3rd September 2011
Deendayal Upadhyaya’s integral humanism #3 Western vs. Bharatiya view
Continuing from here. (Word document here)
Chapter (or Lecture) 2: Western vs. Bharatiya view
Yesterday we had seen that even after 17 years of independence, we have still to decide what direction we should adopt to realize our cherished dream of all round development in the lives of our countrymen. Normally people are not prepared to seriously consider this question. They think only of the problems which they face from time to time. Sometimes economic problems are viewed with concern and an attempt is made to resolve them, and at other times social or political problems come to the forefront claiming attention. Not knowing fundamentally the direction in which we to go, all these efforts are not accompanied by sufficient enthusiasm not do they give a feeling of satisfaction to the people engaged in these efforts. These efforts produce only a fraction of the results which they ought to have produced.
Modern versus Ancient
Those who advocate some definite direction include two distinct groups of people. There are some who suggest that we must go back to the position when we lost our independence and proceed from there. On the other hand there are people who would like to discard all that has originated here in Bharat and are not ready to think about it. They seem to think that western life and thoughts are the last word in progress and all of it should be imported here if we are to develop. Both these lines of thought are incorrect, though they do represent partials truths and it will not be proper to discard them altogether.
Those who advocate starting from where we left off a thousand years ago, forget that whether it may or may not be desirable. It is definitely impossible. The flow of time can not be reversed.
The Past Cannot be Disowned
In the past one thousand years, whatever we assimilated, whether it was forced on us or we took with willingness, cannot be discarded now. Besides, we too have created originality, not a little, in the life of our society, We did not remain always mere passive witnesses to whatever new challenging situations arose; nor did we merely react to every alien action. We too have attempted to reshape our life as required to face the new situations. Therefore, it will not do, simply to close our eyes to all that has happened in the past one thousand years.
Foreign Ideologies Are Not Universal
Similarly those who would like to make western ideologies the basis of our progress forget that these ideologies have arisen in certain special situations and time. These are not necessarily universal. They cannot be free from the limitations of the particular people and their culture, which gave birth to these Isms. Besides many of these ideas are already out of date. The principles of Marx have changed both with the changing times as well as with varying conditions to the extent that parrot like repetition of Marxism for problems facing our country would amount to a reactionary attitude rather than a scientific and pragmatic one. It is indeed surprising that those who claim to reform society by removing dead traditions, themselves fall prey to some outdated foreign traditions.
Our country: Our problems
Every country has its own peculiar historical, social and economic situations and its leaders decide the remedies to the ills that beset the country from time to time, taking into consideration its background. It is illogical to believe that remedies which the leaders of one country decided to try for their problems are likely to be applicable as such to all other peoples. A simple illustration will suffice. Even though the basic organic activity is the same in all human beings, the drugs which may be helpful in England may not prove equally helpful in India. Diseases depend also upon climate, water, dietary habits and heredity. Even though the external symptoms may be apparently similar the same drug does not necessarily cure all persons. Those who apply a single panacea to all diseases must be considered quacks rather than doctors. Therefore Ayurveda states i.e. for the disease in each place remedy suitable to that place must be found. Therefore, it is neither possible nor wise to adopt foreign Isms in our country in the original form in toto. It will not be helpful in achieving happiness and prosperity.
Human Knowledge Is Common Property
On the other hand, it needs, to be realized that not all the thoughts and principles that have sprung up elsewhere are necessarily local in space and time. The response of human beings in a particular place time and social atmosphere may, and does, in many cases have relation and use to other human beings elsewhere and at other times. Therefore to ignore altogether the developments in other societies, past or present is certainly unwise. Whatever truths these developments contains must be taken not of and accepted. The rest must be scrupulously avoided. While absorbing the wisdom of other societies it is only proper that we avoid their mistakes or perversities. Even their wisdom should be adapted to our particular circumstances. In brief, we must absorb the knowledge and gains of the entire humanity so far as eternal principles and truths are concerned. Of these the ones that originated in our midst have to be clarified and adapted to changed times and those that we take from other societies have to be adapted to our conditions.
The Conflicting Ideas
T he western political thought has accepted Nationalism, Democracy and Socialism or equality as ideals. Besides now and then, there have been attempts directed at world unity which took the shape of the “League of Nations” and after the second world war, the “United Nation Organizations”. For a variety of reasons those have not succeeded. However, those definitely were attempts in that direction.
