Monday, April 14, 2008

More about “The Wheel of Time”

By the time I had retired the last Spanish version of my book La rueda del tiempo (in English, “The Wheel of Time”) from circulation, various articles by “disciples” of René Guénon, by far the most authoritative researcher in the doctrine of cosmic cycles, had started to appear, mainly on the Internet, in which they claimed the following:

(1) The length of the full human cycle is 64,840 years, equivalent to five half cycles of precession of equinoxes (5 x 12,960 years); a calculation suggested (but only suggested!) by Guénon in Some Remarks on the Doctrine of Cosmic Cycles, as well as the following point.

(2) The year 720 of the Kali-yuga (which would last 6,480 years, or a tenth of the above figure) would have coincided with that of the beginning of the Jewish Era, traditionally established as 3761 BC; therefore, also based on other tempting elaborations by Guénon in various articles, the Kali-yuga would have started in the year 4481 BC.

(3) Once the corresponding calculation was made (6480 – 4481), the end of the Kali-yuga (virtually equivalent to the end of our civilization) would be in 1999. Some even, resorting to decimal numbers, further elaborated: the catastrophe, whatever form it adopted, would visit us … on the 14 November 1999!

Well, concerning the doctrine of cosmic cycles, the first thing to understand is the word millennium is not equivalent, as might be thought, to a thousand common years, but to an indefinite length of time usually referred to any major cosmic cycle. This is a point that will never be stressed enough, and it surely is an elemental principle that the aforementioned authors seemed to have forgotten. Even worse, not only did they evidence their inability to let go of the literal sense of the term, but also a certain proclivity to the kind of hysteria that usually attacks the masses as the end of any major cycle draws near, not to mention such frightening cycle as the one that was about to visit us.

Under these terms, the fact that the year 2000 arrived painlessly – in other words, without any fatal outcome to regret – did, by far, not mean that the validity of the doctrine of cycles became dubious. On the contrary, it merely denoted that it was all misconceived. Looked at in retrospect, on the other hand, it did not mean either that our planet had got rid of the atrocious cataclysms that usually escort the end of all major cycles, as quite obviously such end, should the doctrine remain valid, would be yet to arrive.

Be it as it may, sure as I was that Guénon would have never approved of such excesses – though still doubting whether or not his “suggestions” had been made on purpose so that such calculations failed – I set myself to the task of publishing a third edition of La rueda del tiempo with a view to clarify this point as much as possible, at the same time that correct any omission, make some points more specific, and even improve the general appearance from the previous editions.

It has not been until now, however, that I have been able to finish this task. And curiously enough, the most remarkable fact about it is, I have not had to substantially modify the previous editions, apart from correcting one or two wrong references, adding some data and refining a bit writing and syntax. On the other hand, I have hesitated as to the convenience to keep some sections, such as, for instance, the description of the Egyptian “Divine Year”, which could deviate the attention from the main subject, and I even was tempted to completely suppress a certain chapter that could seem little convincing. But I was dissuaded by the fact that, while such sections are not essential to a better understanding of the matter, they can be profitably read, in particular the latter, which briefly depicts the Kali-yuga of the present cycle – virtually the history of our so-called civilization.

Now, it is understandable that this particular view of history will frontally crash with that of the majority of readers, who, save for one or two exceptions, know very little about oriental doctrines. In this sense, it is essential to understand the concept of maha-yuga, the Hindu cycle of four yugas or decreasing ages whose lengths are proportional to 4, 3, 2 and 1 and can, in fact, be assimilated to any temporal cycle, as another fundamental point of the doctrine is that there exists a total correlation among them all; and then stop at the concept of Manvantara, this one referred to the total human cycle and whose length must be calculated as two cycles of precession of equinoxes or a total 51,840 common years. One more step, and it must become clear that if the yugas sum up proportionally 10 (because 4 + 3 + 2 + 1 = 10), the length of the Kali-yuga will be one tenth of that total, i.e. 5,184 common years.

