Updated: May 7, 2020
Welcome to Kali Yuga: the new Dark Age. Not so new, but so black, it's blue. Much like the color of namesake Hindu goddess Kali's skin in many depictions, and also, the way living in Kali Yuga makes one feel. "Black and Blue," a fave Rolling Stones album, is the perfect soundtrack for Kali Yuga, and the song "Crazy Mama" could be Kali Ma's anthem. Indeed, The Stones logo of parted lips with lolling tongue mimic her usual expression.
There is much to say about Kali, but for the purpose of understanding Kali Yuga, we'll go the short and sweet route. Her name means "the dark blue one," and stems from kala, the Sanskrit word for time, which also connotes "black" or "death." She's typically depicted with four or ten arms, holds a sword or other blade, a severed head, and wears only a skirt of human hands or arms, and a mala (prayer beads) made of heads worn as a necklace. She stands atop her consort, Lord Shiva, a Hindu deity associated with yoga and meditation, who has thrown himself underfoot to calm her rampaging. Her tongue is large and protruding (this was once used as a battle weapon to defeat demons), her sword (divine knowledge) cuts through ignorance, severing ego and illusion (the head), and she collects the karma (appendages skirt) of her followers. She's frequently portrayed in Hindu myth as fierce and wrathful, but also as a compassionate, loving Universal Mother deity.
Supremely powerful, in either case.
Kali Yuga is just as intense as the goddess herself. A yuga is one era in a four-age cycle. Kali Yuga is the last of four. One complete cycle is a mahayuga ("great age" in Sanskrit) and lasts over four million years. Each yuga is of shorter duration than the one preceding and, mercifully, Kali Yuga is the shortest one: At 432,000 solar years! We're 5,120 years into the 28th Kali Yuga in the cycle of mahayugas; we have been doing this shit forever.
The below analogies to metals reflect the declining quality in each yuga of life and humanity generally, until they take a nosedive in Kali Yuga.
1. Satya Yuga- first age, the age of truth (golden age) GREAT!
2. Treta Yuga- second age, although treta means "third" in Sanskrit, (silver age), Good
3. Dvapara Yuga - third age, dvapara means "two" in Sanskrit, (bronze age) , Ok
4. Kali Yuga - fourth age, the age of Kali, (iron age), abysmal
When I learned about Kali, I was attracted to the revelation of reality that she symbolized by ruthlessly slicing through excessive ego bonds. I was in yoga teacher training at the time, had always loved mythology, and had been having a steady stream of ego disrupting life events occur: dissolution of a decades-long marriage, death of a parent, career rollercoastering, and learning a whole new skill set that was all consuming. It was an uber humbling time.
Felt like Kali was for me.
When I learned about Kali Yuga, and what types of events and human characteristics defined it, I had a moment of brief and cold comfort with the realization that my dark musings about end times as I scanned the news weren't signs of my impending insanity. Everything was bad for everyone, everywhere, in some way, right now. Especially for the Earth. No wonder it seemed like this shit had been going on forever.
Then I walked around the house in a tearful daze, saying, "It's Kali Yuga," for about 20 minutes.
You may feel the same after reading 15 of the predictions about life in Kali Yuga detailed in the Srimad Bhagavatam, one of the Puranas, Hinduism's ancient literary, philosopical, and scriptural texts. I've left them at the bottom of this post, in case you're not in the mood for more bad news at this moment.
We're living through most of them: catastrophic climate change and its consequences, social and economic power imbalances, declining personal and institutional ethics leading to decreased civic engagement and failures of governmental leadership, and professional expertise and spiritual authenticity claimed by novices, dilettantes, charlatans and the severely mentally ill.
It's not all bad news, though: by some estimates, we're in ascending Kali Yuga, a transitional time as we move into Satya Yuga, a golden age of integrity, unity, health, peace and prosperity for everyone, no exceptions.
Even better news, I discovered, are ways to quell your anxiety and send help to your fellow living beings and the planet by sharing the peace you have cultivated. In fact, if you're reading this, maybe you already engage in one, if not more or all of these solutions:
Dedicate your yoga and/or meditation practice to the quick cessation of suffering in Kali Yuga.
Chant (or sing) the names of the divine (Krishna is best in Kali Yuga according to Hinduism) with the intention that all suffering in Kali Yuga quickly cease.
Be of service. Be a light in Kali Yuga. Show everyone how to be and do and live the opposite way of Kali Yuga's defining characteristics of greed, ignorance and anger.
If you do any or all of the above, wonderful! Keep it going, especially now. If you want to explore these practices, check out my free livestream yoga, meditation, breathing exercises, and chanting offerings. Think of it as a 30-minute gift you can only receive from yourself.
Shine your light in this dark and oh-so-degenerate age. It's harder to be compassionate and devoted to spiritual practice in Kali Yuga, but it's not impossible. A fantastic sign: Yoga and meditation become more widespread every day, the world over. Scientific studies on the therapeutic benefits of yoga for several populations and numerous diseases is producing more and more research data every year.
