Kalki is described in the Puranas as the avatar who rejuvenates existence by ending the darkest and destructive period to remove adharma and ushering in the Satya Yuga, while riding a white horse with a fiery sword. The description and details of Kalki are different among various Puranas. Kalki is also found in Buddhist texts: For example the Kalachakra-Tantra of Tibetan Buddhism.
The name Kalki is derived from Kal, which means "time" (Kali Yuga). The literal meaning of Kalki is "dirty, sinful", which Brockington states does not make sense in the avatara context. This has led scholars such as Otto Schrader to suggest that the original term may have been karki (white, from the horse) which morphed into Kalki. This proposal is supported by two versions of Mahabharata manuscripts (e.g. the G3.6 manuscript) that have been found, where the Sanskrit verses name the avatar to be "karki", rather than "kalki".
Kalki is an avatara of Vishnu. Avatara means "descent" and refers to a descent of the divine into the material realm of human existence. The Garuda Purana lists ten avatars, with Kalki being the tenth. He is described as the avatar who appears at the end of the Kali Yuga. He ends the darkest, degenerating and chaotic stage of the Kali Yuga (period) to remove adharma and ushers in the Satya Yuga, while riding a white horse with a fiery sword. He restarts a new cycle of time. He is described as a Brahmin warrior in the Puranas.
In the Buddhist text Kalachakra Tantra, the righteous kings are called Kalki (Kalkin, lit. chieftain) living in Sambhala. There are many Kalki in this text, each fighting barbarism, persecution and chaos. The last Kalki is called "Cakrin" and is predicted to end the chaos and degeneration by assembling a large army to eradicate the "forces of Islam". A great war and Armageddon will destroy the barbaric Muslim forces, states the text. According to Donald Lopez - a professor of Buddhist Studies, Kalki is predicted to start the new cycle of perfect era where "Buddhism will flourish, people will live long, happy lives and righteousness will reign supreme". The text is significant in establishing the chronology of the Kalki idea to be from post-7th century, probably the 9th or 10th century. Lopez states that the Buddhist text likely borrowed it from Hindu mythology. Other scholars, such as Yijiu Jin, state that the text originated in Central Asia in the 10th-century, and Tibetan literature picked up a version of it in India around 1027 CE.
The Kalki avatar appears in the historic Sikh texts, most notably in Dasam Granth, a text that is traditionally attributed to Guru Gobind Singh. The Chaubis Avatar (24 avatars) section mentions sage Matsyanra describing the appearance of Vishnu avatars to fight evil, greed, violence and ignorance. It includes Kalki as the twenty-fourth incarnation to lead the war between the forces of righteousness and unrighteousness, states Dhavan.
There is no mention of Kalki in the Vedic literature. The epithet "Kalmallkinam", meaning "brilliant remover of darkness", is found in the Vedic literature for Rudra (later Shiva), which has been interpreted to be "forerunner of Kalki".
Kalki appears for the first time in the great war epic Mahabharata. The mention of Kalki in the Mahabharata occurs only once, over the verses 3.188.85-3.189.6. The Kalki avatar is found in the Maha-Puranas such as Vishnu Purana,Matsya Purana, and Bhagavata Purana. However, the details relating the Kalki mythologies are divergent between the Epic and the Puranas, as well as within the Puranas.
In the Mahabharata, according to Hiltebeitel, Kalki is an extension of the Parasurama avatar legend where a Brahmin warrior destroys Kshatriyas who were abusing their power to spread chaos, evil and persecution of the powerless. The Epic character of Kalki restores dharma, restores justice in the world, but does not end the cycle of existence. The Kalkin section in the Mahabharata occurs in the Markandeya section. There, states Luis Reimann, can "hardly be any doubt that the Markandeya section is a late addition to the Epic. Making Yudhisthira ask a question about conditions at the end of Kali and the beginning of Krta -- something far removed from his own situation -- is merely a device for justifying the inclusion of this subject matter in the Epic."
According to Cornelia Dimmitt, the "clear and tidy" systematization of Kalki and the remaining nine avatars of Vishnu is not found in any of the Maha-Puranas. The coverage of Kalki in these Hindu texts is scant, in contrast to the legends of Matsya, Kurma, Varaha, Vamana, Narasimha, and Krishna, all of which are repeatedly and extensively described. According to Dimmitt, this was likely because just like the concept of the Buddha as a Vishnu avatar, the concept of Kalki was "somewhat in flux" when the major Puranas were being compiled.
This myth may have developed in the Hindu texts both as a reaction to the invasions of the Indian subcontinent by various armies over the centuries from its northwest, and the mythologies these invaders brought with them. Similarly, the Buddhist literature dated to the late 1st millennium, a future Buddha Maitreya is depicted as Kalki.
