Racial Cycles and Yugas

By G. de Purucker

What takes place within a race is but a copying of what takes place on grander scales elsewhere. Any planet, sun, or universe, has its own four periods of a length and magnitude corresponding to its life cycle. In Hindu cosmogony these are called yugas, their length in each case depending upon the scale of its arc, whether of a man or a sun.

The manner in which the great cycles in the evolution of a root-race are repeated in the small is an extremely involved one. The general rule is that the small repeats the great, that little yugas not only are included in the greater yugas, but repeat them on their own level. For example, our present fifth root-race, considered as a whole with all its minor subraces, is now in its kali yuga, which began over five thousand years ago at the death of Krishna, and will last into the future for about 427,000 years.

Now some of the minor cycles or yugas of this fifth root-race will be rising, and some will be falling, yet all interworking with each other and subject to the great kali yuga of the root-race. Thus, a minor yuga or race may be in its youth and rising to its flowering, yet, because it is included in the over-all kali yuga, will be subject to the general decline of the major kali yuga.

Every minor cycle, great or small, within the root-race is in its turn septenary and therefore has its own little kali yuga, and its numerical relations are about the same. Just as the great kali yuga is 432,000 years long, so a minor one may be only 432 years long, or 4320, or even 43,200. The Hindu or Aryan race, which was one of the very first subraces of our own fifth root-race, is now in its own racial kali yuga in addition to being in the longer kali yuga of the root-race. But it is striving to rise again, and will do so in the future. On a smaller scale, Spain is in its short kali yuga, as also Portugal. Italy has just ended a short kali yuga and is beginning to rise again.

Unfortunately, because our fifth root-race is a very materialistic one, heavily sunken in matter due to our fourth round, these rises are mostly along the lines of materialisms. Furthermore, the European general stock of races, which we might call the European subrace or family race perhaps, has been steadily rising since the downfall of the Roman Empire, and will continue to do so, with various smaller shocks and falls and risings again, for some six or seven or possibly eight thousand years more. And then there will be a rapid descent until its kali yuga is reached, a small kali yuga, when there will be a great European catastrophe of nature. This will be some sixteen to eighteen thousand years from now. This period will see the submersion of the British Isles. Most of France will be under the water, also Holland, some of Spain, a good deal of Italy, and other places. Of course all this won't take place in a night, for there will be premonitory signs, such as slow sinkings of the coast, great earthquakes, etc.

The main fact is that, although the fifth root-race as a whole is in its kali yuga which began some five thousand years ago, its subraces may be rising or falling, each one according to its own time periods; and each such subrace has its own little kali yuga repeated after the great one, bearing the same proportion to the entire length of any such small race that the great kali yuga does to the root-race.

Another name for yuga or cycle in Sanskrit is kala-chakra, time-wheel. Just as a wheel revolves, so do the four yugas, the four time-wheels, following the numerical ratios of 4, 3, 2, and a period of pause; then again, the 4, 3, 2, pause, and so forth throughout the manvantaras. These same relative numerical ratios prevail in all divisions of nature. For instance, the globe manvantara can be subdivided into periods standing to each other in the relation of 4, 3, 2, pause or one, making the complete 10; and these can be called the satya yuga, treta yuga, dwapara yuga, and kali yuga, each with its rest period or sandhya, of the globe manvantara (cf. Occult Glossary, pp. 184-5).

Using exactly the same principle of repetitive workings in nature, an entire round, passing through all the globes, can be looked upon as a time period which is divisible into the same relative numerical portions. So we can say that the four yugas apply to any unitary period in the flow of time: to a planetary round, a globe-round, a root-race, or even to the period of a human life.

To illustrate: a man is not in his kali yuga when he is in advanced age. His kali yuga is reached in his most active portion of life, his middle age, when he is in the full plenitude of his physical powers, but still an infant as regards his higher powers. However, this fact did not apply to the early root-races, because they were on the downward arc and reached their kali yuga in their old age. Since we have passed the lowest point in our evolution and have begun to rise, our inner nature has evolved forth enough to make our later years, after our individual kali yuga period, a time of blossoming and realization. We now no longer die in the heyday of our physical age as did the early Atlanteans and the Lemurians. We live past the prime of physical activity, into the mellower, richer years, which older age brings. During the sixth and seventh root-races, curiously enough, our kali yuga will coincide with the rich point of our life, but we shall then be in the relative fullness of all our powers.

Applying these yugas or time cycles to the root-races: every root-race has its satya yuga, followed by its treta, dwapara, and kali yugas. Then comes a sandhya or rest period, a junction point, after which comes the birth of the new race. The seeds of the succeeding new root-race spring into being; but the old root-race continues along, although no longer having the mastery of the earth. The reason is that with the opening of the satya yuga of the succeeding root-race, all the stronger, more advanced egos of the race then in its kali yuga take imbodiment in the new race; whereas the bodies of the decaying race are given over to less developed egos which enter them. As these bodies of the old race continue living and propagating through several succeeding ages, egos of less and less degree of evolutionary advancement enter them, until finally these bodies through slow degeneration will house only the least developed egos of the human stock. But the dying-out root-race lasts almost as long as it takes the succeeding root-race to reach its kali yuga.

