Kali Yuga 1
3000 BC to 2000 BC
Duration of Kali Yuga 1 was 1000 years. It is same if we follow the ratio 1:1:1:1 or the ratio 4:3:2:1. Below are some of the events occurred during this Yuga. The major event in this Yuga was the invasion of North India by Kali a Gandharva-Gandhara ruler from the north-west of India. Due to the impact of this invasion upon the culture of India, this Yuga was named Kali Yuga. The important events occurred during this Yuga are described below.
The Abhira Invasion
Abhiras were a tribe who branched off from the Yadavas at some point of time in the remote past and lived in the north west of India. Musala Parva (Book 16) of Mahabharata has a passage that says that the Abhiras invaded the Yadavas who were migrating from Dwaraka island towards the Kuru kingdom. They also abducted the Yadava ladies. Yadavas were assisted by Arjuna the greatest archer of Kurukshetra-war. Arjuna defended the attack. But he was then too old (in his 80s) to resist the Abhiras. Most of the southern part of the Dwaraka-Indraprastha trade route was captured by the Abhiras. This falls roughly the western Rajasthan, where Abhiras are found in during the recorded history also.
Abhiras were already a force in Saraswati region at the end of Dwapara Yuga during the period of the Pandavas. One of the Pandava general Nakula had encountered them at Saraswati valley during his western military campaign. Abhira territories lied along its dried channel across the desert. It lied to the north of Dwaraka-territories (in the island and in the mainland) and to the east of Sauvira kingdom (in Sindh proovince in Pakistan). After destroying the Yadavas who were thus migrating from Dwaraka island to Kuru territories in the north, the Abhiras invaded the territories occupied by Dwaraka-Yadavas in the western sea shore. They established a kingdom there and many port cities there. They engaged in sea-trade with regions as far as Egypt and Greece. Abhiras were mentioned in Bible as Ophirs. As per Bible Ophir was famous for its wealth. King Solomon is supposed to have received a cargo of gold, silver, sandalwood, precious stones, ivory, apes and peacocks from Ophir, every three years
Abhira invasion was the first invasion occurred during Kali Yuga (3000 BC to 2000 BC). This was followed by the invasions of Kali and his successors.
The Invasion of Kali
Kali (3025 BC to 2925 BC) was a king of Gandhara, belonging to the Gandharva tribe and a contemporary of Parikshit (the grandson of Pandava Arjuna). Kali's Gandhara kingdom probably lied to the west of the Gandhara kingdom of Sakuni. Sakuni's kingdom lied in current Pakistan around the cities of Takshasila (Taxila) and Pushkalavati. Kali's Gandhara probably lied in Afghanistan in the Kandahar province. He conquered the territories up to Takshasila and thus expanded his kingdom by annexing Sakuni's Gandhara and wanted to expand further east into the territories of the Kurus. Kali's first attempt of invasion was failed by Kuru king Parikshit as evident from Mahabharata. After Parikshit, his son Janamejaya ascended the throne. Janamejaya conquered the territories up to Takshasila, which was then within Kali's extended Gandhara kingdom. Janamejaya also persecuted the Nagas who probably allied with the invading Kali and his Gandharva / Gandhara army. Nagas had enmity to the Pandava branch of Kuru kings since the time of Arjuna who burned their territories in Khandava. Kali himself or his successors finally succeeded in invading North India, after the reign of Janamejaya.
Kali and his successors probably ruled North India for 500 years (3000 BC to 2500 BC). The impact of Kali's invasion in the culture lasted for 1000 years (3000 BC to 2000 BC) and also pawed the way for other invasions during this time.
Nala and Damayanti
3010 BC to 2910 BC
Nala and Damayanti were contemporaries of Kali. Nala was some 15 years younger than Kali. He ruled Nishadha kingdom. This kingdom lied in the Rajastan-Madhya_Pradesh border, towards the south-south-east of Matsya kingdoms. He was a Varshneya (one who belonged to the Vrishni-Yadava race). Thus Nala was a descendant of Krishna. Nala's father was Virasena. Nala's wife Damayanti was the princess of Vidarbha kingdom. It lied in eastern Maharashtra, which is now known as the Vidarbha region. Damayanti belonged to the Bhoja-Yadava tribe. Her father Bhimasena was the king of Vidharbha. Kosala kingdom was then ruled by king Rituparna. He was not an Ikshwaku king like Rama. Rituparna was the son of an Asura named Bhangasura. Kosala cities like Ayodhya was then connected with Vidarbha cities like Kundina. Nishadha too was well connected with Kosala, Chedi and Vidharbha through many roads frequented by traders carrying trade-goods in caravans across these kingdoms.
Kali then ruled the territories from Gandhara in the west to Kuru-Panchala in the east. He wanted to make Damayanti her queen. But Damayanti chose Nala as her husband in a self-choice (Swayamvara) event. Kali thus became an enemy of Nala. He allied with Nala's brother Pushkara whose kingdom lied around Pushkar-lake in Rajastha. With the help of Pushkara, Kali overthrew Nala. This was done through a game of dice. This was similar to the game of dice of Gandhara king Sakuni who deceived Yudhisthira on behalf of Duryodhana. (Kali seems to have some blood relationship with Sakuni or Duryodhana). However Nala regained his kingdom and his queen Damayanti with the help of Naga kings like Karkotaka and Ayodhya king Rituparna. Karkotaka Naga was formerly an ally of Kali but later turned against Kali and helped Nala. Nala and Damayanti had a son named Indrasena.
