The following are ten verses from the Brahma-vaivarta Purana that were spoken by Lord Krishna to Mother Ganga just before the beginning of Kali yuga (the age of quarrel and strife). Kali yuga began approximately five thousand years ago, and it has a duration of 432,000 years, leaving us with 427,000 till the end of the present age. [For a description of Kali yuga, please read the related article “Predictions for the age of Kali”.] Within this 432,000 year period, there is a period of 10,000 years that will be a golden age. That golden age is being described below by Lord Sri Krishna. This text is taken from the Brahma-vaivarta Purana.
he natha ramanashreshtha
asmakam ka gatishcatra
bhavishyati kalau yuge
Ganges said: O protector, Supreme enjoyer, on your departure for the perfect abode, Goloka, thereafter what will be my situation in the age of kali?
varshani tishtha bhutale
papani papino yani
tubhyam dasyanti snanatah
The blessed Lord said: On the earth 5,000 years of kali will be sinful and sinners will deposit their sins in you by bathing.
We have presently passed through just over 5,000 years of Kali yuga. As was predicted by Lord Krishna, this period from the end of the previous age to the present comprising 5,000 years was a period of great degradation and darkness. The great and ancient Vedic culture of India was lost and the so-called followers became ritualistic practitioners, interested only in the bodily conception of life. The four pillars of spiritual life, namely truthfulness, austerity, cleanliness, and mercy are practically nonexistent today, even in the so-called holy sites of pilgrimage. The general mass of people have no interest in God, and any remnant of religion they might still follow is simply for the purpose of economic development. In the name of God so many sinful acts are being carried out throughout the world. Killing of innocent animals, intoxication, illicit sex, and gambling have become common and “natural” activities supported by the governments and religions of the world. All of these points confirm Lord Krishna’s prediction regarding the first 5,000 years of the Kali yuga.
snanadeva hi jahnavi
Thereafter by the sight and touch of those who worship me by my mantra, all those sins will be burnt.
Lord Krishna has said that for 5,000 years mother Ganga will purify the sinful inhabitants of the earthly planet in the age of Kali. But where will those accumulated sinful reactions go? Therefore Krishna says here that those sinful reactions, accumulated for thousands of years will all be burnt to ashes simply by a moments touch of a pure devotee of the Lord. The word tatksanat indicates that immediately the reactions are destroyed. A moments glimpse of a pure devotee is enough to purify the heart of a sinful man in this age of Kali. Even mother Ganga is blessed and purified by the association of the Lords devotees, so what to speak of fallen souls like ourselves. We must take every opportunity to associate with the Lord’s pure devotees. This is the process of sadhu-sanga, or sat-sanga. Through association with the saints, we come in contact directly with the Supreme Lord. If we have such a great fortune to associate with the saintly devotees of the Lord, our heart will be purified of all the sinful reactions accumulated from countless lifetimes.
In this verse Krishna defines who are those pure devotees: man-mantropasaka, “one who is doing upasana, or worship, of Krishna by chanting Krishna’s mantra.” Krishna says literally “My mantra”, man-mantra. This mantra Krishna is referring to is the Hare Krishna maha-mantra:
hare krishna hare krishna krishna krishna hare hare
hare rama hare rama rama rama hare hare
It should be noted that Krishna does not say mother Ganga will be purified by yogis. Nor does he say she will be purified by jnanis. Nor by rishis, tapasvis, siddhas or a host of other saintly minded men. Krishna says it will be His pure devotees (bhaktas) who chant the Hare Krishna maha-mantra that will purify mother Ganga and the entire age of Kali. Only the chanting of Krishna’s holy name is powerful enough to purify this present age of Kali. Therefore only the Lord’s devotees have the power to bring about the golden age within Kali yuga.
puranani bhavanti hi
tatra gatva savadhanam
abhih sarddham ca shroshyasi
There will be chanting of the name of Hari and reading of the [Bhagavata] Purana. Reaching such a place, attentively hear.
Here Lord Krishna describes the activities within the golden age that will purify the Kali yuga. First and foremost is the chanting of Lord Krishna’s name, indicated by the words harernamani. This is further confirmed in the Brihad-naradiya Purana as follows:
harer nama harer nama harer namaiva kevalam
kalau nastyeva nastyeva nastyeva gatir anyata
“In the age of Kali there is no other way to achieve the supreme destination of life other than by chanting the names of Lord Hari (Krishna). There is no other way, no other way, no other way.”
The second activity that Lord Krishna describes is the reading of the Bhagavata Purana, or Srimad Bhagavatam. The reading of Srimad Bhagavatam is especially recommended by the great sage Vyasadeva for purification of the heart:
srinvatam sva kathah krishnah
hridy antah stho hy abhadrani
vidhunoti suhrit satam
“By hearing and reciting the sacred narrations of the pastimes of Lord Krishna (within the Srimad Bhagavatam), all the bad qualities within one’s heart are cleansed.”
