Kalava: The Sacred Red Thread

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The Kalava Thread

kalava mouliA Kalava or Mouli is a red cotton thread that Hindus typically wear on their wrists. The Kalava is normally tied after the completion of a yajna, a havan or the worship of a deity by the priest who presided over the ceremony.

Traditionally males and married females are supposed to wear the Kalava thread on their right hand, while unmarried females wear it on their left hands.

The act of wearing the Kalava thread after a cleansing yajna or post the worship of a deity symbolizes a bond between the mortal and the almighty that will promote the sattvic element in an individual.

Religious significance of Kalava Thread

In ancient times, Queen Kunti tied the Kalava thread on the wrist of Prince Abhimanyu before he went for the battle in the Mahabharata.

The adornment of the Kalava thread around the wrist also bestows upon the wearer the blessings of the Holy trinity in Hinduism – Brahma , Vishnu and Shiva.

Rakshabandhan and Kalava Thread

The Hindu festival of Rakshabandhan is said to originate from the practice of tying a Kalava thread on the wrist. The word “raksha” means protection and the word “bandhan” means a bond.  The ritual of a sister tying a colourful thread (kalava) around her brother’s wrist signifies that the sister is invoking the almighty to protect the brother and bless their relationship.

 

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Benefits of wearing nose rings

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SAMSARA IN HINDUISM: The Secret of the Boat Ride

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The concept of Samsara in Hinduism explained by an ancient story recited by Lord Krishna. The story explains the meaning of Samsara beautifully.

Samsara in Hinduism

In Sanskrit, Samsara comes from the word “wandering” and the interpretation of Samsara is done as “wandering around the world in a cyclic pattern.”

Hinduism teaches us that the body is made of the 5 elements of nature and is perishable. The soul inhabits the body due to its past karma and then continues its journey in different bodies across many births to fulfill the unresolved desires which keep on arising due to the illusory identification of the soul with the body. This is called Samsara.

Samsara hinduism meaningThus Samsara in Hinduism refers to the cycle of life and birth that the soul undergoes in various bodies; the soul wanders across the mortal world in different incarnations getting caught in a mesh of karma and desires.

The liberation from Samsara is called Moksha.

 In Srimad Bhagavatam, Shri Krishna explains the truth about Samsara by reciting a parable about a boat ride.

THE BOAT RIDE: Meaning of Samsara

“You do not remember, but a long time ago, you had found yourself standing along a river bank. You saw a river in front of you with water as sparkling as a blue sapphire. The river was gently curving surrounded by dense forests and your mind was enticed by seeing the diverse, colorful flowers mounted on the rocks in the water. A cool breeze was flowing on the tranquil water and there were various species of birds and butterflies flying over the surface of the river.

There arose a desire in you to cross the river and get to the other side. As soon as you willed, a boat appeared in the river. The boat was sturdy and was being steered by five oarsmen.

You got in the boat and began your journey. The five oarsmen were guides par excellence and they made your journey delightful by regaling you with different stories and making you experience different things along the journey. Sometimes, the ride was peaceful and sometimes turbulent waves shook the boat.

Finally the journey came to an end, and the five oarsmen, who had become dearer to you than your own life, dropped you on the other side of the river and departed.

By the veil of illusion, you forgot about the journey as soon as you stepped out of the boat and you again found yourself standing on a river bank. Again, you saw a river in front of you with water as sparkling as a blue gem. Again, there arose a desire in you to cross the river. Again, a new boat with a new set of five oarsmen appeared. Again you took the same journey through a different route. You reached the other end, the oarsmen departed, and like before, you forgot about the journey.

You were again standing on the river bank and there arose a desire to cross the river. You are still standing on the same river bank.  Some of you have taken this journey a million times, and some of you a thousand times.

Interpretation of the Story: Samsara meaning

The journey is what we call life, the two river banks are life and death for this particular incarnation. The five oarsmen are our own five senses, and the boat is the body in this birth. The senses take us through the same repetitive cycle, delighting or frustrating us with perceived observations, and we are caught in a web of attraction and repulsion. This web is known as Samsara.

