Are We Living in the Kali Yuga?

Many westerners are familiar with the Book of Revelation and other such "End Times" pronouncements in the western spiritual texts. In India, among Hindus, Sikhs, and Jains, there is the Kali Yuga.

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Hindus don't view time as a linear progression. Instead, they view the world as an ever repeating cycle of creation and destruction. Each cycle has four ages. The firs three - Satya, Treta, and Dvapara - are generally viewed as positive ages. Though in each age, human beings devolve from a pristine, spiritual state into increasingly more challenging states.

The final stage - the Kali Yuga - is viewed as an age when spirituality gives way to depravity and morals give way to selfishness. The age is ruled by the demon Kali and it is a period of increasing suffering for humanity. The Kali Yuga is the shortest and final age, lasting 432,000 years. Though there are differences of opinion, many scholars place the beginning of the Kali Yuga on the date when Krishna left Earth. The most common date given for his departure is February 18, 3102 BC.

The Mahabharata describes the Kali in the most detail. The descriptions seem ripped from our daily headlines.

Leaders in the Kali Yuga (source: Wikipedia)

  • Rulers will become unreasonable: they will levy taxes unfairly.
  • Rulers will no longer see it as their duty to promote spirituality, or to protect their subjects: they will become a danger to the world.
  • People will start migrating, seeking countries where wheat and barley form the staple food source.
  • "At the end of Kali Yuga, when there exist no topics on the subject of God, even at the residences of so-called saints and respectable gentlemen of the three higher temperaments and when nothing is known of the techniques of sacrifice, even by word, at that time the Lord will appear as the supreme chastiser."

People in the Kali Yuga (source: Wikipedia)

  • Avarice and wrath will be common. Humans will openly display animosity towards each other. Ignorance of dharma will occur.
  • People will have thoughts of murder with no justification and will see nothing wrong in that.
  • Lust will be viewed as socially acceptable and sexual intercourse will be seen as the central requirement of life.
  • Sin will increase exponentially, while virtue will fade and cease to flourish.
  • People will become addicted to intoxicating drinks and drugs.
  • Gurus will no longer be respected and their students will attempt to injure them. Their teachings will be insulted, and followers of Kama will wrest control of the mind from all human beings.
    • Brahmins will not be learned or honored, Kshatriyas will not be brave, Vaishyas will not be just in their dealings, and the varna system will be abolished.
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In the Vishnu Parana, Kalki (Vishnu's 10th and final avatar) arrives on a white horse to do battle with Kali and his evil forces. The world is destroyed in a fiery cataclysm, but evil is also destroyed. A new Satya Yuga begins the whole process starts over.

As we look around our world today and look back at the description of the Kali Yuga, we find many parallels. If we are to believe this scenario, most of what we know as human history has been part of this age. In the preceding ages, men's physical stature is greater along with the moral stature. This seems to align with ages of giants described in many texts the world over.

So, what if we are living in the Kali Yuga? Do we just give up and swirl around the drain? Of course not! Shiva promises his followers that personal moksha (release from the cycle) is still possible during the Kali Yuga. It simply takes harder work than it does in the other ages.

Krishna promised his mother that the Kali Yuga will contain a 10,000 year golden era. During this time, conditions and the road to enlightenment will be eased and Krishna's teaching will remain available.

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There's no denying that the human horizon seems dark, if we remain in the mindsets we have today. However, the individual never has to be caught in any age. Just as the world has its cycles, we have our individual karma and path. We can seek the peace within and use the degenerative nature of the world around us as part of our practice, building our strength and compassion.

Teachers like Siddhartha Gautama lived during this period as well and still found their way to Nirvana. The Buddha exclaimed when he saw through the illusion of this conditioned reality.

"Through the round of many births I roamed without reward, without rest, seeking the house-builder. Painful is birth again & again. House-builder, you're seen! You will not build a house again. All your rafters broken, the ridge pole destroyed, gone to the Unformed, the mind has come to the end of craving." 

Refuse to be a victim. We are not subject to these cycles unless we choose to be. For the intelligence behind in them is in us. We, too, Kali Yuga or not can claim our Nirvana.

Ray Davis
for 6 Sense Media