Hindu: The End of the Kali Age

(From the Hindu Puranas)

[Apocalypse for the Hindu is the natural ending of the world in the fourth age, the Kali Age. It is one of a series of apocalypses, each of which marks the end of one cycle and the beginning of another creation. The central figure in the story is Vishnu, the preserver God, into whose self the world is absorbed before being born again. Vishnu has already saved humanity on a number of occasions, symbolically appearing as a savior in many different forms. It is said that He will appear again soon, as Kalki, a white horse, destined to destroy the present world and to take humanity to a different, higher plane.]

"All kings occupying the earth in the Kali Age will be wanting in tranquillity, strong in anger, taking pleasure at all times in lying and dishonesty, inflicting death on women, children, and cows, prone to take the paltry possessions of others, with character that is mostly tamas, rising to power and soon falling. They will be short-lived, ambitious, of little virtue, and greedy. People will follow the customs of others and be adulterated with them; peculiar, undisciplined barbarians will be vigorously supported by rulers. Because they go on living with perversion, they will be ruined.

"And Dharma becomes very weak in the Kali age, and people commit sin in mind, speech, and actions... Quarrels, plague, fatal diseases, famines, drought, and calamities appear. Testimonies and proofs have no certainty. There is no criterion left when the Kali age settles down. People become poorer in vigor and luster. They are wicked, full of anger, sinful, false, and avaricious. Bad ambitions, bad education, bad dealings, and bad earnings excite fear. The whole batch becomes greedy and untruthful. Many sudras will become kings, and many heretics will be seen.

"There will arise various sects; sannyasins wearing clothes colored red. Many profess to have supreme knowledge because, thereby, they will easily earn their livelihood. In the Kali age, there will be many false religionists. India will become desolate by repeated calamities, short lives, and various diseases. Everyone will be miserable owing to the dominance of vice and Tamoguna; people will freely commit abortion.

"Earth will be valued only for her mineral treasures. Money alone will confer nobility. Power will be the sole definition of virtue. Pleasure will be the only reason for marriage. Lust will be the only reason for womanhood. Falsehood will win out in disputes. Being dry of water will be the only definition of land. Praise worthiness will be measured by accumulated wealth. Impropriety will be considered good conduct, and only feebleness will be the reason for unemployment. Boldness and arrogance will be equivalent to scholarship. Only those without wealth will show honesty. Just a bath will amount to purification, and charity will be the only virtue. Abduction will be marriage. Simply to be well dressed will signify propriety. And any hard-to-reach water will be deemed a pilgrimage site. The pretense of greatness will be the proof of it, and powerful men with many severe faults will rule over all the classes on earth. Oppressed by their excessively greedy rulers, people will hide in valleys between mountains, where they will gather honey, vegetables, roots, fruits, birds, flowers and so forth. Suffering from cold, wind, heat and rain, they will put on clothes made of tree bark and leaves. And no one will live as long as twenty-three years. Thus in the Kali Age humankind will be utterly destroyed."

The Prophecy Concerning Maitreya, The Future Buddha

Translation by Edward Conze, in his Buddhist Scriptures (Penguin Books, 1959)

"At present Maitreya is believed to reside in the Tutshita, heaven, awaiting his last rebirth when the time is ripe. Sariputra, the great general of the doctrine, with compassion for the world asked the Lord, 'Some time ago you have spoken to us of the future Buddha, who will lead the world at a future period, and who will bear the name of Maitreya. I would now wish to hear more about his powers and miraculous gifts.'

"The Lord replied, 'Maitreya, the best of men, will then leave the Tushita heavens, and go for his last rebirth. As soon as he is born he will walk seven steps forward, and where he puts down his feet a jewel or a lotus will spring up. He will raise his eyes to the ten directions, and will speak these words, 'This is my last birth. There will be no rebirth after this one. Never will I come back here, but, all pure, I shall win Nirvana!'