All these ideals have in practice proved to be incomplete and mutually opposing.
Nationalism led to conflict between nations and in turn to global conflict, whereas if status-quo is regarded as synonymous with world peace, the aspirations of many small nations to be independent would have never been fulfilled. World unity and Nationalism conflict with each other. Some advocate suppression of Nationalism for world unity whereas other regard world unity as an utopian ideal and emphasize national interest to the utmost.
Similar difficulty arises in reconciling Socialism and Democracy. Democracy grants individual liberty but the same is used by the capitalist system for exploitation and monopoly. Socialism was brought in to end exploitation but it eliminated the freedom and dignity of the individual.
Mankind stands confused, unable to decide what is the correct path for future progress. The West is not in a position to say with confidence that “this alone and no other” is the right path. It is itself groping. Therefore simply to follow the West would be an instance of a blind being led by another blind.
In this situation our attention is claimed by the Bharatiya culture. Is it possible that our culture can point the direction to the world?
From the national stand point we shall have to consider our culture because that is our very nature. Independence is intimately related to one’s own culture. If culture does not form the basis of independence then the political movement for independence would reduce simply to a scramble by selfish and power seeking persons. Independence can be meaningful only if it becomes an instrument for the expression of our culture. Such expression will not only contribute to our progress but the effort required will also give us the experience of joy. Therefore, both from the national as well as human standpoint it has become essential that we think of the principles of the Bharatiya culture. If with its help we can reconcile the various ideals of the western political thought then it will be an added advantages for us. These western principles are a product of revolution in human thought, and social conflict. They represent one or the other aspiration of mankind. It is not proper to ignore them.
Bharatiya Culture Is Integrated
The first characteristic of Bharatiya culture is that it looks upon life as an integrated whole. It has an integrated view point. To think of parts may be proper for a specialist but it is not useful from the practical standpoint. The confusion in the West arises primarily from its tendency to think of life in sections and then to attempt to put them together by patch work. We do admit that there is diversity and plurality in life but we have always attempted to discover the unity behind them. This attempt is thoroughly scientific. The scientists always attempt to discover order in the apparent disorder in the universe, to find out the principles governing the universe and frame practical rules on the basis of these principles. Chemists discovered that a few elements comprise the entire physical world. Physicists went one step further and showed that even these elements consist only of energy. Today we know that the entire universe is only a form of energy.
Philosophers are also basically scientists. The western philosophers reached tip to the principle of duality; Hegel put forward the principle of thesis, anti-thesis and synthesis; Karl Marx used this principle as a basis and presented his analysis of history and economics. Darwin considered the principle of survival of the fittest as the sole basis of life. But we in this country saw the basic unity of all life. Even the dualists have believed the nature and spirit to be complementary to each other than conflicting. The diversity in life is merely an expression of the internal unity. There is complementary underlying the diversity. The unit of seed finds expression in various form – – the roots. the trunk, the branches the leaves, the flowers and the fruits of the tree. All these have different forms and colors and even to some extent different properties. Still we recognize their relation of unity with each other through seed.
Mutual Conflict – Sign of Cultural Regression
Unity in diversity and the expression of unity in various forms has remained the central thought of Bharatiya culture. If this truth is wholeheartedly accepted then there will not exist any cause for conflict among various powers. Conflict is not a sign of culture of nature: rather it is a symptom of their degradation. The law of the jungle, “Survival of the Fittest” which the West discovered in recent years was known to our philosophers.
We have recognized desire, anger etc. among the six lower tendencies of human nature, but we did not use them as the foundation or the basis of civilized life or culture. There are thieves and robbers in the society. It is essential to save ourselves and the society from these elements. We cannot consider them as our ideals or standards for human behavior. Survival of the fittest is the law of the jungle. The civilizations have developed not on the basis of this law but by consideration of how the operation of this law will be the least in human life. If we wish to progress, we have to keep this history of civilization before our minds.
Co-operation also obtains in abundance just as conflict and competition in this world. Vegetation and animal life keep each other alive. We get our oxygen supply with the help of vegetation whereas we provide carbon dioxide so essential for the growth of vegetable life. This mutual co-operation sustains life on this earth.
