Vanished Civilization. So What Really Happened?

No matter how advanced science and technology are today, the measure of true progress of mankind will always be peace, happiness and harmony. Maybe that’s why people these days pay more and more attention to the eternal wisdom of the Vedas.

The Vedas – are a comprehensive set of knowledge, given to humanity at the dawn of creation. Following the Vedas,  people lived for centuries in happiness, prosperity and harmony with nature. For a long time, the culture of the Vedas seemed to be limited by the boundaries of India. But from the mid-20th century it became available in the West and began to firmly enter the lives of modern men, resulting in a harmony of all spheres of life: body, mind and soul.

The Vedas for centuries remained a mystery to the West. Only recently, with the publication of the “Bhagavad Gita” in the main languages of the world, the Western society has been successfully applying the Vedic culture to everyday life.

Yoga, meditation and vegetarianism became quite fashionable.  Such concepts as karma, mantra or Nirvana no longer require any translations. The Vedic temples have risen in the neighborhood of skyscrapers. And historians talk about a new revolution in the West – a spiritual revolution.

Although people of Vedic civilization lived in the distant past, they have perfectly mastered the technologies, the principles of which we are only beginning to understand. And, unlike modern society, their cultural and spiritual development was going alongside their technological development…

Cultural tradition

Several thousand years ago, the Vedic culture was prevalent throughout modern India, Southeast Asia, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran and other Asian countries. These lands were ruled by one emperor, who was obeyed by all the rulers of small states and principalities, situated in the territory. Vassal rulers recognized the power of the emperor either by attributing his outstanding qualities and merits, or being a subject of his military force.

(Artwork copyright Bhaktivedanta Book Trust International – www.krishna.com. Used with permission)

It was the emperor’s duty to make sure that peace and prosperity were prevalent in his empire. The best of those emperors were powerful kings as well as deeply religious people who worshiped the Supreme Lord and well-versed in the spiritual science.

Their subjects were generally pleased with them throughout their reign.

After the death of the emperor or one of the kings the throne was passed to his eldest son provided that the ministers approved this choice. Due to their noble origins and profound knowledge in spiritual science the heirs to the throne were righteous people.

Thus, the basis of Vedic social structure of society was a strong state power, which was concentrated in the hands of pious kings, who faithfully followed the religious principles and did not allow anyone to violate the laws of God. In such spiritual values based society, people lived peacefully and happily.

That system of social organization, called Varnasrama-dharma, remained dominant in the society for millennia.

The society was built in accordance with the instructions of the Vedas – the sacred writings, which set out the knowledge given by God Himself. Spiritual teachers and leaders of that society were holy men, the Brahmins. Kings who ruled the state would follow the guidance of knowledgeable Brahmins, and thus everyone in the society was satisfied with the ruler.

(Artwork copyright Bhaktivedanta Book Trust International – www.krishna.com. Used with permission)

In the Vedic society, people strictly followed the laws of God, which have been described in the Vedic scriptures and known to Brahmins and kings. In contrast to modern society, in those days, there was no law, created by people, though, if necessary, the king, backed up by the Brahmins, issued his own decrees.

The king did not take any decisions without consulting with the Brahmins, who directed his activities in accordance with the principles of the scriptures. The legal basis of the society was “Manu Samhita” or the laws of Manu, the ancestor of mankind. Based on this and other similar writings the Brahmans established the principles of the society, and the king embodied these principles into practice in accordance with the time, place and circumstances, as well as considerations of common sense.

In fact, the Brahmins performed the most important functions in the Vedic state. They taught the kings and all the other people how to achieve spiritual perfection by following the instructions of the Lord.

Brahmins were getting the knowledge through the disciplic succession, an unbroken chain of spiritual teachers, the custodians of spiritual knowledge. In accordance with the tradition, a Brahmin studied the Vedic scriptures under the guidance of another Brahmin, who became his spiritual mentor and taught him the principles of spiritual life.

A Spiritual teacher may be the one who knows the meaning of the Vedas, who lives in accordance with their principles and is able to teach it to others. With this system, the Vedic knowledge in its original form was passed down from one spiritual teacher to another, without being subject to change.

