50 Characteristics of Kaliyuga
We are living in the age of Kaliyuga. Both the Mahabharata and Shrimad Bhagavatam give a vivid description of how things are like in Kaliyuga. Many of these things we can see happening around us and we ourselves are also guilty of indulging in many of these actions. The following is a list of features typical to Kaliyuga according to these two shastras:
1). People will not think twice before cutting down trees or destroying groves.
2). Everyone will eat the same kind of food (i.e. will lack discrimination in matters of food and food-habits).
3). Even though having the outward appearance of saints, people will indulge in trade and commercial activity.
4). During Kaliyuga a man will be friends only with his wife. A man will consider only those people to be his relatives who are related to him through his wife.
5). Whoever has money will be considered of noble birth and as having good qualities. The one who has power in his hands will be able steer the course of justice in his favor.
6). The one who lacks money and cannot bribe will be deprived of justice by the courts.
7). People will consider far-off water bodies as pilgrimage but neglect pilgrimages near to them (for example living with parents and serving them).
8). Brahmins will start performing the tasks which otherwise shudras are supposed to perform.
9). Brahmins will abstain from sacrifices and the study of Vedas.
10). People will stop making offerings to their ancestors.
11). Brahmins will start eating anything (i.e. they become indiscriminate in their food habits).
12). Men will have shorter life span and be feeble in strength. They will be weak in energy and valour.
13). During Kaliyuga, women will use their mouths for copulation.
14). Under the burden of excess taxation, householders will turn into robbers.
15). In ashramas, brahmacharis will indulge in evil conduct and pander to the desires of the world. The ashrams will be full of show-offs who are experts in the art of living off the food of others.
16). When Kaliyuga degenerates even further, people who follow Dharma are seen to have an ever smaller life.
17). People will sell goods with false weights. There will be a lot of deceit associated with trade.
18). Towards the end of Kaliyuga, the young one act like the old. The conduct that suits the young is seen in the old. The old will think like children and the young will have the intelligence of the old.
19). In Kaliyuga, people abbreviate the truth; because of this harm done to the truth, lifespans are shortened.
20). Brahmins, Kshatriyas and Vaishyas will beget children with each other, and become like shudras, devoid of austerities and truth.
21). Because of the shortage of cows, people will resort to drinking goat and sheep-milk.
22). In Kaliyuga, rules about what is to be eaten are transgressed.
23). Brahmins will not observe sacred vows but will criticize the Vedas. Deluded by logic they will give up worship and yajnas.
24). At the end of Kaliyuga, the world will be overtaken by mlechha conduct. There will be no rites and sacrifices. There will be unhappiness everywhere and no festivals will be celebrated.
25). Men will rob possessions of others, even that of widows.
26). Men will happily accept gifts given even by the evil.
27). When the end of Kaliyiga is near, the Kshatriyas will be the thorns of the world. They will not protect others.
28). No one will ask for a girl’s hand in marriage; no one will duly give away a girl in marriage. When Kaliyuga is fully ripe, men and women will choose their spouses themselves.
29). Kings, discontented with what they possess, will use every means possible to steal the property of others.
30). When kaliyuga is fully advanced, one hand will steal from the other.
31). Cowards will take pride in their bravery and the brave will be immersed in depression like cowards.
32). During the final stages of Kaliyuga, there will be no Brahmins, Kshatriyas or Vaishyas left. At the end of Kaliyuga the world will have only one varna.
33). Wives will not tend to their husbands. Men and women will eat whatever they wish.
34). People will adorn themselves with the marks of a sadhu, i.e. there will be profusion of fake sadhus.
35). (Cooked) food will be sold at all major thoroughfares (according to shastras selling of cooked food is a sin; this is because everyone has a right to food, whether he has money or not).
36). When Kaliyuga is fully advanced, each will act as he wishes (human rights).
37). Brahmins will be oppressed by Shudras and thus tormented the former will wander all over the earth looking for protection.
38). Shudras will expound on Dharma and the Brahmins will listen to their discourses and serve them. Everything in the world will be utterly upside down.
39). Discarding the gods, bones set into walls will be worshipped.
40). Men will be addicted to meat and liquor and will be weak in Dharma.
41). Rains will shower down at the wrong time.
42). Overcome by the burden of taxation, brahmins will flee in the ten directions.
43). Friends and relatives will act only out of love for wealth.
44). Women will be harsh and cruel in speech and will love to cry. They will not follow the words of their husbands.
45). Travelers in transit (guests) will ask for food and water but will not receive it. They will be refused shelter and will be forced to sleep on the roads.
46). People will leave their own countries and seek refuge in other countries, directions, regions, etc., and will roam around the world lamenting ‘Alas, father!’, ‘Alas, son.’
47). Mutual liking between the boy and girl, and not family pedigree or social status etc. will be criterion for selecting a spouse.
48). Cheating will be the order of the day in business relations.
49). Sexual skill will be the criterion for excellence in men and women.
50). The only mark of evil will be poverty.
51). The one who can make a great display (of his austerities, occult powers etc.) will be considered the greatest sadhu.
52). Brushing one’s hair and dressing up will be considered as substitute for bath.
53). The highest purpose of life will be to fill one’s belly.
54). Maintenance of one’s family will be looked upon as the highest skill.
55). Dharma will be followed to gain fame.
56). There will be no rule in becoming a king. Any Brahmin, Kshatriya, Vaishya or Shudra, depending on who is the most powerful at the time, will become the king. At that time, the rulers will be so greedy that there will not any difference between them and robbers.
57). Houses will be desolate because of the lack of chanting of Vedas and absence of guests.
References & Further Reading:
G. P. Bhatt & J. L. Shastri (Tr). The Bhagavata Purana (5 Volumes): Delhi 2002
Debroy, Bibek. The Mahabharata: Complete and Unabridged (Ten Volumes): Penguin India, 2015
Pandey, Pandit Ramnarayandutt Shastri. The Complete Mahabharata (The Only Edition with Sanskrit Text and Hindi Translation) – Six Volumes: Gita Press, Gorakhpur, 2017
Saraswati, Swami Akhandananda (Tr). Shrimad Bhagavata Purana (2 Volumes): Gorakhpur 2004