Kali Yuga, The Problems and the Solution
January 5, 2013 by His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada
Filed under Society
The age of Kali is the most condemned age due to its quarrelsome features. Kali-yuga is so saturated with vicious habits that there is a great fight at the slightest misunderstanding. Those who are engaged in the pure devotional service of the Lord, who are without any desire for self-aggrandizement and who are freed from the effects of fruitive actions and dry philosophical speculations are capable of getting out of the
The leaders of the people are very much anxious to live in peace and friendship, but they have no information of the simple method of hearing the glories of the Lord. On the contrary, such leaders are opposed to the propagation of the glories of the Lord. In other words, the foolish leaders want to completely deny the existence of the Lord. In the name of secular state, such leaders are enacting various plans every year. But by the insurmountable intricacies of the material nature of the Lord, all these plans for progress are being constantly frustrated. They have no eyes to see that their attempts at peace and friendship are failing. But here is the hint to get over the hurdle. If we want actual peace, we must open the road to understanding of the Supreme Lord Krsna and glorify Him for His virtuous activities as they are depicted in the pages of Srimad-Bhagavatam. (SB 1.1.16 P Questions by the Sages)
In this age of Kali the propensity for mercy is almost nil. Consequently there is always fighting and wars between men and nations. Men do not understand that because they unrestrictedly kill so many animals, they also must be slaughtered like animals in big wars. This is very much evident in the Western countries. In the West, slaughterhouses are maintained without restriction, and therefore every fifth or tenth year there is a big war in which countless people are slaughtered even more cruelly than the animals. Sometimes during war, soldiers keep their enemies in concentration camps and kill them in very cruel ways. These are reactions brought about by unrestricted animal-killing in the slaughterhouse and by hunters in the forest. Proud, demoniac persons do not know the laws of nature, or the laws of God. Consequently, they unrestrictedly kill poor animals, not caring for them at all. In the Krsna consciousness movement, animal-killing is completely prohibited. One is not accepted as a bona fide student in this movement unless he promises to follow the four regulative principles: no animal-killing, no intoxication, no illicit sex and no gambling. This Krsna consciousness movement is the only means by which the sinful activities of men in this Kali-yuga can be counteracted. (SB 4.26.5 P King Puranjana Goes to the Forest to Hunt, and His Queen Becomes Angry)
It is stated in Srimad-Bhagavatam that in Kali-yuga the heads of government will be plunderers and thieves. These thieves and plunderers take the money and property of the public by force or connivance. Therefore it is said in Srimad-Bhagavatam, rajanyair nirghrnair dasyu-dharmabhih. As Kali-yuga advances, we can see that these characteristics are already visible. We can certainly imagine how deteriorated human civilization will be by the end of Kali-yuga. Indeed, there will no longer be a sane man capable of understanding God and our relationship with Him. In other words, human beings will be just like animals. At that time, in order to reform human society, Lord Krsna will come in the form of the Kalki avatara. His business will be to kill all the atheists because ultimately the real protector is Visnu, or Krsna. (SB 5.12.7 P Conversation Between Maharaja Rahugana and Jada Bharata )
The modern activities of human society are described in Srimad-Bhagavatam as the activities of go-khara, cows and asses (sa eva go-kharah). Everyone is acting in a bodily concept of life involving society, friendship and love for the improvement of economic and political conditions, and thus all activities are enacted in ignorance. The Supreme Personality therefore comes to teach us how to act according to the Vedic principles. In this age of Kali, the Supreme Personality of Godhead appeared as Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu and preached that in this age the Vedic activities cannot be systematically performed because people are so fallen. He gave this recommendation from the sastras:
harer nama harer nama
harer namaiva kevalam
kalau nasty eva nasty eva
nasty eva gatir anyatha
