THE FOUR AGES OF MAN IN ALL RELIGIONS
Part one of this topic explored in great detail the four Ages of Mankind as described in the Vedic literature of ancient India. This post describes those same Aeons of Man as they are recorded in the other great religions of the world. Of them all, the Ancient Greek writers had most to say.
THE FOUR AGES in ANCIENT GREECE & ROME
Historians often find marked similarities between Ancient Greek and Ancient Indian myths and legends. This is certainly not by chance, and as growing evidence points to the westward migration of Indo-European language, we find many stories and Heroes of India finding their Hellenised equivalent in Greece. The concept of the cycle of ages and civilization is one of them.
The more systematic Greko-Roman sources for the legend of the Ages of the World are the accounts of Hesiod and Ovid. The Races of Hesiod are five, and the Ages of Ovid are, in principle, four, but some details in Ovid’s texts allow for more than four ages. In any case, the metaphor of the four metals mentioned by Hesiod (Gold, Silver, Bronze, and Iron) is also used by Ovid in the continuous part of his description of the ages of the world (Metamorphoses 1.89–150) which thus may be said to total four.
The sequence Gold–Silver–Bronze–Iron illustrates a process of decay in the course of which evil replaces good in all manifestations: peace turns into war, piety into impiety, justice into injustice, simplicity into greed, and spirituality into materialism. The history of man is thus seen as a process, not of improvement and progress, but of decadence and fall, which, however, might not be definitive: a new cycle is sometimes expected to begin after the end of the last age.
A SUMMARY OF THE ANCIENT GREKO-ROMAN AGES:
Hesiod’s ‘Five Ages’
The first extant account of the successive ages of humanity comes from the Greek poet Hesiod (between 750 and 650 BC), in his poem Works and Days (lines 109–201) His list is:
Golden Age – The Golden Age is the only age that falls within the rule of Cronus. Created by the immortals who live on Olympus, these humans were said to live among the gods, and freely mingled with them. Peace and harmony prevailed during this age. Humans did not have to work to feed themselves, for the earth provided food in abundance. They lived to a very old age but with a youthful appearance and eventually died peacefully. Their spirits live on as “guardians”. Plato in Cratylus (397e) recounts the golden race of men who came first. He clarifies that Hesiod did not mean men literally made of gold, but good and noble. He describes these men as guardians of mortals upon the earth.
Silver Age – The Silver Age and every age that follows fall within the rule of Cronus’s successor and son, Zeus. Men in the Silver age lived for one hundred years under the dominion of their mothers. They lived only a short time as grown adults, and spent that time in strife with one another. During this Age men refused to worship the gods and Zeus destroyed them for their impiety. After death, humans of this age became “blessed spirits” of the underworld.
Bronze Age – Men of the Bronze Age were hardened and tough, as war was their purpose and passion. Zeus created these humans out of the ash tree. Their armor was forged of bronze, as were their homes, and tools. The men of this Age were undone by their own violent ways and left no named spirits; instead, they dwell in the “dank house of Hades”. This Age came to an end with the flood of Deucalion.
Heroic Age – The Heroic Age is the one age that does not correspond with any metal. Thus by the Roman period this age is considered the beginning of the Iron age instead. It was the heroes of this Age who fought at Thebes and Troy. As It was the only age that improved somewhat from its predecessor, this race of humans died and went to Elysium.
Iron Age – Hesiod finds himself in the Iron Age. During this age humans live an existence of toil and misery. Children dishonor their parents, brother fights with brother and the social contract between guest and host (xenia) is forgotten. During this age might makes right, and bad men use lies to be thought good. At the height of this age, humans no longer feel shame or indignation at wrongdoing; babies will be born with gray hair and the gods will have completely forsaken humanity: “there will be no help against evil.”
Ovid’s ‘Four Ages’
The Roman poet Ovid (1st century BC – 1st century AD) tells a similar myth of Four Ages in Book 1.89–150 of the Metamorphoses. His account is similar to Hesiod’s with the exception that he omits the Heroic Age. Ovid emphasizes the justice and peace that defined the Golden Age. He adds that in this age, men did not yet know the art of navigation and therefore did not explore the larger world, no man had knowledge of any arts but pre agriculture. In the Silver Age, Jupiter introduces the seasons and men consequentially learn the art of agriculture and architecture. In the Bronze Age, Ovid writes, men were prone to warfare, but not impiety. Finally, in the Iron Age, men demarcate nations with boundaries; they learn the arts of navigation and mining; they are warlike, greedy and impious. Truth, modesty and loyalty are nowhere to be found.
DETAILS OF THE ANCIENT GREKO-ROMAN AGES (YUGAS):
THE GOLDEN AGE
Metamorphoses 1.89: Golden was that first age, which, with no one to compel, without a law, of its own will, kept faith and did the right. There was no fear of punishment, no threatening words were to be read on brazen tablets; no suppliant throng gazed fearfully upon its judge’s face; but without defenders lived secure. Not yet had the pine-tree, felled on its native mountains, descended thence into the watery plain to visit other lands; men knew no shores except their own. Not yet were cities begirt with steep moats; there were no trumpets of straight, no horns of curving brass, no swords or helmets. There was no need at all of armed men, for nations, secure from war’s alarms, passed the years in gentle ease. The earth herself, without compulsion, untouched by hoe or plowshare, of herself gave all things needful. And men, content with food which came with no one’s seeking, gathered the arbute fruit, strawberries from the mountain-sides, cornel-cherries, berries hanging thick upon the prickly bramble, and acorns fallen from the spreading tree of Jove. Then spring was everlasting, and gentle zephyrs with warm breath played with the flowers that sprang unplanted. Anon the earth, untilled, brought forth her stores of grain, and the fields, though unfallowed, grew white with the heavy, bearded wheat. Streams of milk and streams of sweet nectar flowed, and yellow honey was distilled from the verdant oak.
Metamorphoses 15.96: But that pristine age, which we have named the golden age, was blessed with the fruit of the trees and the herbs which the ground sends forth, nor did men defile their lips with blood. Then birds plied their wings in safety through the heaven, and the hare loitered all unafraid in the tilled fields, nor did its own guilelessness hang the fish upon the hook. All things were free from treacherous snares, fearing no guile and full of peace.
Amores 3.8.35: But when ancient Saturn had his kingdom in the sky, the deep earth held lucre all in its dark embrace. Copper and silver and gold and heavy iron he had hid away in the lower realms, and there was no massy metal. Yet better were his gifts—increase without the curved share, and fruits and honeys brought to light from the hollow oak. And no one broke the glebe with the strong share, no measurer marked the limit of the soil, they did not sweep the seas, stirring the waters with dipping oar; the shore in those days was the utmost path for man.
Fasti, 4.395: The bread of the first mortals consisted of the green herbs which the earth yielded without solicitation; and now they plucked the living grass from the turf, and now the tender leaves of tree tops furnished a feast.
The Golden Age is the reign of Cronos/Saturn, implying “the manner of life” under his rule (o epí Krónou Bíos, or Saturnia regna). This is the age of Right, Trust, Simplicity, Innocence, Peace, and Everlasting Spring. The gods have intercourse with men, and the Earth yields, without being forced, a diet necessarily vegetarian. The beasts are neither hunted nor forced; blood is not shed, not even among animals. There is no navigation, no mining, no laws, no judges, no war.
This is an illiterate age which enjoys the peace of mind that may derive from a submitted intellect. Consequently, the arts of this age could just be Speech, Music, and Gesture—the visual arts and the sciences requiring the sobriety, study, and calculation of later ages. In the Golden Age, the knowledge of man is one with his vision as the manifold impressions of the world are absorbed by simplicity and trust, both of which derive from innocence.
In the view of Plato, Virgil, and Ovid there were no seasons either (a form of timelessness), and the men of the Golden Age enjoyed an “Everlasting Spring”, the seasons being first established in the following age. Since there is no past, there is no history and no beginning. Man lives in the beginning, which is a perennial form of the past which for him appears as everlasting present. Accordingly, there are neither memory, nor myths nor religion. Yet the world being for him naturally sacred, he lives both myth and religion as immanent realities, and therefore ignores both evocation and invocation.
During the Golden Age, men lived from the earth which “unforced bare them fruit abundantly and without stint”. Consequently, “they dwelt in ease and peace upon their lands with many good things”(Hesiod, Works and Days 115). During this blessed period, “no creature was wild, nor did they eat one another, and there was no war among them, nor any strife whatsoever…”(Plato, Statesman 271e). And men did not “defile their lips with blood”(Ovid, Metamorphoses 15.96ff.).
First of all the deathless gods who dwell on Olympus made a golden race of mortal men who lived in the time of Cronos when he was reigning in heaven. And they lived like gods without sorrow of heart, remote and free from toil and grief: miserable age rested not on them; but with legs and arms never failing they made merry with feasting beyond the reach of all evils. When they died, it was as though they were overcome with sleep, and they had all good things; for the fruitful earth unforced bare them fruit abundantly and without stint. They dwelt in ease and peace upon their lands with many good things, rich in flocks and loved by the blessed gods.
But after the earth had covered this generation—they are called pure spirits dwelling on the earth, and are kindly, delivering from harm, and guardians of mortal men;  for they roam everywhere over the earth, clothed in mist and keep watch on judgements and cruel deeds, givers of wealth; for this royal right also they received.
Ovid suggests that a heavenly event—the dethronement of Cronos—brought this age to an end. Then a new generation was created—the men of the Silver Age—less noble than its predecessor.
Yet, as we read elsewhere (Apd.1.4.5; Hes.The.210)., the change of rule had been predicted, being written, so to speak, in the book of Fate. Consequently, the Golden Age should necessarily come to an end, and necessity must also apply if the Golden Age is just a phase in a cycle (Virgil, Eclogues 4.4; Hesiod,Works and Days, 174ff.). Necessity (Ananke) is the mother of the Moerae (Pla.Rep.617c.)—the three sisters deciding on human fate.
As we see from these Greek authors, the Vedic Age of Krita could hardly be more accurately described in the Greek language.
THE SILVER AGE
Metamorphoses 1.114: “After Saturn had been banished to the dark land of death, and the world was under the sway of Jove, the silver race came in, lower in the scale than gold, but of greater worth than yellow brass. Jove now shortened the bounds of the old-time spring, and through winter, summer, variable autumn, and brief spring completed the year in four seasons. Then first the parched air glared white with burning heat, and icicles hung down congealed by freezing winds. In that age men first sought the shelter of houses. Their homes had heretofore been caves, dense thickets, and branches bound together with bark. Then first the seeds of grain were planted in long furrows, and bullocks groaned beneath the heavy yoke.”
Fasti 4.400: “Afterwards the acorn became known; it was well when they had found the acorn, and the sturdy oak afforded a splendid affluence. Ceres was the first who invited man to better sustenance and exchanged acorns for more useful food. She forced bulls to yield their necks to the yoke; then for the first time did the upturned soil behold the sun. Copper was now held in esteem; iron ore still lay concealed; ah would that it had been hidden for ever! Ceres delights in peace” . Ceres (Demeter), says Ovid, comes during the Silver Age to assist man, and mining begins, revealing metals that should have remained hidden.
When the Silver Age begins, most of the gods have returned to heaven. But Justice (Astraea/Nike) is still on earth. Not that she was pleased: she reviled the men of the Silver Age and “yearned for the ways of the men of old” (Aratus, Phenomena 115)., but nevertheless she stayed until the Brazen Age dawned. There is no war in this age, and blood is not shed, but Justice predicts that the Silver men will breed a viler and warlike progeny.
