Sri TYAGARAJA-31, Kali Age & its Consequences (Post No.8144)

WRITTEN BY R. NANJAPPA                        

Post No. 8144

Date uploaded in London – – – 10 June 2020   

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TYAGARAJA-31,   Kali Age & its Consequences

Has life in the world been always difficult, or has something happened to make it particularly so, now?

Hinduism has a concept of time-Yuga- which implies progressive deterioration in the quality  of life over long periods of time. From Krita or Satya Yuga, through Treta, Dwapara standards fall, and in Kali Age, we reach the lowest point. We are now living in Kali Age.

Such notion prevailed in the other ancient civilizations too. Graeco Roman world and even early Christianity believed in 4 ages- Gold, Silver, Bronze and Iron, which roughly correspond to our yugas.

Our scriptures like the Bhagavatam contain descriptions of how Kali age will be- registering progressive deterioration in the quality and standards in all walks of life.We also have the concept of Avataras which are supposed to arrest the deterioration, but they do not stop the wheel of time as it turns. Krishna even says in the Gita that he is Kala-the time spirit of destruction! Man has to learn to live with it, and it is the job of religion to teach him how under such circumstances. This is a divine dispensation. Each age evolves its own set of basic rules- called Yuga dharma.

How does this deterioration come about?

Life on earth depends upon three interactions:

1. man-nature interaction- the dominant fact of physical life. Each country or geographical living unit is differently endowed, and people everywhere learned to live with it,in spite of hardships. In pre-modern times, each country was self-sufficient, almost. In the absence of comparisons, each was contented too.

Modern science and technology disturbed this relationship, in the name of conquering Nature. forces interaction. Every ancient society/religion believed in a hierarchy of beings- invisible spirits with which man was in contact and communication. Gods, angels, fairies, spirits, etc actively intervened in human affairs and man was in awe of them. Christianity destroyed this belief. Though it invented its own set of spirits, up to the Trinity, it did  not quite take the place of the old order. interaction- which is the social dimension of life. Family, clan, community to even larger aggregates- man is thus socially bound. There was a hierarchy governing this too- with fidelity to traditions and conventions, and submission to authority ( both religious and secular), which gave it stability. With the rise of ‘modern’ notions of individual freedom, and socio-political revolutions, this dimension has also been irreversibly altered. Society is now influenced by any passing fancy or floating fashion.

Thus  Christianity , modern science, and social movements,  have destroyed  the stability of the old world, and contributed to progressive deterioration of the quality of life in all spheres. The old bases of morality and ethics are not honoured in the public space, and Judges even propound “Constitutional morality”- whatever it may mean, when Constitution itself is not a fixed entity, product of the human mind and ego, reflecting but the conditions of the times and hence  subject to amendments from time to time!

Christianity, and following it Islam destroyed most ancient insights. But after Renaissance, science has thoroughly discredited Christianity. Though science has not contradicted or negated Hinduism in any way, the anti-christian stand of modern scientific temperament has translated into a general anti-religious, or at least an irreligious, secular attitude to life, which has today become global. This expresses itself in a lifestyle which:

“admit nothing higher than rational or discursive knowledge, which is necessarily indirect and imperfect……”
“this is the most conspicuous feature of the modern period: need for ceaceless agitation, for unending change and for ever-increasing speed…”
“It is a dispersion in multiplicity, and in a multiplicity that is no longer unified by consciousness of any higher principle”              (Rene Guenon)

Science on its part, and through its application in technology, has largely contributed to a serious deterioration in quality in all walks of life, besides obscuring the basic facts and purpose of life. The media and academia have led society to a general belief that we have progressed: look at  GDP, the rise in average life span, the eradication of some diseases that used to plague humanity, the convenience and comfort brought in by modern gadgets , etc. But look around seriously and you will discover grave facts: pollution of earth,air and water, rise of new unidentified and un-treatable diseases, life-style and modern-food related epidemics like obesity,diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, stress; social problems like disruption of family, rising divorce, , teen-age pregnancy,single parent children, drugs, crime; and over all, increase in violence; constant, engineered change imposing the burden of adjustment, the lack of certainty in anything and rise of plain cynicism; rise of corporate generated greed leading to uncontained consumerism and exhaustion of non-renewable resources,etc.and the global environmental crisis about which 90% of the people are blissfully ignorant, and the rest can’t do much. As Lewis Mumford said, the modern age has mistaken comfort for civilization. Science has not only obscured the man-invisible order connection, but it has also seriously disrupted the man-nature connect.All this achieved in the name of science,progress and modernity- and we pat ourselves on the back!

