Thoughts on economics and liberty

What is Vedic socialism?

Harsh has, today, introduced me to a book by Dr. K.C. Mahendru entitled, Baba Ramdev – Resurgence of New India (Freedom Movement-2). Apparently it talks about the political philosophy of Swami Ramdev, known as Vedic Socialism. This phrase was totally new to me, so I spent a few minutes of my spare time to find more. Here are my initial findings and comments.

Origin of this term

It appears that this term was first introduced by Swami Agnivesh, although Balak Brhamachary of Santan Dal is also associated with this idea. Possibly both of them got it from someone else. There is also a book entitled Vedic socialism by Nitya Narayan Banerjee. And there is a Vedic Socialism Party on Facebook!

Apparently Vedic socialism resembles integral humanism. I have with me the book, Deendayal Upadhyaya's Integral Humanism – documents, interpretations, comparisons (edited by Devenedra Swarup) and have been singularly unimpressed by the paucity of logical thinking displayed as part of this idea. The fact that BJP follows integral humanism explains (to me) why is is a copycat socialist party, merely mimicking Nehru – and displaying zero understanding of good policy. I do hope that Vedic socialism is not like integral humanism: a fuzzy feel-good essay on the greatness of ancient India, but without the slightest scientific analysis of the economy.
 
I must admit that when I think of the concept of 'Vedic socialism' I find it quixotic and quaint that Hindu preachers like Baba Ramdev try to align India's ancient scriptures with the worst Western idea that was ever created – socialism! (Let this be VERY clear to all Indians: socialism is an idea that started with Rousseau and peaked with Marx. It is NOT an indigenous Indian idea, for as I clearly show in DOF, Indian philosophy is in tune with liberalism, not socialism. If Charvaka's views are considered – as they should be – then India clearly laid the foundation stone of classical liberalism and freedom in the world. India and socialism have nothing in common. Nehru brought socialism to India from the British Fabian socialists – and ruined India – as clearly described in BFN.) It is odd that on the one hand Baba Ramdev wants swadeshi, yet on the other, he picks up the WORST foreign idea. At least understand the history of freedom that I've outlined in DOF. 
 
What do the Vedas say?
Why would the Vedas have picked up the worst idea that would occur (in the future!) to the mind of man? Surely, our Vedic seers were not utter fools like the socialists are. To find out more I’ve quickly checked up my father’s book on Vedic Metaphysics (here) which he wrote after studying the Vedas for more than 10 years. It appears that the Vedas speak out against corruption, which is good. But the solution they seem to offer to eradicate corruption is not logical nor viable. This is what the Vedas say:
 
Rig Veda on corruption:
From my father’s book:
“Rig-Veda 1-104-3 refers to corruption as misappropriation of public funds, taking    bribe for money belonging to the state and trusts and when the individual’s action results in the reduction of state revenue or the revenue of the institution where he/she is a trustee. Rig Veda.1-42-3 mentions bribe takers are thieves. Sam Veda while, mentioning 99 sources of corruption and evil, also calls it a disease which goes on increasing with all material treatment and makes the power of soul and human spirit weaker and weaker (Sama Veda 913 and 179).”
 
Mahabharata on the solution to corruption:
Again, citing my father’s book:
“Bhagavad Gita traces the causes of corruption and evil to the primordial matter the three gunas in the human body. While sattavic guna of purity, truthfulness, transparency results in ennobling the individual and society, the rajasic guna of activity with self interest and false ego and desires along with tamasic guna of passivity, dullness, idleness become the cause of corrupting the individuals and the society.
 
“Lack of knowledge of Vedic Brahma vidya that Bhagavad Gita refers as Jnan and Vijnan is another major factor for the spread of this evil. Jnan is the knowledge of complete understanding of God, soul, divinity in virtuous actions and considering the world as Maya – the cosmic illusion.”

It would appear that, according to the Vedas, two ways exist to improve governance:
a) peoples' character has to be improved; and
b) they must become more religious.
 