Following Ovid(Metamorphoses 1.115), the creation of the seasons (which put an end to the Everlasting Spring of the Golden Age) could be regarded as the most important event of this age. Still there are no ships, but now toil has made its entrance, and man lives by the oxen and the plough (Aratus, Phenomena 110). It was Ceres (Demeter), says Ovid, who “forced bulls to yield their necks to the yoke” (Fasti 4.400). With the four seasons, a harsh climate arrives, forcing man to build houses for shelter.
In Georgics 1.125, Virgil apparently means that it is during this age that Jove created enmity between beasts and men, hiding from the latter the means of sustenance, including fire (just as Cronos had hidden copper, silver, gold, and iron during his rule—Amores 3.8.35). But before the rule of Zeus, men were “talking with the animals”, and all creatures learned from one another (Plato, Statesman 272c).
Also the Silver men were vegetarian, and knew not “hateful strife”, although the oxen and the plough appear in this age, which means that the earth must be forced to yield food: “Then first the seeds of grain were planted in long furrows, and bullocks groaned beneath the heavy yoke”. Nevertheless, they still lived a simple life, and ships did not yet bring their livelihood from afar.
Then they who dwell on Olympus made a second generation which was of silver and less noble by far. It was like the golden race neither in body nor in spirit. A child was brought up at his good mother’s side a hundred years, an utter simpleton, playing childishly in his own home. But when they were full grown and were come to the full measure of their prime, they lived only a little time and that in sorrow because of their foolishness, for they could not keep from sinning and from wronging one another, nor would they serve the immortals, nor sacrifice on the holy altars of the blessed ones as it is right for men to do wherever they dwell. Then Zeus the son of Cronos was angry and put them away, because they would not give honor to the blessed gods who live on Olympus.
But when earth had covered this generation also—they are called blessed spirits of the underworld by men, and, though they are of second order, yet honor attends them also.
THE BRONZE AGE
Metamorphoses 1.125: Next after this and third in order came the brazen race, of sterner disposition, and more ready to fly to arms, savage, but not yet impious.
Zeus the Father made a third generation of mortal men, a brazen race, sprung from ash-trees ; and it was in no way equal to the silver age, but was terrible and strong. They loved the lamentable works of Ares and deeds of violence; they ate no bread, but were hard of heart like adamant, fearful men. Great was their strength and unconquerable the arms which grew from their shoulders on their strong limbs. Their armor was of bronze, and their houses of bronze, and of bronze were their implements: there was no black iron. These were destroyed by their own hands and passed to the dank house of chill Hades, and left no name: terrible though they were, black Death seized them, and they left the bright light of the sun.
With the Race of Bronze arrive the eating of flesh, arms, and war (“the lamentable works of Ares”—as Hesiod puts it). Now Justice leaves the earth forever (Aratus). The most outstanding feature of the Race of Bronze is its warlike character. The Heroic Race only appears in Hesiod’s account. Although it was “nobler and more righteous”, they were nevertheless destroyed by wars (those of Thebes and Troy). Yet, some among the men of the Heroic Race did not perish for ever, and these now dwell in the Islands of the Blest, an oceanic place ruled by Cronos, who, in this manner, keeps the Golden Age alive for a limited number of happy heroes and heroines. Remarkably, this age arrests for some time mankind’s decline: a sort of Indian Summer in a Great Year.
The men of the Brazen Age, who replaced the Silver Race, were “the first to eat of the flesh of the ploughing-ox”(Ovid, Metamorphoses 1.120). And along with that novel custom, they also forged “the sword of the highwayman” (Aratus, Phenomena 130). It was then, says Aratus, that Justice, loathing that race, flew to Heaven where she still remains.
According to Hesiod, who denotes 5 ages, the Bronze Age is followed by the Heroic Age, which is like the second half of the Dvāpara Yuga, when the lust for domination of other kingdoms increases. There is conquest of the seas, and battles fought on distant shores, symbolised by the siege of Troy and the great Mahabharata War that transpired at the end of the yuga. In fact the shooting of Achilles in the heel is the Hellenised story of the shooting of Krishna in the heel after the heroic Mahabharata War. For Ovid, the Bronze age is followed by the Iron Age –
Metamorphoses 1.129: “The age of hard iron came last. Straightaway all evil burst forth into this age of baser vein: modesty and truth and faith fled the earth and in their place came tricks and plots and snares, violence and cursed love of gain. Men now spread sails to the winds, though the sailor as yet scarce knew them; and keels of pine which long had stood upon high mountain-sides, now leaped insolently over unknown waves. And the ground, which had hitherto been a common possession like the sunlight and the air, the careful surveyor now marked out with long-drawn boundary-line. Not only did men demand of the bounteous fields the crops and sustenance they owed, but they delved as well into the very bowels of the earth; and the wealth which the creator had hidden away and buried deep amidst the very Stygian shades, was brought to light, wealth that pricks men on to crime. And now baneful iron had come, and gold more baneful than iron; war came, which fights with both, and brandished in its bloody hands the clashing arms. Men lived on plunder. Guest was not safe from host, nor father-in-law from son-in-law; even among brothers ’twas rare to find affection. The husband longed for the death of his wife, she of her husband; murderous stepmothers brewed deadly poisons, and sons inquired into their fathers’ years before the time. Piety lay vanquished, and the maiden Astraea, last of the immortals, abandoned the blood-soaked earth.”
“When earth had covered this generation also, Zeus the son of Cronos made yet another, the fourth, upon the fruitful earth, which was nobler and more righteous, a god-like race of hero-men who are called demi-gods, the race before our own, throughout the boundless earth. Grim war and dread battle destroyed a part of them, some in the land of Cadmus at seven-gated Thebes when they fought for the flocks of Oedipus, and some, when it had brought them in ships over the great sea gulf to Troy for rich-haired Helen’s sake: there death’s end enshrouded a part of them. But to the others father Zeus the son of Cronos gave a living and an abode apart from men, and made them dwell at the ends of earth. And they live untouched by sorrow in the islands of the blessed along the shore of deep-swirling Ocean, happy heroes for whom the grain-giving earth bears honey-sweet fruit flourishing thrice a year, far from the deathless gods, and Cronos rules over them; for the father of men and gods released him from his bonds. And these last equally have honour and glory.”
When we remember the Greek religion is based on the remnants of Vedic scriptures, the wealth of peculiar tales of Zeus (Jove), Cronos, Cadmus, Astraea, Achilles, Ares, Ceres and Olympus can all be traced to the Purāṇas and Mahabharata. This topic is further discussed in my other blog pages.
THE IRON AGE
Thereafter, would that I were not among the men of the fifth generation (ie: the Iron Age) but either had died before or been born afterwards. For now truly is a race of iron, and men never rest from labour and sorrow by day, and from perishing by night; and the gods shall lay sore trouble upon them. But, notwithstanding, even these shall have some good mingled with their evils. And Zeus will destroy this race of mortal men also when they come to have grey hair on the temples at their birth. The father will not agree with his children, nor the children with their father, nor guest with his host, nor comrade with comrade; nor will brother be dear to brother as a foretime. Men will dishonour their parents as they grow quickly old, and will carp at them, chiding them with bitter words, hard-hearted they, not knowing the fear of the gods. They will not repay their aged parents the cost of their nurture, for might shall be their right: and one man will sack another’s city. There will be no favour for the man who keeps his oath or for the just or for the good; but rather men will praise the evil-doer and his violent dealing. Strength will be right, and reverence will cease to be; and the wicked will hurt the worthy man, speaking false words against him, and will swear an oath upon them. Envy, foul-mouthed, delighting in evil, with scowling face, will go along with wretched men one and all. And then Aidôs and Nemesis, with their sweet forms wrapped in white robes, will go from the wide-pathed earth and forsake mankind to join the company of the deathless gods: and bitter sorrows will be left for mortal men, and there will be no help against evil.
The Iron Age is our own, more so for Hesiod than for Ovid, whose texts open other possibilities. This is the last age, but beyond it there are other ages, most probably a new Golden Age. The Iron Age achieves the complete inversion of all features of the Golden Age; where there was freedom and ease, there is now slavery and toil. Piety turns into impiety, love into hate, peace into war. All evil qualities flourish like black flowers in a desolate landscape: ingratitude, violence, and envy work unhindered in a forsworn world. Men are dispossessed of honour: the wicked prevail over the worthy, and kinsman slays kinsman. “Labour and sorrow by day, and perishing by night”—that is how Hesiod summarizes the life of this Race. Aidôs (Reverence) leaves, and also Nemesis abandons the earth, which obviously means that the world is so utterly cursed that appropriate retribution and punishment for the wicked cannot be expected.
However, that is rather what will come: The nature or character of a given age remains the same from the beginning to the end with the exception of the Iron Age. As Jean-Pierre Vernant has pointed out (“Le mythe hésiodique des races. Sur en essai de mise au point”, in La Grèce ancienne p. 70. Seuil, 1990) a development may be observed within the Iron Age itself. Hesiod, though already living in the Age of Iron , refers to its future rather than to the times in which he lives:
“The father will not agree with his children” … “Men will dishonour their parents” … “There will be no favour for the man who keeps his oath” … “Strength will be right, and reverence will cease to be” … “there will be no help against evil”, etc.
This allows for a distinction between an Early and a Late Iron Age, full decay being first achieved in the latter phase.
The notion that killing animals is the preamble of war persisted in this later age: Having described the gifts with which nature blessed man, Erasmus of Rotterdam (1469–1536), wondering at man’s degeneration, believed that it must have been through many stages that man became the fierce creature he is today. … and that he, following the tradition inaugurated by Hesiod, believes that the moral qualities of man decay in the course of time, leading to a lawless and cruel existence. Similar steps are found in the account of Seneca, Hippolytus 525.
In Eclogues 4.4, Virgil indicates that the Iron Age may be succeeded by a new Golden Age. This cyclic notion is also found in Plato’s Statesman. But palingenesis—a rebirth of the ages or their cyclic recurrence—appears already in Hesiod (Works and Days, 174ff.), who, having been born during the cruel Iron Age, desires either to have died before that age or else to have been born afterwards. And this “afterwards”, we must deem it better than the Iron Age, or else Hesiod’s desire would be vain. That “afterwards” could be a new Golden Age, as Virgil suggests.
Creation and Destruction of the Races / Ages.
According to Hesiod, the races of mortal men are created by “the gods who dwell on Olympus” (Golden and Silver), or by Zeus (Brazen, Heroic, Iron). The Golden generation simply disappeared “covered by the earth”; the Silver Race was destroyed by Zeus because of their impiety; and the Brazen Race destroyed itself through war. Then one part of the Heroic Race was destroyed, also in war, but another part still lives in the Islands of the Blest, which are ruled by Cronos. Hesiod predicts that the Iron Race will also be destroyed by Zeus.
