It is commonly accepted that we are living in the Kali Yuga or the Age of Kali. This is the last yuga of four, starting with Satya Yuga, Treta Yuga and Dvapara Yuga. What is common among these four yugas is a steady moral and social decay from the first Age of truth (SatyaYuga), down to our current Kali Yuga.
Markandeya in the Mahabharata describes human conduct in Kali Yuga in this way:
- anger, wrath and ignorance will grow
- Religion, truthfulness, cleanliness, tolerance, mercy, physical strength and memory diminish with each passing day.
- People will have thoughts of murder with no justification and will see nothing wrong in that.
- Lust will be viewed as socially acceptable and sexual intercourse will be seen as the central requirement of life.
- Sin will increase exponentially, while virtue will fade and cease to flourish.
- People will become addicted to intoxicating drinks and drugs.
- People will no longer get married and live with each other just for sexual pleasure.
Moses and the Ten Commandments
The Hebrew Vedas describe our current age in much the same way. Because of our tendency to sin, God gave Moses the Ten Commandments shortly after they escaped Egypt with the Passover. God’s goal was not only to lead the Israelites out of Egypt, but also to guide them to a new way of living. So fifty days after the Passover that rescued the Israelites, Moses led them to Mt. Sinai (also Mt. Horeb) where they received the Law from God. This law was received in Kali Yuga to uncover the problems of Kali Yuga.
What commands did Moses get? Though the complete Law was quite long, Moses first received a set of specific moral commands written by God on tablets of stone, known as the Ten Commandments (or Decalogue). These Ten formed the summary of the Law – the moral dharma before the minor details – and they are now God’s active power to persuade us to repent of the evils common in Kali Yuga.
The Ten Commandments
Here is the complete list of the Ten Commandments, written by God on stone, then recorded by Moses in the Hebrew Vedas book of Exodus.
And God spoke all these words:
2 “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.
3 “You shall have no other gods before me.
4 “You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. 5 You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, 6 but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.
7 “You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.
8 “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. 9 Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns. 11 For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.
12 “Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.
13 “You shall not murder.
14 “You shall not commit adultery.
15 “You shall not steal.
16 “You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.
17 “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.”Exodus 20:1-17
The Standard of the Ten Commandments
Today we sometimes we forget that these are commands. They are not suggestions. Nor are they recommendations. But to what extent are we to obey these commands? The following comes just before the giving of the Ten Commandments
Then Moses went up to God, and the Lord called to him from the mountain and said, “This is what you are to say to the descendants of Jacob and what you are to tell the people of Israel:… 5 Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. Although the whole earth is mine,Exodus 19: 3, 5
This was given just after the Ten Commandments
Then he took the Book of the Covenant and read it to the people. They responded, “We will do everything the Lord has said; we will obey.”Exodus24:7
Sometimes in school exams, the teacher gives multiple questions (for example 20) but then require only some of the questions to be answered. We may, for example, choose any 15 questions out of the 20 to answer. Each student can pick the 15 easiest questions for him/her to answer. In this way the teacher makes the exam easier.
Many think of the Ten Commandments in the same way. We think that God, after giving the Ten Commandments, meant, “Attempt any six of your choice from these Ten”. We think this way because we imagine God balancing our ‘good deeds’ against our ‘bad deeds’. If our Good Merits outweigh or cancel our Bad Imperfections then we hope that this is sufficient to earn God’s favor.
However, an honest reading of the Ten Commandments shows that this was not how it was given. People are to obey and keep ALL the commands – all the time. The sheer difficulty of this has made many dismiss the Ten Commandments. But they were given in Kali Yuga for the situation that Kali Yuga brings.
The Ten Commandments & Coronavirus test
We can perhaps understand better the purpose of the strict Ten Commandments in Kali Yuga by comparing with the Coronavirus pandemic that has been raging around the world in 2020. COVID-19 is a disease with symptons of fever, cough and shortness of breath which is caused by the Coronavirus – something so small that we cannot see it.
Suppose someone is feeling feverish and has a cough. This person wonders what the problem is. Does he/she have a common fever or are they infected with the Coronavirus? If so that is a serious problem – even life threatening. Since the Coronavirus spreads so rapidly and everyone is susceptible it is a real possibility. To find out they take a special test which determines if the coronavirus is present in their bodies. The Coronavirus test does not cure them of their disease, it simply tells them definitively if they have the Coronavirus which will result in COVID-19, or if they simply have a common fever.
It is the same with the Ten Commandments. In the Kali Yuga moral decay is as prevalent in society as the Coronavirus is prevalent in 2020. In this age of general moral vice we will want to know if we ourselves are righteous or if we also are tainted by sin. The Ten Commandments were given so that by examining our lives against them we can know for ourselves if we are free from sin and the karma that comes with it, or if sin has a hold on us. The Ten Commandments function just like the Coronavirus test – so you know if you have the disease (sin) or if you are free from it.
Sin literally means ‘missing’ the target that God expects from us in how we treat others, ourselves and God. But instead of recognizing our problem we tend either to compare ourselves with others (measuring ourselves against the wrong standard), strive harder to obtain religious merit, or give up and just live for pleasure. Therefore God gave the Ten Commandments so that:
Therefore no one will be declared righteous in God’s sight by the works of the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of our sin.Romans 3:20
If we examine our lives against the standard of the Ten Commandments it is like taking the Coronavirus test that shows our internal situation. The Ten Commandments do not ‘fix’ our problem, but reveal the problem clearly so we will accept the remedy that God has provided. Instead of continuing in self-deception, the Law allows us to see ourselves accurately.
God’s Gift given in repentance
The remedy that God has provided is the gift of forgiveness of sins through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ – Yeshu Satsang. This Gift of life is simply given to us if we trust or have faith in Jesus’ work.
know that a person is not justified by the works of the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law, because by the works of the law no one will be justified.Galatians 2:16
As Sri Abraham was justified before God we too can be given righteousness. But it does require that we repent. Repentance is often misunderstood, but repent simply means to ‘change our minds’ involving a turning away from sin and a turning towards God and the Gift He offers. As the Veda Pusthakan (Bible) explains:
Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord,Acts 3:19
The promise for you and me is that if we repent, turning to God, that our sins will not be counted against us and we will receive Life. God, in his great mercy, has given us both a test and a vaccine for sin in Kali Yuga.