The process of performing sacrifices may be different in terms of different time, place and persons but the aim of such sacrifices is one and the same at all times and in all circumstances viz. satisfaction of the Supreme Lord Hari.
Recently, we were asked an interesting questions by one of our fans. He asked, “If the yuga-dharma is chanting the maha-mantra, then why did Lord Krishna not inaugurate it at the beginning of the Kali-yuga 5000 years ago when he spoke the Bhagavad-Gita to Arjuna?”
To start things off, if anyone is new to this whole yoga-and-meditation thing, there’s probably a few terms here you don’t know. We’ll go over some of the keys things so everyone gets to know what we’re actually talking about here, and then we can really answer the question thoroughly.
Some things we’ll cover:
1.What is Dharma?
2.What is a yuga? We’ll also address the “Kali-yuga.”
3.What is that maha-mantra?
4.Why was Lord Caitanya apparently late to bring the yuga dharma?
First off, we’ll address Dharma. Dharma is that thing that is the innate characteristic of every living being, and His Divine Grace, A.C Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, explains further:
Dharma means that which you cannot give up. Dharma does not mean you accept this dharma today and tomorrow another dharma. That is not dharma. Dharma means the natural characteristic. Just like sugar is sweet. That is its dharma. And chili is hot. That is its dharma. A snake bites. That is his dharma. Water is liquid. That is its dharma. Stone is solid. That is its dharma. You cannot change. So what is the dharma of the living entities, or the human being? Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu has enunciated the dharma of the human being: jivera svarupa haya nitya krsna-dasa [Cc. Madhya 20.108-109] “It is the living entity’s constitutional position to be an eternal servant of Krsna because he is the marginal energy of Krsna and a manifestation simultaneously one with and different from the Lord, like a molecular particle of sunshine or fire. Krsna has three varieties of energy.”
>>> Ref. VedaBase => Lecture at Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan -- Bombay, October 18, 1973
Everything has it’s duty, it’s function that makes that thing what it is. If you take away a thing’s dharma, it’s no longer that thing. In the examples Srila Prabhupada lists above, for example, if you were to take away a chili’s heat, it wouldn’t really be a chili, now, would it? So what is the dharma for human beings? Srila Prabhupada explains here:
Our constitutional position is eternal servant of Krsna. That is our position… When a living entity, when a person comes to the understanding, without any doubt, that he's eternal servant of Krsna, then his real life begins. Unless he understands this point, he's still in the hallucination of animal life. Jivera svarupa haya nityera krsna dasa. Actually we are engaged as servant always. Here, everyone who are sitting here, every one of us, servant: servant of the society, servant of the family, servant of the community, servant of the country, servant of the nation. In this way, we are servant. That's a fact. And we are serving. Everyone is serving. Nobody is actually enjoying; everyone is servant. That is the constitutional position of living entity. But they are serving hallucination. They are not serving the real fact.
>>> Ref. VedaBase => The Nectar of Devotion -- Bombay, January 11, 1973
That’s what we do, all living entities. We serve. Originally we serve Krishna, God, in the spiritual world, but when we’re in the material world, we forget Krishna, and we serve other masters, like our senses, lust and greed, etc. So our dharma is shifted to so many unnecessary and manufactured “dharmas” that are actually not dharmas at all. Here’s a nice elucidation on the concept by Srila Prabhupada:
Dharma means the order that is given by God. That is dharma. And anything, so-called dharma, that is not dharma. That you manufacture, so many things. That is another thing. But real dharma, just like I have several times explained, law means given by the government. You cannot manufacture law. That is not law. Similarly, dharma means the order given by God. That is dharma. Just like Krsna says. He said, yada yada hi dharmasya glanir bhavati bharata, tadatmanam srjamy aham: [Bg. 4.7] "When there is discrepancies, misuse of dharma, I appear." So He has appeared. He therefore said that "This is not dharma." You are declaring, "This is Hindu dharma," "This is Muslim dharma," "This is Jain dharma," "This is Christian dharma," "This is family dharma," "This is country dharma," so on, so on, so on. You have created so many dharmas. But Krsna said, sarva-dharman parityajya: [Bg. 18.66] "You give up all these dharmas." "Then what I..., shall I accept?" Mam ekam saranam vraja. That is dharma. Otherwise there is no dharma.