THE COSMIC CYCLE and RETURN OF THE GOLDEN AGE
Plato, 427–347 BC The Statesman 268e–274d:
“You have followed my account very well. No, the life about which you ask, when all the fruits of the earth sprang up of their own accord for men, did not belong at all to the present period of revolution, but this also belonged to the previous one. For then, in the beginning, God ruled and supervised the whole revolution, and so again, in the same way, all the parts of the universe were divided by regions among gods who ruled them, and, moreover, the animals were distributed by species and flocks among inferior deities as divine shepherds, each of whom was in all respects the independent guardian of the creatures under his own care, so that no creature was wild, nor did they eat one another, and there was no war among them, nor any strife whatsoever. To tell all the other consequences of such an order of the world would be an endless task. But the reason for the story of the spontaneous life of mankind is as follows: God himself was their shepherd, watching over them, just as man, being an animal of different and more divine nature than the rest, now tends the lower species of animals. And under his care there were no states, nor did men possess wives or children; for they all came to life again out of the earth, with no recollection of their former lives. So there were no states or families, but they had fruits in plenty from the trees and other plants, which the earth furnished them of its own accord, without help from agriculture. And they lived for the most part in the open air, without clothing or bedding; for the climate was tempered for their comfort, and the abundant grass that grew up out of the earth furnished them soft couches. That, Socrates, was the life of men in the reign of Cronos; but the life of the present age, which is said to be the age of Zeus, you know by your own experience. “
The description of the reign of Cronos [from 271d] coincides in general with other accounts. An important feature of this dialogue is the idea of recurrence exposed by the Stranger: the Ages belong to a cycle and will happen again. The harmonious life under the reign of Cronos is illustrated and emphasized by the friendly relation between men and beasts, made possible by a common language. At this time man understands the language of nature, whereas in later times the language of animals and of the earth must necessarily be perceived as nonsensical noise.
The generation ruled by Cronos was, in this account, earthborn (Autochthonous or “sons of the soil”), but other authors say otherwise. This is the reason why, explains Plato [272a], there were no families or states. This is not a beginning nor is this a first race, since these men had “no recollection of their former lives”. They had evidently lived before, and, as we read [269c], this phase forms part of a cosmic cycle.
During this time, says Plato [272a], the climate was temperate, which coincides with the everlasting spring of Ovid. Virgil (70–19 BC) Eclogues 4.4*: “Now is come the last age of the song of Cumae; the great line of the centuries begins anew.”
Now the Virgin returns, the reign of Saturn returns; now a new generation descends from heaven on high. Only do thou, pure Lucina, smile on the birth of the child, under whom the iron brood shall first cease, and a golden race spring up throughout the world.
As explained by H. Rushton Fairclough (translator of Virgil in the Loeb edition), the “song of Cumae” refers to the Sibylline books and the utterances of the Sibyl of Cumae. A prophecy contained in them established that a new cycle of the ages would begin after the Age of Iron had passed. In the Aeneid, the Sibyl of Cumae leads Aeneas to the Underworld, where he meets not only the souls of those who have lived but also of those who shall be born.
Then King Evander, founder of Rome’s citadel [says to Aeneas]: “In these woodlands the native Fauns and Nymphs once dwelt, and a race of men sprung from trunks of trees and hardy oak, who had no rule nor art of life, and knew not how to yoke the ox or to lay up stores, or to husband their gains; but tree-branches nurtured them and the huntsman’s savage fare. First from heavenly Olympus came Saturn, fleeing from the weapons of Jove and exiled from his lost realm. He gathered together the unruly race, scattered over mountain heights, and gave them laws, and chose that the land be called Latium, since in these borders he had found a safe hiding-place. Under his reign were the golden ages men tell of: in such perfect peace he ruled the nations; till little by little there crept in a race of worse sort and duller hue, the frenzy of war, and the passion for gain.
It was in such wise, I think, they lived whom the primal age produced, in friendly intercourse with gods. They had no blind love of gold; no sacred boundary-stone, judging between peoples, separated fields on the spreading plain; not yet did rash vessels plough the sea; each man knew only his native waters. Then cities were not surrounded with massive walls, set with many towers; no soldier applied his fierce hand to arms, nor did hurling engines burst through closed gates with heavy stones. Not yet did earth, suffering a master’s rule, endure the hard toil of the yoked ox; but the fields fruitful of themselves, fed nations who asked nothing more; the woods gave men their natural wealth, and shady caves afforded natural homes. Unholy passion for gain broke up this peaceful life, headlong wrath, and lust which sets men’s hearts aflame. Next came cruel thirst for power; the weaker was made the stronger’s prey, and might took the place of right. At first men fought with naked fists, next they turned stones and rough clubs to the use of arms. As yet there was no light cornel-shaft, tipped with tapering iron; no long, sharp-pointed sword hung at the side; no helmets crested with plumes gleamed from afar; rage furnished arms. Warlike Mars invented new modes of strife and thousand forms of death. From this source streams of blood stained all lands and the sea grew red. Then crime stalked unchecked through every home and no impious deed lacked precedent. Brother was slain by brother, father by the hand of son, husband lay dead by the sword of wife, and unnatural mothers destroyed their own offspring.
BUDDHISM and THE CYCLE OF AGES
Although this teaching of Buddhism is of lesser significance, the endless cycle of creation, expansion, contraction and destruction of the universe is mentioned in the text of the Brahmajala Sutta.
The Buddha, speaking to the monk Vasettha, a former Brahmin, said:
“At that period, Vasetha, there was just one mass of water, and all was darkness, blinding darkness. Neither moon nor sun appeared, no constellations or stars appeared, night and day were not yet distinguished, nor months and fortnights, nor years and seasons; there was no male and female, beings being reckoned just as beings. And sooner or later, after a very long period of time, savory earth spread itself over the waters where those beings were. It looked just like the skin that forms itself over hot milk as it cools. It was endowed with color, smell, and taste. It was the color of fine ghee or butter and it was very sweet, like pure wild honey.
“He recalls to mind his various temporary states in days gone by – one birth, or two or three or four or five births, 10 or 20, 30 or 50, a 100 or a 1,000 or a 100,000 births, through many cycles of cosmic contraction and cosmic expansion . . . Now there comes a time, when sooner or later, after the lapse of a long, long period of contraction, this world-system passes away. And when this happens beings have mostly been re-born in the World of Radiance, and there they dwell made of mind, feeding on joy, radiating light from themselves, traversing the air, dwelling in glory; and thus they remain for a long, long period of time. Now there comes also a time, friends, when sooner or later, this universe begins to re-evolve by expansion.” (The Buddha, Brahmajala Sutta, Digha Nikaya, Sutta Pitaka)
Although this text mimics the Vedic creation of Brahma and the continuous expansion and contraction of the universe, another text from the Digha Nikaya, The Aggañña Sutta, gives a much more detailed dscription of the degredation of mankind through the ages.
The Agganna Sutta is found in the Sutta-pitaka of the Pali Tipitika, It is the 27th sutta in the Digha Nikaya, the “collection of long discourses.” It is assumed to be a sutta (sermon) spoken by the historical Buddha and preserved through oral recitation until it was written, about the 1st century BCE.
Below, in condensed form, is the The Aggañña Sutta:
Thus I have heard — while the Buddha was staying at Savatthi, there were two Brahmins among the monks who wished to be admitted to the monastic sangha. One evening they saw the Buddha taking a walk. Eager to learn from him, they walked at his side.
The Buddha said, “You two are Brahmins, and now you are living among homeless mendicants of many backgrounds.
“When the cosmos comes to an end and contracts, and before a new cosmos begins, beings are mostly born in the Abhassara Brahmā world. These luminous beings live for a long time, feeding on nothing but delight. And while the cosmos has contracted, there are no suns or stars, planets or moons. In the last contraction, in time an earth formed, beautiful and fragrant and sweet to taste. Beings who tasted the earth began to crave it. They sat gorging themselves on the sweet earth, and their luminescence disappeared. The light that left their bodies became the moon and sun, and in this way, night and day were distinguished, and months, and years, and seasons.
“As the beings stuffed themselves with sweet earth, their bodies became coarser. Some of them were handsome, but others were ugly. The handsome ones despised the ugly ones and became arrogant, and as a result, the sweet earth disappeared. And they were all very sorry. Then a fungus, something like a mushroom, grew, and it was wonderfully sweet. So they began stuffing themselves again, and again their bodies grew coarser. And, again, the more handsome ones grew arrogant, and the fungus disappeared. After that, they found sweet creepers, with the same result.
“Then rice appeared in abundance. Whatever rice they took for a meal had grown again by the next meal, so there was always food for everyone. During this time their bodies developed sex organs, which led to lust. Those who engaged in sex were despised by the others, and they were driven out of the villages. But then the exiles built their own villages. The beings who had given in to lust grew lazy, and they decided to not gather rice at every meal. Instead, they would gather enough rice for two meals, or five, or sixteen. But the rice they were hoarding grew mold, and the rice in the fields stopped growing back as quickly. The rice shortages caused the beings to distrust each other, so they divided up the fields into separate properties.
“Eventually a man took a plot that belonged to another and lied about it. In this way, theft and lying were born. People who were angry with the man hit him with fists and sticks, and punishment was born. As these evil things arose, the beings decided to choose a leader who would make judgments and hand out punishments. This began the Kshatriyas, the caste of warriors and leaders. Others chose to put aside unwholesome things, and they built themselves leaf huts in the forest and engaged in meditation. But those that weren’t too good at meditation settled in villages and wrote books about religion, and these were the first Brahmins. Others became tradesmen, and this began the caste of Vaishyas or merchants. The last group became hunters, laborers, and servants, and these became the lowest caste of Sudras.
“Anyone from any caste might be virtuous or not. And anyone from any caste can walk the path and be liberated by insight, and such a person will attain Nirvana in this very life. Dharma is the best thing for everyone, in this life and the next. And he with wisdom and good conduct is best of gods and men.” …. and the two Brahmins rejoiced at these words.
“The Agganna Sutta”. About.com. December 23, 2013.
As we can see from these texts, the Vedic and Greek theme of increasing chaos and evil in the cycle of creation is evident. In the beginning there were luminous beings, feeding on joy, radiating light from themselves, traversing the air, dwelling in glory for a very very long time. In the next stage they existed on nectar from the earth, but ugliness and resentfulness make thgeir appearance. In the next stage they became very lusty and very lazy, and separate villages were created for these people. As lying, deceit, greed, theft, and other unwholesome things developed, punishments, laws and rulers became necessary. Finally, the people were divided into the four castes of brahmin, kshatriya, vaishyas, shudras and outcastes (like hunters), although anyone from any caste might be virtuous or not.
The Chinese Buddhist text Abhidharmakosha (4.12c. III) affords a few more details about the prophecy of four ages:
“The monks and stream-attainers will be strong in their union with Dharma for 500 years after the Blessed One’s Parinirvana. In the second 500 years they will be strong in meditation; in the third period of 500 years they will be strong in erudition. In the fourth 500-year period they will only be occupied with gift-giving. The final or fifth period of 500 years will see only fighting and reproving among the monks and followers. The pure Dharma will then become invisible.”
KALKI-CHAKRIN and THE GOLDEN AGE of MAITREYA BUDDHA
Tibetan Buddhism has much to say about the end of the dark age and the dawning of a new golden age. This is most notably described in the Kalacakra texts, containing the prophecy of the Kalki kings of Shambhala, and the rule of Maitreya Buddha in a new Golden Age.
The Tibetan Buddhist teachings describe the Kalachakra (Wheel of Time), which revolves in cycles like the Hindu yugas. According to the Maitreyavyankarna, Buddha will incarnate as Lord Maitreya (“The Buddha Who Returns”) at the end of the present cycle after major geological catastrophes have so changed the face of the planet that he can walk from continent to continent. During his reign, humanity will attain salvation, and even the gods will be liberated from their desires.
One passage of the Kālacakra (Śri Kālacakra I. 161) reads, “The Chakravartin shall come out at the end of the age, from Shambhala the city the gods fashioned on Mount Kailasa. He shall smite the barbarians (mlecchas) in battle with his own four-division army, on the entire surface of the earth.”
