Hinduism and the Bahá'í Faith
by Moojan Momen
Bahá'ís consider that Bahá'u'lláh has fulfilled the prophecies of the Lord Krishna when he said:
Whenever there is a decline in righteousness, O Bharat, and the rise of irreligion, it is then that I send forth My spirit.
Hindus are awaiting the coming of the Kalki Avatar at the end of this present age, Kali Yuga. Bahá'ís believe that we are already at this time. We are at the end of the Kali Yuga and Bahá'u'lláh is the Kalki Avatar. This age in which we live is an age of the decline of righteousness. And, as promised in the Bhagavad Gita, the Lord has manifested Himself again, this time with the name Bahá'u'lláh. This name means `the Glory of Bhagwan' or `the Splendour of Ishvara'. The coming of Bahá'u'lláh is therefore the start of the Sat or Krta Yuga (Golden Age). It is the time when people will return to righteousness and the world will be at peace.
Bahá'ís have pointed to the prophecies in the Hindu scriptures and stated that all of these have been fulfilled in this age. There are many passages in the Hindu writings which describe the condition of the world at the end of the Kali Yuga (Dark or Iron Age). Bahá'ís would say that what is described in the Hindu books is exactly what we are seeing in the world today. Among the most striking of these passages from the Hindu holy books are the following:
In the Kali Yuga, wealth alone will be the deciding factor of nobility [in place of birth, righteous behaviour or merit]. And brute force will be the only standard in establishing or deciding what is righteous or just.
In the Kali Yuga, only one quarter of each of the four feet of Dharma [penance, truthfulness, compassion and charity] remains. And that too goes on decreasing day by day while the `feet' of Adharma [unrighteousness] increase greatly. So that in the end Dharma becomes extinct.
There are similar prophesies in many other passages of the Hindu scriptures such as the Ramayana, the Mahabharata and the Vishnu Purana.(4) Bahá'ís believe that all of the conditions described in these books have come about today. And so we are living in the age prophesied in these books. Bahá'u'lláh describes the condition of the world at present thus:
The world is in travail, and its agitation waxeth day by day. Its face is turned towards waywardness and unbelief. Such shall be its plight, that to disclose it now would not be meet and seemly. Its perversity will long continue. (5)
Prominent contemporary Indian writers have also agreed with this assessment of Bahá'u'lláh. Swami Vivekananda wrote, for example:
But greater than the present deep dismal night...no pall of darkness had ever before enveloped this holy land of ours. And compared with the depth of this fall, all previous falls appear like little hoof-marks. (6)
There are also prophecies of the breakdown of the caste system that we are seeing today and the abandonment of religion:
The observance of caste, order, and institutes will not prevail in the Kali Yuga; nor will that of the ceremonials and rituals enjoined by the Sama, Rig and Yajur Vedas. Marriages, in this age, will not conform to the ritual; nor will the rules that connect the guru and his disciple be in force. The laws that regulate the conduct of husband and wife will be disregarded; and oblations to the gods with fire will no longer be offered ... The doctrines and dogmas of anyone will be held to be scripture... In the Kali Yuga, those who practise fasting, austerity and liberality will do so in whatever way they please [and not according to the Law]. And men will call this righteousness... Men of all degrees, filled with conceit, will consider themselves to be equal with Brahmins...
All the Hindu scriptures are agreed that when conditions have reached this point, when things have deteriorated and mankind has sunk to the lowest depths of moral degradation, then the Lord will again manifest Himself as the Kalki Avatar:
When Vedic religion and the dharma of the law books have nearly ceased and the Kali Yuga is almost exhausted, then a part of the creator of the entire universe...the blessed Lord Vasudeva [Vishnu], will become incarnate here in the universe in the form of Kalki.(8)
Some Bahá'í scholars have even demonstrated that the prophecies in the Manu Srmiti and other books indicate the exact date of the end of the Kali Yuga and the coming of the Kalki Avatar. This date, 1844, is also the year of the beginning of the Bahá'í Faith (see Chapter 8).(9)
Therefore Bahá'ís believe that, faithful to the promises and prophesies recorded in the Hindu holy books, the Lord has now manifested Himself again in the form of the Kalki Avatar. Bahá'ís believe that this is Bahá'u'lláh. The purpose of Bahá'u'lláh's coming is to fulfil the prophecies in the Hindu scriptures and to give us the teachings that will bring in the new Sat or Krta Yuga (Golden Age). As foretold in the Vishnu Purana:
He will then establish righteousness upon the earth and the minds of the people will be awakened and become pure as crystal. And these men, the remnant of mankind, will thus be transformed... And these offspring will follow the ways of the Krta Age. (10)
Bahá'ís believe that through the teachings of Bahá'u'lláh, which
are described in this book, these prophecies will be fulfilled. As a result
the Sat or Krta Yuga (Golden Age) will be established.