The mythical forces are reactivated...
The Hindu avatar Kalki is rather topical these days. Who was he?
This we will answer in this post.
Previously on the blog we have spoken about Kali Yuga. We hold that it has ended. This is of some importance to our times. And Kalki plays a part in it all.
In this post we will summarize a book about Kalki. We will take a look at this one: Śrī Kalki Purāṇa, translated by Bhumipati Dasa, Jai Nitai Press 2006.
Kalki is the tenth, future, coming avatar of Viṣṇu. This is interesting, both regarding Hindu myth and current western world myth. For starters, we will look into the meaning of the myth, and then the mainstay of the post will give a summary of the story of Kalki, as found in the Kalki Purāṇa.
So then, first, a little about the Kalki myth proper, the Hindu hero named Kalki. The story of him, the glorious Kalki Purāṇa, begins thus: the world is in chaos. Irreligiosity abounds; with a Skt. term the situation can be described as “adharma” = non-dharma; an absence of the implicate, divine order, is seen everywhere in human affairs. The world needs divine help... so an envoy is sent to heaven to ask God to intervene. This is a rather common pattern in Hindu myths, for instance seen at the beginning of Mahābhārata.
There we have the beginning of the Kalki Purāṇa: on earth, the Kali Yuga is raging; the above state of adharma. Some demigods, having seen the degeneracy and chaos abounding, go to Brahmā in heaven to ask him for help. Brahmā in turn asks Viṣṇu to intervene; and the blue god of dharma, upholder of the cosmos, soon decides to take a part of his soul and let it incarnate in a human hero that will rectify the situation. The hero’s name will be Kalki. Thus “the tenth avatar of Viṣṇu” will come true.
This is the situation, the dramatic setting of the Hindu document Kalki Purāṇa, written some time around 1500 and 1700 CE. And now, some words about what this means for us in the Western world... for, later, in our age, the 20 and 21st century, “Kalki” has also become famous for being seen as a coming avatar of Adolf Hitler. Savitri Devi (Maximiani Portas, 1905-1982) made this interpretation. Like this: in 1928 Hitler said that he wasn’t “the One” but maybe only a forerunner, a predecessor, a mere harbinger of greater things to come. The saying was made in an interview with Hans Grimm. Specifically Hitler said: “I know that Somebody must come forth and meet our situation. I have sought him. I have found him nowhere; and therefore I have taken upon myself to do the preparatory work, only the most preparatory work. For that much I know: I am not He.” [AH in Grimm interview, quoted after Devi, The Lightning and the Sun, p. 434]
Savitri Devi, interpreting this, meant that the Führer would some day return as Kalki, the tenth and future avatar of Viṣṇu. Kalki will lead an army of Aryan heroes from myth and history: “They are the bridge to supermanhood, of which Nietzsche has spoken, ‘the last Battalion’ in which Adolf Hitler has put his confidence. – Kalki will lead them, through the flames of the great End, into the sunshine of the new Golden Age.” [ibid p. 435]
Whatever the Hitler connection to the Kalki myth means, we don’t know. Below will, at any rate, be give a summary of the Kalki Purāṇa. Even beyond the AH connection it is an exciting story. The original is written in metric couplets, ”epic Sanskrit” in śloka meter. The whole text, Sanskrit with English translation, can be found here.
As we have already said, the Kalki Purāṇa is from between 1500 and 1700 CE, that is, from the early modern period – that is, ”not so old”. But the prophecies per se of the appearance of Kalki are much older. For instance, the Bhāgavata Purāṇa (a mythic collection about Kṛṣṇa) foretells of Kalki. And this text, the Bhāgavata Purāṇa, aka. Śrimad Bhāgavatam, was written sometime in the early centuries CE, maybe as early as the 6th.
The Kalki myth is old. And what do we learn of it in the Bhāgavata Purāṇa?
There are primarily two Kalki quotes in it and they say the following. Pro primo 1.3.25:
athāsau yuga-sandhyāyāṁ / dasyu-prāyeṣu rājasu“Thereafter, at the conjunction of two yugas, the Lord of the creation will take His birth as the Kalki incarnation and become the son of Viṣṇu Yaśā. At this time almost all the rulers of the earth will have degenerated into plunderers.”
janitā viṣṇu-yaśaso / nāmnā kalkir jagat-patiḥ
We are now at that "conjunction of two yugas". We have told about it before.
