Although many Western scholars believe the Puranas of India are mythological, they are actually accurate accounts of former eras in the history of our universe. The book the Big Bang and the Sages documents several important historical events in the timeline of our solar system that were first correctly dated by the Puranas.
In this article we discuss the major events of the Bronze Age, Dvapara Yuga. Although many of them may sound fantastic, remember that life today is far different—even unimaginable—compared to the way humans lived one or two thousand years ago.
What are the Four Yugas?
A yuga is a cosmic age according to the Vedic system of measuring universal time. Unlike the Western concept of linear time, Vedic time is cyclical.
The four yugas are Satya, Treta, Dvapara, and Kali. Together they form a time-unit known as the chaturyuga. One chaturyuga lasts for 8.64 million years of our Earth years. Like the four seasons of the year, the four ages of a chaturyuga rotate without end.
The Vedas contain both topographical and topological descriptions of our solar system and larger universe. In the Bhagavata Purana, Sage Shukadeva explains that there are many races of extraterrestrial beings who inhabit higher and lower dimensions of existence.
This is a map of our universe, known in Sanskrit as Bhu-mandala. The geographical region which we refer to as Earth is part of the landmass known as Jambudvipa.
From a higher-dimensional perspective, Bhu-mandala comprises seven concentric islands, each island separated by a concentric ocean, and further subdivided by four prominent mountain ranges.
As with any map, these images or descriptions cannot fully capture the entirety of cosmic geography. Just as an ant cannot fathom the 3-dimensional life of a human being and the scope of human activities, most human beings are similarly unable to comprehend extraterrestrial life in higher dimensions and the scale and symmetry of extra-dimensional geography.
The Puranas give just enough cosmological insight so that we can understand our place in the larger universe and focus on the areas of life that truly matter most: spiritual enlightenment.
LEARN MORE: The Puranas provide an advanced understanding of our universe, including descriptions of life on other planets. Check out our guide to Vedic Cosmology.
By the process of yoga, one can gain the ability to travel to these higher and lower dimensional realms. For such a person, the descriptions of the Puranas serve as a map for navigating the universe.
Events in Dvapara Yuga
Dvapara Yuga is the first of the four ages that make up a chaturyuga. In English it is often referred to as the Bronze Age.
The Battle of Kurukshetra
Dvapara Yuga culminated in an epic battle. The Pandava and Kuru clans both vied for the throne of Hastinapur, which was the most influential kingdom in the world. The Pandavas, led by Yudhisthira, were endowed with a godly nature and fought to defend righteousness, while the Kurus, led by Duryodhana, were mad for power, and they waged war out of greed alone.
In the weeks and months leading up to the war, each side recruited kings from all over the world. As a result, nearly every able-bodied warrior on the planet was present on the battlefield of Kurukshetra; and after the war, hardly any of them remained. This mass slaughter set the stage for Kali Yuga, the age of darkness and degradation. With the loss of the warrior class, the people of Earth were left with only a few righteous men to protect them from criminals and other wicked men. As a result, future generations of humankind quickly sunk to low moral standards.
Krishna’s Talks with Arjuna
Just before the battle of Kurukshetra began, Arjuna, the Pandavas’ most skilled warrior, had a sudden change of heart. He had deep affection for many of the men on the opposing side—Bhisma, his grandfather; Drona, his teacher; Krpa, his great-uncle; and many others who were like brothers and sons to him.
This sparked the famous conversation between Arjuna and Krishna that would eventually become known as the Bhagavad-gita, the Song of God. In the Gita, Krishna instructs Arjuna in the most basic principles of philosophy and religion. He answers such questions as:
- What is a man’s duty in this world?
- How can we be freed of the suffering of karmic reaction?
- What is the nature of the Self (atman)?
- What is the relationship between the atman and the body?
- What happens when we die?
After hearing these transcendental teachings from Krishna, Arjuna agreed to fight as a matter of duty, knowing that the outcome was in the control of the Lord.
The Division of the Veda and Revelation of Srimad Bhagavatam
At the end of Dvapara Yuga, Sage Vyasa foresaw that in the coming Kali Yuga, men and women would suffer terribly due to a lack of spiritual knowledge and religious life. Therefore he compiled the Vedas into written form and divided them into four parts.
Previously the Vedas were one unit, and young men would learn them entirely by heart. However, as the chaturyuga progressed, peoples’ memories became weaker, and it was no longer possible even for the greatest sages to memorize the entire Veda. Therefore Vyasa divided it into smaller segments, and he also wrote everything down and had many of his disciples pen additional copies so that the Vedic teachings could be preserved.
Yet even after doing all this, Vyasadeva still felt as though he had not done enough for his fellow human beings. He felt lost and despondent, and he began to introspect. Suddenly Vyasa’s guru, Sage Narada, appeared before him and inquired about his welfare. Vyasa explained that he was feeling depressed and incomplete in his service.
After hearing from Vyasa, Narada reprimanded him for not directly praising the Supreme Being, Krishna. The Vedas are in a certain sense unsuitable for the people of Kali Yuga, for their instructions mostly deal with obtaining different forms of material happiness. While this is not in and of itself bad, a follower of the Vedas runs the risk of becoming attached to material pleasure and ignoring the more important aspect of the Vedas that teach the process of spiritual awakening.
Narada advised Vyasa to write a Purana exclusively about Bhagavan Sri Krishna, the Supreme Person, and thus the Srimad Bhagavatam was again manifest.