Kali Yuga, in Hinduism, is the fourth, shortest 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.[1][2][3]

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.[9][10] Lasting for 432,000 years (1,200 divine years), Kali Yuga began 5,125 years ago and has 426,875 years left as of 2024 CE.[11][12][13] Kali Yuga will end in the year 428,899 CE.[14][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.[15]

Etymology

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').[16]

Kali Yuga (Sanskrit: कलियुग, romanizedkaliyuga or kali-yuga) means "the age of Kali", "the age of darkness", "the age of vice and misery", or "the age of quarrel and hypocrisy".[17]

A complete description of Kali Yuga is found in the Mahabharata, Manusmriti, Vishnu Smriti, and various Puranas.[18]

Epigraphy

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):[19][20]

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.[21]

Start date

Information kiosk at Bhalka, the place from where Krishna returned to his heavenly abode

According to the Surya Siddhanta, Kali Yuga began at midnight (00:00) on 18 February 3102 BCE.[9][10][22] This is also considered the date on which Krishna left the earth to return to Vaikuntha.[23]

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.[24]

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.[25] 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.[26][27][better source needed]

Duration and structure

See also: Yuga Cycle, Hindu units of time, and List of numbers in Hindu scriptures

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.[11][12][13]

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:[11][12][13]

Kali Yuga
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) 392,899–428,899 CE 36,000 (100)
Years: 432,000 solar (1,200 divine)
(*) Current. Source:[14]

Mahabharata, Book 12 (Shanti Parva), Ch. 231:[28][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:[29]

(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:[30]

(13) ... twelve months make a year. This is called a day of the gods. (14) ... Six times sixty [360] 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.

10,000-year sub-period

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.[31][non-primary source needed] Gaudiya Vaishnavism believes this sub-period started later in Kali Yuga with the birth of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu (1486 CE).[32]

Characteristics

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.[33][34]

References in the Mahabharata

The Kurukshetra War and the decimation of Kauravas thus happened at the Yuga-Sandhi, the point of transition from one yuga to another.[35]

Prophesied events

A discourse by Markandeya in the Mahabharata identifies some of the attributes of people, animals, nature, and weather during the Kali Yuga.[36][37]

Other usage

The Kali Yuga is an important concept in both Theosophy and Anthroposophy,[38][39] 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.[38]

See also

Notes

  1. ^ The Bhagavata Purana (1.18.6),[4] Vishnu Purana (5.38.8),[5] Brahmanda Purana (2.3.74.241),[6] Vayu Purana (2.37.422),[7] and Brahma Purana (2.103.8)[8] state that the day Krishna left the earth was the day that the Dvapara Yuga ended and the Kali Yuga began.
  2. ^ Calculations exclude year zero. 1 BCE to 1 CE is one year, not two.
  3. ^ Chapter 224 (CCXXIV) in some sources: Mahabharata 12.224.

