Contemporary Hindu eschatology is linked in the Vaishnavite tradition to the figure of Kalki, or the tenth and last avatar of Vishnu before the age draws to a close, and Shiva dissolves and Brahma regenerates the universe.
Most Hindus acknowledge as part of their cosmology that we are living in the Kali Yuga, the last of four periods (Yuga) that make up the current age. Each period has seen a successive degeneration in the moral order and character of human beings, to the point that in the Kali Yuga where quarrel and hypocrisy are prevalent. Often, the invocation of Kaliyuga denotes a certain helplessness in the face of the horrors and suffering of the human condition and a nostalgia for a golden past or a future salvation.
However, Hindu conceptions of time, like those found in other non-Western traditions, is cyclical in that one age may end but another will always begin. As such, the cycle of birth, growth, decay, death, and renewal at the individual level finds its echo in the cosmic order of all things, yet affected by the vagaries of the comings and goings of divine interventions in the Vaishnavite belief.
Copper engraving of Kalki from the late 18th century.
|Affiliation||Avatar of Vishnu|
In Hinduism, Kalki (Devanagari: कल्कि; also rendered by some as Kalkin and Kalaki) is the tenth and final Maha Avatar (great incarnation) of Vishnu who will come to end the present age of darkness and destruction known as Kali Yuga. The name Kalki is often a metaphor for eternity or time. The origins of the name probably lie in the Sanskrit word “kalka” which refers to mud, dirt, filth, or foulness and hence denotes the “destroyer of foulness,” “destroyer of confusion,” “destroyer of darkness,” or “annihilator of ignorance.” Other similar and divergent interpretations based on varying etymological derivations from Sanskrit – including one simply meaning “White Horse” – have been made.
In the Buddhist Kalachakra tradition, some 25 rulers of the legendary Shambhala Kingdom have the title of Kalki, Kulika or Kalki-king.
Hindu traditions permit numerous interpretations of what avatars are and to what purpose they act. Avatara means “descent” and indicates a descent of the divine awareness into manifestations of the mundane form. The Garuda Purana lists ten avatars, with Kalki being the tenth. The Bhagavata Purana initially lists twenty-two avatars, but mentions an additional three for a total of twenty-five avatars. He is presented as the twenty-second avatar in this list.
Popular images depict him riding a white horse with wings known as Devadatta (God-given.) In these images, Kalki is brandishing a sword in his right hand and is intent on eradicating the corrupt destitution and debauchery of Kali Yuga.
Om • Brahman • Ishvara
The prophecy and its origins
One of the earliest mentions of Kalki is in the Vishnu Purana, which is dated generally to be after the Gupta Empire around the 7th century A.D. In the Hindu Trimurti, Vishnu is the preserver and sustainer of life, balancing the processes of creation and destruction. Kalki is also mentioned in another of the 18 major Puranas, the Agni Purana. Agni is the god of fire in the Hindu pantheon, and symbolically represents the spiritual fire of life and the processes of transformation. It is one of the earliest works declaring Gautama Buddha to have been a manifestation of Vishnu, and seems to draw upon the Vishnu Purana in its mention of Kalki. A later work, the Kalki Purana, a minor Purana, is an extensive exposition of expectations and predictions of when, where, and why it is said he will come, and what he is expected to do. A few other minor Purana also mention him.
