By: Bhakti Raghava Swami The Eight Petal on Feb. 5, 2011
According to the Vedic teachings, civilized human beings are those who belong to the Aryan culture. The word `arya` does not refer to any specific nation or country, as many have been wrongly taught, rather the word is used to designate those who cultivate spiritual awareness, in particular the highest level of spiritual emancipation, `ananda-maya`, `pure devotional` service in Krishna consciousness. Our Vedic scholars give the following definition: “`Aryan`—a follower of Vedic culture. A person whose goal is spiritual advancement. He truly knows the value of life and has a civilization based on spiritual realization.”
There are many versions of the “Aryan Invasion” theory whereby it is explained that India as a nation was once upon a time conquered by a higher developed people called the Aryans. The Founder-Acarya of ISKCON, Srila Prabhupada, in representing a long chain of highly spiritually advanced teachers, defines Aryan as those who believe and follow the basic tenets of Krishna consciousness. According to the ancient teachings of the Bhagavad-gita, this supreme knowledge, raja- vidya, has been in existence since time immemorial; indeed the creation of this material world begins with the highest civilized or God conscious personality named Lord Brahma. However, as people and nations drift away from the Vedic culture, they become more and more degraded or more “uncivilized”.
The modern theory that we have evolved from a non-civilized specie (Darwin’s monkey theory) and are progressing towards a more advanced civilization is opposite of the Vedic view. A few examples should suffice to demonstrate the point.
The Modern ‘Advanced’ Civilization
Whereas people would naturally eat jaggery or gur [similar to molasses but made from boiled down sugarcane juice or similar fruits such as palm or coconut], modern “civilized” people have opted for white “refined” sugar, which has been nicely polished using the bones of animals and stripped of its organic properties.
Whereas people use to write letters to one another we now have sophisticated machines called computers and cell phones to communicate with which, although seemingly so wonderful and effective, are expensive, detrimental to the eyesight, addictive and adversely altering the way people relate to one another.
Whereas we used oil which was extracted from coconut, palm, peanuts or various seeds, using the natural “cold-pressed” method, we now make commercial oils which through “heat-pressed” methods have been stripped of most nutrients including Vitamin E, resulting in creating toxins in the body which bring various deadly diseases, including cancer.
Whereas people were localized and use to walk to work (their own fields), a healthier and safer means of transportation, we now drive (or fly) 50 to 100 miles to work not knowing if we will get there or back due to unforeseen dangers in travelling.
Whereas young boys use to remain celibate and not mix with the opposite sex thus making them strong physically, mentally and spiritually, now-a-days boys and girls openly mix and create unwanted population, varna sankara, causing various anomalies in society and disrupting natural relationships.
Whereas we use to rely on seasonal rains for cultivating once during the year, one crop being sufficient to meet our family needs, now, due to greediness, we use bore wells to rape mother three times a year for selling our commercial crops.
Whereas farmers use to plough the land taking the help of oxen and use to keep cows who gave natural wholesome milk (what modern people now call “raw milk”), modern farmers have been taught to use tractors and similar machines which destroy their soil and to sell their milk which is then pasteurized, homogenized or basically deprived of its natural nutrients. In the name of “advanced civilization”, we have introduced unlimited unnatural and dangerous devices and practices, yet still we are proud to call ourselves “civilized”.
Sanskrit, the Language of Advanced Civilization
To really know about what is civilized, traditionally people use to come to India, Bharat-varsa, also known as “punya bhumi”, the sacred land or the land of dharma. At one point, this advanced civilization of Bharat use to pervade the entire world. The most perfect of all languages, Sanskrit, was known all over the world. It is referred to as “deva-nagari”, the language of the gods.
Whereas most languages have a limited number of vowels and consonants, English having a total of 26, the Sanskrit language has the largest, 36 consonants and 16 vowels, a total of 54, all of which are fixed and precise. “Since the start of human civilization on the earth, people and the
Sages both spoke pure Sanskrit language.”
