by Laurie Pratt

from CycleOfTime Website




EACH of the four Yugas, as described by the ancient Hindu sages, has a correspondence with one of the four powers of Maya, the darkness of Illusion that hides from man his Divine nature.


Each Yuga brings to mankind in general an opportunity to control and understand one of these universal powers.


The four Illusions - Avidyas - of Maya, counting from the grossest to the most subtle, are:

  1. Atomic form - Patra or Anu, the world of gross material manifestation, wherein the One Substance appears as innumerable objects

  2. Space - Desh, whereby the idea of division is produced in the Ever-Indivisible

  3. Time - Kal, whereby the mind conceives of change in the Ever-Unchangeable

  4. Vibration - Aum, the universal creative force which obscures our realization of the Ever-Uncreated




The Yugas


  • In Kali Yuga,

    the knowledge and power of man is confined to the world of gross matter (Bhu Loka, first sphere) and his state or natural caste is Sudra, a menial or dependent of Nature.


    During this Yuga, his mind is centered on the problems of material objectivity, the Avidya of Atomic Form.


  • In Dwapara Yuga,

    man gains a comprehension of the electrical attributes, the finer forces and more subtle matters of creation.


    He is then said to belong to the Dwija or twice-born class, since his mind has arisen form the grave of belief in materialism, and he now understands that all matter, atomic form, is in the last analysis nothing but expressions of energy, vibratory force, electrical attributes.


    During the course of this Age of Dwapara, man is given the power to annihilate the Avidya, Illusion, of Space, and the second limitation of Maya is thereby conquered. During this span, man's mind is centered on the problems of the second sphere of creation (Bhuba Loka) which, by the absence of gross matter and the presence only of Nature's finer electrical matters or energies, is called Shunya, the Vacuum Ordinary.


  • In Treta Yuga,

    man extends his knowledge and power over the attributes of universal magnetism, the source of the positive, negative, and neutralizing electricities, and the two poles of creative attraction and repulsion.


    His natural state or caste in this period is that of Bipra, or perfect (human) class, and he succeeds in piercing the third veil of Maya, the Illusion of Time, which is Change.

    The present state of development of human intelligence in this, our own Dwapara Age, is not sufficient to enable us to even dimly understand the problems of the third sphere of Nature (Siva or Swa Loka), that will be met and mastered by the men of Treta Yuga, whose next appearance is scheduled to start in the year 4098 A.D. This third sphere, of universal magnetism, being characterized by the absence of all matter, whether gross or fine, is called Maha Shunya, the Great Vacuum.

    In Treta Yuga, the intelligence of man, having penetrated the secrets of the finer material forces of Nature, of Bhuba Loka, in the preceding Age of Dwapara, now comes upon the solution of the mysteries of Swa Loka, the source and origin of all matter-energies, gross and subtle, thus being enabled to comprehend the true nature of the universe. In this state, man's intelligence is sufficiently purified to grasp the principles of Chittwa, universal Heart Atom, magnetic third portion of Creations and throne of Purush, Spirit, the Creator.

    Chittwa, the throne, has seven attributes - five kinds of electricities, Panch-Tatwa, the five Root-Causes of creation, and two magnetic poles, one of attraction, Buddhi, the Intelligence which determines what is Truth, and one of repulsion, Manas, the Mind, which produces the ideal world for enjoyment. These seven attributes appear to the spiritual sight as of seven different colors, as in a rainbow.

    The throne of universal magnetism, Chittwa, and its seven attributes, have been compared in the Bible to a sealed casket of knowledge, which no man under Maya, even in Satya Yuga (heaven) can fully understand:

    • And I saw in the right hand of him that sat on the throne a book written within and on the back side, sealed with seven seals. And I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, 'Who is worthy to open the book, and to loose the seals thereof?' And no man in heaven, nor in earth, neither under the earth, was able to open the book, neither to look thereon.
       - Rev. 5:1-3.


  • In Satya Yuga,

    man comprehends the source of universal magnetism with its principle of duality, or polarity, and his intelligence reaches out to grasp the mystery of Vibration, Aum, the creative power that sustains the universe.

    • These things saith the Amen (Aum), the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God.
       - Rev. 3:14.

    If this fourth and last sheath of Maya is thus removed, in the Golden Age, from the eyes of the perfected man, he passes on to the fifth sphere.


    In this state, freed from the four Illusions, he is called Brahman, knower of the Creator, Brahma, the spiritual light and only Real Substance of the universe.


    The fourth sphere, Maha Loka, is the connecting link between the three lower Lokas, worlds, and the three spiritual Lokas above, and is thus called Dasamadwar, the Door.




Seven Lokas

The universe, from the Eternal Substance God down to the gross material creation, is divided by the ancient Hindu rishis into seven different spheres, Swargas or Lokas, of which the first four, the kingdom of Maya, have been described above.


The remaining three, not being subject to the illusory limitations of vibrations, time, space, or atomic form, are of course unconnected with the time-cycles of the different Yugas, and it will therefore be sufficient here merely to mention them briefly.

  • The fifth sphere is Jana Loka, the abode of the Sons of God, wherein the idea of the separate existence of the Higher Self originates. As it is above the comprehension of man while under the Illusions of Maya, this sphere is called Alakhsa, the Incomprehensible.

  • The sixth sphere is Tapa Loka, that of the Holy Spirit or Eternal Patience, as it remains forever undisturbed by any limited idea. Because it is not approachable even by the Sons of God, as such, it is called Agam, the Inaccessible.

  • The seventh and highest sphere is Satya Loka, abode of God, the only Real Substance, Sat, in the universe. No name can describe it, hence this sphere is called Anam, the Nameless.



The Door to Heaven

When man, in Satya Yuga, reaches the fourth, intermediate sphere of Maha Loka, the Door, and overcomes the fourth and last power of Maya, he leaves behind him the illusory world of reflected light, and is baptized directly in the true spiritual light, becoming a son of God.


Thus, having been immersed in the sacred stream of Aum (symbolized by water) and illuminated by the direct light of Spirit, he enters into Jana Loka, the Kingdom of God, wherein his own Sonship is made manifest.

The Door, the fourth sphere of Maha Loka, represents the last Avidya, Illusion, of Maya, which produces the idea of the separate existence of the (lower) self, Ahamkar, Ego, the son of Man.


Thus Man, Manava, being the off-spring of Maya, Ignorance, and its four powers or illusory ideas, is considered to have his source and origin in these four Ideas or Manus.



Twenty-four Elders

The powers of Maya have been divided into twenty-four principles, Tattwa, by the ancient sages, namely,

(1)        Ahamkar, Ego

(2)        Chittwa, Heart Center, universal magnetism

(3)        Buddhi, Intelligence

(4)        Manas, Mind

(5-19)   five kinds of electricities, Pancha-Tattwa, each with three manifestations

(20-24) Bhoota, five matters of the gross physical world. These twenty-four divisions



The Gunas

The five kinds of electricities [Pancha-Tattwa, the five Root-Causes or the causal body of Purusha, the Son of God] manifest in three ways through the three Gunas,

  • Sattwa, the positive

  • Tama, the negative

  • Raja, the neutralizing

The Gunas are the three causative, guiding qualities inherent in and operative upon all Tatwa.


The word Guna comes from the roots gu, to work imperceptibly, and nee, to guide.

The five positive Sattwa attributes of the electricities are the abstract knowing senses, Jnana-Indriya, through which man realizes his five senses of sight, sound, smell, taste, and touch. Manas, the Mind, guides these Jnana-Indriya through its sense-consciousness.

The five neutralizing Raja attributes of the electricities are the abstract working senses, Karma-Indriya, through which man realizes his five abilities of articulation, motion, generation, absorption, and excretion. The Karma-Indriya are guided by Pran, the Life-Energy.

The five negative Tama attributes of the electricities, by their resisting force, produce the five Tanmatra, the objects of the abstract senses. Tanmatra comes from the root, Tat, that, and matra, merely.


Tanmatra, then, are Only That or Merely That, the most subtle and most imperceptible form of matter, the vibratory structure of material substance. They are classified as Roop, form and color; Shabda, sound; Gandha, odor; Ras, taste and fluidity; and Sparsha, touch.

These fifteen electrical manifestations, together with the two magnetic poles, Intelligence and Mind, make up the [seventeen "fine limbs" of the subtle or astral body] Linga-Sharir or Sukshma-Sharir, the fine material body of Purush, Spirit.



The Physical Universe

A further increase of the negative Tama Guna, and a combination and mixture of the five Tanmatra, produce the five material substances, or Bhoota, of our physical universe. Bhoota has a root-meaning of "to have been."


Hence, Bhoota means past. The real nature of the five Bhoota is left behind in time, in their causative Tanmatra, and all the preceding Tatwa.


By tracing the etymology of these terms, we realize the great scientific advancement, far out-stripping that of the scientists of our present era, of the sages who thus classified the orderly processes of creation.

  • The first Bhoota is Byoma or Akash, subtle and ethereal fluid that pervades the universe, the peculiar vehicle of light and sound. Its vibration is geometrically represented by a circle enclosing many dots, signifying the atomic movement within limitless space. Akash is subtly connected with the Tanmatra of sound. It is derived from the roots ang, to pervade, and kash, to shine.

  • The second Bhoota is Wayu. It means "That which flows," from the roots wa, to pervade, and yuk, to augment. It is Wayu that makes air and all gaseous substances able to manifest. In a subtle sense, it means touch. Its work is expansion, contraction, and pressure. The circular vibration belongs to Wayu. Its form may be seen when a whirlwind causes dust to gyrate in a circular course.

  • The third Bhoota is Tej, or energy. It comes form the root jejus, light. It causes magnetism, heat, and light. Its work is to expand., In a subtle sense, it is color and form. It causes fire to burn. The triangular rhythm is representative of Tej. and may be observed in the flame of fire, which darts upward in a conical form.

  • The fourth Bhoota is Apa, or fluidity. It comes from the roots ap, to nourish, and a, partial. Its work is to contract. In a subtle sense, it is taste. It is responsible for all liquids, such as water. Its vibration is semi-circular. The undulating flow of the ocean waves illustrates this rhythm.

  • The fifth Bhoota is Kshiti or Prithiwi, which gives solidarity. Prithiwi comes from the roots pri, to nourish, th, to stand fixed, and wi, covering. Its work is to harden and make compact. In a subtle sense, it is odor, and in its grossest form, it is earth. It possesses an angular vibration, which causes the composition of matter to be divided into angular particles.

These five Bhoota together make up the gross material body, Sthul Sharir, of Purush, Spirit.



The Four Beasts

These twenty-four Tatwa comprise the whole body of Maya, the illusions of which, separately and collectively, must be known and overcome by man as he progresses through the cycle of the Four-World Ages, and then passes, if his larger individual destiny allows, to the fifth spiritual sphere beyond all mundane conception and cyclic limitation.

In the following Biblical passages, the four powers of Maya are likened to four beasts:

  • the twenty-four Tatwa or principles of creation, to Elders


  • the perfected man reborn from the grave of his lower self, to the slain and resurrected Lamb


  • the seven Spirits of God, to the seven spheres of the universe through which man must pass on his way from selfhood to Godhood


  • the mysteries of Nature under Maya, to the Book:

And I beheld, and, lo, in the midst of the throne and of the four beasts, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent forth into all the earth.


And he came and took the book out of the right hand of him that sat upon the throne. And when he had taken the book, the four beasts and four and twenty elders fell down before the Lamb.
 - Rev. 5:6-8.





Rules are given in the masterly little book before referred to - The Holy Science, by Swami Sri Yukteswarji - for the benefit of the aspirant toward a realization of his own divinity.


Such regulations and methods of spiritual achievement as we find in the Bhagavad Gita and other sacred books of India come down to us from an immense antiquity, bearing witness to the Divine knowledge of the ancient sages who could thus guide the chela, disciple, from the darkness of Maya to the light of Spirit through systematic training of body, mind, and soul.

Purification of the material body is enjoined by knowledge of the world of Nature; purification of the electric body by Tapas; religious austerity by moderation or patience both in joy and sorrow, whereby a permanent equilibrium is attained; purification of the magnetic body (Chittwa) by the regulation of the breath as taught by the Guru, whereby one merges himself in the stream of Pranava or Sabda, Aum, the creative vibration.

Knowledge of these various steps toward Self-Realization come to man in the natural course of the different Yugas, and the state of mankind in general at any one time determines the Yuga he is living in, or vice versa.


However, the Yugas also have their characteristic influence on the individual life-cycle of each man, as on each solar day or night, as explained in the last article of this series.


Thus, the infancy of man, physically helpless, and mentally undeveloped, corresponds to Kali Yuga, when man is the dependent of Nature. The unfolding powers of reason and the eager idealism of youth is the Dwapara Yuga of the life-cycle of an individual, while the ripe powers of maturity are expressed in his Treta Yuga period.


Wisdom and compassion, the hard-won gifts of ideal old age, correspond to Satya or the Golden Age of man, about which the poet so beautifully sang:


Grow old along with me,
The best is yet to be
The last of life, for which the first was made.


Similarly, the man who has attained freedom, the Jivan Mukta Sannyasi, conqueror of the four Illusions of Maya, is in the Satya Yuga of his own individual cycle, though he may be living in the Kali, Dwapara, or Treta Yuga of the world, and by contrast, appears to be a World Savior by his luminous example.


Thus, Jesus, who became a Christ, lived in the Kali Yuga of a world-cycle, but had transcended the fourth sphere, Maha Loka, corresponding to Satya Yuga, and had entered the fifth sphere, Jana Loka, that of the Sons of God.