There are various theories of evolution. Some say that man is evolving. Darwin says man is evolving. Scientists and the Jaina thinkers say that man is evolving. Today it is said that man is progressing because, previously, our forefathers traveled by bullock cart and today they travel by supersonic jets; however there is also the theory of the Vedas.
According to vedic theory, this planet Earth began to take shape four to five billion years ago. The first batch of mankind upon the Earth was a little over one million years ago, not less than that. Today scientists agree with this, whereas previously, most of them thought that man was born only five thousand years ago. Now, after a lot of carbon testing, radio testing and other testing, they say that man was born more than one million years ago. They say that man was primitive, a cave man, who lived in the Iron Age and the Bronze Age. This cannot be found in the Vedas.
Vedic theory says that man was born with knowledge, and that knowledge is diminishing. As far as scientific and technological achievements are concerned, mankind is certainly progressing. It cannot be denied. Previously people used to fight with sticks, bows and arrows. Now they fight with missiles, rockets and bazookas.
Therefore, when speaking of evolution and progression, one can refer to the spiritual or the material culture.
The vedic theory says that, when man was born, it was in satya yuga, the age of satya, or truth. When man was born on this planet, he was not born as a primitive. He was born with knowledge. He was a very good man, and did not know how to tell lies or how to kill.
In the second era of the human being, treta yuga, deterioration began. Man began to learn to do mischief, not very much, but he started. This deterioration continued for a few hundred-thousand years.
In the third era of mankind, dwapara yuga, there was a further deterioration. Man started doing more mischief, like killing or cheating, the same wrong doing which is happening today.
Then man started doing nothing but mischief. He was more mischievous and less gentlemanly. This is called the kali yuga, the present era.
This era, according to vedic astrology, began five thousand years ago and will continue for another four or five hundred-thousand years.
As far as goodness is concerned, it is lessening, and at the end of kali yuga man will be capable of doing horrible things.
In the Shrimad Bhagavat or the Ramayana, it is said that people will become just like demons. They won’t have social awareness, but will be only concerned about themselves. For them there will be no difference between father and son, brother and sister, wife and daughter, all will be the same as long as their motives are fulfilled. They will become self-interested and self-indulging. They will become physically very weak, fragile and shorter in stature.
In the villages of India people make the following joke: “Do you know what will happen at the end of kali yuga, if you have to pick up a brinjal? You will have become so short, that you will have to use a ladder.”
Therefore, in the Vedas man is not described in terms of evolution or progression, but in terms of deterioration.
The Vedas have said that man was born with pristine glory. He was a very good man by nature, full of innocence and goodness. God was not a distant, far-flung reality; God was as near as wife or husband.
Today people don’t feel God like that. They speculate and have a belief, but they don’t feel. Man was so innocent that he could feel God. Whenever he wanted, he prayed to God, and God would be before him. But in the course of time, maya, ignorance and illusion, entered and man started to degenerate.
This degeneration is still taking place and not going to stop because mankind and animals are offsprings of nature, prakriti. Through the process of permutation, combination and quintuplication of the various cosmic forces, one is born, just like any other creature. However, the nature of prakriti is to change, and the change is not for the better, it is for the worse.
When you were born, you were a baby, but now you are growing older and older. If you say you have evolved, it may mean that you have greater experience and more understanding. But from the physical point of view, you are deteriorating. It is the law of nature. Any object: a human being, a piece of wood, anything that is born, stays, and then disintegrates. It is the same with the physical body and with mankind.
A statue made of wood will deteriorate, but is the statue degenerating, or is the wood degenerating? There are two points. The wood is degenerating, and as a result the statue is degenerating, because the statue is a product of wood. Similarly, you are the product of prakriti and, even if all the six million people in the world begin to purify themselves and try to become better, it is perfectly all right. Mankind is now old, and the original matter through which man was created – the gray matter, the physical body of genes, and so on – is old. When prakriti undergoes degeneration, it is going to affect the mind, body and one’s behaviour. This is the kali yuga.