The Agni Purana explains that when the evil men who pose as kings begin devouring men who appear righteous and feed on human beings, Kalki, as the son of Vishnuyasha, and Yajnavalkya as his priest and teacher, will destroy these evil men with His weapons. He will establish moral law in the form of the fourfold varnas, or the suitable organization of society in four classes. After that people will return to the path of righteousness. (16.7-9) The Agni Purana also relates that Hari, after giving up the form of Kalki, will go to heaven. Then the Krita or Satya Yuga will return as before. (16.10)
The Vishnu Purana also explains that, “When the practices taught in the Vedas and institutes of law have nearly ceased, and the close of the Kali age shall be nigh, a portion of that divine being who exists of His own spiritual nature, and who is the beginning and end, and who comprehends all things, shall descend upon earth. He will be born in the family of Vishnuyasha, an eminent brahmana of Shambhala village, as Kalki, endowed with eight superhuman faculties. By His irresistible might he will destroy all the mlecchas and thieves, and all whose minds are devoted to iniquity. He will reestablish righteousness upon earth, and the minds of those who live at the end of the Kali age shall be awakened, and shall be as clear as crystal. The men who are thus changed by virtue of that peculiar time shall be as the seeds of human beings, and shall give birth to a race who will follow the laws of the Krita age or Satya Yuga, the age of purity. As it is said, ‘When the sun and moon, and the lunar asterism Tishya, and the planet Jupiter, are in one mansion, the Krita age shall return.'” (Book Four, Chapter 24)
The Padma Purana relates that Lord Kalki will end the age of Kali and will kill all the wicked mlecchas and, thus, destroy the bad condition of the world. He will gather all of the distinguished brahmanas and will propound the highest truth. He will know all the ways of life that have perished and will remove the prolonged hunger of the genuine brahmanas and the pious. He will be the only ruler of the world that cannot be controlled, and will be the banner of victory and adorable to the world. (6.71.279-282)
The Bhagavata Purana states, “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 , and when the power of government is transferred to the hands of ministers elected from the evil men, and when nothing is known of the techniques of sacrifice, even by word, at that time the Lord will appear as the supreme chastiser. (2.7.38) It further describes Lord Kalki’s activities as follows: “Lord Kalki, the Lord of the universe, will mount His swift white horse Devadatta and, sword in hand, travel over the earth exhibiting His eight mystic opulences and eight special qualities of Godhead. Displaying His unequaled effulgence and riding with great speed, He will kill by the millions those thieves who have dared dress as kings.” (12.2.19-20)
The Kalki Purana combines all of the elements from the puranas above. He is one who has power to change the course of time stream in the favour of the good. He will be one to whom the power to change the destiny of the world will be given.It states the evil family of the demon Kali will spring from the back of Brahma. They will descend to earth and cause mankind to turn towards depravity. When man stops offering yagna to the gods, Vishnu himself will descend to earth to rid the world of evil. He will be reborn as Kalki to noted Brahmin family in the city of Shambhala. As a young man, He will be mentored in the arts of war by Parashurama, the sixth incarnation of Vishnu. He will then set out across the world battling evil kings and false prophets. He finally defeats Kali and brings about the Satya yuga. Having completed His mission, He will assume his four-armed form and return to heaven as Vishnu.
Followers of Tibetan Buddhism have preserved the Kalachakra Tantra in which “Kalkin” is a title of 25 rulers of the mystical realm of Shambhala. The aims and actions of some of these are prophesied in portions of the work.
Kalki and Shambala
The Kalachakra tantra was first taught by the Buddha to King Suchandra, the first dharmaraja of Shambhala. “Lord Kalki will appear in the home of the most eminent brahmana of Shambhala village, the great souls Vishnuyasha and Sumati.” (Srimad-Bhagavatam Bhag.12.2.18)
शम्भल ग्राम मुख्यस्य ब्राह्मणस्य महात्मनः।
भवने विष्णुयशसः कल्किः प्रादुर्भविष्यति।।
Srimad Bhagavata Maha Purana – 12:2:18
शम्भल ग्राम मुख्यस्य ब्राह्मणस्य महात्मनः।
शम्भु Shambhu (Shiv Shambhu Bhola) + ल or ले (of) + ग्राम Grama (Community/Village) + मुख्यस्य Mukhyasya (Principally) + ब्राह्मणस्य Brahmanasya (of the Brahmins) + महात्मनः Maha Atman (Great Souls) Shiva Durga worshipping community principally of great souls Brahmins.
भवने विष्णुयशसः कल्किः प्रादुर्भविष्यति।।
भवने Bhavanê (At the home of) + विष्णु Vishnu + यशसः Yáśas (Worthy) + कल्क Kalk ( Mud or Sediment) + इ i (to arise from, come from) + प्रादुर् Prādúr (Arise/Born) भविष्यति Bhavishyati (In the future)
In the future at the home of Vishnu worthy, one from the mud/sediment will arise/be born.
This points to a name equivalent to mud or sediment born.