In every age or kalpa, there is that rare soul,who is able to achieve to break the shackles of Samsara. This soul, mid-way through the boat ride is able to pierce through the veil of illusion and realizes that there is actually no need to make this journey. This seeker makes his or her mind firm, bids farewell to the extremely persuasive oarsmen and takes a leap of faith in the cool stream leaving the boat. He or she will never be standing along the river bank again. Such a person is called enlightened. For the stream between the two shores of life and death is the realm of pure consciousness.

The one who devoid of fear, stops getting swayed by the senses and begins self-inquiry by trying to understand the truth, will experience this stream of pure consciousness. The immersion into the pure consiousness and detachment from the body is called liberation from Samsara.

Suggested Reading:

KARMA: THE STORY OF THE BOWMAN

 LORD BRAHMA INSTRUCTS LORD INDRA: WHAT IS ATMAN OR THE SELF

LORD VISHNU TEACHES THE RIGHT WAY OF LIVING

‘WHO AM I’ SECRET: SAGE VASISTHA TELLS LORD RAM

                     WHY ARE WE BORN: THE STORY OF THE 5 ANTS

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IDOL WORSHIP IN HINDUISM: Lord Shiva instructs Sage Vasistha

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Idol worship in Hinduism refers to a devotee worshipping a God or Goddess in the form of  a statue, a physical symbol or a painting.
The concept of idol worship remains widely accepted among Hindus.

Hinduism is a vast religion and accommodates thoughts of all the devotees depending upon the spirtual evolution of a person. Hinduism caters to both the type of seekers: a person who engages in idol worship to achieve his or her material desires and the Yogi who mediates internally to achieve liberation

On one hand, the Upanishads explain the truth about consiousness and creation by delving into philosophy and mental speculation using dialgoues and debates; on the other hand, the Puranas explain the truth by reciting stories about Gods, their dialogues and anecdotes.

The intent of both these literatures is the same but the wise sages in their wisdom have left two different commentaries to appease to both the categories of people.

The Vedas and The Bhagavad Gita speak about the “Virat Purusha” or “Absolute Consiousness”  that teach us about the omniscience of God prompting us to find the “Brahman” or “Supreme Truth” by looking inside us. Similarly, Hinduism has scriptures that teach one about the material and spiritual merits available by idol worship.

The truth about idol worship is explained beautifully by Lord Shiva to Sage Vasistha in an ancient story mentioned in the scripture “Yoga Vasistha”.

IDOL WORSHIP IN HINDUISM- DIALOGUE BETWEEN LORD SHIVA AND VASISTHA

idol worship hinduismSage Vasistha, once visited Kailasa, the abode of Lord Shiva. Sage Vasistha started meditating in the forest in Kailasa. After a few days a great light emanated in front of Sage Vasistha.

With his insight, Sage Vasistha, inquired into the nature of the light and realized it was Lord Shiva.

(NOTE: The reference of the light is to the Shivling)

Sage Vasistha bowed to Lord Shiva, and asked “Lord what is the way of worshipping which destroys all sin and promotes auspiciousness?”

Lord Shiva replied: “O Sage, Do you know who God is?  God is not Vishnu, Brahma or Shiva; he is not the wind nor the sun nor the moon; he not the ascetic nor the king: God is nor I nor you; he is not Lakhsmi nor the mind. God is not found in idol worship.

“Know this, God is without form and undivided. That magnificence which is not made and which has neither beginning nor end is known as God.  God, Devas or Lord Shiva is nothing else but pure consciousness. That alone is fit to be worshipped; and that alone is all.

“If one is unable to worship this pure consciousness form of Shiva, then by all means, let him or her worship a form or an idol. O Sage, idol worship facilitates mental contemplation of God. Sometimes, even wise sages like you worship an idol playfully. Know this O Sage, whoever worships an idol worships a finite form and he will achieve finite results to fulfuill his desires. But the one who worships the infinite consciousness, gets infinite results and achieves the bliss of truth.

So people, depending on their past karma and spiritual evolution can worship the finite form in idols and get their finite desires fulfilled. Or they can worship the infinite form and attain liberation.”

