- promiscuity will increase everywhere and marriage will decline,
- lies will become the road to success,
- causes of devotion will be confined to physical well being of self,
- the only bond between sexes will be passion and the rites of marriage will cease,
- men will be terrified of death and fear scarcity,
- the wealthy will control men whose only interest is the gaining of wealth, however dishonestly,
- the earth will be valued for its treasures only,
- leaders will arise who are violent men who will seize the goods of their subjects,
- the ice caps will melt,
- oceans will rise,
- droughts will become normal and famine will prevail ...
Welcome to the Kali-yuga, the last of the four "Ages" set out in the ancient texts of the Vishnu Purana, which, according to the Hindu Calendar, we are currently living in. I first read this in the 1970s, and ever since the whole 'Climate Change' argument started, I have been wondering where I had heard or read the IPCC 'predictions' before. The rediscovery of the book, an otherwise amusing book which explores the world of predictions, prophecies and general 'doomsday' predictions is now long out of print I suspect, but some of the information in it can be found in the 1997 produced book "Predictions for the Millennium" published by Island Books (who I suspect are now out of business as well).
According to the Hindu text, this will be the shortest of the four 'ages' and though it will be troubled by violence, hardship, deceit and all things nasty (it is ruled by Kali, mother goddess and ruler of the night, and probably the nastiest of the Hindu goddesses), it is supposed to lead to 'rebirth' of a new and perfect world. This is a meme most prominently shared in Buddhist teaching which has a similar 'Great Year' (25,290 years) cycle in its holy books. I suppose it is a 'comfort' to know that the Kali-yuga is the shortest of the four 'ages', only a mere 2,500 years in length and we are now supposedly entering the final years.
Anyone else recognise the meme?
Certainly, we are able to recognise the breakdown indications in any given society as being among those listed in this and, it must be said, many other 'prophecies' in a wide range of scriptures from an equally wide range of religions. many Christian 'Pentecostalists' and scriptural literalists, argue that this is what the 'Revelations' is all about and put forward their case for a final 'doomsday' and the Second Coming from their interpretation of passages from that book - which, though it does not carry any of the Hindu or Buddhist imagery, is being interpreted in the light of their teaching. Does this prove all such religious books, philosophies or scriptures to be 'false' as some would claim?
In my view, no. What it does demonstrate is that ideas have been an interchangeable and influential currency across many cultures and across millennia. We can recognise strands of this and other 'Eastern Mystic' religious thinking in Greek philosophy, ancient Egyptian texts and in Hebrew writings - and in the Bible in spirit if not in concept. Even now it has currency in 'modern' writing and thinking. Take the current 'Climate Change' debate. Is it any surprise that the leader of the IPCC at the UN is from India? Even if he is not a Hindu, he will be familiar with their sacred texts, since some of this even crops up in the Quran, and in the Gnostic writings that provide a 'source' for much of that. Hence, if one reads the Vishnu Purana and the IPCC reports one can identify several parallels. Not least the fear of the melting ice caps and the rising seas. Then there is the emphasis on 'warming', increasing severity of storms, catastrophic events carrying off thousands of lives, famines, droughts and so on. The only difference is that the Hindu text says it is unstoppable, the IPCC says we can stop it.
Rereading this made me think about where else these (and a few other predictions) crop up today. Surprise, surprise, the same meme comes up in Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth, WWF and several more 'Green' proponents. It crops up in the ideologies promulgated by several left-wing political movements as well. Even some of the more radical evangelical Christian movements have eagerly espoused some of these, claiming 'it's in the Bible', which requires a bit of re-interpretation of some passages taken in isolation and out of context. The odd ones are the atheist figures who have taken it on, and I find some parallels among various humanist, secularist and 'New Age' neo-paganist utterances. I'm sure my friend Josephus will be able to suggest a few parallels from some of the fringes of Masonic offshoots from the 19th and early 20th Centuries.
So we have an ancient text which some would claim is 'validated' by the 'proof' that the 'Global Warming' is 'real', that the breakdown we think we see in our society is evidence of its accuracy. On the other hand we have those who will deny that they are influenced by any of this 'religious stuff' and only believe in the 'science' that proves it. OK, if that 'floats your boat' it's fine by me. From my perspective, the most interesting factor is to ask the question; Just how much of our current doomsday thinking on Climate Change, societal collapse, rising crime, poverty and political chicanery is coloured by 'something we heard' or 'something we read' at school, university or at points in between? How many of today's Doomsayers, are simply re-interpreting something they read in a religious text?
It seems to me that some things make more sense, and others less sense when reread after a gap of 40 years, and this book certainly is one of those. Today the Kali-yuga is dressed up as 'Catastrophic Global Warming/Climate Change' and we are told that if we do exactly as the IPCC and its Green supporters tell us, we will emerge into a 'new world' with a better future which looks remarkably like - you guessed it - the Krita-yuga of the Vishnu Purana.
Rereading this after forty years has been an amusing experience, partly because I have now recognised some things uttered by leading figures over that period that I am pretty sure they would deny come from this source. I've also recognised how some of my own thinking may have been influenced by some things I have read, experienced or been taught.
Perhaps the Ancient Greeks had a point. They believed humanity was here for the amusement of the gods ...