38 of 40 people found the following review helpful
on August 10, 2011
Selbie and Steinmetz have completed a remarkable work. This clear and concise story of the "Cycle of the Ages" is compelling from beginning to end.
The Yugas will give the reader a new appreciation for the wisdom of pre-Dark Age cultures, a new perspective on the subtle forces that change the course of history, and most importantly, new hope for the future.
If you are not familiar with the ancient view of history you are in for a treat. And if you already have some notion about the cycle of rising and falling ages it gets even better. The Yugas splays out the ascending and descending phases in such clarity that it is easy to see the many subtleties of the epochal changes that have shaped our past and that are ongoing today. Understanding the message in this book will bring larger meaning to the fields of archaeology, anthropology and a number of other sciences. When properly cognized The Yugas can serve as a predictive tool to literally rewrite history.
Like a patient with amnesia mankind has forgotten his past, making it almost impossible to plan for the future. This book awakens us to our rich and beautiful history as it lifts the consciousness to the immense possibilities of the coming higher ages.
20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
on August 15, 2011
Clearly written in a very accessible style, this book presents the concept that the evolution of our consciousness is cyclic over multiple thousands of years, and presents clear and convincing evidence of the effect of higher or lower awareness on past civilizations. It also predicts our future plausibly, showing grounds for real hope along with a realistic view of impending difficulties.
I have studied Sri Yukteswar's and Yogananda's explanations of Yuga theory, and attended many lectures by the authors and others on this subject. Never have I encountered such an engaging and complete, yet simply stated overview of the subject.
Readers should know that much fascinating information is not covered in this volume. I believe the authors have been wise to concentrate on the essentials of this vast subject thus giving the reader a solid foundation for further exploration. This is not to say the book is elementary. I found it to be a real page turner, with many fresh perspectives on the subject.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on April 2, 2012
I suspect years from now a better, more enlightened world will look back and wonder how a modest, quiet sage virtually unknown to his contemporaries, living in the outskirts of a poor city subject to foreign rule could give the world such a far-reaching, broad view of the History of Man on this planet. Granted, the modest sage was no ordinary man but a fully realized Master and he hadn't invented the entire concept of yugas, which is present in Indian philosophy form time immemorial. Yet, his calculations are the real contribution and these make the concept of the yugas relevant to modern man. And I suspect a better, future world will also thank the two writers who expanded on the subject, added multiple examples from History and created this valuable book.
It is not impossible that the Great Master may have slightly miscalculated the beginning of Dwapara Yuga, as another reviewer pointed out, but to my mind this is irrelevant - what's 100 or 200 years in a 24000-year cycle? What matters is the general concept, which sheds light on our past and gives hope for the future.
A cautionary word: man's future on this little planet is bright. What awaits us (at least those of us who will be physically present on this planet in ages to come) is spiritual growth beyond our wildest dreams. However, the same Great Masters who gave the world again the concept of the cycles of evolution warned that it may be a bumpy road before man finds his way again towards God and righteousness. We've strayed too far. Paramahansa Yogananda himself warned that "partial dissolution" is possible. Several other prophetic voices have confirmed that great changes (physical and otherwise) are on their way.
Which is what makes this book all the more relevant: no matter how chaotic or destructive our near future may be, no matter how much materialism may prevail, no matter how far from our Maker we stray... Life will go on, the planet will go on, mankind will go on. We are witnessing the birth pangs of a new world. Let us never lose hope or lack trust in the One who, out of His infinite love for us, sent to Calcutta (and to the world) some of His most beloved emissaries.
19 of 22 people found the following review helpful
on September 14, 2011
This book is so heavily loaded with data from numerous sources that in places it tends to read like an encyclopedia of useful facts and speculation. Perhaps it is the writing style, but the book lacks a certain lightness and inspiration the average reader would appreciate. (Although very familiar with the yugas, I confess to getting bogged down in the rather dense text.) However, there are areas that could have received more study including the precise dating of the yugas, the dating of the Great Pyramid, and the astrological (precessional) cycle.