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Nose Ring benefits: 7 reasons to wear nose rings

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nose ring benefits
Benefits of wearing nose rings

In India, there has been a tradition of wearing nose rings among women. References to nose rings have been made in the texts and art of ancient India. The ancient texts of Ayurveda also list down nose ring benefits.  Besides the health benefits associated with wearing nose rings, there is also the obvious decorative value of wearing nose ring as an ornament among women.

Nose ring benefits : Top 7 reasons why you should wear nose rings

1. In Ayurveda, the left side of the nose is associated with the female reproductive organ. The piercing made by the nose ring on the left side of the nose is said to promote the overall vitality of a woman.

2. It is also mentioned that having the nose pierced on the left side, reduces the pain in delivering a child. It is a common held belief especially in the villages, that wearing a nose ring makes the process of child birth easier.

3. In one of the Ayurvedic texts, it is mentioned that wearing a nose ring on the left side of the nose lessens menstrual pain for women.

4. There is a religious significance of wearing a nose ring too. Most women pierce their nose before marriage as a way of honoring Goddess Parvati.

5. In several communities of India, a nose ring or nose stud is a sign of marriage prosperity and enjoys the same significance as that of the Hindu ornament “Mangal Sutra”.

6. In a tantric reference to Nose rings, it is said that women wearing a nose ring are free from the effects of “Vashikaran” or “from being controlled or seduced by others.”

7. The obvious Nose ring benefit is for beautification as many traditional and modern women now wear the nose ring as a fashion accessory.

Click Below to browse through diamond studded nose rings

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Why is Ketaki Flower not used in worship?

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ketaki flower
Ketaki flower

Ketaki Flower is not offered to Lord Shiva and other Gods in Hindu Religion

The Ketaki flower is  highly fragrant and is used extensively for perfumes and aromatic oils. But the Ketaki flower is prohibited from being used as an offering in religious rituals.

Why is the Ketaki flower not used in Worship?

Once Lord Brahma and Lord Vishnu had an argument about who was more supreme. The argument escalated and both of them got ready for battle.

Both the Gods decided to fight. Vishnu in great fury discharged the Mahesvara weapon over Brahma. Brahma retaliated and aimed the Pasupata weapon at the chest of Vishnu. If both these weapons had collided, it would have caused havoc on creation. Thus Shiva appeared as a pillar of light in between both the weapons and absorbed them.

The story is mentioned in the Shiv Puran and also explains the significance of Shiv Ling.

Both Brahma and Vishnu were distracted by this pillar of light that extended vertically and seemed endless.  They stopped fighting and decided to inquire into the nature of this mysterious column of fire.  Vishnu assumed the form of a boar and went in search of the root. Brahma took the form of a swan and went up in search of the top.  Both of them travelled a great distance but could not reach the either end of the pillar.

Vishnu returned and admitted to Shiva that he could not find the end of the pillar. Brahma on his way up found a ketaki flower and convinced it to be a witness to the lie that Brahma had discovered the top of the pillar. Upon his return, Brahma cited the ketaki flower as a witness and told Shiva that he had found the end of the pillar of light.

Shiva immediately found out about the lie and became enraged at the ketaki flower. He cursed Brahma of not being worshipped on earth. He also cursed the ketaki flower that it would stop being used in any Hindu worshiping rituals.

This story is mentioned in Shiva Puran and hence people have stopped using the ketaki flower in relgious rituals and festivals.

The story also accurately predicts the decline of Lord Brahma worship and the absence of prominent temples dedicated to Lord Brahma.

The most famous temple dedicated to Lord Brahma is located at Jagatpita Brahma Mandir in Pushkar, Rajasthan

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    Brahma temple Pushkar- Religious significance

Why do Indian women pierce their nose?

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CASTEISM IN INDIA: Meeting of Lord Shiva and Adi Shankara

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Caste system in India. An ancient story about Hindu caste system. Lord Shiva meets Adi Shankaracharya.

hindu caste systemIn Advait Vedanta, the Hindu caste system is explained  by a meeting between Lord Shiva and Adi Shankara.

