The description of King Uttānapāda’s palace depicts the state of affairs many hundreds and thousands of years ago, long before Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam was compiled. Since it is described that Mahārāja Dhruva ruled for thirty-six thousand years, he must have lived in the Satya-yuga, when people lived for one hundred thousand years. The life durations in the four yugas are also mentioned in the Vedic literature. In the Satya-yuga people used to live for one hundred thousand years, in the Tretā-yuga people lived for ten thousand years, in Dvāpara-yuga they lived for one thousand years, and in this age, Kali-yuga, people may live up to one hundred years. With the progressive advance of each new yuga, the duration of human life is reduced by ninety percent — from one hundred thousand to ten thousand, from ten thousand to one thousand, and from one thousand to one hundred.
It is said that Dhruva Mahārāja was the great-grandson of Lord Brahmā. This indicates that Dhruva Mahārāja’s time was in the Satya-yuga in the beginning of creation. During one day of Lord Brahmā, as stated in the Bhagavad-gītā, there are many Satya-yugas. According to the Vedic calculation, at the present moment the twenty-eighth millennium is current. It can be calculated that Dhruva Mahārāja lived many millions of years ago, but the description of the palace of Dhruva’s father is so glorious that we cannot accept that advanced human civilization did not exist even forty or fifty thousand years ago. There were walls like those in the palace of Mahārāja Uttānapāda even very recently, during the Mogul period. Anyone who has seen the Red Fort in Delhi must have marked that the walls are made of marble and were once decorated with jewels. During the British period all these jewels were taken away and dispatched to the British Museum.
The conception of worldly opulence was formerly based mainly on natural resources such as jewels, marble, silk, ivory, gold and silver. The advancement of economic development was not based on big motorcars. Advancement of human civilization depends not on industrial enterprises, but on possession of natural wealth and natural food, which is all supplied by the Supreme Personality of Godhead so that we may save time for self-realization and success in the human form of body.
Another aspect of this verse is that Dhruva Mahārāja’s father, Uttānapāda, would very soon give up attachment for his palaces and would go to the forest for self-realization. From the description of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, therefore, we can make a very thorough comparative study of modern civilization and the civilization of mankind in the other millenniums — Satya-yuga, Tretā-yuga and Dvāpara-yuga.