The over-all effect is that life has become unsustainable. The puranas called the situation simply ‘boobaaram’. Saints and Sages understand and express it in terms of how difficult it has become for man to understand the basic facts of life – its  fundamental purpose and adopt a lifestyle that will promote it. This precisely is the problem of the Kali age. This Kali has engulfed the whole world, as seen in the spread and prevalence of uniform economy, social systems and lifestyles, especially among the rising numbers of youngsters in all countries. Kali is global!

The Bhagavatam clearly declares:

Kalinaadharmitrena dhareyam baadidhaadhunaa
                                                   Mahatmyam, 1.30

Now, the Kali which supports adharma, is controlling this whole world (the whole earth).

 Sri Tyagaraja deals with this universal character of Kali in his kritis.

Where does deterioration start from? There is a Bengali saying that the fish rots from the mouth- not tail. In the Hindu tradition, it is the King who represents and protects Dharma. That is why when the king realised he failed to render justice to Kovalan, he fell down giving up his life, saying ” am I the king, no I am a thief”. Valluvar says in the Kural:


The world looks up to the rain-cloud for life: so do men look up to the sceptre (righteous king) for protection.

It is the rightness of the king which protects the science (learning) of Brahmins and Dharma.

Lao Tsu said:

“In the first age, men have no rulers; in the second they love their rulers; in the third they fear them; and in the fourth they despise them.”

                                (Quoted by Arthur Osborne)

Tyagaraja says:

Kasichchede goppa yenura kalilo rajulaku

In this Kali age, kings think high only of giving money. (They think they can get anything done through dispensing money, or it is enough if they hand out money)

Haridasulu sevimparanuchu prabhuvulu

dayamaniri para menchaka boyiri

They have become merciless towards (real) devotees of God, because these do not serve the prabhus. They have given up thoughts about paraloka  ( the life after death.)

Rajangamu koraku naalku jaatula

rakshana para sukhamo

Rajasulai sanmarga merugaka 

paraku seya ghanamo

Aajanmamu goliche vipravarula

kaanandamu galado —

Nee maya gaani neeraja nayana

Just for running the government, is it enough if they only cater to the four jatis?

If not knowing the right way, due to the dominance of rajoguna, they give up dharma, will it lead to wellbeing?

If Brahmins serve such lords since birth, will they derive real happiness?

O the lotus eyed one! Perhaps this is all your maya!

Even while describing what is happening, Tyagaraja is aware that there is some inevitability to such developments – hence he calls it all Lord’s maya!

In India today, things have become even simpler! The ministers, M.Ps, M.L.As, Corporators,  bureaucrats etc are the new prabhus!  They have many schemes to distribute (and pocket) freebies!They do not have to please or protect all the 4 jatis now- it is enough if they cater to the dominant one! And nobody in govt. talks of Dharma- or even Aram in Tamil any more! It is all rule of law, provided the ruling party leader is not touched by law! And provided, further, that law is what they say it is!

Varusa tappu buddhulu neechulaku

vachchinadi teliyada             (Aedi nee)

Are you not aware that people of the lower order are all indulging in unrighteous conduct?

Verapu leka tirigeru

They roam about without any fear.

Sarasa bhusurula baadhalu

It is only the righteous people who undergo troubles.

Brahmaneekamu baya neechula

bratukaaya nadigaakayi kalilo

Brahmamaina maatala nerchukoni

baragerayya                            (Sarasiruhanana)

Brahmanyam has disappeared. Brahmins have taken up the professions of the lower varnas. In this Kali Age, people  have learnt to talk bogus Vedanta and make a living.

We should carefully note this observation of Tyagaraja made over 150 years ago. It talks not just about the decline of Brahmins, but about the disappearance of the very ideal of Brahmaneeyam or Brahmanatvam. Seniors among us may recall that the Dravidian movement opposed the dominance of Brahmins in several professions; but more than that some of their leaders articulated the idea that they opposed not Brahmins but “Brahmaneeyam.” And this in the name of self-respect for the Tamils. If we see Kural, by which these people swear as the Tamilians’ gospel, this is what Valluvar says:

Marappinum ottu kolalaagum paarppaan

pirappozhukkam kunrak kedum.              134

The Veda, even if forgotten, can be learned again.

But once he gives up his discipline-by- birth, the Brahmin falls from his position for ever.