 

While there are many schools of thought, the underlying teachings of all thoughts in Hinduism lead to one truth – Consiousness, or Brahman, is one. For creation, the one consciousness or Brahman deludes itself and becomes many due to the illusion of differentiating between the seer and the seenthe body and the mindI and them.

When consciousness has convinced itself of this diversity, it can take birth and death as a being of any species or (in an ignorant human form) any caste.

Meeting of Lord Shiva and Adi Shankara charya- Explaining Hindu caste system

One day Adi Shankaracharya took a bath on the ghats of the Holy Ganga in Varanasi and proceeded towards the  Vishwanath Temple to pay homage to Lord Shiva.

As he was walking towards the temple from Manikarnika Ghat, a cremation worker (lowest social class of that time) approached him along with four dogs from the opposite direction.

Adi Sankara realizing that the cremation worker, an outcaste, was approaching him, stopped and said, “Step aside and let me pass.”

The outcaste continued to move forwards and Adi Sankara spoke excitedly in a loud voice, “Stop! Move away and let me pass.”
The cremation worker stopped a few feet away and smiled. He asked Adi Sankara, “Whom are you asking to move away, sir? Are you demanding the self to do so or the body to do so? For this body is built up of food. Is it your wish to keep it at a distance from that body which is also built up of  food? Or do you wish to separate the pure Awareness which is present here from the same Awareness present there?”

Adi Sankara was amazed at these words of the outcaste who continued speaking,  “Sir, Does it make any difference to the sun when it is  reflected in the waters of Ganga or in the dirty waters of the puddles in the streets of outcastes? Does space change if it remains in a golden pot or in a mud pot? Is there any difference between the outcaste and the Brahmin from the viewpoint of the knower of the Truth? Is your knowledge of the Brahman so bounded?”

Hearing these words of the outcaste, Adi Shankara was amazed. He realized he was in the presence of divinity. He folded his palms in adoration and spoke , “He who perceives all beings with an awareness of same-sightedness, he who acts in accordance with the perception of one consciousness in all and respects every being, he indeed is my Guru. You  are my Guru. I bow down at your holy feet a million times”.

As Adi Sankara bowed before the cremation worker, the man and  his canine company disappeared. In its place appeared Lord Shiva. Shankara’s mind was filled with intense devotion. He bowed down at the feet of the Great Guru of the Universe and then composed the profound five verses entitled “Maneesha Panchakam” which define the true stance of Hinduism on the caste system.

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SHIVA LINGA: True meaning 

IDOL WORSHIP IN HINDUISM

WHAT IS PEACE OF MIND: Brihaspati instructs his son

WHAT IS KARMA: The Bow-man analogy

PREDICTIONS OF KALI YUGA

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WHAT IS KARMA? Sanchita Karma and Prarabdha Karma

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WHAT IS KARMA: Sanchita Karma and Prarabdha Karma

Hinduism classifies Karma as Sanchita Karma and Prarabdha Karma. In Vedanta, the following analogy is used to explain Karma.

sanchita karma and prarabdha karma
What is Karma?

A bowman stands aiming at a distant target. He takes out an arrow from the quiver and releases it. While the arrow is floating through the air, the bowman takes another arrow from the bundle of arrows in the quiver and fits it in the bow. He is ready to shoot another arrow even as the other arrow is going towards its target in one direction.

Vedanta says that you are the bowman in every birth. The quiver of arrows represents Sanchita Karma.

Sanchita Karma is the sum total of the good and bad deeds of all your past lives.

The arrows in the quiver are all the good and bad actions from your past life.  All the good and bad actions from your past life reside in the quiver as residual effects for your future life.

Vedanta further explains that the arrow that you have shot is that portion of the sanchita or past karma that is responsible for your present body and destiny. This is called Prarabhdha karma.

Thus, the portion of the sanchita karma which influences human life in the present incarnation is called prarabdha karma.

In our life, a certain portion of the sanchita karma, most suited for the spiritual evolution at the time, is chosen to be worked out, during the course of our lifetime.

