What is a Civilization in Sanatan Dharam?

A civilization is characterized by a continuity of culture, the sum total of its values, norms, institutions, modes of thinking, customs and practices to which successive generations in a given society have attached primary importance. It encompasses a world view and a way of life that is distinct and unique to a particular people and their original, creative process. It encompasses shared forms such as language, art, architecture, song, music, aesthetics, food, history, religion, philosophy, mythology and spirituality.

Civilizations may also encompass sub-groupings, that attempt to define themselves distinctly, but on the whole, the sub groups have more in common with each other, than with groups outside the civilizational boundary. While the sub-groups within a civilization may even fight with other sub-groups, they may also more easily engage in alliances with each other. A civilization is thus a totality, a union of sub groupings, which may each have a beginning and an end, but the civilization itself evolves, adapts and endures through long periods of historical continuity. Civilizations survive through time – they live through the rise and fall of empires, governments, kings and social and ideological upheavals. There is within each civilization an essence, a set of primary structuring ideas and principles around which the people of successive generations coalesce, thus breathing new life into those ideas and principles which symbolizes the civilization’s continuity.