The Third Cycle of Time: The DVAPARA YUGA, the AGE OF DOUBT


The third age is called THE AGE OF DOUBT, or the DVAPARA YUGA, a mixture of energy (RAJAS) and darkness (TAMAS). Rules and rituals replace all Knowingness as spiritual and moral decadence increase.


The Lingapurana, Chapter 39, says that in the Dvapara Yuga people have developed different inclinations – mentally, verbally, and physically. In other words, as the illusion of multiplicity increases, human beings become more individualized and as such they are less able to find agreement and more likely to disagree. Agriculture seems to have become more labor intensive and arduous; thus our bodies are vulnerable to the strains of physical labor. The life span shortens.


Covetousness, service on wage basis, business, fighting, indecision about principles, division of the Vedas, confusion of Dharmas, destruction of discipline among the four castes and stages of life, lust and hatred – these are specifics pertaining to that age.

[Lingapurana, CH. 39, 54-55]


… Ritual becomes multitudinous and bent upon austerities and gifts, the creatures fall under the sway of the Constituent of Passion…  there is now a collapse of truthfulness, few abide by truth.

[Mahabharata 3(33)148.27-30]


It is evident that humans have in fact sacrificed animals and men, women & children to their 'gods'. While I am certainly not advocating this perplexing practice, it remains a part of human heritage and our collective subconscious memory. Perhaps these cruel deaths can also be seen as part of the force that draws us down into the lower frequencies of density as the yugas proceed.


In the Dvapara Yuga, Age of Doubt, passion, greed, and drunkenness arise. Greed in all its endless forms and variations is said to be THE primary source of all evils through out the Sanskrit Puranic texts. Thought, speech, and acts bring about and cause the suffering of drought, death, disease, and other plagues. The result is that one becomes numb, indifferent – meaning our consciousness is further reduced and lost in the limitations of a miasma of doubt, as our memory and awareness continue to diminish.


From this indifference people begin to think about the possibility of liberating themselves from the pain and misery. This desire for release leads to a certain detachment and thus the ability to analyze their faults.


They begin to realize the deformities and defects in the world. Thanks to this perception knowledge becomes possible in Dvapara.

[Lingapurana, Ch. 39, 66-70]


I often wonder if we humans were telepathic throughout this third Dvapara Yuga, the Age of Doubt. In the cuneiform epic Gilgamesh, his friend Enkidu was able to communicate mind-to-mind with the animals on the steppes until a priestess seduced him and changed his consciousness.


There is, of course, still no written word until the fourth age, the Kali Yuga.




The Sanskrit Hindu Epic, THE MAHABHARATA takes place in the Dvapara Yuga. If anyone asked me the old question ‘if you were stranded on a desert island, what book would you want?’ - I would reply, The MAHABHARATA! This would be mildly tricky on my part because the Mahabharata is composed of 18 volumes. Although its sheer size may make this Sanskrit treasure appear somewhat inaccessible, these interdimensional tales are the wonderfully cosmic and enlightening stories of our human and far-beyond-human drama.


The translations of the first five books by the Sanskrit scholar J.A.B van Buitenen are delightfully readable to the modern reader. Unfortunately and tragically, Prof. Van Buitenen died before he could complete the entire Mahabharata. However we are fortunate to have his translation of the BHAGAVAD GITA, which is contained within the Mahabharata. There are also the various condensed versions in English.


If you want a sort of beginners opening into this wondrous ancient kingdom, then I recommend that you watch Peter Brook’s film, which is available on DVD. Although it is, by necessity, a shortened version of this vast epic, the actors who play the various characters are well chosen and will give you a solid feeling for the main characters – such as…


*Yudhishthira - The Lord of Dharma who must learn how to play the cosmic game of ‘dice’ properly

*Arjuna  - Krishna’s friend and the famous warrior of Bhagavad Gita fame

*The lovely Draupadi - with 5 husbands, she was evidently the only female around with acceptable DNA


There is also a made for TV Hindi version of the Mahabharata with English subtitles, produced by B.R. Chopra & Ravi Chopra. With 94 episodes, the pace is very slow - but the stories are excellent as always and the characterizations, costumes, chariots, golden crowns and massive pearls (for men!) are rather fun.


Here are a few of my favorite passages:


From The Book of the Forest 3(35)170

Arjuna said: … I saw another great city, divine and resplendent like fire and sun, which moved freely, abode of colorfully jeweled trees... made of divine gems...


