Kali Yuga, in Hinduism, is the fourth and worst of the four yugas (world ages) in a Yuga Cycle, preceded by Dvapara Yuga and followed by the next cycle's Krita (Satya) Yuga. It is believed to be the present age, which is full of conflict and sin.
According to Puranic sources,[a] Krishna's death marked the end of Dvapara Yuga and the start of Kali Yuga, which is dated to 17/18 February 3102 BCE. Lasting for 432,000 years (1,200 divine years), Kali Yuga began 5,124 years ago and has 426,876 years left as of 2023 CE. Kali Yuga will end in the year 428,899 CE.[b]
Near the end of Kali Yuga, when virtues are at their worst, a cataclysm and a re-establishment of dharma occur to usher in the next cycle's Krita (Satya) Yuga, prophesied to occur by Kalki.
Yuga (Sanskrit: युग), in this context, means "an age of the world", where its archaic spelling is yug, with other forms of yugam, yugānāṃ, and yuge, derived from yuj (Sanskrit: युज्, lit. 'to join or yoke'), believed derived from *yeug- (Proto-Indo-European: lit. 'to join or unite').
Kali Yuga (Sanskrit: कलियुग, romanized: kaliyuga or kali-yuga) means "the age of Kali (demon)", "the age of darkness", "the age of vice and misery", or "the age of quarrel and hypocrisy".
A complete description of Kali Yuga is found in the Mahabharata, Manusmriti, Vishnu Smriti, and various Puranas. It is used mathematically in the astronomical texts Aryabhatiya and Surya Siddhanta.
According to P. V. Kane, one of the earliest inscriptions with one of the four yugas named is the Pikira grant of Pallava Simhavarman (mid-5th century CE):
Who was ever ready to extricate dharma that had become sunk owing to the evil effects of Kaliyuga.— Pikira grant of Pallava Simhavarman, line 10 (3rd plate, front)
Other epigraphs exist with named yugas in the Old Mysore region of India, published in Epigraphia Carnatica.
According to the Surya Siddhanta, Kali Yuga began at midnight (00:00) on 18 February 3102 BCE. This is also considered the date on which Krishna left the earth to return to Vaikuntha. This information is placed at the temple of Bhalka, the place of this incident (see photo).
According to the astronomer and mathematician Aryabhata, Kali Yuga started in 3102 BCE. He finished his book Aryabhattiyam in 499 CE, in which he gave the exact year of the beginning of Kali Yuga. He writes that he wrote the book in the "year 3600 of the Kali Age" at the age of 23. As it was the 3600th year of the Kali Age when he was 23 years old, and given that Aryabhata was born in 476 CE, the beginning of the Kali Yuga will come to (3600 - (476 + 23) + 1 (One year from 1 BCE to 1 CE)) = 3102 BCE.
According to K. D. Abhyankar, the starting point of Kali Yuga is an extremely rare planetary alignment, which is depicted in the Mohenjo-daro seals. Going by this alignment, the year 3102 BCE is slightly off. The actual date for this alignment is 7 February 3104 BCE. There is also sufficient proof to believe that Vrddha Garga knew of precessions at least by 500 BCE. Garga had calculated the rate of precession to within 30% of what the modern scholars estimate.[better source needed]
Hindu texts describe four yugas (world ages) in a Yuga Cycle, where, starting in order from the first age of Krita (Satya) Yuga, each yuga's length decreases by one-fourth (25%), giving proportions of 4:3:2:1. Each yuga is described as having a main period (a.k.a. yuga proper) preceded by its yuga-sandhyā (dawn) and followed by its yuga-sandhyāṃśa (dusk), where each twilight (dawn/dusk) lasts for one-tenth (10%) of its main period. Lengths are given in divine years (years of the gods), each lasting for 360 solar (human) years.
Kali Yuga, the fourth age in a cycle, lasts for 432,000 years (1,200 divine years), where its main period lasts for 360,000 years (1,000 divine years) and its two twilights each lasts for 36,000 years (100 divine years). The current cycle's Kali Yuga, the present age, has the following dates based on it starting in 3102 BCE:
|Part||Start (– End)||Length|
|Kali-yuga-sandhya (dawn)*||3102 BCE||36,000 (100)|
|Kali-yuga (proper)||32,899 CE||360,000 (1,000)|
|Kali-yuga-sandhyamsa (dusk)||392,899 CE – 428,899 CE||36,000 (100)|
|Years: 432,000 solar (1,200 divine)|
Mahabharata, Book 12 (Shanti Parva), Ch. 231:[c]
(17) A year (of men) is equal to a day and night of the gods ... (19) I shall, in their order, tell you the number of years that are for different purposes calculated differently, in the Krita, the Treta, the Dwapara, and the Kali yugas. (20) Four thousand celestial years is the duration of the first or Krita age. The morning of that cycle consists of four hundred years and its evening is of four hundred years. (21) Regarding the other cycles, the duration of each gradually decreases by a quarter in respect of both the principal period with the minor portion and the conjoining portion itself.
Manusmriti, Ch. 1:
(67) A year is a day and a night of the gods ... (68) But hear now the brief (description of) the duration of a night and a day of Brahman [(Brahma)] and of the several ages (of the world, yuga) according to their order. (69) They declare that the Krita age (consists of) four thousand years (of the gods); the twilight preceding it consists of as many hundreds, and the twilight following it of the same number. (70) In the other three ages with their twilights preceding and following, the thousands and hundreds are diminished by one (in each).
