Also called the Iron Age, the Kali Yuga is filled with war and conflict. Spiritually, civilization degenerates throughout the yuga, as people drift farther and farther from the Divine. At the end of the Kali Yuga, Hindus believe that Lord Shiva will come in the form of Lord Kalki to punish and cleanse the world, which will have devolved to the point of being incapable of enlightenment. The resulting transformation and re-creation of the universe is the start of a new cycle of yugas.
The Sanskrit term, kali, has multiple meanings. It can be defined as "strife," "quarrel," "discord" or "conflict." It is also the name given to the Hindu goddess of time [and destruction thereof].
In chronological order, the yugas are:
- Satya Yuga - Also known as Krita Yuga, this is the age of truth, virtue and righteousness.
- Treta Yuga - This is the age of mankind and represents a one-quarter decline in spirituality.
- Dvapara Yuga - In this age, spirituality continues to decline, and virtue and sin show up in equal measure.
- Kali Yuga - The age of conflict, Kali Yuga is described as one quarter virtue and three quarters sin.