“In this age of quarrel and hypocrisy the only means of deliverance is chanting the holy name of the Lord. There is no other way. There is no other way. There is no other way.” The Krsna consciousness movement is therefore teaching people all over the world how to chant the Hare Krsna mantra, and this has proved very much effective in all places at all times. The Supreme Personality of Godhead appears in order to teach us Vedic principles intended for understanding Him (vedais ca sarvair aham eva vedyah). We should always know that when Krsna and Lord Caitanya appeared, They appeared in suddha-sattva bodies. One should not mistake the body of Krsna or Caitanya Mahaprabhu to be a material body like ours, for Krsna and Caitanya Mahaprabhu appeared as needed for the benefit of the entire human society. Out of causeless mercy, the Lord appears in different ages in His original suddha-sattva transcendental body to elevate human society to the spiritual platform upon which they can truly benefit. Unfortunately, modern politicians and other leaders stress the bodily comforts of life (yasyatma-buddhih kunape tri-dhatuke) and concentrate on the activities of this ism and that ism, which they describe in different kinds of flowery language. Essentially such activities are the activities of animals (sa eva go-kharah). We should learn how to act from Bhagavad-gita, which explains everything for human understanding. Thus we can become happy even in this age of Kali. (SB 10.2.34 P)
A student is to be considered perfected when he understands the identity of the holy name and the Supreme Lord. Unless one is under the shelter of a realized spiritual master, his understanding of the Supreme is simply foolishness. However, one can fully understand the transcendental Lord by service and devotion. When Lord Caitanya offenselessly chanted the Hare Krsna mantra, He declared that the mantra could at once deliver a conditioned soul from material contamination. In this age of Kali there is no alternative to chanting this maha-mantra. It is stated that the essence of all Vedic literature is the chanting of this holy name of Krsna: Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare. Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. Lord Caitanya also told Prakasananda Sarasvati, “In order to convince Me about this essential fact of Vedic knowledge, My spiritual master has taught Me a verse from Brhan-naradiya Purana [38.126]. Harer nama harer nama harer namaiva kevalam. kalau nasty eva nasty eva nasty eva gatir anyatha: In this age of quarrel and hypocrisy, the only means of deliverance is the chanting of the holy name of the Lord. There is no other way. There is no other way. There is no other way.”
In three out of the four millenniums (namely Satya-yuga, Treta-yuga and Dvapara-yuga) people had the honor to be able to understand transcendence through the path of disciplic succession. However, in the present age, people have no interest in the disciplic succession. Instead, they have invented many paths of logic and argument. This individual attempt to understand the supreme transcendence (called the ascending process) is not approved by the Vedas. The Absolute Truth must descend from the absolute platform. He is not to be understood by the ascending process. The holy name of the Lord–Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare. Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare–is a transcendental vibration because it comes from the transcendental platform, the supreme abode of Krsna. Because there is no difference between Krsna and His name, the holy name of Krsna is as pure, perfect and liberated as Krsna Himself. Academic scholars have no entrance by means of logic and other argument into the understanding of the transcendental nature of the holy name of God. The single path in understanding the transcendental nature of Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare. Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare is the chanting of these names with faith and adherence. Such chanting will release one from designated conditions arising from the gross and subtle bodies.
In this age of logic, argument and disagreement, the chanting of Hare Krsna is the only means for self-realization. Because this transcendental vibration alone can deliver the conditioned soul, it is considered to be the essence of the Vedanta-sutra. According to the material conception, there is duality between the name, form, quality, emotions and activities of a person and the person himself, but as far as the transcendental vibration is concerned, there is no such limitation, for it descends from the spiritual world. In the spiritual world there is no difference between the name of the person and the quality of the person. Of course in the material world there is a difference. Because the Mayavadi philosophers cannot understand this, they cannot utter the transcendental vibration.
“All Vedic rituals, mantras and understanding are compressed into eight words: Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare.” Similarly, in the Kalisantarana Upanisad it is stated:
hare krsna hare krsna
krsna krsna hare hare
hare rama hare rama
rama rama hare hare
iti sodasakam namnam
“The sixteen words–Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare. Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare–are especially meant for counteracting the contaminations of Kali. To save oneself from the contamination of Kali, there is no alternative but the chanting of these sixteen words.”