This amounts to expecting corruption to be solved by preaching. That can NEVER work. But fortunately, no matter what it is, this confused thinking is not socialistic, it is simply a typical confused religious perspective. This "solution" does not display any understanding of human nature or human incentives. Indeed, my father, after all his Vedic readings, now seems to understand and appreciate the logic of freedom that I advocate in BFN.
 
Clearly I've not found out much yet, so I'm keen to find out more about the Vedic solution to good governance. And more about Vedic socialism. Happy to have anyone point me in the right direction.
 

Vedantic socialism

I usually seek information on ancient Indian perspectives by consulting Vivekananda's works – for he was a scholar par excellence. It turns out that he was an advocate of what some people call Vedantic socialism (unfortunately, the writer of this article mostly provides his own opinions and doesn't specify clearly what Vivekananda actually said). There is also a book called Swami Vivekananda, the prophet of Vedantic socialism by V. K. R. V. Rao (Publications Division, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Govt. of India in New Delhi, 1979), but I unfortunately don't have ready access to it. 
 
In the meanwhile, an analysis of two books through Google books shows the following:
 
1) One author has concluded: "It is extremely doubtful that he had first hand knowledge of the socialist literature – Utopian or Scientific" (Narasingha Prosad Sil, Swami Vivekananda: a reassessment, Susquehanna University Press, 1997, p.86). I don't know precisely which books Vivekananda read when he was young, but this statement seems likely to be true.
 
2) Another states: "[T]hough Vivekananda praised socialism here and there, his social ideal was spiritual democracy and not a socialist society." (Urmila Sharma and S.K. Sharma, Indian Political Thought, Atlantic Publishers & Distributors, 2001, p. 187). This sounds more close to the truth than those who claim that Vivekananda was a socialst.
 
Clearly, there is scant or non-existent evidence of Vedantic socialism. I find it hard to imagine that a major votary of freedom like Vivekananda could possibly be a socialist. I cite his words at the head of the draft manuscript of my next book, DOF, thus:  ‘Liberty in thought and action is the only condition of life, growth and well-being: Where it does not exist, the man, the race, and the nation must go down.’  No socialist can possibly make such a beautiful statement about freedom – for socialists well and truly HATE freedom. All they care for is economic equality. And they will impose their will on everyone else. That's their only way of functioning. But no matter what Hinduism does, it does not force its way on others.
 

Tentative conclusion

I doubt if any cogent theory of 'socialism' can possibly be traced to the Vedas or Vedanta. Instead, I find there are many strands of liberalism that can be, at least faintly, linked back to the ancient Hindu (and other Indian) scriptures and texts. No unambiguously clear signal that promotes freedom in the modern sense seems to arise from ancient India, but bits and pieces do arise that might, when combined, offer a cogent theory of Vedic capitalism.
 
Happy to discuss this issue further with those who provide SCHOLARLY evidence and not mere opinion.
 
ADDENDUM
A reader, Gopi, has directed me to Dharam aur Samajvad – by Vaid Gurudatta. This book distinguishes between Hinduism and socialism. Could I request the blog readers who visit this blog post to please read this book and summarise it for me if you have time.

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12 thoughts on “What is Vedic socialism?
  1. Harsh Vora

    Sanjeev — This is a fair-enough entry explaining your initial research on Vedic Socialism. While I am not an authoritative entity to speak on this topic, let me take time and actually quote parts from Dr. Mahendru's book. I assume it might be difficult for you to procure this book in Australia. If not exactly a scholarly view (in the academic sense), at the least, this excerpt will assist you in learning more about Vedic Socialism. So here it goes:
    —————————————————————————-
    Baba Ramdev advocates Vedic Socialism as it comes to us from our ancient times. A great admirer and supporter of Indian culture, ideas, values, and social systems, he considers these are solid, logical and scientific. Baba Ramdev does not see any scope or reason to borrow any ideas of socialism from the philosophies of foreign thinkers like Marx, Lenin, or Mao, as had been projected by them in their times. He thinks that Indian philosophy is complete and perfect in itself in all respects, so that "we do not need any imported social, religious, spiritual, or political thinking." This is not his arrogance, but self-pride. Baba is not against knowledge from other quarters, not is he a blind supporter of ignorance, but he firmly believes in the fact that Indian philosophy is the supreme philosophy.
     
