Guest Author - Linda J. Paul
The cycles of creation and destruction are very important in Hindu belief. These cycles follow a pattern of four periods of time or yugas. These four yugas; Krita, Treta, Dwapara, and Kali, represent the cycles of degeneration and regeneration of humanity. The cycles start with the Krita yuga of perfect harmony and end with the Kali yuga, a time of darkness and immorality.
Each yuga corresponds to a certain period of time based on human years vs. God years. Three hundred and sixty human years equate to one year for the Gods. The length of time diminishes from one yuga to the next. The Krita yuga lasts 1,728,000 human years of 4,800 God years. The Treta yuga lasts 1,296,000 human years or 3,600 God years. The Dwapara yuga lasts 864,000 human years or 2,400 God years. And, the Kali Yuga, which many Hindus feel that we are at the end of in the present time, is 432,000 human years or 1,800 God years. As each yuga progresses, the virtue of humanity digresses. Following one thousand of these complete cycles, the Earth itself is destroyed and renewed.
The avenger of this final cycle is named Kalki. He will emerge on a white horse with a flaming sword to destroy the wicked and save the righteous in order to restore the world to a state of purity and virtue once again. Because of the immense power Kalki welds this period of destruction will not last very long, as he can kill millions at a time with one thrust of his sword. Thus, the Krita yuga will start once more.
During the Krita or Golden yuga, every aspect of life is good, there is no killing, no disease, no disharmony, no arguments, and connection to the Divine is a way of life. There is an abundance of everything and it is shared willingly. There is no pollution, smog or toxic waste, only a pure unadulterated planet that is loved and respected by all who dwell upon it.
The next cycle is the Treta or Silver yuga. The “me” consciousness begins to overwhelm the “we” consciousness. Divinity is beginning to be seen as being apart from and no longer a part of each being. The common thread of unity begins to unweave as each person starts to look toward what is best for them alone and not in the best interest of the whole.
The Dwapara or Bronze yuga cycle is marked by an increase of selfishness, lying, arguing and becoming addicted to material things. People begin to harm or even kill one another in the quest for self gain. Technology increases and the understanding of nature decreases. Meat has become a big part of the diet, and pollution and misuse of the planet reigns. Divinity is seen as completely apart from humankind and is connected to through written words rather than from the heart.
The Kali or Iron yuga is the last of the four cycles. Only one quarter of the original virtue remains. Humanity is obsessed with “more, more, more.” In their quest for bigger and better, they ravage and scour the Earth of all it’s precious resources. Greed and avarice rule, and some prosper while watching others starve. Killing has become a commonplace occurrence, and violent acts are commonplace. Food is no longer pure and wholesome, but polluted and toxic, as are the rivers and seas. Humankind has forgotten it’s source and the main deities now are made of plastic and paper. Evil rules and self gain outweighs love and compassion for others. The complete destruction inherent at the end of the Kali yuga will commence when humanity has become in such a state of deterioration that nearly every human being is overwhelmed by evil.
As I read about the Yugas, I thought about how similar they are to the Biblical Revelations, and many of the ancient prophecies of indigenous people from around the world. And, the four yugas also resonate to the four cycles of the seasons and ultimately, to the stories of our lives. The number four has everything to do with creation and destruction in our world.
Could it be that the Earth is going through her own seasonal cycle? Her years certainly don’t conform to our years. Her years are based on her own unique life cycle. What if she is getting ready, like the proverbial phoenix, to consume herself in the cycle of purification and allow herself to be born once again from the ashes?
What if Kalki and his flaming sword is actually a metaphor for the sacred fires of creation which burn away the overgrowth to allow the new seeds of life to start their tentative journey skyward once again? It’s an amazing and never ending story of birth, death and rebirth.