From The Mahabharata
Vana Parva, Section CLXXXIX
Translated by Sri Kisari Mohan Ganguli
Yudhishthira, the son of Kunti, once more asked the great Muni Markandeya about the future course of the government of the Earth.
And Yudhishthira said:
O thou foremost of all speakers, O Muni of Brigu’s race, that which we have heard from thee about the destruction and re-birth of all things at the end of the Yuga, is, indeed, full of wonder. I am filled with curiosity, however, in respect of what may happen in the Kali age. When morality and virtue will be at an end, what will remain there! What will be prowess of men in that age, what their food, and what their amusements? What will be the period of life at the end of the Yuga? What also is the limit, having attained which the Krita age will begin anew? Tell me all in detail, O Muni, for all that thou narratest is varied and delightful.
Thus addressed, that foremost of Munis began his discourse again, delighting that tiger of the Vrishni race and the sons of Pandu as well.
Morality then is said to wait on men, with
only a fourth part of itself remaining
And Markandeya said: Listen, O monarch, to all that has been seen and heard by me, and to all, O king of kings, that hath been known to me by intuition from the grace of the God of gods! O bull of the Bharata race, listen to me as I narrate the future history of the world during the sinful age. O bull of the Bharata race, in the Krita age, everything was free from deceit and guile and avarice and covetousness; and morality like a bull was among men, with all the four legs complete. In the Treta age sin took away one of these legs and morality had three legs. In the Dwapara, sin and morality are mixed half and half, and accordingly morality is said to have two legs only. In the dark age (of Kali), O thou best of the Bharata race, morality mixed with three parts of sin liveth by the side of men. Accordingly morality then is said to wait on men, with only a fourth part of itself remaining. Know, O Yudhishthira that the period of life, the energy, intellect and the physical strength of men decrease in every Yuga!
Wedded to avarice and wrath and ignorance and lust, men will entertain animosities towards one another, desiring to take one another’s lives.
O Pandava, the Brahmanas (Brahmins) and Kshatriyas and Vaisyas and Sudras, (in the Kali age) will practise morality and virtue deceitfully and men in general will deceive their fellows by spreading the net of virtue. And men with false reputation of learning will, by their acts, cause Truth to be contracted and concealed. And in consequence of the shortness of their lives, they will not be able to acquire much knowledge. And in consequence of the littleness of their knowledge, they will have no wisdom. And for this, covetousness and avarice will overwhelm them all. And wedded to avarice and wrath and ignorance and lust, men will entertain animosities towards one another, desiring to take one another’s lives.
And Brahmanas and Kshatriyas and Vaisyas with their virtue contracted and divested of asceticism and truth will all be reduced to an equality with the Sudras. And the lowest orders of men will rise to the position of the intermediate ones, and those in intermediate stations will without doubt, descend to the level of the lowest ones. Even such, O Yudhishthira, will become the state of the world at the end of the Yuga.
Of robes those will be regarded the best that are made of flax and of grain the Papalum frumentacea will be regarded the best.
[Note: The word in the text is Kora-dushakas, supposed by Wilson to be the Paspalum frumentacea (vide. Dict.)]
Men will live on fish and milk, goats
and sheep, for cows will be extinct
Towards this period men will regard their wives as their (only) friends. And men will live on fish and milk, goats and sheep, for cows will be extinct. And towards that period, even they that are always observant of vows will become covetous. And opposed to one another, men will, at such a time, seek one another’s lives; and divested of Yuga, people will become atheists and thieves. And they will even dig the banks of streams with their spades and sow grains thereon. And those men, who are devoted to ceremonial rites in honour of the deceased and of the gods, will be avaricious and will also appropriate and enjoy what belongs to others. The father will enjoy what belongs to the son; and the son, what belongs to the father. And those things will also be enjoyed by men in such times, and enjoyment of which hath been forbidden in the scriptures.
And the Brahmanas, speaking disrespectfully of the Vedas, will not practise vows, and their understanding clouded by the science of disputation, they will no longer perform sacrifices and the Homa. And deceived by the false science of reasons, they will direct their hearts towards everything mean and low. And men will till low lands for cultivation and employ cows and calves that are one year old, in drawing the plough and carrying burthens. And sons having slain their sire, and sires having slain their sons will incur no opprobrium. And they will frequently save themselves from anxiety by such deeds, and even glory in them.
