KALKI is the tenth and final (according to the canonical list) avatar of god Vishnu; his other name is Vishnuyashas, meaning “endowed with Vishnu’s glory”. Kalki is usually attributed to the future, although recurrence of his descents to the earth may be assumed due to cycling Yugas, and his image manifestly represents the idea of messianism. Kalki image first appears in Mahabharata, integrated in the Brahmin teaching about the world and its destruction caused by humanity’s moral degradation. The image is also used in Vishnu Purana, Agni Purana, and Bhagavata Purana. Born in a Brahmin family in the town of Sambhala (Buddhist Shambala), Kalki witnesses human degradation in the age of Kali Yuga. He sees people’s viciousness, violation of eternal customs, traditions and rites, migration of population threatened by famine and oppression, power of barbarians who replace paltry rulers, and onset of discord provoked by “low” Dasyu and Sudras. Kalki rises against all this and exterminates barbarians and “low” ones, restores power of Chakravartin (the sovereign of the world) by means of royal rites (Asvamedha and Dividjaya), and renews the society based on Varna Ashrama Dharma, the universal religious law which orders every social class (varna) to perform certain duties on relevant stages of their life (ashrama). Kalki mythology was developing with a tendency to assimilate foreign beliefs, which was typical for Hinduism already at early stages of its development, and such tendency was supported by the soteriological spirit of the concept of avatars. Kalki activities include not just three most important functions of the perfect king, such as military, magic legal and fertile, but also the function of humanity salvation. Given the strengthening role and position of Buddhism, this Hindu figure may be regarded as a replica of the image of Maitreya, while similarities between Kalki and early Christian messiah images are more due to similar legend plots that emerged under similar historical circumstances (although here we cannot totally exclude Middle Eastern influence as well).
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