According to the Hindu tradition of cosmology, we are now nearing the end of the Kali Yuga (the Age of Iron) which is the final and most negative of four evolutionary Yugic cycles.
Each Yuga is like the season of a super-cosmic year, even greater than the cosmic year of the precession of the equinoxes. When the Earth came into its current phase of manifestation and the first Yuga began («Satya» Yuga, meaning «Purity») humanity was barely removed from its original state of God-like innocence. This was the original Golden Age. As time progressed the planet underwent the influence of a negative descending spiral, and the quality of life in each successive Yuga became further and further removed from the knowledge of truth and natural Law (in other words, «Reality»). In the second, Treta Yuga (Silver Age) spiritual awareness decreased by one fourth and by the time of Dvapara Yuga (Copper Age) negativity had a 50% holding. In the Kali Yuga the vibration has become pretty murky and humanity is labouring against heavy odds. Righteousness (right-use-ness) has diminished to scant one fourth of its original strength. Throughout our current history we have created and been assailed by all the evils of Pandora’s box. No wonder the human race is having such a difficult time. But the turning point has now arrived, and the dawn once more sheds its light on a confused and ignorant planet.
The Vishnu Purana, one of the oldest sacred texts of India says about the Kali Yuga, «The leaders who rule over the Earth will be violent and seize the goods of their subjects… Those with possessions will abandon agriculture and commerce and will live as servants, that is, following various possessions. The leaders, with the excuses of fiscal need, will rob and despoil their subjects and take away private property. Moral values and the rule of the law will lessen from day to day until the world will be completely perverted and agnosticism will gain the day among men».
There are many other references to this division of time. For instance, in the Bible, Nebuchandnezzar’s dream (Daniel 2:31-45) was of a bright and terrible image with a head of finest gold, chest of silver, hips of brass and legs of iron. The feet and toes were of iron mixed with clay. This image was destroyed by stone, unmade by human hands, which crushed the feet to dust and the pieces blew away in the wind. Although Daniel the prophet interpreted the various metals as the world empires which succeeded Babylon, the dream also has a more cosmic meaning. It represents the great yugas. The iron legs are the Iron Age or Kali Yuga which deteriorates at the end of its cycle into the present unstable civilisation symbolised by the feet of iron and clay. The prophet interpreted the stone as the true kingdom of God which would replace the other civilisations as the real and lasting Kingdom.
The End of a World
This end only appears to be the «end of the world», without any reservation or specification of any kind, to those who see nothing beyond the limits of this particular cycle; a very excusable error of perspective it is true, but one that has nonetheless some regrettable consequences in the excessive and unjustified terrors to which it gives rise in people who are not sufficiently detached from terrestrial existence; and naturally they are the very people who form this erroneous conception most easily, just because of the narrowness of their point of view. …the end now under consideration is undeniably of considerably greater importance than many other, for it is the end of a whole Manvantara, and so of the temporal existence of what may rightly be called a humanity, but this, it must be said once more, in no way implies that it is the end of the terrestrial world itself, because, through the «reinstatement» that takes place at the final instant, this end will itself immediately become the beginning of another Manvantara…if one does not stop short of the most profound order of reality, it can be said in all truth the «end of a world» never is and never can be anything but the end of an illusion.