Kali Yuga

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The Kali Yuga (Sanskritn., कलियुग kaliyuga "age of Kali"), the last of the four present Yugas, was the dark age, with the beginning of which, which Rudolf Steiner puts for the year 3101 BC[1], the last remnants of ancient clairvoyance at the end of the ancient Persian period (5067 - 2907 BC) were abruptly extinguished for the vast majority of humanity. The Kaliyuga lasted 5000 years and thus ended in 1899 according to Rudolf Steiner.

„Then, however, came another age, an age in which this familiarity with the spiritual world also ceased, where, as it were, the gates to the spiritual world closed. People's gaze became more and more limited to the outer sensual world and the intellect, which processes the impressions of the senses, so that people could only think about the spiritual world. That is the lowest way of knowing something about the spiritual world. What people now really knew from their own experience was the sensual-physical world. If people wanted to know something about the spiritual world, they had to achieve this by thinking. This is the time when man became the most unspiritual and therefore the most fixed and entrenched in the world of the senses. But this was necessary in order to gradually develop his self-awareness to the highest height. For only through the rough resistance of the outer world could man learn to distinguish himself from the world and to feel himself as a separate being. This latter age is also called Kali Yuga or the dark age.

I expressly note that these terms can also be used for greater epochs, for example, the term Krita Yuga can be used for an even greater period of time. For before that golden age was there which has been described, man was involved with his experience in still higher worlds, therefore one could encompass all these still older times with this name. But if one moderates one's demands, so to speak, if one is still satisfied with that measure of spiritual experience which has been described, then one can divide them in this way, as has now happened. For all such ages one can indicate quite definite periods of time. Now it is true that development proceeds slowly and gradually, but there are limits to which one can say: Before it was mainly this and after it was that life-relationship and consciousness that predominated. So we must reckon that in the sense in which we first spoke of it, Kali Yuga begins about the year 3101 before our calendar. There we see that our souls have appeared on earth in ever new embodiments, in which the human gaze has become more and more closed to the spiritual world and thus more and more confined to the outer world of the senses. There we see that with each new embodiment our souls actually enter into ever new conditions in which new things can always be learned. What we can gain in the Kali Yuga is to consolidate our I-consciousness. This was not possible before, for then one had first to absorb the I into oneself.“ (Lit.:GA 118, p. 21f)

Kali Yuga and The Deluge

The Flood of Noah and Companions (c. 1911) by Léon Comerre, Musée d'Arts de Nantes.

The Deluge commonly refers to the sinking of Atlantis and the associated post-glacial floods that permanently changed the face of the earth and initiated the age of cultural epochs. In fact, however, many traditional Flood legends do not refer to this physical event, but rather to the beginning of Kali Yuga, with which the majority of people lost insight into the spiritual world within a few weeks. During this transitional period, consciousness almost completely darkened before it then dived deeper and deeper into the world of the senses. Mentally, this dramatic event was felt like drowning in the sense world. The mental shock was so strong that many people perished in the process.

„Certainly, there are many things connected with this Flood tradition that refer to earlier times. But one thing can be traced occultly, that the peoples - and almost all peoples who have left good historical monuments or legends - place a time about three thousand years before the Mystery of Golgotha for the taking place of the Flood. So that if we go back from there three thousand years, we come to what the Flood legend had in mind as the last event it meant. Now there is not enough time today to explain the reasons why this last Flood, which is said to have taken place three thousand years before our era, cannot mean a great catastrophe, a flood in the physical sense. It is self-evident that it does not refer to the Atlantic catastrophe either, for this lies even further back in time. Something quite different must therefore be meant by it.“ (Lit.:GA 133, p. 121f)