Yet another step, consistent with the previous one, will make us understand that the characteristics of the present Kali-yuga, by virtue of the correlations to which I have referred, reflect accurately – yet in a more incisive way – those of the full cycle of 51,840 years; this, in practice, will give us a small-scale image of this cycle, including, also in a small scale but with lengths always proportional to the scale 4, 3, 2 and 1, those of the four descending yugas. The last step will be to specially focus on the last of these yugas, which we may call the kali-yuga of the present Kali-yuga – a period of time of little more than five hundred years, extremely rich in historical events and great material achievements but which unfortunately, precisely by reason of their being merely material, would appear to be leading us towards disaster at an ever increasing speed…

Thinking therefore about the Western readers, who in their great majority tend to believe in a brilliant future for mankind, I saw it convenient to commence this study by reviewing certain passages from the Bible that they may be me more familiar with; and starting from this point and from the unbelievable coincidences between those and other sacred texts from all over the World – coincidences that strangely prefigure the most recent discoveries of modern Astrophysics – to usher them through ancient universal myths such as the "Four Ages of Mankind" and the "Seven Eras of the World", to finally arrive at disquieting conclusions about the present moment and the near future of our planet – a turning point in time towards which there appear to be converging, in a most threatening fashion, cosmic cycles of various orders and magnitudes.

About “The Wheel of Time”

When I started my first version of La rueda del tiempo (in English, "The Wheel of Time") I was motivated by very special circumstances. A most precious, monumental Hindu holy scripture, the Third Canto of Bhagavata Purana, had come to my hands as if by accident, and I was marveled to learn that in such remote times the Hindus were already familiar with such advanced concepts as the expansion of the universe and the space and time relativity, both of them notions that the modern scientists would only become acquainted with from the Twentieth Century onwards. But what really amazed me were the huge lengths of time mentioned in relation to cosmic cycles. For instance, the Kali-yuga o "Dark Era", a cycle which clearly corresponds to the Age of Iron of the Greek and Roman traditions, would actually extend over 432,000 terrestrial years, a tenth of a human cycle of 4'320,000 years; and if its start was in 3102 BC, as recorded by Hindu astronomical texts, its end would arrive as late as 429,000 AD, without doubt a reassuring date in times of enormous global crisis as we are living now, but which does not absolutely correlate with data from other traditions announcing an imminent end for our troubled civilization.

The answer to my deep uneasiness would come a bit later, mainly in the form of an extraordinary article by René Guénon: Some Remarks on the Doctrine de Cosmic Cycles, originally published in French in 1937. Thanks to it, I was finally satisfied that such figures were essentially symbolic, as suggested by the fact that they are all multiple of nine – which precisely makes them "circular" o cyclic – and that they must be basically assimilated to the great cycle of precession of equinoxes, a key period of time in the development of mankind whose traditional length, 25,920 common years, also is a multiple of nine. True, at the same time I concluded that in the light of the most recent scientific discoveries, such lengths could also be taken in an approximately literal manner, something that Guénon could not be acquainted with in his time; but for the moment, it was fairly enough.

Then, as if by magic, came to my hands other articles, some of them very important and others that were not quite so, which helped me do a preliminary study and publish a first edition in 1998. This first literary endeavor contained some elements that have remained till now, the main one being my own calculation of the final date of the Kali-yuga and, therefore, that of the current human cycle. An additional element was a footnote, according to which such final date would appear to have been drawn nearer by a degree of such cycle, or 72 years - a phenomenon referred to in the texts as an overlapping of yugas.

Soon thereafter, however, I realized that this first version in Spanish not only contained some historical errors but also wrong quotes, so I tried to upgrade it by means of a second edition which was published and circulated for some years until – its cycle concluded – I opted for retiring it from circulation.

