Friday, December 1, 2017

Zero Hour: The Last Avatar

    On this first day of the last month of the year, I am glad to share with you all the final post on this blog. Zero Hour, as am sure you all know, is that final moment of time when something momentous is about to happen. It also signals the final countdown and in both ways, this seems to me the perfect title for my last article in this series that quite fittingly deals with the Final Avatar of this Yuga - Kalki.

    I had started this blog six years ago, when there was so much data swirling in my head that I just had to share it with the world in one way or another. I started putting down my thoughts in an alphabetical order and consequently, you can find 26 articles on this blog right from A (Astronomy in Hinduism) to Y (Yuga of Misery) with this being the last one. I may start yet another series right from the beginning but for now, this is the final article in a long series of topics that touch upon various so called 'myths' from Indic traditions & try to decode them using different scientific disciplines. 

    Coming back to the topic, let us begin our exploration of the Final Avatar of Lord VishnuFor the uninitiated, let me quickly recount the Ten major incarnations, better known as the Dashavatar:

    1. Matsyathe Fish
    2. Kurmathe Turtle
    3. Varahthe Boar
    4. Narasimhathe Half-man/Half-lion being
    5. Vamanthe Dwarf
    6. ParashuramaRama with the axe
    7. RamaRamachandra, the ideal man
    8. Krishnathe Man-god
    9. Buddhathe Spiritual Master, and lastly,
    10. Kalki, expected to appear at the end of the Kali Yuga.

    While most of you may be familiar with the nine incarnations that have taken place till now, the subject of interest today is the tenth and the final Avatar who shall appear at the end of the current Kaliyug. Some of you may remember from the previous article the story of how Kali began but for those who do not, let me refresh your memory a bit to give a background for what's to follow.

    The Advent of Kali

    Shrimad Bhagavatam states that Kaliyug began on earth after Shri Krishna left the planet. While the god-incarnate walked this earth, darkness had no power and it is only after His departure to His abode Vaikunth that this current Age of Kali could begin.

    Krishna left the responsibility of civilization in the hands of the Pandavs and in due course it was the turn of Arjun's grandson Parikshit to become the ruler of the known world. One day when the new emperor was on his rounds about the kingdom, he encountered the demon Kali (NOT related to Ma Kaali in any way) as a richly attired goon who was beating an ox mercilessly.

    Parikshit stopped his chariot and immediately headed towards the spot but the man continued till three of the four legs of the poor animal were broken. Enraged by this display of barbarism when Parikshit lifted his sword to punish the brute, he fell down on his knees and begged to spare his life. He told the emperor that he was none other than Kali, the embodiment of Kaliyuga and his time on Earth had begun. In order to spread his rule, Kali had to break the pillars of Dharma that the ox represented and accordingly, he had destroyed three of his legs representing austerity, cleanliness and mercy.

    Parikshit knew he could not halt the progress of Kali but he could stop him from completely maiming Dharma. He allowed the demon to reside in FOUR places - gambling houses and taverns, people with unbridled sexual desires, slaughter-houses where innocent animals are killed and in riches and gold. It is believed that the very first thing that the demon did after getting clemency was to enter into Parikshit's crown thereby leading him to do an act that ultimately led to his death!

    I have heard from a lot of people that there is no concept of a devil in Hinduism but Kali appears to be a pretty good candidate! His truants are similar to that of the Satan of Christianity and Shaitan of Islam & we also encounter him in the Nal-Damyanti story in Mahabharat. King Nal is believed to have finally trapped him in the Vibhidak tree, whose fruit was used to create dice in ancient times. It is therefore no coincidence that the end of Dvapar Yuga was brought about by a game of dice made of that same tree played by the Kauravs and the Pandavs!

    Kalki - The Nemesis of Kali

    Now that we know what Kali stands for, it isn't hard to imagine why this Yug that is ruled by him is so miserable. We have discussed it in length in the previous post so here we shall stay focused on the deliverer from this dreaded Yuga - KALKI.

    The Kalki Puran descibes the astrological conjunctions that would occur at the time of Kalki's birth:

    The moon shall be in Dhanishtha nakshatra (Aquarius),
    Thus he will be wealthy, acclaimed and swift in action & thought.
    The Sun will be in Swati, the nakshatra of the sword.
    Jupiter will be in Purva Ashadha nakshatra (Sagittarius).
    The Ascendant Lord will also be in Sagittarius, giving him invincibility and early victory.
    Saturn will be exalted in Libra, providing a balance between justice and sword.
    Ketu, lord of horse-headed Ashwini, will be exalted in Scorpio,
    suggesting he will descend atop a great white steed.
    He shall come at a time when darkness is the order of the day, and he shall be the saviour to rid the world of its sufferings.

