went to heaven. They were saintly kings of great prowess whose fame was well-established.
124Hence by all means, in regard to everything, penance surpasses Yajna. It was by penance that the universe was created by Brahma.
125So, Yajna can never excel penance. All this (visible universe) has its roots in penance. In this manner Yajna was set in vogue in the Svayambhuva Manvantara. From that time onwards the performance of Yajnas continued as Yugas rolled on.

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