These people give me hope, too:
"James Charles and his family were homeless for 90 days after they were forced out of their rental home. Now, they allow homeless people to park at his car dealership overnight.
But in each encounter Charles has with his guests, he said, his heart goes out to them because he also was in a similar situation with his wife and six children a few years ago." CNN
Texas 'mom and pop' business flooded with orders for helmet-style ventilation device Sea-Long Medical Systems has drawn huge interest from hospitals and foreign countries seeking alternatives in treating COVID-19 patients amid a ventilator shortage.
"Amid the worsening pandemic, Sea-Long isn't planning to raise the price in part because it doesn't want to limit who has access to the devices.
"This probably sounds sappy," Austin said, "but we think of what if that was our son or daughter or grandfather sitting there in that bed gasping for air and we have to explain to him: 'I'm sorry. We don't have anything for you.'" NBC News
Stories like these make me think we are in ascending Kali Yuga. Movin' on up! Once you hit bottom, it's the only way out.
Ultimately, it will change again and again, and again. This is the nature of everything: Arising, existing, passing away; Om, namah, shivaya. I learned that before I even made it to teacher training.
But, wow, does Kali Yuga suck. Therein lies the goal of yoga: Calm the fluctuations of the mind, slow the reactivity of hate this/love that, cultivate vairagya- equanimity. I only have a shot at being useful in the world when I take care of myself first. I find yogic practices to be most effective for me in this regard, but there are countless others.
Love to hear your thoughts. How do you cultivate peace within? How do you shine your light in Kali Yuga?
Thanks for reading.
15 Prediction of Kali Yuga
1. Srimad Bhagavatam 12.2.1: Religion, truthfulness, cleanliness, tolerance, mercy, duration of life, physical strength and memory will all diminish day by day because of the powerful influence of the age of Kali.
2. Srimad Bhagavatam 12.2.2: In Kali Yuga, wealth alone will be considered the sign of a man’s good birth, proper behaviour and fine qualities. And law and justice will be applied only on the basis of one’s power.
3. Srimad Bhagavatam 12.2.3: Men and women will live together merely because of superficial attraction, and success in business will depend on deceit. Womanliness and manliness will be judged according to one’s expertise in sex, and a man will be known as a brahmana [Indian caste system's highest rank, a high priest/spiritual leader] just by his wearing a thread.
4. Srimad Bhagavatam 12.2.4: A person’s spiritual position will be ascertained merely according to external symbols, and on that same basis people will change from one spiritual order to the next. A person’s propriety will be seriously questioned if he does not earn a good living. And one who is very clever at juggling words will be considered a learned scholar.
5. Srimad Bhagavatam 12.2.5: A person will be judged unholy if he does not have money, and hypocrisy will be accepted as virtue. Marriage will be arranged simply by verbal agreement, and a person will think he is fit to appear in public if he has merely taken a bath.
6. Srimad Bhagavatam 12.2.6: A sacred place will be taken to consist of no more than a reservoir of water located at a distance, and beauty will be thought to depend on one’s hairstyle. Filling the belly will become the goal of life, and one who is audacious will be accepted as truthful. He who can maintain a family will be regarded as an expert man, and the principles of religion will be observed only for the sake of reputation.
7. Srimad Bhagavatam 12.2.7: As the earth thus becomes crowded with a corrupt population, whoever among any of their social classes shows himself to be the strongest will gain political power.
8. Srimad Bhagavatam 12.2.9: Harassed by famine and excessive taxes, people will resort to eating leaves, roots, flesh, wild honey, fruits, flowers and seeds. Struck by drought, they will become completely ruined.
9. Srimad Bhagavatam 12.2.10: The citizens will suffer greatly from cold, wind, heat, rain and snow. They will be further tormented by quarrels, hunger, thirst, disease and severe anxiety.
10. Srimad Bhagavatam 12.2.11: The maximum duration of life for human beings in Kali Yuga will become 50 years.
11. Srimad Bhagavatam 12.3.42: Men will no longer protect their elderly parents.
12. Srimad Bhagavatam 12.3.41: In Kali-yuga men will develop hatred for each other even over a few coins. Giving up all friendly relations, they will be ready to lose their own lives and kill even their own relatives.
13. Srimad Bhagavatam 12.3.38: Uncultured men will accept charity on behalf of the Lord and will earn their livelihood by making a show of austerity and wearing a mendicant’s dress. Those who know nothing about religion will mount a high seat and presume to speak on religious principles.
14. Srimad Bhagavatam 12.3.36: Servants will abandon a master who has lost his wealth, even if that master is a saintly person of exemplary character. Masters will abandon an incapacitated servant, even if that servant has been in the family for generations. Cows will be abandoned or killed when they stop giving milk.
15. Srimad Bhagavatam 12.3.32: Cities will be dominated by thieves, the Vedas [ancient Indian scripture and literature] will be contaminated by speculative interpretations of atheists, political leaders will virtually consume the citizens, and the so-called priests and intellectuals will be devotees of their bellies and genitals.
(Translation source: Indiadivine.org)
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