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Are there different methods of worshiping God in different yugas?

For example, in the Sathya Yuga, the major method of worship is meditation or yagas. In Kaliyuga - chanting of God's name. I have heard that even if Kaliyuga is the worst one, it does have an advantage in the method of worship. People can just chant God's name and can get Moksha.

Could someone please give insight on this?

Edit:

I have two more related questions:

  1. Can we consider these methods as just "different ways" leading to GOD?

  2. And can a person choose any method or only one method according to the current Yuga?

  • Yes a person can choose any method of Bhakti that is comfortable for Him. This is all general guidelines. Not 'strict' laws. There is no 'SHOULD'. You can chant any name of God. Not necessary only Rama or Krishna. One can chant the name of Govinda, Parameshvara, Devi Maa, Guru, Vivekananda, Sai Baba, Ramana Maharishi. All are valid. But what matters is the inner feeling. Simply mechanical repetition of God's name should be replaced with absolute remembrance of God. That way the chanting of God's name becomes the best sadhana!! All the best!! – Sai Mar 2 '15 at 21:09
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    Self-inquiry, Namasmaran, Japa, Dhyana, Yoga are all valid and easy ways to get Moksha. It varies from person to person. The bhakti saints promote namasmaran as the way to get Moksha. the yogis proclaim that Yoga is the fastest way to salvation. The Jnanis say that self inquiry will liberate fast. This is all just a way to inspire the seeker to be sincere and steadfast in His efforts! Whatever path is taken, follow it to fullest possible. Sincerity is most important! All paths converge. They are not contradictory either. One can be a bhakta as well as a jnani as well as a Yogi. – Sai Mar 2 '15 at 21:13
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    @Sai - You should post the above comment as an answer. Your comment is the best answer to this question. You have summarized it perfectly. – Chinmay Sarupria Oct 7 '15 at 10:17
  • @ChinmaySarupria thanks buddy. I will have to look up some good references for all these statements before I post it as an answer. Thanks – Sai Oct 7 '15 at 14:36
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Yes, you've heard correctly. As the four Yugas progress, the world becomes more and more evil. But as a way to help people deal with all the evil that surrounds them, in later Yugas it becomes easier and easier to obtain great benefits from even small religious activity. Here is how Vyasa describes the benefits of the Kali Yuga in the Vishnu Purana:

The fruit of penance, of continence, of silent prayer, and the like, practised in the Krita age for ten years, in the Treta for one year, in the Dwápara for a month, is obtained in the Kali age in a day and night: therefore did I exclaim "Excellent, excellent, is the Kali age!" That reward which a man obtains in the Krita by abstract meditation, in the Treta by sacrifice, in the Dwápara by adoration, he receives in the Kali by merely reciting the name of Keshava.

So make sure you say my name!

Vyasa also says that it becomes easier to do your Dharma (duty):

In truth, in the Kali age duty is discharged with very little trouble by mortals, whose faults are all washed away by the water of their individual merits; by Śúdras, through diligent attendance only upon the twice-born [Brahmanas, Kshatriyas, and Vaishyas]; and by women, through the slight effort of obedience to their husbands.... [I]n the Krita and other ages great were the toils of the [twice-born] to perform their duty.

The Vishnu Puranas isn't the only scripture that describes these benefits of the Kali Yuga; here is what the sons of Rishabha say in Srimad Bhagavatam:

People in Satya-yuga are peaceful, nonenvious, friendly to every creature and steady in all situations. They worship the Supreme Personality by austere meditation and by internal and external sense control....

In Tretā-yuga, those members of human society who are fixed in religiosity and are sincerely interested in achieving the Absolute Truth worship Lord Hari, who contains within Himself all the demigods. The Lord is worshiped by the rituals of sacrifice taught in the three Vedas....

[I]n Dvāpara-yuga men who desire to know the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who is the supreme enjoyer, worship Him in the mood of honoring a great king, following the prescriptions of both the Vedas and tantras....

Those who are actually advanced in knowledge are able to appreciate the essential value of this Age of Kali. Such enlightened persons worship Kali-yuga because in this fallen age all perfection of life can easily be achieved by the performance of saṅkīrtana [chanting together].

And they even recommend two prayers to Vishnu to be said during the Kali Yuga, here and here. (Prabhupada believes these verses to be prayers to Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, who is considered an incarnation of Vishnu by Gaudiya Vaishnavas, but in my opinion they're prayers to either Vishnu himself or perhaps Venkateshwara.)