>>> Ref. VedaBase => Srimad-Bhagavatam 7.9.10 -- Mayapur, February 17, 1976
The only real dharma is service to Krishna, our original service, rather than the many made-up dharmas we make here and give titles to, eg., philanthropy, charity, Christianity, Buddhism, etc. The list goes on.
Dharma is what we’re meant to do for our own well-being.
Now, what is a yuga? Believe it or not, things are not exactly how they told you in school. The universe is not only very, very old, but it’s also eternally being manifested and unmanifested in cycles. Within the big cycles are smaller cycles called catur-yugas, and within those are yugas. One manifestation period of the lower half of the universe (I know, it’s getting a little complicated, but stay with me) is comprised of a catur-yuga, which means four periods of time, stretching for a total of 4,320,000 years, divided respectively into each period. It’s explained in the Srimad-Bhagavatam, an ancient, eternal literature, containing the cream of the Vedic knowledge:
The duration of the Satya millennium equals 4,800 years of the years of the demigods; the duration of the Treta millennium equals 3600 years of the demigods; the duration of the Dvapara millennium equals 2,400 years; and that of the Kali millennium is 1,200 years of the demigods.
As aforementioned, one year of the demigods is equal to 360 years of the human beings. The duration of the Satya-yuga is therefore 4,800 x 360, or 1,728,000 years. The duration of the Treta-yuga is 3,600 x 360, or 1,296,000 years. The duration of the Dvapara-yuga is 2,400 x 360, or 864,000 years. And the last, the Kali-yuga, is 1,200 x 360, or 432,000 years.
>>> Ref. VedaBase => SB 3.11.19
So one any one of those names you see above are called a yuga, and right now, we are in the Kali-yuga. In each yuga, people are more or less inclined to spiritual and pious activities. Starting from the Satya, the first, yuga, It begins to gradually decline, and people start becoming impious. Srila Prabhupada makes it clear:
“In the Satya-yuga, Satya-yuga, there was no criminal. Everyone was paramahamsa (first grade-transcendentalist). Then, in the next yuga, Treta-yuga, seventy-five percent paramahamsa, first class; twenty-five percent this third class, fourth class. And then in the Dvapara, half and half. Now in the Kali-yuga, seventy-five percent all rogues and thieves. Maybe twenty-five percent, that is also decreasing. And with the advancement of Kali-yuga, it will be practically nil. This is advancement of Kali-yuga.”
>>> Ref. VedaBase => Srimad-Bhagavatam 6.1.48 -- Detroit, June 14, 1976
This is a good day in late Kali-yuga
As time progresses, so also does the level of peoples goodness. In the beginning of the cycle, people were very elevated spiritually and materially, and now, in the last yuga, people are very degraded. This is plain to see; there are so many conflicts, wars, famines, diseases, and petty disputes at every turn. Why? Because this last yuga of the cycle is called the “iron age” or the age of fighting and hypocrisy. It’s practically the bottom of the barrel concerning peoples tendency for all things good. Srila Prabhupada explains in the following quote how the influence of the present age will manifest over time and wreak havoc on the society:
So the symptom of the human being in this age is that prayenalpayusa: people will become very short duration of life. It is said that time, at the end of Kali-yuga, the, if somebody lives for twenty to thirty years, he will be considered as very old man. So gradually the food grains like rice, wheat, milk, and sugar will disappear. In this way, in the Kali-yuga, prayenalpayusah sabhya kalav asmin yuge janah. In this age, people will be of short duration of life; manda, very slow; sumanda-matayah, accepting some rubbish theology. Mandah sumanda-matayo manda-bhagyah [SB 1.1.10], almost all of them are unfortunate. Manda-bhagya hy upadrutah: over and above that, they will be disturbed, especially by lack of rain, lack of..., scarcity of food grains, and overtaxed by the government, so much so that people will give up their hearth and home and go to the forest and hills in disappointment and confusion. So these are the symptoms of Kali-yuga, gradually degrading.
>>> Ref. VedaBase => Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.5.11 -- London, September 12, 1973
But wait, there’s more! We have barely begun to see the effects of this age. As time continues relentlessly, so do the punishments of material nature as man continues to commit sinful acts:
We may also very carefully note that the Age of Kali has passed only 5,000 years after the battle of Kurukshetra which was fought between the Kurus and the Pandavas and just after the disappearance of Lord Krishna from this mortal world. The major portion of the Age of Kali is still unfathomed, as according to Hindu Shastras (law books), the Age of Kali has to prolong more for 4,27,000 years. The signs of the Age of Kali as mentioned above have already begun to be very prominent even in the very beginning of the age, and we do not know what will happen when the age will be at its full youthful time. Thus we can at least know that for the coming four lacs (one lac is one hundred thousand years) and twenty-seven thousands of years, no one can check the progressive current of the influence of the Age of Kali represented by the above four principles of vices as no one is able to check the seasonal changes in the duration of a year.