At the end of every age there is a dissolution, but the age does not come to an end by itself. Nature compels one to bring about such a situation in which everything is destroyed. There are two important forms of destruction in relation to the Earth, not the whole universe.
One form of destruction is total collapse. That is, the great deluge when nothing of the Earth will remain and another planet will be formed. The other form of destruction is partial deluge, when there is a lot of fire and rain. The water levels increase, the lands and mountains are gradually submerged. Even Mount Everest becomes submerged. Ultimately, Earth will become just a water planet with no land to see. After a few hundred-thousand years when the rain stops, the water levels will gradually diminish, the mountains will rise again, the deserts will come up, the valleys will re-emerge and then again there will be life. Finally, the four yugas will follow each other again – satya, treta, dwapara and kali. At the end of another four ages, another deluge will take place and the whole process will repeat itself again.
This cycle will repeat itself twenty-four times, after which the Earth will collapse into pieces. After millions of years, a new planet will be born. These theories have been spoken about in very clear terms alongside astronomical calculations.
However, no one is going to live to see the enactment of these calculations, nor will the next generation. It is at the end of kali yuga that it will take place. At that time, I don’t think that mankind will be in a position to see the deluge occur. When people are completely soaked in ignorance, spiritual life does not exist. They are the only thing that exists. Not parents, children, or friends exist, only they exist, and the whole world is there for them. They have to enjoy it. The whole world is for their enjoyment.
People will have become so self-centred at that time that they will not realize that a deluge is going to take place. And if they do know, what will they be able to do about it?
At the end of every age there comes a man who completes this act of destruction. He tries to improve the situation. Rama came to check the degeneration at the end of treta yuga. Krishna came to check the degeneration at the end of dwapara yuga.
Christ, Buddha, Mohammed and many others came and tried to improve the situation in society and life, but what happened after Christ? Did Israel improve? After the advent of Mohammed, did the Arab world improve? No, there were genocides. After Buddha, did anything improve here? No, there were great wars.
When Rama came, there was a great war with Ravana. Millions died. When Krishna came, the Mahabharata war took place. Again millions died. Saviours come to save man from disaster, but ultimately disaster does take place.
Kalki will come to stop the degeneration, but he will not stop it, he will destroy. There comes a moment when one cannot eliminate dirt. It becomes so great that one has to eliminate everything. This is the vedic theory. Therefore, most Indians are not surprised at what is happening now, or at what is going to happen. They know it is going to happen because it has been said.
Time is the substance of nature. What is one month here on Earth is just one day and one night on the moon. Similarly, the satya yuga and the kali yuga may be four, five or six-hundred-thousand years, but in terms of cosmic language, it is not even a fraction of a second.
Time is a relative factor. Time is not absolute. What is twenty-four hours is only twenty-four hours on Earth, what is twenty-four hours or one month or one year or fifty years or one hundred years is experienced as such according to the earthly time chart, because that is how the body and mind are tuned; however, that is not the ultimate. Twenty-four hours does not mean one day.
For Brahma, the cosmic being, 500 million years may make just one day. For the cosmic being, the cosmic reality, it may be just one quarter of a day, or it may only be tea time for the cosmic reality. One has to understand the cosmos and relate it with the time factor. Time is not absolute, it is a relative factor.
This subject forms an interesting part of vedic astrology, astronomy and mythology. There is a vedic timetable or calendar, for the whole universe, or cosmic reality.
This Earth, where we are sitting, is the second half of the cosmic being. Eventually this Earth will be destroyed and again it will come into being. Again it will be destroyed and again it will come into being. Then again it will be destroyed and again it will come into being. Then it will be His evening. One time factor is individual time, and another is cosmic time.
But what is the relationship between cosmic time and individual time? In the cosmic being’s watch, one second will tick and one era will be gone, another second will tick and another era will be gone. It is counted as six thousand years, but he is watching it in seconds. This is not mythology, this is reality. Therefore, time has to be understood in cosmic parlance. In that case, existence on this planet of one hundred years does not even figure anywhere in his watch.
Many books discuss the relationship between time and object, time and event. When one goes back into time, where does one go? Where does time live? And who goes? It is the mind that goes back in time.
