3rd September 2011
Deendayal Upadhyaya’s integral humanism #4 Harmony between the Individual and the Collectivity
Continuing from here. (Word document here)
Chapter (or Lecture) 3: Harmony between the Individual and the Collectivity
Yesterday we considered man as an individual. There are different aspects of an individual personality, different levels of needs of an individual. In order to develop complete personality, to satisfy the needs progressively but simultaneously at all levels, certain specific kinds of effort’s are needed. These, too, were considered. But man does not exist merely as an individual. The individual comprising of body, mind, intellect and soul as not limited to singular “I” but is also inseparably related to the plural “We”. Therefore we must also think of the group or the society.
Theories about Society
It is a simple truth that society is a group of men. But how did society come into being? Many views have been put forward by philosophers. Those propounded in the West and on which the western socio-political structure is based can be broadly summarized as “society is a group of individuals brought into being by the individuals by an agreement among themselves.” This view is known as “Social Contract Theory”. Individual is given greater importance in. this view. If there are any differences in different western views, these pertain only to the questions, namely, “If the individual produced a society. then in whom the residual power remains vested, in the society or in the individual? Does the individual have the right to change the society? Can the society impose a variety or regulations on the individual and claim a right to the allegiance of the individual to itself? Or the individual is free as regards these questions?”
Individual Versus society
There is a controversy in the West on this question. Some have opted for the society as supreme and from this a conflict has arisen. The truth is that the view that individuals have brought society into being, is fundamentally incorrect. It is true that the society is composed of a number of individuals. Yet it is not made by people, nor does it come into being by mere coming together of a number of individuals.
In our view society is self-born. Like an individual, society comes into existence in an organic way. People do not produce society. It is not a sort of club, or some joint stock company, or a registered co-operative society. In reality, society is an entity with its own “SELF”, its own life; it is a sovereign being like an individual; it is an organic entity. We have not accepted the view that society is some arbitrary association. It has its own life. Society too has its body, mind, intellect and soul. Some western psychologists are beginning to accept this truth. McDougal has produced a new branch of psychology called group mind. He has accepted that the group has its own mind, its own psychology, its own methods of thinking and action.
Group has its feelings too. These are not exactly similar to the individual’s feelings. Group feelings cannot be considered a mere arithmetic addition of individual feelings. Group strength too is not a mere sum of individuals strength. The intellect, emotions and energies, strength of a group, are fundamentally different from those of an individual. Therefore, at times it is experienced that even weakling, despite his individual weak physique turns out to be a heroic member of the society. Sometimes an individual may be ready to put up with an affront to his person, but is unwilling to tolerate an insult to his society. A person may be ready to forgive and forget a personal abuse to him, but the same man loses his temper if you abuse his society. It is possible that a person who is of a high character in his personal life, is unscrupulous as a member of the society. Similarly an individual can be good in society but not so in his individual life. This is a very important point.
Let me give you an illustration. Once during a conversation between Shri Vinobaji and the Sar Sanghachalak of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, Shri Guruji, a question arose as to where the modes of thinking of Hindus and Muslims differ. Guruji said to Vinobaji that there are good and bad people in every society. There can be found honest and good people in Hindus as well as in Muslims. Similarly rascals can be seen in both the societies. No particular society has a monopoly of goodness. However, it is observed that Hindus even if they are rascals in individual life, when they come together in a group, they always think of good things. On the other hand when two Muslims come together, they propose and approve of things which they themselves in their individual capacity would not even think of. They start thinking in an altogether different way. This is an everyday experience. Vinobaji admitted that there was truth in this observation but had no reasons to explain it.
If we analyze this situation. we shall discover that the modes of thinking of an individual and of a society are always different. These two do not bear an arithmetic relation. If a thousand good men gather together it cannot be said for certain that they will think similarly of good things.
An average Indian student at present, is a mild and meek young man. Compared to an average student of twenty years ago, he is weaker and milder in every way. But when a score of such students get together, the situation becomes difficult. Then they indulge in all sorts of irresponsible actions. Thus a single student appears disciplined but a group of students become undisciplined. We shall have to consider why this change comes about. This is known as mob-mentality as distinct from individual mentality. This mob-mentality is a small aspect of mind. When a group of persons collect for a short time, the collective mentality obtained in that group is known as mob-mentality. But society and social mentality evolves over a much longer period. There is a thesis is that when a group of people live together for a long time, by historical tradition and association, by continued intercourse, they begin to think similarly and have similar customs. It is true that some uniformity is brought about by staying together. Friendship arises between two persons of similar inclination. However a nation or a society does not spring up from mere co-habitation.
Why Mighty Nations Of Antiquity Perished ?