>>> Ref. VedaBase => BTGPY1f: The Science of Congregational Chanting of the Name of the Lord (Samkirtan)
Things sound pretty bad. But here’s the thing, in each age, there’s a process for spiritual realization by which we can get free from the influence of the ever-entangling material energy and be actually happy as free spirit souls. According to the level of piety, ability and resources available, which generally correlates with the age itself, a different process is recommended:
“This age of Kali is not at all suitable for self-realization as was Satya-yuga, the golden age, or Treta or Dvapara-yugas, the silver and copper ages. For self-realization, the people in Satya-yuga, living a lifetime of a hundred thousand years, were able to perform prolonged meditation. And in Treta-yuga, when the duration of life was ten thousand years, self-realization was attained by performance of great sacrifice. And in the Dvapara-yuga, when the duration of life was one thousand years, self-realization was attained by worship of the Lord. But in the Kali-yuga, the maximum duration of life being one hundred years only and that combined with various difficulties, the recommended process of self-realization is that of hearing and chanting of the holy name, fame, and pastimes of the Lord.”
>>> Ref. VedaBase => SB 1.1.21
Kali-yuga is the present yuga, which means the yuga dharma is that we get to chant and dance and take nice spiritual food. Sounds like a good deal, right? It certainly is! Why don’t you try it? Anyway, here’s where the question we were asked comes in. Each yuga gets it’s yuga-dharma prescribed near it’s beginning, and it’s already been confirmed by Srila Prabhupada earlier on in this article that we’ve passed through 5,000 years of this yuga already. Lord Caitanya, who is Krishna himself, was “born” (Krishna is God, so, he doesn’t actually take birth, he just appears to) in Bengal about 500 years ago, and it’s mentioned and generally understood that he inaugurated the chanting of the Hare Krishna mantra, or sankirtana-yajna, at that time. But shouldn't the yuga-dharma be inaugurated at the beginning of the yuga? Well, there’s a few interesting points to consider when we ask why things appear a bit mixed up, although, ultimately, the answer is very simple. However, if you want the straightforward answer, and don’t want to know all the juicy details of this wonderful pastime of Sri Krishna Caintanya Mahaprabhu, then just skip right ahead to the end. Otherwise, let’s move on.
The first important point to consider in this connection is that yugas are not strictly divided into segments of time that end at a specific date and start at the end of the previous yuga. Actually, according to the Srimad-Bhagavatam, there is sometimes an overlapping of the yugas:
The transitional periods before and after every millennium, which are a few hundred years as aforementioned, are known as yuga-sandhyas, or the conjunctions of two millenniums, according to the expert astronomers. In those periods all kinds of religious activities are performed.
>>> Ref. VedaBase => SB 3.11.20
So things are not so clear cut. This manifests in different circumstances as the yuga-dharmas sometimes overlap. In the beginning of the Kali-Yuga, when Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and Arjuna, his dear-most friend, discussed the Bhagavad-Gita, people were much more pious than they are now. For this reason, the process recommended in Dvapara-yuga was still going on for a good deal of time even into the Kali-Yuga, because people were pious enough to attend church, temple and mosque functions. Srila Prabhupada comments:
That very thing was realized in the Dvapara-yuga by temple worship. There... From that in Dvapara-yuga in India so many temple worship flourished, not only in India, all over the world. Church worship is also temple worship. Mosque worship is also temple worship. It may be different for different countries and different class of people, but the whole thing is temple worship.
>>> Ref. VedaBase => Bhagavad-gita 3.16-17 -- New York, May 25, 1966
Look! Doesn't the temple look fun? Come and join a BLISS one.
