The Four Yugas or Epochs
According to Hinduism, there are four epochs or yugas in each cycle of creation. These are satya yuga or the age of truth, treta yuga, dwapara yuga and kali yuga. The first three epochs have been completed and mankind is now living in the kali yuga. It is believed that with each passing epoch there is less and less righteousness among men and women. Evil and dishonesty have slowly replaced truth with the passage of time.
The 10 Incarnations
Lord Vishnu, the preserver of the universe, is believed to incarnate 10 times during these epochs. Humans were spiritually at their best during the age of truth. Even in the treta yuga, the people of that epoch were righteous and maintained morality. But, things degenerated in the dwapara yuga and mankind slowly lost knowledge of intelligence. The present epoch, kali yuga, is believed to be the most degenerate of all the epochs.
The Kali Yuga
In this epoch, the world is filled with vices and impurities. Geniality is slowly diminishing. The age is characterized by duplicity and deceit, crime and war and famine and flood. Still, final liberation from the cycle of birth and death is possible only in this epoch. Since people are preoccupied with materialism and have lost touch with their divinity, this age is also known as the “age of darkness”. Both the great Hindu epics, the Mahabharata and Ramayana, have mentioned the kali yuga.