Here, it might suffice to say: according to Rudolf Steiner, Kali Yuga ended in 1899... this is the end of Kali Yuga, and the beginning of Dvapara Yuga... “the conjunction of two yugas” as the verse says... and so, I ask you, what famous politician was born about then... a politician whom Serrano has pointed out as exactly the tenth avatar of Vishnu, as Kalki...?
Listen again to the translation of 1.3.25, this is mythical, this is the soundtrack of our times:
“At the conjunction of two yugas, the Lord of the creation will take His birth as the Kalki incarnation and become the son of Viṣṇu-Yaśā. At this time the rulers of the earth will have degenerated into plunderers.”
The second place in the Bhāgavata Purāṇa mentioning Kalki is in book 12.
“Lord Kalki will appear in the home of the most eminent Brahmana of Śambhala village, the great soul Viṣṇu-Yaśā.” (Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam 12.2.18)
This is followed by two more verses of great splendor, 12.2.19-20. They are about Kalki mouting his horse and killing millions etc:
aśvam āśu-gam āruhya / devadattaṁ jagat-patiḥ“Lord Kalki, the Lord of the universe, will mount His swift horse Devadatta and, sword in hand, travel over the earth exhibiting His eight mystic opulences and eight special qualities of Godhead. Displaying His unequaled effulgence and riding with great speed, He will kill by the millions those thieves who have dared dress as kings.”
asināsādhu-damanam / aṣṭaiśvarya-guṇānvitaḥ
vicarann āśunā kṣauṇyāṁ / hayenāpratima-dyutiḥ
nṛpa-liṅga-cchado dasyūn / koṭiśo nihaniṣyati
I will only say: Kalki is an ontological-mythical reality. This is no mere ”interesting phenomenon,” something to reduce into nothing by a critical philologist. What exudes from the Kalki story is the power of myth, in our day enhanced by the Hitler interpretation seen above. So, is Kalki what AH will become, or is this purāṇa just a story of what has been? No one can say; there is no instance outside of language, outside of reality, where one can judge and say, ”this is so, and not in any other way”. Like any ancient myth the Kalki myth is irreducible; it is revelation. It is ambiguous; Kalki Purāṇa is a virtual force-field of story, divine worship, cosmology, and moral. It is a complex of symbols – and god speaks to us in symbols.
As noted, we have gone deeper into the meaning of the Kali myth before.
That was what Bhāgavata Purāṇa says of Kalki. Now over to Kalki Purāṇa proper.
Kalki Purāṇa has 35 chapters. Of the dramatic structure you can, to simplify somewhat, say that chapters 1-13 are setting the stage, presenting Kalki, and preparing for battle. Chapters 14-28 are about the battles of Kalki. And chapters 29-35 are ”soir de bataille,” the tranquil ending after the epic war against adharma is successfully concluded on all fronts.
We will now recapitulate the Kalki story as seen in the Kalki Purāṇa. For its part, perhaps ”the Hitler connection” becomes rather vague when delving into the purāṇa proper, when confronted with the details of this ancient Hindu myth; we won’t go into that, we won’t interpretate – not generally. Sometimes we just retell the legend, sometimes we make one or the other reflection about the content. Overall, we will give you the myth as a complete parcel, a model if you will, and maybe or maybe not it will clarify things. But, as intimated, art is symbolism and Kalki, in all his connotations, is a strong symbol, a symbol of ”Rider of the Apocalypse,” a symbol of prophecy (like ”a lawgiver shall come who will vex the rebellious,” as Nostradamus said), a symbol of ”a world ruler who will return” à la King Arthur, Friedrich Barbaraossa, Holger Danske.
The specificity of the symbol, any symbol, is to be ambuguous, to have many meanings. Kalki is a rather fine example of this; as a symbol he is illustrioulsy ambiguous and rich in meanings.
Now for the summary of Kalki Purāṇa...
