The 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.
The "Kali" of Kali Yuga means "strife", "discord", "quarrel" or "contention" and Kali Yuga is associated with the demon Kali (not to be confused with the goddess Kālī).
According to Puranic sources, Krishna's departure marks 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 (1200 divine years), Kali Yuga began 5,122 years ago and has 426,878 years left as of 2021 CE. Kali Yuga will end in the year 428,899 CE.
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".
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 would 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 Vrdhha 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.
Duration and structure
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:
(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 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).
(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.
Hinduism often symbolically represents morality (dharma) as an Indian bull. In 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.
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. 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 Kali Yuga.
In relation to rulers, it lists:
- 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.
- "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)
With regard to human relationships, Markandeya's discourse says:
- Avarice and wrath will be common. Humans will openly display animosity towards each other. Ignorance of dharma will occur.
- Religion, truthfulness, cleanliness, tolerance, mercy, physical strength and memory diminish with each passing day.
- 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.
- All the human beings will declare themselves as gods or boon given by gods and make it as a business instead of teachings.
- People will no longer get married and will live with each other just for sexual pleasure.
- Weather and environment will degrade with time and frequent and unpredictable rainfalls will happen.
- Earthquakes will be common.
- Maximum age of humans will be 20 years by the end of Kali Yuga.
- Many fake ideologies will spread throughout the world.
- The powerful people will dominate the poor people.
- Many diseases will spread.
- At the end of Kali Yuga, Vishnu will take birth on earth as Kalki to wipe out the sinners. It is mentioned that Vishnu's Kalki avatar will come to the Earth in a white horse which has wings (here, the destruction caused by the white horse is used as a metaphor for the destruction of darkness in the minds of the human beings).
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, during which bhakti yogis will be present. Krishna foretold that Kali Yuga will be full of extreme hardships for people with ideals and values.
The Brahma-vaivarta Purana has words spoken by Krishna to Mother Ganga just before the beginning of the Kali Yuga (the age of quarrel and strife). The Kali Yuga began approximately five thousand years ago; that golden age is being described below by Krishna. Predicted in Brahma-vaivarta Purana 4.129, the fourth part of the Brahma-vaivarta is called Kṛṣṇa-janma-khanda. Chapter 129 is called Golokarohanam, because it describes how Krishna returns to His abode. This specific dialogue is between Krishna and Mother Ganga. Verse 49 is a question by Ganga, verses 50–60 are Krishna's answer.
This text is taken from the Brahma-vaivarta Purana  Text 59:
madbhaktāḥ santi bhūtale
madbhakteṣu gateṣu ca
For 10,000 years of Kali such devotees of Mine will be present on earth. After the departure of My devotees there will be only one varna.
The above is supported in 4.90.32–33:
haris tiṣṭhati medinī
devānām pratimā pūjyā
śāstrāni ca purāṇakam
(Sri Krisna said:) Lord Hari will stay on this earth for the first ten-thousand years of Kali-yuga. Till then gods will be worshipped and the Puranas and scriptures will also be present.
Guru Granth Sahib on Ang:1185 says:
Now, the Dark Age of Kali Yuga has come. Plant the Naam, the Name of the One Lord. It is not the season to plant other seeds. Do not wander lost in doubt and delusion.
The Kali Yuga is an important concept in both Theosophy and Anthroposophy, and in the writings of Helena Blavatsky, W.Q. Judge, Rudolf Steiner, and Traditionalist philosophers such as René Guénon and Julius Evola, among others. Rudolf Steiner believed that the Kali Yuga ended in 1900.
- "yuga". Dictionary.com Unabridged. Random House. Retrieved 27 February 2021.
- "kali yuga". Dictionary.com Unabridged. Random House. Retrieved 27 February 2021.
- Smith, John D. (2009). The Mahābhārata: an abridged translation. Penguin Classics (ISBN 978-0-670-08415-9), p. 200
- "Skanda I, Ch. 18: Curse of the Brahmana, Sloka 6". Bhagavata Purana. 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.
- 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.
- "Ch. 103, Episode of Krsna concluded, Sloka 8". Brahma Purana. 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.
- 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.
- 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.]
- 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.
- "युग (yuga)". Wiktionary. Retrieved 27 February 2021.
"yuga". Wiktionary. Retrieved 27 February 2021.
"Yuga". Wisdom Library. Retrieved 27 February 2021.