    Vedic Socialism, with decentralized economic and political base, promoting self-sufficiency of the self-governing village republics, would be just the opposite of the "collectivized, centralized, bureaucratized" Leviathan of a monolithic state which Marxian socialism created in Soviet Russia and People's China, where individual freedom was a crime against the state and betrayal of the nation. Baba Ramdev's Vedic Socialism would by-pass power, for power corrupts. It would be more interested in MAN rather than in political institutions primarily, which are to be organized for man's welfare and in keeping with the national interest. It would be a complete transformation of man and the society through voluntary conversion, non-violent attitude and change of heart, promoting moral values, and synthesizing economies with ethics. If we consider Vedic Socialism, something like a social revolution, then it has to stand on the foundation of the human revolution, in which the starting point has to be the MAN himself, where he would exercise his every nerve for his fullest self-expression in the way of self-realization and bring harmony in life.
     
    Though by an large peaceful, voluntary, persuasive and evolutionary in its nature and content, Vedic Socialism does not rule out the use of coercive means such as civil disobedience or Satyagraha, etc. by its champions, when the demonic forces may stall its progress and retard its growth. When evil becomes widespread and deeply entrenched, then it is incumbent on the people (yogis) to throw overboard those anti-social and anti-national elements, in the same manner as the virtue fought against evil, and truth pitched against untruth in the Deva-asur Sangram, in the Ramayana and Mahabharata periods, resulting in the final victory of virtue and truth.
     
    It may be interesting to know the basic difference between Vedic Socialim and Marxian Socialism. The fundamental difference is their approach towards life and the universe. To Marx, the basic principle is matter, while life itself is the basic principle in Vedic Socialism; God pervades life and all its manifestations. The same one spirit runs throughout, leading to unity of souls, unity of men, the brotherhood of mankind and harmony with the universe. In Marx, matter being limited, leads to rich and poor. It produces class conflicts, class wars, and elimination of the haves by the have-nots. Vedic Socialism emphasizes harmony amongst all, living all dead.
     
    With Marx, ends justify the means; Vedic Socialism lays stress on purity and fairness of means. In Marxism, violence, fraud, untruth, deception, opportunism, hatred, ill-will, and terror are permissible means to establish the dictatorship of the proletariate — a stage prior to Socialism. The means to be adopted by Vedic Socialism include to follow the Ashtanga-Yoga, i.e., the eight yoga practices like yama, niyama, asana, pranayama, pratyahara (restraining the sense-organs), Dharana (firmness), Dhyana (meditation), and Samadhi. The way to Vedic Socialism is yoga, which requires self-discipline, self-surrender, self-control, and being the master of one's senses and wants. It starts with each individual practicing Vedic Socialism in his own life through the practice of yoga. This is how Vedic Socialism will spontaneously begin to sprout in the life, through thought and conduct, with the evolution of self-restraint. This is how by adopting purity of means and through self-abnegation by each individual, Vedic Socialism will dawn, not by setting ablaze the mansions of the landlords, or by grabbing their land, or by beheading the elite, but by self-restraint.
     
    Vedic Socialism seeks to motivate, inspire, and encourage the rich to change their attitude towards the poor, consider them as their brothers, share their wealth/property, embrace self-abnegation and win over their own sense of ownership as well as possessiveness. This is the concept of Trusteeship, which forms the base of Vedic Socialism. This was what Gandhian, and later, Vinobha, also supported to bring about Socialism by the rich voluntarily becoming care-takers (trustees) of their wealth/property and the landlords giving land-gifts in he Bhoodan movement.
     