And later on in the Srimad Bhagavatam, Bhumidevi (the goddess of the Earth) herself gives a similar description of the methods of worship in the different Yugas:

The people of Satya-yuga are for the most part self-satisfied, merciful, friendly to all, peaceful, sober and tolerant. They take their pleasure from within, see all things equally and always endeavor diligently for spiritual perfection....

In the Tretā age people are devoted to ritual performances and severe austerities....

In the Dvāpara age people are interested in glory and are very noble. They devote themselves to the study of the Vedas, possess great opulence, support large families and enjoy life with vigor....

In the Kali-yuga, objects, places and even individual personalities are all polluted. The almighty Personality of Godhead, however, can remove all such contamination from the life of one who fixes the Lord within his mind. If a person hears about, glorifies, meditates upon, worships or simply offers great respect to the Supreme Lord, who is situated within the heart, the Lord will remove from his mind the contamination accumulated during many thousands of lifetimes.... Whatever result was obtained in Satya-yuga by meditating on Viṣṇu, in Tretā-yuga by performing sacrifices, and in Dvāpara-yuga by serving the Lord’s lotus feet can be obtained in Kali-yuga simply by chanting [Hari].

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    So make sure you say my name! come to think of it, Indian parents naming kids with different God/Goddess names - is it more of a tribute to their deity of choice or a selfish reason to automatically/unintentionally chant the God's name when calling/addressing their kids?! – sv. Oct 6 '15 at 23:09
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    @sv. Well, there's a question about that here: hinduism.stackexchange.com/q/2110/36 Personally, I think the more plausible explanation is simply that people want to give their children auspicious names, so they name them after gods. – Keshav Srinivasan Oct 7 '15 at 0:56
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While @KeshavSrinivasan's answer is excellent, I'll try to address your additional questions after the EDIT mark.

  1. This questions requires understanding of what are you trying to achieve by getting the answer to it. Ultimately, there is just one way to God, to Ishvara: to remember who we are, remember who he is and remember what we should do. At this point we are with God, doesn't matter where we are or what happens around us. Four ways which you asking about are ways to get to that point. Bhagavad-gita chapter 4, between verses 9 and 41, actually discusses those various "ways" to return back to God.

  2. As far as our acharyas in the Brahma Gaudiya-Vaishnava sampradaya say, the question is not about "choosing" the method of worshipping. It's a question of ability. We in Kali yuga simply cannot perform other methods, we have neither bodies, lifespan and environment for tapa as in Satya yuga, nor wealth for jagna as in Treta yuga, nor personal qualities to follow dharma as in Dwapara yuga. For miserable us in Kali yuga only the simplest methods are left: listening about Ishvara and concentrating our mind on just the sound of His name, that's all.

Examples of worshipping in different eras are there in Bhagavata purana. Nobody in our time will be able to repeat those.

  • What Gaudiya Vaishnava Acharyas discuss the stuff about people in the Kali Yuga being unable to use the methods of earlier Yugas? By the way, if you're a Gaudiya Vaishnava, you may be interested in my questions about Gaudiya Vaishnavism here: hinduism.stackexchange.com/questions/tagged/gaudiya-vaishnavism – Keshav Srinivasan Sep 29 '15 at 6:03
  • @KeshavSrinivasan I am deeply sorry, prabhu, I am from Russia so I cannot easily cite our guru for you. But there is one place I found directly from Srila Prabhupada in Renunciation through Wisdom. You can Ctrl+F there by the keywords "unable to undertake", it's roughly the halfway through the page. – hijarian Sep 29 '15 at 7:30
  • @KeshavSrinivasan I have actually seen already your questions related to modern Brahma Gaudiya-Vaishnava sampradaya represented by ISKCON. :) But those questions are too deep and require too much understanding of philosophy, and I am certainly not qualified to answer them. – hijarian Sep 29 '15 at 7:40
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This Kali Yuga is praised in the scriptures as incomparably conducive to the salvation of man, for he can now attain the Highest through the mere thought of God and remembering His Name. So of all the Yugas, this Yuga is described as the most holy, the most beneficient. Dhyana (meditation) was prescribed as the means of liberation for men in the Kritha Yuga, Ascetism as the means during the Tretha Yuga and ritual worship for the Dwapara Yuga. But, for people of this Yuga, the simple remedy prescribed is just Namasmarana, the constant awareness of the Name. In spite of this, it is a pity that men do not care for this path and so render their lives barren wastes." - Sathya Sai Baba

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