द्वादश्यां शुक्ल-पक्षस्य माधवे मासि माधवम्।
जातं ददृशतुः पुत्रं पितरौ हृष्ट-मानसौ।। (1:2:15 Kalki Purna)
द्वादश्यां शुक्ल-पक्षस्य माधवे मासि माधवम्।
द्वादश्यां – द्वा dvA (two) + दश्यां dashya (tens/10’s) meaning 20 शुक्ल-पक्षस्य – शुक्ल Shukla (bright) + पक्षस्य(pakshaya) parts (the first part of the moon cycle) + माधवे madhva is Hindu month of Chaitra (First day of Chaitra is when Lord Brahma created the universe) March/April + मासि masi (month of) + माधवम् madhavam it is a point of reference to the birthday of Lord Krishna celebrated as Krishna Janmashtami which is observed on the eighth day of the dark half or Krishna Paksha of the month of Bhaadra (parts of August and september).
द्वादश्यां – द्वा dvA (two) + दश्यां dashya (tens/10’s) meaning 12 शुक्ल-पक्षस्य – शुक्ल Shukla (bright) + पक्षस्य(pakshaya) parts (the first part of the moon cycle) + माधवे madhva is hindu month of Chaitra (First day of Chaitra is when Lord Brahma created the universe, Hindu new year starts) March/April + मासि masi (month of) + माधवम् Lord Krishna (as Kalki) arrived. जातं ददृशतुः पुत्रं पितरौ हृष्ट-मानसौ।।
जातं jatam (born – brought into existence) + ददृशतुः dadastu (then) + पुत्रं putram (a son) + पितरौ pitarau (parents [were]) + हृष्ट hrshta (thrilling with rapture, rejoiced, pleased, glad, merry) + मानसौ manasau (mental feeling). Twenty, first fortnights of the moon cycles from the birthday of Krishna (Krishna Janmashtami – Bhaadra/August) then in the month of Chaitra (March/April) the father was mentally overwhelmed by the son being born. This points to the sun sign of Aries.
12th of the first part of the moon cycle in the month of Chaitra (March/April, Hindu new year) Lord Krishna (as Kalki) arrived then the father was mentally overwhelmed by the son being born This also points to the sun sign of Aries. In Chaitra month, the fifteen days in Shukla paksha (first fortnight / first half of the month) are dedicated to fifteen gods or deities. Each day of Chaitra month is dedicated to each God. People worship a God on each day, the 12th day (Chaitra Dwadashi) is dedicated to Lord Sri Maha Vishnu.
The marriage of Kalki
मत्तो विद्यां शिवाद् अस्त्रं लब्ध्वा वेद-मयं शुकम्।
सिंहले च प्रियां पद्मां धर्मान् संस्थापयिष्यसि।। 1:3:9 ततो दिग्-विजये भूपान् धर्म-हीनान् कलि-प्रियान्।
निगृह्य बौद्धान् देवापिं मरुञ् च स्थापयिष्यसि।। 1:3:10 श्रुत्वेति वचनं कल्किः शुकेन सहितो मुदा।
जगाम त्वरितो ऽश्वेन शिव-दत्तेन तन्मनाः।। 2:1:39 समुद्र-पारम् अमलं सिंहलं जलसंकुलम्। («=सिंहलद्वीप»)
नाना-विमान-बहुलं भास्वरं मणि-काञ्चनैः।। 2:1:40 प्रासादसदनाग्रेषु पताका-तोरणाकुलम्।
The beloved of Kalki is named Padma who lives at द्वीप dweep (island) सिंहले Sinhale (not Sri Lanka because Sri Lanka was known at the time as “Lanka” in MahaBaratha)(सिंह shiha (Lion) + ले(of))= “the island of the lion”(1:3:9).
The spotless/clean land of the lion one which is surrouned by a excellent/supreme ocean at the other side of this ocean. (Line 1 2:1:40).
Abundance of different kinds of chariot of the gods (Air-Crafts) brilliant wealth and prosperity.(Line 2 2:1:40).
Modern interpretations of the Kalki prophecy
Many modern writers have attempted to link figures in comparatively recent history to Kalki. Given the traditional account of the Kali Yuga lasting 432,000 years  and having started in 3102 BCE , which makes these claims problematic. Some scholars such as Sri Yukteswar Giri and David Frawley have claimed that there are intermediate cycles within the 432,000 year cycle.
- Shree Veera Brahmendra Maha Swami, writing about 1,000 years ago in “Divya Maha Kala Jnana” (literally: “Divine Knowledge of the Time”) claims that Kalki would arrive when the Moon, Sun, Venus and Jupiter have entered the same sign; such occurrences are not rare and the next is expected in the year 2012 or afterwards.