In THE HOLY SCIENCE Sri Yukteswar linked the yugas to an over-all precessional cycle through the constellations. This cycle in turn is closely linked to the binary motion of our solar system. Because these topics are not emphasized, the authors are apparently unaware that the precise point where the descending Kali Yuga transitions to the ascending Kali Yuga has been carefully researched and re-calibrated in our ascending Dwapara Yuga by a committee of the Indian government.
The point where descending Kali transitions to ascending Kali occurs when the autumnal equinox aligns with the junction between the astrological signs of Libra and Virgo. Using astronomical methods unavailable in Sri Yukteswar's time, the revised date has been set to 285. (Discussed more fully on the Lost Zodiac site: "When Does Dwarpara Yuga Really Begin?") Only working astrologers who use India's zodiac are aware that the mathematically convenient rounded date of 500 AD cannot be correct when aligned with zero Libra.
Although the shift in dating is small in the overall scheme, only a little over 200 years, it is significant for our time because historical events can be carefully traced year by year through the transition of Kali to the ascending Dwapara age. Thus, one would be hard pressed, for example, to explain why the great age of world exploration which began in the time of Columbus happened in the depths of Kali yuga rather than in the sandhi period of ascending Dwapara with the revised date.
DATING OF THE GREAT PYRAMID
I was frankly surprised that the authors stayed with the conventional dating of the Great Pyramid (c. 2560-2900 BC) when there are very serious reasons to doubt that dating. This includes the improbability of the pyramid's construction techniques being used in that time period (Joseph Jochmans, world-mysteries.com) as well as the various interpretations that can be given to the cartouches (ancient-wisdom.co.uk/Ghizawho.htm: "Who constructed the great pyramid?" and PYRAMID ODYSSEY by William Fix)
There are good reasons to believe that the pyramid cartouches may be associated with the god Hermes rather than a difficult-to-trace king named Khufu. This brings us straight to the dating given in the Edgar Cayce readings, which state that Hermes was the architect who built the pyramid during the 100 years between 10,490 and 10,390 "before the Prince entered into Egypt." (Reading 5748-6) According to this reading, the pyramid was built by "those forces in nature as make for iron to swim. Stone floats in the air in the same manner." The ram and jug prefix to some of the cartouches might in fact suggest a transition time between ascending Satya (Aries, the Ram) and descending Satya (Pisces flowing from the water jug).
Probably in a desire to be academically correct, the authors avoided what they considered to be dubious psychic sources such as the Cayce readings. If one wishes to tap these readings for information on the higher yugas, there are many thousands of details available in a number of books and on the comprehensive CD sold by the A.R.E., Cayce's organization. Also, for interested readers, Shirley MacLaine experienced an extremely high point of human evolution described in THE CAMINO where only telepathy was used for communication, and the human race and nature were closely intertwined.This book also charts the early stages of decline from that Eden like state.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on July 10, 2013
Ever wondered why the period 5th - 15th century AD is considered the "dark ages"?(and not few centuries earlier or later). Why should the idea of Calculus occur to two independent inventors, Newton and Leibniz, at almost the same time frame? In Egypt's Giza plateau, the Pyramid of Khufu is considered the grandest among all other pyramids. Yet it is the oldest. If growth and development is linear, then why is that not a single newer pyramid is not as sophisticated as the Pyramid of Khufu? (there are around 80 newer pyramids)
'The Yugas' by Joseph Selbie and David Steinmetz tries to answer some of the above questions. This is a well-researched book, primarily based on Sri Yukteshwar's concept of "yuga" or the cycle of time. Sri Yukteshwar conceptualized his yuga theory in a concise work titled The Holy Science. Elaborating on his ideas, the authors have now packed a lot of examples and evidences into 'The Yugas' to prove why the yuga theory is probably right.
These are the key points put forth by Sri Yukteshwar on the "cycle of time":
1) A single yuga lasts for around 24000 human years (a full cycle).