Shambhala is the name of a city and country ‘to the North’ where some of the original teachings of Tibetan Tantra are believed to have originated. In the final period of the cycle, when religion and morality will have degenerated and the earth grown colder, the city of Shambhala will be the only place on earth where the teachings of Buddha are preserved. As soon as the encroaching corruption of the surrounding world reaches the city walls, Raudra-Kalki, the god-king of Shambhala will ride out against the leader of the evil forces and slay him.
The concept of Shambhala plays an important role in Tibetan religious teachings, and has particular relevance in Tibetan mythology about the future. The Kalachakra prophesies the gradual deterioration of mankind as the ideology of materialism spreads over the earth. When the “barbarians” who follow this ideology are united under an evil king and think there is nothing left to conquer, the mists will lift to reveal the snowy mountains of Shambhala. The barbarians will attack Shambhala with a huge army equipped with terrible weapons. Then the king of Shambhala will emerge from Shambhala with a huge army to vanquish “dark forces” and usher in a worldwide Golden Age.
The seventh demonic monarch endowed with dark tamas will clearly be born in the city of Bhagadatta (Baghdad) in the land of Mecca, where the mighty, merciless structure of the mlecchas, that the demonic manifestation, lives in the world. They will kill camels, horses, and cattle, and cook the flesh together with blood. They cook calves with butter and spice, and rice mixed with vegetables, all at once on the fire. Where the men eat that together with dates, and where they drink birds’ eggs, that is the place of the Meccan demons.
At the end of the yuga, among those rulers of Shambala, in the orderly reckoning of twenty-five reigns, Raudra Kalki, the Lord of the Gods, saluted by the best of gods, shall appear in the lineage of Kalki. For sadhus his peaceful form shall be the giver of ultimate bliss, on the other hand, he shall be the nemesis for the entire assembly the of mlecchas. The great Chakrin will be mounted on a mountain horse, with an astra in his hand, and with the radiance of the sun, shall smite all the mleccha enemies.
The 25th king of Shambhala, will be Raudra Kalki or Raudra Chakrin, wielder of the terrible disk. This Raudra Kalki is Krishna himself.
At the time when hand (2) with age (4)* number (=24) of descendants have passed within the lineage of Kalki, the mleccha dharma will definitely be introduced from the land of Mecca. At that time when the vicious lord of the mlecchas, Krinmati, is holding sway, at the time of the Lord Raudra Kalki, saluted by the best of gods, a fierce battle will occur on the abode of the surface of the earth.
The great Kalki shall come out at the end of the yuga, from the city the devas fashioned on Kailasha Mountain. He shall smite the mlecchas in battle with his own four-division army, in a furious war raging on the entire surface of the earth. The fierce Rudra, the valiant Skanda and his brother Ganendra, and Hari as well, shall empower and accompany Kalki. The great gods Indra, Agni, Vāyu, Varuna, Yama and the awful goddess Nirriti will also join Kalki in the war. And so shall the mountain horses, the lords of elephants, the descendants of Manu in gold chariots, and their warriors with weapons in hand. The mighty lord of the monkeys Hanuman shall also join the fight with his hosts. The arrows of the great warriors on Kalki’s side will unobstructedly pierce what ever they aim at and thus rain havoc on the mlecchas.
Various asura-maras will come to the aid of the Meccan demons, but the arrows of Agni and Shanmukha, the nooses of Varuna and Ganapati, the immense vajra of Indra, and other weapons of the gods will destroy them and the mlecchas completely. Hanuman shall smash the great general of the mlecchas who will be riding a horse. Some the weapons used are described as: A waving wind-cloth and a post together with banners are fastened in one ocean–cornered platform. Men pull the machine from the back side, and it goes up from the earth by the rope. Rising up by the wind, it definitely goes in the sky above the fort on a crag. The fire-oil cast from that machine completely incinerates the mleccha army and the entire fort. Finally, the bearer of the wheel, Raudra Kalki smote the lord of the Meccan demons, Krinmati, with his astra and destroyed him for good.
Thus, the 25th Kalki king, Raudra-Kalki, with his huge army, will vanquish the Dark Forces, and will restore the dharma on earth. He will usher in a worldwide Golden Age, the age of the 5th Buddha, Maitreya, who will rule over the earth.
In Chapter 26 of Digha Nikaya, we are told:
“At that period, brethren, there will arise in the world an Exalted One named Maitreya, Fully Awakened, abounding in wisdom and goodness, happy, with knowledge of the worlds, unsurpassed as a guide to mortals willing to be led, a teacher for gods and men, an Exalted One, a Buddha, even as I am now. He, by himself, will thoroughly know and see, as it were face to face, this universe, with Its worlds of the spirits, Its Brahmas and Its Maras, and Its world of recluses and Brahmins, of princes and peoples, even as I now, by myself, thoroughly know and see them.”
In the sacred text Anagatavamsa, the sage Sariputta asked Buddha Arahant about the future Buddha, and was told:
“I am now the perfect Buddha; And there will be Maitreya too
Before this same auspicious aeon Runs to the end of its years.
The perfect Buddha, Maitreya, By name, supreme of men.”
On another occasion, Sariputta asked after Maitreya again, and the Buddha replied:
“At that time, the ocean will lose much of its water, and there will be much less of it than now. In consequence a world-ruler will have no difficulties in passing across it. India, this island of Jambu, will be quite flat everywhere, it will measure ten thousand leagues, and all men will have the privilege of living on it. It will have innumerable inhabitants, who will commit no crimes or evil deeds, but will take pleasure in doing good. Human beings are then without any blemishes, moral offenses are unknown among them, and they are full of zest and joy. Their bodies are very large and their skin has a fine hue. Their strength is quite extraordinary. Three kinds of illness only are known – people must relieve their bowels, they must eat, they must get old.
The Sanskrit text Maitreya-yākaraṇa (Maitreya Prophecy) asserts that gods, people and other beings will worship Maitreya and get rid of doubts, and flows of their affections will run out: “free from any misery, they will be able to cross the ocean of formation and will adhere to saintly life according to Maitreya’s teaching. They will no longer regard anything as belonging to them, and nothing will belong to them: neither gold or silver, nor house, nor close relatives. But they will have a saintly chaste life under Maitreya’s guidance. They will tear the net of passions, be able to fall into sacred trance, and have plenty of joy and happiness due to their pious life.”
Among events foreshadowing emergence of the last Buddha there are also termination of death, wars, famine, diseases, and dissemination of tolerance and love in the new society.
For 60,000 years Maitreya, the best of men, will preach the true Dharma, which is compassionate towards all living beings. And when he has disciplined in his true Dharma hundreds and hundreds of millions of living beings, then that leader will at last enter Nirvana. And after the great sage has entered Nirvana, his true Dharma still endured for another 10,000 years.
Once again, the prophecy of a divine Golden Age renewing the Earth, is described in a way very similar to the Indian Vedas and the ancient Greeks. It is no surprise to learn that Sikhism as well as Buddhism have adopted the prophecy of the Kalki Avatar.
KALKI AVATAR in SIKHISM
From the following extract, we can see that the Sikhs accepted the Hindu cosmology of the four yugas. These visions by the last Sikh Guru include the mention of Satya, Tretā and Kali yuga.
The vision of the Qalqi (Kalki) avatar has been recoded by Guru Gobind Singh (10th Sikh guru) in his writings Sri Dasam Granth (there also some who believe it is mentioned in Sarbloh Granth).
“When there is incest, inbreeding of castes- so no more caste, adultery, atheism, hatred toward religion, no more dharma (righteous/religion),too much sin everywhere, the impossible Iron Age has come; in what way the world will be saved?` till the time they are not imbued in the love of the one Lord, up to that time there will be no safety from the impact of the Iron Age”.
“Wherever you see, there are only people committing wicked deeds and no one who accepts religion is seen.”
“For the protection of the helpless and suffering humanity the Lord Himself will take some measure and He will manifest Himself as the Supreme Purusha; For the protection of the lowly and for ending the burden of the earth, the Lord will incarnate Himself. At the end of the Iron Age and by the very beginning of Satyuga, the Lord will incarnate Himself for the protection of the lowly, And will perform wonderful sports and in this way the incarnated Purusha will come for the destruction of the enemies.”
“For the destruction of the sins, he will be called the Kalki incarnation and mounting on a horse and taking the sword, he will destroy all; He will be glorious like a lion coming down from the mountain; the town of Shambhala will be very fortunate because the Lord will manifest Himself there. Seeing his unique form, the gods and other will feel shy; he will kill and reform the enemies and start a new religion in the Iron Age; All the saints will be redeemed and no one will suffer any agony. After killing the huge demons, he will cause his trumpet of victory to be sounded and killing thousands and crores of tyrants, he will spread his fame as Kalkii incarnation. The place where he will manifest Himself, the condition of dharma will begin there and the mass of sins will flee away. The Lord will get infuriated on seeing the pitiable plight of the talented Brahmins and taking out his sword, he will cause his horse to dance in the battlefield as a persistent warrior; He will conquer the great enemies, all will eulogise him on the earth. Sheshnaga, Indra, Shiva, Ganesha, Chandra, all of them will eulogise Him; the ganas, the ghosts, fiends, imps and fairies, all of them will hail Him; Nara, Narada, Kinnars, Yakshas etc. will play on their lyres in order to welcome him.”
“The sounds of drums will be heard; the tabors, the musical glasses, rababs and conches etc. will be played, And hearing the sounds of large and small, the enemies will become unconscious. He will look splendid with bow, arrows, quiver etc.; he will hold the lance and spear and his banners will wave; The Ganas, Yakshas, Nagas, Kinnars and all famous adepts will eulogise Him. He will kill in very great numbers using his sword, dagger, bow, quiver and armour; he will strike blows with his lance, mace, axe, spear, trident etc. and use his shield; In His fury, He will shower arrows in the war, glory to the town of Shambhala because the Lord will manifest Himself there. Seeing his powerful beauty and glory, the tyrants will flee like the leaves flying before the strong gust of wind; Wherever He will go, the dharma will increase and the sin will not be seen even on seeking” (Sri Dasam Granth 118-149)
While Sikhism’s ‘Sau Sakhi’ book was written later on of oral sayings by Guru Gobind Singh, this extract is written in English in the year 1873. The Sausakhis are accepted by some sects of Sikhism however not accepted/acknowledge or known about by the mainstream of Sikhs. Here is an extract about the Kalki avatar.
“The woman shall do full justice, hear, Seikh of Guru! the force of Seikhs and martyrs will remain till 1 000 years. All the Seikh women will love their servants The wives of Princes will become disobedient and unfaithful to their husbands. Fifty-nine years of the age of Ganges will remain to pass at that time. I will show displeasure till eight years, after which one of my martyr Seikhs will be born on earth and will reign over the kings up to Calcutta. The light of his glory will spread in the world and assuming the appearance of a Singh and being accompanied with his army he, the Daleep Singh will drive his elephant through the world. The Englishmen will first reign in Loodiana and will press his glory. Anxiety will prevail on the minds of all kings. All will pray for death. The beautiful women will fly to obtain wealth. The Khalsa will be much in distress at that time. The lamp (i. e. Daleep Singh) will shine in Khalsa. Daleep Singh will be the Emperor over all the kings.