- Pandit Ved Prakash Upadhyay has argued in his book Kalki Autar aur Muhammad Sahib that Muhammad completed all the prophecies of the Kalki avatar. The book Muhammad in the Hindu Scriptures claims Muhammad to be Kalki based on research from all Vedas, Puranas and Upanishads. But there are various controversies present against this theory, pointed out by different other scholars from time to time regarding Muhammad being already referred as a avatar of demon Tripurasura(A demon Killed by Lord Shiva) in Atharvaveda, Absence of any phrase present in kalki purana or any other purana comparing the Muhammad with kalki and some even banish these claims as incomplete and mere co-incidences.
- Ismaili Khojas, a Shia Muslim group from Gujarat and Sindh and followers of Aga khan, believe in the 10 incarnations of Vishnu. According to their tradition Imam Ali, the son-in-law of prophet Muhamad was Kalki.
- Members of the Bahá’í Faith have interpreted the prophecies of Kalki’s arrival as being references to the arrival of Bahá’u’lláh, which has played a major role in the growth of the Bahá’í Faith in India.
- Members of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community believe their founder Mirza Ghulam Ahmad to be the Kalki Avatar.
- In his book The Aquarian Message Samael Aun Weor claims to be the Kalki Avatar.
- In their books The Avatar of What Is by Carolyn Lee PhD and Holy Madness by Georg Feuerstein, they identify claims that Adi Da was the Kalki Avatar.
- In 16th century Dasam Granth, Guru Gobind Singh wrote that Kalki is the Vivek Budhi(Intelligent and Spiritual mind) i.e. Gurmat. When the Sins(Manmatt/Manmukhs) emerge only Gurmat acts as Kalki and vanish all Manmatt of world. Gobind Singh where narrated whole Kalki Avtar of Hindu belief in Chobis Avtar, there he ended with this belief that Kalki is none other than Gurmat. Page 1468/Last Line
Hindu units of measurement
Vedic and Puranic units of time span from the truti (microsecond) to the mahamantavara (311.04 trillion years). Hindu theology considers the creation and destruction of the universe a cyclic process.
Old Indian measures are presently used primarily for religious purposes in Hinduism and Jainism. They also are employed in the teachings of Surat Shabda Yoga.
The Hindu cosmological time cycles are described in verses 11–23 of Chapter 1, Surya Siddhanta:
(Verse 11). That which begins with respirations (prāna) is called real; that which begins with atoms (truti) is unreal. Six respirations make a vinādi, sixty of these a nādi.
(12). And sixty nādis make a sidereal day and night. Of thirty of these sidereal days is composed a month; a civil month (sāvana) consists of as many sunrises.
(13). A lunar month, of as many lunar days (tithi); a solar (sāura) month is determined by the entrance of the sun into a sign of the zodiac; twelve months make a year. This is called a day of the devas or demi-gods.
(14). The day and night of the devas and of the asuras are mutually opposed to one another. Six times sixty of them are a year of the devas, and likewise of the asuras.
(15). Twelve thousand of these divine years are denominated a chaturyuga (chatur=Four; yuga=Ages); of ten thousand times four hundred and thirty-two solar years.
(16) The difference of the krtayuga and the other yugas, as measured by the difference in the number of the feet of Dharma in each, is as follows :
(17). The tenth part of a chaturyuga, multiplied successively by four, three, two, and one, gives the length of the krta and the other yugas: the sixth part of each belongs to its dawn and twilight.
(18). One and seventy chaturyugas make a (manvantara (Patriarchate of one Manu); at its end is a twilight which has the number of years of a krtayuga, and which is a pralaya (catastrophic end of creation).
(19). In a kalpa (æon) are reckoned fourteen such Manus with their respective twilights; at the commencement of the kalpa is a fifteenth dawn, having the length of a krtayuga.
(20). The kalpa, thus composed of a thousand chaturyugas, and which brings about the destruction of all that exists, is a day of Brahma; his night is of the same length.
(21). His extreme age is a hundred, according to this valuation of a day and a night. The half of his life is past; of the remainder, this is the first kalpa.
(22). And of this kalpa, six Manus are past, with their respective twilights; and of the Patriarch Manu son of Vivasvant, twenty-seven chaturyugas are past;
(23). Of the present, the twenty-eighth chaturyuga, the krtayuga is past; from this point,reckoning up the time, one should compute together the whole number.