"युज् (yuj)". Wiktionary. Retrieved 27 February 2021.
"*yeug-". Online Etymology Dictionary. Retrieved 27 February 2021.
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"Kali Yuga". Wiktionary. Retrieved 27 February 2021.
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- Kane, P. V. (September 1936). Sukthankar, Dr. V. S.; Fyzee, A. A. A.; Bhagwat, Prof. 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.
- 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.'
- The Pikira grant inscription has the word "kaliyuga" on line 10 located on 3rd plate, first side.
— Hultzsch, Ph. D., E., ed. (1981). Epigraphia Indica and Records of the Archaeological Survey of India. VIII — 1905–06. Bombay: Education Society's Press. p. 162.
- 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. XIII (Part I): General Index. Bangalore: Government Press. pp. 177, 301, 364.
- The Induand the Rg-Veda, Page 16, By Egbert Richter-Ushanas, ISBN 81-208-1405-3
- "Lord Krishna lived for 125 years". The Times of India. 8 September 2004. Retrieved 31 December 2015.
- 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
- Abhyankar, K. D. (1993). "Astronomical significance to two Mohenjodaro seals". Astronomical Society of India, Bulletin. 21 (3–4): 477. Bibcode:1993BASI...21..475A.
- Abhyankar, K. D. (1993). "Astronomical significance to two Mohenjodaro seals". Astronomical Society of India, Bulletin. 21 (3–4): 475. Bibcode:1993BASI...21..475A.
- "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 14 February 2015. Retrieved 2 February 2015.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
- Godwin, Joscelyn (2011). Atlantis and the Cycles of Time: Prophecies, Traditions, and Occult Revelations. Inner Traditions. pp. 300–301. ISBN 9781594778575.
- 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.
* 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.
- Gupta, Dr. S. V. (2010). "Ch. 1.2.4 Time Measurements". In Hull, Prof. Robert; Osgood, Jr., Prof. Richard M.; Parisi, Prof. Jurgen; Warlimont, Prof. 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.
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.
- Dutt, Manmatha Nath (1903). "Ch. 231 (CCXXXI)". A Prose English Translation of The Mahabharata (Translated Literally from the Original Sanskrit text). Book 12 (Shanti Parva). Calcutta: Elysium Press. p. 351 (12.231.17, 19–21)..
- 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. XXV. Oxford University Press. p. 20 (1.67–70).
- Burgess, Rev. Ebenezer (1935) . "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).
- Dimitri Kitsikis, L'Orocc, dans l'âge de Kali, Editions Naaman,1985, ISBN 2-89040-359-9
- "The Mahabharata, Book 3: Vana Parva: Markandeya-Samasya Parva: Section CLXXXIX". Sacred-texts.com. Retrieved 20 January 2013.
- Bhāgavata Purāṇa 1.16.20
- "Epic lessons for Kali Yuga: Rereading the 'Mahabharata' in our contemporary moment". The Hindu.
- Mahabharata SECTION CLXXXIX
- Ramesh Chaturvedi, Shantilal Nagar. Brahmavaivarta Purana. Parimal Publications. 2001. ISBN 978-81-7110-170-2. Online Book 4, Chapter 129, versus 49–60
- "Enabling Gurmat Knowledge". SikhiToTheMAX. Retrieved 20 January 2013.
- Christopher Bamford (ed.). Spiritualism, Madame Blavatsky & Theosophy: An Eyewitness View of Occult History : Lectures by Rudolf Steiner.
- Kevin T. Dann (2000). Across the Great Border Fault: The Naturalist Myth in America. Rutgers University Press.
- Glass, Marty Yuga: An Anatomy of our Fate (Hillsdale, NY: Sophia Perennis, 2004)
- Guénon, René The Crisis of the Modern World, translated by Arthur Osborne, Marco Pallis and Richard C. Nicholson (Hillsdale, NY: Sophia Perennis, 2004)
- Lings, Martin The Eleventh Hour: The Spiritual Crisis of the Modern World in the Light of Tradition and Prophecy (Cambridge, UK: Archetype, 2002)
- Sotillos, Samuel Bendeck "New Age or the Kali-Yuga?" AHP Perspective, April/May 2013, pp. 15–21.
- Upton, Charles Legends of the End: Prophecies of the End Times, Antichrist, Apocalypse, and Messiah from Eight Religious Traditions (Hillsdale, NY: Sophia Perennis, 2005)
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