Civilization and Science

Advaita: That is only worldly conduct. How deficient is a man really, if he does not abide by these external formalities? Brother, you have served in the Muslim government for so long that you have become partial to that type of civilization. In reality, human life only becomes civilized when it is sinless. The so-called advancement of civilization in Kali-yuga simply means an increase in sinful activity; this is nothing but hypocrisy.

Digambara: Look, educated modern men have concluded that civilization means humanism, and that those who are not civilized are not human beings. To dress women attractively and thereby conceal their faults is considered to be a sign of sophistication.

Advaita: Just consider whether this idea is good or bad. I perceive that those whom you call ‘educated’ are merely rogues who have taken advantage of the times. Such people favor this deceitful civilization partly because of sinful impressions within their hearts, and partly because they see it as an opportunity to conceal their faults. Can a wise man find happiness in such a civilization? Only vain arguments and physical intimidation can maintain veneration for a civilization of rogues.

Digambara: Some people say that society is advancing with the increase of knowledge in the world, and eventually it will be like heaven on earth.

Advaita: That is simply fantasy. It is quite extraordinary that people have faith in this, and it is even more bizarre that others have the audacity to propagate such a view without actually believing it themselves.

There are two types of knowledge: paramarthika knowledge relates to eternal truth, while laukika knowledge relates to this transitory world. Paramarthika knowledge does not seem to be increasing; on the contrary, in most cases knowledge has been corrupted and deviated from its original nature. Only laukika knowledge seems to be on the increase. Does the Jihva have an eternal relationship with laukika knowledge? When laukika-jnana increases, people’s minds become distracted by temporary material pursuits, and they neglect the original spiritual truth. I firmly believe that the more laukika-jnana increases, the more duplicitous a civilization becomes. This is a great misfortune for the living beings.

Digambara: A misfortune? Why?

Advaita: As I said before, human life is very short. The Jihvas are like travelers at an inn, and they should use this brief span of life to prepare themselves for their ultimate destination. It would be sheer foolishness if travelers staying in an inn were so caught up with improving the conditions of their stay that they forgot their destination. The more one’s involvement with material knowledge increases, the more one’s time for spiritual matters dwindles.

I am convinced that material knowledge should be used only as much as it is needed to maintain one’s livelihood. There is no necessity for excessive material knowledge and its companion, material civilization. For how many days will this earthly glitter remain?

Expects from the book ‘Jaiva Dharma’ Chapter 9, Material Science & Civilization, by Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura, ভক্তিবিনোদ ঠাকুর Bengali philosopher 1838 – 1914

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