So mosques, temples and churches are actually monuments of the previous yuga and it’s respective dharma. But now, people barely attend, and that’s because the piety is on the decline. Another example of the yuga-dharma overlapping into the upcoming yuga is found in the pastimes of Yudisthira Maharaja, a great, saintly king in the Dvapara-yuga. He was performing big, costly sacrifices, which was the process of the previous age, the Treta-yuga:
Maharaj Yudhisthira had to collect heaps of gold for securing the ingredients of Horse-sacrifice Yajna in the days of sufficiency and we can hardly think of such performance of Yajnas in these days of insufficiency and complete scarcity of gold. At the present moment we have heaps of papers with promise of being converted into gold by economic development of modern civilization and still there is no possibility of spending riches like Maharaj Yudhisthira either individually or collectively or by state patronisation. Just suitable, therefore, for the age, is the method recommended by Lord Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu in terms of the Shastra. Such method requires no expenditure at all and yet can award more benefit than what is derived from other expensive method of Yajna performances.
>>> Ref. VedaBase => 1.12.34
There’s one more example, and everyone can get excited about it, as it’s coming in the near future!
“In Kali-yuga vice increases to such a point that at the termination of the yuga the Supreme Lord Himself appears as the Kalki avatara, vanquishes the demons, saves His devotees, and commences another Satya-yuga.”
>>> Ref. VedaBase => Bg 8.17
The Kalki avatara comes at a time when there are no more devotees and the people in general cannot even understand what God is. He comes simply to kill, instead of preaching the sankirtana-yajna like Lord Caitanya did. At this time, the yuga-dharma of chanting the holy names of Krishna will no longer be valid. This incarnation’s movement is obviously a lot less blissful for most people, as Srila Prabhupada herein discusses with the famous poet Allen Ginsberg:
Prabhupada: No. This will happen at least 400,000's of years after. At least. So by that time...
Allen Ginsberg: They will go down, down, down for 400,000 years?
Prabhupada: Yes. So at that time my disciples will be with Krsna. [laughter]
Prabhupada: And those who will not follow them, they will see the fun, how they are being killed. [laughter]
Allen Ginsberg: Four hundred thousand years. Will people be still chanting Hare Krsna in 400,000...
Prabhupada: No. Hare Krsna will be finished within ten thousand years. There will be no more Hare Krsna.
Allen Ginsberg: Ah. So what will be left?
Prabhupada: Nothing. Left will be "I'll kill you and eat you, and you shall kill me, you shall eat me." That will be left.
>>> Ref. VedaBase => Room Conversation with Allen Ginsberg – May 13, 1969, Columbus
So, all these examples clearly indicate that the yuga-dharma doesn’t really mean that we get a specific process for each yuga, but that it rather changes according to the necessary time, place and circumstance. More specifically, when things start going topsy-turvy.
At these times, when there is a dis-balance in the religious stratosphere, Krishna personally comes to sort things out, and he declares it clearly in the Bhagavad-gita:
“Whenever and wherever there is a decline in religious practice, O descendant of Bharata, and a predominant rise of irreligion—at that time I descend Myself.” (Bg. 4.7)
As people continue to enjoy in the material world, the general trend is degradation. That’s why the whole cycle of the yugas goes from a wonderful, pious era of prosperity and religious integrity with very few conflicts—to the Kalki avatara in Kali-yuga coming to kill everyone while they eat their own children. It depends on the people. So for settling things up, making sure things go on nicely for people to get out of the material world and not be disturbed by various demons, the Lord incarnates in different colors and yugas:
“In the Satya-yuga when the incarnation of yugavatara comes, His complexion is white. And in the next yuga, Treta-yuga, the complexion is red. And the next yuga, Dvapara-yuga, the complexion is black, Krsna. And the next, Kali-yuga, the complexion is yellow. Lord Caitanya is yellow.”
>>> Ref. VedaBase => Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, Madhya-lila 20.330-335 -- New York, December 23, 1966
But here’s a something interesting: Krishna actually already inaugurated the chanting of Hare Krishna at the beginning of this Kali-yuga. We can find several nice evidences for this. The first couple are in the Bhagavad-gita, wherein Krishna says:
Always chanting My glories, endeavoring with great determination, bowing down before Me, these great souls perpetually worship Me with devotion. (Bg. 9.14)
And Arjuna confirms:
O master of the senses, the world becomes joyful upon hearing Your name, and thus everyone becomes attached to You. Although the perfected beings offer You their respectful homage, the demons are afraid, and they flee here and there. All this is rightly done. (Bg. 11.36)
The evidences keep coming; In the Srimad-Bhagavatam, for example, which was delivered by Srila Sukadeva Goswami, a great saint, to Maharaja Pariksit, another saintly king, he says:
“O King, constant chanting of the holy name of the Lord after the ways of the great authorities is the doubtless and fearless way of success for all, including those who are free from all material desires, those who are desirous of all material enjoyment, and also those who are self-satisfied by dint of transcendental knowledge.” (SB 2.1.11)
And no, you can't bring popcorn...
