Monday, February 21, 2011

Description of Kaliyuga in Srimad Bhagavatam


Description of Kaliyuga in Srimad Bhagavatam

Posted by: "V Laxmanan" Re: Description of Kaliyuga in Srimad Bhagavatam  bharatanramadasa

Sun Feb 20, 2011 3:59 pm (PST)

Dear All:

In Canto 12 of the Srimad Bhagavatam, the last canto, Shukacarya describes to King Parikshit the characteristics of Kaliyuga. Parikshit, the grandson of Arjuna, ascended the throne after the Mahabharata war. This yuga had already began during Parikshit's reign, after Krishna returned to His Supreme Abode.

The dawn of this age is described in Canto 1, chapters 16 and 17. Here we also find an interesting description, or a very clear definition, of what is meant by the term dharma. Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, India's first Vice President and the second President, and a great Hindu philosopher and statesman, has said that the implications of the word dharma are so profound that there is no single word in the English language that can be used to translate it. So he left it untranslated in his writings and simply tried to explain what it meant.

Tapah shaucam daya satyam iti paadaah krute krutaahaa l
Adharamaanshaihas trayo bhagnaah smayasanga madais tava ll 1.7.24 ll SB

King Parikshit spoke with Dharma (which appeared in the body of a cow, which was being abused severely) and addresses her as stated above. He says, "O Dharma, in kruta yuga (the first of the four yugas called the Chaturyuga, with 1000 Chaturyugas, or Mahayugas, constituting one day of Brahma) you appeared with four legs - tapas (penance or austerities), shaucam (purity), daya (compassion) and satyam (truthfulness). With progressive onset of adharma, I see you now standing on just one leg with three of those four legs having been chopped off." In the next verse Parikshit says that clearly that dharma now stands on just one leg - truthfulness.

The untranslatable word is being defined very clearly here by the sage Soota, who is narrating this part of the Srimad Bhagavatam to the sages of NaimisharaNyaa. Performing various austerities (such as fasts, various vows, or vratas, etc.), maintaining bodily and mental purity, showing compassion towards all and speaking truthfully, were all part of the traits of humanity in the first yuga. With the march of time (remember, Kruta or Satya yuga last for 1,738,000 years, Treta yuga for 1,296,000 years, Dwapara for 864,000 years, i.e., a total of 3,898,000 years had already elapsed since the dawn of the current Chaturyuga in which we live), progressively, three of these four traits have been lost. Now, in Kaliyuga, humanity has only one trait of dharma left - speaking truthfully.

I can see a lot of you shaking yours head and wondering if this is indeed, true anymore! Do people still speak the truth, after all the deceit and tortured logic that we see in our political discourse? Well, it is only 5100+ years since Kaliyuga dawned on this earth. Still several thousand years (of a total of 432,000 years) to go.

In chapters 2 and 3, Canto 12, Shukacharya describes, in some detail, the dharma as it will be practiced in Kaliyuga (these sages knew the past, present, and the future), or what is known as the yuga dharma. Rather than dwell on the horrors due to progressive degradation of dharma in Kaliyuga, described in some detail by Shukacarya, let us, focus on Shukacarya's message in the last two slokas of chapter 3 where he tells us how to escape from all the dangers and sinful practices of living in Kaliyuga.

Shukacarya tells Parikshit, "Although Kaliyuga is verily the very embodiment of all sins (or blemishes, doshas, it is called doshanidhi), O king, there is one very great merit, good, in Kaliyuga. That very simply is that by merely singing the praises and glories of Krishna one is relieved of all (sins accruing from ) attachments to sensory pleasures. One should strive to get attached to Krishna in this manner."

Kalerdoshanidhe Rajan asti eko mahaan gunahaa l
Keertanaat eva KrishNasya muktasangah Param vrajet ll 12.3.51 ll SB

Dosha means imperfections, blemishes, faults, defects, evils, or in this context sins. Nidhi means collection, aggregation. Doshanidhi means the very collection of all evils and sins. Kaliyuga is the very embodiment of all evil. In this yuga, humans are primarily motivated by their desire to satisfy their stomach (udara) and sexual urges (shishna), Canto 12, chapter 3, verse 42. They do not care for, or protect, the old, let alone their own parents and grandparents. And, fathers, in turn, do not care even for their most virtuous sons. So driven are humans by their carnal desires that instead of seeking the counsel of their own family members, they seek the counsel of their in-laws (verse 37). Even woman become very evil in this yuga, says Shukacarya (Canto 12, chapter 2, verse 34). They abandon their husbands, if he becomes impoverished (verse 36). Their bodies are small (hrsva-kaayaa) but they eat too much (mahaa-haaraa), they become shameless (gata-hriyaahaa), they constantly talk harshly (shashvat katubhaashini), become expert thieves and are greatly emboldened!

Don't worry. There are even more horrible things said about all humans in general. The point about mentioning women is that they are believed to be naturally soumya - pleasant and not aggressive - disposed to doing more good than men are - yet the ravages of Kaliyuga do not spare even women.

But there is one great redeeming feature of Kaliyuga, says Shukacarya - eko asti mahaan gunahaa. Only the keertana of Krishna is needed - singing of the glories of Krishna - keertanaat eva Krishnasya. One becomes mukta (liberated) sangha (attachment to sensory pleasures). One should become attached to (vrajet, follow the path of) to the Supreme (Param). This sankeetrana is a very easy path.