The Hindu metrics of time (Kālm Vyavahara) can be summarized as below.
Hindu units of time on a logarithmic scale.
- a Paramaanus () is the normal interval of blinking in humans, or approximately 4 seconds
- a vighati (विघटि) is 6 paramaanus, or approximately 24 seconds
- a ghadiya (घटि) is 60 vighatis, or approximately 24 minutes
- a muhurta is equal to 2 ghadiyas, or approximately 48 minutes
- a nakshatra ahoratram (नक्षत्र अहोरत्रम्) or sidereal day is exactly equal to 30 muhurtas (Note: A day is considered to begin and end at sunrise, not midnight.)
An alternate system described in the Vishnu Purana Time measurement section of the Vishnu Purana Book I Chapter III is as follows:
- 10 blinks of the eye = 1 Kásht́há
- 35 Kásht́hás = 1 Kalá
- 20 Kalás = 1 Muhúrtta
- 30 Muhúrttas = 1 day (24 hours)
- 30 days = 1 month
- 6 months = 1 Ayana
- 2 Ayanas = 1 year or one day (day + night) of the gods
Small units of time used in the Vedas
- a trasarenu is the combination of 6 celestial atoms.
- a truti is the time needed to integrate 3 trasarenus, or 1/1687.5th of a second.
- a vedha is 100 trutis.
- a lava is 3 vedhas.
- a nimesha is 3 lavas, or a blink.
- a kshanas is 3 nimeshas.
- a kashthas is 5 kshanas, or about 8 seconds.
- a laghu is 15 kashthas, or about 2 minutes.
- 15 laghus make one nadika, which is also called a danda. This equals the time before water overflows in a six-pala-weight [fourteen ounce] pot of copper, in which a hole is bored with a gold probe weighing four masha and measuring four fingers long. The pot is then placed on water for calculation.
- 2 dandas make one muhurta.
- 6 or 7 muhurtas make one yamah, or 1/4th of a day or night.
- 4 praharas or 4 yamas are in each day or each night.
- a tithi (also spelled thithi ) or lunar day is defined as the time it takes for the longitudinal angle between the moon and the sun to increase by 12°. Tithis begin at varying times of day and vary in duration from approximately 19 to approximately 26 hours.
- a paksa (also paksha) or lunar fortnight consists of 15 tithis
- a masa or lunar month (approximately 29.5 days) is divided into 2 pakshas: the one between new moon and full moon (waxing) is called gaura (bright) or shukla paksha; the one between full moon and new moon (waning) krishna (dark) paksha
- a ritu (or season) is 2 masa
- an ayanam is 3 rituhs
- a year is 2 Aayanas
- a yaama (याम) is 7½ Ghatis (घटि)
- 8 yaamas 1 half of the day(either day or night)
- an ahoratram is a tropical day (Note: A day is considered to begin and end at sunrise, not midnight.)
Reckoning of time among other entities
- Reckoning of time amongst the pitrs (ancestors).
- 1 human fortnight (14 days) = 1 day of the pitrs
- 30 days of the pitrs = 1 month of the pitrs = (14 x 30 = 420 human days)
- 12 months of the pitrs = 1 year of the pitrs = (12 months of pitrs x 420 human days = 5040 human days)
- The lifespan of the pitrs is 100 years of the pitrs (= 36,000 pitr days = 504,000 human days)
- Reckoning of time amongst the Devas.
- 1 human year = 1 day of the Devas.
- 30 days of the Devas = 1 month of the Devas.
- 12 months of the Devas = 1 year of the Devas = 1 divine year.
- The lifespan of the Devas is 100 years of the Devas (= 36,000 human years)
The Vishnu Purana Time measurement section of the Vishnu Purana Book I Chapter III explains the above as follows:
- 2 Ayanas (six month periods, see above) = 1 human year or 1 day of the devas
- 4,000 + 400 + 400 = 4,800 divine years = 1 Krita Yuga
- 3,000 + 300 + 300 = 3,600 divine years = 1 Tretá Yuga
- 2,000 + 200 + 200 = 2,400 divine years = 1 Dwápara Yuga
- 1,000 + 100 + 100 = 1,200 divine years = 1 Kali Yuga
- 12,000 divine year = 4 Yugas = 1 Mahayuga(also called divine yuga)
- Reckoning of time for Brahma.