What is time – is it past, is it present or is it future? Man has given this nomenclature of past, present and future to time but, time has no past, present or future. How does one define time, philosophically as well as scientifically? Is time a flowing substance, a flowing process, or is time static?
These are some of the questions related to the stages of meditation because, when one enters samadhi, what happens to time? The mind exists in time. When one enters into samadhi, what is the relationship between the mind and time? Or, when one goes to sleep, what happens to time? And what is the relationship between time and the mind when one dies?
After death, when the soul leaves the body, to which side of time does it go? Backward or forward? Where in time does one go when one dies? If a mosquito has a watch, it would say, “My God! Twenty-four hours!” A mosquito’s total life is eleven days or so. Bholenath, my dog in the ashram, is ten years old from the human perspective, but what is his time? If Bholenath could talk, he would say, “I am old, sixty years – too much for me.” Time differs between dog and man, just as it does between mosquito and man. Time differs.
When there are more thieves, one makes better doors. When it is cold, one buys a new sweater. Similarly, when there is so much stress in society, one practices yoga and improves oneself in order to defend oneself from more stress. However, the ultimate aim is to improve the mind, concepts and ideals so one can use every bit of one’s resources to help others.
The greatest degeneration in relation to kali yuga is that people have become self-centred. Everything is for them only. This has to stop. Kali yuga is coming and it will grow. People may become horrible.
You should try to come out of this cage of yourself and project yourself into the suffering of others. There are people who need you. It is not only you who may need a sweater. I also need a sweater. It is not only you who needs shoes, I also need shoes. It is not only you who needs a loaf of bread, I too need a loaf of bread. You should take what you need, but others are also in need.
Become aware of the needs of others, whatever the need may be. If it is peace of mind give them yoga, if they are hungry give them bread, if they are sick give them medicine, if they are unhappy give them comfort – you have to learn how to give to others.
There is no other way. The only point of salvation in kali yuga is to live your life as you like, but to take care of others also. Don’t make yourself the centre, think about others. For this you should have expanded consciousness, expanded awareness and, through yoga, that can come about.
However, you are not ready to give yourselves for others. You are more aware of your discomfort, your hunger, your sickness, your pain and misfortune, than that of others.
In kali yuga, the only way is to think about others and, what you can do for them, you do it. If you give them a sweater it costs money. If you don’t have money, give them love, for love does not cost money. Council and comfort may also be their requirement.
This is the conclusion of my life. I have been thinking of and talking about it for many years. If I can live for others, I have fulfilled my life. I cannot influence kali yuga. No. But I can certainly improve the kali yuga in me.
Kali yuga is a universal force affecting everyone – Australians, Indians, Africans, British, and others. It is affecting the rich and the poor.
When there is winter, when there is cold, it is universal, it is everywhere. What can I do? I can put on an extra sweater to protect myself from the cold. In the same way, kali yuga is universal, it is everywhere, and the only thing that I can do is take the kali yuga out of me.
The only way to take the kali yuga out of myself is to become more aware of others than myself. The main attribute of kali yuga is selfishness. Only for me: the wife is for me, the son is for me, happiness is for me, money is for me, the king is for me, the queen is for me, the dog is for me, everything is for me. I am the centre. No. I am not the centre.
You are the centre and I am on the periphery. I have to be free from being the centre. I don’t want to be part of kali yuga. Kali yuga, winter and cold is everywhere. I don’t want to suffer in it. I will have a sweater for me and do whatever I can for others.
In every field you have to work for others, not for your name, not for your happiness, youth and future, not for your children and wife, but for others who do not belong to you, for strangers. Live for strangers and live the Christian gospel. You have to take the kali yuga out of you.
What is kali yuga? It is a very subtle force which is influencing the entire globe. Eradicate it from your life. It may give you happiness. It may also not give you happiness. There are people who have helped others and have suffered. You know the history. But it does not matter. Even if you suffer in order to make others happy, you will have made yourself free of kali yuga.
—23 November 1999, Rikhiapeeth