    Kalki Puran [1.2.15] predicts the date of his birth as the 12th day of the waxing moon in month of Madhav - 
    द्वादश्यां शुक्ल-पक्षस्य माधवे मासि माधवम्।
    जातं ददृशतुः पुत्रं पितरौ हृष्ट-मानसौ।।
    The Agni Puran [10.31] states -

    Towards the end of the Kali era, all people will be dastardly. 
    They will oppose the Vedas, become robbers and will be concerned only with wealth. 
    The disbelievers will then become kings and these kings will also become cannibals.
    Kalki will be born on earth as the son of Vishnuyasha. 
    He will take up arms to destroy the disbelievers. 
    It will then be time for the dawn of a new satya yuga, a golden period of righteousness.

    The Shrimad Bhagavatam [1.3.25] adds -

    शम्भल ग्राम मुख्यस्य ब्राह्मणस्य महात्मनः।
    भवने विष्णुयशसः कल्किः प्रादुर्भविष्यति॥

    Thereafter, at the conjunction of two Yugas,
    The Lord of the creation will take his birth as Kalki,
    And become the son of Vishnuyasha,
    At this time, the rulers of the earth will have degenerated into plunderers.

    The Last Avatar Arrives

    The Vishnu Puran [4.24] also mentions -

    When the practices taught in the Vedas have nearly ceased,
    and the close of the Kali age shall be nigh,
    a portion of that Divine Being who exists of His own spiritual nature,
    and who is the beginning and the end, who comprehends all,
    shall descend on earth, born in the family of Vishnuyasha,
    an eminent Brahmin of Shambhala,
    as Kalki, endowed with the eight superhuman faculties.

    So here for the first time, we have a mention of the PLACE where Kalki shall take birth that can perhaps help us unravel the mystery a little further. Let us explore this place a little more.

    Shambhala - the location of Kalki's Birth

    If you ask an ordinary Hindu about Shambhala, you would most likely be greeted with a blank stare. Hindu texts do not give a lot of information about this place, perhaps because they do not want to give out the location where the future savior shall be born. But for thousands of years, Buddhist texts have preserved the knowledge of Shambhala, a Utopian paradise, that is believed to be nestled somewhere high in the Himalayas.

    The Kalchakra Tantra of Tibetan Buddhism as well as the ancient scriptures of Zhang Zhung and the indigenous Bon religions of Tibet mention Shambhala as a pure land high in the mountains, that only those who have a pure heart can find. It is a place where people are immune to all types of suffering and where peace and wisdom thrive. It is such a pleasant coincidence that I began writing this article in Bhutan, one of the last remaining centers of Tibetan Budhhism!

    Shambhala, nestled high in the Himalayas

    Just like the Hindu texts mentioned above, Kalchakra also prophesies the gradual deterioration of mankind as materialism spreads its tentacles. When the barbarians are united under an evil king (Kali?) and there is nothing left to conquer, the last king of Shambhala shall emerge with a huge army in order to vanquish the dark forces and usher a new Golden Age. 

    Did you notice the similarities with the Hindu belief of Kalki? Let us delve a little deeper into them before returning to Hindu texts.

    Kalki in other religions

    There are a total of 32 kings mentioned in the Tibetan texts, the first seven of whom are called Dharma Rajas and the next 25 as Kalkis or Kulikas (Tibetan - Rigden). 

    The first of these 32 kings - Suchandra - is believed to have taken initiation from Buddha himself and the last one - Raudra Chakrin or Dakpo Khorlocen - would be the real focus of our attention as he corresponds to the Hindu concept of Kalki. The list implies that the last incarnation of Lord Vishnu would be born in a place that has been preparing for his arrival ever since the departure of his previous incarnation - Buddha!

    In fact, the Padma Purana [6.242.8-12] says that Kalki's father Vishnuyasha, shall be a re-incarnation of the FIRST MAN - Svayambhu Manu (You can read more about Manu, the father of Mankind, here Manu - The First Man). The story goes that Svayambhu Manu performed austerities at Naimish Aranya on the bank of  Gomati River, for acquiring the privilege of having Lord Vishnu as his son in three lifetimes. Thus, he appeared first as Dashrath (father of Shri Raam), then as Vasudev (father of Shri Krishna), and in the last boon shall appear as Vishnuyasha.

    While Hindu texts place the appearance of Kalki at the end of Kaliyug close to 4,27,000 years from now, according to Tibetan texts, the last Kalki shall arrive in the year 2424 CE to establish a planet-wide Golden Age.

    Kalki Rudra Chakrin - Dakpo Khorlocen

    We have already seen the prediction of Kalki in Vajrayana Buddhism let us now check what the other school of thought - the Mahayana Buddhism has to say about him. The Mahayana belief also mentions the coming of Buddha again in a future age as Maitreya Buddha and you see statues of the future Buddha at many places in the world including our very own Ladakh.