    Gandhi's Trusteeship and Vinobha's Bhoodan failed in their practical effectiveness, but no one can deny their intrinsic value as ideologies of social reconstruction, by whatever names we may call these, whether Gandhian socialism, democratic socialism with Trusteeship and Bhoodan (that is, voluntarily sharing) as their basic formulae. The ideas survive, as a veritable alternative to Marxian Socialism and the means advocated for its success. No one can invalidate the worth of ideas on the ground that Gandi's ideas were abandoned by his successors and others, and Vinobha's movement ended up in fiasco, and there was no follow-up action.
    [excerpted from the book by Dr. K.C. Mahendru entitled, Baba Ramdev – Resurgence of New India (Freedom Movement-2), pg. 361-366]
    ——————————————————————————————–
     
    At the Landmark bookstore (from where I bought the above-mentioned book), I also found another book about Swami Ramdev. It called The Life and Times of Baba Ramdev by Ashok Raj. Find it at this link: http://www.landmarkonthenet.com/Books/The-Life-And-Times-Of-Baba-Ramdev–Ashok-Raj/9789380480169
     
    Thanks,

     
  2. Offstumped

    Dear Sanjeev
    You are looking at the wrong sources. Mahabharata and other texts clearly point to Brihaspati as the author of Arthashastra. To get any sense of an Indian tradition of Political Science we must look at commentary and references to refer to the study of Artha and not to spiritual texts.
    Kautilya's Arthashastra was a compendium derived from earlier works going all the way back to Brihaspati. Clear references to this school of Arthashastra are found in both Mahabharata and Ramayana in specific verses. These references cover areas of taxation (1/4th part to 1/6th part), Foreign Trade, Rule of Law  and the basic nature of the contract of the state – no taxation without protection.
    The distinction between the various schools of philosophy is poorly understood to conflate Lokayata (Charvaka) with liberalism. A close reading of the Upanishads will reveal that the primary faultline between Sankhya, Yoga and Lokayata was on the questions of whether the Soul exists independent of the body and whether one must accept the existence of only that which can be experienced. This debate between Sankhya, Yoga and Lokayata predates both Ramayana and Mahabharata. Charvaka is a much later day phenomenon.
    regards

     
  3. Sanjeev Sabhlok

    Thanks, Offstumped. Useful comment.

    "The distinction between the various schools of philosophy is poorly understood to conflate Lokayata (Charvaka) with liberalism."

    I'm not conflating Charvaka with liberalism. In DOF I show how such Indian schools (Charvaka is just one of them) were influential in establishing critical thinking which, through the roundabout route of Greece, finally influenced liberalism. Critical thinking is just one of the underpinning institutions of liberalism.

    The question here is about Vedic socialism – an idea that is neither fish nor fowl. I wrote a very long comment in the morning today but it seems I've lost it! Now I'll try to re-write it. It is tragic to lose nearly 1/2 hour of work.

     
  4. Offstumped

    Agree Vedic Socialism is a load of baloney.
    Also see agree on Integral Humanism, it is weakest in its economic thinking.
    Critical thinking is very much part of the commentary in the Upanishads as they debate and attempt to refute the Sankhya and Lokayata schools of thought.
    Here is one example that debates at length "Cause and effect" (see introduction Page 2 onwards).
    http://is.gd/epmN7
     

     
  5. Offstumped

    Also think it is pointless to look for a modern day western construct in ancient Indian thinking.
    What however is clear from a reading of references to Arthashastra thinking is that the
    – State was minimalist in the sense that the King was mostl concerned with Rule of Law and National Security for the most part
    – Taxation was low – 1/6th part
    – Merchants and Guilds enjoyed a high degree of freedom to operate across territorial boundaries
    Philosophically excessive taxation was viewed as Adharma. Also a delinquent King who failed to protect the nation while collecting taxes, was viewed as the greatest sinner.
    My tentative conclusion is that the pursuit of Dharma + Artha can be described as a moral and enlightened pursuit of self interest.