And the whole world will be filled with Mleccha behaviour and notions and ceremonies and sacrifices will cease and joy will be nowhere and general rejoicing will disappear. And men will rob the possession of helpless persons of those that are friendless and of wisdom also. And, possessed of small energy and strength, without knowledge and given to avarice and folly and sinful practices men will accept with joy the gifts made by wicked people with words of contempt. And, O son of Kunti, the kings of the earth, with hearts wedded to sin without knowledge and always boastful of their wisdom, will challenge one another from desire of taking one another’s life.
And the Kshatriyas also towards the end of such a period will become the thorns of the earth. And filled with avarice and swelling with pride and vanity and unable and unwilling to protect (their subjects), they will take pleasure in inflicting punishments only. And attacking and repeating their attacks upon the good and the honest, and feeling no pity for the latter, even when they will cry in grief, the Kshatriyas will, O Bharata, rob these of their wives and wealth.
The girls will themselves choose their lords
And no one will ask for a girl (for the purposes of marriage) and no one will give away a girl (for such purposes), but the girls will themselves choose their lords, when the end of the Yuga comes. And the kings of the earth with souls steeped in ignorance and discontented with what they have, will at such a time, rob their subjects by every means in their power. And without doubt the whole world will be Mlecchified.
[Note: The word in the text is mlecchibhutam. The Sanskrit grammar affords a great facility for the formation of verbs from substantives. Mlecchify may be hybrid, but it correctly and shortly signifies the Sanskrit word.]
And full of avarice and folly the whole
world will have but one kind of food.
And when the end of the Yuga comes, the right hand will deceive the left and the left the right. And men with false reputation of learning will contract Truth and the old will betray the senselessness of the young, and the young will betray the dotage of the old. And cowards will have the reputation of bravery and the brave will be cheerless like cowards. And towards the end of the Yuga men will cease to trust one another. And full of avarice and folly the whole world will have but one kind of food. And sin will increase and prosper, while virtue will fade and cease to flourish. And Brahmanas and Kshatriyas and Vaisyas will disappear, leaving, O king, no remnants of their orders. And all men towards the end of the Yuga will become members of one common order, without distinction of any kind./p>
Men will seek those countries where
wheat and barley form the staple food.
And sires will not forgive sons, and sons will not forgive sires. And when the end approaches, wives will not wait upon and serve their husbands. And at such a time men will seek those countries where wheat and barley form the staple food. And, O monarch, both men and women will become perfectly free in their behaviour and will not tolerate one another’s acts. And, O Yudhishthira, the whole world will be mlecchified.
And men will cease to gratify the gods by offerings of Sraddhas. And no one will listen to the words of others and no one will be regarded as a preceptor by another. And, O ruler of men, intellectual darkness will envelope the whole earth, and the life of man will then be measured by sixteen years, on attaining to which age death will ensue. And girls of five or six years of age will bring forth children and boys of seven or eight years of age will become fathers. And O tiger among kings, when the end of the Yuga will come, the wife will never be content with her husband, nor the husband with his wife.
The inhabited regions of the earth will be
afflicted with dearth and famine, and the
highways will be filled with lustful men
and women of evil repute.
And the possessions of men will never be much, and people will falsely bear the marks of religion, and jealousy and malice will fill the world. And no one will, at that time, be a giver (of wealth or anything else) in respect to any one else. And the inhabited regions of the earth will be afflicted with dearth and famine, and the highways will be filled with lustful men and women of evil repute. And, at such a time, the women will also entertain an aversion towards their husbands. And without doubt all men will adopt the behaviour of the mlecchas, become omnivorous without distinction, and cruel in all their acts, when the end of the Yuga will come. And, O thou foremost of the Bharatas, urged by avarice, men will, at the time, deceive one another when they sell and purchase. And without a knowledge of the ordinance, men will perform ceremonies and rites, and, indeed, behave as listeth them, when the end of the Yuga comes.
And when the end of the Yuga comes, urged by their very dispositions, men will act cruelly, and speak ill of one another. And people will, without compunction destroy trees and gardens. And men will be filled with anxiety as regards the means of living. And, O king, overwhelmed with covetousness, men will kill Brahmanas (Brahmins) and appropriate and enjoy the possessions of their victims. And the regenerate ones, oppressed by Sudras, and afflicted with fear, and crying Oh and Alas, will wander over the earth without anybody to protect them. And when men will begin to slay one another, and become wicked and fierce and without any respect for animal life, then will the Yuga come to an end. And, O king, even the foremost of the regenerate ones, afflicted by robbers, will, like crows, fly in terror and with speed, and seek refuge, O perpetuator of the Kuru race, in rivers and mountains and inaccessible regions.