Chapter 1. The first two verses of this chapter give us a description of Kali Yuga, the chaotic, degenerate era when religious principles are forgotten and everyone indulges in materialistic pleasures. Sin rules supreme – and the implicate order, the lex naturalis of dharma is trampled underfoot. So, next we get verse 3, being an invocation to the heavens, asking Kalki to be born on earth to end the Kali Yuga: “May the Supreme Personality of Godhead, having assumed the form of Kalki, who is the Supersoul of all living entities, establish the eternal principles of religion. Having appeared in a family of brahmanas, He will annihilate the sinful kings of Kali Yuga by the fire of the poison emanating from His ferocious serpent-like hands while riding on the back of an excellent horse of the Sindh province. In this way, He will protect the pious and re-establish Satya yuga.” – The sage Sūta Gosvāmi then tells of the world in the throes of Kali (Kali is here a male god, a god of material indulgence).
For its part, verse 43 of Chapter 1 is a “scene in heaven” which we always have at the beginning of epics (The Iliad; Mahābhārata; and also in lesser stories such as Śakuntalā and the Sunda and Upasunda-substory of the Mahābhārata). Specifically, we are taken to the heavenly abode of Brahmā, the divine Creator. Among other things, there is spoken of “intoxicated bumblebees” at the seat of this god; like in Jünger’s novel Heliopolis bees are described as intoxicated by nectar, that is, they’re gloriously inebriated while doing their thing, they aren’t “working” in the slavish, dull sense. – The demigods are addressing Brahmā, seeking a solution to a world gone astray (verse 44-45). – Then it is finis of chapter; it ends “in medias res,” on a dramatic note, which is not uncommon in purāṇas and Mbh; the dramatic situation is resolved in the next chapter.
Chapter 2: in this chapter Viṣṇu heeds the call of Brahmā and decides to get incarnated as Kalki. – What we specifically get here is, first, a little repetition; the demigods are complaining to Brahmā of the dismal state of the world (verse 1). Brahmā, after hearing this, says, “let’s go to Viṣṇu with our plea, he might help us” (verse 2).
Verse 3: “After saying this, Lord Brahmā took all the demigods and went to the abode of Lord Hari (= Viṣṇu) known as Goloka, a heavenly planet. There, he offered prayers to the Supreme Lord, informing Him of the plight of the demigods.”
Verse 4: “After hearing everything in detail, lotus eyed Lord Hari said, ‘О Brahmā, rest assured that I will soon descend to the earth and appear in the village known as Śambhala [Śambhala is in this context a place in northern India]. I will take birth in the house of a brahmana named Viṣṇuyaśā, from the womb of his wife, Sumati’.” He also says that with the help of his four brothers he will eliminate the wicked Kali (verse 5), the male demon symbolizing the degenerate era, Kali Yuga. Kalki will name two kings to rule the earth, Maru and Devapī (verse 7). He will reinstate the rule of religion; he will return to Vaikuṇṭha (= heaven) only after Kali is destroyed (verse 8). – Kalki, as an avatāra of Viṣṇu, as a newborn child, is attended upon by great sages. – Verse 31: Kalki’s brothers are Kavi, Prajña and Sumantra. Each of them eventually has two sons. – Kalki gets religious instruction by his father.
Chapter 3, preparations for the great task of Kalki. – Kalki is taught by Paraśurāma, the warrior who wiped out the entire Kṣatriya class. Also, like Kalki, Paraśurāma is a Viṣṇu avatāra; Paraśurāma is avatāra number six, Kalki is avatāra number ten. Paraśurāma’s instruction comes in the form of reading the Vedas. Plus lessons in archery. Kalki’s guru says that he will get a powerful weapon by Lord Śiva, marry a pious woman named Padmā, and reestablish dharma in the world (verse 9). He will defeat Kali and eradicate Buddhism. Regarding the ordinated “gift of the student to his teacher” (dakshinā), Kalki had asked Paraśurāma what gift he wanted; the ācarya said, the very deed of you, Kalki, that of re-establishing dharma, will suffice. – Kalki approaches Śiva, the famed Mahādeva. After hearing Kalki’s praising of him, Śiva gives him a white horse manifested from Garuḍa, the eagle god, and a parrot, which knows past, present and future. The horse’s name is Devadatta, the parrot’s, Śuka. From Śiva Kalki also gets a very shiny (mahā-prabham) sword. Kalki accepts the gifts and rides back to Śambhala.
Chapter 4, about the future wife, Padmāvatī; like Kalki she is is a divine avatāra, specifically, she is the incarnation of the goddess Lakṣmī. – In this chapter we for instance hear a Kalki preachment along the lines of, “I am god, the universe, everything”... Kalki also speaks on how to be a Brahmin. – The wise parrot Śuka arrives, telling Kalki of the island Siṃhala (= The Island of the Lion, siṃha), and on that island lives a maiden fair, Padmāvatī. She will be Kalki’s wife.
