The ancient Sanskirt texts divide history into four epochs (or yugas). The first epoch is termed as Sathya Yuga, or the era of truth. This was the golden age of mankind, which lasted a good 1,780,000 years(of course, science says humans have only been around for 200,000 years but let’s ignore that)! The goddess Dharma, depicted as a bull, stood on all four legs, representing the triumph of morality and ethics. Humanity strived for the purest ideal and goodness reigned supreme.
However, as life has taught us, all good things must come to an end. Sathya Yuga was succeeded by Treta Yuga. The Dharma bull stood on three legs. Humanity started to favor materialism over spirituality. After three thousand years, Treta Yuga gave way to Dwapara Yuga. Now, the Dharma bull stood on two legs. By this time, humanity had divided itself in classes and the aristocrats discarded spiritual pursuits for fleshly pleasure and lavish wealth. 864,000 years passed before the death of Krishna, marking the advent of the current age, Kali Yuga.
The Dharma bull has now been reduced to one leg. Our moral framework has disintegrated. Humanity is drowning in the cesspool of amoral nihilism. According to the Mahabharatha, the sage Markandeya predicted that our age would be rife with despotic regimes, scarcity of food and resources, unbridled wrath, widespread drug addiction, unregulated lust and even the normalization of murder!
In other words, the marginal minority of virtuous souls will find it intolerable to live in this current age. They will futilely long for the days of Sathya Yuga, when humanity was guided by the deities and Dharma reigned supreme.
I’ve noticed that religions have this inexplicable proclivity to idealize the past. The Abrahamic religions (Judaism, Christianity and Islam) recall the Garden of Eden, a botanical paradise where Adam and Eve, our alleged ancestors of humanity, roamed carefree. Yet their regrettable consumption of the forbidden fruit, an unforgivable deviance of God’s commands, cursed Adam and Eve, along with their descendents, into a life of pain and hardship in the cruel, outside world.
Let’s face it. Life sucks. The world is unjust and we rarely get what we want. Somehow, we come to the conclusion that the past was this idyllic period where we weren’t burdened with the troubles of today.
We long to return to that blissful golden age. Many Christians believe the inevitable apocalypse will reel in the glorious Kingdom of Heaven. Muslims believe the Mahdi will rid the world of evil. Even Hindus believe that a golden age of one thousand years will commenced during Kali Yuga.
I’ve always regarded nostalgic idealizations to be unhealthy. However, these religions seem to intensify our yearning to return to the golden age that never was. They brew a collective psychosis that prevents us from dealing with reality.
We have to stop romanticizing those good ol’ days! Life has always been shitty. Rather than pining for some nonexistent golden age, we should just focus on the issues of the present day and hope for a better tomorrow.