by Laurie Pratt
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:
Atomic form, Patra or Anu, the world of gross material
manifestation, wherein the One Substance appears as
Space, Desh, whereby the idea of division is produced in the
Time, Kal, whereby the mind conceives of change in the
Vibration, Aum, the universal creative force which obscures
our realization of the Ever-Uncreated
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
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
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
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
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
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.
The powers of Maya have been divided into twenty-four principles,
Tattwa, by the ancient sages, namely,
Chittwa, Heart Center, universal magnetism
five kinds of electricities, Pancha-Tattwa, each with three
Bhoota, five matters of the gross physical world. These
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 -
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
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
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.
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,
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
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.
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.
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.
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
Grow old along with
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
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.