It is this version that I am now translating into English, which will be hopefully finished by the end of August of the present year, and trying to upgrade. But this story does not end here and, even at the risk of boring my blog readers, I will be back with more – lots more – very soon.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

The Circular Numbers

In my last post, I was talking about the impossibility that the reiteration of numbers with regard to cosmic cycles is only owed to the fact that they are all cyclic or “circular” and therefore readily divisible among each other; the coincidences are too numerous to be just the product of chance, particularly when they derive from places and traditions so distant from one another. There is obviously something else, maybe a wish to draw attention – though in a veiled fashion – towards a mysterious, awe-inspiring fact that would allow to penetrate the very essence of the mechanism of cycles so as to anticipate their starting and ending dates. For example, according to certain sources, the sinking of Atlantis would have occurred 7,200 years before the year 720 of the present Kali–yuga, which corresponds, if its starting date is considered to be 3102 BC, to 9582 BC. And this date is perfectly reasonable in spite of its being a product of obviously symbolic figures, i.e. based on 72 which is, as we know, the key element in the context of a circular time. We would certainly need to be blind to see a mere product of chance in all this.

Another cycle that would span between two consecutive destructions of the Earth is the one calculated by Aristarchus of Samos (310–230 BC), a few centuries after Heraclitus, as 2,484 years, a number that is also circular – yet considerably smaller than the ones previously mentioned. And here we can see yet another clue: the newer the calculation, the lesser the calculated period. This assertion is supported by a curious fact narrated by historian Herodotus (c.480 – c.420 BC): the Teban priests would have shown him 341 colossal statues, each representing a generation of priests from 11,340 years before – a period also “circular” but much closer to the “great year” of 12,960 common years.

So it comes as no surprise that also in the Bible, in whose first chapters there is an account of the two best known and most emblematic catastrophes ever to occur on the Earth – the Flood and the conflagration that destroyed Sodom and Gomorra – there are also many references to rather short, “circular” periods of time. For example, in the New Testament (Revelation 11:3, 12:6) is mentioned a mysterious period of 1,260 “days”, and the enigmatic references to “time, two times, and a half time” in Daniel 12:11, 12 and Revelation 12:14 obviously allude to the same period if, as is undoubtedly the case, each “time” consists of 360 “days”. For the rest, in Daniel 12:11, 12 there are mentioned two equally enigmatic periods: 1,290 and 1,335 “days”, numbers whose digits, even though they do not sum up nine, do sum up three, which also makes them circular.

However, it is in the larger cycles that we find the most significant correlations with the Hindu tradition. For example, it is known that in the Library of Alexandria there was a World History written by the Chaldean priest Berosus (c. 250 BC), in three volumes, the first of which comprised a period of 432,000 years from the Creation to the Flood – exactly one tenth of the Hindu maha–yuga. And a fascinating coincidence: according to the Scandinavian legends, 432,000 was the number of warriors stationed at Asgard, the dwelling of the gods.

Similar correlations are found on the other side of the World, among the ancient Mayas. For example, in Tikal, in present-day Guatemala, there is a stela – the number 10 – that records a period of 5'040,000 years, a circular number that divided by ten is that of Manus in a total universal manifestation. As to the liturgical calendar, in addition to the tuns or years of 360 days, consisting of 18 uinals or months of 20 days, the Mayas count was by katuns (7,200 days), baktuns (144,000 days), etc., all of them “sacred” circular numbers whose importance I have emphasized repeatedly – with the exception of 144,000, which incidentally is the number of saints ascended to Heaven at Revelation 7, 7.