“Living beings, who are entangled in the hurdle of birth and death, even though too complicated, can get freedom at once even by unconsciously chanting the holy Name of Krishna which is feared even by the personified Fear.” (SB 1.1.14)
Srimad-Bhagavatam is 5000 years old, so with some very elementary mathematics, we can figure out that this process was given a long time before Lord Caitanya started singing and dancing in ecstasy through the Indian town of Nabadwipa. Besides that, the Bhagavatam itself is sankirtana-yajna:
Kirtana means both lecturing and chanting with music. The chanting with music is specially attractive for the mass of people, but talking from philosophical point of view on Krishna Consciousness is also chanting. The whole Srimad-Bhagavatam is full of philosophical discussions and we are prepared to present our Krishna Consciousness movement both ways, whichever is suitable in special circumstances.
>>> Ref. VedaBase => Letter to: Upendra -- Montreal 14 August, 1968
When the Bhagavatam was delivered at the dawn of the age, the yuga-dharma began:
This Bhagavata Purana is as brilliant as the sun, and it has arisen just after the departure of Lord Krsna to His own abode, accompanied by religion, knowledge, etc. Persons who have lost their vision due to the dense darkness of ignorance in the Age of Kali shall get light from this Purana.
>>> Ref. VedaBase => SB 1.3.43
In more recent history, the maha-mantra was given to Lord Caitanya by his spiritual master, Isvara Puri, which means it was being chanted before the Lord formally inaugurated it.
Lord Caitanya, when confronted by the Sannyasi Prakashandanda Sarasvati about his singing and dancing rather than studying the Vedanta-Sutras, replied plainly:
“My dear sir, kindly hear the reason. My spiritual master considered Me a fool, and therefore he chastised Me.
“‘You are a fool,’ he said. ‘You are not qualified to study Vedanta philosophy, and therefore You must always chant the holy name of Krishna. This is the essence of all mantras, or Vedic hymns.
To make a long story short, chanting Hare Krishna has been around for a while. It’s not a new thing, exactly. It was actually inaugurated 5000 years ago by Lord Sri Krishna. But why, then, do we say that it was given by Lord Caitanya only 500 years ago? The answer is that people couldn’t understand Krishna and the Bhagavatam, and a new wave of preaching was required to start the wonderful process back up again on a large scale:
Advaita Acarya was a contemporary of Lord Caitanya's father. He felt sorry for the condition of the world because even after Lord Krsna's appearance, no one had interest in devotional service to Krsna. This forgetfulness was so overwhelming that Advaita Prabhu was convinced that no one but Lord Krsna Himself could enlighten people about devotional service to the Supreme Lord. Therefore Advaita requested Lord Krsna to appear as Lord Caitanya.
>>> Ref. VedaBase => Adi 3: The External Reasons for the Appearance of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu
That Govinda personally appears as Caitanya Gosani. No other Lord is as merciful in delivering the fallen souls.
Having described Govinda in terms of His Brahman and Paramatma features, now the author of Sri Caitanya-caritamrta advances his argument to prove that Lord Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu is the identical personality. The same Lord Sri Krsna, in the garb of a devotee of Sri Krsna, descended to this mortal world to reclaim the fallen human beings who had misunderstood the Personality of Godhead even after the explanation of the Bhagavad-gita.
>>> Ref. VedaBase => Adi 2.22
Unfortunately, in spite of Lord Sri Krishna's direct order and teachings in the Bhagwat Geeta, less intelligent people misunderstood Him as a historical great personality and thus could not accept Him (Lord Sri Krishna) as the Original Personality of Godhead and such men with poor fund of knowledge were misled by many non-devotees. Thus the teachings of the Bhagwat Geeta was misinterpreted even by great scholars. Thus after the disappearance of Lord Sri Krishna there were hundreds of commentaries on the Bhagwat Geeta by many erudite scholars and almost every one tried to comment on the Bhagwat Geeta differently according to the self-interested motive.
