Are there really good people and bad people? If this question is put to anyone, he may perhaps answer in the affirmative or probably say that there is nothing good or bad; only thinking makes it so. It is really amazing that many come out with clever arguments more to defend the wrong than to promote the right. It is even more amazing that even eminent people come out with arguments which are more in the nature of a dig at people who confine themselves to generally accepted norms of virtue. How would you otherwise justify pronouncements like ‘Chastity is just lack of opportunity’ or ‘Many a man is saved from being a thief by finding everything locked up’? The lawyers who defend criminals and get them acquitted command a greater premium than the ones who plead the cause of innocent. Hindus classify the age of the Universe into four yougas. These are: Krita or Satya Yuga – 17,28,000 years (Kri – four times kali yuga) Threta Yuga – 12,96,000 years (Thre – three times kali yuga) Dwapara Yuga – 8,64,000 years ( Dwa – two times kali yuga) Kali yuga – 4,32,000 years A total of 43,20,000 years constitute a Maha Yuga! The most significant feature of this classification is the exemplification of the characteristics of man in each Yuga. Krita or Satya-yuga, or the golden age, is the ideal age, characterized by virtue, wisdom, religion, and practically no vice or ignorance. Humans do not hate or envy each other, nor do they ever feel anxious, fearful or threatened. They solely worship the one Supreme Personality of Godhead, hear the one Veda, obey the one law, and practice the one religious process -- meditation on the Supreme. People live for about 100,000 years. In Treta-yuga vice is introduced. The good qualities that humans had in Satya-yuga get reduced by one third. People introduce religious rites, sacrifices, and ceremonies. They start expecting a reward for their work and religious activities. They live for a maximum of 10,000 years. In Dvapara-yuga uprightness is only half of what it was in Satya-yuga. The Vedas are divided into four parts, and only a few people study them. Sensual desires and diseases begin to well up, and injustice spreads in human civilization. People live for a maximum of 1000 years. In Kali-yuga only one fourth of human uprightness remains and gradually reduces to nil as the age progresses. We now live in Kali-yuga, the iron age, the most degraded of the four ages (kali literally means "quarrel and hypocrisy"). In this age men are short lived and have less intelligence. They are especially lazy in performing their spiritual duties and exceedingly slow to surrender to the Lord. They are misled, frustrated and, above all, always disturbed. The qualities of religion (truthfulness, cleanliness, forbearance and mercy) take the back seat. The maximum duration of human life is 100 years, and even that is rare. Thus we see that the man is an epitome of virtue in the first Yuga. In each Yuga, he undergoes moral degradation until he reaches the last or Kali Yuga when his moral decay is so complete that the Lord thinks it fit to manifest Himself and destroy him laugh, stock and barrel. The cycle starts again and goes on. This classification is well brought out in the characters of the two epics, Raamaayana and the Mahabharat. The former, as we all know, pertains to the Thretha Yugas and the latter to the close of the third or Dwapara Yuga. We find that the characters portrayed in the former are thoroughly virtuous. Lakshmana, for example, is unable to describe his brother’s wife because he has never seen any of her features other than her toenail. Rama ceases to fight Ravana when He sees him lying wounded and weaponless. Mahabharat signifies the advent of the Kali Yuga. It describes man in his most cunning and even the Lord has to resort to questionable methods to help the right prevail over the wrong. The epic is full of episodes of cunning, deceit, revenge and such negative traits and the establishment of the right takes place only towards the very end after taking a severe beating throughout. We can, therefore, take solace from the fact that the utter moral degeneration that we see around us, of which even we are a part of, is typical of the times we live in. If the newspapers do not report macabre incidents, rape, bribery or massacre in the name of religion, we feel bored. Thus, in our deepest heart, if we admire the heroics of a medical practitioner who amasses wealth by filming the intimate acts of man and woman and selling the same to the whole world, there is no cause for us to feel ashamed of it. If we sit glued to the TV news channels to learn more about Noida killings or the Tehelka expose, there is no cause for us to feel repentant. If the news of a movie depicting the lust of a woman for her sister’s husband running for 100 days does not repulse us, blame it on the Yuga! We are after all only part of the evolution of the Universe!