December 21, 2012. The Internet, bookshelves, and movie theaters are full of prophecies, theories, and predictions that this date marks the end of the world, or at least the end of the world as we know it.

Whether the end will result from the magnetic realignment of the north and south poles, bringing floods, earthquakes, death, and destruction; or from the return of alien caretakers to enlighten or enslave us; or from a global awakening, a sudden evolution of Homo sapiens into non-corporeal beings – theories of great, impending changes abound.

Will the world really end in 2012?

Will there be tsunamis rising higher than the Himalayas? Will there be massive earthquakes, erupting volcanoes and meteors falling from the sky?NASA’s Alaskan Astrobiologist Web site, for example, has received thousands of questions regarding the 2012 doomsday predictions - some of them disturbing, according to David Morrison, senior scientist with the NASA Astrobiology Institute.

“A lot of [the submitters] are people who are genuinely frightened,” Morrison said.

“I’ve had two teenagers who were considering killing themselves, because they didn’t want to be around when the world ends,” he said. “Two women in the last two weeks said they were contemplating killing their children and themselves so they wouldn’t have to suffer through the end of the world.”

What exactly is going to happen in December 2012?

The fact is that no one exactly knows the answer. The particular year itself isderived from the Mayan Calendar.

WHO ARE THE MAYANS?

The Maya civilization thrived in Central and South America from around 3000 BC. Their dynamic and intelligent culture survived for thousands of years but finally collapsed during an intense 200-year drought, not long beforeChristopher Columbus landed on America’s shores in the 15th century.
The Mayans are known for their advanced written language, as well as their art, architecture, maths and astronomy. They used a base 20 and base 5numbering system and independently created the concept of zero by 36 BC.
Mayan CalendarThis capacity for numbers produced highly accurate astronomical observations, charting the movements of the moon and other planets. Based on their own astrology, the resulting Mayan calendar was one of prophecies, and supporters of the Mayan 2012 theory point to several seemingly accurate predictions to date. As one of the best examples of indigenous Mesoamerican cultures, the Mayans are often credited with being one of the most advanced of all cultures found in the Americas. Credited with being the first culture in the New World to utilize a fully developed written language, as well as being innovators in art, architecture, and the sciences ofmathematics and astronomy, the Mayan people were not necessarily known as inventors. Instead, Mayan culture seemed to promote the application of the creations of many of the other cultures in the area and finding ways to improve upon those basic developments. From this perspective, the influence of the Maya can be found in many places around Mexico and other parts of Central America, with artifacts that are decidedly of Mayan origin being found as far away as central Mexico.

During the Classic period monumental architecture and stelae with historical records were erected, on these monuments the Maya rulers reigned as divine kings. The Maya thrived during the Late Classic (AD 550-900), and art, architecture, writing, commerce and intensive agricultural practices flourished all through the Maya lands. More than 2 million people may have lived in the area, and it is estimated that Tikal, the largest center, had a population of 75,000-100,000.

However, the Classic Maya cities did not survive into the 10th century. It seems that the system of rule that had served them well for centuries failed.Probably faced with famine, foreign invasion, chronic warfare, adverse climatic conditions and perhaps disease, the Classic period ended in what is called the Classic Maya collapse.

Maya historian David Webster is very critical about the whole hype. He explains – “Already on our cultural horizon is the next big abuse of the Classic Maya – predictions of Doomsday. Archaeologists have long known that the current big cycle in the Long Count Calendar (called the 13th baktun, an interval of about 400 years) will end on December 21, 2012, a date that the wider world has recently discovered. Google 2012 and the word “Maya” into the search engine of your computer (I’ve recently examined two books found this way) and you will be flooded with predictions - one set promising a sudden rebirth of human spirituality or, in a more sinister vein, the end of the world, or at least of civilization. This momentous date has purportedly been found in the Chinese I Ching, the Book of Revelations, the “medieval predictions of Merlin” (whatever those are), and many other prophetic works. Malevolent alignments of planets and stars are said to coincide with it. Web sites, books, television documentaries, and movies are sensationalizing the impending event, and the crescendo will intensify over the next few years. The Maya, of course, would simply have begun another cycle, just as they did before, and their world would have gone on.

Here’s my prediction: 2012 will come and go without the world falling apart (at least any faster than it is at present), and people will forget about this particular intrusion of the ancient Maya into our lives.

Nevertheless, long after 2012 we will still be fascinated with the Classic Maya. We will continue to use and abuse them for our own purposes, and see our own fate as somehow linked with their own. Each generation gets the Maya it deserves, or thinks it wants.”

To be continued…..

Contributed by: Subash Marathe

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