Predictions from the Srimad-Bhagavatam by His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, compiled by Atmatattva das
Predictions for the Age of Kali
In the fourteenth chapter of the last canto of the “Paramahamsa Samhita” portion of the Vayu Purana, named “Sri Gauranga Chandra Udaya”, Lord Brahma prays to the Supreme Lord Sri Hari thus:
“In the age of Kali, people are spontaneously attracted to sinful activities and are devoid of the regulations of the scriptures. The so-called “twice-born” are degraded by their low-class activities and those who are born in low-class families are always hostile to brahminical culture. The twice-born are low-class by quality and do business by selling mantras. These so-called learned men are absorbed in their intestines and genitals and their only identification is the thread they wear. Indulging in over eating, absorbed in bodily consciousness, lazy, intellectually dull and greedy for others properties, they are consistently against God-consciousness. Due to being overly inclined towards false paths without essence, they manufacture their own processes for self-realization. Neglecting their actual duties they are expert in blaspheming You (the Supreme Personality of Godhead) and the saintly persons; hence again Mother Earth is in tears due to this burden. Therefore, Oh Lord of the Universe, destroyer of the miseries of the destitute, please mercifully do what is befitting for the protection of the Earth and the living entities.”
“The very day and moment the Personality of Godhead, Lord Sri Krishna, left this earth, the personality of Kali, who promotes all kinds of irreligious activities, came into this world.”—Srimad Bhagavatam 1.18.6
“O learned one, in this iron age of Kali men have but short lives. They are quarrelsome, lazy, misguided, unlucky and, above all, always disturbed.”—Srimad Bhagavatam 1.1.10
Foreseeing the incompetence of the people in this age of Kali, or the iron age of quarrel, great sages and saintly people throughout the ages have sought to benefit the general mass of people by revealing to them the knowledge contained in the scriptures, whereby they may attain relief from the inflictions of this most degraded and dangerous of all ages.
Elaborate description of the anomalies of Kali-yuga and the plight of the living entities is given in the Srimad Bhagavatam. Therein it is described how as the sun rose and after taking his morning ablutions in the waters of the Sarasvati, Vyasadeva sat alone to concentrate.
“The great sage Vyasadeva saw anomalies in the duties of the millennium. This happens on the earth in different ages, due to unseen forces in the course of time. The great sage, who was fully equipped in knowledge, could see, through his transcendental vision, the deterioration of everything material, due to the influence of the age. He could also see that the faithless people in general would be reduced in duration of life and would be impatient due to lack of goodness. Thus he contemplated for the welfare of men in all statuses and orders of life.”—Srimad Bhagavatam 1.4.16-18
In the purport to these verses Srila Prabhupada describes Kali-yuga in this way:
“The unmanifested forces of time are so powerful that they can reduce all matter to oblivion in due course. In Kali-yuga, the last millennium of a round of four millenniums, the power of all material objects deteriorates by the influence of time. In this age the material body of the people in general is reduced, and so is the memory. The action of matter has also not so much incentive. The land does not produce food grains in the same proportions as it did in other ages. The cow does not give as much milk as it did formerly. The production of vegetables and fruits is less than before. As such, all living beings, both men and animals, do not have sumptuous, nourishing food. Due to want of so many necessities of life, naturally the duration of life is reduced, the memory is short, intelligence is meager, mutual dealings are full of hypocrisy and so on.
“The great sage Vyasadeva could see this by his transcendental vision. As an astrologer can see the future fate of a man, or an astronomer can foretell the solar and lunar eclipses, those liberated souls who can see through the scriptures can foretell the future of mankind. They can see this due to their sharp vision of spiritual attainment.
“And all such transcendentalists, who are naturally devotees of the Lord, are always eager to render welfare service to the people in general. They are the real friends of the people in general, not the so-called public leaders who are unable to see what is going to happen five minutes ahead. In this age the people in general as well as their so-called leaders are all unlucky fellows, faithless in spiritual knowledge and influenced by the age of Kali. They are always disturbed by various diseases. For example, in the present age there are so many TB patients and TB hospitals, but formerly this was not so because the time was not so unfavorable.”
Elsewhere in the Srimad Bhagavatam Srila Prabhupada further reveals the degradation of human society.
“In the Kali-yuga the population is just a royal edition of the animals. They have nothing to do with spiritual knowledge or godly religious life. They are so blind that they cannot see anything beyond the jurisdiction of the subtle mind, intelligence or ego, but they are very much proud of their advancement in knowledge, science and material prosperity. They can risk their lives to become a dog or hog just after leaving the present body, for they have completely lost sight of the ultimate aim of life.”—Srimad Bhagavatam 1.3.43
“The people of the world in this age of Kali are always full of anxieties. Everyone is diseased with some kind of ailment. From the very faces of the people of this age, one can find out the index of the mind. Everyone feels the absence of his relative who is away from home. The particular symptom of the age of Kali is that no family is now blessed to live together. To earn a livelihood, the father lives at a place far away from the son, or the wife lives far away from the husband and so on. There are sufferings from internal diseases, separation from those near and dear, and anxieties for maintaining the status quo. These are but some important factors which make the people of this age always unhappy.