Elsewhere it is stated:
bhaktir bhavati naishthiki
“By daily reading Srimad Bhagavatam and by rendering service to the pure devotees, all that is troublesome to the heart is almost completely destroyed, and loving devotional service unto the Personality of Godhead is established as an irrevocable fact.”
The present age is simply a reflection of the hearts of millions of living entities on the earthly planet. Because our hearts are polluted by kama (lust), krodha (anger), lobha (greed) and matsarya (envy), therefore the present age is called the age of quarrel. It is not that we are bad because the age is bad, but rather the age is bad because our hearts are impure. The cure for a polluted heart is described above: daily reading of the Srimad Bhagavatam. If the entire population were to take up the reading of the sacred text of Srimad Bhagavatam, everyone’s heart would be purified and the age of Kali would no longer be able to influence the world. Therefore in the present age the need of the hour is to distribute the most sacred book Srimad Bhagavatam to the entire humanity.
The Srimad Bhagavatam is not an ordinary book, but it is directly an incarnation of the Lord:
idam bhagavatam nama
cakara bhagavan rishih
dhanyam svasty-ayanam mahat
“This Srimad Bhagavatam is the literary incarnation of God, and it is compiled by Srila Vyasadeva, the incarnation of God. It is meant for the ultimate good of all people, and it is all-successful, all blissful and all-perfect.”
Srimad Bhagavatam is defined as brahma sammitam because it is the sound representative of Brahman, the absolute truth.
Sinful reactions including the killing of a brahmana can be nullified by hearing the Purana and chanting of the names of Hari in the manner of devotees.
dahanti pavako yatha
Just as dry grass is burnt by fire, by the embrace of My devotees all sins are burnt.
tathapi vaishnava loke
prithivyam yani tirthani
punyanyapi ca jahnavi
O Ganges, the whole planet will become a pilgrimage sight by the presence of My devotees, even though it had been sinful.
santi puteshu samtatam
sadyah puta vasundhara
In the body of my devotees remains eternally [the purifier]. Mother earth becomes pure by the dust of the feet of my devotees.
sadyah putani tirthani
sadyah putam jagattatha
It will be the same in the case of pilgrimage sights and the whole world. Those intelligent worshipers of my mantra who partake My remnants will purify everything.
In this verse the words maducchishtabhojinah are very significant. Krishna states that those who chant His Hare Krishna maha-mantra and eat His remnants (mad-ucchishtabhojinah ) will purify the world.
Human life is meant for performing sacrifice because sacrifice develops transcendental knowledge. In the ancient times the great Kings of India would perform very costly and magnificent sacrifices by offering items into a sacred fire. Even gold and costly jewels were offered into the fire as an offering to God. In the present age such forms of sacrifice are not possible, so the shastras prescribe a simpler form of sacrifice more suitable for the present age by which we may develop transcendental knowledge and advance in spiritual life.
The first aspect of this sacrifice involves the chanting of the names of Krishna, as that will correct any deficiencies in our other services to the Lord due to improper circumstances, impure ingredients, irregular timing, etc. The age of Kali is an ocean of faults. One such fault is that in this age everything is impure. It is impossible to properly perform any sacred activity, as the impurity of the age has affected the entire atmosphere, from the subtle (inner) down to the physical (external). Therefore all sacred activities in the age of Kali must be performed accompanied by the chanting of the Hare Krishna maha-mantra.
The second aspect of sacrifice involves the offering of all of our foodstuffs to the Lord before consumption. This form of sacrifice purifies the food and, when we consume it, purifies our body and mind. This sacrifice of offering all of our food to Krishna when accompanied by the chanting of the Hare Krishna maha-mantra is equal to the ancient sacrifices (such as ashvamedha yajna, gomedha-yajna, rajasuya yajna, etc.) described in the scriptures. This is further stressed by Lord Krishna in the Bhagavad-gita (3.13):
bhunjate te tv agham papa
ye pacanty atma-karanat
“The devotees of the Lord are released from all kinds of sins because they eat food which is offered first for sacrifice. Others who prepare food for personal sense enjoyment, verily eat only sin.”
mameva nityam dhyayante
te mat pranadhikah priyah
puto vayushca pavakah
They are more dear to Me than My life, who everyday meditate only on Me. The air and fire become pure simply even by their indirect touch.
madbhaktah santi bhu-tale
madbhakteshu gateshu ca
For 10,000 years of kali such devotees of mine will fill the whole planet. After the departure of My devotees there will only be one varna [outcaste].
Devoid of My devotees, the earth will be shackled by kali. Saying this Krishna departed.