Civilization is therefore not judged by one’s birth, family background or by one’s so called material advancement. Civilization depends on regulated social intercourse guided by developed consciousness. This is the judgement of one great Vaisnava spiritual authority, Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura who wrote:
“As a society or civilization advances, one will find a greater degree of rules for social stability. There is consensus that amongst all civilizations, the Aryans were the most progressive. There can be no doubt that among the Aryans, the people of Bharata were the most advanced in knowledge, intelligence and social organization. One should not lose respect for the Aryan civilization just because with age, it has become weak and dependent on other cultures. Because some ignorant persons dispute the advanced state of the Aryan civilization that does not mean it loses its importance. If one reads the dharma sastra, he can understand how much the Aryan civilization of Bharata achieved in implementation of social rules. In fact all serious, thoughtful men must accept that this civilization, through the guidance of sages, achieved the highest state of social regulation in the world.”
From the writing of our acaryas, we find the following explanations regarding the importance of cows, land, education, economy, women, children and the aged: Cows Brahmanas are the symbol of spiritual education, and cows are the symbol of the most valuable food; these two living creatures, the brahmanas and the cows, must be given all protection—that is real advancement of civilization. Bg 4.16
“This is Vedic civilization—people living simply, on agriculture and cow protection. If you have enough milk, grains, fruits, and vegetables, you can live very nicely.” Journey of self-discovery, 7.1
Work “In the Third Chapter of Bhagavad-gita it is clearly stated that one should only work for satisfying Yagya, or Visnu. The perfect form of human civilization, known as varnashrama-dharma, is specifically meant for satisfying Visnu.” Bg 9.24
“But the highest goal of human civilization is to work hard under the guidance of the Lord and become completely dependent on Him. The highest achievement of perfect civilization is to work with valour but at the same time depend completely on the Lord. The Pandavas were the ideal executors of this standard of civilization.” SB 1.8.37
“The Vedic civilization, however, is based on spiritual education, and spiritual education is the special basis on which Bhagavad-gita was spoken to Arjuna.... Unfortunately, this spiritual education is completely absent from modern human civilization. No one understands his real self-interest, which lies with the spirit soul, not with the material body. Education means spiritual education.” SB 8.16.19
Progressive human civilization is based on brahminical culture, God consciousness and protection of cows. All economic development of the state by trade, commerce, agriculture and industries must be fully utilized in relation to the above principles, otherwise all so-called economic development becomes a source of degradation. Cow protection means feeding the brahminical culture, which leads towards God consciousness, and thus perfection of human civilization is achieved. SB 1.19.3
“The association of woman is very much restricted in the Vedic civilization. Out of the four social divisions, the brahmacari, vanaprastha and the sannyasi — three orders—are strictly prohibited from the association of women; only the grhasthas, or householders, are given license to have an intimate relationship with a woman, and that relationship is also restricted for begetting nice children.” SB 3.31.39
“Civilized” means treating the cows, humans, and all living creatures the same. “In the glorious days, or before the advent of the age of Kali, the brahmanas, the cows, the women, the children and the old men were properly given protection. 1. The protection of the brahmanas maintains the institution of varna and ashrama, the most scientific culture for attainment of spiritual life. 2. The protection of cows maintains the most miraculous form of food, i.e., milk for maintaining the finer tissues of the brain for understanding higher aims of life. 3. The protection of women maintains the chastity of society, by which we can get a good generation for peace, tranquility and progress of life. 4. The protection of children gives the human form of life its best chance to prepare the way of liberty from material bondage. Such protection of children begins from the very day of begetting a child by the purificatory process of garbhadhana-samskara, the beginning of pure life. 5. The protection of the old men gives them a chance to prepare themselves for better life after death. “This complete outlook is based on factors leading to successful humanity as against the civilization of polished cats and dogs. The killing of the above-mentioned innocent creatures is totally forbidden because even by insulting them one loses one's duration of life.” SB 1.8.5
[ varnashrama dharma