According to John Mitchiner, the Kalki concept was likely borrowed "in some measure from similar Jewish, Christian, Zoroastrian and other religions". Mitchiner states that some Puranas such as the Yuga Purana do not mention Kalki and offer a different cosmology than the other Puranas. The Yuga Purana mythologizes in greater details the post-Maurya era Indo-Greek and Saka era, while the Manvantara theme containing the Kalki idea is mythologized greater in other Puranas. Luis Gonzales-Reimann concurs with Mitchiner, stating that the Yuga Purana does not mention Kalki. In other texts such as the sections 2.36 and 2.37 of the Vayu Purana, states Reimann, it is not Kalkin who ends the Kali Yuga, but a different character named Pramiti. Most historians, states Arvind Sharma, link the development of Kalki mythology in Hinduism to the suffering caused by foreign invasions.
A minor text named Kalki Purana is a relatively recent text, likely composed in Bengal. Its dating floruit is the 18th-century. Wendy Doniger dates the Kalki mythology containing Kalki Purana to between 1500 and 1700 CE.
In the Kalki Purana, Kalki marries princess Padmavati, the daughter of Brhadratha of Simhala. He fights an evil army and many wars, ends evil but does not end existence. Kalki returns to Sambhala, inaugurates a new yuga for the good and then goes to heaven.
Predictions about birth and arrival
In the cyclic concept of time (Puranic Kalpa), Kaliyuga lasts 2400 years (back to back 1200 year periods). Many modern historians miscalculate the Yugas to last several million years, however the Truth of the Yuga cycle has to do with our Sun's orbit with it's dual star, Polaris (North Star). It takes our Sun 24,000 years to complete it's orbit with Polaris, hence the cyclical nature of time and how the Yuga cycle comes into existence. In some Vaishnava texts, Kalki is forecasted to appear on a white horse on the day of pralaya to end Kaliyuga, to end the evil and wickedness, and to recreate the world anew along with a new cycle of time (yuga).
Kalki's description varies with manuscripts. Some state Kalki will be born to Awejsirdenee and Bishenjun, others in the family of Sumati and Vishnuyasha. In Buddhist manuscripts, Vishnuyasha is stated to be a prominent headman of the village called Shambhala. He will become the king, a "Turner of the Wheel", and one who triumphs. He will eliminate all barbarians and robbers, end adharma, restart dharma, and save the good people. After that, humanity will be transformed and the golden age will begin state the Hindu manuscripts.
In the Kanchipuram temple, two relief Puranic panels depict Kalki, one relating to lunar (daughter-based) dynasty as mother of Kalki and another to solar (son-based) dynasty as father of Kalki. In these panels, states D.D. Hudson, the story depicted is in terms of Kalki fighting and defeating asura Kali. He rides a white horse called Devadatta, ends evil, purifies everyone's minds and consciousness, and heralds the start of Satya Yuga.
19th-century Dashavatara painting (from left): Matsya, Kurma, Varaha, Narasimha, Vamana, Parashurama, Rama, Krishna, Buddha and Kalki.
List of notable people who have claimed to be the Kalki avatar in the past:
Agastya, founder of the world movement, claimed to be the Kalki Avatar, as well as Mahdi.
In the Bahá'í Faith, Bahá'u'lláh is identified as Kalki as well as the prophesied redeeming messenger of God at the end of the world, as claimed in the Bábí religion, Judaism (King of Glory), Christianity (Messiah), Islam (Mahdi), Buddhism (Maitreya), Zoroastrianism (Shah Bahram), and other religions.
Various Muslim missionaries in South Asia - such as Siddiq Hussain of Shia sect of Islam - seeking to convert Hindus to their sect of Islam; they either claimed themselves to be Kalki, or claimed that "all" the Shia Imams were Kalki, or claimed Muhammad was Kalki.
Kalki Bhagavan, born Vijaykumar Naidu, born on 7 March 1949, founder of Oneness University.
^ abTattvad?pa?: Journal of Academy of Sanskrit Research, Volume 5. The Academy. 2001. p. 81. Kalki, as an incarnation of Visnu, is not found in the Vedic literature. But some of the features of that concept, viz., the fearful elements, the epithet Kalmallkinam (brilliant, remover of darkness) of Rudra, prompt us to admit him as the forerunner of Kalki.
Rao, Velcheru Narayana (1993). "Purana as Brahminic Ideology". In Doniger, Wendy (ed.). Purana Perennis: Reciprocity and Transformation in Hindu and Jaina Texts. Albany: State University of New York Press. ISBN0-7914-1381-0.