    Statue of Maitreya, the Future Buddha in Ladakh

    Even Chrisitianity has a similar concept of return of Christ on the Judgement Day when the world as we know it shall come to an end. The Book of Revelations [19.11-16 & 19.21] describe the coming of a horse-rider much like Kalki in quite vivid terms:

    And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse;
    and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True,
    and in righteousness he doth judge and make war.
    His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crown;
    and he had a name written, but no man knew but he him;
    And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood
    and his name is called the Word of God.
    And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses,
    clothed in fine linen, white and clean.
    And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations
    and he shall rule them with a rod of iron:
    and he tradeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God.
    And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written,
    And I saw the beast, and the kings of the earth, and their armies,
    gathered together to make war against him that sat on the horse, and aginst his army.

    A similar concept can also be found in Islam where Hazrath Mahdi is expected to return just before the judgement day to re-establish religion to its original glory.

    The Stage is set for Kalki

    The Kalki Puran mentions that Parshu-Raam, the 6th Avatar of Lord Vishnu, the hero of my second book, and a Chiranjeevi or Immortal, shall be the martial guru of Kalki! In verse [3.9.10] he tells his protege the following words:

    You have learned the art of discharging arrows from me,
    You will imbibe transcendental knowledge from Shukadeva Goswami,
    And you will be awarded a powerful weapon by Lord Shiva.
    Thereafter, you will marry Padma, from the island of Sinhala.
    Your mission is to re-establish Sanatan Dharma.

    Parshu-Raam, the future Guru of the Last Avatar

    It is quite apt since Parshu-Raam himself performed a similar function in a previous era and he would be perfectly suited to coach KALKI in the hard task that lays before him. Another one of the Seven Immortals  or Sapta-Chiranjeevi, Lord Hanuman, the incarnation of Shiva, shall also be assisting Kalki in his endeavor! Shrimad Bhagvatam states that Hanuman still resides in Kimpurush Varsha (modern Tibet) singing the glories of his Lord and this quite neatly fits with our theory of the Tibetan belief in Kalki since both the Savior and his helper shall arise from the same region! 

    Hanuman waits in the Himalayas to help Kalki in his fight against Evil

    Additional information on Kalki is found in the Ling Puran [40.50-92], the Brahmand Puran [ &], and the Vayu Puran [58.75-110]. Kalki shall wander over the planet without being seen by any living being. Then he will start His campaign in His thirty-second year and roam the earth for twenty years. 

    The Vishnu Puran [4.24] continues to explain his activities: 

    By His irresistible might he will destroy all the mlecchas and thieves, 
    and all whose minds are devoted to iniquity. 
    He will reestablish righteousness upon earth, 
    and the minds of those who live at the end of the Kali age shall be awakened, 
    and shall be as clear as crystal. 
    The men who are thus changed by virtue of that time shall be as the seeds of human beings, 
    and shall give birth to a race who will follow the laws of the Krita age [Satya-yuga], 
    As it is said, 'When the sun and moon, and the lunar asterism Tishya, 
    and the planet Jupiter, are in one mansion, 
    the Krita age shall return.

    Beginning of a New Golden Age

    Talking of the men who shall become the seeds of new civilization, Shrimad Bhagvatam [12.2.37-38] informs us that there are two persons who shall perform this task. 

    We mentioned them earlier when we were talkng about Parshu-Raam and they are - Devapi of the Chandravanshi or Lunar Dynasty and Maru, of the Solar or Suryavanshi Dynasty. These two dynasties have been at the forefront of human civilization since time immemorial and it shall again be their progenitors that usher in the golden age once again.

    They will be great kings and will help in the process of re-establishing the proper principles in society. They have lived through all four of the yugas and reside in the village of Kalapa which BTW is another connection with Tibetan Buddhism. At the beginning of Satyug, they will return to society and establish the eternal religion of humanity, Sanatan-dharma, and the institutions of Varna-Ashram Dharma.

    Well-planted gardens, sacrificial grounds, large tanks, Vedic schools and colleges, ponds and temples, will reappear. Vedic sacrifices will also begin to be performed at the appearance of the Krita age. Brahmins will be honest and good. Being devoted to asceticism, they will be wise sages. Kings shall rule virtuously. Every kind of crop will grow in every season. Men will devotedly practice charity, vows, and religious rites. 

    The cycle of Yugas shall continue its never-ending loop and the souls that have stayed true to god shall attain salvation. The Supreme Lord Vishnu shall once again help humanity establish Dharma and route out Evil, the way he has done multiple times before, bringing in prosperity or Lakshmi to the world. 

    I close this final article on this auspicious thought and hope to see you again in a new series in a new form where we can continue our journey once again just like the Yuga cycle.

    Let There be Peace & Prosperity in the world!

    Aum Shanti: Shanti: Shanti:

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