>>> Ref. VedaBase => SB 1-1962: Introduction
The process was already there, given by Lord Krishna. Lord Caitanya simply came to revive it:
Devotee: Prabhupada, before Lord Caitanya, for instance from the period after Krsna's birth up until the appearance of Lord Caitanya, what was, ah, what was the bona fide method for, ah... [break]
Prabhupada: ...is current. Vedic [indistinct] is not new. Caitanya Mahaprabhu re-introduced it with new vigor, that's all. Otherwise it is not new introduction. Satatam kirtayanto mam. Find out.
satatam kirtayanto mam
yatantas ca drdha-vratah
namasyantas ca mam bhaktya
"Always chanting My glories, endeavoring with great determination, bowing down before Me, these great souls perpetually worship Me with devotion."
Prabhupada: So the chanting is long before Krsna appeared. Krsna [indistinct] all around. Caitanya Mahaprabhu revived it again. It is not a new thing.
Devotee: So up until Lord Caitanya it wasn't very widely known. Is that...?
Prabhupada: It was known, but He specifically propagated. The acarya never introduces anything new. It is already there. But according to time, they take up the... Just like doctor. A doctor, medical practitioner, he knows many medicines, but for a particular type of patient, he prescribes a medicine. It is not that the new medicine is invented for him. It is already there in the stock. But the experienced physician knows what kind of medicine will be suitable for this patient, so he gives that. It is like that. Kalau nasty eva nasty eva nasty eva gatir anyatha [Cc Adi 17.21].
[In this Age of Kali there is no other means, no other means, no other means for self-realization than chanting the holy name, chanting the holy name, chanting the holy name of Lord Hari.]
There is no other alternative. That means there are other alternatives, but they are not active. So all these methods are already there, but this chanting method is especially suitable for this time. That is the special introduction of Caitanya Mahaprabhu.
>>> Ref. VedaBase => Garden Conversation – June 25, 1972, Los Angeles
Lord Caitanya comes to propagate the sankirtana movement, the chanting of the hare krsna maha-mantra, as a special concession to the poor souls of this age, who cannot, due to infirm minds and bodies and lack of spiritual culture, perform the previous methods. As suggested in the following quotes, we’ll find that it’s not that in every kali-yuga people are so fallen they require the sankirtana-yajna to be propagated by Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. In our case, however, we forgot Krishna’s instructions given at the beginning of the yuga.
In this age of Kali, however, there is a great concession given to people in general. Yajnaih sankirtana-prayair yajanti hi sumedhasah: [SB 11.5.32] we may worship Lord Caitanya, the hidden incarnation of Krsna. Krsna-varnam tvisakrsnam: although He is Krsna Himself, He always chants Hare Krsna and preaches Krsna consciousness. One is recommended to worship this incarnation by chanting, the sankirtana-yajna. The performance of sankirtana-yajna is a special concession for human society to save people from being affected by known or unknown sinful activities.
>>> Ref. VedaBase => SB 9.16.23
The four yuga-avataras are also described in Srimad-Bhagavatam. In the Satya-yuga, the incarnation of God is white; in the Treta-yuga He is red; in the Dvapara-yuga, He is blackish; and in the Kali-yuga He is also blackish, but sometimes, in a special Kali-yuga, His color is yellowish (as in the case of Caitanya Mahaprabhu).
>>> Ref. VedaBase => TLC 7: Unlimited Forms of Godhead
So it appears from the quotes above that Krishna in his form as the chariot driver of Arjuna, who speaks the Bhagavad-gita, is the incarnation for Kali-yuga. As we previously discussed, that corroborates the version that Krishna already gave the yuga-dharma at the end of the Dvapara-yuga (satatam kirtayanto mam).
In the ultimate issue, things aren’t so straightforward. Living entities enjoy the material world until they get sick of suffering the pains of birth, death, old age and disease under the control of the material energy. At that point, saturated by the material rubbish, they instead try to return to Krishna to live eternally and ecstatically. A sloka from the Upanishads gives an example of two birds sitting in one tree to illustrate that Krsna is waiting till we stop the material activity and turn to him:
The Lord and the living entity are compared to two birds sitting in a tree. While the illusioned living entity eats the fruits of the material world, the Lord as Supersoul and best friend witnesses these activities.
>>> Ref. VedaBase => Mundaka Upanisad 3.1.1
The yuga-dharma’s inauguration is not a mechanical thing, nor a mathematically calculated occurrence, the same for all ages in the history of the universe. Like many things, it depends on our free will.
