“In the Brahma-vaivarta Purana, Vishnu tells Shiva that in the age of Kali, men full of anxieties of various kinds can vainly labor in fruitive activity and philosophical speculations, but when they are engaged in devotional service, the result is sure and certain, and there is no loss of energy.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 1.18.12 Purport)
People don’t live for one hundred thousand years. They can’t go into the forest and meditate for so long that an anthill forms around them, unbeknownst to them. They can’t perform elaborate religious sacrifices, wherein the quantity of clarified butter offered would fill hundreds of warehouses of today’s large retail chains. People can’t perform deity worship on even an adequate level, where the deity is treated like it has indeed descended from the Vaikuntha realm.
In this age of Kali, dharma is down to one leg. Dharma is the essential characteristic of something, and when you take that one thing that persists throughout time and the various changes to matter, dharma becomes the eternal engagement. The soul is what counts most, and it has an essential characteristic. Through false identifications and ignorance that essential characteristic appears to be lost. Therefore sometimes the Supreme descends Himself to personally help the fallen recover their true identity.
imaṁ rājarṣayo viduḥ
sa kāleneha mahatā
yogo naṣṭaḥ parantapa
“This supreme science was thus received through the chain of disciplic succession, and the saintly kings understood it in that way. But in course of time the succession was broken, and therefore the science as it is appears to be lost.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 4.2)
The essential characteristic of the spirit soul is to serve. The corresponding object of service is the Supreme Spirit. Thus dharma for me and you is service to God. The same dharma is there for the birds, trees, and aquatics as well, but it is not possible for them to follow religious principles. Dharma is also a system of virtue, since it helps to regain and maintain the essential characteristic within.
In the times in which we currently live, dharma stands on only one leg, a wobbly one at that. Evidence of the fact is all around. Who would have ever thought that a person would base their identity on sexual preference? It is like looking in the mirror and declaring that my preference for eating pizza is what defines my existence. The animals follow their instincts for eating, sleeping, mating and defending. They don’t know any better, so they don’t even have a form of identification. Any person who bases their identity off animal instincts is fully under the cloud of ignorance.
How do we return to better times? How do we find the golden years, where everything is good? It obviously can’t be found today, right? There is strife everywhere. In industrialized nations even the average poor person has a house, a car, a mobile telephone and a flat-screen television. Yet the sole focus is on eliminating this kind of poverty. The pursuit is akin to ridding the world of down. Down is a position relative to something else, namely up. Poverty is similarly relative. It is determined by opulence. The only way to eliminate the losers is to get rid of the winners. Even then there is no happiness.
It might be comforting to know that the golden years are right now. When the consciousness gets changed for the better, any situation is like living in the best moment. In ages past the road to self-realization required difficult things like meditation, sacrifice and elaborate deity worship. These things cannot be replicated today, though their effectiveness is the same. The process recommended for the present age known as Kali is the chanting of the holy names.
This chanting is most effective in this age. Therefore we live in a time where a simple sound vibration is so powerful that it restores the three broken legs of dharma. Just by hearing “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare” the lost occupation gets reclaimed. The eternal engagement of sanatana-dharma becomes the way of life.
The person who reinstates the golden age is golden in complexion Himself. He is known as Gauranga. He is Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, the most munificent avatara of the Supreme, as proclaimed by the venerable Rupa Gosvami. Chaitanya Mahaprabhu delivers the fallen souls by freely distributing krishna-prema, or love for God. He empowers others to follow in His line. To this day they continue to follow His lead. They increase the luster of the golden age, where chanting can be done effectively in any situation, by any person. Not everyone may be allowed in temples where God the person is worshiped. Not everyone is equipped to meditate in yoga positions, retreating to a desolate place. Not everyone can worship in a formal setting on a regular basis.
Yet any person can chant the holy names. This means that any person can find liberation very easily in this age. Though the process is easy, accepting the path is not. If it were, then everyone would be engaged in devotional service to God. Nonetheless, the lack of mass acceptance is no impediment. The golden age is truly that since the effort in devotional service pays off. The success of the devotee is guaranteed by the Lord Himself, who is identical to devotion to Him.
Hardly real religion to see,
Dharma losing legs three.
Standing today on only one,
Still age can become a golden one.
Made Mahaprabhu’s mercy through,
Krishna-prema given to me and you.
His followers working unceasing,
Luster of the golden age increasing.