Yugadharma in Dharmashastra

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Acccording to the Sanātana tradition, there are four yugas as follows:

  1. Kṛta
  2. Treta
  3. Dvāpara
  4. Kali

In dharmasāstra, the characteristics of each yuga are described in 'Yuga Dharma Prakaraṇa'. The word ‘Dharma’ is used in the context meaning characteristic and duty of individuals in each yuga. It can be clearly explained with the following examples:

  • Age – In kṛtayuga, the age of people was around 400 years. In dvāparayuga, it was 300 years. In tretāyuga, the age was approximately 200 years while in kaliyuga it is of 100 years.
Arogāḥ sarvasiddhārthā-ścaturvarṣaśatāyuṣaḥ | kṛte tretādiṣu tveṣāṃ vayo hrasati pādaśaḥ||[1]
  • Paradharma – Paradharma means the most virtuous act that can be done. According to the Mahābhārata, the paradharma in kṛtayuga is penance[2] In tretāyuga, it is knowledge. In dvāparayuga it is yajna.[3] In kaliyuga, the paradharma is dānam.[4]
tapaḥ paramaṃ kṛtayuge tretāyāṃ jnānamucyate | dvāpare yajnamevāhuḥ dānameva kalu yuge ||[5]

References

  1. parāśara smṛti, smṛti muktāphalaṃ, p.no. 11
  2. It means tapas.
  3. It means sacrificial rite.
  4. It means giving away for charity.
  5. Mahābhārataṃ-1-84-86, smṛti muktāphalaṃ, p.no.11,