„Here I ask you to remember one thing which I have often stated: that for the view of the first post-Atlantean cultural period, whose teachers were the great holy Rishis, the human etheric body comes into consideration, which was mainly active at that time, while in the ancient Persian cultural period the human astral body, the sentient body, was particularly active, in the Egyptian-Chaldean period the sentient soul, in the Greek-Latin period the intellectual or mind soul, in our present epoch the consciousness soul, and now we are approaching the time in which gradually, in the cultural phenomenon, what we call the spirit self emerges. As man developed in this way, something very significant happened to what his soul experienced. Just think that the ancient Indian, the primeval Indian, of whom the Vedas know nothing more, looked at the world in such a way as to produce this world image when the etheric body was primarily active. For through the etheric body man cannot look outwards as he looks outwards today. He cannot gain such an outlook, such a world view, as we have today, but through the etheric body everything comes from within. The human being of today only gets a weak, dull picture of the way in which the view comes about through the etheric body when he remembers what his dreams are like. But in the primal Indian times people knew of each other's dreams and visions, and these were living dreams and visions to the highest degree. If a man met another on the way, he could not see him with the outer eye as he does today. To believe that would be prejudice. However, he did see an image that he had before him. The person was still surrounded by a kind of auric cloud, and what he had physically before him was as if enveloped in a kind of mist. He perceived quite differently.“ (Lit.:GA 133, p. 122f)

„For the second post-Atlantean cultural period the ability to look outwards gradually came through, but strangely enough the ability to look out into world-space still remained. While downwards everything still remained blurred, the ancient Persian looked clearly into the starry world. It is therefore understandable that Zarathustrism immediately pointed people to that which comes from outer space, to the sunlight in its Ahura Mazda, the Ormuzd. This was because that which we call the astral body was now active. At the end of this period, it was already preparing to look outwards. Slowly the impulses are coming to see things as they are now seen. So the impulse was given to humanity to gradually look out upon the physical plan. And this impulse came to men in such a way that men gradually passed over to a quite new way of looking, little by little this dawned upon humanity.“ (Lit.:GA 133, p. 123)

„When the ancient Persian period came to an end and the next one shone forth like a future dawn, men felt: We shall no longer experience so strongly what has become to us as a divine heirloom from ancient times, what inner human vision is, what visionary clairvoyance is, where mankind lived together in the Atlantean time with the divine-spiritual worlds. - People looked back. The most important thing for them were memories in which, like vivid dream images, emerged how the gods had shaped the world through the Lemurian and Atlantean times. These memories were felt as something that was receding from humanity, something that was gradually fading away. And it was felt that something would now come when man would have to intervene with what spoke in him about the outer world, what obscured for him the brightness of the inner spiritual world, and what forced him to look outwards from within in order to have the outer world as his own. More and more this time approached.“ (Lit.:GA 133, p. 123f)

„And this is how one would have felt with an old Indian who lived in that age: Godhead Pramati is approaching. It snatches man from the old guidance of the old gods; it makes disappear what has been gained from the world through inner clairvoyance, it forces man to look out into the physical plan. The old world of the gods is darkening. A time is coming when people will no longer be able to see out of their souls into the world of the gods, but will see into the outer world. Kali Yuga is approaching, the "black age", the no longer bright, white age of the old divinity, the age in which the old gods withdraw, which is initiated by the divinity Pramati!

Kali Yuga: it was felt by letting it begin 3101 before our calendar, that is, precisely in the time to which Indian tradition also places the Flood. For it said that the Flood coincides with the approach of Kali Yuga. And Kali Yuga was understood to be the descendant of the god Pramati.

Kali Yuga has come. We know that it is only in our time that Kali Yuga has come to an end, and that we must now find the ascent into the spiritual world and that there is therefore a spiritual science! For, just as the Kali Yuga began in 3101 before our era, so it ended in 1899. Therefore, 1899 is an important year. Therefore humanity must conceive of its future ideal in such a way that it must now ascend again into the spiritual worlds.