As to the Xiumolpili, or periods of 52 years used by the Aztecs for the computation of the four ages or “Suns” by multiplying them by certain factors (apparently 13, 7, 6 and 13, even though, confirming the aforementioned tendency, the factors are bigger on the earlier versions), it is believed that they originated with the Olmecs, who had discovered that the Solar, sacred and Venusian’s calendars coincided every 37,960 days, equivalent to 104 years (or two times 52). In fact, although these cycles were so important that they were believed to require from the Mayas the remodeling of all their sacred structures at their beginning or end, at any rate we are dealing here with an anomaly – the exception that confirms the rule. However, there is an interesting correlation with the great celebrations that the Dogon in Mali, Africa, make every 52 years, rites intended, according to them, to “regenerate the World” and which apparently correspond to the cycle made by Sirius “B”, a white dwarf, around Sirius. But apart from these likely connections, it can be noted that 52 is four times 13, this number being, according to scholars, a particularly auspicious one throughout the Mayans’ world – unlike elsewhere in the World, where it is particularly ill-omened. However, what definitely links this “anomalous” system with the “orthodox” circular one is, in my view, the fact that after 52 years of the liturgical calendar of 360 days, there appears to have elapsed exactly 72 years of the magical calendar of 260 days, i.e. a total 18,720 days – a circular number by excellence, as it is made up of 18 and 72.

And here I will conclude this overview which has let us glimpse, through the assortment of data and figures presented, a sort of needlework of Four Ages of Mankind – of varying lengths according to the different traditions, but always circular – interwoven in the fabric of a more general scheme of Seven Eras of the World, in turn somehow correlated to the precession of the equinoxes. In the middle of it all we have glimpsed at the third and most dramatic element in the problem: the dreadful catastrophes at the beginning and end of every cycle, out of which the most emblematic is undoubtedly the Flood that usually separates the Eras from each other, and which is a favorite and specially recurring topic in the myths and legends from all over the World. In the next days and weeks I will try to recapitulate all the information provided and draw as many conclusions as possible, which will hopefully let us get a deeper insight and, at the same time, a wider view of the problem in its entirety.

(First published on Qassia, Apr 8, 2008)

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

A Few Universal Symbols

Until now, we have reviewed a number of global symbols and traditions in which the numbers four and seven play a prominent role.

Another common symbol to all of the World’s cultures and civilizations is that of a “Cosmic Egg” which, in as much as an image of the perpetual dissolution and rebirth of the universe, bears a close resemblance with the “myth” of Phoenix, which is similarly found in civilizations ranging from the Hindu to the Chinese – where it appears as the myth of Pan-ku –, the Egyptian, and even the Inca: for example, it is known that on the main wall of the Ccoricancha temple, in Cuzco, there was a representation of the Cosmic Egg that would later on be replaced with the Sun’s image that met the Spaniards’ eyes.

But we are deviating from the versions related to the scheme of four ages, among which the most typical probably are the Mesoamerican accounts preserved in sacred texts such as the Popol Vuh and the “Quiche Manuscript” where, as mentioned in my previous post, they are consistently referred to as “Suns” – although this time they are four, not seven. The Aztecs, for example, who apparently collected these traditions from the Teotihuacans, who in turn would have received them from the Olmecs, differentiated four “Suns” that ended in an equal number of destructions of the World: the first by jaguars that devoured all men (another version says by the “God of Night”), who at the time were giants; the second by hurricanes, the third by a shower of fire (or by the “God of Fire”), and the fourth by a great deluge. Though with slight variations, mainly in the order of “Suns”, this tradition was disseminated throughout the Mayan world, and there is a significant fact: the four destructions in all cases are correlated to the four traditional elements.

Also the Incas, farther South, believed that time unfolds by cycles and that every so often the universe was challenged by great upheavals, times of distress referred to as “Pachacuti”. Chroniclers of the conquest of America, like Fray Buenaventura Salinas, transmitted the tradition of the four ages previous to the Inca Empire. The last age would have lasted 3,600 years, an emblematic “circular” figure that if divided by ten, becomes the number of the circle degrees and that of the priestly days of the year: 360, an exceptionally sacred number to the majority of traditions from all over the World.

And herewith we enter the area of lengths, which most significantly are not only consistently circular but even show amazing coincidences among each other.