This is an interesting Kural. It shows that what is essential in a Brahmin is not Vedic learning but the conduct enjoined on him by birth ie Brahmaneeyam! Most Brahmins have now not only given up Vedic learning, but also the conduct! And they have had to take to all professions and go to work around the globe,including Brhahmin girls! No Brahmin mutt or Acharya has been able to stem this tide.Most Brahmins today are only learned in the books, that too  from secondary sources.

This is a phenomenon which requires to be studied from a socio-religious point of view. In fact,Brahmins are the victims.  This is the way the spirit of the age seems to assert itself. It is remarkable that Tyagaraja talked about it 150 years ago!

Incidentally, this kural occurs in the chapter on Rightness of Conduct ( 14.Ozhukkamudaimai.) I found that even when this chapter is included in school textbooks in Tamil Nad, this particular kural is deleted! It may be because it supports Brahmin orthodoxy and goes against the stand of the Dravidian parties! Satyameva Jayate! (Vaaymaiye Vellum- as it is written in the emblem of Tamil Nad govt!)

Kali maanavadhamula karyamul

kama matsaraadhula krutyamul

chalachittamuleni vaaripudu 

chaala Tyagaraja nutunito delupa   (Evaraina)

Are there no great people of firm mind, who can inform Rama worshipped by Tyagaraja, of the bad acts of the low people, and of the acts undertaken, prompted by lust , greed, etc? 

Kalinarulaku mahimalu

delipemi phalamanaleda

Did I not tell you that there was no use explaining your greatness to people of this Kali Age?

Daarasutukai dhanamulakaiyooru

Perulakai bahu pedda tanamukai

saareku bhakta vesamu konuvaariki

Tarakanama mahimalu

These people don the disguise of Bhaktas and act, for the sake of wife and children, for wealth, for name and fame. What is the use of telling them of your Taraka nama?

Kalilo maatala nerchukoni

kantalanu danayula brochutaku

silaatmudai paluka neratura            (Nenarunchi)

In this Kali age, I cannot ,(like others) learning some pleasing words, lead a life of hardened heart, just for the sake of serving my wife and children.

Sattaleni dinamulu vachchena

Kalilona pratama paadamulo

tali tandri guru guru bhaktiyu leka

palumaru dushkrutyam bonarppa-


Oh, the godless days, days without any essence have come!

Should it so happen that even in the first quarter of the Kali age ,days should come when without respect for mother, father, guru people indulge in evil deeds?

Kali purushudu natakamuna gatta 


Khala matamulane yagamulaku

me kaluga narula jesune            (Idi samayamura)

Kali Purusha has planned to enact a drama.

He will offer people as sacrificial goats  in the yajnas of the false religions which he has initiated. (Many false sects have arisen and people following them get destroyed, as the goats in sacrificial fire)

To escape from this, we need Divine grace.

Daya juda iti samayamura

Kali durmada gajaga Inakula Tilaka

O the star of the Surya vamsa! The one to control the masth-ful elephat of Kali! This is the ripe time for you to look at us with compassion!

Chakkaganu bhakti sastra vidula

chaalagani navvaru             (Sari jesi)

People make fun of those who are really learned in the bhakti sastras.

Ee kalinanu sarinchina heenajaati martyula

cheeekaku badaga darame            (paripurnakama)

How can I bear the troubles caused by the low class people who follow all the bad habits of the kali age?.

Tyagaraja is quite candid and explicit about the evils of Kali. Our scriptures are also quite plain and detailed while dealing with the problems of Kali. But for some reasons, our pravachanakartas do not deal with these portions fully or properly which is a pity. Kali represents a levelling down of standards everywhere- this is what we see in all spheres of life.
The only hope and solution is devotion to God so that problems can be solved at individual level. This is the solution offered by Tyagaraja.


The problems of modern life have been dealt with extensively by many thinkers and thoughtful writers. But these do not get coverage in the mainstream newspapers or magazines, nor do they form part of the subjects in the universities. So society , even so called educated people, are largely unaware of these insights and details. 

Rene Guenon was one of the earliest Western thinkers to point out the problems of the modern world. His book “The Crisis of the Modern World” was first published in French in 1927 and was translated by Arthur Osborne into English in 1942. The quotation in this piece is taken from this book.

Arthur Osborne was influenced by the ideas of Rene Guenon. Later  he became a follower of Ramana Maharshi and has 5 outstanding books related to him. The quotation given here is taken from his book: ‘The Rhythm of History’, first published in 1959.

To be continued…………………………