Chapter 5, telling of Padmā’s svayamvāra, a rococo style picture of a genuinely Aryan court ritual, that of a noble woman chosing her husband.
Chapter 6, telling how Kalki is about to get the hand of Padmāvatī. She knows that Kalki, Viṣṇu incarnate, will be her husband, but will it really be? – Śuka, Kalki’s parrot, flies to Padmā’s island to tell her about the splendor of Kalki; this we get in Verse 14-18, a fine example of the Hindu rococo style in literature:
Thus, Śuka, the great parrot, crossed the ocean. Upon reaching his destination, he first bathed, drank some water, and ate many sweet and ripe fruit. After that, he entered the king’s palace and sat at the top of a nāgakesara tree, which was situated within the compound of the ladies’ quarters. After some time, the magnanimous Śuka saw Padmāvatī approach, and so he addressed her in a human voice: ‘О beautiful lady with a most charming face, your eyes appear to be very restless. By seeing you, I feel that you are Lakṣmī, the goddess of fortune. – Your face resembles a lotus flower. The aroma of your body is like the scent of a lotus and your eyes are just like lotus petals. Your hands are reddish, like lotus flowers, and you hold a lotus in your hand. – О beautiful one with a charming face, you simply bewilder all living entities. I think that the creator had made you after collecting all the beautiful objects of the world’.
Next (verse 22-23), Śuka the parrot says that he knows everything, both humanely and scripture-wise; gods and saintly kings receive him, he travels in space of his own free will.
Chapter 7. Padmā preaches Vaiṣṇava doctrine to Śuka.
Chapter 8. Kalki goes to Padmā’s island. An interesting quote of the prevalence of UFO’s in Hindu culture is verse 8.40: “various large vimanas”: nānā vimāna bahulam. These craft were seen near Simhala island when Kalki went there.
Chapter 9. Kalki meets Padmā.
Chapter 10. This chapter tells of the marriage between Kalki and Padmā.
Chapter 11. This chapter offers us a Kalki preachment of no plot value. The sage Ananta tells a story of the power of māyā.
Chapter 12. Ananta’s story continued.
Chapter 13. Kalki and Padmā returns to Śambhala.
Chapter 14. Kalki Conquers Buddhism in the form of him attacking the army of Buddhists. P. 154, Kalki kills Buddhist king Jina by breaking his “spine with a powerful kick”... fighting Māya-Devī, p. 157... Kalki merging with Māyā, p. 158... Kalki’s warriors regain strength by this, p. 159... As mentioned earlier Kalki knows archery, he has a dhanu (bow, like the Biblical apocalypsis white horse-rider, Apocalypse 6:1-2), verse 46, p. 159.
Chapter 15. In this chapter some mleccha women attack Kalki’s army and a fierce battle ensues. Verse 4, p 162: “The entire battlefield became mired with blood...” Verse 5: “so much blood poured from the bodies of the slain elephants, horses, and chariot drivers that a river of blood (rudhira srava) was created”. Verse 20 etc, Kalki stops and asks the women why they, who are so lovely, must fight. They answer: our husbands have been killed by you. – Next, the souls of their weapons come forth and say that Kalki is a divine avatāra, he is in all your hearts. So, he essentially moves the weapons, not you. We can’t harm you. Verse 36: “Lord Kalki has assumed different forms with the help of His various energies, mayayā bahukṛtaḥ.” – This is a little BhG-style lesson, a moral lesson taught on the field of battle. – Impressed by the doctrine the Mleccha women surrender before Lord Kalki.
Chapter 16. This is the story of a rakṣasī attacking Kalki and devouring him and some of his allies. While inside her belly Kalki creates fire with one of his arrows, burning up the demon’s abdomen so that he and the rest can come out of the body, verse 35-36. – The rakṣasī’s son is defeated by Kalki summoning a brahmāstra, a glorious weapon of spiritual energies, given to him by his teacher Paraśurāma. Verse 44.
Chapter 17. In this chapter Kalki holds a sermon for some sages, like Paraśurāma, Aśvatthāmā, Angira, and king Maru and king Devapī of the Candra and Sūrya dynasties. King Maru praises Kalki as Viṣṇu. The king then praises Lord Rāmacandra, commonly known as Rāma, hero of Rāmāyana. He tells a story of him.
