All of us often wonder – When did Kali Yuga start? Is it somehow possible to determine the exact date of the commencement of Kali Yuga? According to Jyotish Shastra, the ancient Indian science of astrology, there was an approximate alignment of planets that marked the beginning of Kali Yuga. The seven planets, including the sun and the moon, could not be viewed on that day as they were all lined up in one direction on the other side of the earth. It can be calculated that on the midnight of 18th February, 3102 BC on the meridian of Ujjain in India, such an alignment of planets truly took place. The dark planet of Rahu hovered invisibly and directly overhead India, being concealed in the blackness of night. According to the Jyotish, this date of 18th Feb, 3102 B.C, marked the onset of Kali-yuga.
In the astronomical text of Surya Siddhanta, time is measured in days since the commencement of Kali-Yuga and it is understood that the positions of the seven planets in their two cycles were all aligned with the star Zeta Piscium at day zero. This star, which is known as Revati in Sanskrit, is used as the reference point for measuring astronomical longitudes in Indian astrology. It is also confirmed in Surya Siddhanta that Rahu was situated 180 degrees from Revati on day zero.
The beginning of Kali Yuga from astronomical sources :
In Krishnadasa Kaviraja’s Chaitanya Charitamrita (Adi, 3.9-10), the renowned biography of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, the present date has been described as follows –
- The present Manu, Vaivasvata, is the seventh Manu
- 27 Divya yugas of this age have passed – The cycle of four yugas (Satya, Treta, Dvapara, Kali) make up a cycle called divya-yuga, which lasts 4,320,000 years. One thousand of these yugas equal one day of Brahma, which is called a kalpa. Brahma’s lifespan is 100 years of his time.
- We are in the Kali yuga of the 28 divya yuga
Indian astronomer Aryabhatta had written that he was 23 years old when 3600 years of Kali Yuga had passed. Since Aryabhatta is said to have been born in saka 398 or 476 AD, the starting date of Kali-yuga is roughly in agreement with the year 3102 BC.
Further, the below table lists the celestial longitudes of the planets relative to the reference star Zeta Piscium (Revati) at sunrise on February 18, 3102 BC, the beginning of Kali yuga. These calculations are based on computer programs published by Duffet Smith (DF). It should help us resolve the question – when did Kali Yuga start?
|Planet||Modern Mean Longitude||Modern true Longitude|
We can observe that according to modern astronomy, an approximate alignment of the planets did occur at the beginning of Kali Yuga. Five of the planets were within 10 degrees of the Vedic reference star (Revati). the only exceptions being Mercury at -19 degrees and Saturn at -27 degrees. Rahu was also within 18 degrees (180-162;44) of the position opposite to Zeta Piscium.
The figures under “Modern Mean Longitude” represent the mean positions of the planets at the beginning of Kali Yuga (18th Feb, 3102 B.C). This mean position, according to modern astronomy, is the position the planet would have been if it had traveled uniformly at its average rate of motion. But since the planets speed up and slow down, the true position is sometimes ahead or behind the mean position (Modern Mean Longitude). Planetary alignments as described in the above table are exceedingly rare and have rarely occurred even once in 1000 years.
[Adapted from the writings of Richard L. Thompson (Sadaputa Das)]