Surya Siddhanta, Ch. 1:
(13) ... twelve months make a year. This is called a day of the gods. (14) ... Six times sixty  of them are a year of the gods ... (15) Twelve thousand of these divine years are denominated a Quadruple Age (caturyuga); of ten thousand times four hundred and thirty-two [4,320,000] solar years (16) Is composed that Quadruple Age, with its dawn and twilight. The difference of the Golden and the other Ages, as measured by the difference in the number of the feet of Virtue in each, is as follows : (17) The tenth part of an Age, multiplied successively by four, three, two, and one, gives the length of the Golden and the other Ages, in order : the sixth part of each belongs to its dawn and twilight.
A dialogue between Krishna and Ganga (goddess) found in the Brahma Vaivarta Purana describes that for the first 10,000 years of Kali Yuga, the ill effects of Kali Yuga will be reduced due to the presence of bhakti yogis and the ability to nullify sinful reactions, after which Earth will be devoid of devout religious people and be shackled by Kali Yuga.[non-primary source needed] Gaudiya Vaishnavism believes this sub-period started later in Kali Yuga with the birth of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu (1486 CE).
Hinduism often symbolically represents morality (dharma) as an Indian bull. In the Satya Yuga, the first stage of development, the bull has four legs, which is reduced by one in each age that follows. 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.
The Kurukshetra War and the decimation of Kauravas thus happened at the Yuga-Sandhi, the point of transition from one yuga to another. The scriptures mention Narada as having momentarily intercepted the demon Kali on his way to the Earth when Duryodhana was about to be born in order to make him an embodiment of arishadvargas and adharma in preparation of the era of decay in values and the consequent havoc.
A discourse by Markandeya in the Mahabharata identifies some of the attributes of people, animals, nature, and weather during the Kali Yuga.
The Kali Yuga is an important concept in both Theosophy and Anthroposophy, and in the writings of Helena Blavatsky, W.Q. Judge, Rudolf Steiner, Savitri Devi, and Traditionalist philosophers such as René Guénon and Julius Evola, among others. Rudolf Steiner believed that the Kali Yuga ended in 1900.
On the very day, and at the very moment the Lord [Krishna] left the earth, on that very day this Kali, the source of irreligiousness, (in this world), entered here.
The Parijata tree proceeded to heaven, and on the same day that Hari [Krishna] departed from the earth the dark-bodied Kali age descended.
Kali Yuga began on the day when Krsna passed on to heaven. Understand how it is calculated.
Kali Yuga had started on the very day when Krsna passed away.
It was on the day on which Krishna left the Earth and went to heaven that the Kali age, with time for its body set in.
The [Kali yuga] epoch arrived at ... was midnight of February 17/18 in 3102 BC according to the midnight (ardharatika) school, and the sunrise of February 18 (Friday) of the same year according to the sunrise (audayika) school.
* HINDUISM: Myths of time and eternity: ... Each yuga is preceded by an intermediate "dawn" and "dusk." The Krita yuga lasts 4,000 god-years, with a dawn and dusk of 400 god-years each, or a total of 4,800 god-years; Treta a total of 3,600 god-years; Dvapara 2,400 god-years; and Kali (the current yuga) 1,200 god-years. A mahayuga thus lasts 12,000 god-years ... Since each god-year lasts 360 human years, a mahayuga is 4,320,000 years long in human time. Two thousand mahayugas form one kalpa (eon) [and pralaya], which is itself but one day in the life of Brahma, whose full life lasts 100 years; the present is the midpoint of his life. Each kalpa is followed by an equally long period of abeyance (pralaya), in which the universe is asleep. Seemingly the universe will come to an end at the end of Brahma's life, but Brahmas too are innumerable, and a new universe is reborn with each new Brahma.
* YUGA: Each yuga is progressively shorter than the preceding one, corresponding to a decline in the moral and physical state of humanity. Four such yugas (called ... after throws of an Indian game of dice) make up a mahayuga ("great yuga") ... The first yuga (Krita) was an age of perfection, lasting 1,728,000 years. The fourth and most degenerate yuga (Kali) began in 3102 BCE and will last 432,000 years. At the close of the Kali yuga, the world will be destroyed by fire and flood, to be re-created as the cycle resumes. In a partially competing vision of time, Vishnu's 10th and final AVATAR, KALKI, is described as bringing the present cosmic cycle to a close by destroying the evil forces that rule the Kali yuga and ushering in an immediate return to the idyllic Krita yuga.
Paraphrased: Deva day equals solar year. Deva lifespan (36,000 solar years) equals 100 360-day years, each 12 months. Mahayuga equals 12,000 Deva (divine) years (4,320,000 solar years), and is divided into 10 charnas consisting of four Yugas: Satya Yuga (4 charnas of 1,728,000 solar years), Treta Yuga (3 charnas of 1,296,000 solar years), Dvapara Yuga (2 charnas of 864,000 solar years), and Kali Yuga (1 charna of 432,000 solar years). Manvantara equals 71 Mahayugas (306,720,000 solar years). Kalpa (day of Brahma) equals an Adi Sandhya, 14 Manvantaras, and 14 Sandhya Kalas, where 1st Manvantara preceded by Adi Sandhya and each Manvantara followed by Sandhya Kala, each Sandhya lasting same duration as Satya yuga (1,728,000 solar years), during which the entire earth is submerged in water. Day of Brahma equals 1,000 Mahayugas, the same length for a night of Brahma (Bhagavad-gita 8.17). Brahma lifespan (311.04 trillion solar years) equals 100 360-day years, each 12 months. Parardha is 50 Brahma years and we are in the 2nd half of his life. After 100 years of Brahma, the universe starts with a new Brahma. We are currently in the 28th Kali yuga of the first day of the 51st year of the second Parardha in the reign of the 7th (Vaivasvata) Manu. This is the 51st year of the present Brahma and so about 155 trillion years have elapsed. The current Kali Yuga (Iron Age) began at midnight on 17/18 February 3102 BC in the proleptic Julian calendar.
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