The recognition of this element of mutual sustenance among different forms of life and taking that as the basis of an effort to make human life mutually sustaining is the prime characteristic of civilization. To mold the nature to achieve the social goals is culture but when this nature leads to social conflict it is perversion. Culture does not disregard or deny nature. Rather it enhances those elements in nature which are helpful in sustaining life in this universe and making it fuller richer, and curbs others which obstruct or destroy life. Let us take a simple illustration. The relationship such as brother, sister, mother and son, father and son are natural. These are same both in man as well as among animals. Just as two brothers are sons of one mother so also two calves have a single mother cow. Where lies the difference?? In animals by lack of memory the relation is short-lived. They cannot build up an edifice of civilization on these relations. But men use this natural relation as a basis to construct a more harmonious order in life, to establish other relationships flowing from these basic relationships so as to knit the whole society in single unit of co-operation. Thus various values and traditions are built. Standards of good and bad are constructed accordingly. In society we find instances of both affection as well as enmity between brothers. But we consider affection good and aim at enchanting affectionate brotherly relations. The opposite tendency is disapproved. If conflict and enmity is made the basis of human relationships and if on this basis history is analyzed, then it would be futile to dream of world peace to result out of such a course of action.
A mother brings up her children. Mother’s love is held up as the highest love. On such a basis alone we can devise the rules regulating the life of mankind. Sometimes there are examples of selfishness and cruelty of a mother toward her child. Among some species of animals mother devise her progeny to satisfy the hunger. On the other hand among monkeys mother carries her child long after its death. Both types of behavior are found among living things. Which of these two principles of nature can be made the basis of civilized life? We cannot but conclude that alone which helps to sustain life can be chosen, the contrary cannot lead to civilized life. Human nature has both tendencies, anger, and greed on the one hand and love, sacrifice on the other. All these are present in our nature. Anger etc. are natural to man and beasts. For the reason if we make anger a standard in our life and arrange our efforts accordingly then the result will be a lack of harmony in our life. Therefore the exhortation, “do not yield to anger”. Even. when the anger arises in one’s mind one can exercise control over it and one should do so. Thus control becomes a standard of our life and not anger.
Such laws are known as the principles of ethics. These principles are not framed by anyone. They are discovered. A suitable analogy is that of the law of gravitation, that if we throw a stone it falls on the ground. This law of gravitation is not framed by Newton. He discovered it. When he saw an apple falling to the ground from the branch, he realized there must exist such a law. Thus he discovered this law, he did not frame it. Similarly there are certain principles of human relations such as, if one feels anger it is on the whole beneficial to mankind that one must control anger. These principles of ethics are then discovered.
“Do not tell lies to one another, say what you know to be true”. This is a principle. Its usefulness becomes apparent at every step in life. We appreciates truthful person. If we speak lies, we ourselves feels unhappy; life cannot go on; there will be great confusion.
These Principles Constitute Our Dharma
A child does not speak lie by nature. Often Parents, teach their child to speak untruths. When the child desires something, if parents do not wish that child should have it, they conceal the object and tell the child that the desired object has disappeared. The child may be fooled a couple of times but soon knows the real situation and learns to speak untruth. This fact that by nature a person is truthful is a law that is discovered. Many other principles of ethics are similarly discovered. They are not arbitrarily framed by someone. In Bharat these principles are termed “Dharma”, laws of life. All those principles which bring about harmony, peace and progress in the life of mankind are included In this “Dharma”. On the sound basis of “Dharma”. then, we must proceed with the analysis of life as an integral whole.
When Nature is channeled according to the principles of Dharma. we have culture and civilization. It is indeed this culture which will enable us to sustain and sublimate the life of mankind. “Dharma” is translated here as law. The English word ‘religion’ is not the correct word for ‘Dharma’.
As pointed out earlier an integrated life is the foundation and the principle underlying this culture as well as its aims and ideals.
