“The devotees of Rama who speak the truth, are pure in mind, and act without crookedness cannot be cheated by Kali Yuga, says Tulsi.” (Dohavali, 87)
satya bacana mānasa bimala kapaṭa rahita karatūti |
tulasī raghubara sēvakahi sakai na kalijuga dhūti ||87||
“Don’t follow this arranged marriage system. You should meet someone, get to know them, even live with them for a while. Then upon mutual understanding, with attraction on both sides, enter into marriage. If anything goes wrong, you can get divorced. This way you’re not stuck with someone you barely know. You’re not condemned for the rest of your life.”
“Why did I purchase this book written by the famous television star, you ask? I watched their program for so many years. They are such a nice person, it seems. They have gone through a lot in life. I’d like to know about their experiences. I think they are quite intelligent, actually. That’s the way things are now. We follow people who are famous. Who are you to say that it’s not a good thing to do?”
“Why are you afraid of the afterlife? Don’t you think that’s a little ridiculous? Do you really think that if you’re bad in this life you’ll be born as an ant or a cat in the next life? Seems a little silly to me. Don’t overcomplicate things. Live in the moment. You don’t know which breath will be your last, so make the most of your time. Life is short. You only live once, so enjoy it.”
Though there are variations, the above mindsets are representative of the effects of Kali Yuga, the present age in the timespan of the cycles of creation, population and destruction. Kali Yuga is the age of quarrel and hypocrisy. Have you ever talked to someone where it seems like their logic is completely off? They lie, cheat and steal and then get mad at others for reprimanding them. This is sort of how Kali Yuga works. Through the increased potency of the illusory energy known as maya, the otherwise intelligent living entities fall victim to false ideas, being led further astray in their quest for true happiness. Goswami Tulsidas gives the formula for gaining immunity from Kali’s effects.
kalāv asmin yuge janāḥ
manda-bhāgyā hy upadrutāḥ
“O learned one, in this iron age of Kali men have but short lives. They are quarrelsome, lazy, misguided, unlucky and, above all, always disturbed.” (Shrimad Bhagavatam, 1.1.10)
The characteristics of the age of Kali were predicted long ago. For documentary evidence, there is the sacred Shrimad Bhagavatam. It predicted that one day marriages would be based off mutual feelings in attachment, known as kama. One translation for kama is “lust.” Marriage is originally a spiritual institution, known as the grihastha-ashrama. It is a way to both curb the appetite for sex life and keep the family line going. If done for any other purpose, the marriage has no real significance. Straight up kama is for the animals, not the more intelligent human beings.
In Kali Yuga someone becomes respected simply because they are famous or earn a lot of money. It takes great skill to dramatically act out scripted lines and scenes, but this ability isn’t necessarily indicative of intelligence. The sports star is expert at cheating, at besting the opponents. The successful politician is good at making campaign promises and putting down the other candidates. But do such individuals know the difference between matter and spirit? Do they know that the spirit soul carries on, into the next life?
vāsāṁsi jīrṇāni yathā vihāya
navāni gṛhṇāti naro ‘parāṇi
tathā śarīrāṇi vihāya jīrṇāny
anyāni saṁyāti navāni dehī
“As a person puts on new garments, giving up old ones, similarly, the soul accepts new material bodies, giving up the old and useless ones.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 2.22)
Indeed, likely the worst effect of Kali Yuga is its ability to delude the mind into thinking that there is no afterlife. The present is the future from some previous time. It is not a fictional thing. The same applies for the afterlife. It is merely the future destination of the individual, who will have a different body and circumstance. In Kali Yuga, the fool thinks otherwise, choosing in favor of immediate sense gratification, at the cost of the future. “Borrowing happiness from tomorrow” is a phrase well known to drinkers.
Though the age of quarrel and hypocrisy is a formidable foe, through attachment to the lotus feet of the chief of the Raghu dynasty, the tides can turn. He is known as Rama, and He is the Supreme Lord. Be devoted to God the person. Kali Yuga works at His behest, after all. A person remains in illusion for only as long as they desire it. Like the drunkard who has the hangover only due to their drinking, the person who thinks incorrectly on all important matters can easily correct the errors through choice.
But devotion to Rama isn’t so easy. It’s not like signing a document or officially joining an established institution. It is incumbent upon the devotee to behave a certain way. Tulsidas says that one should speak the truth. This means that they don’t lie about important matters. If a person wants to kill a friend and asks for their whereabouts, the right thing to do is lie. Speaking the truth here means not lying about your identity or the identity of others. It means understanding that God is a person, an all-attractive one at that.
The devotee should be pure in mind. This means that the lone desire is continued devotion. Any other attitude represents impure devotion. The greater the impurity, the stronger the influence Kali will have. A person should also act without crookedness. There is no reason to cheat people, since Rama is the Absolute Truth. The most honest life is the one lived in devotion, for it helps others to straighten their ways too.
This path looks difficult at the outset, but with steady practice everything falls into place. The toughest aspect is the original decision in favor of devotion. Kali Yuga makes us think that we can become God, and this endeavor is guaranteed to meet with failure. On the other side, with sincere devotion the success is assured by the Supreme Lord Himself.
Marriage on sense gratification made,
No attention to tradition or duty paid.
A famous person respected to become,
Though real wisdom having none.
Such ways in which Kali Yuga to cheat,
But with strong devotion easily to defeat.
Loving Rama and straightforward act,
Honest soul immune from illusion’s attack.
Categories: dohavali 81-120