Particularly suggestive are those which center on the “great year” of 12,960 common years, a half of the Zodiacal Year. According to Latin author Censorinus (third century AD), who was Varro’s compilator, in this “great year”, also called “Platonic Year” and “Supreme Year of Aristotle,” there is a great winter or kataklysmos (which means “deluge”) and a great summer or ekpyrosis (which means “combustion of the world”). Now, at some point in history this “great year” was rounded up by Persians and Chaldeans as 12,000 years, a period of time which, to the former, came to be the totality of time. (To the present-day Persians, the year 2000 was the year 11,630 of that time.) And it is not unlikely that the Jews, in contact with those cultures, may have taken this “great year” and divided it, for religious reasons, by two, to establish in turn their “World’s total duration” as 6,000 years.

In this connection, however, according to the aforementioned Rabbinical tradition, each of the World’s Seven Eras would have a length of 1,656 years, a circular figure that multiplied by seven yields a total sum closer to 12,000 than to 6,000 years: 11,952 years.

In addition to the “great year” of 12,960 common years, other “Greek” cycles, similarly connected to global catastrophes, are known to have suggestive correlations in the Hindu tradition. According to philosopher Heraclitus of Efesus (540–475 BC), for instance, the period between two great conflagrations such as the one that would have submerged Atlantis, thousands of years before his time, is 10,800 years, a “circular” period of time which divided by one hundred becomes 108: a number which for Hinduists and Buddhists is an object of special veneration, as it is the number of Upanishads in the Buddhist canon and is placed before the name of the venerable acharyas or teachers of the great disciplic lines, apart from the fact that it is the number of stone figures along the lanes at the temple of Angkor in Camboya, etcetera; and whose basic form, 18, which corresponds, as we have seen elsewhere, to the number of breaths of a human being in one minute, is – among other many “coincidences” – equal to the total number of Puranas and of the Bhagavad–gita chapters. For the rest, it should be noted that the total number of the Rig Veda verses is 10,800 and those of Bhagavata Purana 18,000, distributed into twelve “Cantos” or chapters; and that within the Judean–Christian esoterism, the number of chapters of the enigmatic Book of Enoch is, again, 108.

At this point we will better make a pause, as it is impossible that this copious reiteration of numbers is only owed to the fact that they are all cyclic or “circular”, and therefore readily divisible among each other; the coincidences are too numerous to be just the product of chance, particularly when they derive from places and traditions so distant from one another. However, a discussion of this circumstance would take too long, so it will have to wait for a new post.

(First published on Qassia Apr 4, 2008)

Some Variations in the Number of Ages

In my previous post we were seeing that the notion of seven ages or Eras is common throughout the World, which evidences an almost absolute concordance in the matter of cosmic cycles among the majority of traditions.

There are, however, some exceptions. The Icelandic Edda rather refer to nine ages, such as the Sibylline books (yet preterit ones) and the Hawaiian and Polynesian legends do. As to the Chinese tradition, it talks about ten kis or ages since the beginning of the World till Confucius’ times, and the Sing–li–ta–tsiuen–chou, an ancient encyclopedia that deals with the periodicity of nature’s convulsions, refers to the very long periods of time between each other – though without specifying their number – as “great years”. The same is true of texts by Sse Ma–chien and Mo–tzu, which allude to large floods and long periods in which order and cataclysms alternate on Earth.

By contrast, other traditions, like the Greek (derived partially from the Hindu), the Tibetan, and particularly those from Central and South America, which will be addressed later on, stick more strictly to a scheme of four ages.

We have seen, for instance, that the Greek and Roman traditions talk about four preterit Ages of Mankind, equivalent to the four yugas of the Hindu tradition; and in India itself, apart from Bhagavata Purana and other Puranas, other sacred books like the Rig and Yajour Veda allude as well to four preterit ages, though differing in the lengths of each. Also, it is not unlikely that the Buddhist tradition according to which out of the one thousand Buddas who appear on a kalpa, only four have manifested till now, may be related to the four yugas that make a maha–yuga and to the one thousand maha–yugas that make a kalpa; as to the Buddha Maitreya, who is to appear at the end of the cycle to inaugurate a new “millennium”, he is clearly identical with the avatara Kalki of Hinduism and with other inaugurators of the coming “millennium”, such as the “Christ of Glory” of Christianity and the Messiah of Judaism and even the Mahdi, “the Guided One”, of Islam. And here is another remarkable coincidence: both the avatara Kalki and the Christ of Glory from Revelation 19:20 ff are supposed to appear riding a white horse.

