An ancient Vedic scriptures give a forecast of the oncoming events of degradation.

The Symptoms of Kaliyuga

Out of the four yugas or millenniums known as Satya-yuga, Treta-yuga, Dvapara-yuga and Kali-yuga, Kali yuga, ou r present millennium is generally known as the Age of Quarrel and Hypocrisy. It is generally characterized by the degradation of religion comprising the four pillars-truthfuIness, austerity, mercy, and charity. The personification of this millennium is named as Kali. In this age, religion is gradually degrading to very low levels. This millennium will last for 432,000 years out of which we have just passed around 5000 years.
When we examine the gradual degradation in every phase of life, even in the past century, we can realize and feel the onslaught of this age of quarrel and hypocrisy. For example, countries have faced war, famine, deadly diseases, rebellion and natural calamities. Millions of human beings have faced unbearable miseries. Kings and kingdoms have perished giving rise to corrupt political rulers.
Srila Prabhpada says in Light of the Bhagavata that if people themselves are dishonest, the administrative machinery must be corrupt. New diseases have been attacking human beings in spite of tremendous advances in medical science. The killing of innocent animals in the slaughterhouses is even extending to killing human lives in the wombs of mothers through abortions. Children are thrown out of their homes by parents when they become adults in some countries. In other countries parents are thrown out of their homes by children and forcibly put aside in oldage homes. Joint families have become a thing of the past leading to nuclear families of husband, wife and young children. Even many married couples prefer to work and live separately. Divorce rates are increasing not only in developed countries but a lso in developing countries. Men and women work like donkeys 12 to 15 hours a day to earn their livelihood and to keep up the show of maintaining an artificially high standard of life. Their children take to addiction of smoking, drinking alcohol, drugs etc. Generally, the rich are getti ng richer and the poor are getti ng poorer.
All these are just the beginning of this age of Kali. The Srimad Bhagavatam, the spodess scripture from India, forecasts the oncoming events of deterioration of religion in the balance period of this Kaliyuga, apart from narrating the wonderful pastimes of the Supreme Personality of Godhead and His pure devotees. Canto 12, Chapter 2 Text 1 states,
sri-suka uvaca
tatas canu-dinam dharmah
satyam saucam ksama daya
kalena balina rajan
nanksyaty ayur balam smrtih
Sukadeva Goswami said: "0 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."
The message of this prediction is on the degrading religion exhibiting the following events. Men will be considered advanced based on their earning power and wealth. What will be called man's progress in life? His power to dominate other persons. Thus they will be highly respected and others will attempt to follow their path irrespective of the former's values of character and behavior.
Lusty sex attraction between a man and woman will become the basis of marriage. When that attraction wears out separation and looking for new partners will result. When the system of marriage breaks down illegitimate children will become a burden on society. The system of marriage becomes afarce. Hence people tend to live together without marriage resulting in more sinful lives and frequent separation.
On the spiritual side, so called spiritual leaders pretend to be experts in preaching religion and win many followers. Such followers will publicize such leaders by falsely claiming having seen miracles by them. This will result in spurious sects not authorized by sastra. Such leaders claim that they are incarnations of God resulting in their followers becoming mesmerized or hypnotized. These spurious spiritual leaders accumulate wealth by the contributions of their disciples.
They spend a portion of such ill gotten wealth on charities to show their great contributions to society. They further use their oratory talents to the admiration of their followers.
Real genuine religious leaders are sidelined as they are not after fame or wealth. Only genuine disciples interested in practicing strict spiritual lives become their followers. Strict following of scriptural instructions and regulations are considered too difficult by the general mass of people. Hence there will be an in creasing number of spurious sects and cults to corrupt and mislead the population. The rich among the followers of such sects gain political power and corruption will increase in society.
They become thieves in society in the disguise of ministers or social workers.
Citizens will become targets for high taxes and extortions will become common in many forms and ways. Drought will lead to famine and malnutrition. Weather will haphazardly change with extreme heat or cold or rainfall. C itizens will face quarrels, diseases and severe anxiety. The life span of people will reduce apart from reo duction in size and shape of their bodies. Genuine religious activities will greatly reduce and rituals domi· nate the activities of so called religion . The path of real religion through Vedas will be gradually forgotten by successive generations. Needless violence increases through murder and suicide. Women will be raped in increasing numbers.
