Severe Hindi austerities in Kali Yuga?

Luis Gonzalez-Reimann reimann at BERKELEY.EDU
Wed Dec 15 21:17:37 UTC 2010

I would add that the list of dharmas associated with the yugas in 
Manusmr̥ti 1.85-86 also appears in the Mahābhārata (12.224.26-27, in the 
critical edition). The main point of these assignations seems to be to 
place yajña (Vedic sacrifice) in a bygone yuga, therefore justifying its 
loss of importance and allowing for other practices to be proclaimed as 

Different traditions would then claim that their practices are foremost 
in the Kali Yuga. Although this is especially true of bhakti traditions 
  -as seen in Bengali Vaiṣṇavism's assertion that chanting the name of 
Kr̥ṣṇa is the only way to attain liberation in Kali- others also used 
this procedure.

Thus, claiming that tapas (austerity) does not belong in Kali can be a 
way of belittling it in favor of another practice, such as bhakti. This, 
however, is not the case in the Rāmāyaṇa passage, as explained by Bob 
Goldman, where the varṇas are the main concern.

Luis González-Reimann


on 12/15/2010 11:10 AM Robert Goldman wrote:
> The idea that different religious duties are appropriate in the
> different yugas is widely stated. Compare Manusmṛti 1. 85-86 where
> aceticism (tapas)  is prescribed for the Kṛta Age, knowledge (jñāna)
> for the Tretā, sacrifice (yajña) for the Dvāpara and charity (dāna)
> for the Kṛta.
> Alf is right to note that Nārada delivers a discourse in the
> Uttarakāṇḍa (sarga 65 of the critical edition) on asceticism and the
> yugas. But the ṛṣi's point is rather different. He focuses on which of
> the four varṇas are authorized to perform tapas in which yugas. His
> ultimate point is that śūdras are not so authorized until the Kṛta.
> (As, starting with the brahmans, one class is added to the list each
> yuga). Thus, as the scene is set in the Tretā, the śūdra Śambūka, is
> violating dharma and thus merits punishment.
> Dr. R. P.  Goldman
> Professor of Sanskrit
> Department of South and Southeast Asian Studies
> MC # 2540
> The University of California at Berkeley
> Berkeley, CA 94720-2540
> Tel: 510-642-4089
> Fax: 510-642-2409
> On Dec 15, 2010, at 6:22 AM, Alfred Hiltebeitel wrote:
>> I believe it is Narada who, for one, makes this point to Rama in
>> justification for the killing of Shambuka in the Valmiki Ramayana
>> Uttarakanda.
>> Alf Hiltebeitel
>> Professor of Religion and Human Sciences
>> Department of Religion
>> 2106 G Street, NW
>> George Washington University
>> Washington DC 20052
>> ----- Original Message -----
>> From: Dean Michael Anderson <eastwestcultural at YAHOO.COM>
>> Date: Wednesday, December 15, 2010 8:40 am
>> Subject: [INDOLOGY] Severe Hindi austerities in Kali Yuga?
>> To: INDOLOGY at
>>> We were discussing the Hindu legends about severe austerities
>>> performed by Dhruva, Parvati, etc. and it came up that some Hindu
>>> scriptures say that they are not appropriate for Kali Yugi, i.e. the
>>> age that we are said to be in now.
>>> But no one could remember the source of that comment about their
>>> obsolescence. Does anyone have sources for this?
>>> Best,
>>> Dean AndersonEast West Cultural Institute

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