Lord Caitanya immediately informed Prakasananda that in the modern age people in general are more or less bereft of all spiritual intellect. When such people come under the influence of Sankaracarya’s Mayavadi (impersonalist) philosophy before beginning the most confidential Vedanta-sutras, their natural tendency toward obedience to the Supreme is checked. The supreme source of everything is naturally respected by everyone, but this natural tendency is hampered when one takes to the impersonalist conceptions of Sankara. Thus the spiritual master of Lord Caitanya suggested that it is better that one not study the Sariraka-bhasya of Sankaracarya, for it is very harmful to people in general. Indeed, the common man does not even have the intelligence to penetrate into the jugglery of words. He is better advised to chant the maha-mantra: Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare. Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. In this quarrelsome age of Kali there is no alternative for self-realization. (TLC 18-19 The Conversations with Prakasananda)
Of course, there are other yugas besides Kali-yuga. During the Satya-yuga, which lasted eighteen hundred thousand years, human beings lived for one hundred thousand years. The duration of the next age, the Treta-yuga, was twelve hundred thousand years, and the people of that age used to live for ten thousand years. In other words, the duration of life was ten times reduced. In the next age, Dvapara-yuga, the life span was again ten times reduced–people used to live for one thousand years–and the duration of the Dvapara Age was eight hundred thousand years. Then, in the next age, this Kali-yuga, we can live up to one hundred years at the utmost. We are not living one hundred years, but still, the limit is one hundred years. So just see: from one hundred years the average duration of life has decreased to about seventy years. And it will eventually decrease to the point where if a man lives for twenty to thirty years, he will be considered a very old man.
So, kaler dosa-nidhe rajan: The faults of this age are just like an ocean. If you were put into the Pacific Ocean, you would not know how to save your life. Even if you were a very expert swimmer, it would not be possible for you to cross the Pacific Ocean. Similarly, the Kali-yuga is described in the Bhagavatam as an ocean of faults. It is infected with so many anomalies that there seems to be no way out. But there is one medicine: kirtanad eva krsnasya mukta-sangah param vrajet. The Bhagavatam explains that if you chant the name of Krsna–the Hare Krsna mantra–you will be relieved from the infection of this Kali-yuga. (JSD 6.4 Ancient Prophecies Fulfilled)
So therefore these discussions which are going on, that is only for how to get liberation from the four principles of material condition, janma-mrtyu-jara-vyadhi. That is called moksa. Moksa, or liberation. So the… It is just like beating the dead horse. Nobody is interested about moksa. Or nobody can conceive even that there is something as moksa. Moksa means to get free from this condition of birth, death and old age. That is called moksa, liberation. So at the present moment modern educated persons, they do not know that there is something like moksa and it can be achieved and there is process and the whole Vedic sastra is trying to educate us for getting moksa. They do not know it. So we have become so dull. Therefore, in this age, Kali-yuga especially, our conditions are described as manda, very, very bad, or very, very slow. Mandah sumanda-matayah. And if one little interested, they will take some path which is not approved, which is not approved. They will invent something, so many “isms.”
So Prahlada Maharaja said, sada samudvigna-dhiyam asad-grahat. Because we have accepted this body… So we must not accept this body, that is called moksa-dvaram. That should be the mission of human life. So we are not interested. Mandah sumanda-matayo manda-bhagyah. In this age they are slow and, and they have got their own manufactured ideas. Why? Now, manda-bhagyah, all unfortunate. And upadrutah, always disturbed. So all these are on account of this body. The sastra always says that “Don’t work in such a way that you have to accept again body after death.” That is, that is your business. Not that to accumulate crores and rupees and make a very good bank balance and skyscraper house and three or dozens of motorcars. They are struggling, for getting this. But foolish people, they do not know that Krsna will take away all these assets at the time of death. Mrtyuh sarva-haras caham. Krsna says, aham mrtyuh: “I am death, and I will take away everything, what you have possessed.” The foolish persons, they do not understand it. Just like Hiranyakasipu. He possessed. So much so powerful that even the demigods were afraid of him. And Krsna took away everything in a second by…, simply by the nails. Tava kara-kamala nakha…
So in this Kali-yuga nobody is interested even. We are spreading Krsna consciousness, very few people are interested to know about Krsna or the Supreme Being. So that is not human life. Human life means when we inquire about the Absolute Truth. That is human life. So there are so many societies, so many religious institutions. But nobody is interested to know Krsna, or the Supreme Being. Krsna means the Supreme Being, all-attractive. No educational system, no university. Therefore Krsna said, manusyanam sahasresu kascid yatati siddhaye, that is siddhi of… Siddhi means perfection of life, to understand God. Because in the human life if one tries he can understand God, he can understand himself, he can understand what is his relationship with God, he can understand how to act in that relationship and thus make his life perfect. That is human life. So manusyanam sahasresu kascid yatati siddhaye. Siddhi. Siddhi means self-realization. And yatatam api siddhanam. And even though one is siddha, or self-realized, he also does not understand what is Krsna. Even one is siddha. That siddha has still to be progressed. Then he will come to jnanavan. Jnanavan means one who is siddha, one who has understood himself. That siddhi means to understand oneself that “I am not this body.” That is siddhi.