And Sudras will expound the scriptures,
and Brahmanas will wait upon and listen
to them, and settle their course of duty
accepting such interpretations as their
And always oppressed by bad rulers with burthens of taxes, the foremost of the regenerate classes, O lord of the earth, will in those terrible times, take leave of all patience and do improper acts by becoming even the servants of the Sudras. And Sudras will expound the scriptures, and Brahmanas will wait upon and listen to them, and settle their course of duty accepting such interpretations as their guides. And the low will become the high and the course of things will look contrary. And renouncing the gods, men will worship bones and other relics deposited within walls. And, at the end of the Yuga, the Sudras will cease to wait upon and serve the Brahmanas. And in the asylums of great Rishis, and the teaching institutions of Brahmanas, and in places sacred to the gods and sacrificial compounds, and in sacred tanks (water reservoirs), the earth will be disfigured with tombs and pillars containing bony relics and not graced with temples dedicated to the gods. All this will take place at the end of the Yuga, and know that these are the signs of the end of the Yuga.
And when men become fierce and destitute of virtue and carnivorous and addicted to intoxicating drinks, then does the Yuga come to an end. And, O monarch, when flowers will be begot within flowers, and fruits within fruits, then will the Yuga come to an end. And the clouds will pour rain unseasonably when the end of the Yuga approaches. And, at that time, ceremonial rites of men will not follow one another in due order, and the Sudras will quarrel with the Brahmanas. And the earth will soon be full of mlecchas, and the Brahmanas will fly in all directions for fear of the burthen of taxes. And all distinctions between men will cease as regards conduct and behaviour, and afflicted with honorary tasks and offices, people will fly to woody retreats, subsisting on fruits and roots.
And the world will be so afflicted, that rectitude of conduct will cease to be exhibited anywhere. And disciples will set at naught the instructions of preceptors, and seek even to injure them. And preceptors impoverished will be disregarded by men. And friends and relatives and kinsmen will perform friendly offices for the sake of the wealth only that is possessed by a person. And when the end of the Yuga comes, everybody will be in want. And all the points of the horizon will be ablaze, and the stars and stellar groups will be destitute of brilliancy, and the planets and planetary conjunctions will be inauspicious. And the course of the winds will be confused and agitated, and innumerable meteors will flash through the sky, foreboding evil. And the Sun will appear with six others of the same kind. And all around there will be din and uproar, and everywhere there will be conflagrations. And the Sun, from the hour of his rising to that of setting, will be enveloped by Rahu. And the deity of a thousand eyes will shower rain unseasonably. And when the end of the Yuga comes, crops will not grow in abundance.
And women, living uncontrolled,
will slay their husbands and sons.
And the women will always be sharp in speech and pitiless and fond of weeping. And they will never abide by the commands of their husbands. And when the end of the Yuga comes, sons will slay fathers and mothers. And women, living uncontrolled, will slay their husbands and sons. And, O king, when the end of the Yuga comes, Rahu will swallow the Sun unseasonably. And fires will blaze up on all sides. And travellers unable to obtain food and drink and shelter even when they ask for these, will lie down on the wayside refraining from urging their solicitations. And when the end of the Yuga comes, crows and snakes and vultures and kites and other animals and birds will utter frightful and dissonant cries.
And when the end of the Yuga comes, men will cast away and neglect their friends and relatives and attendants. And, O monarch, when the end of the Yuga comes, men abandoning the countries and directions and towns and cities of their occupation, will seek for new ones, one after another. And people will wander over the earth, uttering, ‘O father, O son’, and such other frightful and rending cries.
Men will again be created and distributed into
the four orders beginning with Brahmanas.
And when those terrible times will be over, the creation will begin anew, and men will again be created and distributed into the four orders beginning with Brahmanas. And about that time, in order that men may increase, Providence, according to its pleasure, will once more become propitious. And then when the Sun, the Moon, and Brihaspati will, with the constellation Pushya, enter the same sign, the Krita age will begin again.
[Note:Pushya is the eighth lunar asterism consisting of three stars,
of which one is the Cancer. (Vide Wilson’s Dict.)]
And commissioned by Time, a Brahmana
of the name of Kalki will take his birth.