Chapter 18. More Rāma stuff: his descendants are king Maru and king Devapī; the latter tells of his condition. Kalki promises to protect these two kings.
Chapter 19, entitled “The Appearance of Satya Yuga and a Description of the Different Manus”. Here we are treated with the arrival of the sage Maskarī, the personification of Sat Yuga. He delivers a lecture about yugas. To realize the passing of Kali Yuga Kalki then says, let’s go to war against Kali.
Chapter 20, telling of warring against Kali and his allies. “I am just about to set out on a tour to conquer all the kings of the world,” Kalki says in verse 25. This is truly grand and apocalyptic...!
Chapter 21, in which the Kali battle is concluded. Kali’s capital city Viśasana is set on fire by hitting it with fiery arrows. Kalki kills the demon pair Koka and Vikoka (in other myths this pair is known as Gog and Magog). Verse 31-32, style: “Being overjoyed, the Gandharvas began to sing, the Apsaras danced in ecstasy, and the sages offered prayers while the demigods, Siddhas, and Caranas showered flowers from the sky upon Lord Kalki. – Lord Kalki felt great satisfaction after finally attaining victory over Koka and Vikoka. By invoking celestial weapons, the Lord proceeded to kill ten thousand enemy warriors while smashing their chariots and slaying their horses.”
What happened after the battle we hear in verse 35-36:
After defeating all His enemies, Lord Kalki and His associates proceeded towards the city of Bhallatanagara, which was inhabited by Sayyākarnas. – Style: “While going, Lord Kalki and the kings accompanying Him were glorified by everyone and music filled the air. The Lord was fanned by cāmaras as His entourage, which consisted of countless soldiers bearing celestial weapons, proceeded in a joyful mood, riding upon their chariots, horses, and elephants.
Chapter 22. We are in this chapter regaled with the great battle at the city of Bhallata, although its king Saśidhvaja is a Kṛṣṇa worshipper. But in karma yoga, a battle well fought is fine with the Lord, a dharmic battle being like a religious service, so they fight. Rivers of blood! (verse 31)
Chapter 23. End of Bhallata battle. Saśidhvaja captures Kalki and brings him to his castle.
Chapter 24. At the Bhallata court. The king’s wife helps the wounded Kalki. Later, the revived Kalki gets the royal daughter Ramā in wedding.
Chapter 25. Saśidhvaja tells of his previous incarnations, the first of which was a carcass-eating vulture.
Chapter 26. Saśidhvaja preaches Vaiṣṇava doctrine.
Chapter 27. More moralities.
Chapter 28. Kalki goes away to a city of serpents to conquer it. He enters the city alone, on horseback, only equipped with his sword and his parrot on his shoulder. He meets a lovely gandharva lady who tells her story.
Verse 28, after administering his empire Kalki goes back to reside in Śambhala with his two wives, Padmāvatī and Ramā. Sat Yuga begins (verse 30). Traditionalism now rules, à la: spirituality is reawakened, irreligiosity is eradicated, dharma is reinstated.
Chapter 29. In this chapter we get an elaboration of the Vaiṣṇava doctrine.
Chapter 30. This chapter gives a heartwarming image of Sat Yuga bliss. Kalki performs an aśvamedha sacrifice.
Chapter 31. Paraśurāma, visiting Kalki in Śambhala, tells a story of religious piety.
Chapter 32. This chapter paints a picture of Kalki’s court life in Śambhala.
Chapter 33. Kalki, his work done, his mission to reinstate Sat Yuga successfully accomplished, can return to heaven. Thus, he turns over the kingdom to his four sons and leaves for Vaikuṇṭha.
Chapter 34. Prayers to river Gangā.
Chapter 35. This last chapter of the whole purāṇa is a praise of it. And the last verse, 35.39, reads:
May Lord Kalki, whose complexion is the color of a dark rain cloud, whose horse travels faster than the wind, who protects the righteous with His sword, who establishes the principles of religion, and who re-establishes the Satya-yuga after vanquishing Kali, shower his blessings upon you.
That was the summary of Śrī Kalki Purāṇa.
Kali Yuga is over -- what does it mean?
The corrected chronology of Kali Yuga
Rigorism -- historical essays (2022)