The universe cycles through four major periods, or yugas, during the lifetime of the Creator, Lord Brahma. Brahma lives for a very long time when measured in years as we experience them. During His lifetime he creates a new universe each “morning” and sends his family of jîvas forth to play. Every night Brahma calls the jîvas back into His vast body as Saraswatî, His S’akti, becomes exhausted and His universe dissolves. He rests to restore His S’akti, then repeats the same cycle of creation. Thus pass the days and nights in the life of Brahma.
One day/night cycle in the life of Brahma is equivalent to approximately 167,389,960,000 years of man’s life. Over His lifetime Brahma creates 36,000 universes that each exist for only one day of His life. Each day in the life of Brahma (a Kalpa) consists of 14 cycles known as Manvantaras. One Manvantara contains 72 Chaturyugis. Each Chaturyugi contains 4 Yugas. Here is a brief summary of the characteristics of the 4 Yugas:
- Sat-yuga - the golden age - this cycle is 1,728,000 years in duration. During this period life is lived in accord with Natural Law for most of the period except near the end of the period. The human lifespan is 100,000 years during this period. Dharma is the measure of life in accord with Natural Law and during Sat-yuga all four pillars of Dharma are in place: cleanliness, austerity, mercy and truthfulness. When cleanliness erodes and drops away, this signals the onset of Treta-yuga
- Treta-yuga - the silver age - this cycle is 1,296,000 years in duration and Dharma consists of austerity, mercy and truthfulness. The human lifespan is only 10,000 years during this age. When austerity erodes and drops off the Dvapara-yuga dawns.
- Dvapara-yuga - the copper age - this cycle is 864,000 years in duration and Dharma is characterized by mercy and truthfulness only. The typical human lifespan declines to 1,000 years. When mercy erodes and drops off, Kali-yuga dawns
- Kali-yuga - the iron age - this cycle is the most brief of the four, lasting for 432,000 years during which society and morals decline and even truthfulness eventually is lost. The human lifespan is a mere 100 years if you are lucky. As Kali-yuga deteriorates more and more there comes a time when Lord Vishnu steps in and makes a sweeping change, causing the end of Kali-yuga and the sudden onset of a new Sat-yuga with Dharma fully established again.
Characteristics of Kali Yuga from the Srimad Bhagavatam
1. In Kali Yuga, wealth alone will be considered the sign of a man’s good birth, proper behaviour and fine qualities. And law and justice will be applied only on the basis of one’s power. - Srimad Bhagavatam 12.2.2
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It’s all about money today. The above-mentioned prediction is the foundation of almost every Bollywood potboiler that has a wealthy villain and a righteous hero who fights social injustice.
2. Men and women will live together merely because of superficial attraction, and success in business will depend on deceit. Womanliness and manliness will be judged according to one’s expertise in sex, and a man will be known as a brahmana just by his wearing a thread. - Srimad Bhagavatam 12.2.3
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Today, relationships are getting complicated day by day. In the age of Tinder, we only swipe right if we find someone attractive on the basis of their looks. Sex has become integral and a Brahman never really follows the rules of the sect.
3. As the earth thus becomes crowded with a corrupt population, whoever among any of the social classes shows himself to be the strongest will gain political power.- Srimad Bhagavatam 12.2.7
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Isn’t this true with what’s happening in the country today? We are a country, where population has reached its peak. Narendra Modi emerged as a winner with his strong political campaign and is now ruling the country.
4. The citizens will suffer greatly from cold, wind, heat, rain and snow. They will be further tormented by quarrels, hunger, thirst, disease and severe anxiety. -Srimad Bhagavatam 12.2.10
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Climate is a serious concern today. With no rains, even in the month of June, farmers are suffering losses and people are dying of drastic climate change.
5. Men will no longer protect their elderly parents. - Srimad Bhagavatam 12.3.42
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What was predicted long ago is happening today. The cases of people throwing their parents into elderly homes is growing day by day. Old people are considered a burden and they are not respected anymore. It’s a sad fact that their own blood detest them and send them to old age homes where they pass away, all the while remembering how much they struggled in these unfortunate days.
6. Cities will be dominated by thieves, the Vedas will be contaminated by speculative interpretations of atheists, political leaders will virtually consume the citizens, and the so-called priests and intellectuals will be devotees of their bellies and genitals. – Srimad Bhagvatam 12.3.32
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Illegal construction is all around and builders are the new thugs. Concrete jungles are being made by destroying trees. Fraud priests and godmen are looting people in the name of religion. Political leaders are eating up all the national income and corruption is choking the world everywhere.