“With the progress of the age of Kali, four things particularly, namely the duration of life, mercy, the power of recollection, and moral or religious principles will gradually diminish. Since Dharma, or the principles of religion, would be lost in the proportion of three out of four, the symbolic bull is standing on one leg only. When three fourths of the whole world become irreligious, the situation is converted into hell for the animals. In the age of Kali, godless civilizations will create so many so-called religious societies in which the Personality of Godhead will be directly or indirectly defied. And thus faithless societies of men will make the world uninhabitable for the saner section of people.
“Beef is forbidden in the scriptures, and the bull and cows are offered special protection by the followers of the Vedas. But in this age of Kali, people will exploit the body of the bull and the cow as they like, and thus they will invite sufferings of various types.
“The people of this age will not perform any sacrifice. The mleccha [those outside the Vedic culture] population will care very little for performances of sacrifices, although performance of sacrifice is essential for persons who are materially engaged in sense enjoyment. The mlecchas, however, make plans to install slaughterhouses for killing bulls and cows along with other animals, thinking that they will prosper by increasing the number of factories and live on animal food without caring for performance of sacrifices and production of grains.
“In this age of Kali, the women and the children, along with the brahmanas and cows, will be grossly neglected and left unprotected. In this age illicit connection with women will render many women and children uncared for. Circumstantially, the women will try to become independent of the protection of men, and marriage will be performed as a matter of formal agreement between man and woman. In most cases the children will not be taken care of properly. The brahmanas are traditionally intelligent men, and thus they will be able to pick up modern education to the topmost rank, but as far as moral and religious principles are concerned, they shall be the most fallen. Education and bad character go ill together, but such things will run parallel. The administrative heads as a class will condemn the tenets of Vedic wisdom and will prefer to conduct a so-called secular state, and the so-called educated brahmanas will be purchased by such unscrupulous administrators. Even a philosopher and writer of many books on religious principles may also accept an exalted post in a government which denies all the moral codes of the shastras. The brahmanas are specifically restricted from accepting such service. But in this age they will not only accept service, but they will do so even if it is of the meanest quality. These are some of the symptoms of the Kali age which are harmful to the general welfare of human society.
“In this age, people are indulging in the necessities of life, eating, sleeping, defending and mating, without following the rules and regulations, and this deterioration of social and moral rules is certainly lamentable because of the harmful effects of such beastly behavior. In this age, the fathers and the guardians are not happy with the behavior of their wards. They should know that so many innocent children are victims of bad association awarded by the influence of this age of Kali. In this age of Kali the poor innocent students are daily victims of cinemas which attract men only for sex indulgence.
“Nowadays, men without proper training by culture and tradition are promoted to exalted posts by the votes of the people who are themselves fallen in the rules and regulations of life. How can such people select a proper man when they are themselves fallen in the standard of life? Therefore, by the influence of the age of Kali, everywhere, politically, socially or religiously, everything is topsy-turvy, and therefore for the sane man it is most regrettable.”—Srimad Bhagavatam 1.16.19-22
In the twelth canto of the Srimad Bhagavatam Srila Sukadeva Goswami relates how after the thorough degradation of the brahminical and administrative classes these and other symptoms of Kali-yuga increase to an intolerable level.
“Sukadeva Goswami said: Then, O King, religion, truthfulness, cleanliness, tolerance, mercy, duration of life, physical strength and memory will all diminish day by day because of the powerful influence of the age of Kali. In Kali-yuga, wealth alone will be considered a sign of a man’s good birth, proper behavior and fine qualities. And law and justice will be applied only on the basis of one’s power. Men and women will live together merely because of superficial attraction, and success in business will depend on deceit. Womanliness and manliness will be judged according to one’s expertise in sex, and a man will be known as a brahmana just by his wearing a thread. A person’s spiritual position will be ascertained merely according to external symbols, and on the same basis people will change from one spiritual order to the next. A person’s propriety will be seriously questioned if he does not earn a good living. And one who is very clever at juggling words will be considered a learned scholar. A person will be judged unholy if he does not have money, and hypocrisy will be accepted as virtue. Marriage will be arranged simply by verbal agreement, and a person will think he is fit to appear in public if he has merely taken a bath. A sacred place will be taken to consist of no more than a reservoir of water located at a distance, and beauty will be thought to depend on one’s hairstyle. Filling the belly will become the goal of life, and one who is audacious will be accepted as truthful. He who can maintain a family will be regarded as an expert man, and the principles of religion will be observed only for the sake of reputation.
