Kali yuga, the age of quarrel and hypocrisy, is a time in the Vedic universal cycle when the human population experiences tremendous conflict and confusion. Kali yuga will end in approximately 858,000 years. At present, we are just over 5,000 years into Kali yuga, and the Puranas describe the duration of Kali yuga as 432,000 years of Bhu-mandala, or 864,000 of our Earth years.
The Vedas describe that there are four ages: Satya Yuga, Treta Yuga, Dvapara Yuga, and Kali Yuga — and all together these four comprise one full yuga cycle, just as the fours seasons make up a year. One thousand Yuga cycles is equal to a day of Brahma, also known as a kalpa.
In this article we discuss Kali Yuga, the Iron Age.
The Duration of Kali Yuga
Even though the passing of time is uniform through the universe, the Vedas explain that various regions within the universe experience time differently due to the phenomenon of time dilation. For example, one year in the realm of Svarga is approximately equal to 720 solar years on our planet Earth.
For this reason, the Vedas give two different measurements for the duration of Kali Yuga. In years of the devas, Kali Yuga lasts 1,200 years, and on Earth, it lasts 432,000 years. The duration of Kali Yuga is described in the Vayu Purana as follows:
kaliṃ varṣasahasrantu prāhuḥ saṃkhyāvido janāḥ/
tasyāpi śatikā saṃdhyā saṃdhyāṃśaḥ śatameva ca//
“Experts conclude that Kali Yuga consists of 1,000 years, with a Saṃdhyā of 100 years and a Saṃdhyāṃśa of 100 years.” (VP 1.32.60)
We are currently in the midst of Kali Yuga. Kali Yuga began approximately 5,000 years ago in 3102 BCE, at the end of Dwapara Yuga.
| Kali Yuga
||0.864 million years
||1.728 million years
||2.592 million years
||3.456 million years
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.
When Will Kali Yuga End?
Kali Yuga started just over 5,000 years ago in 3102 BCE when Krishna left our planet Earth, and it will lat another 427,000 years. After Kali Yuga, the yuga cycle begins again with Satya Yuga, the golden age. The transition takes place with the assistance of the Kalki Avatara, who rids the Earth of the hordes of beast-like human beings who have lost all sense of their humanness. Then a small handful of sages and ascetic kings emerge from their hermitages to repopulate the Earth and commence Satya Yuga again.
The Process of Religion in Kali Yuga
Kali Yuga is known as the age of quarrel and hypocrisy. Human society has abandoned virtue and is driven by selfish interests. Even among religious leaders, there is widespread corruption, and people in general have a very superficial idea of what it means to live a good life. As a result, the entire atmosphere is surcharged with conflict—from individuals at odds with themselves to nations perpetually on the brink of war.
The One Remaining Virtue
In the Srimad Bhagavatam, it is described that religion stands on the four legs of austerity, cleanliness, mercy, and truthfulness. Now in the age of Kali, only one leg of truthfulness remains, and even that is quickly weakening. Thankfully most people at least still recognize that truth is a virtue meant to be upheld in civilized society. However, by the end of Kali Yuga, even the concept of truthfulness will be foreign to the average person.
The Prescribed Method of Self-Realization
Due to the harsh environment of the age, the process of self-actualization in Kali Yuga is simplified. Our lives are short and we have few resources at our disposal for pursuing spirituality. Therefore, Krishna appears in this age as Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu to inaugurate the process of chanting the names of God, or kīrtana, as the best and easiest method to attain enlightenment.
Symptoms of Kali Yuga
There are many symptoms of Kali Yuga given in the Srimad Bhagavatam and other Vedic texts. What follows is a compilation of some of the prominent symptoms of the age:
- Genuine religion will disappear day by day.
- People will be unclean, untruthful, merciless, short-lived, and of weak memory.
- Wealth alone will be the indicator of a person’s social status.
- Those with power and influence will escape justice and flout the law.
- In place of marriage, men and women will live together simply due to romantic attraction
- The worth of a man or woman will be judged according to their expertise in sex.
- Success in business will depend on deceit.
- Those who do not have money will be considered substandard human beings.
- Hypocrisy will be accepted as a virtue.
- Beauty will be judged simply by one’s hairstyle.
- People will think that eating well is the highest goal of life.
- People will practice religion simply to achieve fame.
- There will be widespread famine and excess taxes, and people will be forced to flee to forests and mountains.
- The maximum duration of life will be 50 years.
- By the end of Kali Yuga, human beings will be of a reduced size, the Vedas will be completely forgotten, and the leaders of society will be thieves.
- People will have no other professions than simply cheating, killing, and stealing from one another.