And he will restore order and peace in this world
And the clouds will commence to shower seasonably, and the stars and stellar conjunctions will become auspicious. And the planets, duly revolving in their orbits, will become exceedingly propitious. And all around, there will be prosperity and abundance and health and peace. And commissioned by Time, a Brahmana of the name of Kalki will take his birth. And he will glorify Vishnu and possess great energy, great intelligence, and great prowess. And he will take his birth in a town of the name of Sambhala in an auspicious Brahmana family. And vehicles and weapons, and warriors and arms, and coats of mail will be at his disposal as soon as he will think of them. And he will be the king of kings, and ever victorious with the strength of virtue. And he will restore order and peace in this world crowded with creatures and contradictory in its course. And that blazing Brahmana of mighty intellect, having appeared, will destroy all things. And he will be the Destroyer of all, and will inaugurate a new Yuga. And surrounded by Brahmanas, that Brahmana will exterminate all the mlecchas wherever those low and despicable persons may take refuge.
A few peculiarities of Kali Yuga
Selected texts from Sri Ramacharitamanasa
of Sant Tulasidas, Uttar-kanda, verses 96-103
The Tulasi Ramayana
Kakbhushundi said: In the Kali-Yuga, the hot-bed of sin, men and women are all steeped in unrighteousness and act contrary to the Vedas. In the age of Kali, every virtue had been engulfed by the sins of Kali-Yuga; all good books had disappeared; impostors had promulgated a number of creeds which they had invented out of their own wit. The people had all fallen prey to delusion and all pious acts had been swallowed by greed. Now listen, while I describe a few peculiarities of Kali-Yuga.
No one follows the duties of one’s own caste, and the four Ashrams or stages of life also disappear. Every man and woman takes delight in revolting against the Vedas. The Brahmans sell the Vedas; the kings bleed their subjects; no one respects the injunctions of the Vedas. The right course for every individual is that which one takes a fancy to; a man of erudition is he who plays the braggart. Whoever launches spurious undertakings and is given over to hypocrisy, him does everyone call a saint. He alone is clever who robs another of his wealth; he who puts up false appearances is an ardent follower of established usage. He who is given to lying and is clever at joking is spoken of as a man of parts in the Kali age. He alone who is a reprobate and has abandoned the path of the Vedas is a man of wisdom and dispassion in the Kali age. He alone who has grown big nails and long locks of matted hair is a renowned ascetic in the Kali age.
They alone who put on an unsightly garb and ornaments and eat anything and everything, no matter whether it is worth eating or not, are ascetics; they alone are perfect men and they are worth adoring in the Kali age. They who are of maleficent conduct are held in great esteem and they alone are worthy of honour. Even so they alone who are babblers in thought, word and deed are orators in the Kali age.
Dominated by women, all men dance to their tune like a monkey controlled by its trainer. Sudras instruct the twice-born (Brahman, Kshatriya and Vaishya) in spiritual wisdom and wearing the sacred thread, accept the worst type of gifts. All men are given over to sensuality and greed and they are irascible and hostile to the gods, to the Brahmans, to the Vedas as well as to the saints. Unfortunate wives desert their accomplished and handsome husbands and bestow their hearts on a paramour. Wives having their husbands alive have no ornaments on their person, while widows adorn themselves in the latest style. The disciple and the preceptor severally resemble a deaf man and a blind man: the one would not listen, while the other cannot see. A spiritual guide who robs his disciple of money but fails to rid him of his sorrow is cast into a terrible hell. Parents call their children and teach them such religion as may fill their belly.
Men and women talk of nothing else than the knowledge of God (Brahma-Gyana); while in their greed they would kill a Brahman, or for that matter, kill even their own spiritual guide for the sake of a single shell. Sudras argue with the twice-born : “Are we in any way inferior to you? A good Brahman is he who knows the truth of God!” and defiantly glower at them.
They alone who are covetous of another’s wife and are clever at wiles and steeped in delusion, malice and worldly attachment are enlightened men swearing by the identity of the individual soul with God. Such is the practice I have seen in every Kali age. Doomed themselves, such people bring ruin even to those rare souls who tread the path of virtue. They who find fault with the Vedas by dint of logic are condemned to each hell for a whole Kalpa (cycle of time). People of the lowest grade in society get their heads shaved and enter the order of Sannyasa (renunciation) when their wives are no more in this world and they have lost their household properties. They allow themselves to be worshipped by the Brahmanas and bring ruin to themselves here as well as hereafter.
As for the Brahmanas, they are unlettered, grasping, lascivious, reprobate and stupid and marry low-caste women of lewd character. Sudras on the other hand practice Japa (the muttering of prayers) and austere penance, undertake sacred vows of various kinds and expound the Puranas from an exalted seat. All men follow a course of conduct of their own imagination; the endless variety of wrong-doing cannot be described in words.