Cows and other innocent helpless animals will be increasingly killed or slaughtered for the selfish appetite of cruel humans. Family ties will be, at best, restricted to close bonds in marriage. Children leave homes of their parents and elders. Trees will reduce in size and crop failure will become common. Rivers get polluted. Excessive exploitation of natural resources due to greedy usage will result in severe ecological changes.
Thus the future in the balance years of Kali-yuga appears to be gloomy from the above symptoms of Kali yuga forecast in Srrmad Bhagavatam. But the most merciful Supreme Personality of Godhead, Lord Krsna will incarnate as Kalki (the name of the Kali-yuga avatara as forecast in the scriptures) to annihilate the irreligious population and protect His devotees. The most religious happy Satya yuga will again start in the cycle of the four yugas. The four pillars of religion namely, truthfulness, austerity, mercy and charity will reappear to the fullest extent.
While the future is very dark in the balance period of Kali-yuga, there is hope for the present and future generations of devotees of the Lord. Lord Krsna bestowed His causeless mercy by appearing as a secret incarnation as Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu around 500 years ago. This was also forecast in Srimad Bhagavatam (11.5.32):
krsna varnam tvisakrsnam
sangopangastra parsadam
yajnaih sankirtana prayair
yajanti hi su medhasah
"In the age of Kali, intelligent persons perform congregational chanting to worship the incarnation of Godhead sings the names of Krsna. Although His complexion is not blackish, He is Krsna Himself. He is accompanied by His associates, servants, weapons and confidential companions."
He is Caitanya Mahaprabhu none other than Lord Sri Krsna in the form of the golden avatara. Mahaprabhu started the sarikirtana movement by introducing the yugadharma of chanting Hare Krsna Hare Krsna Krsna Krsna Hare Hare/ Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare.
Further, Srimad-Bhagavatam (12.3.51) states;
kaler dosa-nidhe rajann
asti hy eko mahan gunah
krrtanad eva krsnasya
mukta-sarigah param vrajet
"My dear king, although Kaliyuga is full of faults, there is still one good quality about this age. It is that simply by chanting Hare Krsna maha mantra, one can become free from material bondage and be promoted to the transcendental kingdom."
Just by chanting this maha-mantra the devotees achieve the goal of life and become free from the onslaught of the influence of Kali. From the time of Caitanya Mahaprabhu a golden age of Krsna consciousness has started which will last for ten thousand years. Those devotees who practice Krsna consciousness in this period will not be affected by Kali's influence.
His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada renewed the sankirtana movement of Caitanya Mahaprabhu all over the world and started the Krsna consciousness movement. While the influence of Kali will affect the lives of human beings and other living entities for the whole balance period of Kali-yuga, devotees of this movement can hope to have the least influence of this Kali-yuga for the next 10,000 years. In a conversation with poet Allen Ginsberg in 1969 in Ohio, USA, Srila Prabhupada has discussed the position of devotees and pious people up to, and at the end of this period of 10,000 years. While this movement will flourish for 10,000 years, the following period will be a period of no intelligence and the end of this movement. The result at the end of this and remaining period will be famine of no milk or fruits and grains. Hence people will eat each other or their own offspring. Intelligence will be absent in people. Marriage will be performed simply by agreement. People will think that they h ave become very beautiful by keeping long hair. (This is becoming true even now let alone at the end of Kali-yuga!)
However devotees in the Krsna consciousness movement will be protected and irreligious people will be killed by the Supreme Personality of Godhead Krsna in His Kalki avatara. Prabhupada concludes that if anyone believes in the scriptures, he should take to Krsna consciousness, which is real intelligence.
Nrsimha Swami Dasa is a disciple of His Holiness Jayapataka Swami. He served at ISKCON Jakarta, Indonesia for sixteen years and is serving in ISKCON Sri Jagannatha Mandir, Bangalore for the past nine years. He lives with his wife Vatsala Radha Devi Dasi in Bangalore.