This system of transmission of spiritual knowledge is called the chain of disciplic succession. After the departure of the spiritual master the student takes the baton from him and becomes his successor in the chain of disciplic succession, and helps his students understand the meaning of the Vedas and attain spiritual perfection.

(Artwork copyright Bhaktivedanta Book Trust International – www.krishna.com. Used with permission)

Since in the Vedic times, the society was led by the wise and righteous brahmins, and the state was ruled by the powerful kings, all the people were happy and content. They had everything they needed to live happily and evolve spiritually, and the military forces of the king securely protected them from the enemy attack. Built on these principles the Vedic society existed for millions of years.

 Until one day…

Relentless time causes everything to cease to exist, so the Vedic social system over time has lost its purity and the dominant position in society.

The main reason for its decline was the onset of the age of Kali, the age we live in.

 

This is the darkest of all periods in the history of mankind. Detrimental effect of the age of Kali slowly destroys all the good qualities of people. When the Brahmins (the class of pious people, who were the custodians of knowledge and advisers of Kings), began to degrade under the influence of Kali, it has led to the fact that all of the Vedic society mired in sin and vice, and the royal power was shaken. When the Brahmans degraded and weakened the power of kings, the social structure of society began to disintegrate.

Despite occasional periods of relative prosperity, the general trend of social development was the gradual decline of the Vedic culture. This trend continued until the onset of a new period of history. Because of the weakness of kings the foreign invaders managed to occupy different parts of the great Indian Empire, and make them a part of their own states. Thus Vedic culture gradually lost its influence in society and gave way to strangers’ culture. For the first time it happened, when India came under the rule of the Turkic peoples, who founded the Mughal empire on the territory. Their reign lasted for several centuries.

It was during the Mughal rule the word “Indian” came into use. When Mughal army came from Persia to plunder the riches of India, they camped on the north bank of the river Sindhu (Indus). All the people who lived across the river, were called the “sindhu”. In view of the phonetic features of the language they spoke, they could not properly pronounce the sound “s”, so “sindhu” turned into a “Hindu”, and eventually the name stuck for all the inhabitants of India.

Since then, the followers of Vedic culture came to be called Indians, although the word is not found in any Vedic scripture. Today’s Indians are, in fact, those who follow the principles of Vedic culture and the religion of the Vedas (Hinduism) which is the third largest in the world (after Christianity and Islam) by the number of followers.

Over time, Mughal domination came to an end. British colonialists in the search for raw materials and cheap labor force have gradually increased their influence in India. The economic superiority of the English, which they achieved through effective management of production, allowed them to finally subdue India to their power. When the British began to impose Christian ideals in India, which until then had been under Muslim rule for years, the Vedic culture has almost completely lost its former influence in society.

Despite the fact that the dynasties of Vedic kings had ceased to exist, and the Vedic social system Varnasrama-dharma, was destroyed, the chain of disciplic succession, by which knowledge is transmitted from a spiritual teacher to a student, has never been interrupted. Foreign invaders failed to destroy the Vedic knowledge, which constitutes the true wealth of India,. The chain of disciplic succession, which was initiated in ancient times, continues to exist even today.

The chain of disciplic succession began at the dawn of creation, when Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, imparted Vedic knowledge into the heart of Brahma, the first created living being in the universe. Brahma gave this knowledge to his son and disciple Narada, who later became a spiritual master of Srila Vyasadeva, the compiler of the Vedas. Srila Vyasadeva has explained the Vedic knowledge in such a way that it would be comprehensible to people of the age of Kali, the age of darkness and ignorance.

Vyasa gave the Vedic knowledge to Madhvacharya, the great philosopher and saint, who preached the doctrine of the Vedas all over India and gave the initiation to thousands of students. Even now there are thousands of followers of Madhvacarya and his teachings. So the principal branch of the eternal chain of disciplic succession now comes from Madhvacharya.

Every time when a great acharya (teacher) comes to preach and accept students, the chain of disciplic succession grows and divides, but it is mainly known by the names of the most prominent teachers, whose contribution to disciplic lineage is particularly great.

Because over the centuries so many people have obtained this knowledge, one can say without exaggeration that hundreds of millions of people in India even today continue to believe and follow the spiritual principles of Vedic culture and the remainder either in general familiar with the principles of Vedic culture and religion, or follow them to varying degrees.