“As the earth becomes crowded with a corrupt population, whoever among any of the social classes shows himself to be the strongest will gain political power. Losing their wives and properties to such avaricious and merciless rulers, who will behave no better than ordinary theives, the citizens will flee to the mountains and forests. Harassed by famine and excessive taxes, people will resort to eating leaves, roots, flesh, wild honey, fruits, flowers and seeds. Struck by drought, they will become completely ruined. The citizens will suffer greatly from cold, wind, heat, rain and snow. They will be further tormented by quarrels, hunger, thirst, disease and severe anxiety. The maximum duration of life for human beings in Kali-yuga will become fifty years.
“By the time the age of Kali ends, the bodies of all creatures will be greatly reduced in size, and the religious principles of followers of varnasrama [4 social classes and 4 spiritual orders of life] will be ruined. The path of the Vedas will be completely forgotten in human society, and so-called religion will be mostly atheistic. The kings will mostly be thieves, the occupations of men will be stealing, lying and needless violence, and all the social classes will be reduced to the lowest level of sudras. Cows will be like goats, spiritual hermitages will be no different from mundane houses, and family ties will extend no further than the immediate bonds of marriage. Most plants and herbs will be tiny, and all trees will appear like dwarf sami trees. Clouds will be full of lightning, homes will be devoid of piety, and all human beings will have become like asses. At that time, the Supreme Personality of Godhead will appear on the earth. Acting with the power of pure spiritual goodness, He will rescue eternal religion.”—Srimad Bhagavatam 12.2.1-16
“In the age of Kali only one fourth of the religious principles remains. That last remnant will continuously be decreased by the ever-increasing principles of irreligion and will finally be destroyed.
“In the age of Kali people tend to be greedy, ill-behaved and merciless, and they fight one another without good reason. Unfortunate and obsessed with material desires, the people of Kali-yuga are almost all shudras and barbarians. When there is a predominance of cheating, lying, sloth, sleepiness, violence, depression, lamentation, bewilderment, fear and poverty, that age is Kali, the age of the mode of ignorance. Because of the bad qualities of the age of Kali, human beings will become shortsighted, unfortunate, gluttonous, lustful and poverty-stricken. The women, becoming unchaste, will freely wander from one man to the next. Cities will be dominated by thieves, the Vedas will be contaminated by speculative interpretations of atheists, political leaders will virtually consume the citizens, and the so-called priests and intellectualls will be devotees of their bellies and genitals. The brahmacharis [celibate students] will fail to execute their vows and become generally unclean, the householders will become beggars, the vanaprasthas [those who have entered the are of retirement] will live in the villages, and the sannyasis [renunciates] will become greedy for wealth.
“Women become much smaller in size, and they will eat too much, have more children than they can properly take care of, and lose all shyness. They will speak harshly and will exhibit qualities of thievery, deceit and unrestrained audacity.
“Businessmen will engage in petty commerce and earn their money by cheating. Even when there is no emergency, people will consider any degraded occupation quite acceptable. Servants will abandon a master who has lost his wealth, even if that master is a saintly person of exemplary character. Masters will abandon an incapacitated servant, even if that servant has been in the family for generations. Cows will be abandoned or killed when they stop giving milk.
“In Kali-yuga men will be wretched and controlled by women. They will reject their fathers, brothers, other relatives and friends and will instead associate with the sisters and brothers of their wives. Thus their conception of friendship will be based exclusively on sexual ties. Uncultured men will accept charity on behalf of the Lord and will earn their livelihood by making a show of austerity and wearing a mendicant’s dress. Those who know nothing about religion will mount a high seat and presume to speak on religious principles.
“In the age of Kali, people’s minds will always be agitated. They will become emaciated by famine and taxation, my dear King, and will always be disturbed by fear of drought. They will lack adequate clothing, food and drink, will be unable to properly rest, have sex or bathe themselves, and will have no ornaments to decorate their bodies. In fact, the people of Kali-yuga will gradually come to appear like ghostly, haunted creatures.
“In Kali-yuga men will develop hatred for each other even over a few coins. Giving up friendly relations, they will be ready to lose their own lives and kill even their own relatives. Men will no longer protect their elderly parents, their children or the irrespectable wives. Thoroughly degraded, they will care only to satisfy their own bellies and genitals.
“O King, in the age of Kali people’s intelligence will be diverted by atheism, and they will almost never offer sacrifice to the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who is the supreme spiritual master of the universe. Although the great personalities who control the three worlds all bow down to the lotus feet of the Supreme Lord, the petty and miserable human beings of this age will not do so.
“Terrified, about to die, a man collapses on his bed. Although his voice is faltering and he is hardly conscious of what he is saying, if he utters the holy name of the Supreme Lord he can be freed from the reaction of his fruitive work and achieve the supreme destination. But still people in the age of Kali will not worship the Supreme Lord.”—Srimad Bhagavatam 12.3.24-44