References

  1. ^ "yuga". Dictionary.com Unabridged (Online). n.d. Retrieved 27 February 2021.
  2. ^ "kali yuga". Dictionary.com Unabridged (Online). n.d. Retrieved 27 February 2021.
  3. ^ Smith, John D. (2009). The Mahābhārata: an abridged translation. Penguin Classics. p. 200. ISBN 978-0-670-08415-9.
  4. ^ "Skanda I, Ch. 18: Curse of the Brahmana, Sloka 6". Bhagavata Purana. Vol. Part I. Motilal Banarsidass Publishers Private Limited. 1950. p. 137. 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.
  5. ^ Wilson, H. H. (1895). "Book V, Ch. 38: Arjuna burns the dead, etc., Sloka 8". The Vishnu Purana. S.P.C.K. Press. p. 61. The Parijata tree proceeded to heaven, and on the same day that Hari [Krishna] departed from the earth the dark-bodied Kali age descended.
  6. ^ "Ch. 74, Royal Dynasties, Sloka 241". The Brahmanda Purana. Vol. Part III. Motilal Banarsidass. 1958. p. 950. Kali Yuga began on the day when Krsna passed on to heaven. Understand how it is calculated.
  7. ^ "Ch. 37, Royal Dynasties, Sloka 422". The Vayu Purana. Vol. Part II. Motilal Banarsidass. 1988. p. 824. ISBN 81-208-0455-4. Kali Yuga had started on the very day when Krsna passed away.
  8. ^ "Ch. 103, Episode of Krsna concluded, Sloka 8". Brahma Purana. Vol. Part II. Motilal Banarsidass. 1955. p. 515. 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.
  9. ^ a b Matchett, Freda; Yano, Michio (2003). "Part II, Ch. 6: The Puranas / Part III, Ch. 18: Calendar, Astrology, and Astronomy". In Flood, Gavin (ed.). The Blackwell Companion to Hinduism. Blackwell Publishing. p. 390. ISBN 0631215352. 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.
  10. ^ a b Burgess 1935, p. 19: The instant at which the [kali yuga] Age is made to commence is midnight on the meridian of Ujjayini, at the end of the 588,465th and beginning of the 588,466th day (civil reckoning) of the Julian Period, or between the 17th and 18th of February 1612 J.P., or 3102 B.C. [4713 BCE = 0 JP; 4713 BCE - 1612 + 1 (no year zero) = 3102 BCE.]
  11. ^ a b c Godwin, Joscelyn (2011). Atlantis and the Cycles of Time: Prophecies, Traditions, and Occult Revelations. Inner Traditions. pp. 300–301. ISBN 9781594778575.
  12. ^ a b c Merriam-Webster (1999). "Merriam-Webster's Encyclopedia of World Religions". In Doniger, Wendy; Hawley, John Stratton (eds.). Merriam-Webster. Merriam-Webster, Incorporated. pp. 445 (Hinduism), 1159 (Yuga). ISBN 0877790442.
  13. ^ a b c Gupta, S. V. (2010). "Ch. 1.2.4 Time Measurements". In Hull, Robert; Osgood, Richard M. Jr.; Parisi, Jurgen; Warlimont, Hans (eds.). Units of Measurement: Past, Present and Future. International System of Units. Springer Series in Materials Science: 122. Springer. pp. 6–8. ISBN 9783642007378.
  14. ^ a b Godwin 2011, p. 301: The Hindu astronomers agree that the [Dvapara Yuga ended and] Kali Yuga began at midnight between February 17 and 18, 3102 BCE. Consequently [Kali Yuga] is due to end about 427,000 CE, whereupon a new Golden Age will dawn.
  15. ^ Merriam-Webster 1999, p. 629 (Kalki): At the end of the present Kali age, when virtue and religion have disappeared into CHAOS and the world is ruled by unjust men, Kalki will appear to destroy the wicked and usher in a new age. ... According to some myths, Kalki's horse will stamp the earth with its right foot, causing the tortoise that supports the world to drop into the deep. Then Kalki will restore the earth to its initial purity.
  16. ^ "युग (yuga)". Wiktionary. Retrieved 27 February 2021.
    "yuga". Wiktionary. Retrieved 27 February 2021.
    "Yuga". Wisdom Library. 29 June 2012. Retrieved 27 February 2021.
    "युज् (yuj)". Wiktionary. Retrieved 27 February 2021.
    "*yeug-". Online Etymology Dictionary. Retrieved 27 February 2021.
    "yug". Wiktionary. 6 June 2022. Retrieved 1 September 2023.
  17. ^ "कलि (kali)". Wiktionary. Retrieved 27 February 2021.
    "Kali Yuga". Wiktionary. 25 November 2020. Retrieved 27 February 2021.
    "Kaliyuga, Kali-yuga". Wisdom Library. 11 April 2009. Retrieved 27 February 2021.
