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The 21st Century

Friday January 14 2005 09:56 IST

By Karmayogi

Different centuries acquire different distinctions. Empires were built in a century by the various European powers. Expeditions were undertaken in quick succession, as if they were all planned together. Inventions were made in different fields almost simultaneously, as if the different discoverers worked together. The Industrial Revolution sprouted and spread all over. Religious Reformation too had its share. What is in store for the 21st century? If one century built empires, another century dissolved colonies. The march of civilisation has its own footsteps and leaves its stamp on each century.

There was a time when history was written as the history of kings, because for those historians kings alone mattered. They were founders of various kingdoms and presided over them like veritable colossuses. Hence their own biographies were the history of nations. What else was there? It took time for historians to realise that kings and emperors do not matter so much as People. Then the emphasis shifted. That was how the common man came into prominence. So the 20th century came to be called the century of the common man as against the aristocrats and kings. History has a way of oscillating between two opposite ends. The age of kings was followed by the age of the common man even as the age of religious faith and worship was followed by an age of materialism or agnosticism. The curve of progress sometimes progresses as one scientific discovery followed by another in quick succession. At other times, it alternates between the opposites. India who was aping the English customs, has started worshipping the American culture. After 1947, one would have expected that India would have shifted to reviving her past with a vengeance. It was not so.

There is an invisible movement in the air all over the world which espouses the Rights of the oppressed. Now it is the Blacks who are in favour, next it is the women. The street children get their turn. The poor suddenly come into the favour of the world and the whole world sings the chorus of the Right to Food, Right to water, Right to Peace, etc. All types of Rights have emerged as the target for the awakened world. It is a balm to the hearts of idealists and visionaries the world over as the have-nots, downtrodden, the oppressed and the invalids have now their share of the limelight. The UN is the spearhead for most of these movements. The world is awakened enough in her conscience that the world opinion readily swings to this call. This development is imperceptible but unmistakable. I see behind all these urges that MAN is emerging as someone to be counted hereafter. The Spirit in MAN seeks expression, peeps out from its hiding place. The symptoms are well-defined. He who seeks expression is no longer the social man, but the Spiritual Individual. The 21st century will be his century.
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