Subsequently the Prarabdha Karma creates circumstances which we are destined to experience in our present lifetime. It also places certain limitations via our physical family, body or life circumstances we are born into.

Thus Sanchita Karma and Prarabdha karma are colletively  known as fate or destiny.

Fate or destiny is nothing but the effect of the past karma represented by the quiver holding the arrows. The arrows are the residual effects of all your good and bad actions of your past. The action of choosing and shooting a particular arrow from the choices given due to your past actions creates present karma which will  decide your future birth.

SUGGESTED READING:

WHO AM I? Sage Vasistha instructs Lord Ram

WHAT IS DEATH? Time gives a timeless sermon

WHAT IS PEACE OF MIND: Brihaspati instructs his son

WHY ARE WE BORN- Story of the 5 Ants

SAMSARA- The secret of the boat-ride

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Prana and the benefits of Pranayam

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prana and the benefits of pranayam

Prana and the benefits of Pranayam

What is Prana?

The cosmic energy takes the form of Prana or the vital breath in the living form. All living species are conscious as long as Prana resides in them.

The story of Prana

The Upanishads explain the concept of Prana beautifully. In the beginning of creation, Brahman or the infinite consciousness presides over the cosmic energy and creates the 5 elements – fire, earth, water, air and space.

From these 5 elements of nature arise the the five sense organs. From fire came the sense of sight, from air came the sense of touch, from water came the sense of taste, from earth came the sense smell and from space came the sense of hearing.

These sense organs came together in the body of a living being.  After the sense organs came into existence, Brahman created good and evil. The constructive forces that would bring welfare on the creation were termed as Devas or Gods and the destructive forces that would cause misery in the world were termed as Asuras or Demons. It was so destined that both Gods and Demons could preside over the sense organs of a living being.

When a child is born, the natural state for his or her sense organs is to be governed by divinity and goodness. However, as the child grows older, the law of creation dictates that it is his or her own free will that will determine whether Gods or Demons would rule his or her senses.

All the five sense organs are capable of being presided over by Gods or Demons. However the free will to choose remains with the individual.

The 5 sense organs and free will

Speech –  When you choose to speak beneficial things you let divinity preside. When you choose to speak harmful things you chose to let the demons dominate.

Ear- The ear is always open and capable of hearing both the good and the bad.

Eyes– The eyes are prone to make you confused since they can see both the good and bad sights.

Similar is the case with taste, touch and smell.

 The story of Prana and the  benefits of  Pranayam

There is a lesser known truth mentioned in the scriptures.

There is one function in the body which is only presided by the constructive forces and can never be affected by evil.  That function is the Prana or breath in the body. All other sense organs can be influenced by good or evil forces. It is only Prana that can never get influenced by the destructive forces in the creation.

Therefore, in all ages, wise men to ensure that they realize the goodness and truth prevalent in them, attempt to control their Prana or breath. Pranayama or slow breathing is the most powerful way of ensuring that your senses and mind are never swayed towards evil.

The scriptures give the example of the tortoise who lives a long, peaceful life. With controlled breathing, the tortoise is always able to protect its limbs by restraining them inside the shell. Similarly the wise among men and women, are able to slow down their breathing with yogic practices, and are able to restrain their senses and achieve all that is good in this universe.

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The story of Raikva, cart-driver- Samvarga Vidya

WHY ARE WE BORN-  The Story of the 5 Ants

HOW TO GET PEACE OF MIND: Brihaspati instructs his son

WHY DO WE FEEL TRAPPED: The Story of the 2 birds

IDOL WORSHIP: LORD SHIVA INSTRUCTS VASISTHA

 

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ACHIEVING MOKSHA IN KALI YUGA: LORD KRISHNA’S MESSAGE

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Achieving Moksha

Lord Krishna gives a very simple remedy for achieving Moksha in Kali yuga.  Men and women will have to develop hope for remaining happy in Kali Yuga. Moksha is defined as freedom the ‘cycle of life and death’ or samsara. In Moksha, one attains freedom from the effects of karma and does not take rebirth.