Here we have the key to these numerical periods, as they are given in the Brahmanical computations. A root-race takes four yugas or 4,320,000 years to achieve its growth and its physical prime. The last tenth of this period is its kali yuga. Then the new race comes into being; just as on a smaller scale the sixth subrace of our present fifth root-race is already having its seeds of birth in the Americas, where also the seeds of the sixth root-race to come are now being laid, beginning now in our kali yuga, but as yet merely an adumbration of what it will be. When our kali yuga reaches towards its end, some 427,000 years from now, the seeds of the sixth root-race will then be fairly numerous. Meanwhile our fifth root-race will continue as bodies for inferior egos until this series of bodies, not of egos, through degeneration towards its end will finally be the vehicles for only the least developed egos of the human stock. From this we see that a root-race on this globe, during this fourth round in the past and up to the present, has taken something like 8,640,000 years to live from its seeds to its disappearance, though only half of that time -- the mahayuga or four yugas of 4,320,000 years -- can properly be called the zenith of that root-race. The remaining 4,320,000 years represent its dying-out period.

As each root-race begins at about the middle period of its parent root-race, our own fifth root-race began to be born in the kali yuga of the fourth. The sixth root-race succeeding us will begin to be born in our kali yuga, upon which we are now entering. When a race begins, its forerunners are very few; they are strange people, and are considered almost as freaks of nature. By and by they find themselves in the majority, and that is when their root-race has become strong. It is the egos which make the root-races, and the egos really which make the yugas. What takes place in the great is repeated in the small: a root-race is but an analogy, a repetition, of a round; even of an entire solar manvantara. The life of a man is exactly the same: it is an analogy of a solar manvantara, of a round, of a globe-manvantara as well as of a root-race.

A root-race, then, from its seed to its death, since the beginning of the Lemurian or third root-race, has been running between eight and nine million years. If we reckon it in yugas, it is 8,640,000 years, but of this period only half, or the mahayuga, can be properly called that root-race, as a beginning, growing, and mature entity. As pointed out earlier, the remaining or second mahayuga is its slow disappearance, because the race becomes, as physical bodies, the receptacle of egos in a constantly decreasing scale of evolutionary advancement. Thus it is that we have amongst us today Atlanteans, but the egos inhabiting these degenerate 'Atlantean bodies' are much inferior to the best class of Atlanteans when Atlantis was in its prime. We have even a few of the ancient Lemurians amongst us, sorry remnants of once wonderful ancestors, for Lemuria was a magnificent race and continent in its day. These few 'Lemurian bodies' still going on and on -- so called because they are of direct Lemurian descent -- offer vehicles to the very lowest class of the human stock. Now these lower egos are not lost souls. They are simply the least evolved of human egos at the present time, and therefore trailers behind us. Each root-race contains the same egos that were evolving in the preceding root-race.

Turning again to the life cycles of the root-races as they relate to the yugas: the Lemurians and Atlanteans as a rule died quickly when their bodies, their lives, reached what we now would call the human kali yuga period. The reason for this was that they had not yet evolved sufficiently in higher intellectual power and spirituality. In other words, these early races died young because they had no old age of richness and fullness to look forward to.

We have passed in evolution that phase which was so noticeable in Atlantean times; and being in the fifth root-race and on the upward arc, we are slowly growing into the evolutionary stages of consciousness wherein the higher intellect and spirituality are becoming ever stronger with each hundred thousand years that pass, making the latter half of life, as time goes on, continuously richer of understanding and of feeling.

With the beginning of the fifth root-race the latter half of a man's life began to develop. Some day old age will be the years when he will be in the plenitude of his power, physical and intellectual and spiritual. It will then be the time when childhood and youth will be proportionately shortened, the reason being that man will come into self-conscious functioning of faculty far more quickly than now. This process will continue through the ages so that, when we shall have reached the seventh root-race on this earth during this fourth round, the latter half of life will be considered as the only part worth living. Bodies then will be stronger, more flexible, very different from what they are now in some respects: more vital, with greater resisting power, yet more ethereal. In those distant days a man's body before his death will be stronger than in what we would call his youth.

Although the Atlanteans died in what we would consider late youth or early middle age, the years that they lived were many more than ours. As time goes on, children will show a tendency to be born continuously more mature in interior faculties, as well as more mature in body, although not necessarily large physically. It was bodies which occupied the greater part of human life in the past. With us, things are beginning to reverse themselves. It will be the inner man -- the mind, the spirituality -- which will more and more show forth.

We live in a very interesting age. I do not think that in the recorded annals that are open to us at the present time there has ever been an epoch when serious-minded students of the ancient wisdom have had the opportunities that now are available.

Much has been said of the blackness of our age, the kali yuga, but it is just this stress and strain which are opening our hearts and tearing the veils away from our minds. It is the Iron Age, a hard, rigid cycle where everything moves intensely and where everything is difficult; but precisely the age in which spiritual and intellectual advancement can be made most quickly. In the Golden Age, in the so-called Age of Saturn, the era of man's innocence, everything moved smoothly and all nature cooperated to make living beautiful and pleasant; and there is something in our hearts that yearns to return to it. But it is not what the evolving ego longs for.

It is a strange paradox that the hardest and cruelest of all the yugas is the very one in which the quickest advancement can be gained. It is the opportunity time, the time of choice, when the most advanced egos will become the seeds of the succeeding great root-race. Thus will be born the satya yuga of the new race out of the kali yuga of the old, and in the distant future there will be even greater things than in the past. Once again the lives of men will be attuned to the inspiration of universal compassion and of wisdom, and the archaic teachings regarding the light which flows from the heart of the spiritual sun, which each man is in the inmost arcanum of his being, will again become the most precious heritage of the human race.

  • (From Fountain-Source of Occultism by G. de Purucker. Copyright © 1974 by Theosophical University Press)

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