In the Kali age there ensues a confusion of castes (due to promiscuous intermarriages) and every one infringes the sacred laws. Men perpetrate sins and reap suffering, terror, disease, sorrow and desolation. Overcome by delusion they walk not in the path of devotion to Sri Hari, conjoined with dispassion and wisdom – a path which has the approval of the Vedas, – and invent diverse creeds of their own.
The so-called recluses build themselves houses and furnish them at considerable expense. Dispassion is no more to be seen in them, the same having been wiped out by their sensuality. The so-called ascetics grow wealthy and householders go penniless; the freaks of the Kali age are beyond all telling. Men drive out a well-born and virtuous wife and bring home some servant-girl, casting to the winds all good usage. Sons respect their fathers and mothers only so long as they have not seen the face of their wives. From the time they take a fancy to their wives kinsfolk they begin to look upon their own people as their enemies.
Kings get addicted to sin and cease to have anything to do with piety. They ever persecute their subjects by inflicting unmerited punishment on them. The meanest churl, if he is rich, is accounted noble. A Brahman is known only by his sacred thread, and an ascetic by his naked body. He who refuses to recognise the Vedas and Puranas is counted as a true saint and a servant of Sri Hari in the Kali age. In the Kali age, those who find fault with others’ virtues can be had in any number, but no one possessing virtues.
In the Kali age famine are of frequent occurrence and for want of food grains people perish en masse.
In the age of Kali duplicity, perversity, hypocrisy, malice, heresy, pride, infatuation, concupiscence and arrogance etc. pervade the whole universe. Men practice Japa, austere penance and charity, perform sacrifices and undertake sacred vows with some unholy motive. The gods rain not upon the earth and food grains sown in the soil do not germinate.
In the age of Kali there is no contentment, nor discernment, nor composure. People of all classes, whether high or low, have taken to begging. Envy, harsh words and covetousness are rampant; while evenness of mind is absent. The duties and rules of conduct prescribed for the four orders of society and stages in life are neglected. Self-control, charity, compassion and wisdom disappear while stupidity and fraud multiply to a large extent. Men and women all pamper their body; while slanderers are diffused all over the world.
The age of Kali is a store house of impurities and vices but it has many virtues too. Final emancipation is possible in the Kali age without any exertion. Moreover, the same goal which is reached through worship of God, performance of sacrifices or the practice of Yoga in the Satyayuga and in the Treta and Dwapara yuga, men are able to attain through the name of Sri Hari in the Kali age. No other age can compare with the Kali age provided a man has faith (in its virtue); for in this age one can easily cross the ocean of transmigration simply by singing Sri Ram’s holy praises.
From The Mahabharata
Santi Parva, section CCXXVII
Translated by Sri Kisari Mohan Ganguli
Time that is strong, assailing the universe, cooks it within itself and sweeps away everything without consideration of seniority of years or the reverse.
For all that, one that is being dragged by Time is unconscious of the noose thrown round one’s neck;. when the daughter-in-law will set the aged mother-in-law to work, when the son, through delusion, will command the father to work for him, when Sudras will have their feet washed by Brahmanas and have sexual congress fearlessly with women of regenerate families, when men will discharge the vital seed into forbidden wombs, when the refuse of houses will begin to be carried upon plates and vessels made of white brass, and when sacrificial offerings intended for the deities will begin to be borne upon forbidden vessels, when all the four orders will transgress all restraints.
From The Mahabharata
Santi Parva, Section CCXXXVIII
Translated by Sri Kisari Mohan Ganguli
In the Kali Yuga, the duties of the respective order
disappear and men become afflicted by inequity.
Daughters-in-law, lecture and rebuke their husbands
Santi Parva, Section CCXXVIII
Translated by Sri Kisari Mohan Ganguli
Addressing Sakra, Sree, the Goddess of Wealth said:
In consequence of the Danavas (demons) having been distinguished for good qualities, I dwelt with them from the beginning of creation for many Yugas together. Times were altered and that alteration brought about an alteration in the character of the Danavas. I saw that virtue and morality deserted them and they began to own the sway of lust and wrath. Persons, though themselves inferior in attainments, began to cherish animosities towards seniors in age possessed of superior qualifications, and the while the latter, possessed of virtue and merit, used to speak upon proper topics in the midst of assemblies, the former began to ridicule or laugh at them. When reverend seniors in age came, the younger individuals, seated at their ease, refused to adore the former by rising up and saluting them with respect.