  18. ^ Kane, P. V. (September 1936). Sukthankar, Dr. V. S.; Fyzee, A. A. A.; Bhagwat, N. K. (eds.). "Kalivarjya (actions forbidden in the Kali Age)". Journal of the Bombay Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society. The Asiatic Society of Bombay. 12 (1–2): 4.
  19. ^ Kane 1936, p. 4: Among the earliest is the Pikira grant of Pallava Simhavarman where we have the words 'Who was ever ready to extricate dharma that had become sunk owing to the evil effects of Kaliyuga.'
  20. ^ The Pikira grant inscription has the word "kaliyuga" on line 10 located on 3rd plate, first side.
    ⁠— Hultzsch, E., ed. (1981). Epigraphia Indica and Records of the Archaeological Survey of India. Vol. VIII — 1905–06. Bombay: Education Society's Press. p. 162.
  21. ^ Each term has an index of volumes:
    * p. 177: Dvapara, Yuga or age; Dvapara-yuga, do.
    * p. 301: Kali-yuga, age of Kali
    * p. 364: Kritayuga, age; Kritayuga, do.
    Krishna, Dr. M. H. (1934). Mysore Archeological Survey: Epigraphia Carnatica. Vol. XIII (Part I): General Index. Bangalore: Government Press. pp. 177, 301, 364.
  22. ^ The Induand the Rg-Veda, Page 16, By Egbert Richter-Ushanas, ISBN 81-208-1405-3
  23. ^ "Lord Krishna lived for 125 years". The Times of India. 8 September 2004. Retrieved 31 December 2015.
  24. ^ H.D. Dharm Chakravarty Swami Prakashanand Saraswati. Encyclopedia Of Authentic Hinduism The True History and the Religion of India, Hardbound, 2nd Edition, 2003, ISBN 0967382319 Retrieved 2015-01-21
  25. ^ Abhyankar, K. D. (1993). "Astronomical significance to two Mohenjodaro seals". Astronomical Society of India, Bulletin. 21 (3–4): 477. Bibcode:1993BASI...21..475A.
  26. ^ Abhyankar, K. D. (1993). "Astronomical significance to two Mohenjodaro seals". Astronomical Society of India, Bulletin. 21 (3–4): 475. Bibcode:1993BASI...21..475A.
  27. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 14 February 2015. Retrieved 2 February 2015.((cite web)): CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  28. ^ Dutt, Manmatha Nath (1903). "Ch. 231 (CCXXXI)". A Prose English Translation of The Mahabharata (Translated Literally from the Original Sanskrit text). Vol. Book 12 (Shanti Parva). Calcutta: Elysium Press. p. 351 (12.231.17, 19–21)..
  29. ^ Bühler, G. (1886). "Ch. 1, The Creation". In Müller, F. Max (ed.). The Laws of Manu: translated with extracts from seven commentaries. Sacred Books of the East. Vol. XXV. Oxford University Press. p. 20 (1.67–70).
  30. ^ Burgess, Rev. Ebenezer (1935) [1860]. "Ch. 1: Of the Mean Motions of the Planets.". In Gangooly, Phanindralal (ed.). Translation of the Surya-Siddhanta, A Text-Book of Hindu Astronomy; With notes and an appendix. University of Calcutta. pp. 7–9 (1.13–17).
  31. ^ Chaturvedi, Ramesh; Nagar, Shantilal (2001). "129". Brahmavaivarta Purana. Vol. Book 4. Parimal Publications. ISBN 978-81-7110-170-2. (versus 49–60)
  32. ^ "Kali-yuga and Sakabda". Veda - Vedic Knowledge Online. Retrieved 15 May 2023.
  33. ^ "The Mahabharata, Book 3: Vana Parva: Markandeya-Samasya Parva: Section CLXXXIX". Sacred-texts.com. Retrieved 20 January 2013.
  34. ^ Bhāgavata Purāṇa 1.16.20
  35. ^ Vajpeyi, Ananya (29 June 2019). "Epic lessons for Kali Yuga: Rereading the 'Mahabharata' in our contemporary moment". The Hindu.
  36. ^ Mahabharata SECTION CLXXXIX
  37. ^ www.wisdomlib.org (28 January 2019). "Story of Kali". www.wisdomlib.org. Retrieved 18 August 2022.
  38. ^ a b Bamford, Christopher (ed.). Spiritualism, Madame Blavatsky & Theosophy: An Eyewitness View of Occult History : Lectures by Rudolf Steiner.
  39. ^ Dann, Kevin T. (2000). Across the Great Border Fault: The Naturalist Myth in America. Rutgers University Press.

Further reading

  • Glass, Marty (2004). Yuga: An Anatomy of our Fate. Hillsdale, NY: Sophia Perennis.
  • Guénon, René (2004). The Crisis of the Modern World. Translated by Osborne, Arthur; Pallis, Marco; Nicholson, Richard C. Hillsdale, NY: Sophia Perennis.
  • Sotillos, Samuel Bendeck (2013). "New Age or the Kali-Yuga?". AHP Perspective. 2013 (April/May): 15–21.
  • Upton, Charles (2005). Legends of the End: Prophecies of the End Times, Antichrist, Apocalypse, and Messiah from Eight Religious Traditions. Hillsdale, NY: Sophia Perennis.