That age, which preceded the advent of the Kali Yuga, was also characteristic of the ancient Persian period, when the old memories were still felt through the astral body. But now one had to turn outwards. That was a tremendous transition. For many people it happened in such a way that for a time they saw nothing at all, that darkness spread over the human souls through the human powers of development. This darkening, this state of sleep which humanity had undergone, did not last for long periods of time, but only for weeks. But it went through just this state of sleep, and many did not come out of it again. Many perished and only a few remained at various points on earth. There is not enough time today to describe the conditions that occurred. In short, it can only be said that the conditions were very, very sinister because a great number of people perished, and only at a few points on earth did people wake up again from the great spiritual flood which spread over the souls like a sleep. And most souls felt this state of sleep like drowning - and only a few like a resurgence. Then came the "black age", the degodified age.“ (Lit.:GA 133, p. 124f)

This event is also reflected in Greek mythology. Deucalion (GreekΔευκαλίων, from Δ(υ)εύς Dyēus, the Boeotian form for Zeus, and κᾶλον kalon "combustible (wood), ship"; from καίειν "to burn, to set on fire"), the son of Prometheus (GreekΠρομηθεύς "the forward-thinking one") and Pronoia (GreekΠρόνοια "providence"), is commissioned by his father to build a ship, which he boards together with his wife Pyrrha (GreekΠύρρα), who was a daughter of Epimetheus and Pandora. Both thus survive the "great flood". According to the Library of Apollodorus, other people who took refuge on the "mountains" also survive.[2] Deucalion's son Hellen is considered the progenitor of the Hellenes. The similarity to the construction of Noah's Ark, which is handed down in the Bible, can hardly be overlooked. The story of Utnapishtim in the Epic of Gilgamesh also points in the same direction.

„We could go round among the different peoples and would find to our astonishment how in the widest circles men have indeed known that the thing is so, that a flooding of consciousness has taken place and that in the third post-Atlantean age of culture, through the special development of the sentient soul - that is, through looking outwards - something quite new had to occur. The Indians felt this when they said: Kali Yuga emerges as a successor to Pramati. What did the Greeks say? Quite the same. With them Pramati is only called Prometheus, which is quite the same. He is the brother of Epimetheus. The latter still represents what looks back into ancient times. Epimetheus is the "reflector", Prometheus is the one who must already think in advance in his thoughts what is outside and takes place outside. And just as Pramati has his posterity in the Kali Yuga, so Prometheus has his posterity: we have only to form the word "Kali Yuga" according to the Greek; there it is "Kalion", and because the Greeks felt that it is the age of the black idol, we must put the "Deu" - deus - in front of it and we get "Deukalion". That is the same word as Kali Yuga. We are not dealing here with a spinning-off, but with an occult fact. So we see from this that the Greeks know the same thing that the Indians know. This is only one example that can show us how people in their ancient clairvoyant states knew what it was all about and how they knew how to express what was going on in powerful images. For the Greek myth tells us how Deucalion, on the advice of his father Prometheus, built a wooden box in which he alone saved himself and his wife Pyrrha from destruction when Zeus wanted to destroy the human race with a flood. Deucalion and Pyrrha, who were then landed on Mount Parnassus, are thus for the Greeks the beginning of the new human race. Deucalion is the son of Prometheus. And in between there is the 'flood', which has occurred for the most diverse peoples as a process in the state of consciousness.“ (Lit.:GA 133, p. 126)


References to the work of Rudolf Steiner follow Rudolf Steiner's Collected Works (CW or GA), Rudolf Steiner Verlag, Dornach/Switzerland, unless otherwise stated.
Email: verlag@steinerverlag.com URL: www.steinerverlag.com.
Index to the Complete Works of Rudolf Steiner - Aelzina Books
A complete list by Volume Number and a full list of known English translations you may also find at Rudolf Steiner's Collected Works
Rudolf Steiner Archive - The largest online collection of Rudolf Steiner's books, lectures and articles in English.
Rudolf Steiner Audio - Recorded and Read by Dale Brunsvold
steinerbooks.org - Anthroposophic Press Inc. (USA)
Rudolf Steiner Handbook - Christian Karl's proven standard work for orientation in Rudolf Steiner's Collected Works for free download as PDF.


  1. According to H. P. Blavatsky and also according to Hinduist Tradition, the dark ages began as early as 18 February 3102 BC with the death of Krishna.
  2. Library of Apollodorus 1,46