By Chirag Dangarwala
The common understanding of an Advanced Civilization in today’s context is to be advanced in Technology, having a comfortable lifestyle, Earning Lots of money and having enough or rather lavish facilities to enjoy the senses to the fullest. This is the yard stick that is generally used to gauge the Advancement in Civilization. Owing to this yardstick Countries like United States of America, Great Britain etc are considered as First world Countries and more advanced in civilization then others. Undoubtedly these countries are advanced as far as Material comforts and Technology is concerned, however the ancient Vedic scriptures of India have a different perspective on Advancement in Civilization.
As per Bhagavad-Gita, the living entities in this world are not the material bodies which are visible with the eyes, but they are eternal spirit souls possessing different kinds of bodies. It is something like a driver sitting in a car where Car is compared to the material bodies and the driver is compared to the spirit soul. So the material body is dead in itself and cannot be animated unless the spirit soul resides in it, just like a car cannot move without a driver.
dehino ‘smin yathā dehe
kaumāraḿ yauvanaḿ jarā
dhīras tatra na muhyati [ B.G. 2.13]
” As the embodied soul continuously passes, in this body, from boyhood to youth to old age, the soul similarly passes into another body at death. A sober person is not bewildered by such a change”
na jāyate mriyate vā kadācin
nāyaḿ bhūtvā bhavitā vā na bhūyaḥ
ajo nityaḥ śāśvato ‘yaḿ purāṇo
na hanyate hanyamāne śarīre [ B.G. 2.20]
“For the soul there is neither birth nor death at any time. He has not come into being, does not come into being, and will not come into being. He is unborn, eternal, ever-existing and primeval. He is not slain when the body is slain.”
The above verses from Bhagavad-Gita, suggest that the living entity is not the body but is the soul within the body which changes its body from boyhood to youth hood too old age, and the soul does not die or take birth but is eternal.
So from Vedic point of view, the civilization is centered on advancement of the spirit soul and not of the temporary material body. This means that the definition of Advancement as per Vedic terms is advancement in spiritual consciousness, which leads one to understand their real identity as spirit souls and eternal loving servants of the Supreme Soul Sri Krsna or God. As per great thinkers and philosophers of the Vedic science the allotted time of a human being should be utilized in advancing spiritually and accept whatever is needed to keep the soul and the body together to perform Krsna Conscious or God Conscious activity.
Spending more than required time on material advancement is considered to be a waste of time in this all precious human form of life. Since this most intelligent form of life is obtained after passing through 8, 400, 000 species of life forms in innumerable lifetimes, and spending this time in human body for advancement of temporary material things which will be taken away at death is considered less intelligent. More so, even if materially a person is opulent and very successful, he still cannot feel happy because of his misidentification of the body as the self. Since the soul is the real identity of a living entity, one has to perform activities conducive to please the soul instead of the body, in order to enjoy. For example if the bird in the cage is not fed and only the cage is taken care of nicely, the bird will soon die due to neglect and suffering. So in order to enjoy or eternally feel happy one has to enquire about the characteristics of the soul. As per the scriptures spirit soul is a minute particle of the Supreme soul Sri Krsna or God and only by pleasing Krsna the spirit soul can feel happy , Just like, by watering the roots of a plant all the leaves are nourished also.
Coming back to our topic on Advancement in Civilization , if we observe closely we find that the modern advanced civilizations are just doing the opposite, they are using their entire energy and time in this human form of body, to build big ” worlds tallest buildings”, great man made monuments to attract tourists , increasing the facilities for sense enjoyment like, casinos, bars, restaurants, movies etc and using all the technology available in order to improve techniques and methods of increasing material comforts. This as per the Vedic yard stick is a mere waste of time, energy and opportunity lost in the human body. The premise for such a behavior is mainly due to the lack of basic knowledge about the self. Today though we have educational institutions which are drawing heavy tuition fees to provide infrastructural and technological facilities, we are still ignorant about our own self and hence there is no satisfaction or happiness, since we are trying to become happy by improving our outer dress only without trying to take care of the real body.
Vedic Wisdom, of which Bhagavad-Gita is the essence, can help the misguided population to understand the real interest of every human being and has the capacity to changes life’s for good to provide with peace and happiness for which everyone is hankering today. It is evident , that our educations have made us good artist rather than knowledgeable persons, what we consider knowledge for example in understanding computer technology , in constructing high rise buildings and etc is a mere art , since it by this knowledge we are not able to solve the real problems of life that are birth , death , old age and disease. Bhagavad-Gita explains what real knowledge is
brahmane gavi hastini
suni caiva sva-pake ca
panditah sama-darsinah [ B.g. 5.18]
“The humble sage, by virtue of true knowledge, sees with equal vision a learned and gentle brahmana, a cow, an elephant, a dog and a dog-eater [outcaste].”
ahimsa ksantir arjavam
anahankara eva ca
nityam ca sama-cittatvam
etaj jnanam iti proktam
ajnanam yad ato ‘nyatha [ B.g. Verses 13.8-13.12]
“Humility, pridelessness, nonviolence, tolerance, simplicity, approaching a bona fide spiritual master, cleanliness, steadiness and self-control; renunciation of the objects of sense gratification, absence of false ego, the perception of the evil of birth, death, old age and disease; non attachment to children, wife, home and the rest, and even-mindedness amid pleasant and unpleasant events; constant and unalloyed devotion to Me, resorting to solitary places, detachment from the general mass of people; accepting the importance of self-realization, and philosophical search for the Absolute Truth–all these I thus declare to be knowledge, and what is contrary to these is ignorance. ”
Above verses describe what true knowledge is and what we receive in our today’s educational systems is by far nowhere near to what is defined as knowledge. Also in the Vedic vocabulary ignorance is compared to darkness and knowledge is compared to light, since one cannot see any thing in darkness similarly even after receiving Masters, and PhD degrees from the Vedic point of view we cannot see the reality, since we have not even touched true knowledge about the soul. And there can be no advancement without knowledge or in other words we cannot make any advancement of civilization when we are in ignorance of our identity as spirit souls. So it is imperative that we take to this process of understanding the true knowledge from the Vedic wisdom and Bhagavad-Gita AS it is which is readily available, and correct our misidentification and wrong notions on Advancement Of Civilization.
The modern advancement can be termed as “advancement ” not of civilization but of destruction, by increasing the technology and other material comforts, we have given rise to unemployment, wars, depression, greed, lust , disease and pollution . We have ecologically put nature into imbalance and hence we see the problems we face with the untimely weathers.
The need of the hour is not a more advanced computer system, but a process to educate people about their identities and encouraging activities pertaining to their spiritual nature, in order to change the consciousness of the human society. The best method recommended to achieve this for this age of Kali is chanting the holy names of God, Hare Krsna Hare Krsna Krsna Krsna Hare Hare/ Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare collectively and individually as confirmed in the Srimad Bhagavatam.
kaler doña-nidhe räjann
asti hy eko mahän guëaù
kértanäd eva kåñëasya
mukta-saìgaù paraà vrajet [S.B. 12.3.51]
“My dear King, although Kali-yuga is an ocean of faults, there is still one good quality about this age: Simply by chanting the Hare Krsna mahä-mantra, one can become free from material bondage and be promoted to the transcendental kingdom.”