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THE IMMORAL QUALITIES OF PEOPLE
The qualities of the people who live in Kali-yuga are described in many Puranas. For example, the Vidyeshvarasamhita of the Shiva Purana (1.12-37) explains that at the beginning of the terrible age of Kali-yuga men will start becoming devoid of good qualities. They will engage in evil ways and fall away from the truthful vocations. They will covet other men's wealth and wives and injure others for gain. They will be atheists and take the body to be the self. Thus, [thinking their body to be their real identity and providing pleasure for it the goal of life] they are slaves to lust. All classes of people will discard their duties and take to evil ways. Merchants will take to crooked means to earn money and will be notorious for cheating people. Women become inclined toward misbehavior, slight their husbands, and fearlessly pursue frivolous activities. Men and women will engage in flirtations and will be carried away by their desires and pursue illicit connections with paramours.
So Kali-yuga began 5,000 years ago and, of course, not everyone is exhibiting all of these symptoms. However, are any of these descriptions unfamiliar to us? I don't think so. Anyone can recognize these characteristics, symptoms of Kali-yuga, in many areas of life today. Look around. We can see more people catering to their sensual desires than ever. We also have to be more careful than ever of merchants, repairmen, and scam artists, who have developed newer ways of cheating people. We also see more people than ever who give up the responsibility of married life and raising the children they've brought in the world to go off and do something else. So the symptoms of Kali-yuga are very prominent and increasing. And we can recognize more of these symptoms and learn what is yet to happen in the descriptions that follow.
The Linga Purana (40.1-18) also contains many examples of what we will find in the character and qualities of the people who live in Kali-yuga. It relates that as the age of Kali unfolds, men will be motivated by the mode of ignorance and adopt deception. They will not hesitate to kill ascetics or devotees [those on the spiritual path who will be forced to flee the cities hundreds of years from now]. There will be constant carelessness, illness, hunger, fear, terrible droughts, quarrel, and opposition among different parts of the world. People will be sinful, irritable, narrow-minded, and will no longer consider the Vedic literature an authority. People will be greedy, wicked, and always lie. They will chase after evil desires. Killing of the fetus in the womb and murders of heroes and good men become prevalent. Also, during the Kali age, the earth yields substantial fruits in one area and famine in another. There will be no balance in anything.
The Vayu Purana (58.53-54) explains that people will be begging too much of one another. They will habitually eat meat. They will always use harsh words and will not be straightforward or free from jealousy. No one will return the help that, they receive. People will get emaciated and weak. They will indulge unhesitatingly in activities that cause their own downfall. And (58.58) the men will have unlikable consciousness and will keep their hair long and disheveled. The Kurma Purana (1.30.3,7, 15) also sheds some light on what to expect in the type of people that will become prominent in Kali-yuga. It states that bad subjects born in Kali-yuga are impious, liars, greedy, highly furious, and deficient in brilliance. The killing of the fetus and of meritorious men will become common practice among kings. There will be a prevalence of misery, shortness of life-span, exhaustion of physical bodies, the spread of disease and evil habits arising from the attachment to ways of irreligion.
The Brahmanda Purana (22.214.171.124-70) also explains that in Kali-yuga people become short-lived due to illness and constantly engage in narrations of their bodily troubles. Their bodies become short. Strength and beauty are reduced. The practice of killing children in the womb comes into vogue due to enmity.
The Narada Purana (1.41.22-88) also contains many predictions of what we will find in this age, many of which are similar to those described above. A few of the differences in the predictions are as follows: Due to the short life-span of people, they will not have time to learn much. As different lores and cultural knowledge diminish, unbalanced and wicked ways will increase. Not possessing much wealth, people will be vainglorious and will exhibit a false show of piety. They will be fond of boasting about themselves and decrying others. No one will be a true disciple, preceptor or teacher, son, father, wife, or husband. As Kali-yuga advances, even rich persons will become beggars. The Srimad-Bhagavatam (12.3.25) also states that in Kali-yuga people are predominantly greedy, ill-behaved, and without mercy. They are prone to engage in useless quarrels. They are unfortunate and obsessed with many material desires. Almost all people in this age will become like barbarians. It is also predicted that as the age of Kali progresses, people will be motivated for nothing more than sense enjoyment, evolving around eating, sleeping, and having sex. In this way, they will come to act, more or less, like a royal edition of animals. The Bhagavatam (12.3.30-31) explains that in the age of Kali there is a predominance of cheating, lying, sloth, sleepiness, intoxication, violence, depression, lamentation, delusion, and fear in the qualities of the population. Furthermore, because of these bad qualities, people will be shortsighted, unfortunate, gluttonous, full of lust, and overcome with poverty. The women will become unchaste, wandering from one man to another. The Vayu Purana (58.43) also confirms that in the age of Kali women will become unchaste and uninterested in religious affairs. They become fond of wine and meat. When Kali-yuga sets in, they resort to deceptive means. And (Bhagavatam. 12.2.6) beauty will be dependent on how people arrange their hair. [This would make it seem that there is not much else to work with in beautifying oneself, like make-up, beauty creams, and jewelry, during the time in which this prediction refers.]
