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Downfall of Civilizations
Downfall of civilizations
It is a fact that humanity has evolved through many a civilization and quite a few among them were unique in their history. It is on record, during Mayan, Greek, Roman, Byzantine, Babylonian, and still more ancient civilizations of Chinese, Egyptian, and Indus valley, material progress was at its zenith. Though the modern gadgetry was not invented in those times but progress in other spheres of life viz., art, culture, music, architecture, medicines, hygiene, agriculture, trade, industry and general standards of living, was not inferior to today’s standards. Rather in several disciplines they surpassed the current times: excepting physical sciences, these civilizations were far ahead in every other respect. Each civilization nourished on its values and flourished in their peculiar fields. But the most noticeable commonality amongst them was their twofold development; material development as well as the ‘thought’ development. The driving force was intellect and wisdom. Intellect always projects itself through material projections, whereas ‘thought’ finds its expression through the medium of fine arts, literature, music, besides all that makes the inorganic world so beautiful.
Another similarity which was conspicuous in each civilization was their final enactment of self-disintegration. Each one, when it was at its pinnacle, developed similar symptoms of its ruin. All organs of the state got steeped in luxury and corruption: Sunk in indolence and debauchery, each caved in under its own weight of degenerated values. The ‘thought’, which was once their lifeline, went haywire in each case and the hegemony of materialism reigned: And material progress, at its peek, inevitably leads to war, annihilation and destruction.
Then should it be surmised, that material progress always dominates the finer sensitivities? That the ultimate pinnacle of each civilization was, moral depravity!

Each age produced its own Alexander, Nero, Changez Khan, Halaku Khan, Napoleon, Machiavelli and Hitler. All of them left indelible marks on the pages of human history. But the most lethal of them all was the class of nobility: Subedars, Lords, Sardar Bahadhurs, Nawabs and today’s politicians. Due to the public apathy toward this class of ‘elites’ which emerges after the fall of every history maker and becomes the cause of final nemesis of the very ‘thought’ on which were built the lofty empires of values. History provides us with a long list of such ruffians, who openly loot and usurp public property and warns us repeatedly, but the results have always been the same. We let ourselves be befooled and bludgeoned by the likes of these jokers---the elite, who are, involved in scores of scandals running into millions, but still they continue to show their ugly faces from the equally tainted media.
Why the ‘civilize’ continue to allow this dehumanization---not only by being deprived of wealth and property but let their conscience be mortgaged by forced conversion---by the baser elements of the decaying societies? Does it indicate some ingrained deficiency in our genes that impel us towards violence, greed, lust and power, which are intrinsically the by-product of material progress?
Let us have a look around our neighborhood. Pakistan’s ex-PM/Presidents, are involved in scandals worth thousands of millions by accepting illegal gratifications and by looting State exchequer. At the same time countries like Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, Burma (Myanmar), Sri Lanka, Cambodia, Korea (North & South), Indonesia are involved either in internal strive or fighting with each other. The former President of the most powerful nation of the day, U.S.A., Bill Clinton, faced sexual harassment charges during the term of his office. The other super-power, U.S.S.R., stands disintegrated. The plight of African Continent is even worse. Nearer home, the following extract from an article of a leading daily presents the national scene very aptly:
“The rise of beasts of violence everywhere; hundreds of citizen getting killed everyday at the hands of the terrorist mercenary mafia or foreign agents; serious law and order situation in 210 out of 535 districts; parallel governments and “jungle raj” in certain areas where these “rulers” realize taxes, hold courts and award punishments including death-sentence; private armies possessing more sophisticated weapons than the police forces who have yielded considerable quantity of arms to them under overwhelming threat; high officials and big businessmen buying peace from criminals for their own safety, for the police, unable to protect themselves, cannot be relied upon to protect them – this is only a slice of the mirror “
It is not a co-incidence that the decline of moral values is imminent when material progress is at its peak. It is also a fact that moral values, in the form of religions, sects, conventions, customs, creeds and ritualism, are also embedded deep in the psyche of general public. Only it happens so, the real Religion, which encompassed entire humanity, has been transgressed into various sub-deformities!