When the Mohammedans will distress the people of Kashmir, a son will be born in the house of Vishen Dutt Brahman (Vishnu-yasas & Deva-dutta). He will be an incarnation of Deity and shall be called Kulgee (Kalki) Awtar. He will establish good customs in the world. He will be born in the Sunbhul (Shambhala) village. At that time 10,000 years of the Kuliyuga will pass away. He will thus be a Seikh of the Guru, in whom he shall believe and to whom he will make offerings of Karah Prashad. He will not eat Sheernee (special halal meat offering given). When he will become 12 years old, he will marry a woman named “Trikota.” He will kill Maleches or Mahammedans and will establish a strong religion. He will live for 55 years in the world. When they would like to snatch the wife of that Brahman, then he will show power. He will be like Parasurama, who lived in Tretāyuga. He will possess Brahma-glory, by the effect of which he will execute all his works. After this, the result of the devotions of Vishnu Shurnia will come to light. I have related the story before you in detail, my Seikh ! I will also be born in the house of a Brahman. Till that time my Sungat will be engaged in the service of Baital and assembly of Shaheeds or martyrs. They will take offerings from the brother of ” Ravan ” and will not take notice of Brahmins and Seikhs. I have revealed this secret about the future, whoever will read or hear it, will come to me. (Sau Sakhi 15th Sakhee)
The Sikhs, followers of 14th Century Guru Nanak, followed a religious tradition which combined elements of Hindu and Muslim theology, as a response to the Islamic invasion of the Punjab. They saw themselves as the upholders of Dharma in an age of war, rape, pillage and disunity. In the same way the Greeks and Buddhists incorporated the timeless tradition of the Purāṇas into their own religion, the Sikhs, descendants of the great warrior kings of Bharata (India), foresaw Lord Kalki appearing at the end of the yuga, to end all wars and usher in the age of Sikh Dharma, Satya Yuga.
NATIVE AMERICANS and THE CYCLE OF AGES
After examining the related traditions of the Vedas, the Greeks, the Buddhists, and the Sikhs, it may come as a surprise to learn that this idea of the cycle of four ages of declining virtue is found among the natives of Northern America. Since the exact same analogy of a bull representing virtue is losing one leg in each successive age, we cannot exclude the possibility of ancient Vedic Aryans migrating to, or teaching these tribes across the great salt ocean in times immemorial. We know that the Kings of Tretā and Dvāpara Yuga travelled the oceans, and called such far off lands “Dvipas” or islands of Bharata (the Earth), known as Barhina-dvipa, Kaseru-man or Bhādrakara in the puranic texts.
The Siouan Indians
Accounting to Siouan [Lakota] mythology, it is believed that at the beginning of the cycle a buffalo was placed at the West in order to hold back the waters. Every year this buffalo loses one hair, and every age he loses one leg. When all his hair and all four legs are gone, then the waters rush in again, and the cycle comes to an end.
A striking parallel to this myth is found in the Hindu tradition, where it is the bull Dharma (the divine law) who has four legs, each of which represents an age of the total cycle. During the course of these four ages (yugas), true spirituality becomes increasingly obscured, until the cycle (manvantara) closes with a catastrophe, after which the primordial spirituality is restored, and the cycle begins once again.
It is believed by both the American Indian and the Hindu that at the present time the buffalo or bull is on his last leg, and he is very nearly bald. Corresponding beliefs could be cited from many other traditions. (Rene Guenon, The Crisis of the Modern World.6)
Further south, the Central American peoples, going back to 2000 BC, had a cosmology involving five consecutive ages. The Mayans had astronomical calendars that repeated a long cycle of time, the universal cycle lasting 7885 years. They believed that the universe is destroyed and then recreated at the start of each universal cycle. This belief inspired a myriad of prophesies about the end of the world in December 2012, the end of the last Long Count Cycle.
The “creation date” for the last cycle that recently ended was 4 Ahaw and 8 Kumku. According to the most common conversion, this date was equivalent to August 11, 3114 BCE in the Gregorian calendar, a date previously noted to be the Mahabharata War that ended the previous Dvāpara Yuga. It is possible that the Dvāparan Aryans had sailed to Peru and Mexico as well as Africa and Europe to escape the ancient world war, while some native American peoples have legends saying similar things about their ancestors coming from ‘over the seas’. The deity Virococha and the Mayans, for example, are cognate with the Sanskrit terms Visvakarma and Mayadanava, known by the Aryans as mystic master builders who could travel anywhere in the world.
The Hopi, too, have a tradition of four successive worlds, which are both temporal ages and ontological levels. According to The Book of the Hopi by Frank Waters, the first world is Tokpela, the world of the first creation. (As the four ages progress, they become less like ontological levels and more like historical periods; we are moving from the pole of qualitative forma to that of quantitative materia).
THE GOLDEN AGE – Tokpela – perhaps to be identified with the paleolithic – the people live in peace with the animals and with each other. It is destroyed partly through the deceptions of Kato’ya, the handsome one, who is described as ‘a snake with a big head’, clearly analogous to the serpent in Genesis. (This is interesting, given that the Hopi are among the tribes least influenced by Christianity.) As the first world begins to degenerate, the chosen from among the people begin their migration; they follow a cloud by day and a star by night, just as the chosen people in Exodus follow a pillar of cloud and a pillar of fire. As Tokpela is destroyed by fire, they take refuge underground with the Ant People, who are analogous to the primordial earth-born ant-men of Greek myth, the myrmidons.
THE SILVER AGE – Next the people emerge from the underground world of the ants and enter the second world, Tokpa, Dark Midnight, whose mineral is qochasiva, silver. This is the Silver Age, apparently the neolithic, when handicrafts and village life are developed. The second world is destroyed by water and ice when the twins Poqanghoya and Palon- gawhoya, guardians of the poles, leave their stations and the earth flips over twice. The people again take refuge underground with the ants, and then emerge into the third world.
THE BRONZE AGE – The third world, Kuskurza, is related to the mineral palasiva, copper—a major constituent of bronze. So we are now in the Bronze Age. In Kuskurza the people overpopulate and use their reproductive power for evil—copper being identified, in traditional symbolism, with Venus, the erotic principle. They develop a high technology, live in cities, and fly on shields covered with hide called patuwvotas — strikingly similar to the flying vimanas described in the Hindu Purāṇas — which they use as engines of war. Kuskurza, like Atlantis, is destroyed by water; whole continents sink beneath the waves.
As the third world is about to end, Spider Woman – a figure who is something like the shekhinah of Sotuknang, the demiurge, the first created being, who in turn is the active energy of Tiowa, the Creator – tells the people to get inside of hollow reeds to escape from the flood. She later directs them to make these reeds into boats. She leads them in a migration over water, searching for the fourth world. During this migration, they send out birds for land, just as Noah did in Genesis, but no land is to be found.
THE IRON AGE – After stopping at a continent which was not their true destination, they arrive at the fourth world, called Tuwaqachi, the World Complete, where life is hard. This is the world we presently occupy. The mineral associated with the fourth world is the ‘mixed mineral’ sikyapala, analogous to the iron mixed with clay which composes the feet of the statue dreamt of by King Nebuchadnezzar in the Book of Daniel; so Tuwaqachi would seem to be the Iron Age. The Hopi myth implies that this world too will be destroyed by the abuse of reproductive power and high technology.
Here we can see again, through the convergence of Hinduism, Judeo-Christianity, Aristotle and the teachings of the Hopi and the Lakota Sioux, how traditional metaphysics, the science of eternal principles, is both primordial and universal.
The Aztec and Nahua Indians
The Aztec and other Nahua peoples believe the present world was preceded by four other cycles of creation and destruction. These five ages are primarily derived from the mythological, cosmological and eschatological beliefs and traditions of earlier cultures from central Mexico and the Mesoamerican region in general.
The central tenet was that there had been four worlds, or “Suns”, before the present universe. These earlier worlds and their inhabitants had been created, then destroyed by the catastrophic action of leading deity figures. The present world is the fifth sun, and the Aztec saw themselves as “the People of the Sun,” whose divine duty was to wage cosmic war in order to provide the sun with his tlaxcaltiliztli (“nourishment”). Without it, the sun would disappear from the heavens. Thus the welfare and the very survival of the universe depended upon the offerings of blood and hearts to the sun.
The Aztec and Nahui legend of the Five Ages is sumerised here:
Nahui-Ocelotl (Jaguar Sun) – Inhabitants were giants who were devoured by jaguars. The world was destroyed.
Nahui-Ehécatl (Wind Sun) – The people of the Earth grew less and less civilized and stopped showing proper honor to the gods, therefore they were transformed into monkeys. This world was destroyed by hurricanes.
Nahui-Quiahuitl (Rain Sun) – Wallowing in his own grief, he destroyed humanity by a rain of fire. Only birds survived (or inhabitants survived by becoming birds).
Nahui-Atl (Water Sun) – Crushed by lies, she flooded the world with tears of blood, turning the inhabitants into fish. A couple escaped but were transformed into dogs.
Nahui-Ollin (Earthquake Sun) – We are the inhabitants of this world. The gods must be satisfied with human and blood sacrifice. Otherwise, this world will be destroyed by earthquakes (or one large earthquake).
CHRISTIANITY and THE FOUR AGES
One night, Nebuchadnezzar awoke frightened by a dream. The king called for his magi to interpret the nightmare. This was standard procedure in a culture that placed a high importance on dreams and their meaning. However, he added an unprecedented requirement: “Tell me what my dream was and interpret it” (Daniel 2:5).
The dream featured a huge, glorious statue of a man. Its head was “made of pure gold, its chest and arms of silver, its belly and thighs of bronze, its legs of iron, its feet partly of iron and partly of baked clay” (Daniel 2:32-33). Then a rock cut “not by human hands” (Daniel 2:34) hit the foot of the statue, and the whole image “became like chaff on a threshing floor,” while the rock “became a huge mountain and filled the whole earth” (Daniel 2:35).
Daniel’s interpretation, given to him by God, explains that the statue represents a series of kingdoms, each less glorious than the one before, as indicated by the decreasing value of the metals. Daniel identifies Nebuchadnezzar as the head of gold, stating that God had given Nebuchadnezzar much power (Daniel 2:37-38). The next kingdom to arise will be inferior to Babylon, as will the next. “Finally, there will come a fourth kingdom, strong as iron. . . . It will crush and break all the others” (Daniel 2:40).
Finally, the feet of mixed clay and iron “will be a divided kingdom” (Daniel 2:41). During the time of this final world empire, the “rock” will smash them all to bits, a prediction that “God . . . will set up a kingdom that will never be destroyed” (Daniel 2:44). All previous earthly kingdoms will be brought to an end.
The Dream 2,500+ Years Later
The first four kingdoms have been identified as the Babylonian, Persian, Greek and Roman Empires. This identification has come from the workings of history matching further prophecies. Daniel already said that Babylon, specifically Nebuchadnezzar, was the head of gold (Daniel 2:38). Babylon fell to the kingdom of the Medes and the Persians (Daniel 5:26-31). Greece became the successor to the Medo-Persian Empire (Daniel 8:20-21; 10:20 – 11:14). The “iron” empire can only be Rome.
Opinions differ on the fifth empire. Many believe that the clay/iron empire is yet to come: the kingdom of the Antichrist will be a “revived Roman Empire.” We know, according to Revelation 17:12-13, that the Antichrist will lead a coalition of ten nations (the statue’s ten toes?). And we know that Christ will defeat the forces of the Antichrist (Revelation 17:14). After that, Jesus will set up His kingdom—the rock smashes the image—and the kingdoms of this world will “become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he will reign for ever and ever” (Revelation 11:15).
So although the kingdoms represented here all fall within the Kali Yuga, the theme of increasingly decadent periods remain, using the same analogy of the decreasing value of metals. Did Nebuchadnezzar receive a vision of the greater yuga cycle of 4 million years? It is quite possible. However, there is a much closer affinity with the Vedic cycle of ages when we consider the whole creation-redemption timeline of Christianity. This “once-off” linear representation of the four yugas has been retained by the other Semitic religions, and their linguistic predecessor Zoroastrianism.