Kali's companion Dwapara
Dwapara is mentioned as a companion of Kali. While the companion of Kali could be a historic figure (may be his brother or uncle), his name Dwapara seems to be fictions. The last among the first four Chatur Yugas was named after Kali, posthumously. Kali became an embodiment of Kali Yuga in later literature. It is highly probable that Kali's companion was then posthumously named Dwapara. His original name remained unknown. It is unlikely that the word Dwapara in Dwapara Yuga is derived from the name of a person. The compound word Dwa-para means that which is twice longer (than Kali Yuga) or that which is counted second (when counted backwards from Kali Yuga). Similarly the word Treta in Treta Yuga means that which is counted third (when counted backwards from Kali Yuga) or that which is thrice longer (than Kali Yuga). The word //Krita in Krita Yuga means Rta or Satya (the truth). Thus Krita Yuga is also known as Rta Yuga or Satya Yuga.
Some argue that the word Kali in Kali Yuga too is not derived from a person named Kali, because Kali can also mean dark so that Kali Yuga means the dark Yuga or the evil Yuga. However we should note that one of the matriarchs from whom Gandharvas like Kali derive their ancestry was named Kala. They were also thus known as Kalakeyas and sometimes grouped as an Asura tribe. Though a Gandharva, Kali is sometimes mentioned as an Asura. So he could be a Kalakeya-Asura-Gandharva. The name Kali could be derived from the matriarch Kala. Many references in Mahabharata indicate that the last among the four Chatur Yugas was indeed named after Kali, since it was dominated by Kali's influence.
Invasion of North Western tribes
2900 BC to 2000 BC
At Mbh.3.187 we have the following narration by sage Markandeya about an invasion happened in Kali Yuga:- Numerous Mleccha kings then rule over the earth! The Andhhas, the Sakas, the Pulindas, the Yavanas, the Kamvojas, the Valhikas and the Abhiras, then become, possessed of bravery and the sovereignty of the earth.
From this narration, we can conclude that following the invasion of Abhiras and Kali, the tribes like the Andhhas, Sakas, Pulindas, Yavanas, Kamvojas and Valhikas invaded northern India. These tribes mostly came from the north west of India, close to the Gandhara kingdom. Andhhas seems to be same as the Andhras who later moved to Narmada, Godavari rivers and finally settled in Andhra_Pradesh. Like Abhiras, they were branched from the Andhaka sub-branch of the Yadava tribe and migrated to north west of India. from there they came back to invade North India during Kali Yuga. Sakas were a Central Asian tribe. Pulindas too lived in Central Asia. Yavanas were the ancestors of Ionian Greeks. Kambojas were a tribe who lived in the north and west of Kashmir. Warriors of Kamboja and Yavana tribes had taken part in Kurukshetra War. Like Abhiras, the Valhikas were branched of from the Kuru tribe in the remote past. They lived in north-west of India. Their southern most territory existed in Punjab as the kingdom of Bahlika even during the time of Kurukshtra war. Some of their warriors had taken part in the Kurukshetra war.
All of these tribes, at some point of time, had migrated out of India to the west and north. When the kingdoms of North India weakened due to Kurukshetra war, and when the Yadava cities like Dwaravati and the Kuru cities like Hastinapura and Indraprastha declined, they came back, invaded North India and settled there.
Saunaka's 12 year Sacrifice in Namisha
When the Indo-Gangatic plain was dominated by Kali, his allies and his successors, the sages who bore the Dwapara Yuga traditions (like the retelling of Mahabharata, the history of Bharata kings etc) left these regions and lived in the forest of Naimisha (a forest that lied between Panchala and Kosala kingdoms. Their they were not persecuted by Kali or his successors and lived in peace.
There they performed a 12 year long sacrifice ceremony as mentioned in the first chapters of Mahabharata, Adi Parva. It his here that Sauti famously narrated Mahabharata to the assemblage of sages. The current form of Mahabharata that we get to read contains several modification that accumulated on to it after the narration of Sauti. Thus it contains information of events that occurred up to 400 AD.
Kali Yuga Kings
2500 BC to 2000 BC
At Mbh.5.74, there is a passage where Bhima mentions about a list of kings belonging to various tribes:- Even as, when Dharma became extinct, Kali was born in the race of Asuras flourishing with prosperity and blazing with energy, so was born Udavarta among the Haihayas. Janamejaya among the Nepas, Vahula among the Talajanghas, proud Vasu among the Krimis, Ajavindu among the Suviras, Rushardhik among the Surashtras, Arkaja among the Valihas, Dhautamulaka among the Chinas, Hayagriva among the Videhas, Varayu among the Mahaujasas, Vahu among the Sundaras, Pururavas among the Diptakshas, Sahaja among the Chedis and Matsyas, Vrishaddhaja among the Praviras, Dharana among the Chandra-batsyas, Bigahana among the Mukutas and Sama among the Nandivegas.
These kings seems to be the rulers of Kali Yuga (3000 BC to 2000 BC) who ruled during the reign of Kali and after his reign. These kings ruled their respective kingdom, like Kali ruled his territories and thus were allied to Kali or his philosophy.