2) A single yuga consists of 2 half cycles : an ascending half cycle comprising 12000 years and a descending half cycle comprising another 12000 years.
3) Each 12000-year half cycle is further divided into 4 sub-yugas in the ratio 4:3:2:1. They are the Satya, Treta, Dwapara, and Kali yugas.
For example, in a specifc ascending half cycle, the Satya Yuga lasts for around 4800 years, the Treta yuga for 3600 years, the Dwarpara yuga for 2400 years, and Kali yuga for 1200 years. The same numbers of years apply for the descending half cycle as well - totaling it to 24000 years.
As you might be able to infer, in a given half cycle, the Satya yuga represents the golden age of man. It is the time when man was worshipped even by the Gods. His thoughts are purer than his words. It is the age of absolute truth or 'satya'. In the Treta and Dwapara yugas, they say man's mental faculties gradually declined, though it wasn't very bad. It is the Kali yuga which represents the absolute nadir of humanity. Man resorted to cruelty, slavery and irrational thought. When you map the qualities of man during a specific yuga, you should consider humanity in general, and not specific individuals. In simpler terms, it is said that most men (but not all) were "good" during the Satya yuga, and most men were "bad" during the Kali yuga.
So based on the above premise, the authors take you through some of the major events that have taken place in each cycle. The examples may look like sheer coincidences, but they provide a lot of scope to question the established scientific views.
If you are intrigued by 'alternative theories' like this one (which "could be" as valid as established scientific views), then I am sure you will enjoy this book. Even if you don't believe in these theories, the stories are (like mythologies) worth the telling.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on August 15, 2011
Wow! Reading "The Yugas" is like discovering the Rosetta Stone--it's the key to making sense out of all the conflicting pieces in life. It puts current events in an intriguing larger context--that history is cyclical, not linear. Selbie and Steinmetz explain why, in spite of the world seeming like it's falling apart--read any headline--actually, we're in the same kind of transition phase as--well, like a child becoming a teenager, when everything goes haywire, but necessarily, in order to pave the way for a much more expansive future. Bravo, guys! A great book, one I can't stop talking about to friends. The Yugas gives me hope for the future. :)
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on October 31, 2012
The Yugas includes material of several kinds. There is, first of all, the Cycle of the Yugas, put forward as mystically-revealed knowledge, transmitted via Yogananda. According to the Yuga model, there is a 24,000-year cycle, and humanity goes from a high spiritual state to a low spiritual state and back up again, each time around this cycle. The cause of the cycle is attributed to the motion of our solar system, which varies our distance from the center of the galaxy, and affects how much spiritual energy Earth is receiving.
The Yuga model is fascinating, and can be usefully compared with another grand model of humanity I read about recently, which I also highly recommend: Not in His Image: Gnostic Vision, Sacred Ecology, and the Future of Belief
But even more interesting, for me personally, was all the material and evidence that is clearly presented, in the effort to substantiate the Yuga model. This reminded me of Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies . I think Jared Diamond failed to prove his geography thesis, in the generality he intended, but he came across a great many very interesting discoveries in attempting his proof.
Getting back to The Yugas, I found the material on the Vedas to be very informative. I didn't realize that they are the oldest handed-down piece of literature that we have, and for most of that time it was handed via a reliable oral tradition. And the analysis is intriguing, about how the sophistication of the Vedas declined with each new edition, and how that reflects an increasing distance between the people of the time, and the actual experience of spiritual energy. For the time period involved, going back about 9,000 years, the Vedas analysis does seem to correlate with the Yuga model.
Also interesting is the historical material, which ties together the era of the rise of city states, eras of large-scale warfare, times of development and times of stagnation - a reinterpretation of all the familiar historical scenarios up to the current day, presented in a way that again lines up pretty well with the Yuga model and the Yuga timeline.
And finally, there is the material on ancient civilizations, which presents compelling evidence of several kinds, including some very remarkable artifact finds of almost unbelievable age, such as woven cloth preserved in resin, millions of years old. Yogananda's claim is that humans have been on the Earth for about 50 million years, and civilizations have regularly risen and fallen ever since, according to the Yuga cycle.