     
  6. Sanjeev Sabhlok

    Dear Harsh

    First of all, many thanks for providing an excellent outline of Vedic socialism. Highly indebted to your efforts to explain things to me. 

    Now, let me provide some initial thoughts. I know it is not always a good method to take small elements of a philosophy and made generalisations from it, but I do begin to see a clearer picture emerging in my mind.

    Re: Baba Ramdev does not see any scope or reason to borrow any ideas of socialism from the philosophies of foreign thinkers like Marx, Lenin, or Mao, as had been projected by them in their times… Baba is not against knowledge from other quarters.

    The only problem I have is with the word 'socialism' which is simply the most dangerous creed ever invented by man. It destroys incentives, treats merit with contempt, and in many cases even leads to violence. I would have much preferred this philosophy to be called something else.

    Re: "Vedic Socialism, with decentralized economic and political base, promoting self-sufficiency of the self-governing village republics."

    This is a mix of utopianism (self-governning village republics are not viable) and socialism (self-sufficiency). There is nothing wrong with decentralisation under the subsidiarity principle, but that does not lead to the other two conclusions.

    Re: This "would be just the opposite of the "collectivized, centralized, bureaucratized" Leviathan of a monolithic state which Marxian socialism created in Soviet Russia and People's China, where individual freedom was a crime against the state and betrayal of the nation".

    If Vedic socialism is against socialism then why use the word socialism? Using such langauge displays ignorance of political philosophy.

    Re: "Vedic Socialism would by-pass power, for power corrupts."

    This is once again utopian, of the Gandhian sort. It is a form of libertarian anarchy (Gandhi is basically an archist, with a somewhat liberal worldview – hence I consider him to be broadly a liberal, as explained in BFN).

    Re: "It would be a complete transformation of man and the society through voluntary conversion, non-violent attitude and change of heart, promoting moral values, and synthesizing economies with ethics."

    This is utopian. It is NOT possible to change people's hearts. It is NOT possible to promote moral values. All these sentiments are utopian. They resemble Gandhian utopia. That can NEVER exist. All that is possible is to ensure freedom with accountability (classical liberalism). Let's be scientific and not delusional. The role of the state is to govern, not to preach.

    Re: "The means to be adopted by Vedic Socialism include to follow the Ashtanga-Yoga, i.e., the eight yoga practices like yama, niyama, asana, pranayama, pratyahara (restraining the sense-organs), Dharana (firmness), Dhyana (meditation), and Samadhi. The way to Vedic Socialism is yoga, which requires self-discipline, self-surrender, self-control, and being the master of one's senses and wants"

    This is utopian. It is NOT the business of the state to teach/preach Ashtanga-Yoga, etc. Its job is to govern and ensure the rule of law. Self-restraint is the necessary requirement of freedom as I explain at length in DOF. But if someone doesn't do so, then the rule of law steps in.

    Re: "Vedic Socialism seeks to motivate, inspire, and encourage the rich to change their attitude towards the poor, consider them as their brothers, share their wealth/property, embrace self-abnegation and win over their own sense of ownership as well as possessiveness. This is the concept of Trusteeship, which forms the base of Vedic Socialism."

    That is once again the failed and impractical utopian concept of Gandhi which I have criticised in BFN. Let us be clear: the rich are not permanently rich nor the poor permanently poor. The rich are rich (in the free society) because they provide goods and services that others purchase. The greatest responsiblity of the businessman (small or large) is to make profits. By doing that he creates jobs, wealth, and eliminates poverty.

    In brief, Vedic socialism is a misnomer. It should be called Vedic Utopia. It is not Vedic but a highly confused set of ideas that are never possible to implement. I'm not sure whether the Vedas talk of any of these things. I'd like to see the original sources only. I want to know the PRECISE Vedic slokas on which this confused way of thinking is based.

    Note I'm NOT saying that any of what Baba Ramdev is suggesting is wrong. Merely that it is a view that is not possible to implement, and will lead to the growth of the mafia. It will also increase poverty in India. 

