The four ages have four goals for humankind: artha, kama, dharma and moksha. Two of these goals are predominant in Kali Yuga: artha and kama. Artha means material wealth: money, property and land. Kama means desire. In this age, only these two goals are important and sadhana should be based on these two goals, not on any others. Today, even if you do something good, its goal will be artha and kama. You can perform the highest penance, do kundalini sadhana, say prayers, do tantra sadhana or do Vaishnava sadhana; the goal will be artha and kama. Even if you wish to see God, the goal will remain the same. In this age of artha and kama you can perform only two sadhanas: helping others and chanting God’s name. These are practical ways; not everything is practical. In Kali Yuga, do not even talk of things like liberation. It will remain purely theoretical, like a lecture on water in a desert. Chant God’s name, whether with a mala or with the breath, spoken or written, whether it is Rama’s name or Om Namah Shivaya; it can be any name.
In Kali Yuga that is all a person can do. More than this is not possible. How long does a man live in this age? By the time he approaches forty years, his hair begins to grey. A lot of people visit doctors right from childhood; they are prone to sicknesses. Our genetic makeup has become weak. Earlier, people used to live for a hundred to two hundred years. Until the age of fifty, they would fulfiltheir desires. Now, even the enjoyment is not complete.
Therefore, during these times it is necessary to do only what is possible and practical, and the only practical thing is to chant God’s name in the morning, afternoon, evening and night, for half an hour or fifteenminutes, and do something good for others. This does not mean securing a benefitfor a relative. Helping those in need and those who are suffering is called being altruistic. Apart from these two things, forget about everything else. If you have the time, read the Bhagavad Gita, the Ramayanaand the Srimad Bhagavatam. In this age, only these two things are practical, and nothing else.
—22 September 1997