In the presence of sires, sons began to exercise power (in matters that concerned sires alone). They that were not in receipt of wages accepted service and shamelessly proclaimed the fact. Those amongst them that succeeded in amassing great wealth by doing unrighteous and censurable deeds came to be held in esteem. During the night they began to indulge in loud screams and shrieks. Their homa fires (sacred fires) ceased to send bright and upward flames. Sons began to lord it over sires, and wives dominated over husbands. Mothers, fathers and seniors, preceptors, guests and guides ceased to command respect for their superior status. People ceased to bring up with affection their own offspring but began to desert them. Without giving away the defined portion in alms and reserving the fixed portion for offering it unto the gods, every one ate what he had. Indeed, without offering their goods to the deities in sacrifices and without sharing them with the Pitris (ancestors), the gods, guests, and reverend seniors, they appropriated them to their own use shamelessly.
Their cooks no longer professed any consideration for purity of mind, deed and word. They ate what had been left uncovered. Their corn lay scattered in yards, exposed to devastation by crows and rats. Their milk remained exposed and they began to touch ghee (clarified butter) with hands unwashed after eating. Their spades, domestic knives, baskets and dishes and cups of white brass, and other utensils began to lie scattered in their houses. Their housewives abstained from looking after these. They no longer attained to the repairs of their houses and walls. Tethering their animals they abstained from giving them food and drink
Disregarding children that only looked on, and without having fed their dependants, the Danavas ate what they had. They began to prepare Payasa (pudding prepared of rice boiled in sugared milk), and Krisara (milk, sesamum and rice), and dishes of meat and cakes and Sashkuli (pie made of rice or barley boiled in sugared water), not for gods and guests, but for their own selves, and commenced to eat the flesh of animals not killed in sacrifices.
They used to sleep even after the sun had risen. They made night of their morns. Day and night, disputes and quarrels waxed in every house of theirs. They that were not respectable amongst them no longer showed any respect for those that deserve respect while the latter were seated in any place. Fallen off from their defined duties, they ceased to reverend those that had betaken themselves to the woods for leading a life of peace and divine contemplation. Intermixture of castes freely commenced among them. They ceased to attend to purity of person or mind. Brahmanas learned in the Vedas ceased to command respect among them. Those again that were ignorant of Richs (Ved Mantras) were not condemned or punished. Both were treated on a footing of equality, those, that is, that deserved respect and those that deserved no respect.
Their servant girls became wicked in behaviour, and began to wear necklaces of gold and other ornaments and fine robes, and used to remain in their houses or go away before their very eyes. They began to derive great pleasure from sports and diversions in which their women were dressed as men and their men as women.
When difficulties threatened the accomplishment of any purpose and friend sought the counsel of friend, that purpose was frustrated by the latter even if he had any interest of the slightest value to subserve by frustrating it. Amongst even their better classes have appeared traders and dealers in goods, intent upon taking the wealth of others. The Sudras amongst them have taken to the practice of penances. Some amongst them have begun to study, without making any rules for regulating their hours and food. Others have begun to study, making rules that are useless. Disciples have abstained from rendering obedience and service to preceptors. Preceptors again have come to treat disciples as friendly companions. Fathers and mothers are worn out with work, and have abstained from indulging in festivities. Parents in old age, divested of power over sons, have been forced to beg their food of the latter. Amongst them, even persons of wisdom, conversant with the Vedas and resembling the ocean itself in gravity of deportment, have begun to betake themselves to agriculture and such other pursuits.
Persons who are illiterate and ignorant have begun to be fed at Sraddhas. [Note: No merit attaches to the act of feeding an illiterate person ; illiterate meaning not proficient in the Vedas]. Every morning, disciples, instead of approaching preceptors for making dutiful enquiries for ascertaining what acts awaited accomplishment and for seeking commissions which they are to discharge, are themselves waited upon by preceptors who discharge those functions.
Daughters-in-law, in the presence of their husbands’ mothers and fathers, rebuke and chastise servants and maids, and summoning their husbands lecture and rebuke them. Sires, with great care, seek to keep sons in good humour, or dividing through fear their wealth among children, live in woe and affliction. Even persons enjoying the friendship of the victims, beholding the latter deprived of wealth in conflagrations or by robbers, or by the king, have begun to indulge in laughter from feelings of mockery. They have become ungrateful and unbelieving and sinful and addicted to adulterous congress with even the spouses of their preceptors. They have betaken themselves to eating forbidden food. They have transgressed all bounds and restraints. They have become divested of that splendour which had distinguished them before.