Any civilization’s enrichment---as the name itself connotes---is gauzed by the civilized behavior of its components. That civilized behavior is the outer deportment of inner values, ingrained in its bloodlines through practice for thousands of years. Their sustained continuity manifests through the finer sensitivities. But how these finer sensitivities---the inner (moral) values---allow to be dominated and corrupted by the by-products of material progress, is a big question mark; a big stigma, that has evaded the ‘civilized’ man’s imagination! Or else he would not have allowed the wreckage of his domain, which he visualized, built and nourished with the sweat of his physical, intellectual and spiritual endeavors. Advancement of the materialism and the moral values is contemporary, synonymous and complimentary to each other. But if these are arraigned against each other, there ensues the decline of the system: a way of life: a philosophy (thought) i.e. a civilization, by the very components which enriched it. This is a serious cause for worry. When this downward slide begins, even the terminology of definitions also changes! Moral values are ‘called’ human values, as if humanness is different from morality! Although it is the moral values on which a religion is based, these have also been the major, rather the foundation of any civilization. But on its decline, religion becomes the first causality. Actually its negation and vulgarization cause the downward slide.
Only when the ‘thought’ is compartmentalized into graded layers of reality, sub-realities, pseudo spirituality, religions, creeds, sects, Matts (sectarian religious seats, segregated from the mother religions) ), and Gurudom or in so many other nomenclatures, the value of components gets degraded and derided at. Whenever or wherever, the balance between ‘thought’ and matter is in equilibrium, the society becomes an ideal state, which gives rise to a flourishing civilization. But that equilibrium is very sensitive and always tilts in favor of the matter and materialism. Though matter can never be exclusive of ‘thought’, as it is through ‘thought’ that the matter gets itself transformed from inorganic to organic, and from inert to live! Again it is through ‘thought’, that the material progress is attained. But a willful distinction is made between the two as if the ‘body’ can survive without ‘life’!
The cause or causes that lead to the fall of a civilization becomes the subject matter of the so-called historians, anthropologists, scholars, littérateurs or the modern Janis. Lust, greed, power, indolence, corruption, violence, war, internal strife, declining values, immortality---are some of the prognosis through which these experts find their escape routes. This is very hypothetical proposition, which is, in itself a contradiction. To make a man civilized is to bring him out of barbarism – to enlighten, to refine him. This transformation is not brought within months or years. From the cave man to today’s ‘civilized’ (!) man, it took many eras. Similarly each civilization went through the same process. The very factors which labeled man as barbaric and had gradually been shed off, through the regimentation of a system that made him civilized, can’t be the cause of his downfall! Or perhaps, some genes of his barbaric past are still left in him, which remain in hibernation and sprout only at a time, when their supporting factors are in their best of elements! Or the man is still uncivilized: as since the recorded history he has fought over 5500 major wars and in the process, might have butchered hundred of billions of his kin. Only during the last two world wars some hundred million people were killed. Thus the above prognosis is too preposterous.
The present-day’s man is considered an epitome of his creed; highly advanced, not only in scientific and technological fields, but also in every branch of nature. Even other planets in the solar system are now within his reach. He is on the threshold of establishing his suzerainty on the far off planets. He is on the verge of---as he proclaims, discovering the basic cell and the particles, which ushered life and the Creation. Thus the ingredients that made him civilized cannot be laid latent in a trice and replaced with those baser traits, from which it took him aeons to emerge, and again behave and deport like a barbarian.
There is not a single instance in history, when material advancement was at its peak and ‘thought’ enlightenment was lagging behind, or vice versa. If it is not out of context to state here, the genesis of each civilization is primarily the ‘thought’, though its maturity into a full blooming civilization takes thousands of years. Anthropologists and historians may find archeological relics, ancient ruins, artifacts, as easy material for the study of a civilization’s real worth. However actual parameters that determine the real worth is not the material affluence---which anyway is the obvious outcome---but the legacy that each subsequent civilization inherits from the preceding one. It is this legacy that is the interlinking factor, which besides acting, as a bridge passes on its heritage to the succeeding age; which in due course also evolves into another civilization. This inheritance is in the form of literature. Literature here does not represent one branch of knowledge, but the sum total of intelligence of a period of history, which is composite of all aspects of the civilization!