On the other hand, the quaternary scheme very closely correlates with certain universal archetypical forms which, while dramatically separated from one another in space and time, do not vary in their innermost essence.

For example, according to the Hopi people, since the arrival of the white man in North America, we are on a fifth and final “World”, worse than the four previous ones, which will aggravate with the desertion of the four “cosmic guards” who look after the columns that support the universe. For their part, the Mayas believed in four bacabs who played a similar role­ and were identical to Atlas of the Greeks, who copied it in turn from the Orientals. (Atlas actually supports the heavenly vault, not our planet.) In turn, the Egyptians received from the Sumerians the tradition of four giants who supported the heaven’s cover, and who were correlated with four great mountains (one was Mount Ida, in Greece, another stood on the Atlas mountain range in Morocco). In China there also existed this tradition: four guardians look after the World’s columns, surrounding a fifth element (identified with the Emperor); when Kung-kung, an evil spirit, broke one of the columns with his head, taking advantage of the guardian’s negligence, all water from heaven fell down, causing a tremendous deluge. Again, the Scandinavians believed in four guardians correlated in turn with the swástika, another universal symbol (yet of unpleasant connotation because of Nazism), which is the same as that of the Hindus and Greeks and the Olin of the Aztecs (the “Sun” of Earthquakes), who in turn took it over from the Toltecs; and here we have another archetypical form that spread out over the World in a virtually identical manner…

More to come very soon.

First published on Qassia 31 Mar 2008)

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

The Universal Doctrine

The notion of Eras ended by violent cataclysms is common to the traditional cultures from all around the world, from the most primitive to those that reached a higher level of civilization. They may differ in number, length and in the characteristics of the evoked catastrophes, but at the same time the coincidences are extremely significant: in the majority of cases, as seen below, the Eras are four or seven, their lengths are “circular”, and the disasters that finish them are usually floods and conflagrations that occur in alternate fashion and are attributed to planetary influences.

Thus, for instance, according to Latin scholar Varro (116 BC – 27 AD), the Etruscan annals recorded seven preterit ages whose ends had been announced to men by diverse celestial prodigies. For its part, “Bhaman Yast”, one of the books from the Avesta, talks about seven World ages or millennia; according to Zoroaster, the prophet of Mazdeism, at the end of each there are signs, wonders and a great chaos all over the World. A Buddhist text, Visuddhi–Magga, in its Chapter “Cycles of the World”, says there are seven ages separated by global catastrophes of three kinds – by water, fire, and wind – at the end of which there appears a new Sun; after the seventh Sun, the World bursts in flames. Curiously enough, this notion of seven “Suns” also appears on the Sibylline books, where it is said that we are now in the seventh Sun (though yet two more are prophesized to come), on the Mexican Annals of Cuauhtitlan, written in Nahuatl tongue around 1570 on archaic sources, which likewise allude to seven epochs or “Suns” (the “Chicon–Tonatiuh”); and among the aborigines at North Borneo, who assert that six previous Suns having now perished, the present one is the seventh to light up the World.

On the other side of the World, in North America, the legends of the Hopis, who from old were apparently familiar with the fact that the Earth rotates on its axis, speak rather of four ages or “worlds”. Having the three previous ones succumbed to fire, snow, and water, the current one would be the fourth (another version says the fifth) world, which will in turn be consummated when the Earth stumbles on its own axis as a great blue star, referred to as “Sasquasohum”, precipitates upon it. Apparently, however, the humankind will have to go through seven worlds in total.