In consequence of these and other indications of wicked conduct and the reversal of their former nature, I shall not, O chief of the gods, dwell among them (Danavas) any longer. There, where I reside, the seven other goddesses with Jaya for their eighth, who love me, who are inseparably associated with me, and who depend upon me, desire to live. They are Hope, Faith, Intelligence, Contentment, Victory, Advancement, and Forgiveness. She who forms the eighth, viz., Jaya, occupies the foremost place amongst them. All of them and myself, having deserted the Asuras (demons) have come to thy domains. We shall henceforth reside among the deities who are devoted to righteousness and faith.
From Srimad Bhagavat Mahapurana
Book twelve, Discourse 2
Rendered into English by
C.L.Goswami M.A., Shastri
Sri Suka said: (Discourse 1) (As Kaliyuga advances) the Brahmanas of Saurastra, Avanti, the Abhira territory (the principalities of Sura, Arbuda and Malawa) will become Vratyas or fallen men (because of their giving up the Samskaras or purificatory rites, especially the ceremony of investiture with the sacred thread), and the rulers will be mostly of the Sudra class. Sudras, fallen Brahmanas and members of the higher castes who have given up the Vedic courses of conduct and Mlecchas will rule over the banks of the Indus and Chandrabhaga rivers, the city of Kaunti and the territory of Kashmira.
These kings, O Parikshit, who will all be contemporaries, will be no better than Mlecchas (in their course of conduct) and will be given over to unrighteousness and mendacity, illiberal and furious ways. They will kill women, children, Brahmins and cows. They will covet other people’s wives and other people’s wealth. They will experience vicissitudes of fortune in quick succession and will be poor of strength and courage and will be short lived (too). They will cease to perform purificatory rites, will be devoid of righteous actions. Being dominated by Rajas and Tamas and being Mlecchas in the garb of Kshatriyas, they will suck the blood of their own people. The people ruled over by them too will acquire their habits, ways of life and mode of speech and, oppressed by one another as well as by their rulers, will go to ruin.
Sri Suka continued : (Discourse 2) Thenceforth, day after day, by force of the all-powerful Time, O king, righteousness, veracity, purity (of mind and body), forgiveness, compassion, length of life, bodily strength and keenness of memory will decline. In the Kali age wealth alone will be the criterion of pedigree, morality and merit. Again, might will be the only factor determining righteousness and fairness. Personal liking will be the deciding factor in making the choice of a partner in life, and trickery alone will be the motive force in business dealings. Capability of affording sexual delight will be the (only) criterion of masculine or feminine excellence and the sacred thread will be the only mark of Brahmanhood.
External marks will be the only means of knowing the Ashramas or the stages in life (of an individual) and the only guide in determining the mode of greeting which people should adopt when meeting one another. Justice will have every chance of being vitiated because of one’s inability to gratify those administering it, and voluble speech will be the (only) criterion of scholarship. Want of riches will be the sole test of impiety and hypocrisy will be the only touchstone of goodness. (Mutual) consent will be the sole determining factor in marriage and it will become acceptable practice to have toilet and bath (combined) in one place. A distant water reservoir or pond will be the only holy resort for bath etc., and wearing (long) hair will be regarded as the sign of beauty.
Filling one’s belly will be the (only) end of human pursuit and audacity of speech will be the only criterion of veracity. Skill will consist in supporting one’s family; virtuous deeds will be performed (only) with the object of gaining fame; and when in this way the terrestrial globe will be overrun by wicked people, the person who would prove to be the most powerful amongst the Brahmanas, Kshatriyas, Vaisyas, and Sudras will become the ruler. Robbed of their wealth and of their women by greedy and merciless Kshatriyas, behaving like robbers, people will resort to mountains and forests and subsist on leaves, roots, meat, honey, fruits, flowers and seeds.
(Already) oppressed by famine and (heavy) taxation, people will perish through drought, (excessive) cold, storms, (scorching) heat of the sun, (heavy) rains, snowfalls and mutual conflict. In the age of Kali men will be tormented by hunger and thirst, ailments and worry and their maximum age will be only twenty to thirty years. When through the evil effect of Kali age the bodies of men get reduced in size and become emaciated, the righteous course laid out by the Vedas for men following the system of Varnas (caste system or grades of society) and the Ashramas (stages in life) gets lost, when religion is replaced by heresy to a large extent and rulers mostly turn out to be thieves. When men take to various pursuits like theft, mendacity, wanton destruction of life and so on; when members of the three higher castes are mostly converted into Sudras and cows are reduced to the size of she-goats and begin to yield as little milk. When people belonging to the four Ashramas mostly become householders and the connotation of relationship will extend only to the relatives of one’s wife. Annual plants get stunted in growth and trees are mostly reduced to the size of a Sami (a small tree). Clouds will mostly end in flashes of lightning (rather than pour rain) and dwellings will mostly look desolate (for want of hospitality to strangers).
