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Kali Yuga (Devanāgarī: कलियुग [kəli juɡə], lit. "age of [the demon) Kali", or "age of vice") is the last of the four stages the world goes through as part of the cycle of yugas described in the Indian scriptures. The other ages are Satya Yuga, Treta Yuga and Dvapara Yuga.
Kali Yuga is associated with the apocalyptic demon Kali, not to be confused with the goddess Kālī (read as Kaalee) (these are unrelated words in the Sanskrit language). The "Kali" of Kali Yuga means "strife, discord, quarrel, or contention."
The duration and chronological starting point in human history of Kali Yuga has given rise to different evaluations and interpretations. According to the Surya Siddhanta, Kali Yuga began at midnight (00:00) on 18 February 3102 BCE in the proleptic Julian calendar, or 14 January 3102 BC in the proleptic Gregorian calendar. This date is also considered by many Hindus to be the day that Krishna left Earth to return to his abode.
Most interpreters of Hindu scriptures believe that Earth is currently in Kali Yuga. Other authors such as Swami Sri Yukteswar, and Paramhansa Yogananda believe that it is now an ascending Dvapara Yuga, indicating levels of cycles within each major Yuga period as each being a development, the smaller cycles within cycles eventually leading to full development of the qualities of the ages. Aurbindo Ghosh has written that Kali Yuga is now over. The Kali Yuga is sometimes thought to last 432,000 years, although other durations have been proposed.
Hindus believe that human civilization degenerates spiritually during the Kali Yuga, which is referred to as the Dark Age because in it people are as far away as possible from God. Hinduism often symbolically represents morality (dharma) as a bull. In Satya Yuga, the first stage of development, the bull has four legs, but in each age morality is reduced by one quarter. By the age of Kali, morality is reduced to only a quarter of that of the golden age, so that the bull of Dharma has only one leg.
References in the Mahabharata
The Mahabharata War and the decimation of Yadavas thus happened at the Yuga-Sandhi, the point of transition from one yuga to another. The scriptures mention Sage Narada to have momentarily intercepted the demon Kali on his way to the Earth when Duryodhana was about to be born...to make him an embodiment of 'arishadvargas' and adharma in preparation of the era of decay in values and the consequent havoc.
- 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 varnas (guna or temperament] and when nothing is known of the techniques of sacrifice, even by word, at that time the Lord will appear as the supreme chastiser." (Srimad-Bhagavatam (2.7)
- 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, whilst virtue will fade and cease to flourish.
- People will take vows and break them soon after.
- 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.The maximum lifespan of a human in this age is 90-100 years.
- Brahmans will not be learned or honored, Kshatriyas will not be brave, Vaishyas will not be just in their dealings
10,000 year "Golden Age"
The Brahma Vaivarta Purana (related to Rathantara kalpa) mentions a ten thousand year period, starting from the traditional dating of the Kali Yuga epoch (for this one it is January 14 or 2:27 AM on February 18, 3102 BC/BCE), during which bhakti yogis will be present.
In the Brahma-vaivarta Purana has words spoken by Lord Krishna to Mother Ganga just before the beginning of Kali yuga (the age of quarrel and strife). Kali yuga began approximately five thousand years ago, and it has a duration of 432,000 years, leaving us with 427,000 till the end of the present age. Within this 432,000 year period, there is a period of 10,000 years that will be a golden age. That golden age is being described below by Lord Sri Krishna.
Predicted in Brahma-vaivarta Purana 4.129. The fourth part of the Brahma-vaivarta is called Krsna-janma-khanda. Chapter 129 is called Golokarohanam, because it describes how Krishna returns to His abode. This specific dialogue is between Lord Krishna and Mother Ganga. Verse 49 is a question by Ganga, verses 50-60 are Lord Sri Krishna's answer.
This text is taken from the Brahma-vaivarta Purana
- kaler daSa-sahasraaNi
- madbhaktaaH saMti bhu-tale
- ekavarNaa bhaviSyaMti
- madbhakteSu gateSu ca
The above is supported in 4.90.32-33:
- kalau dasa-sahasrAni
- haris tiSThati medinI
- devAnAM pratimA pUjyA
- sAstrANi ca purANakam
The great Vaishnava Saint Chaitanya Mahaprabhu exhorted, "Krishna Nama Sankirtan" i.e. the constant chanting of the Lord's name is the supreme healer in this age. It destroys sins and purifies the hearts through Bhakti ensures universal peace.
Kali is the reigning lord of Kali Yuga and his nemesis is Sri Kalki, the tenth and final Avatar of Lord Vishnu. According to the Vishnu Purana, Kali is a negative manifestation working towards the cause of 'the end' or rather towards eventual rejuvenation of the universe. Kali also serves as an antagonistic force in the Kalki Purana. It is said that towards the end of this yuga, Kalki will return riding on a white horse to do battle with Kali and his dark forces. The world will suffer a fiery end that will destroy all evil, and a new age, Satya Yuga, will begin.The Satya Yuga of second cycle will be known as Panchorath yug.
In Sikhism, it is believed that one should meditate on God as much as possible because of the world being in Kali Yuga. Because of Kali Yuga, it is stressed that one should meditate as much as possible to reach the state of Nirvana and be liberated or be one with God. Guru Granth Sahib Ji on Ang:1185 says:
ab kaloo aaeiou rae
Now, the Dark Age of Kali Yuga has come.
eik naam bovahu bovahu ||
Plant the Naam, the Name of the One Lord.
an rooth naahee naahee ||
It is not the season to plant other seeds.
math bharam bhoolahu bhoolahu ||
Do not wander lost in doubt and delusion.