Civilization, Science and Spiritual Progress
There is a subtle difference between civilization and culture: culture is the expression of the
intellectual realm of humanity, while civilization is the expression of material development of life.
People may be civilized in material development but as far as mental development is concerned, they
may not be culturally endowed. In the absence of intellectual development, it is not possible for
individuals to be properly civilized.
How does the development of civilization take place? Civilization has an intimate relationship with
science; they progress together. But when scientific progress surpasses civilization, the latter
meets its end. Take, for instance, the history of Egypt and Greece. As long as the scientific
progress of these two countries did not supersede civilization, civilization prospered very well in
both countries. But when science produced abundant enjoyments the civilization of both countries was
destroyed because science occupied a higher position than civilization. What is science? Science is
that which teaches the proper use of material things. If science gradually attains a high state of
development without a corresponding advancement in civilization, it only paves the way for destruction
instead of benefiting humanity. So, the study and practice of science should not be given a higher
place than civilization. In India, from the Tantric period to the Gupta period, civilization and
science progressed side by side, and science never enjoyed greater prestige than civilization. The
Gupta period was the golden era of India. After the end of the Gupta era, scientific progress was
overlooked; this resulted in degradation and downfall. In the Pathan period, there was neither the
development of civilization nor the progress of science, and as a result the progress of society was
impeded. For the all-round progress and development of human society, both civilization and science
have to be encouraged. Where there is development of civilization there is intellectual development as
well. So, for both civilization and science, intellectual knowledge is indispensable.
Spiritual or intuitional development is possible through the happy blending of science and civilization.
Even where there is no such blending, intuitional progress may be possible, but if science and
civilization is harmonized, intuitional progress is accelerated. Therefore, a man of wisdom should
progress by blending these two. It is useless to think of intuitional progress without this harmony.
What is our duty today? We shall cultivate science, but we must pay equal attention to the development
of civilization. The progress of science today is greater than in the the days of old, but civilization
in those days was certainly of a higher order. In the present age, civilization is waning since science
is again supreme. But as developed as science is today, if civilization is again elevated, humans can
reach greater heights than ever.
--P. R. Sarkar (1921-1990) is the propounder of PROUT (The Progressive Utilization Theory). Considered a
"renaissance man" in his native India, Sarkar is a spiritual teacher, philosopher and the author of
more than 200 books on spirituality, economics, agriculture, biopsychology, linguistics, and more. In the
late 1960s, Sarkar established a large eco-village complex called Ananda Nagar in West Bengal, India.
Ananda Nagar features schools, colleges, alternative medical facilities, and organic farms that serves
the people in more than a dozen surrounding villages. He also established hundreds of neo-humanistic
schools and kindergartens, as well as the relief organization AMURT. During the 1980s, while living in
Calcutta, Sarkar composed 5018 songs, which today are popularized by well known Indian classical
musicians and singers.
Volume 9, No. 2, Summer 2002 [Exact date not known]