In this way, when the Kali age, whose influence is so severe on the people, is well-nigh past, the Lord will appear in His divine form (consisting of Sattwa alone) for the protection of virtue. Lord Vishnu, adored by the whole animate and inanimate creation and the Soul of the universe, appears (in this world of matter) for protecting the virtue of the righteous and wiping out (the entire stock of) their Karma (and thereby liberating them). The Lord will appear under the name of Kalki in the house of the high-souled Vishnuyasa –the foremost Brahmana of the village of Sambhala. Riding a fleet footed horse named Devadatta (because it will be presented to Him by the gods) and capable of subduing the wicked, Lord of the universe, wielding the well-known eight divine powers (Anima and so on) and possessed of endless virtues and matchless splendour, wearing the insignia of royalty,
will traverse the globe on that swift horse and exterminate with his sword (weapon) tens of millions of robbers.
Now when all the robbers are (thus) exterminated, the minds of the people of the cities and of the countryside will become pure indeed because of their enjoying the breeze wafting the most sacred fragrance from on the person of Lord Vasudeva. With Lord Vasudeva, the embodiment of strength in their heart, their progeny will grow exceedingly strong (as before). When Sri Hari, the Protector of Dharma, appears as Kalki, Satyayuga will prevail (once more) at that time and the progeny of the people will be of a Sattvika (virtuous) disposition. When the moon, the sun and Jupiter rise together in one zodiacal house and the Pusya constellation is in the ascendant, then it will be known as Satyayuga.
The all effulgent personality (consisting of pure Sattva) of Lord Vishnu (Himself) appeared under the name of Sri Krishna. The moment He ascended to (His divine abode) in heaven the Kali age entered the world, in which age people take delight in sin. So long as the aforesaid Lord of Lakshmi touched the earth, Kali could not prevail over it. When the seven stars constituting the Great Bear enter the constellation of Magha, then Kaliyuga embarks on its career of twelve hundred celestial years (432 000 human years). When from the Maghas the stars of the Great Bear pass on to the constellation of Purvasadha, then from the time of king (Mahapadma) Nanda onwards Kali will gain ascendancy. Persons learned in ancient history maintain that the age of Kali set in on that very day, (nay) the very moment Sri Krishna ascended to His abode in heaven. O,Parikshit, at the end of one thousand celestial years and of the fourth Yuga (Kaliyuga) Krtayuga will prevail (once again), when the mind of men will reveal (to them the true nature of) the Self.
From the Mahabharata
Santi Parva, section CCXXXII
Translated by Sri Kisari Mohan Ganguli
In the Krita age the performance of sacrifices was not necessary. Such performance became necessary in the Treta age. In the dwapara age, sacrifices have begun to fall off. In the Kali age, the same is the case with them. In Krita age, men, worshipping only one Brahman, looked upon the Richs, the Samans, the Yajuses and the rites and sacrifices that are performed from motives of advantage, as all different from the object of their worship, and practised only Yoga, by means of penances. In the Treta age, many mighty men appeared that swayed all mobile and immobile objects. (Though the generality of men in that age were not naturally inclined to the practice of righteousness, yet those great leaders forced them to such practice.)
Accordingly, in that age, the Vedas, and sacrifices and the distinctions between the several orders (Brahmin, Kshatriya, Vaishya & Sudra), and the four modes of life (Brahmacharya, Grihastha, Vanprastha and Sannyasa), existed in a compact state. In consequence, however, of the decrease in the period of life in Dwapara, all these, in that age, fall off from that compact condition. In the Kali age, all the Vedas become so scarce that they may not be even seen by men. Afflicted by iniquity, they suffer extermination along with the rites and sacrifices laid down in them. The righteousness which is seen in the Krita age is now visible in such Brahmanas (Brahmins) as are of cleansed souls and are devoted to penances and the study of the scriptures.
As regards the other yugas (ages), it is seen that without at once giving up the duties and acts that are consistent with righteousness, men, observant of the practices of their respective orders, and conversant with the ordinances of the Vedas are led by the authority of the scriptures, to betake themselves from motives of advantage and interest to sacrifices and vows and pilgrimages to sacred waters and spots. As in the season of rains a large variety of new objects of the immobile order are caused to come forth into life by the showers that fall from the clouds, even so many new kinds of duty or religious observances are brought about in each yuga. As the same phenomena reappears with the reappearance of the seasons, even so, at each new Creation the same attributes appear in each new Brahman and Hara (Siva).