Although many Western scholars believe the Puranas of India are mythological, they are actually accurate accounts of former eras in the history of our universe. The book the Big Bang and the Sages documents several important historical events in the timeline of our solar system that were first correctly dated by the Puranas.
In this article we discuss the major events of the Iron Age, Kali Yuga. Although many of them may sound fantastic, remember that life today is far different—even unimaginable—compared to the way humans lived one or two thousand years ago.
What are the Four Yugas?
A yuga is a cosmic age according to the Vedic system of measuring universal time. Unlike the Western concept of linear time, Vedic time is cyclical.
The four yugas are Satya, Treta, Dvapara, and Kali. Together they form a time-unit known as the chaturyuga. One chaturyuga lasts for 8.64 million years of our Earth years. Like the four seasons of the year, the four ages of a chaturyuga rotate without end.
The Vedas contain both topographical and topological descriptions of our solar system and larger universe. In the Bhagavata Purana, Sage Shukadeva explains that there are many races of extraterrestrial beings who inhabit higher and lower dimensions of existence.
This is a map of our universe, known in Sanskrit as Bhu-mandala. The geographical region which we refer to as Earth is part of the landmass known as Jambudvipa.
From a higher-dimensional perspective, Bhu-mandala comprises seven concentric islands, each island separated by a concentric ocean, and further subdivided by four prominent mountain ranges.
As with any map, these images or descriptions cannot fully capture the entirety of cosmic geography. Just as an ant cannot fathom the 3-dimensional life of a human being and the scope of human activities, most human beings are similarly unable to comprehend extraterrestrial life in higher dimensions and the scale and symmetry of extra-dimensional geography.
The Puranas give just enough cosmological insight so that we can understand our place in the larger universe and focus on the areas of life that truly matter most: spiritual enlightenment.
LEARN MORE: The Puranas provide an advanced understanding of our universe, including descriptions of life on other planets. Check out our guide to Vedic Cosmology.
By the process of yoga, one can gain the ability to travel to these higher and lower dimensional realms. For such a person, the descriptions of the Puranas serve as a map for navigating the universe.
Events in Kali Yuga
Kali Yuga is the first of the four ages that make up a chaturyuga. In English it is often referred to as the Iron Age or the Dark Age.
The Disappearance of Vedic Culture
Soon after the disappearance of Lord Krishna from the planet, the maddening effects of Kali Yuga began to profoundly influence life on Earth. Vedic culture all but disappeared within a very short period of time. The world was no longer under the peaceful administration of a single emperor. Instead, nations constantly waged war for dominance, and there was never a moment’s peace.
Men and women forgot their religious duties and sunk into lives of debauchery, intoxication, and violence. The situation continues to this day.
The Puranas describe that Kali Yuga is a very difficult age because people are completely unaware of the spiritual dimension of life. However, it is also said to be a very special time in history, as the process of self-realization is drastically simplified. Simply by chanting the names of Krishna anyone can attain complete enlightenment and spiritual perfection. Chanting any name of God in any language will have a transcendental effect, but the Puranas especially recommend the Hare Krishna mantra:
Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare
Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare
LEARN MORE: Check out our article on the symptoms of Kali Yuga.
The Sankirtan Movement Begins
Approximately 4,500 years after the beginning of Kali Yuga, Krishna appeared as the Golden Avatar, Krishna Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, in order to teach the simple process of chanting God’s names as a quick path to enlightenment and total spiritual perfection. Chaitanya also taught the path of bhakti yoga, based on the principles elucidated in the Bhagavad-gita and Srimad Bhagavatam.
Within a short time, this movement of sankirtan (group chanting) spread throughout India, and in the past 50 years it has spread all over the world.
The most famous teacher of the Gita and the Bhagavatam of recent times is A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, who founded an organization called the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON).
Students in Prabhupada’s lineage practice the same tradition of bhakti yoga which was taught by Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, which is the very same path given to Arjuna by Krishna over 5,000 years ago.