Happiness of an Individual
We have thought of life as Integrated not only in the case of collective or social life but also in the individual life. Normally an individual is thought of in the physical bodily forms. Physical comfort and luxury is considered happiness. But we know that mental worry destroys bodily happiness. Everyone desires physical comfort. But if a person is imprisoned and there he is given finest of food etc., will he be happy? A person does not experience joy on getting nice food if it is also accompanied by a few abuses. There is a well-known incident in Mahabharata. When Lord Krishna went to Hastinapur as an emissary of Pandavas, Duryodhan invited him to enjoy his hospitality. Lord Krishna declined his Invitation and went instead to Vidura’s home. Overjoyed by the visit of this much revered guest, Vidura’s wife served the banana skins while throwing away the pulp. But Lord Krishna enjoyed even the meal of banana skin. That is why it is said, “Even a modest meal served with dignity and affection tastes better than the best delicacies served with disrespect”. It is necessary therefore to take not of the mental happiness.
Similarly there is an intellectual happiness which too must be considered. Even after a person gets comforts for the body, and importance, affection. etc. Which please the mind. if he is involved in some intellectual confusion he is reduced to a state almost similar to madness. And what is madness itself? A lunatic may have all physical comforts, he may be perfectly healthy and properly cared for by his relatives; but he does not posses intellectual happiness. Intellectual peace is also essential and important. We will have to take all these things into consideration.
The Political Aspirations of Man
Body, mind, intelligence and the soul.-these four make up an individual. But these are integrated. We cannot think of each part separately. The confusion that has arisen in the West is due to the fact that they have treated each of the above aspects of human being separately and without any relation to the rest. When there was movement for democratic structure, they proclaimed “man is a political animal” and therefore his political aspirations must be attended to. Why only one person should be the king and others his subjects’? Let everyone rule! In Order to satisfy this political man they gave him the right to vote. Now he did get the right to a vote, but at the same time other rights diminished. Then the questions arose. “The voting right is nice but what about food? What if there is nothing to eat ?”
They wondered, “Now that you have voting right, you are the king. Why need you worry?” But man replied, “What shall I do with the state if I do not get any food? I have no use of this voting right. I want bread first. Then came Karl Marx and said, “ Yes, bread is the most important thing. The state belongs to the ‘haves’. So let us fight for bread. He saw man as primarily made up of body, wanting bread. But hose who followed the path shown by Karl Marx came to realize that they had neither bread not voting-right.
At the opposite end there is USA. There is both bread as well as voting right. Even so there is lack of peace and happiness. USA has highest list in number of suicides, number of mental patients and number of persons using tranquilizers to get sleep. People are puzzled as to the cause of this new situation. Man obtained bread, he got his voting right, still three is no peace, no happiness. Now they want back their peaceful sleep. Sound and undisturbed sleep is a scarce commodity in the present day America. Those who think realize that there is a basic mistake some where, whereby even after acquiring all good things of life, they are not happy.
Bharatiya approach to Life
The reason is that they have not thought of the integrated human being. In our country we have thoroughly considered this matter. That is why we have stated that progress of man means progress of the body, mind, intellect and soul of man, all together. Often it has been propagated that Bharatiya culture thinks only salvation of the soul. It does not bother about the rest. This is wrong. We do not think of the soul but it is not true that we do not consider body, mind and intellect of much importance. Other gave importance of body alone. Therefore our attention to the soul is unique. With time this created and impression that we are concerned only with the soul and not with other aspects of human being. A young unmarried boy cares for his mother, but after marriage he cares both for his wife as well as his mother, and discharges his responsibilities towards both of them. Now if anyone says that this man has no loves for his mother, it would be untrue. A wife also loves only her husband at first, but after the birth of child, she loves both her husband and child. Sometimes an unthoughtful husband feels that his wife neglects him, after the birth of their child. But this is generally not correct. If that is true then the wife has certainly slipped in her duty.
Similarly, while we recognize the need to pay attention to the soul, we do not neglect the body. Upanishads declare in unambiguous words i.e. weakling cannot realize the self. Again Body is truly the primary instrument to discharge the responsibilities that dharma in joins. The fundamental difference between our position and that of the west is that. whereas they have regarded body and satisfaction of its desires as the aim, we regard the body as an instrument for achieving our aims. We have recognized the importance of the body only in this light. The satisfaction of our bodily needs is necessary, but we don’t consider this to be the sole aim of all our efforts. Here in Bharat, we have placed before ourselves the ideal of the four fold responsibilities, of catering for the needs of body, mind, intellect and soul with a view of achieve the integrated progress of man. Dharma, Artha, Kama and Moksha are the four kinds of human effort. Purushartha means efforts which befit a man. The longings for Dharma, Artha Kama and Moksha, are inborn in man, and satisfaction. Of these four efforts too, we have thought in an integrated way. Even though Moksha has been considered the highest of these purusharthas, efforts for Moksha alone are not considered to give benefit to the soul. On the other hand, a person who engages in action, while remaining unattached to its fruits, is said to achieve Moksha inevitably and earlier.