"And when his father sees that his son has the thirty-two marks of a superman, and considers their implications in the light of the holy mantras, he will be filled with joy, for he will know that, as the mantras show, two ways are open to his son: he will either be a universal monarch, or a supreme Buddha. But as Maitreya grows up, the Dharma will increasingly take possession of him, and he will reflect that all that lives is bound to suffer. He will have a heavenly voice which reaches far; his skin will have a golden hue; a great splendor will radiate from his body; his chest will be broad, limbs well developed, and his eyes will be like lotus petals. His body is eighty cubits high, and twenty cubits broad. He will have a retinue of 84,000 persons, whom he will instruct in the mantras. With this retinue he will one day go forth into the homeless life. A Dragon tree will then be the tree under which he will win enlightenment; its branches rise up to fifty leagues, and its foliage spreads far and wide over six Kos. Underneath it Maitreya, the best of men, will attain enlightenment; there can be no doubt on that. And he will win his enlightenment the very same day that he has gone forth into the homeless life.

"And then, a supreme sage, he will... explain the four Truths, because he has seen that generation, in faith, ready for them, and those who have listened to his Dharma will thereupon make progress. They will be assembled in a park full of beautiful flowers, and his assembly will extend over a hundred leagues. Under Maitreya's guidance, hundreds of thousands of living beings shall enter upon a religious life.

"For 60,000 years Maitreya, the best of men, will preach the true Dharma, which is compassionate toward 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 endures for another ten thousand years."

Jesus of Nazareth

New Testament -- Matthew 24: 4-21

"And Jesus answered and said to them: See to it that no one misleads you. For many will come in my name, saying, "I am the Christ," and will mislead many. And you will be hearing of wars and rumors of wars; see that you are not frightened, for those things must take place, but that is not yet the end.

"For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and in various places there will be famines and earthquakes. But all these things are merely the beginning of birth pangs.

"Then they will deliver you to tribulation, and will kill you, and you will be hated by all nations on account of my name. And at that time many will fall away and will deliver up one another and hate one another. And many false prophets will arise and will mislead many.

"And because lawlessness is increased, most people's love will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end, he shall be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world for a witness to all the nations, and then the end shall come.

"Therefore when you see the ABOMINATION OF DESOLATION which was spoken for through Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place let the reader understand, then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains; let him who is on the housetop not go down to get the things out that are in his house; and let him who is in the field not turn back to get his cloak. But woe to those who are with child and to those who nurse babes in those days!

"But pray that your flight may not be in the winter, or on a Sabbath; for then there will be a great tribulation, such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever shall."

---- and Matthew 24: 37-39

[Jesus continued] "For the coming of the Son of Man will be just like the days of Noah. For as in those days which were before the flood they were eating and drinking, they were marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and they did not understand until the flood came and took them all away; so shall the coming of the Son of Man be."

Muhammad (Qur'an)

"When the Terror descends (and none denies its descending) abasing, exalting, when the earth shall be rocked and the mountains crumbled and become a dust scattered and you shall be three bands...

"The ancients, and the later folk shall be gathered to the appointed time of a known day. Then you erring ones, you that cried lies, you shall eat of a tree called Zakkoum, and you shall fill therewith your bellies and drink on top of that boiling water, lapping it down like thirsty camels. This shall be their hospitality on the Day of Doom. (LVI, 1-55.)

"So, when the Trumpet is blown with a single blast and the earth and the mountains are lifted up and crushed with a single blow, then, on that day, the Terror shall come to pass, and heaven shall be split, for upon that day it shall be very frail, and the angels shall stand upon its borders, and upon that day eight shall carry above them the Throne of thy Lord.

"On that day you shall be exposed, not one secret of yours concealed. Then as for him who is given his book in his right hand, he shall say, 'Here, take and read my book! Certainly I thought that I should encounter thy reckoning.' So he shall be in a pleasing life in a lofty Garden, its clusters nigh to gather.

'Eat and drink with wholesome appetite for that you did long ago, in the days gone by.'

"But as for him who is given his book in his left hand, he shall say, 'Would that I had not been given my book and not known my reckoning! Would it had been the end! My wealth has not availed me, my authority is gone from me.' Take him, and fetter him, and then roast him in Hell, then in a chain of seventy cubits' length insert him! Behold, he never believed in God the All-mighty, and he never urged the feeding of the needy; therefore he today has not here one loyal friend, neither any food saving foul pus, that none excepting the sinners eat." (LXIX, 41-39)

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