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Kali-Yuga

The last and shortest of the four great Ages of the Hindu system, said to have begun on midnight between February 17 and 18, 3102 BCE, the date of the death of the AVATĀRA Śrī Krishna, according to Hindu mythology. Kali-Yuga is sometimes termed the “dark age” (although that would be Kāli Yuga) or the “iron age” (the others three ages being golden, silver, and copper or bronze). It is said to last 432,000 years. The other ages are termed Satya or Kṛta, Tretā, and Dvāpara, and are, respectively, 4 times, 3 times, and 2 times as long as the Kali-Yuga. The total, which comes to 4,320,000 years, is called a Mahāyuga. The names of the four ages are actually drawn from gambling. Kali is the one spot on a die, dvāpara is a dice term equivalent to English “deucy” (i.e., two-spot), tretā is equivalent to “trey” (i.e., a three spot), and kṛta means “made” (i.e., a successful or “good” [satya] dice roll; also “cater” or four). In iconography, the Kali-Yuga is depicted as a bull standing on only one leg. The last of the avatāras of Viṣṇu, Kalki, is supposed to come at the end of the Kali-Yuga.

Actually, the situation is more complex than the above discussion suggests, since, as Helena P. BLAVATSKY states, each of the ROOT RACES “have their own cycles” thus “the Fourth Sub-Race of the Atlanteans was in its Kali-Yuga when destroyed, whereas the Fifth was in its Satya or Kṛita-Yuga” (SD II:147 fn.). She also says that the Aryan Race “is now in its Kali-Yuga . . . while various ‘family Races,’ called Semitic, Mahitic, etc., are in their own special cycles” (idem.). Furthermore, these ages indicate “the psychological or mental and the physical states of man during their period” (IU II:275). In this sense is the Kali-Yuga the “age of iron, of darkness, misery, and sorrow . . . the falling of spirit into the degradation of matter, with all its terrific results” (idem). She also relates the start of the Kali-Yuga to astronomical and astrological events (cf. SD II:420) and graphic symbols (cf. SD I:5).

See also YUGA; AGE OF BRAHMĀ.

R.W.B.

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