In this small book Srila Prabhupada addresses the fallacies of our modern so-called advanced civilization. After pointing out that today the vast majority of people do not know what real progress is, he explains that in the Vedic civilization people strive not for the false progress of economic development but rather for the true advancement of self-realization and God realization.
From the First chapter of Civilization and Transcendence:
“In Kali-yuga, this age of quarrel and hypocrisy, there shall be a waning of these qualities: religiosity, truthfulness, cleanliness, tolerance, memory, bodily strength, duration of life, and mercy.” These are the human assets—qualities which make a human being distinct from the animals. But these things will decline. There will be almost no mercy, there will be almost no truthfulness, memory will be shortened, duration of life shortened. Similarly, religion will practically vanish. So that means gradually human beings will descend to the platform of animals.
Especially when there is no religion, human beings are simply animals. This any common man can distinguish—that a dog does not understand what religion is. The dog is also a living being, but he’s not interested in what is being discussed here about Bhagavad-gétä or Çrémad-Bhägavatam. That is the distinction between man and dog: the animal is not interested. So when human beings are becoming uninterested in religion, then they’re becoming animals.
And how can there be happiness or peace in animal society? The big leaders want to keep the citizenry as animals, and at the same time they are striving to make a United Nations. How is it possible? United Animals? Is it possible? Society for United Animals. [Laughter.] In the science of logic it is said, “Man is a rational animal.” So when rationality is missing, one becomes simply an animal. What is the possibility of being a human being?
In human society, whether you are a Christian or a Muhammadan or a Hindu or a Buddhist, it doesn’t matter. But there must be some system of religion—that is human society. And human society without religion—animal society. This is the plain fact. Why are people unhappy now? Because they are neglecting religion.
One gentleman has written me that Marx said, “Religion is the opium of the people.” That means the Communists are very adamant against God consciousness because they think that religion has spoiled the whole social atmosphere. Religion might have been misused, but that does not mean that religion should be avoided. Real religion should be taken. Simply because religion has not been properly executed by the so-called priests, that does not mean religion should be rejected. If my eye is giving me some kind of trouble on account of a cataract, that doesn’t mean my eye should be plucked out. The cataract should be removed. So that is the idea of the Kåñëa consciousness movement—to remove the cataract from people’s religious vision.