The scheme of seven ages or Eras is also predominant in the mysterious Chaldean legends about seven “kings of kings,” the last of whom, Xisuthros, saves his kin from the great flood; in the seven Manus of the Hindu tradition, in which also the last one, Satyavrat, with the name Vaivasvat, saves a few chosen from the flood; and in the seven “Edomite Kings” from the Hebraic Cabbala, who like the previous ones govern by turn upon seven “Earths” which may be taken both in a temporal and spatial sense. Seven “Earths” appear as well in the Islamist esoterism, in this case governed by seven “Poles” (in a presumable allusion to the phenomenon of precession of the equinoxes), a reference which also figures among the ancient Egyptians, who apparently recorded seven successive Pole Stars; and for its part the Rabbinical tradition, which crystallized on the post Hebrew Exile, asserts that there have been six successive re-creations of the Earth, after an equal number of global catastrophes; on the fourth Earth lived the generation of the Babel Tower, and now we are on the seventh. According to Philo, the Jew philosopher born around 20 BC, some perished by floods, others by conflagrations.

On the other hand, in an obvious correspondence with the seven “days” of the biblical Creation, we have elsewhere seen that the Hermetic tradition refers to seven “creation days” of 25,920 years each – the length of a precessional cycle.

As can be seen, the notion of seven ages or Eras is common throughout the World, which manifests an almost absolute concordance on this mater among most traditions. There are, however, a few exceptions that I will discuss in detail some other time.

(First published on Qassia Mar 29, 2008)

More about the Kali Yuga

So the questions about the Kali-yuga that were pending solution are: Are we really in the Kali–yuga, the age of quarrel and darkness? If so, in which phase of it? And, is it possible that we have been in it so long (more than 5,000 years)?

I will try to answer all three of them in this post.

As a matter of fact, giving answer to every question will depend on the point of view that we take. We are dealing with directly opposite perceptions of a vast problem that also implies, considering the long time involved – virtually the whole history of our so-called civilization – such additional questions as: Were the Greeks and Romans really greater than the Egyptians, the builders of huge pyramids and majestic temples several thousands of years before the Greeks made their appearance in the world? Among the Greeks themselves, were the contemporaries of Socrates, Plato and Aristotle wiser than Pythagoras, Heraclitus and Tales’ colleagues? And – skipping the wide time-span – were the European Middle-Ages really inferior to the Renaissance, and if so, in what sense? What can be said, for example, of the Empire of Charlemagne, the earlier Romanic churches, and of Gothic art, which was an entirely original art and not an imitation of classic art as that of the so-called Renaissance was?

Again, is the present time an age of immense progress as depicted by the technocrats, or rather a progression into chasm in every sense?

As is commonly known, India is at present probably the only country in the world where the traditional spiritual values have been kept almost in their entirety. So it is only natural that, from an eminently spiritual perspective, the traditionalist Hindus view the whole of the last 5,000 years of history as a process of gradual deterioration in all orders and life conditions, a process in which the nefarious atmosphere of the Kali-yuga has finally spread through everything, and materialism, real or disguised, has set its supremacy on the world. This is particularly due to the fact that, not existing a qualified priesthood anymore, the administration of society has fallen on the hands of the lower-class people whose sole motivation is personal gain. As a consequence, there exist a growing anxiety in the minds of men, increasingly impatient, greedy and violent, and a mounting degradation of customs that ends out in family disintegration and a disorderly sexual conduct which will inevitably result in a large part of the world population being “unwanted,” that is, born from illicit coupling, including sexual assault, or simply “by accident.” As if all this were not enough, there is an increasing deterioration in the quality of everything, even food; and there appear awful and previously unknown diseases that result from the increase of artificial needs and the proliferation of the most pernicious habits. It is in sum, for those Hindus that have not been seduced by the false glow of Western progress, an atheistic, violent and degraded Era in which goodness virtually does not exist anymore (according to Varaha Purana, “demonic beings are born in it”), an Era which can only lead to a final cataclysm.