Matali said: This lovely airborne city, with the splendor of good works, piled with all precious stones and impregnable even to the Immortals... free from sorrow and disease... The Immortals shun this celestial, sky-going city... called Hiranyapura, the City of Gold... is defended by [those who] cannot be slain by any deities.


Arjuna: “Go quickly to the city... for surely these... are in no wise inviolable to me!” Matali drove fast to the environs of Hiranyapura on the celestial chariot... again they took to their city and employing their... wizardry flew up to the sky, city and all... because of the boon given to them [they] easily held their celestial, divinely effulgent, airborne city, which could move about at will. Now it would go underground, then hover in the sky, go diagonally with speed, or submerge in the ocean.



The Book of the Beginning 1(6)59

Indra then made a covenant... that together with the Gods they would descend from heaven to earth with a portion of themselves. Indra himself gave orders to all the celestials... And so the celestials in succession descended from heaven to earth, for the destruction of the enemies of the Gods and the well being of the worlds; thereupon they were born in the lineages of Brahmin seers and the dynasties of royal seers, at their own pleasure... even in their infancy they stood in strength.



The Book of the Forest 3(37)186

When the close of the thousand Eons has come and life has been spent, a drought of many years drives most of the creatures... to their death on the face of the earth... Seven scorching suns drink up all the water in the oceans and rivers... The Fire of Annihilation then invades with the force of a gale, a world that had already been desiccated by the suns. The fire splits the earth, spreads to the underworld and strikes terror in the Gods... It burns down the world of the Snakes.


Wondrous looking huge clouds rise up in the sky, like herds of elephants, in the finery of garlands of lightning... clad in garlands of lightning, the clouds rise up... In their terrifying shapes with their horrible echoing blasts...the terrible thundering clouds inundate everything... till the ocean rises... mountains are sapped and collapse, and earth itself collapses. Then sudden winds whirl around the skies and under the hurricane gusts the clouds are torn to shreds. And the self-existent God... drinks up these winds and lies sleeping on the Lotus of the Beginning.


These are glimpses into what I consider one of the greatest books ever written in the entire history of the planet. The Mahabharata largely deals with the fates of the Sacred Warriors as they leave the earth plane to make way for the next cycle of time – the Kali Yuga. These amazing super-men and even their enemies, who are bringing the Dvapara to its end, have an enlightened code of ethics no one in our present day world would ever dream of. By the end of the epic, these sacred warriors and their lineages are all dead.


The Bhagavad Gita is primarily the conversation that takes place between Krishna and the warrior Arjuna before a great battle between members of the same family. Once Krishna succeeds in convincing Arjuna that it is his dharma to fight this war, Yudhishthira – who is the king of Dharma and Arjuna’s brother – proceeds to take off his armor, put down his weapons, and walk over to the side of the enemy. There he asks for the consent of his teachers (gurus) who by the chance of fate are now his enemies.


It is said that in a former age, when a man openly did battle without first seeking the consent of his gurus, he was despised by his betters. But if he did seek their consent and then fought his betters, his victory in battle was assured.

[Bhagavad Gita, 6(4)41.15-20]


As Sacred Warriors these men obeyed a sort of Cosmic Law when it came to the arts of war. Yudhishthira’s teachers, whose loyalty was pledged to the enemy’s side, nevertheless all give him their consent because they know he is in the right and they in fact want him to win – even if it means their death. They tell him right there on the battlefield that because of this virtuous act, Yudhishthira’s victory is assured.


The Dvapara Yuga, the Age of Doubt, comes to an end when Krishna leaves the earth plane. This is described in many Puranic texts, but I find Krishna’s words to his friend Uddhava the most intriguing.


When I (Krishna) leave this world darkness will descend:

The dreaded Kali will begin…

Do not remain here when I have gone.

You are a worthy soul, but in this darkness which is to come

People will indulge in all that is unworthy.

[Uddhava Gita, Dialogue 2. 4-5]






The LINGA Purana

Translated by a Board of Scholars and Edited by Prof. J.L. Shastri

Part I & II

Motilal Banarsidass Publishers; 1973 & 1997, Delhi

The Uddhava Gita, The Final Teaching of Krishna

Translated by Swami Ambikananda Saraswati; 2002, Ulysses Press


The Bhagavadgita in the Mahabharata

Translated by J.A.B. van Buitenen

University of Chicago Press, 1981


The Mahabharata

Translated & Edited by J.A.B. van Buitenen

University of Chicago Press, 1981


The Uddhava Gita, The Final Teaching of Krishna

Translated by Swami Ambikananda Saraswati

2002, Ulysses Press


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