    Good intentions DO NOT, as a rule, convert into good outcomes. For good outcomes, one needs a deep understanding of human nature and extensive understanding of governance. Nehru was one good man who ruined India. Now we are faced with another good man who could well ruin India further. 

    Let's be clear: Do we want ethics in society? Do we want good education and health? Do we want prosperity? Then we need to understand the entire theory of governance and learn from the best theory and practice. That is what BFN does. We can't achieve these things through muddled up thinking.

    Regards

    Sanjeev

     
  7. Harsh Vora

    Dear Sanjeev — The book is almost 400 pages long. I have barely began reading it. I am trying to cite whatever important quotes I can, but it is not possible to cite in bulks. Mr. Mahendru explains tons of reasons behind Swami Ramdev's chosen philosophy of Vedic socialism. Why it is called Vedic "socialism" and not Vedic "utopia," I have not realized yet. Perhaps, as I read more, things will be clearer. One thing I can notice is that Swami Ramdev's and Gandhi's political views coincide at many places. Adding to Gandhi's views, Swami Ramdev's philosophy is a confluence of many leaders, including Chanakya. To quote from the Vedic canon (as per your request), let me cite again from Mr. Mahendru's book: 
     
    ———————————————————————————————-
    The Vedic socialism that Baba Ramdev emanates from this: Based upon belief in God, the Indian philosophy promulgates the path of duty. Performance of duty and the observance of morality are convertible terms. To practice morality is to attain mastery over one's mind and passions. Our ancestors set a limit on our indulgences. They dissuaded us from luxuries and pleasures. They thought that over real happiness and health consisted in the proper use of our hand and feet. "They saw that kings and their swords," observes Gandhi, "were inferior to the swords of ethics, and they therefore held, the sovereigns of the earth to be inferior to Rishis and Fakirs. A nation with a constitution like this is fitter to teach others than to learn from others." [M.K Gandhi's Hind Swaraj] The thrust of Indian philosophy is to elevate the moral being of an individual. It upholds self-sacrifice, self-restraint; it encourages sharing with others.
     
    The Bhagavad Gita affirms that he, who eats without sacrifice, eats stolen food. Sacrifice denotes here bread labor, and in the next verse, it says that the "righteous man who eats the residue of the sacrifice are freed from all sins, but the wicked who cooked for themselves eat sin." (Gita, chapter 3, verse 13) The same ideas are contained in the first verse of the Isho Upanishad. which says, "Everything, animate or inanimate, that is within the universe is controlled and owned by the Lord. One should therefore accept only those things necessary for himself, what are set aside as his quote, and one should not accept other things, knowing well to whom they belong." This verse alone is clear and a sufficient explanation of Vedic socialism in a practical sense, as it says that God pervades everything that He has created, implying thereby that you cannot enjoy or have anything that is not given by Him. The Bhagavata Purana is even much more emphatic on the basic principle of Vedic socialism i.e. an equitable sharing of the blessing of God — where Narada tells Yudhisthira that "one is entitled to take as much as sufficient for fulfilling the stomach; he who takes more than this is guilty of theft and deserves to be punished." (Bhagavata Purana, chapter 14, verse 8) The Gita also proclaims that we may not own anything beyond our strict requirement, but should share equally with all God's creatures the means of sustenance. Property must be shared by all, not collectively and impersonally, but directly and individually.
     
    "Socialism in the real sense," says Gandhi, "has been handed down to us by our ancestors who taught, "All the land belong to Gopal [God]." Whosoever holds land, does it as a trustee i.e. he is just a caretaker, and is supposed to use it for the good of others. The Bhagvata Purana ordains, "Property is a mandate held by its possessors for common use, and benefit of the common wealth. Anyone, if he desires more without needing it, commits theft and deserves punishment." (Bhagavata Purana, Canto 7, verse 728) The Bhagavad Gita also stresses the point that those who want to attain salvation should act like Trustees, while Isho Upanishad too proclaims the principle of enjoyment through renunciation. Wealth belongs to all; no one is its sole agent, and there is no justification that a few should roll in luxury, while too many should starve. These Vedic ideas contain the basic ingredients of socialism, which stand for expropriation of the expropriators in a voluntary and peaceful way, without the liquidation of the capitalist class by dispossessing them forcefully, but by following the rule of Trusteeship. All man are children of God, none high and low, so they were equal to each other. Everything belonged to God and came from Him. Therefore, it was for His people as a whole, not for a particular individual or class. This is the principle on which Vedic socialism stands.
     