7. Servants will abandon a master who has lost his wealth, even if that master is a saintly person of exemplary character. Masters will abandon an incapacitated servant, even if that servant has been in the family for generations. – 12.3.36
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We don’t respect our maids today. Somewhere, even they hate us but can’t really do anything about it. There is no loyalty between both the parties and it all depends on how much money the master is offering and how much work is getting done in a lesser amount.
8. In Kali-yuga men will develop hatred for each other even over a few coins. Giving up all friendly relations, they will be ready to lose their own lives and kill even their own relatives. -Srimad Bhagavatam 12.3.41
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People are killing each other over land. Be it brothers or relatives, there is no understanding over property matters. Pending cases in courts and no understanding between two parties lead to animosity that ends up in murders.
9. Uncultured men will accept charity on behalf of the Lord and will earn their livelihood by making a show of austerity and wearing a mendicant’s dress. Those who know nothing about religion will mount a high seat and presume to speak on religious principles. -Srimad Bhagavatam 12.3.38
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It was already predicted that there would be an Asaram bapu and Nithyananda Swami in Kaliyug, fooling innocent devotees and making indecent amount of money in the name of religion.
10. The maximum duration of life for human beings in Kali Yuga will become 50 years. -Srimad Bhagavatam 12.2.11
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People are dying even before 50! Health is majorly ignored as fast paced lifestyles are making everybody unhealthy, reducing the average human life span.
11. Religion, truthfulness, cleanliness, tolerance, mercy, duration of life, physical strength and memory will all diminish day by day because of the powerful influence of the age of Kali. -Srimad Bhagavatam 12.2.1
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Every virtue mentioned above is steadily diminishing in today’s world. Humanity is a thing of the past and all we can see is dangerous competition, which is making us greedy but leading us nowhere.
With each passing age starting from Sat-yuga, comes a reduction in the earth's productive energy, so that food loses more and more of its sustaining power, until by Kali-yuga people are mental, physical, moral and spiritual runts compared with their status in the golden age. Stature, strength, stamina, memory and intelligence are all meager.
The decline of Dharma is gradual as there is a progressive drop in intelligence and ability to remember. The harrassment of hard times upon an increasingly witless populace hastens its moral and spiritual decline. People begin to slaughter animals for food; they become more and more enslaved by drugs; they lose all sexual restraint. These habits further their physical and mental deterioration.
The people sink deeper annd deeper into sensuality and ignorance. Families break up, and women and children are abandoned. Increasingly degraded generations, conceived accidentally in lust and growing up wild, swarm over the earth. Leadership falls into the hands unprincipled criminals who use their power to loot the people. The world teems with ideologues, mystagogues, fanatics, and spiritual bunko atrists who win huge followings among a people dazed by social and moral anarchy. Unspeakable depravities and atrocities flourish under a rhetoric of high ideals.
All of this decline is directly linked to a deterioration in the S'rî Chakra which is the archetype of all life in the universe. When the S'rî Chakra is fully populated with devas and totally devoid of ungrounded energies, the individual is living Brahman Consciousness. When the norm of society is all people living in Brahman Consciousness, Sat-yuga is the age.
At this time we are about 5,000 years into the beginning of a major 432,000 year Kali-yuga cycle. Krishna tells us in Brahma Vaivarta Purana (49-60) that a time of a Golden Age is due to appear at this time. Life will decline to such a point that soon we will see a sudden rise to a 10,000 year minor Sat-yuga cycle because when Dharma declines to a very low point, as it is now, Lord Vishnu steps in and makes a sweeping change to restore Dharma, causing the sudden rise of a Sat-yuga.
The change in society that occurs to bring an end to Kali-yuga and restore full Dharma in Sat-yuga has two fronts, which occur almost simultaneously:
- Initially, some people will begin to rise to Brahman Consciousness because the door to the path is opened wide. S'rî Vyuha is one of those broad doorways that has recently opened. However, the vast majority of the population will remain apathetic.
- Major cataclysmic events occur that wake-up the apathetic population to the fragility of human life, the depravity of the times, and the necessity of a complete reversal in thinking and the alignment of their lives with Dharma. Those who have risen to Brahman Consciousness during Phase I will be the teachers and leaders of this population. The people will suddenly be very open to the idea of devoting their time to gaining Brahman Consciousness.