2012 — The End of the World?
We have information from the Vedic scriptures about the nature of this material world. Very extensive information is given about the cycles this world goes through over and over again. It is not that we are in uncharted territory. These cycles repeat, just like every year we have the four seasons. The cycle of the seasons repeats over and over again. Similarly the cycle of the four ages or yugas also repeats over and over again. As we know each of the seasons will last for three months and then the next season will start these four ages or yugas also repeat in a very systematic way.
There are four yugas, Satya-yuga – the golden age, lasting 1,728,000 years; Treta-yuga – the silver age, lasting 1,296,000 years; Dvapara-yuga – the bronze age, lasting 864,000 years; and finally Kali-yuga – the iron age of machines and quarrel, lasting 432,000 years.
We are in the final age, Kali-yuga. So in one sense you could call the end of Kali-yuga the “end of the world.” But actually Kali-yuga is no more the end of the world than winter is the end of the seasons. After the winter there will be another spring. At the end of winter everything looks dead. But with the sunshine of spring everything becomes rejuvenated and new life springs up all over the planet. So at the end of this Kali-yuga everything will be very baron and devastated. However that is just like the end of winter. Just like the end of winter means the beginning of a new spring season, there will be another Satya-yuga or golden age and everything in the universe will be rejuvenated again.
There will be some big devastation at the end of the Kali-yuga. But we have just started the Kali-yuga. This age will last for 432,000 years and so far we have only passed 5,000 years of it. So that means that Kali-yuga still has another 427,000 years to run… So please be assured that the world is not going to end in the year 2012… Believe it or not the world will still be going on in the year 429,000. Around this time the current Kali-yuga will end and there will be some devastation and a renewal which will usher in a new Satya-yuga…
So this claim that the “end of the world” is coming in 2012 is complete nonsense. There is no end to the material world. Although everything here in this world — except the living entities (the spirit souls, the atmas) — including the planet and the universe itself, is ultimately a temporary manifestation. Everything has a time of creation and will have a time of destruction.
However, in the bigger picture, the destruction is not actually a destruction. It is simply an exercise in the conservation of energy. Einstein came up with the proposition that both energy and matter cannot be destroyed. They can only be transformed from one form to another. This is the correct understanding.
There is a time when the universe will be destroyed. The universe will exist for one thousand catur-yuga cycles. That is one thousand cycles of the four ages [Satya-yuga, Treta-yuga, Dvapara-yuga and Kali-yuga]. Each cycle of four yugas takes 4,300,000 years. Therefore the “life” of the universe is 4,300,000,000 years or 4.3 billion years. We have currently passed through approximately half of that time. So the universe is about 2.15 billion years old at the moment. So in another 2.15 billion years the whole material world — not just our universe — the entire material creation of an unlimited number of universes, will all be destroyed.
However, as I mentioned before, this is not actually a “destruction” but a conservation of matter and energy. All the matter which forms the material elements in the universe will be conserved in the “mahat-tattva.” This means the “unmanifested material energy.” The material world has two possible states. Manifest and unmanifest. Currently it is manifest and we are here in the material world. But after the completion of approximately 2.15 billion years there will really be a complete and total devastation of the whole material existence. That is the ultimate “end of the world” that all the doomsday people are waiting for. I think that devastation will satisfy them. At that time the whole material existence will be “destroyed” and will become unmanifested for another one thousand catur-yuga cycles.
This means for 4.3 billion years there will be no manifest material world. Everything will be conserved, the matter will be conserved within the mahat-tattva and the living entities will all enter into the body of Maha Visnu and will exist there in a state of suspension.
Although the whole material creation will be “destroyed” in about 2.15 billion years time, in reality nothing will actually be destroyed. The matter will be conserved in the mahat-tattva and the living entries will simply sleep for 4.3 billion years in the body of Maha-Visnu. This is not liberation for the living entities. They just sleep. And when the 4.3 billion years is finished the material world will become manifest again and all the same living entities will enter it again and again resume their activities where they left off 4.3 billion years ago.
And it will be the same thing again. There will be the same grass, trees, donkeys, horses, elephants, people… The same sort of planets and sun and moon will be constructed, the whole thing will be again constructed in the same way.
It is just like every year it is hot in summer and cold in winter. There are no surprises.
The new material world will be much the same as the old one because the material world is created out of the desires of the living entities. It will be the same living entities entering the “new world” who left this world. So they will bring into the “new world” the same desires they left this world with. So they will simply continue in the “new world” where they left off in this world. After sleeping for 4.3 billion years.
There are also smaller devastations that happen periodically, but these only happen at the end of the catur-yuga cycles, so if the doomsday people really want a date that something may happen on then let them use the date of the end of this Kali-yuga, something around 429,000, something quite dramatic will happen then for sure. To get the exact date you will need to consult an astrologer. Until then this world will go on, and on, and on, and on
It will get worse of course. That is the nature of time. In the end it will be very bad. But it will go on, and on and on. There will be no “end of the world” until some time around 429,000 and that is, as I said, not really the end of the world. That is a time of renewal. A transition from the dark age of Kali to a new golden age of spiritual enlightenment.
The material world will never end. There will always be spirit souls like us who rebel against our natural position of rendering service to God. So Krishna mercifully creates this material playground for us. Here we can try to “play god.” Here we can try to enjoy separately from God. But this world is constructed in such a way that all our attempts to enjoy separately from God will end in frustration.
After many, many, many births in the material world, and many, many frustrated lives of suffering, an intelligent man comes to the conclusion that there is no happiness in the material world and decides to go back home, back to Godhead.
There is another world, a spiritual world. That is the place we are all hankering for. In the spiritual world we have a spiritual body which is eternally youthful, full of knowledge and full of bliss. That is our natural position.
The position we find ourselves in the material world is quite opposite to our natural position in the spiritual world. Here, in the material world, we are stuck in a material body that is getting old, getting sick, and ultimately dying. We are always suffering from three different types of miseries. Our minds are always giving us problems; nature [the demigods] is always giving problems in the form of too much rain or no rain, too hot or too cold, etc. And other living entities like the mosquitoes bite us when we are trying to sleep and our enemies attack us. In this way we are constantly suffering from many different types of miseries.
Therefore here, in the material world, we are full of anxieties, full of ignorance. The root cause of all these problems is we identify with the material body. Because of this bodily identification we think we are temporary. We think that we will die. We think that we are not permanent.
The reality is this material world is not our home. We can never be happy here. We are not in our natural atmosphere. We belong in the spiritual world, we will be happy in that spiritual atmosphere.
The purpose of our existence in this material world is to frustrate our material desires so that ultimately we give up our rebellious nature of trying to enjoy separately from Krishna. When we give up this rebellious attitude and surrender to Krishna we will naturally remember Krishna at the time of death and our soul will be transferred to the spiritual world, back home, back to Godhead.
But the material world will continue, it will go on, and on and on and on forever… There is no end to the material world. The doomsday people will always be wrong. They will always be frustrated. They want it to end but it will never end…
I have just given a very small introduction to this subject. There is complete scientific information about all these topics available in the books of His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhuapda. If you would like more information please research this at www.PrabhuapdaBooks.com where you will find all of Srila Prabhuapda’s books available online in a very easy to read and search format.
Chant Hare Krishna and be happy!