It is known that some ancient nations disappeared. The ancient Greek nation came to end. Egyptian civilization similarly disappeared. Babylonian and Syrian civilizations are a matter of history. Cynthia’s perished. Was there ever a time when the citizens of those nations stopped living together? It was only the fact that there were wide differences among people that let to the downfall of these nations. The Greece in the past produced Alexander and Heredotes, Ulysis and Aristotle, Socrates and Plato and the present day Greece is inhabited by people of the same hereditary stock. There was no interruption in their heredity, because there never was a time when the whole of Greece was devoid of human population and when a new race inhabited that country. Such a thing never happened. Father and son tradition of old Greece was never interrupted. It is possible to trace the ancestry of present day Greeks to the old Greeks, some 250 to 500 generation back. Despite all the old Greek Nation is non-existent. So also the old Egyptian Nation Is no longer there. New nations have arisen in those places. How did this happen? This simple fact is indisputable, that nations do not come into existence by a mere cohabitation. There was never a time in the lives of the citizens of these decadent nations, when they stopped living in a group. On the other hand Israeli Jews lived for centuries with other peoples scattered far and wide, yet they did not get annihilated in the societies in which they lived because of cohabitation. It is clear therefore that the source of national feeling is not in staying on a particular piece of land, but is in something etc.
What Is A Nation?
That source is in the goal which is put before the people. When a group of persons lives with a goal, and ideal. A mission, and looks upon a particular place of land as motherland, this group constitutes a nation. If either of the two-an ideal and a motherland-is not there, then there is no nation. There is a “Self” in the body, the essence of the individual; upon the severance of its relation with the body, a person is said to die. Similarly there is this idea, ideal, or fundamental principle of a nation, its soul. Although it is believed that man take birth again and again, yet the reborn person is a different individual. They are treated as two separate beings. The same soul leaves one body and enters another, but the previous and the latter are two different individuals. The end of a person is nothing but the departure of his soul from his body. The other components of the body also undergo change. From childhood to old age, there is a drastic change! The biologists tell us that in course of a few years, every cell of our body is replaced by a new one. A variety of changes takes place. Because the soul resides in the body without interruption, the body continues its existence, such a relation is known as “the law of identity” in logic. It is due to this identity that we admit the continued existence of any entity. In this connection a nice illustration of a barber’s razor is sometimes advanced.
Once while shaving a customer, a barber, prided in his razor being 60 years old. His father too had worked with the same razor. The customer was surprised especially because the handle was quite shiny and new In appearance. “Why the handle is quite shiny? How have your preserved the brightness for sixty years?” He asked. Barber too was amused with this. Is it possible to preserve the handle in a brand new appearance for sixty years? It has been replaced only six months ago”. He replied naturally. The customer was curious and asked and how old is the steel? Three years was the reply. In brief. the handle was replaced. the steel was also replaced, but the razor remained old! Its identity was intact. Similarly a nation too has a soul. There is a technique name for it. In the “Principles arid Policies” adopted by the Jana Sangh, this name is mentioned. The word is Chiti. According to McDougal, it is the innate nature of a group. Every group of persons has an innate nature. Similarly every society has an innate nature, which is inborn and is not the result of historical circumstances.
A human being is born with a soul. Human personality, Soul and character are all distinct from one another. Personality results from a cumulative effect of all the actions, thoughts and impressions of an individual. But Soul is unaffected by this history, Similarly national culture is continuously modified and enlarged by the historic reasons and circumstances. Culture does include all those things which by the association, endeavors and the history of the society, have come to be held up as good and commendable. but these are not added on to Chiti. Chiti is fundamental and is central to the nation from its very beginning. Chiti determines the direction in which the nation is to advance culturally. Whatever is in accordance with Chiti, is included in culture.
Chiti, Cullture, Dharma
By way of an illustration consider the story of Mahabharat. Kauravas were defeated, and Pandavas won. Why did we hold up the conduct of Pandavas as Dharma? Or why this battle was not considered just a battle for a kingdom? The praise for Yudhistir and the dishonor heaped on Duryodhana are not a result of political causes Krishna killed his uncle Kansa, the established king of the times. Instead of branding this as a revolt, we consider Krishna as an Avatar of God, and Kansa as an Asura.
Rama was assisted in his invasion of Lanka by Vibhishana, brother of Ravana. Such conduct of Vibhishana instead of being branded as treason, is considered good and exemplary. He betrayed his brother and his king even as Jaichand had one later on. He might be branded as a “quisling”. But Vibhishana is not called “quisling’ by any one. On the contrary he is highly praised for his conduct, and Ravana actions are disapproved. Why so? The reason behind this is not political.