In Kali Yuga, it is destined that both the sinner and the virtuous will possess wealth. People’s hope will limit to the hoarding of material things and they will mistake it for happiness. Those who try remaining happy by running after material wealth will live in ignorance and hope will evade them at the end of their lives.

In the scriptures, hope is defined at that urge in the self-consciousness that aspires you towards the betterment of your soul. People who develop such a hope will succeed in remaining happy in Kali Yuga.

There are three ways for achieving moksha in Kali yuga:

  1. Bhakti/Devotion: This is the easiest way to generate hope. Those who surrender their minds to the supreme being and perform their actions without aspiring for rewards will achieve happiness.

 

  1. Karma: Those who cannot develop Bhakti, can resolve to follow the path of Karma. Karma is defined as “never to act with desire following the action.” Anyone who follows the path of karma in Kali Yuga will achieve happiness and freedom from misery.

 

  1. Those who cannot develop Bhakti or live a life of Karma yoga, should develop the following qualities and pass their lives on earth. Happiness will always be found in a person who has the following qualities: Ahimsa (non-violence), Asteyam (non-stealing), Astikam (a firm faith in the belief of a higher power), Lajja (a feeling of shame to do actions which are unworthy), Sthairyam (to be firm in your words, in your actions, in your convictions), Kshama (forgiveness) and Abhaya (fearlessness).

 SUGGESTED READING:

WHAT IS ATMA: Lord Brahma Instructs Lord Indra

WHAT IS KARMA: The Story of the Bow-man

WHAT IS DEATH: Times gives a timless sermon

The Story of the Caged Elephant: How to break Free

WHO AM I? Sage Vasistha instructs Lord Rama

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KALI YUGA PREDICTIONS: What is Kali Yuga

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kali yuga predictions

 

Most of the Kali Yuga predictions have already become a reality. It has been written in the ancient Hindu scriptures that Dharma (the right way of living) represented by a bull will stand only on one leg in the age of Kali. Predictions of what will happen in Kali Yuga are mentioned in the Mahabharat and the Bhagavata Purana.

It remains to be seen if all the predictions of Kali Yuga mentioned in these scriptures will come true.

Kali Yuga predictions made by Sri Krishna and Sage Markendya.

In Kali Yuga, people will become a slave to lust, anger and pride.

Ignorant people will delight in violence and kill each other and other species in the name of religion.

People will lead bewildered lives. Fake spiritual people will exploit this state of ignorance and become mass leaders leading people further into their destruction.

People in power will rob the state and commit crimes on the people they are supposed to protect.

The main purpose of life will be to please the senses. In the age of Kali, only wealth will be considered as a virtue and a wealthy man will command the respect of everyone.

People will become intoxicated and having no control of their lives,  remain in ignorance. Overcome by lust, people will lead a meaningless existence.

Men will indulge in actions that destroy nature and nature in turn will destroy men.

Children will stop caring for the parents and society will become devoid of values.

Men and women will live together merely because of superficial attraction, and success in business will depend on deceit.

People will look for truth outside themselves. Seeking peace externally, people will change from one religion to another.

Anyone who is clever at juggling words will be considered a learned scholar and lead the masses.

As the earth thus becomes crowded with a corrupt population, whoever among any of the social classes shows himself to be the strongest will gain political power.

Harassed by famine and excessive taxes, people will resort to eating leaves, roots, flesh, wild honey, fruits, flowers and seeds. Struck by drought, they will become completely ruined. The citizens will suffer greatly from cold, wind, heat, rain and snow. They will be further tormented by quarrels, hunger, thirst, disease and severe anxiety.

The maximum duration of life for human beings in Kali yuga will become fifty years.

While these were the predictions for Kali Yuga, the scriptures also tell us how how to remain happy in the age of Kali. 

SUGGESTED READING

WHAT IS SAMSARA: The Secret of the boat-ride

HAPPINESS: Why does Maya smile at you

UPANISHAD STORY: Raikva, the cart-driver

WHAT IS DEATH: Time gives a timeless sermon

WHAT IS KARMA: The Story of the Bow-man

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