Each generation produces its genius and knowledge of the age, which gets assimilated in one or two patriarchs---the actual flag bearer of that ‘knowledge’---very aptly defined as ‘philosophers’ or the wise. Wisdom is not the end product of a man’s evolution from baser to higher attainment of values! It is the essence of human values, which are the common feature in the lives of people and transpires for generations together---going through many disciplines imposed by the society, religions, judiciary, state or self-imposed. These disciplines, when applied earnestly---keeping in view the general welfare of the society in mind, and also keeping in tune with general character of the masses chisel out characteristics of human values, deeply saturated with moral values, which are the epitome of those times, reflected through the lives of the chosen few. Does this minority really represent the totality of intelligence of an era or is this a statement of the vagrant minds? This needs to be probed deeply.
Here it is equally important to make a distinction between wisdom and perfection in human life which the scholars often confuse as one and the same thing. Wisdom is the byproduct of the finer sensitivities; genesis of values of life; knowledge; good judgment and prudence, etc. It is always relative and subject to many limitations. It is the knowledge that ultimately determines the kind of experience, judgment, prudence one is capable of discharging in daily life. And knowledge is not only progressive but always relates to the intelligence of an era, that is---the progress it has achieved up to a certain time. Wisdom is the essence of intelligence, whereas perfection is the source of all knowledge. Therefore the wisdom of each era is distinct and its values are always at variance. As the material affluence that each civilization supports, is compatible to the advancement in science and technology; similarly culture, the mother of social sciences, determines the maturity of ‘thought’ of that era. The real parameter to evaluate as to how far the ‘thought’ has gone deep into the inner portals of the minds of the people can easily be assessed from the general behavior of the masses: the system of governance: their art and culture etc. The more deeply the mind (intellect) is utilized---which incidentally has never been utilized more than 7 percent of its capacity---more materially exuberant and well versed would be the lives of the people. The resultant euphoria of material affluence, almost always bursts out in the form of over indulgence, violence and corruption.
It clearly indicates, the factors which make civilizations rich, are either lacking in maturity or are insufficient in content to sustain and retain their shine of refinement---if not forever, then at least for a protracted period of time, till another better ‘thought’ unravels its benign environment and gives birth to a new civilization. Alas, this has never been so! Though civilizations flourished in different regions, during different times in history, each went through the same methodology and employed, invariably, the same tools for their own annihilation. It is pertinent to note, fresh civilization never was born out of the ashes of a bygone civilization. Perhaps when one is vanished it destroys along with, its roots too---its literature.
There is no disputing the fact that the reason for material advancement is science. Since science is a system of education for the study of nature, fine arts are the result of inner development, cultured by human values. Whether it be the fine arts or science, the major contributor for their growth is education. Mere study and cramming of books is not education. It is not simply the study of natural sciences but a complete way of life, a process of learning that spans from birth to death. It (education) is the complete study of matter, life and mind, which evolves man from barbarism to civilization: Stone Age to robots: wheel to rockets: and now has brought him out, from his traditional function of reproduction to cloning. Education makes him a better man, helps him create a healthy society in the polluted environments; raise him from immorality to morality. Whenever the purpose of education is deflected or distorted, decline of society is imminent. Its purpose is not to churn out scholars, whose only proficiency is the ability to recite like parrots the crammed data acquired from the books but to make the man more refined in every sphere of life: clean the atmosphere of all impurities he lives in, and finally make the universe a state of peace and happiness. The Master has truly said:
The end of wisdom is freedom
The end of culture is perfection
The end of knowledge is love
The end of education is character

The real purpose of education therefore is to promote human values like love, compassion, peace, righteous conduct, dedication, honesty, duty, discipline and devotion. Education is for life; life is for the sake of humanity; man is society, and society’s purpose is to promote and share ‘knowledge’ for the betterment of humanity; morality and human values are for the betterment of society, nation and the entire humanity. All of these combined together act as an elixir (positive force) for keeping the equilibrium between negative and positive forces, between the elements and the senses. The universe stands for peace, as its innate nature is peace.
To avoid any misconception about the real meaning of spirituality; it is not, even remotely related to the present day religions. It is the essence of human values, which are universal in nature. For the sake of record, the fundamental meaning and purpose of religion is to lead man to his source, the God. It is wrongly misconstrued as the bundle of doctrines, and dos and don’ts. This is totally a false assumption. The sacred aim of religion is to remind man of his true nature and origin, which is Divine. And it is religion that helps man to reunite with the Supreme, the God. Character is its main ingredient. Only those who preserve impeccable character can be pronounced as religious. Thus the scope of spirituality and religion, in human terms, are not narrow compartments, crammed with the rigmarole of ritualism and bibliography of ‘mantras’ (hymns) which have divided the society in so many castes, creeds and sects.
Civilization is not a territory, property or the wealth---to be possessed, converted, corrupted or conquered. It is the way of life, cultured and nourished on rich human values for centuries. It is not embedded in visible articles of wealth. They (values) are seeped in life that is structured on character---which is the property of the heart. Outer systems, viz., governments, educational institutions, houses of worship, industrial complexes etc., could be destroyed: But the ‘thought’ that sustains the life of a civilization, not only pervades the atmosphere but in the very depths of the times gone by. Time and history cannot be conquered. They can however be distorted: This is no annihilation; only a temporary setback which can be rectified at any future opportunity. Decline of a civilization is very gradual as its growth. Its only disease is the corruption of values on which it had initially flourished, matured and became rich. Human values are not only based on education and cultured wisdom, but play a major influencing role in making of civilizations.
What is a culture? Its real meaning is to hurt never, help ever; foregoing bad habits, avoid doing bad acts; cultivation of good character and thoughts for doing good unto others. In other words: refinement of one’s action is culture. But the basic ingredients which constitute the building block of a rich culture, are ingrained in the heart viz., love, compassion, sacrifice, perseverance, peace i.e., truth relating qualities. The former can be tinkered with, but not the latter ones’. Any cultural decline leads to the fall of civilization. However, it is saddening that these factors have continued to be ignored flagrantly time and again by the successive civilizations.

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