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In this enlightening discourse, Swami Mukundananda Ji explores the profound question, "What is the sign of a civilized society?" Delving into the distinct qualities that set humans apart from other creatures, Swami Ji articulates the essence of what it means to be truly human - the inherent capacity to extend care and compassion beyond our personal needs. Through anthropological insights and inspiring real-life stories, this blog post unfolds the spiritual and humane dimensions of civilization.

The Anthropological Insight: Margaret Mead's Perspective
Margaret Mead, a renowned anthropologist, was once questioned about how to distinguish a civilized society from a barbaric one based on ancient fossil remains. Her response was both simple and profound. She suggested that a broken and then healed femur (hip bone) in these remains indicated a civilized society. This is because, unlike animals, only a society that cares for its injured, helping them to survive and recover, could show such evidence. This caring for others, especially in times of vulnerability, is what uniquely characterizes human civilization.

The Inspiring Story of E.S. Murugan
Swami Ji then narrates the heart-touching story of E.S. Murugan, a remarkable Indian who rose from poverty and transformed the lives of over 10,000 street children. Born into a struggling family, Murugan faced immense hardships, yet he retained his inner goodness and compassion. His journey from a begging child to a respected social worker is a testament to the human spirit's capacity to overcome adversity and impact others positively. Murugan's life embodies the essence of true civilization - caring for and uplifting others, especially the most vulnerable.

Spiritual Perspective: Service as the Highest Dharma
Swami Mukundananda Ji emphasizes that our highest duty (Dharma) as humans is to serve others. He cites the Bhagavad Gita, explaining that service can be rendered in three primary ways: through the mind, body, and possessions. The story of Arjun and Karna, as narrated by Lord Krishna, illustrates the virtue of generosity and the different attitudes towards giving. This scriptural reference reinforces the idea that being human means going beyond our basic instincts and serving others selflessly.

Conclusion: Embracing Our Civilized Nature
Swami Ji concludes by reiterating that the activities of eating, sleeping, mating, and defending are common to both animals and humans. What elevates us to a civilized status is our ability to adhere to Dharma - the moral and ethical duty to care for others. Whether it is through loving God or serving humanity, our true nature as civilized beings is expressed through acts of compassion and selflessness. Let us take inspiration from figures like Murugan and strive to demonstrate our civilized nature by caring for others.


  1. What defines a civilized society according to Swami Mukundananda?
    A civilized society is defined by its capacity to care for and nurture its members, especially in times of need and vulnerability.
  2. How did E.S. Murugan contribute to society?
    E.S. Murugan, overcoming his impoverished background, dedicated his life to rescuing and rehabilitating over 10,000 street children, providing them with new beginnings and hope.
  3. What is the highest form of Dharma in human life?
    The highest form of Dharma, as explained by Swami Ji, is to serve others, which can be done through thoughts, actions, and sharing of personal resources.

Relevant Sanskrit Quote:
"परोपकाराय फलन्ति वृक्षाः, परोपकाराय वहन्ति नद्यः।"
"Trees bear fruit for the benefit of others, rivers flow for the benefit of others."
This quote encapsulates the essence of this discourse, highlighting the importance of selfless service and caring for others as the true mark of civilization.