I do have spiritual beliefs, but I'll leave them at the door for the purposes of this review. From a scientific perspective, I'd say The Yugas presents a strong case for high civilizations, of one kind or another, existing much earlier than mainstream science will admit. And I'd say their historical analysis is compelling, in particular their tracing of spiritual decline, since about 11,500 years ago, when the last Ice Age was ending.
As to what happened prior to 11,500 years ago, there isn't any evidence presented that the Yuga Cycle was operating, apart from Yogananda's testimony, which I do not discount, but which I don't accept here as scientific evidence.
As regards conclusions that are backed up by evidence - the existence of old high civilizations, and the spiritual decline since the last Ice Age - I'd like to present a counter-hypothesis, if for no other reason than to demonstrate that other explanations are possible for those same conclusions.
My counter hypothesis begins with the observation that the end of the last Ice Age would have been a long-lasting cataclysmic event, with continent-covering mile-high glaciers melting in only a few thousand years, raising sea levels many meters and causing Noah-legend floods, episodic super tsunamis, etc. In addition, to cause the rapid melting, there must have been an intense incoming burst of energy of some kind, solar flares or whatever. All in all, I suggest that the end of the last Ice Age would have wiped out any civilizations, by either fire or flood, leaving only scattered groups of survivors in different parts of the world.
The Ice Age ended suddenly. For 100,000 years before that, there was ongoing Ice Age, which doesn't mean the world was cold. Just in some places. With lower sea levels, there was arguably more fertile land available, more livable spaces, etc. In any case, if there were civilizations then, as the evidence suggests, it is possible that they had 100,000 years to develop in, and they might well have developed high spiritual awareness, powers, etc., even without any Yuga cycles.
My hypothesis ends with the suggestion that the scattered survivors of the Ice Age civilizationws would at first remember their spiritual heritage, and succeed in passing it on to some extent, but the cultural matrix would be lost, and a decline could be expected, until humanity learned again how to regain its spiritual potential. So the decline traced so admirably in the Yuga analysis, could possibly be a one-off, or something that happens every Ice Age cycle, rather than on a 24,000 year cycle.
The best thing about The Yugas is that it makes you think.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on November 10, 2013
Right off let me say that I am intrigued by the concept of the Yugas, and even do historical calculations based on them. I read Yukteswar's Holy Science some years ago and and found his down to earth specificity refreshing. Yugas based on multiples of 1200 yr cycles. Before that most references I found in esoteric literature were figures of millions of years, pretty much useless to apply in our little short lives!
My interest began in around 2003 when I tried out spending 12 days in complete darkness, an ancient practice called incubation(Practiced by Parmenides, still used today by yogis, Kogis). Melatonin is converted to pinoline which eventually morphs into DMT, and you experience a form of endogenous ayahuasca, along with telepathic field extension.
On the 4th day I felt like I was communicating with a vast intelligence which identified itself as the galaxy, which radiated out its life as in a Tree of Life down the spiraling swastikated arms. All of us live and have our being in this galaxy. It is as if this white light sap of Life flows out of the black hole at the center. (unless you are converting to the Electric Universe model!)The galaxy is literally our local Logos, and its Mind extends throughout like a vast internet.
As you can see, I am not immune to pondering the imponderable.
OK... so this picqued my interest in all things galactic, and I read Yukteswar.It provided another piece of the puzzle in the cyclical life of the Logos.
Yukteswar however lived prior to the discovery of galaxies, as the authors faithfully point out. He knew of a reference to the Vishnabhi or "navel of Vishnu" which was the center of centers for us. Precession is caused by rotation with our dual (Cruttenden is the man here), but Vishnabhi was a center above that, a much longer cycle. Clearly I thought, the galactic center. Also Paul LaViolette's work showed how much the ancients were aware of energy waves from the GC.