For the rest, such symptoms have not gone unnoticed to some Western reputed scholars, among them Oswald Spengler, the famous author of The Decline of the West, and Alexis Carrel, the author of the notorious and most controversial L'Homme, cet inconnu (“Man, The Unknown”); but above all by René Guénon, for whom we are essentially dealing with a process whose ultimate cause merely resides in the increasing estrangement from the principle from which the whole manifestation derives, a situation that has become irreversible and is primarily characterized by a progressive secularization and materialization of the world – in other words, by a gradual darkening of the primeval spirituality. This fatally results in a total reversion of the universal values, a reversion that aggravates as we move toward the end of the cycle and which is nourished by the fallacy of an unrelenting evolution and progress. Actually Guénon distinguishes a fifth cyclic phase within the Kali–yuga which he calls “the age of increasing corruption,” which entails the risk of total annihilation of mankind. We would be now on the dreadful times announced by the sacred books of India where «all castes will be intermingled», where «family itself will no longer exist». Disorder and chaos prevail in all orders and have reached a point that exceeds by far all that had been previously seen; a stop would no longer be possible, since according to the warnings from the traditional doctrines, we have indeed entered the final phase of the Kali-yuga, «the darkest period of the Dark Age».

It is amazing that this accurate diagnosis on the time was formulated nearly one century ago, at a time in which many voices prophesized a scientific and technical advancement that would “very soon put an end to all the worlds’ evils”, a progress that would bring “unlimited happiness” to humankind. Well, since then there have only been atrocious wars, the nuclear devastation threat was started, unknown diseases appeared, and moral, social and political decay has reached extreme levels throughout the world to such an extent, that the entire society would seem to drift inexorably toward anarchy. Violence has become common to an unheard-of extent particularly in the large cities, which are literally submerged in drugs and pornography, and where it shows up in atrocious modes like urban terrorism. Actually we only need to open the papers to become horrified at the profusion of news on religious and racial slaughter and unbelievably brutal terrorist deeds and, on the other hand, to be appalled by the gradual, increasingly accelerated deterioration of the environment, the growing contamination of rivers, seas and lakes, the extinction of forests and whole animal species by the hand of man, the more and more frequent natural disasters which, caused basically by the current global warming (in turn forced by a disproportionate boom of the industrial activity) include the progressive desertification of the Earth, atmospheric exhaustion, draughts, floods, earthquakes and cataclysms resulting in casualties by the millions every year… do I need to continue? Indeed, there is every reason to believe that we are in the last days of the present cycle and that the end of our civilization, as we know it, is close at hand, irrespective of what the believers in a “future of material and moral progress” of the human race may claim. This admitted, we would only need to deal with how that end would be like.

According to Bhagavata Purana (3, 11:29 ff), at the end of the “millennium” the devastation is produced, at an early stage, by the «fire that is emitted by the mouth of Sankarsana», which wreaks havoc on the “three inferior worlds” during one hundred years of the demigods (36,000 human years). This version matches exactly a Nordic tradition according to which at the time of the world destruction (the ragnarok), from the mouth of Surt, “the Black One”, radiate devastating flames. Naturally, the allusions to fire may refer to great volcanic eruptions or to the increasingly frequent forest fires that currently take place all around the world. Then, during other 36,000 years, there are gales and torrential rains accompanied by raging waves that cause the seas to overflow, a devastation which, in the view of the experts in the Hindu scriptures, occurs at the end of the period of each Manu. Of course, on the human level, the afore-mentioned figures are to be considered symbolic; in connection with the Manvantara as was previously defined in my last post, the 72,000 years of devastation, which in the context correspond to the 4,320 millions of years of a Brahma’s day, very likely are only equivalent to 72 years, so that what I have just referred to as “the beginning of end” would actually be situated around the year 2010 AC, a border line suggested at the end of that post. Moreover, if other factors that would take too long to detail were brought into the calculation, we would see that such “beginning” might actually be already occurring, as is unfortunately clear from the unprecedented rise in the climatic disorders of our days – one of whose most visible manifestations is the recurring onslaught of the "El Niño" phenomenon – which would be announcing an imminent disaster of universal proportions.

(First published on Qassia Mar 8, 2008)