In Hindu cosmology, time is cyclical between four yugas or ages. In each yuga, people lived to be different ages, had different life experiences, and different methods of devotion.
- Satya Yuga people lived to be 1,000 years old. It was the golden age of creation and everyone was so devoted to god, they could sit in meditation all day long.
- Treta Yuga people lived to be 500 years old. They lost some wisdom and relied on sacrifices and giving things to god.
- Dwapara Yuga people lived to be 100 years old. People were less nice, they had more possessions and less time so giving to charity became their devotion.
- Kali Yuga people live to be 16 years old. It is a black and dark time. Devotion by prayer and especially mantra and kirtan is the only way to connect to god. The earth is polluted and baked by the sun. Eventually a flood will come and from the water a lotus will emerge as Brahma (the king daddy of the gods) and will create Satya, restarting the cycle.
And guess what boys and girls?
We’re in Kali Yuga.
There is no need to run for the hills screaming about a looming apocalypse just yet because one complete cycle is 4,320,000 years. The complete cycle is called the Mahayuga, ‘great age’.
1,000 Mahayuga’s is called a Kalpha and issues the Day of Brahman. Brahman works for 100 years (each night consisting of 4.32 billion years) to re-create the universe in Satya Yuga. He also dies when this process is over and that takes forever before a new Brahma is born, kicking off Satya Yuga for good.
It gets even cooler. (Or nerdier, take your pick.)
Between each yuga there is a purification that happens. A ginormous fight occurs to purge everything evil from the earth. Even the gods get in on it.
Guess the name of the transition between the Dwapara Yuga and Kali Yuga?
And guess one of the battles we know happened in that epic war story?
The Bhagavad Gita!
If you’ve lost me and your jaw isn’t dropping from amazement, but rather confusion here is a little background: There are two major epic Sanskrit poems “The Mahabharata” and “The Ramayana”. They’re on the scale of Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey as far as ancient epic poems. “The Bhagavad Gita” is a chapter within “The Mahabharata”. “The Bhagavad Gita” on the surface is a story about the archer, Arjuna, not wanting to fight because his family is on the other side of the battlefield, but belonging to the warrior class he is duty bound to fight.
Here is the short version:
From a cosmology perspective, we are currently in Kali Yuga. In Kali Yuga, devotion is through mantra or singing mantra: kirtan.
Now you may be thinking that I really took a long time to tell you nothing about mantra. It’s true. Fortunately, there is a Part II where I will tell you all about the physiological and psychological goodies that come with mantra.