Now, add to that the emerging knowledge that our system crossed the galactic plane every 12,000 years, as we were approaching that in the period 1998-2030, centered approx. at 2012. Here we found a 12,000 year cycle that suspiciously aligned with another 12,000 year cycle of half of a Great Year. Seemed like a harmonic entrainment, or like gears within gears.
So my disappointment boiled down to this: Yukteswar did NOT know about the alignment with Vishnabhi circa 2012. He made some calculations that Kali Yuga ended in the 1700s, but it seemed rather arbitrary to me. I thought, if there was a start point to the Grand Cycle that was based on real world physical parameters and location within our complete galactic system, surely the alignment every 12,000 years with the galactic plane must be central. Like the clock hands on midnight.
So I set 2012 as the cross-over. Calculate back 2400 years and Kali Yug begins 400 BC which I find far more satisfying than 700 BC. Here we find a world wide shift, a transition from a more mythic shamanic age into the age of intellectualization. The sages appear world wide to make the cross-over. Siddhartha Buddha, Plato, Confucius, Lao Tse. Look at Plato in particular. They all worshiped Parmenides the so-called father of philosophy, but he was not a mental gymnast; he was shamanic from the old school. Plato, initiate of the Mysteries, tried to reveal the Mysteries as far as he dared, through words. This is a step-down form mythic direct gnosis as practiced by Parmenides, non-dual encounters with the Goddess, into mental models. Unless you have the referent thru experience, the mental symbols are hollow. The transition is completed by Aristotle who relies on only the senses, and this sets the pattern for the next Age, Kali Yuga. The age of objectified, mechanical thinking.
If the shift from Kali to Dwarpa Yuga is the understanding that the cosmos is not "stuff" but "energy" or even pattern, I do not see this really hitting the ground until post WW2. Up until then it is all steam engines and physical force. In fact, it is with the return of the shamanic consciousness in the 60's (thru the agency of the rediscovered path of sacred nootropic medicines) that the old paradigm is really beginning to dissolve.
And so, I came to this book hoping to find more information on exactly how Yukteswar came up with his transition date for the end of Kali Yuga. Alas I found nothing more than what was in his Holy Science. The authors took Yukteswar as dogma. I find one can fudge the data trying to pin down cross-over periods pretty easily during a couple of hundred years. Sure you can find the beginnings of science, which would lead to seeing the world as energy, but that didn't really get off the ground until Einstein. The 20th century is the story of old steam engine empires thrashing themselves to death as their paradigm is dying. The Kali Yuga died in the 20th century, and boy was it Kali at her destructive nature (gotta tear down before the new remodel can begin).
And so, I like my alignment dates better. Thus for that reason that my understanding was not increased, I came away disappointed.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on November 19, 2011
The view of human history presented here is extremely sophisticated and insightful, that human consciousness and civilization has not developed in a linear matter. While rightly giving all due credit to the modern sages Yogananda and Yukteswar for the idea of the yugas, the authors go far beyond mere parroting and recital of what could be interpreted as dogma: this is fresh, creative writing. The many illustrations are clear and truly illustrative (!) as well. This book should be in every university library.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on January 31, 2012
That said, the authors of The Yugas ask for a reappraisal of history as we know it. As someone who studied history, and is familiar with the scientific aspects and theories, as well as mythology in different cultures, it made a lot of sense. However, I can imagine that readers who have not contemplated those areas before will struggle a bit. I can recommend to those readers to Google what you don't know. Then return to the passages that didn't make sense, and after being familiar with a historical period, or scientific assumption which the authors are both testing and linking to the yugas, it actually does make sense. This isn't a book that doesn't challenge you, so don't buy it if you're afraid of mind aches here and there. However, books come to you when you're ready. Fascinating even when you're familiar with the themes and I appreciate the way that they intentionally don't include every fact if it can't be verified using some logical reasoning to their argument. Accessibly written as well. Highly recommended if you're ready to move beyond your frustrations with the human race, history, and scientific arrogance that don't place compassion and happiness anywhere in the equation. Makes a lot of sense.