- 1000 Mahayugas = 1 kalpa = 1 day (day only) of Brahma
(Two kalpas constitute a day and night of Brahma)
- 30 days of Brahma = 1 month of Brahma (259.2 billion human years)
- 12 months of Brahma = 1 year of Brahma (3.1104 trillion human years)
- 50 years of Brahma = 1 Pararddha
- 2 parardhas = 100 years of Brahma = 1 Para = 1 Mahakalpa (the lifespan of Brahma)(311.04 trillion human years)
One day of Brahma is divided into 10,000 parts called charanas. The charanas are divided as follows:
|4 charanas (1,728,000 solar years)||Satya Yuga|
|3 charanas(1,296,000 solar years)||Treta Yuga|
|2 charanas(864,000 solar years)||Dwapar Yuga|
|1 charanas(432,000 solar years)||Kali Yuga|
The cycle repeats itself so altogether there are 1,000 cycles of mahayugas in one day of Brahma.
- One cycle of the above four yugas is one mahayuga (4.32 million solar years)
- as is confirmed by the Gita statement “sahasra-yuga paryantam ahar-yad brahmano viduh”, meaning, a day of brahma is of 1000 mahayugas. Thus a day of Brahma, kalpa, is of duration: 4.32 billion solar years. Two kalpas constitute a day and night of Brahma
- A manvantara consists of 71 mahayugas (306,720,000 solar years). Each Manvantara is ruled by a Manu.
- After each manvantara follows one Sandhi Kala of the same duration as a Krita Yuga (1,728,000 = 4 Charana). (It is said that during a Sandhi Kala, the entire earth is submerged in water.)
- A kalpa consists of a period of 1,728,000 solar years called Adi Sandhi, followed by 14 manvantaras and Sandhi Kalas.
- A day of Brahma equals
- (14 times 71 mahayugas) + (15 x 4 Charanas)
- = 994 mahayugas + (60 Charanas)
- = 994 mahayugas + (6 x 10) Charanas
- = 994 mahayugas + 6 mahayugas
- = 1,000 mahayugas
Our current date
Currently, 50 years of Brahma have elapsed and we are in the first Day of the 51st year. This Brahma’s day, Kalpa, is named as ShvetaVaraha Kalpa. Within this Day, six Manvantaras have already elapsed and we are in the seventh Manavatara, named as – Vaivasvatha Manvantara (or Sraddhadeva Manavatara). Within the Vaivasvatha Manavantara, 27 Mahayugas (4 Yugas together is a Mahayuga), and the Krita, Treta and Dwapara Yugas of the 28th Mahayuga have elapsed. We are in the Kaliyuga of the 28th Mahayuga. This Kaliyuga began in the year 3102 BC in the proleptic Julian Calendar. Since 50 years of Brahma have already elapsed, we are in the second Parardha, also called as Dvithiya Parardha.
The time elapsed since the current Brahma has taken over the task of creation can be calculated as
432000 x 10 x 1000 x 2 = 8.64 Billion Years (2 Kalpa(day and night) )
 8.64 x 109 x 30 x 12 = 3.1104 Trillion Years (1 year of Brahma)
3.1104 x 1012 x 50 = 155.52 Trillion Years (50 years of Brahma)
(6 x 71 x 4320000 ) + 7 x 1.728 x 106 = 1.973 billion years elapsed in first six Manvataras, and Sandhi Kalas in the current Kalpa
27 x 4320000 = 116.640000 million years elapsed in first 27 Mahayugas of the current Manvantara
1.728 x 106 + 1.296 x 106 + 864000 = 3.888 million years elapsed in current Mahayuga
3102 + 2010 = 5112 years elapsed in current Kaliyuga.
So the total time elapsed since current Brahma is
155.52 x 1012 + 1.973×109 + 0.00012053302 = 155.52 Trillion Years
The current Kali Yuga began at midnight 17 February / 18 February in 3102 BC in the proleptic Julian calendar.