kaler dosa-nidhe rajann
asti hy eko mahan gunah
kirtanad eva krsnasya
mukta-sangah param vrajet
“This age of Kali is full of unlimited faults. Indeed, it is just like an ocean of faults (dosa-nidhi). But there is one chance, one opportunity. Kirtanad eva krsnasya mukta-sangah param vrajet: simply by chanting the Hare Krsna mantra, one can be freed from the contamination of Kali-yuga and, in his original spiritual body, can return home, back to Godhead. This is the opportunity of Kali-yuga.”
This is spoken by Sukadeva Gosvami after describing the faults of Kali-yuga. There are many, many hundreds and thousands of faults. People will suffer. They are all described in the Srimad-Bhagavatam. People’s intelligence, bodily strength, mercifulness–everything will be reduced. And so many things are described. Some of them are very prominent even at the present moment. Just like in the Kali-yuga, it is stated lavanyam kesa-dharanam: “People will think by keeping long hairs they will become beautiful.” Lavanyam kesa-dharanam. So that is very visible now, especially in the Western countries. They keep very long hairs. Dampatye ratim eva hi: “Marriage, husband and wife, they will be simply by agreement.” Nowadays that is happening. You go to a marriage-maker and agree, and marriage is finished. Not like before. Dampatye ratim eva hi. And rati means sex desires. So long their sex desires will be completed, they can live. Svikara eva codvahe. These are stated, all. Vipratve sutram eva hi: “Become a brahmana, just have a sacred thread.” Sacred or not sacred, get a thread. That’s all, without executing the brahminical duties. That is going on. In this way there is a long list of Kali-yuga’s activities.
So after submitting the list, Sukadeva Gosvami says, kaler dosa-nidhe rajann asti hy eko mahan gunah: “My dear King Pariksit, I have described all the faults of this Kali-yuga. But there is a special advantage in this age. That is,” he said, kirtanad eva krsnasya mukta-sangah param vrajet, “people can become liberated and go back to home, back to Godhead, simply by chanting Hare Krsna mantra.”
harer nama harer nama harer namaiva kevalam
kalau nasty eva nasty eva nasty eva gatir anyatha
In the Kali-yuga there is no yajna. Therefore there is anavrsti, anavrsti. The Kali-yuga people will forget performing yajna. They will be busy in ghora-rupa activities, horrible and fierceful activities, not yajna. They will neglect yajna. So then how your these bolts and nuts and rubber tires will help you? Therefore there is scarcity of anna. That will increase more and more. It will so increase that now you are getting anna by paying high price, but time will come when even if you are prepared to pay price, there will be no more anna. That time is coming. Naturally, what people will eat? They will eat mamsa and roots and seeds. No milk. No sugar. No wheat. These things will be stopped. As we are becoming entangled in ghora-rupa activities or mudha activities, then the more we shall be entangled with sufferings of material existence. They do not know what is the actually interest. Na te viduh svartha-gatim hi visnum.