    [excerpted from Dr. K.C. Mahendru's book "Baba Ramdev — Resurgence of New India (Freedom Movement -2]
    ——————————————————————————————————–
     
    Thanks,

     
  8. Sanjeev Sabhlok

    Dear Harsh

    Thanks for this. Now it is really getting interesting.

    1. Re: "Everything, animate or inanimate, that is within the universe is controlled and owned by the Lord. One should therefore accept only those things necessary for himself, what are set aside as his quote, and one should not accept other things, knowing well to whom they belong." This verse alone is clear and a sufficient explanation of Vedic socialism in a practical sense, as it says that God pervades everything that He has created, implying thereby that you cannot enjoy or have anything that is not given by Him. 

    The implication dervived by Dr Mahendru does NOT flow from the statement cited. That is a simple and pure statement of justice and property rights. Clearly the Lord has no known method to give anything to anyone, hence the concept of trade. You exchange with others voluntarily and what you then get in result is just and yours. That's what I call the loop of accountability. This is a mere statement of a fundamental liberal principle, not a socialist principle! Mahendru mixes socialism with justice. Socialism DOES NOT tolerate justice. In socialism one man (central planner) decides by force what another shall get. There is no voluntary trade. If God were that one 'man' perhaps yes. But God is not a man and runs the world through laws not through whim and fancy. The laws of freedom and justice are the laws that allocate goods and property across people.

    2. Re: "The Bhagavata Purana is even much more emphatic on the basic principle of Vedic socialism i.e. an equitable sharing of the blessing of God — where Narada tells Yudhisthira that "one is entitled to take as much as sufficient for fulfilling the stomach; he who takes more than this is guilty of theft and deserves to be punished." (Bhagavata Purana, chapter 14, verse 8)". Also the Bhagvata Purana ordains, "Property is a mandate held by its possessors for common use, and benefit of the common wealth. Anyone, if he desires more without needing it, commits theft and deserves punishment." (Bhagavata Purana, Canto 7, verse 728) 

    Narada is just one character of many. This assertion about forced penury (just enough for your stomach, no more) is absurd. Does it mean that the farmer must forcibly give away what is beyond his capacity to eat? If so he won't produce food and everyone will be forced to return to the farm and start their own self-sufficient plot of land in order just to eat. There will be no division of labour, no networking effects, and no technological breakthroughs. This is a laughable statement, and to make an argument for a modern society based on this absurd statment (which CONTRADICTS the one above), will be very foolish.

    And re: all property being held for common use, please try to understand the problem of the Commons, whereby everyone has the incentive to cheat and to put less labour than they would otherwise do. This is pure socialism, no doubt about it, and it would DESTROY society. Such a claim about property also contradicts statement 1. The first statement did not demand equal property: it said there is property and you should respect it. The other two (2) destroy this freedom.

    In brief, I can well understand how people who don't have a foundation in the scientific method and so cannot think systematically about human nature might have easily made these half-baked self-contradictory statements in the past. I would rather that we try to understand basic economics and operate a society that creates wealth, and not send each of us back to the village to grow our own food.

    The test of this whole thing is simple: If I give you (or Baba Ramdev) without any restraint a choice between taking Rs.10 crores and Rs.20 crores, which would you (Baba Ramdev/Mahendru) prefer? Would not Baba Ramdev give me special 'darshan' if I offered him Rs.1 crore donation, than if I gave him Rs.100 donation? And so on. 