Kali Yuga (Devanāgarī: कलियुग [kəli juɡə], lit. “age of (the male demon) Kali”, or “age of vice”) is the last of the four stages that the world goes through as part of the cycle of yugas described in the Indian scriptures. The other ages are Satya Yuga, Treta Yuga and Dvapara Yuga. According to the Surya Siddhanta, an astronomical treatise that forms the basis of all Hindu and Buddhist calendars, Kali Yuga began at midnight (00:00) on 18 February 3102 BCE  in the proleptic Julian calendar, or 23 January 3102 BC in the proleptic Gregorian calendar. This date is also considered by many Hindus to be the day that Krishna left earth to return to his abode. Most interpreters of Hindu scriptures believe that earth is currently in Kali Yuga. Some, such as Swami Sri Yukteswar, David Frawley, and Paramhansa Yogananda believe that it is now near the beginning of Dvapara Yuga. The Kali Yuga is traditionally thought to last 432,000 years.
Hindus believe that human civilization degenerates spiritually during the Kali Yuga, which is referred to as the Dark Age because in it people are as far removed as possible from God. Hinduism often symbolically represents morality (dharma) as a bull. In Satya Yuga, the first stage of development, the bull has four legs, but in each age morality is reduced by one quarter. 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.
Kali Yuga is associated with the apocalyptic demon Kali, not to be confused with the goddess Kālī (read as Kaalee) (these are unrelated words in the Sanskrit language). The “Kali” of Kali Yuga means “strife, discord, quarrel, or contention.”
Attributes of Kali Yuga
A discourse by Markandeya in the Mahabharata identifies some of the attributes of Kali Yuga:
In relation to rulers
- 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.
- People will start migrating, seeking countries where wheat and barley form the staple food source. But then, they will also love their subjects so much that they will sacrifice their lives for them. This is what kaliyuga says.
In human relationships
- Avarice and wrath will be common. Humans will openly display animosity towards each other.
- Ignorance of dharma will occur.
- People will have thoughts of murder for no justification and they will see nothing wrong with that mind-set.
- Lust will be viewed as socially acceptable, and sexual intercourse will be seen as the central requirement of life.
- Sin will increase exponentially, whilst virtue will fade and cease to flourish.
- People will take vows only to break them soon after.
- People will become addicted to intoxicating drinks and drugs.
- Men will find their jobs stressful and will go to retreats to escape their work.
- 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. Brahmins will not be learned and honoured, Kshatriyas will not be brave, Vaishyas will not be just in dealings and shudras will not be honest and humble to their duties and to the other castes.
A special 10,000 year period within Kali Yuga
The Brahma Vaivarta Purana mentions a ten thousand year period during which bhakti yogis will be present. Starting from the traditional dating of the Kali yuga epoch of February 18, 3102 BC/BCE.
The end of Kali Yuga
“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.”
Kali (Devanāgari: कलि) is the reigning lord of Kali Yuga and the nemesis of Sri Kalki, who is the tenth and final avatar of Lord Vishnu. According to the Vishnu Purana, Kali is a negative manifestation of Vishnu who perpetually operates in this world as a cause of destruction, along with his evil extended family. Kali also serves as an antagonistic force in the Kalki Purana. It is said that towards the end of this yuga, Kalki will return riding on a white horse to do battle with Kali and his dark forces. The world will suffer a fiery end which will destroy all evil, and a new age, Satya Yuga, will begin.
Other interpretations of Kali Yuga and the Yuga cycle
Other interpreters of the Hindu scriptures take a different view of the Yuga cycle.
In David Frawley’s opinion, the cycle of Yugas is much like the four seasons. The planet gradually moves from one yuga to the next and from one cycle to the next, without any sudden jump from Kali into Satya Yuga. According to Frawley, historical evidence shows that Kali Yuga ended around 1700 CE, changing at that time to Dwapara Yuga. He also questions the traditional 432,000 year cycle.
Like Frawley, Sri Yukteswar Giri maintains that we are currently in Dwapara Yuga. According to him, the astronomers and astrologers who calculated the almanacs were guided by the false annotations of certain Sanskrit scholars such as Kullu Bhatta. As a result, [they] falsely maintained that the length of Kali Yuga is 432,000 years, of which 4994 would have elapsed as of 1894, leaving 427,006 years remaining. Yukteswar Giri declares this “A dark prospect! And fortunately one not true.” He himself offers an astronomical explanation for a shorter cycle in which Kali Yuga lasts only 2,400 years (1,200 x 2 = one descending Kali Yuga cycle + one ascending cycle). He argues that Dwapara Yuga is represented by the introduction of atomic energy and electricity.