The Age of Kali, SRI TYAGARAJA -8 (Post No.7992)

WRITTEN BY R. NANJAPPA                        

Post No.7992

Date uploaded in London – – – 17 May 2020   

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SRI TYAGARAJA -8            The Age of Kali

Cyclical time

The Hindu conception of time is cyclical. It has no absolute beginning, unlike the Biblical view which starts at a historical point in time ie with creation. In the Hindu view, there was never a time when creation was not, though it is subject to dissolution, after a period of existence. What is popularly called creation, preservation, destruction is inaccurate: it is manifestation, preservation and dissolution, called  accurately in Sanskrit as srishti, stiti and pralaya. This cycle gets repeated, endlessly. The time scale involved is infinitely,fantastically long, defying our imagination. Indeed, it is not long time- however l-o-n-g it is. It is beyond all conceptions of time. 

The Biblical view has long since been discredited. Modern science too has no satisfactory explanation. The Big Bang is really like science fiction: nothing more than a big splash in imagination: it does not explain anything eg it does not say what was before the big bang, why it started, what started it. When scientists do not know a thing, but do not want to admit it, they invent a theory! 

In our Puranas, there are accounts of srishti. But these do not involve ‘creation out of nothing’ as in the case of the Bible . It is always a fresh manifestation out of what was lying dormant. Vivekananda and Sri Aurobindo have dealt with this subject in modern terms.

The notion of cycle involves repetition, but this repetition is like a spiral-always moving upwards. A cycle is conceived of as consisting of 4 periods called Yugas, each with its own characteristics. People living in the 4 periods differ in vital respects. These are explained in the Bhagavata and other scriptures.

Meaning of human birth

In the Hindu view, there are 84,00,000 forms of life in the universe. Man is at the head, after traversing this long chain.Every form of life has to traverse this long chain. That makes humans kins to everything that is- not just everything that lives. Human birth is considered rare and precious because it has come at the very end of the chain- it is only through human birth that man can attain Liberation ie  break the cycle of birth and death and become free. Even Devas cannot do it. The only purpose of birth is for man to attain  birth-less state. Failure here means man again sinks into the long chain!

Man is different from other forms of life because man is self-conscious, while every other form of life is conscient to different degrees, but not self-consicent. This is both man’s opportunity, and threat.

There is a progressive  deterioration in the quality of human life in the 4 yugas, starting from a state of perfection in Satya or Krita yuga. The lowest point is reached in the Kali yuga,  (our present age) leading to pralaya and then a new cycle. This view is shared by all the ancient civilizations.

Troubles in the Kali Age

Srimad Bhagavatam explains the deterioration that will take place in Kali, though it holds out hope too. Popular explanations of Vedanta deprecate the human body as being full of filth, subject to disease, decay, old age and death, etc. But they also ask us to view the human body as an opportunity, as a vehicle for attaining liberation. eg. sariramadhyam khalu dharma sadhanam. The acute stress on negative aspects is only to wean us away from excessive attachment. Indeed, it is an irony that the modern age which condemns idol worship shamelessly indulges in the adoration of the perishable body! Just look at the fashion, cosmetic and beauty industry!

Sri Tyagaraja points out the  difficulties and problems associated with the Kali age. 

Kalilo matala nerchu koni
kanthalanu danayula brochutaku
chilatmudai paluka neranura    ………….( Nenarunchi)

In this Kali age, I cannot (like others) just learn a few clever words to impress others and eke out a living, for the sake of wife and children, developing a stony heart. ( ie in the Kali age, means of livelihood have become the main preoccupation)

Sattaleni dinamulu vachchena

kalilona prathama padamulo
tali dandri guru bhaktiyu leka
palumaru dushkrutyam bonarppa valena……(Sattaleni)

O what a pity! Useless days have come, without the blessings of God! Why should it so happen that even in the first  quarter of the Kali age, a state has arisen when people have no devotion for  mother, father, guru and indulge in bad deeds repeatedly?

Let us just remind ourselves how ‘old age homes’ are proliferating and how educated, well-heeled people dump their aged parents there!

Kali purushudu natakamuna gatta dalasinadu
khala matamula neyaga mulaku mekaluga
narula jesine!                            …..(Idi samayamura)

Kali Purusha has planned to enact a drama. He will offer the people  like sheep in a yajna, in  evil religions/sects!

Just look at the  new cults, new gurus, new ways that are spreading through the  new forms of media! How many can really understand what is happening, without falling prey to a new trend or fashion?

Kokka sastrula vidulu narasannutiche

goppa bahumatula nanderayya
chakkaganu bhakti sastra viduala
chalagani navveru                         …..(Sari jesi )

Those who have mastered pornographic literature indulge in flattery and amass wealth. But people just laugh at devotees who have learned the bhakti literature, and ridicule them.

[ It is reported that in this lock-down period due to COVID 19 invasion, viewing of pornographic material has increased on the electronic media.]

Ee Kalinanusarinchina  heenajati martyula

cheekaku badaga darame    ……… (Paripurna kama)

Is it possible for me to bear the difficulties caused by  those people of low character who follow the bad habits of this Kali age?

Kalilo rajasa tamasa gunamu galavari    …..(Manasa etulo)

In this Kali age, people are full of rajasa and tamasa gunas.

Universal voice of History

Serious students of history, religion and spirituality  have reflected on these issues for long. They note that what is generally viewed as ‘progress’ is only a movement downwards and outwards, “to an ever-increasing externalisation of energy with a corresponding inner poverty.” Though this is well recognised and developed in Hinduism, it is not that other religions are entirely  without some idea of it. Arthur Osborne points out:

There are two features about which the traditions of all religions agree in referring to what is called in Hinduism the Tenth Avatar: one is that the submergence of this cycle and the dawn of the next is to be world-wide, and the other is that it is to be cataclysmic……the present civilisation could qualify for such an eventuality since the two most conspicuous facts about it are that it is worldwide and that it goes in terror of destruction.…..

There are certain signs of the end of the Dark Age.. These include the mingling of the castes,the forsaking of the scriptures, the break-up of the family,the ascendancy of women and the teaching of religion by Shudras ( by which can be understood  people without true spiritual understanding). The spiritual tradition will go underground and a true Guru be hard to find. This is mentioned as a sign in Christianity also: the coming of false prophets and false Christs…..

Buddhism has very similar doctrine of the recurrent incarnations of the Buddha on earth…..

Christians and Muslims await the second coming of Christ…. fourteen centuries after Mohammad.        

 … (in) the Cabbalistic writings of the Jews anticipating the Messiah…one of the signs which has been predicted as precedent to that is the return of the Jews to Palestine, which has also now been accomplished.

Note: In all these cases, the symbolism of the White Horse for the Comer is used, as in the case of Kalki Avatar. This is used in the case of ancient Germanic races too.

From: Arthur Osborne: The Rhythm of History, 1959. 

    These are the things Tyagaraja pointed out in the first half of nineteenth century. But his  was not a voice of mere warning or hopelessness. He pointed a way out , but it is for individuals: each one has to decide on his own. There is no mass salvation

   .”…each individual’s safety or destruction is, in a sense, in his own hands. Whatever may happen to the world, it depends ultimately on his own sincerity and preparedness what happens to him”.

(Arthur Osborne ) 

[ It is to be noted that such material is not studied in any formal  history course in any university!]

Here, Tyagaraja is a sure guide, Sadguru. His message is essentially for each individual to study, reflect on and adopt in practice. Each individual has to consciously decide to run against the current. Tyagaraja teaches us how to do it. 

To be continued………………………..

    tags -- Kali, SRI TYAGARAJA -8, Arthur Osborne

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