In the same spirit, another pressing question is asked: If the sankirtan-yajna was already inaugurated, why did it not come to the western countries immediately? Srila Prabhupada answers this interesting point:
Yes, "Because you were not ready." [laughs] Yes, I told. Yes. Now the Western boys, the descendant of the Western people, they are fortunate; therefore they receive Krsna. Kona bhagyavan jiva [Cc Madhya 19.151].
[According to their karma, all living entities are wandering throughout the entire universe. Some of them are being elevated to the upper planetary systems, and some are going down into the lower planetary systems. Out of many millions of wandering living entities, one who is very fortunate gets an opportunity to associate with a bona fide spiritual master by the grace of Krsna. By the mercy of both Krsna and the spiritual master, such a person receives the seed of the creeper of devotional service.] It is Krsna's desire that "These people are suffering so much; let some devotees come here." So you are all devotees. You have come to join together.
Morning Walk, December 7, 1973, Los Angeles
People just weren’t ready to receive the mercy of a pure devotee of Krishna. They were born in the western countries according to their karma, and when they reached a certain point of frustration, mixed with an accumulation of pious credit, they got they opportunity of many, many lifetimes:
When something uncommon happens in one's progressive spiritual life, it should be understood to be incurred by ajnata-sukrti, or pious activities beyond one's knowledge. To see personally the Supreme Personality of Godhead or His pure devotee is not an ordinary incident. When such things happen, they should be understood to be caused by previous pious activity, as confirmed in Bhagavad-gita (7.28): yesam tv anta-gatam papam jananam punya-karmanam.
>>> Ref. VedaBase => SB 4.22.7
Lord Caitanya came to preach this message because the process made been neglected and misinterpreted by unscrupulous persons. In a similar way, Srila Prabhupada came personally to make sure that the message of Lord Caitanya, sankirtana-yajna, was taken up properly by the people in general. Srila Prabhupada inaugurated the chanting of the Holy names in the west, and gradually worldwide. As it is stated in the Bhagavad-gita:
Whatever action a great man performs, common men follow. And whatever standards he sets by exemplary acts, all the world pursues. (Bg. 3.21)
It was required for a personality to come and once again inaugurate the blissful chanting of the names of Krishna, someone who could inspire the people and lead them on the right path.
At the present moment also, the Hare Krishna movement is facing a struggle for momentum. It is required that a new wave of devotees preach this supreme activity of chanting Hare Krishna across the face of the world for the ultimate and immediate benefit of society. This is the mission of the Bhaktivedanta Lives in Sound Society (B.L.I.S.S). It will not happen by itself. Srila Prabhupada’s teachings are there, but there is a lack of devotees willing to preach the message as it is to those who have not heard it, and even to those who have. The B.L.I.S.S is constantly creating Krishna conscious content through the mediums of podcasts, videos, books and so on, and all that is needed is for people to take the propagation of this content seriously. Share this article, or one of our memes on Facebook. Put the link to the BLISS podcast on your bio. While they may seem insignificant, all these efforts will give so much benefit to people and to oneself, because they are concerning the absolute truth and the absolute good for all living entities, Krishna consciousness. The golden age of Kali, or the time where everyone will take up to the process of Krishna consciousness, and when the world will be a peaceful, joyous expansion of the spiritual world (for several thousand years), is already here. It’s simply up to us to take the reigns and continue what Srila Prabhupada, Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu and Sri Krishna already gave us.
Beginning from Sri Krishna’s initial instructions on the yuga-dharma for this age of Kali, to Srila Prabhupada coming to the west almost 5000 years later, we can see that this question of “when was the yuga-dharma inaugurated” is not so straightforward. But ultimately, it doesn’t matter when it came, what matters is that it’s here now. It’s the most sublime, easy way to attain the the highest perfection of life, the pinnacle of happiness, love of God. It’s free of charge, non-sectarian, and very simple: chant the holy names of Krishna, Hare Krishna Hare Krishna/ Krishna Krishna/ Hare Hare/ Hare Rama Hare Rama/ Rama Rama/ Hare Hare. You can do it at home, at your work, with your family and friends, or by yourself (but the more the merrier!), and come to understand your loving, eternal relationship with the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
Scholar: How long this movement has been started?
Prabhupada: This movement started from since 5,000 years, since Krsna appeared. We have not start... manufactured this movement. We are just pushing on the same movement, rightly, that's all. We can say how long this movement has been started rightly.
>>> Ref. VedaBase => Room Conversation with Indonesian Scholar -- February 27, 1973, Jakarta