Artha includes what is known as political and economic policies. According to the ancients, it used to include the justice and punishment also. Kama relates to the satisfaction of various natural desires. “Dharma” defines a set of rules to regulate the social activity. Artha and Kama, so as to progress in an integral and harmonious way, and attain not only Kama and Artha but also Moksha eventually.
Importance of Dharma
Thus even though Dharma regulates Artha and Kama. all the three are interrelated and mutually complementary. Dharma helps achieve Artha. Even in business, one requires honesty, restraint, truthfulness etc. which are the attributes of Dharma. Without these qualities one cannot earn money. It must be admitted that Dharma is instrumental in attaining Artha and Kama. Americans proclaimed, “Honesty is the best business policy”. In Europe they said, “Honesty is the best policy”. We go one step forward and assert “Honesty is not a policy but a principle” i.e. we believe in dharma not just because it is instrumental in acquiring Artha but because it is a fundamental principle of civilized life.
Kama too can be attained only through Dharma. Having produced the material things such as nice food. when, where, how and in what measure it will be used can be determined only by Dharma. If a sick person eats food meant for a healthy one and vice-versa, both of them will be at a disadvantage. Dharma helps in restraining the natural tendencies of man, whereby he is able to determine what is beneficial to him apart from what is pleasurable. Hence Dharma is given the foremost place in our culture.
Dharma is of primary importance, but we should not forget that it is not possible to practice Dharma in the absence of Artha. There is a saying “What sin will not be committed by one who is starving? Those who have lost everything become ruthless.” Even a rishi like Vishwamitra driven by hunger broke into the home of a hunter and ate the flesh of a dog. Therefore we are enjoined to see that there is enough wealth created continuously, since wealth. also strengthen Dharma. Similarly the government has maintain law and order and prevent chaos, which definitely destroys Dharma. At the time of Chaos, law of the jungle prevails where the strong feed upon the weak. Therefore stability in the state is also essential for the prevalence of Dharma.
In order to do this, education, character building, spread of idealism, and suitable economic structures are all necessary.
Artha and Kama through Dharma
Artha is inclusive of political aspects of life as well. Excessive power of state is also harmful of Dharma. It was said that a king should be neither too harsh nor too soft with his people. Heavy reliance on harsh measures produces a feeling of revolt in people. When state usurps the rightful position of Dharma, then there is this evil of preponderance of power of the state. Dharma suffers thereby. This is the reason of the decline of Dharma in ruthless states.
When the state-acquires all powers, both political and economic, the result is a decline of Dharma. In this way if the state has unlimited powers, the whole society looks towards the state, for everything. Officers of the government neglect their duties and acquire vested interests. These are all signs of the preponderance of the powers of state.
Dharma staffers a setback. Hence Artha should no be allowed to acquire hod in either of these two ways.
Karma too has been considered on the same lines. If the physical needs are neglected, and desires entirely suppressed, Dharma does not grow. Dharma cannot be observed if one has no food to eat. If the fine arts which satisfy the mind, are altogether stopped, then the civilizing influence on people will not be present. Mind will become perverse and Dharma neglected. On the other hand, if greediness of the gluttons of Rome or sensuousness of Yayati prevails, then the duties will be forgotten. Hence Kama too must be pursued consistent with Dharma. We have thus considered the life of an individual in a through and integrated manner. We have set the aim of developing body, mind intellect as well as soul in a balance way. We have tried to satisfy the manifold aspirations man taking care that efforts to satisfy two different aspirations are not mutually conflicting. This is the integrated picture of all the fourfold aspirations of and individual. This concept of a complete human being, integrate individual, is both our goal as well as our path. What should be the relation of this integrated human being with the society and how the interests of the society should be enhanced will be discussed tomorrow.
23 April 1965