    Let us not derive our social and economic policy from confused statements made in some ancient scriptures. Open your mind. Ask questions. Never take any one else's word as gospel. ALWAYS think for yourself ONLY. 

    Regards

    Sanjeev

     
  9. vivek

    I recall thinkly highly of Swami Agnivesh back when I was still young. His rapid degeneration into an an Anti-America nutjob of the usual sort was always on the cards. Vivekananda FAILED not because Bagha Jatin wasn't strong enough or brave enough or daring enough but because he and his type of activism/adventurism was simply too chivalrous and romantic and intellectually omnivorous to work at the level of power politics.
    Neither represent traditional Indic Mimamsa (hermeneutics) in which meaning is strategic,  meaning is gamed-  the didactic or substantive content continually undermined by its framing in a highly ironic context.
    Sahir Ludhianvi's poem states 'Gandhi and Ghalib- we who are their worshippers- we are their assasins.'  Let us add Gita to get 3 Gees- Gandhi, Geeta and Ghalib- like Amar, Akbar, Anthony- these 3 typically Indian products which no ordinary person does not  sub-consciously understand yet create all sorts of hermeneutic problems because they are ironic, strategic, and very very funny.
    What is common to all 3 is an epistemology which rejects binary dijection. Gandhi got instruction in syavaad Jain logic from the horses mouth so to speak (ie. from Srimad Rajachandra). Ghalib was familiar with the barzakh (like Tibetan bardo thodol) as functioning as the asymptotic limit between every bijection where, alone, freedom resided (Ibn Arabi, Shurawardy, Mulla Sadr, the silly Mujaddidi ideology of Dard's dad, Andalib etc, etc).  Gita and Veda are, of course, much less elitist and- [edited out] – you can use your common sense to relish the hilarious comedy of Power seeking a self-legitimating hermeneutics for poesis. This is what happens in the Chandogya Upansihad- the Kings aren't telling the Brahmins what their Sama means- rather they are saying this is the interpretation which the Lords of food are constrained to give- the carter and the butcher having a better truth.
    Veda is not intuitionistic in the Brouwerian sense of being founded upon the perception of a two-ity and the positing of a continuum between them. On the contrary, it is ironic and non deterministic in that, at any moment, the monotonicity of the time series of phenomenology or inter-subjectivity can be totally overturned. 
    Rg Vedic verse on Krishi aint just 'gambling is bad- don't gamble' on the contrary it says there is a certain sort of gamble which is positive sum game- go for that coz you can get not a theory of Justice or Morality but a set of incentive compatible evolutionarily stable strategies which dominates what exists.
    But, it occurrs to me, that I have ceased to be intelligible and had better stop.
    best wishes

     
  10. Gopi

    There is a book in Hindi – Dharam aur Samajvad – by the famous Hindi novelist – Vaid Gurudatta – which tries to contrast two concepts and show how they are so different. Do not know if they have English version.

     
  11. iyamwutiam

    Even the so-called foundation of economics founder Adam Smith stressed that it Capitalism must have a moral base.  Disparity will be the natural process – as the short term consequences can be managed to gain advantage and turn that advantage into a revenue stream.  This goes back to Lenin's rather classic work on Imperialism.  Colonial countries are in essence resource and potential wealth extractors working in concert to maintain disparity -end of story period.  All else is an elaborate menagerie set up to occupy 'intellectuals' into a silent, passive inner 'dialogue' which serves the primary purpose of placing a barrier to the inescapable brutal reality of the consequences of disparity -starting in India.
    How does one then approach tis problem in a pragmatic way.  One can do the typical western approach and start building systems that require other systems (feedback, oversight, inhibitory, stimulatory, etc) -and unfold consequence upon consequence with the blith bravado of an unthinking knave by our confidence in estimating with accuracy some limited outcomes for a brief span of time.  In short – a review of the work of Ivan Illich may be a good start for some who feel they must trumpet their discord for an outcome that is specifically stated -an equitable society -period. 
     
    That means respecting difference at its core.