FROM PARADISE TO THE APOCALYPSE – THE LINEAR MAHAYUGA
- GARDEN OF EDEN (GOLDEN AGE)
In this context, the Garden of Eden represents the time of the Golden Age, where mankind was pure and lived in paradise without disease, old age, endeavour for food, nor the need of possessions, laws or buildings.
At the time of creation, paradise touched the earth at the Garden of Eden. Various saints have had visions of heaven (2 Corinthians 12:2-4). The Orthodox concept of life in heaven is described in one of the prayers for the dead: “… a place of light, a place of green pasture, a place of repose, from whence all sickness, sorrow and sighing are fled away”.
“This mystery of blessed communion with God and all who are in Christ is beyond all understanding and description. Scripture speaks of it in images: life, light, peace, wedding feast, wine of the kingdom, the Father’s house, the heavenly Jerusalem, paradise: ‘no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man conceived, what God has prepared for those who love him’.”
That there will no longer be any separation between God and man. The believers themselves will exist in incorruptible, resurrected and new bodies; there will be no sickness, no death and no tears.
In the Hebrew Bible, Adam and Eve are depicted as walking around the Garden of Eden naked due to their innocence. Eden and its rivers may signify the real Jerusalem, the Temple of Solomon, or the Promised Land. It may also represent the divine garden on Zion, and the mountain of God, which was also Jerusalem.
And out of the ground made the Lord God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil. (Genesis 2:9)
(source: Wikipedia – Eden)
- THE EXPULSION (SILVER AGE)
In the typical Christian sense, Eden represents the Golden Age. The Silver Age would therefore correspond to the period between the expulsion from Eden and the Great Flood. Even though evil had begun in the world, Adam’s descendants generally kept God’s law and lived for 900 years, They worshiped The Lord with fire sacrifices of suitable animals (just like in India’s Tretā-yuga). “Now, the two brethren were pleased with different courses of life, for Abel, the younger, was a lover of righteousness, and, believing that God was present at all his actions, he excelled in virtue; and his employment was that of a shepherd.”
The account provided by First-century Jewish historian Flavius Josephus adds more: “Now this Seth, when he was brought up, and came to those years in which he could discern what was good, became a virtuous man; and as he was himself of an excellent character, so did he leave children behind him who imitated his virtues. All these proved to be of good dispositions. They also inhabited the same country without dissensions, and in a happy condition, without any misfortunes falling upon them, till they died.”
Enoch was the great-great-great-great-grandson of Adam. Genesis 5:22–24 says, “After he became the father of Methuselah, Enoch walked faithfully with God 300 years and had other sons and daughters. Altogether, Enoch lived a total of 365 years. Enoch walked faithfully with God; then he was no more, because God took him away.”
The Book of Enoch is one of the most important non-canonical apocryphal works, and probably had a huge influence on early Christian, particularly Gnostic, beliefs. Filled with hallucinatory visions of heaven and hell, angels and devils, Enoch introduced concepts such as fallen angels, the appearance of a Messiah, Resurrection, a Final Judgement, and a Heavenly Kingdom on Earth. Interspersed with this material are quasi-scientific digressions on calendrical systems, geography, cosmology, astronomy, and meteorology.
Though it is doudted the book of Enoch we have today was composed by the ancestor of Noah, since the biblical book of Jude quotes from Enoch and attributes the quotation to him (Jude 14), at least some prophecy must be truly attributable to the biblical Enoch of old.
We can see from the lifespan of these patriarchs that during the consecutive ages lifetimes reduced from 900 years, to 400 years, 200 years and 100 years of today. This is another clue of the Vedic Yuga, just as various personalities created by Brahma have dynasties that continue through both Manvantaras and whole Yugas. These dynasties and timescales are reflected in the King Lists of Sumer, Ancient Greece, The Bible, Ancient Persia and Kashmir, which all reach far back into so called “Mythological Times” when kings ruled for 50,000 years or so.
Antiquities of the Jews shows that each patriarch was in charge of the government, which meant they likely enforced God’s Law as civil laws. Josephus states that Seth’s children “continued to esteem God as the Lord of the universe” for seven generations “but in process of time they were perverted, and forsook the practices of their forefathers.” The evil-minded, represented by the descendants of Cain, on the other hand, lived in separate cities from the righteous descendants of Seth.
Knowledge and technology also rapidly increased in the so called “1,656” years from Creation to the Flood. Mankind built cities (4:17), had cattle ranches (vs. 20), composed and played music (vs. 21), and discovered metallurgy, including how to make alloys such as brass (vs. 22).
When man began to multiply on the face of the land and daughters were born to them, the sons of God saw that the daughters of man were attractive. And they took as their wives any they chose. Then the Lord said, “My Spirit shall not abide in man forever, for he is flesh: his days shall be 120 years.” The Nephilim (Giants) were on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of man and they bore children to them. These were the mighty men who were of old, the men of renown. (Genesis 6:1-22) For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark. (Matthew 24:38-39).
However, “The earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence” (Gen. 6:11). “But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord” (vs. 8). Eventually mankinds decline in worship and his sinful indulgences warranted the coming of the Deluge, which heralds in the next age.
Once again, centuries later, the way the Bible scribes summarise and condense the ancient Purāṇas lead to the description of the flood of Manu, or prayala, inserted between what would be the transition from Tretā Yuga to Dvāpara Yuga. No doubt legends of ice-age floods, Mesopotamian floods, the Atlantean/Dwarka flood and the flood of the saviour Manu all become united in the tales of Hebrew bards and scribes. Regardless, the second age, The Silver Age, is represented in the Old Testament by the chapters of Genesis between Eden and Noah, where on the Earth were ‘sons of God’, daughters of men, giants, great heroes, and the Righteous, who walked with God, while others, along with the introduction of evil, built cities, developed metallurgy, the sciences, astrology, magic and worshipped “other Gods”.
We are reminded of the ancient Greek Heroes who were born from the union of Gods and mortals, which themselves are the Vedic stories from India translated into western tongues. We are reminded of the 24 ft tall people with passion and intelligence that dwelt in Tretā Yuga. In Tretā yuga visitation by the Devas was achieved all the time by sacrificial rites.
- THE SON’S OF NOAH (BRONZE AGE)
The Biblical age of Patriarchs, from Noah to Peleg (the great great grandson of Shem) represent the symptoms of Dvāpara-yuga or the Bronze Age. There are many tribes of the Lord that populate the land, yet evil claims some descendants of Noah and creates heathen kingdoms that worship idols and perform human sacrifice. There are many great battles fought in the name of God, and battles to acquire a promised land or freedom from oppression. Bronze was used for weapons and utensils. The age was characterised by the Kingdoms of Sumer, Canaan, Egypt, Crete and the Indus, and their battles at the junction of the Dvāpara and Kali Ages (3500 – 2500 BC).
What is called the Table of Nations (Genesis 10) traces first the descendants of Japheth (Gen. 10:2-5), then the descendants of Ham (Gen. 10:6-20), and finally the descendants of Shem (Gen. 10:21-31). Among them, Ham’s grandson Nimrod stands out for his significance to the theology of work. Nimrod founds an empire of naked aggression based in Babylon. He is a tyrant, a mighty hunter to be feared, and most significantly a builder of cities (Gen. 10:8-12).
Shem’s son Asshur populates cities from Assyria to the Indus River (Jubilees 9:3) and lived at the city of Nineveh; while his subjects Assyrians, became the most fortunate nation, beyond others” (Flavius Josephus – Antiquities, i, vi, 4) and Elam his brother, claimed the land of Susa, east of the two rivers. Ham’s sons claimed Canaan and southern Turkey, while his grandson, Nimrod claimed Babylon in Shinar (Sumer).
Ashur, the father of Assyria, is associated with worship of the deity Ashur, for whom a temple was dedicated in the early capital city of Aššur – traditionally by an early Assyrian king named Ushpia in ca. the 21st century BC. It is highly likely that the city and indeed the Assyrian nation and people, were named in honour of this deity. Ashur symbolically holds a bow, sceptre and disc, and flies the winged carrier Garutma. This is none other than the Vedic deity Vishnu, who’s many Sanskrit names include “Ashura”. That same Vishnu deity is called Ahura Mazda by the Zoroastrian Persians to the east in Iran.
With Nimrod, the tyrannical city-builder, fresh in our memory, we come to the building of the tower of Babel (Gen. 11:1-9). Babel, like many cities in the ancient Near East is designed as a walled enclosure of a great temple or ziggurat, a mud-brick stair tower designed to reach to the realm of the gods. With such a tower, people could ascend to the gods, and the gods could descend to earth. Although God does not condemn this drive to reach the heavens, we see in it the self-aggrandizing ambition and escalating sin of pride that drives these people to begin building such a mighty tower. “Let us build ourselves a city, and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves; otherwise we shall be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth” (Gen. 11:4). What did they want? Fame. What did they fear? Being scattered without the security of numbers. The tower they envisioned building seemed huge to them, but the Genesis narrator smiles while telling us that it was so puny that God “came down to see the city and the tower” (Gen. 11:5). How different from the city of peace, order, and virtue that are God’s purposes for the world.
- AFTER THE TOWER OF BABEL (IRON AGE)
When all men were of one language, some of them built a high tower in Babylon:
“ Now the whole world had one language and a common speech. As people moved eastward, they found a plain in Shinar (Mesopotamia) and settled there. They said to each other, “Come, let’s make bricks and bake them thoroughly.” They used brick instead of stone, and tar for mortar. Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves; otherwise we will be scattered over the face of the whole earth.” But the Lord came down to see the city and the tower the people were building. The Lord said, “If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them. Come, let us go down and confuse their language so they will not understand each other.” So the Lord scattered them from there over all the earth, and they stopped building the city. That is why it was called Babel —because there the Lord confused the language of the whole world. From there the Lord scattered them over the face of the whole earth.” (Genesis 11:1-9)
“After Babel and the divisions of tongues, they were dispersed abroad, on account of their languages, and went out by colonies everywhere; and each colony took possession of that land which they lighted upon, and unto which God led them; so that the whole continent was filled with them, both the inland and maritime countries. There were some also who passed over the sea in ships, and inhabited the islands; and some of these nations do still retain the names which were given to them by their first founders; but some also have lost them” The Sybil (Josephus. Antiq. i. 5.)
Japheth’s descendants populated Greece and Europe; Ham’s descendants went into Egypt, Africa & Arabia; and Shem’s descendants from Turkey to China. From these three genealogies in Genesis 10, we discover where the tribal and national divisions of the old world developed.
In comparison to the Vedic cycle, this ‘scattering of the peoples’ marks the age of quarrel and confusion, called Kali yuga. During the time of Peleg (great great grandson of Shem) the ‘destruction of Babel’ the ‘confusion of tongues’ and the ‘division of the Earth’ took place. Tribes and kingdoms now spoke different languages and could no longer understand one another. Having entered verified history, we can now follow the dynasties of Egypt, Israel, Hittites, Greece, Assyria, Persia and India; who are attributed to the descendants of Mizraim, Peleg, Canaan, Javan, Asshur, Elam and Ophir respectively, from the Hebrew account. Wars and the acquisition of kingdoms continues for centuries, in Africa, Asia and Europe, with the Roman Empire, and the birth of Jesus (who’s disciples see a vision of the renovation of the world, the Second Coming at the end of Kali Yuga).