It is interesting that Shukacarya says Krishna here. This may also be the reason why, according to Gaudiya (Bengali) Vaishnava sampradayam, the Mahamantra for Kaliyuga is

Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare l
Hare Raama Hare Raama Raama Raama Hare Hare ll

Hare Krishna is mentioned first instead of Hare Raama, although, in the Vishu Sahastranaamam, we find Bhagavan Himself emphasizing the glories of Raamanamam.

Shree Raama Raama Raameti Ramay Raamay Manoramay l

Sahastranaama tat tulyam Raama naama Varaanane ll

Some people take the mention of
Raama three times, in the above phalashruti verse, as implying that
uttering the name Krishna just once equals uttering the name Raama three times. Others take this to means the above verse should be chanted three times, which is the practice during Vishnu Sahastranamam chanting. Far from it. All Bhagavan is telling us that He is pleased with chanting Raama naamam. Just says Shree Raama, say Raama Raama. That is enough. Lord Shiva is telling Parvati, "My dear who enchants my mind (Manoramay), let us rejoice (ramay) with the thought of Rama and engage our minds fully in Raamanamam."

Don't read the instructions three times. Follow the instructions. Chanting the above sloka thrice is like reading the instructions. Saying Raama Raama is actually following the instructions.

No need to learn all the 1000 names of Vishnu. Parvati asks Lord Shiva, if there is a simple way, lagu upaaya, that the great seers, Panditas, have discovered to chant the 1000 names of Mahavishnu? In response, Eeshwara, Lord Shiva, says that it is sufficient to chant Raama, Raama Raama. The whole argument of the efficacy of Raama's names versus Krishna's names is just plain foolish since both Raama and Krishna are
names of Lord Sri Hari. What is implied is Hari keertanam, as mentioned by Shukacarya in the last
sloka of chapter 3, Canto 12.

Krute yat dhyaayato VishNum tretaayaam yajato makhaih l
Dwaapare paricharyaayaam Kalau tad Harikeertanaat ll 12.3.52 ll SB

Kalau tad Hari keertanaat, says Shukaacarya. That same benefit is obtained in Kaliyuga by Harinaama Sankeertnamam, or Govinda naama sankeertanam. What benefit?

Krute yat dhyaayato Vishnum. In Kruta yuga, one has to practice great penances and meditate on Vishnu with a focused mind. Then one gets purified. In the next yuga, Tretayuga, one has to perform great sacrifices (makha). King Dasharatha performed many Ashwamedha yagnyas. He also performed other yagnyas, including one to be blessed with a son. Lord Raama also performed the Ashwamedha yagnya. The horse that was sent wandering around the kingdom and neighboring kingdoms (to establish supermacy) was stopped by Rama's sons Lava and Kusha, who were born after Sitadevi was exiled and was living in the ashrama of the sage Valmiki.

In Dwaapara yuga, the yuga when Krishna appeared, one has to perform great many poojas and perform them meticulously following the shastras - this is what is meant by paricharyaa. Only then does one accrue merit or get purified.

But, all these benefits can be readily obtained in Kaliyuga. Without performing tapas and without stringent meditations, without performing great sacrifices, without performing elaborate poojas following shastric injunctions. All one must do is simply chant the names of the Lord Sri Hari and sing His glories. It is so very simple. Kalau tat Hari keertanaat.

Hence, we say, Govinda naama sankeertanam, Govinda, Govinda at the beginning of all spiritual endeavors in this yuga. Hence we say Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna. Krishna Krishna. Hare! Hare! Shukracarya says, keertanaat eva Krishnasya - say Krishna, Krishna Krishna.

What does this mean? Does this mean one should not meditate, not perform yagnyas, not do elaborate poojas following shastras? No. By all means do all of that, if you can. But, as they say, in Rome do as the Romans do. In Kaliyuga, do what you are supposed to do in Kaliyuga, not what they used to do in Kruta yuga, Treta yuga or Dwaapara yuga. Don't get fascinated by unnecessary and elaborate rituals. That is not required. That is not the yuga dharma - the dharma appropriate to Kaliyuga. This is essentially what Shukacarya is telling us. In Kaliyuga you must do Naama sankeertanam. Govinda nama sankeertanam. Harinaama sankeertanam. Without sankeertanam, it is not possible to get purified in this yuga. So, we must incorporate sankeertanam in all our spiritual activities.

Govinda Govinda!

Everything else will be forgotten in Kaliyuga. Finally, Bhagavan will appear as Kalki, in the family of a Brahmin named Vishnuyasha (Canto 12, chapter 2, verse 18). Yes, there will still be some Brahmins left, even in Kaliyuga! He will appear in a village (in South India) named Sambala, in the house of a prominent Brahmin (or chief of the village). Bhagavan will appear as Kalki to protect dharma of the virtuous - dharmatraaNaaya sadhoonaam - and to relieve us from the burdens of our janmas and karmas - janma karmaapanuttaye. Until then, just perform Harinaama sankeertanam.

Charaacharaguror VishNor Eeshwarasya-akilaatmanahaa l
DharmatraaNaaya saadhoonaam janma karmaapanuttaye ll 12.2.17 ll SB

Sambhala gramamukhyasya BrahmaNasya Mahatmanahaa l
Bhavane VishNuyashasahaa Kalkih praadurbhavishyati ll 12.2.18 ll SB

Very sincerely

V. Laxmanan

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