The Mahanirvana Tantra (1.37-50) describes that men will be averse to religiosity, mad with pride, and unrestrained toward sinful acts. They will be lustful, cruel, harsh, deceitful, short-lived, and always sick and in poverty. In their attempt to fulfill their desires, they will engage in many perverted acts and habits that are detrimental to their body, health, and existence. Thus, harassed by disease and sorrow, they will be ugly, feeble, low, and mean. They will also be malicious, quarrelsome, depraved, cowardly, and shameless in seducing the wives of others. And (4.54) brothers and companions will strike one another over trifles. We can clearly see how the above-mentioned activities are going on right now and are on the rise. In any big city one of the most common causes of murder are quarrels between family members and friends over trifles, ridiculously simple problems. Other crimes are also caused by the lack of restraint people have toward sex, or attempts to seduce the wives and girlfriends of acquaintances, or stealing drugs and merchandise from others. The outcome of such activities often leads to quarrels, fights, domestic violence, and murders. This is all because, as it is stated, some people are becoming mad with pride and averse to basic moral principles.
The Vishnu Purana (Book Four, Chapter 24) goes on to say that people will substitute presumption for learning and (Book Four, Chapter 38) they will feel great pride over the most insignificant possessions. Everyone will be born a shudra [low-born laborers] or lower, and they will perform no Vedic ceremonies or worship. One reason why everyone is born a shudra is that in the age of Kali children are generally born by chance, without the performance of any purificatory process. The Vedic purificatory processes are known as samskaras, which begin from the time of the mother's pregnancy, or seed giving ceremony. These help give a clear consciousness to the parents and to the conception process so a highly evolved child may enter the womb. The Vedic process understands that the child that is conceived will reflect the consciousness of the parents at the time of conception. But now in Kali-yuga, people engage in sex whenever they have the urge, or even when they are intoxicated on drugs or alcohol, or angry, fearful, agitated, depressed, psychologically unbalanced, or worse. This paves the way for confused, angry or hostile children to enter the womb and take birth. Even healthy babies become deformed or mentally retarded due to the unhealthy or abominable habits of the mother. I have even seen a baby born with a broken leg because of the fights the parents would have while the mother was pregnant. This only multiplies the problems of society because when such children grow up, they generally produce more of the same kind of low-minded children, perpetuating these same problems. Thus, the population of the earth becomes increasingly problematic, and spiritually, morally, and intellectually retarded.
In the Bhagavata-Mahatmya (1.28-36) of the Padma Purana, the great sage Narada Muni gives another explanation of what kind of people will inhabit the earth in the age of Kali. He states that while visiting the holy places on this planet, he found no joy or peace of mind while the earth is assailed by the age of Kali. There is no truthfulness, purity of mind and body, compassion, or liberality toward the poor. The people are wretched and engaged only in filling their bellies. They continually lie among themselves. Out of greed, people sell their daughters. There are frequent quarrels between husbands and wives. Hermitages and places of pilgrimage are controlled by foreigners [non-Aryan neighbors and invaders of India] and many temples have been and will be destroyed by these wicked people. There are no yogis, no one who has attained spiritual perfection, no enlightened souls or anyone doing righteous deeds. All spiritual paths stand consumed by the wild fire of Kali-yuga. Brahmanas sell knowledge of the Vedas and women make their living by prostitution.
Narada Muni goes on to say (1.57-62) that in the age of Kali, righteous conduct, the path of spiritual progress, and all asceticism disappear. Roguery and evil deeds are so common that people are replicas of demons, such as Agha [as described in the Srimad-Bhagavatam]. In this age honest men are ignored and dejected. The unrighteous are overjoyed and dominant. Year after year this planet gradually becomes a burden for the Lord. No sign of good luck is to be seen. Such things as devotion to God, spiritual enlightenment, and detachment to sensual pleasures are neglected by men who are blinded by love for sense enjoyment. For some people, these descriptions may sound too negative, too dark. But, nonetheless, it shows the general pattern of events that will unfold in Kali-yuga. As people become more inclined toward material advancement and bodily pleasures, they will lose sight of their spiritual nature. Locked into this course of destiny, they will continue to increase their disregard for all spiritual authority and lose moral standards and piety, what to speak of social etiquette. Thus, life becomes more difficult and troublesome.