It remains mind-boggling to the fundamentalist Christian, as well as the biased westernised researchers, that practically all of recorded history is nothing but a tiny slice of the last age of mankind (Kali-yuga) from 3100 BC to the present. The Purāṇas emphasise that an Eden-like paradise existed almost 4 million years ago, with advanced cities appearing in Tretā yuga just over 2 million years ago.
- THE SECOND COMMING and THE NEW EARTH
Just as the Hindu, Buddhist, Greek and Mayan peoples expect the Golden Age after the dark age of Kali, the Abrahamic traditions have a final ‘End of Days’ and the ‘Great Renovation’. Striking similarities exist between the Biblical ‘Revelation of John’ and the predictions in the Purāṇas about the return of Vishnu as the saviour of the pious and punisher of the wicked. Though we have mentioned already the connection between Vishnu-Kalki, Buddha-Kalki and Jesus-Kalki, the remarkable similarities between Hindu and Christian ‘End of the Age’ are now examined.
According to the Vishnu Purāṇa, when the practices taught by the Vedas and the institutes of the law shall have ceased, and the close of the Kali age shall be nigh, a portion of that divine being who exists of his own spiritual nature in the character of Brahma, and who is the beginning and end, and who comprehends all things, shall descend upon earth: he will be born in the family of Vishnuyasas, an eminent Brahman of Shambhala village as Kalki, endowed with the eight superhuman faculties. By his superhuman might he shall destroy all the Mlechchas [foreign barbarians] and thieves, and all whose minds are devoted to iniquity. He will then re-establish righteousness on earth; and the minds of those who live at the end of the Kali age shall be pellucid as crystal. The men who are thus changed by virtue of that particular time shall be as the seed of human beings, and shall give birth to a race who shall follow the laws of the Krita age, or age of purity.
Kalki, as ‘a portion of that divine being who exists… as Brahma [the Creator]’ is obviously analogous, though not theologically equivalent, to Christ, the Son of God the Father. He is called ‘the beginning and the end’, which is precisely how Christ describes himself in Rev. 1:8. His re-establishment of righteousness on earth is like the new heaven and the new earth of chapter 21 of that book, and the minds ‘pellucid as crystal’ of those who live to see him suggest the Heavenly Jerusalem, whose ‘light was like a stone most precious, even like a jasper stone, clear as crystal’ (Rev. 21:11).
The height of the wall surrounding the Heavenly Jerusalem, measured by the angel in Rev. 21:17, is given as ‘an hundred forty- four cubits, the measure of a man, that is, of the angel.’ This is a direct reference to the ‘144,000 redeemed from the earth’ (Rev. 14:3), and indicates that the Heavenly Jerusalem is a projection of the ‘angelic’ essence of human form within the mind of God; the 144,000 redeemed are, as it were, the living bricks of that City. The 144,000, as well as the ‘24 elders’ of Rev. 4:4,10, suggest not so much a numerical collection of individuals as a deployment, on different planes of manifestation, of the human archetype, the seed of Man. (In Mark 4:16, human individuals themselves are compared to seeds.) ‘The men who are thus changed by virtue of that particular time’ who ‘shall be the seed of human beings’ are thus roughly analogous to the 24 elders and the 144,000 redeemed, as long as we understand ‘seed’ to refer to the subtle-plane prototype of the humanity of the next aeon, the new heaven and the new earth, not to the scattered survivors of a material catastrophe. And the idea that men shall be ‘changed’ clearly echoes 1Cor. 15:51-52, where St Paul says ‘we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump.’
The following is account of Kalki from the Bhagavata Purāṇa: “When the Kali age, whose career is so severe to the people, is well-nigh past, the Lord will appear in his divine form (consisting of Sattva alone)…. Lord Vishnu, the adored of the whole animate and inanimate creation, and the Soul of the universe, appears (in this world of matter) for protecting the virtue of the righteous and wiping out (the entire stock of) their Karma (and thereby liberating them). The Lord will appear under the name of Kalki in the house of the high-souled Vishnuyasa—the foremost Brahman of the village of Shambhala. Riding a fleet horse named Devadutta … and capable of subduing the wicked, the Lord of the universe, wielding… the eight divine powers… and possessed of (endless) virtues and matchless splendor, will traverse the globe on that swift horse and exterminate with His sword in tens of millions robbers wearing the insignia of royalty. Now when all the robbers are thus exterminated, the minds of the people of the cities and the countryside will become pure indeed because of their enjoying the breezes wafting the most sacred fragrance of pigments on the person of the Lord Vasudeva [ Kalki ]. With Lord Vasudeva, the embodiment of strength, in their heart their progeny will grow exceedingly strong. When the Lord Sri Hari, the Protector of Dharma, appears as Kalki, Satyayuga (the Golden Age) will prevail (once more)”
Kalki, ‘the rider on the white horse’, will have the universal function of closing this cycle of time and inaugurating the next, his descent is identified with the second advent of Christ, as described in the 19th chapter of Revelation:
“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. And his eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself. (19:11-12)
“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 treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. (19:15)
“And I saw the beast, and the kings of the earth, and their armies (i.e., the ‘tens of millions’ [of] robbers wearing the insignia of royalty) gathered together to make war against him that sat on the horse, and against his army. And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet that wrought miracles before him, with which he deceived them that had received the mark of the beast, and them that worshipped his image. These both were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone. And the remnant were slain with the sword of him that sat upon the horse, which proceeded out of his mouth: and all the fowls were filled with their flesh. (19:19-21)
“But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a loud noise, and the elements will be dissolved with fire, and the earth and everything that is done on it will be disclosed. Since all these things are to be dissolved in this way, what sort of persons ought you to be in leading lives of holiness and godliness, waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set ablaze and dissolved, and the elements will melt with fire? (2 Peter 3:10-12)”
Here we can see elements of the Vedic dissolution, the pralaya at the end of Brahma’s Day, or according to the Surya-siddhanta, at the end of every Manvantara. Because Christianity’s timeline is linear, it is not surprising that elements of the end of Mahayuga, Manvantara and Kalpa are all knitted together into one “End Times”.
Now that the Earth has been purged of evil, the Bible describes the coming Golden Age, the “New Earth and New Heaven”. Life here will be like the heaven of Satya-yuga, as well as the glorious cities of the Tretā-yuga. Not only will the wish-fulfilling trees “tree of life” be present, the ‘river of the water of life’ will also prevent death, disease, old age and misery. Everyone will be in God’s presence, animals will be at peace, and there will be beautiful gardens, but as this New Earth will be the equivalent of the Eternal Goloka and Vaikuntha of Hindu scriptures, there will also be a heavenly city – the New Jerusalem. In a way similar to Tretā-yuga on Earth, there will be farming, but without hard work, and beautiful houses will be built. The city will be like that of Lord Rama or Lord Krishna, ‘made of gold, brilliant, with precious jewels and crystals’. The city will be luminous and the citizens will have Siddhis like angels.
According to Jewish eschatology, the Golden Age or Gan of Eden, called the “Garden of Righteousness”. It has been created since the beginning of the world, and will appear gloriously at the end of time. The righteous dwelling there will enjoy the sight of the heavenly chariot carrying the throne of God. Each of the righteous will walk with God, who will lead them in a dance. Its Jewish and non-Jewish inhabitants are “clothed with garments of light and eternal life, and eat of the tree of life” (Enoch 58,3) near to God and His anointed ones.
The following Biblical quotes describes that new Golden Age on Earth, which is reminiscent of Satya-yuga …. and of God’s heavenly cities on Earth called Ayodhya and Dwarka.
Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,” for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!”
He said to me: “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To the thirsty I will give water without cost from the spring of the water of life. Those who are victorious will inherit all this, and I will be their God and they will be my children. “
This heaven on Earth is described in Isaiah 65:21-22 …’And they shall build houses, and inhabit them; and they shall plant vineyards, and eat the fruit of them. They shall not build, and another inhabit; they shall not plant, and another eat: for as the days of a tree are the days of my people, and mine elect shall long enjoy the work of their hands.’ … So we will build our own houses on the new earth and plant gardens and enjoy the work of our own hands. No longer will we have to work for others like we do now.
Isaiah 66:22-23 …’For as the new heavens and the new earth, which I will make, shall remain before me, saith the Lord, so shall your seed and your name remain. And it shall come to pass, that from one new moon to another, and from one sabbath to another, shall all flesh come to worship before me, saith the Lord.’ … So on the new earth we will go to the New Jerusalem every month (new moon) and every Sabbath day to worship God. We can understand going to worship God every week on the Sabbath day, but why every month also? Because there is a tree in the New Jerusalem, the tree of life, that will produce new fruit every month, and we will go to eat of that fruit … Revelation 22:2 …’In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.’
Will there be any animals on the new earth? Yes there will be … Isaiah 65:25 …’The wolf and the lamb shall feed together, and the lion shall eat straw like the bullock: and dust shall be the serpent’s meat. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain, saith the Lord.’ … We can see that on the new earth, the animals will dwell together in peace.
2 Peter 3:13 …’Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness.’ Life on the new earth will be glorious. No more pain, no more tears or sorrow, because we will be immortal. We will have a beautiful new earth to explore and build homes and gardens upon, and we will long enjoy the work of our own hands. Then there is the New Jerusalem where God’s throne, and the throne of Christ Jesus will be. We will go to the New Jerusalem every week and month to worship God and Jesus. There will be no night time in the New City because God will lighten it Himself with His presence … Revelation 22:5 …’And there shall be no night there; and they need no candle, neither light of the sun; for the Lord God giveth them light: and they shall reign for ever and ever.’
We will be made like the angels … Luke 20:36 …’Neither can they die any more: for they are equal unto the angels.’… Now, being an Angel is rather like having all eight Siddhis, just like in Satya-yuga. Next, the heavenly city is described in Revelation:
“One of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues came and said to me, “Come, I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb.” And he carried me away in the Spirit to a mountain great and high, and showed me the Holy City, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God. It shone with the glory of God, and its brilliance was like that of a very precious jewel, like a jasper, clear as crystal. It had a great, high wall with twelve gates, and with twelve angels at the gates.
The angel who talked with me had a measuring rod of gold to measure the city, its gates and its walls …. the wall was made of jasper, and the city of pure gold, as pure as glass. The foundations of the city walls were decorated with every kind of precious stone. The first foundation was jasper, the second sapphire, the third agate, the fourth emerald, the fifth onyx, the sixth ruby, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth turquoise, the eleventh jacinth, and the twelfth amethyst. The twelve gates were twelve pearls, each gate made of a single pearl. The great street of the city was of gold, as pure as transparent glass.
I did not see a temple in the city, because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp. The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their splendor into it. On no day will its gates ever be shut, for there will be no night there. The glory and honor of the nations will be brought into it. Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful.”
In John 14:2-3 we read, “In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.”
Compare this to the description in the Purāṇas of Lord Krishna’s heavenly city of Dwarka: “he saw many golden palaces, assembly halls, fortresses and crossroads. It had great arches, and wonderful coloured domes, all made of jewels. The inhabitants were extremely beautiful, happy and full of opulence as they strolled along the wide pathways and beautiful gardens. The palaces were filled with jewels, comfortable beds and chairs, fans, awnings, canopies, archways, golden dishes and delicious food. Supporting the palace were coral pillars decoratively inlaid with vaidurya gems. Sapphires bedecked the walls, and the floors glowed with perpetual brilliance. In that palace were arranged canopies with hanging strands of pearls; there were also seats and beds fashioned of ivory and precious jewels. That glorious Dwarka, that Krishna brought from Vaikuntha, is more splendid than monsoon clouds glittering with lightning.”