Either you become santa or ghora or mudha, three kinds of position in this material world… santa. Santa means in the brahminical qualification, and ghora means activities, material activities, fruitive activities, and mudha, just like animal, neither santa nor ghora, simply animal. Udaram bharitah. Svartham udaram bharitah. Svartham, interest, means if one somehow or other fulfills his belly, then he thinks, “Now all my mission is fulfilled.” This is called mudhatvam. Svartham udaram bharitah. Daksyam kutumba-bharanam. Generally in this age, people will be interested to fulfill his own belly. Because that is also very difficult task nowadays. To get sufficient food daily, that is also a problem. And if one can maintain his family in these hard days–family means husband, wife, and a few children–then daksyam kutumba-bharanam, then he is just like Maharaja Daksa. Daksa, daksa means very expert. Those who are maintaining big family, working very nicely, many business, they are called daksa. So in the Kali-yuga, if one can maintain a family, small family, then he will be considered daksa. Daksyam kutumba-bharanam. Otherwise, if one can fulfill his belly only, his all interest is fulfilled. This will be the condition of this age. That means mudhatvam, mostly mudhatvam. They do not know. Na te viduh svartha-gatim hi visnum. (750103SB.BOM Lectures)
This is the condition at the present moment. This is called Kali-yuga. The first symptom is: our span of life is very short, decreasing. With the advancement of Kali-yuga, our duration of life is decreasing. Everyone knows that. My father lived so many years, my grandfather lived so many years, but it is certain I am not going to live so many years. And then my son is not… Gradually, it is reduced. Reducing, reducing, reducing. By the end of Kali-yuga, the duration of life from twenty years to thirty years will be considered very, very old age, very, very old. If a man is living for twenty-five years, he will be considered a very grand old man. Yes. That is coming gradually. So therefore it is said, manda, manda. Manda means everything bad or everything slow. Duration of life is bad, then their activities also very bad, always sinful activities. Mandah sumanda-matayo. And if somebody is little anxious to take shelter of somebody for spiritual advancement, then he will accept some bogus thing, sumanda-matayo, some bogus incarnation of God, some bogus yogi, some bogus… They will take sumanda-matayo, will not come to the real. (750304CC.DAL Lectures)
Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu is very kind to the fallen souls. His special mission is to reclaim the fallen souls. That is Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s mission. Reclaim the fallen souls means in this age of Kali, almost 99.9%, they are all fallen. Their qualification is mandah. Mandah means they do not know that the human life is meant for qualifying oneself in Krsna consciousness, spiritual consciousness. They do not know. Mandah sumanda-matayo. Even one is interested about spiritual consciousness, they accept some bogus theory. So many yogis, swamis, all bluffer, they will take care. Mandah sumanda-matayo. Because Kali-yuga, they are already sophisticated, bewildered, and these people come to cheat, they fall the prey of these cheaters. Sumanda-matayo. Anyone who is preaching something else other than God consciousness, he is a cheater. He is a cheater. Sumanda-matayo. Because real progress of life is to become God conscious. That is the real progress. And without God consciousness, the so-called yogis, so-called meditation… What is this meditation? What is the profit? Simply some bogus propaganda. It has no value. Real progress of life is to know what is God and what is my relationship with Him and how to act in that relationship. That is real life. But they do not know it. Na te viduh svartha-gatim hi visnum. They do not know it. They think, “By this yoga practice, I shall be perfect, my material condition will be improved,” and so on, so on. They have got their own theories and… But that is not progress of life. There are many rich men, many karmis. Without practicing yoga, they are having material comforts. So spiritual life does not mean that one is improved in material, conditioned life. Spiritual life means spiritual advancement. But people take it that “Take to religion means to give impetus to our material life.” Dharma artha kama moksa. And when they are disgusted, they want moksa. Moksa means to become one with the Lord. So these things are going on. But Caitanya Mahaprabhu came to save all these fallen souls. Hinartha. Hinarthadhika-sadhakam. The more one is fallen, he is the better candidate for accepting the cult of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. Narottama dasa Thakura sings, patita-pavana-hetu, tava avatara: “My Lord, You have incarnated to reclaim the fallen.” Patita-pavana-hetu tava avatara, mo sama patita prabhu, na paibe ara: “If that is Your mission, then I am the most fallen. So my claim is first to receive Your favor because Your mission is to show favor to the fallen. So I am the most fallen. So kindly accept me.” In this way he has sung. And that is stated here, hinarthadhika-sadhakam sri-caitanyam. (750301CC.ATL Lectures)
I am very glad to hear how the book distribution is increasing more and more. This is our greatest weapon. The more the books are distributed, the more the ignorance of the Age of Kali will be smashed. The world is feeling the weight of this Hare Krishna Movement, especially in your country. We have to increase this book distribution work more and more to firmly establish this Movement, which is the only hope for the suffering living entities. (76-11-23 Letter: Balavanta)
His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada