yuga, VarNa and colour

Luis Gonzalez-Reimann reimann at uclink.berkeley.edu
Tue May 20 00:56:32 UTC 1997

At 06:50 PM 5/18/97 BST, Beatrice Reusch wrote:

>Mayrhofer says Pisani's reconstruction does not agree with known
>phonological laws.

That's right.

>Yet doesn't some of the Skt. literature refer to the yuga sequence also in
>a different way at times? I mean, instead of 4-3-2-1 for k.rta, etc. there
>would be the first yuga (k.rta), the second (tretA), etc.

Well, yes, KRta comes first and TretA comes second, but the names don't
refer to their order, they refer to their "value:" from best (4) to worst
(1); from whole to incomplete, from long to short, from dharmic to adharmic.

 > If I remember
>correctly,  in one of your own previous posts there was a MBh quote that
>inverted the colors of the second and third yuga. In this kind of account
>of the yuga sequence, of course, the names tretA (etymologically connected
>with 3) and dvApara (etymologically connected with 2) are in metathesis, so
>to speak.

The colors are inverted, but not the order of the yugas.

>What's the logic behind one and the other accounts of the yuga sequence?

The usual logic is precisely the 4-3-2-1 sequence, most likely derived from
the dice throws.
The 4-3-2-1 sequence was not always part of the system.  The Yuga PurANa,
which dates to around the early centuries BCE-CE, uses a decimal arrangement
for the length of life in each yuga, and to the astronomer AryabhaTTa the
four yugas were of equal length, divided into an ascending and a descending
half, like in the Jain cycles.  He still uses 432 000 000 for the four yuga
cycle, so each equal yuga contains 1 080 000 years.



More information about the INDOLOGY mailing list