Some Christian sects have quite a different interpretation of this one great cycle of ages. They believe in an age of pure existence even before Eden – a previous creation – the time of angels and sons of God. They take verses from Job to support this:
Job 38:4-7 “Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? declare, if thou hast understanding. Who hath laid the measures thereof, if thou knowest? or who hath stretched the line upon it? Whereupon are the foundations thereof fastened? or who laid the corner stone thereof ..”
Here God is asking Job where he was when He created the earth. This is something that they suggest happened many millions of years ago. “when the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy?” (I Peter 3:8) “But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.” They infer God is talking about the creation of the first earth age, when God destroyed the first earth age completely because of the rebellion of Satan and a third of His children. He did that with the first flood that covered the whole earth.
As we read in Isaiah 45:18, God created this earth to be inhabited. We all walked this earth in the first earth age when we were in our spiritualized bodies. This earth will never go away and heaven will be on this earth after the great white throne judgment of God.
“Thou coveredst it with the deep as with a garment: the waters stood above the mountains.
At Thy rebuke they fled; at the voice of Thy thunder they hasted away.” The word “hasted” means chaphaz (khaw-faz’); a primitive root; properly, to start up suddenly, i.e. (by implication) to hasten away, to fear. The sect takes this as evidence that this is talking about the flood of the first earth age and not Noah’s because in Noah’s flood the waters did not hast away. In Genesis chapter 8 we read it took the water in Noah’s flood months to dry up. In the first flood, God wanted the earth dry and it was dry, instantly.
In this variant Christian understanding, there was a previous creation of Earth, where all had luminous spiritual bodies, and each day with the Lord was like 1,000 years. When there was a rebellion by Satan, his angels and other sons of God, the Lord covered the deep with water, then hastened it away for the next creation, the Garden of Eden. In this model, Eden constitutes the second Earth, followed by the fall of Man – the third Earth – followed by another flood and the post-Babel division of the fourth Earth with confusion amongst the tribes. The final New Earth and New Heaven is the completion of the cycle back to paradise. Thus, another Semitic linear version of the Maha Yuga cycle.
SUMER and THE AGES OF MAN
The Sumerian legends describe an ancient “Antediluvian” time before the Great Flood. They also describe the Eden-like paradise called Dilmun, of the immortals, where sickness and death were unknown, the site at which the Creation occurred.
The Sumerian King list, appearing on several tablets, quotes a huge number of years for the rule of the first Antediluvian kings. Time was measured in ‘sars’ of 3,600 years, and ‘ners’ of 600 years. Thus, for example, King En-men-lu-ana ruled at Bad-tibira for 43,200 years, Dumuzud the Shepherd for 36,000 years, En-sipad-zid-ana for 28,000 years, En-men-dur-ana for 21,000, etc.
Thus, all the Kings before the great flood lived for such long periods, similar to latter Satya-yuga lifetimes by Vedic standards. The sar is exactly equal to ten years of the Devas. After the flood, the lifespan of rulers (First Dynasty of Kish) drops to that of 1,000 years, which is equal to Dvāpara Yuga (and Patriarchs of the Old Testament, like Noah).
It is at the end of the Kish Dynasty that we enter recorded history, around the start of Kali Yuga, about 2600 BCE. Similarly, with the Uruk Dynasty, Kings prior to Kali Yuga (around 3,100 BCE) also ruled up to 1,000 years, while those afterwards, like the famous King Gilgamesh, lived for 100 years or so.
Very little literature remains of the Sumerian culture, so these descriptions of Ages are very brief, however, many of the old stories become woven into both the Hebrew and Zoroastrian teachings of the ancient Persians.
ZOROASTRIANISM and THE FOUR AGES
Four ages of humanity
There are 4 ages according to Zoroastrianism, much like Hinduism’s 4 yugas, with the first being the most righteous of times in both religions and then as the ages succeed, they become worse than the preceding age. Finally in the last age, a godly figure arises and vanquishes the most evil people of the world. In Zoroastrianism, the messianic figure is Shaosyant, while in Hinduism it is Kālki.
Zoroastrian cosmology is seen as a cycle of 12,000 years, divided into four great periods, each thousand years of which is presided over by a Zodiacal sign. In the first great period, identified as “Spiritual Creation,” Angra Mainyu (or Āhriman) remains inactive. In the second, “Material Creation,” first atoms are created, then sky, water, earth, plants, animals, and finally humans, very suggestive of the modern theory of cosmogenesis and evolution. During this period, Angra Mainyu creates “demons” to oppose Spenta Mainyu, the fravashis voluntarily assisting in these creations, finally electing to be born as humans to overcome the effects of Angra Mainyu. During the third period, called the “Early Human Period,” Angra Mainyu is at first dominant, then partly overcome by the forces of goodness. The “Final Period” begins with the advent of Zarathustra Spit€ma and is said to end with the Day of Judgement at which time the forces of Ahura Mazda will triumph completely over Angra Mainyu (i.e., 2340 CE if one dates it from his birth at 660 BCE; 2471 CE if one dates it from his death at 583 BCE). Except for the very constricted time frame involved and the idea of a final Judgment Day, this is very similar to theosophical teachings. [2,897 CE by my calculation – or, as Zarathustra was born around 6000 BC the Theosophical date for the end was 3000BC! – which is also the end of Dvāpara -Yuga]
The Avesta claims that the 12,000 year Zoroastrian calendar is based on the Procession of the Zodiac, however we can also see a connection to the Vedic Caturyuga, the 12,000 God-year cycle of 4 ages. As time progresses through the ages, Druj (the Chaotic Principle or Evil) increases, until its defeat at the end by Asha (Truth and Order). Unlike the circular timeframe of the Vedas, Buddhists and Greeks, in the Middle-East traditions of Zoroastrianism, Judaism, Christianity & Islam the progression of time has became linear, with one ‘Creation’ and one ‘Apocalyptic Renovation’ lasting for eternity. Each of the following ages are said to last for 3,000 years.
1st Age: The Age of Creation – Ahura Mazda emanates the Amesha Spentas (“Bounteous Immortals”) that are each the representative of an aspect of Creation, who are then assisted by the creation of a league of lesser principles, the Yazatas. During this spiritual age, before creating the first man, creatures were unthinking, unmoving, and intangible.
2nd Age: The Age of Mixture – Creation of the first man and the first bull [viz; Dharma] who give birth to the first humans, animals and plants. The world was a peaceful paradise of flat pastures and constant daylight.
3rd Age: The Age of Separation – Evil invades the world in this age and attacks the bull (of Dharma) turning the world into a mountainous, violent place that is now divided into day and night.
4th Age: Battle of Good and Evil will last 3,000 years between the Yazata and the Daevas.
At the end of this age The Saviour, Saoshyant, will take birth and defeat the Evil Angra Mainyu, resulting in Frashokereti, which is the restoration of the Golden Age of God’s Glory.
The Frashokereti is the final making of the world perfect and immortal. It is a restoration of the Age of Creation, but there is no return to the uniqueness of the primordial plant, animal and human, as the variety that had since issued would remain forever. Similarly, the host of divinities brought into existence by Mazda continue to have distinct existences. Thereafter, humankind will become like the Amesha Spentas (Sapta-rishis), living without food, without hunger or thirst, and without weapons. The material substance of the bodies will be so light as to cast no shadow. All humanity will speak a single language and belong to a single nation without borders. All will share a single purpose and goal, joining with the divine for a perpetual exaltation of God’s glory.
[Taylor, Richard P. (2000), Death and Afterlife: A Cultural Encyclopedia, ABC-CLIO, p. 312].
The Zoroastrian text Bundahishn Ch34 “On the reckoning of the years” calculates 3,804 years of generations of Kings from the 3rd Age, from first King to the invasion of Islam in 651 CE. Adding another 1,366 years up to the present, we result in 5,170 years into this Age (a figure strikingly similar to the current year of Kali-Yuga – 5,120 years). So it seems we must have passed into the final age already “the 3,000 year battle” if the entire 12,000 year cycle has a remainder of only 880 years!
1. Time was for twelve thousand years; and it says in revelation, that three thousand years was the duration of the spiritual state, where the creatures were unthinking, unmoving, and intangible; and three thousand years was the duration of Gayomard, with the ox, in the world.
2. As this was six thousand years the series of millennium reigns of Cancer, Leo, and Virgo had elapsed, because it was six thousand years when the millennium reign came to Libra, the adversary rushed in, and Gayomard lived thirty years in tribulation”
(Bundahishn Ch34 “On the reckoning of the years” v1-2)
Dating the Zend-Avesta.
Plutarch estimated that Zoroaster lived 5,000 years before the Trojan War; the ancients believed that the date of the Trojan War was 1184 BCE (according to Eratosthenes’ estimations), which would make 6184 BCE a date consistent with Plutarch’s opinion. In the 3rd century CE, Diogenes Laertius, based on a claim of Xanthos of Lydia (a contemporary of Herodotus), places Zoroaster’s life 6,000 years before Xerxes’ military campaign against the Greeks, which took place in 480 BCE. Thus, according to Diogenes, 6480 BCE was the time when Zoroaster lived.
The Yasna is considered to be the oldest of the Avestan texts. Its language is Old Avestan (sometimes called Gathic Avestan), which is grammatically comparable to the language of the Indian text known as Rig Veda, since the languages of Persia and India belong to the same language family (the Indo-European Languages family). It is therefore believed that the Rig Veda and the Avesta are about the same age.
Considering the new evidence regarding the date of Rig Veda, ie; the geological dating of the disappearance of the Sarasvati river, we also find a date of 6,000 to 7,000 BC. We also find mention of Zarathustra and the ancient Iranian-North Indian battles in the 6th and 7th mandalas of the Rig Veda as well as the Persian Zend-Avesta, the same ancient history being recorded as hymns from the ‘opposing’ religions.
The division between the sons of Yayati – Puru and Druhu – the followers of Brighu and Angirasa, caused battles and division in religion between Vedic Bharata and Iran-Persia. This explains the similarities and differences in the teachings of Zarathustra and the Vedas.
We have seen from the texts of the ancient religions themselves, that this notion of four great ages of man, was common knowledge. We have seen the original descriptions graphically delineated in the Indian Vedas and Purāṇas. Some ancient traditions, like the Greek, Buddhist, Sikh and American Indians, have retained the cyclic nature of the ages, while the traditions of the middle-east, Zoroaster, Judaism, Christianity and Islam, have taken the cycle of ages to represent a linear timeline, from Creation, to the fall of mankind, to his final redemption in Paradise.
It is from the remarkable peculiarities of the ages that we realise an unseen familiarity and unity of the worlds religious traditions. Having been justified by every faith, we can understand the antiquity of the Vedic teachings. We conclude that the great Sages and Kings of Ancient Bharata, under the guidance of the One God, always rule the entire Earth during the Tretā and Dvāpara Yugas, and spread this eternal wisdom of the four ages, which comes from the Creator Himself, to every tribe and kingdom, millennium after millennium.
vinasaya ca duskrtam
sambhavami yuge yuge
“In order to deliver the pious and to annihilate the miscreants, as well as to reestablish the principles of religion, I advent Myself millennium after millennium.”
Sri Krishna’s declaration in “The Song of God” (Bhagavad Gita 4:8)
One important name for the ‘God of Gods’ is Hari, because it’s translation into many languages carries the meaning of the one Lord who is always Love, Heart, Attraction, Lord, Gold, Sun, Circle, Light, Halo and the Hawk. This is just one example of how the one ancient religion spread across the world at the dawn of Kali Yuga.
Copyright © 2017 Steve M. Doyle (Soolaba)