If there is any standard for determining the merits and demerits of particular action, it is this Chiti; from nature whatever is in accordance with ‘Chiti’, is approved and added on to culture. These things are to be cultivated. Whatever is against ‘Chiti,’ is discarded as perversion, undesirable, is to be avoided. Chiti is the touchstone on which each action, each attitude is tested, and determined to be acceptable or otherwise. ‘Chitti’ is the soul of the nation. On the strength of this ‘Chiti’, a nation arises, strong and virile if it is this ‘Chiti’ that is demonstrated in the actions of every great man of a nation.
An individual is also in instrument in bringing forth the soul of the nation “Chiti”. Thus apart from his own self, an individual also represents his nation. Not only that, but he also mans the various institutions that are created for the fulfillment of the national goal. Therefore he represents these too. The groups larger than nation such as “mankind” are also represented by him. In short, an individual has a multitude of aspect, but they are not conflicting; there is co-operation. unity and harmony in them. A system based on the recognition of this mutuality complementary nature of the different ideals of mankind, their essential harmony, a system which devises laws, which removes the disharmony and enhances these mutual usefulness and co-operation, alone can bring peace and happiness to mankind; can ensure steady development.
“Institution”- A Means To Fulfill National Needs
According to Darwin’s theory, living beings develop various organs as per the requirements dedicated by the circumstances. In our shastras, it was stated slightly differently, that the soul constructs, using the strength of “Prana’“, various organs as the need is felt, for the purpose of continuing life. Just as the soul produced these different organs in the body, so also in the nation many different organs are produced as instruments to achieve national goals. Like various departments in a factory, building, machinery, sales, production, maintenance etc. nations also produce different departments, which are called institutions. These institutions are created to fulfill the needs of a nation. Family, castes, guilds, (which are now known as trade unions) etc., are such institutions. Property, marriage are also institution. Formerly there were no marriages. Later on some Rishi established this practice of marriage. He produced the institution of marriage. Similarly Gurukul and Rishkul were institutions. In the same way, the state is also an institution. The Nation creates it. A lot of trouble in the West is due to the fact that they confused the state with the nation, they considered the state synonymous with the nation. Truly speaking, nation and state are not the same. In our country, the state was produced as per social contract theory. Formerly there was no king. Mahabharat describes that in Krityuga, there was no state or king. Society was sustained and protected mutually by practicing Dharma.
State and Society
Later on interruption and disorganization came into existence. Greed and anger dominated. Dharma was on the decline and the rule “might is right” prevailed. The Rishis were perturbed over the developments. They all went to Brahma to seek counsel, Brahma gave them a treatise on “Law and the Functions of the State”, which he had himself writer. At the same time, he asked Manu to become the first King. Manu declined saying that a king will have to punish other persons, put them in jail and so on; he was not prepared to commit all these sins. There upon Brahma said, your actions in the capacity of king will not constitute sin, a long as they are aimed at securing conditions under which the society can live peacefully and according to Dharma. This will be your duty, your Dharma. Not only that but you will also have a share of the Karma of your subjects, whereby you will gain Dharma considerably if your subjects maintain conduct according to Dharma. Although it is not explicitly stated here, but I believe that if the society under any king committed sin, a part of that too must automatically go to the account of the king. It is not proper if only good things are shared by the king and not the bad ones; both must be shared in the same proportion. Thus state came into existence as a contract. This contract theory can be applied to the state but not to the nation. In the West, it was exactly opposite. Society as a nation, according to them. was a contract, but the king claimed a divine right and proclaimed himself the sole representative of God. This is wrong. In our Country, the king may have been first recognized in antiquity but the society as a nation is considered self-born. State is only an institution.
Multiple group loyalties
Similarly other institutions, like the state, are created from time to time as the need is felt. Every individual is a limb of one or more of these institutions. A person is a member of his family, as well as his community; he may also be a member of some association of his fellow professionals, if he pursues a profession. Above all he is a member of the nation and society. If we consider even larger sphere he is a member of the whole mankind, and then the entire universe, Truly speaking an individual is not merely a single entity but a plural entity. He is a part of not just one, but a member of many institutions. He lives a variety of lives. The most important aspect, is that despite this multiple personality, he can and should behave in a way which does not bring different aspects of his life into mutual conflict but which is mutually sustaining, complementary and unifying. This quality is inherent in man.
A person who uses this quality properly, becomes happy and on the other hand one who does not do so, reaps unhappiness. Such a person will not have balanced development in the life. As an illustration, a man is son of his another, husband of his wife, brother of his sister and father of his son. A single individual is a father and is also a son, he is brother and also husband. he has to maintain all these relation with intelligence, understanding and tact. Where a person fails to do so, there is conflict. If he sides with one party the other feels wronged. The conflicts between his wife and his sisters, his wife and mother result from his inability to behave properly. There upon some of his relations are strained. He is pained because his duties towards his mother and towards his wife clash. When he can resolve this conflict, and fulfill all his obligations properly, it can be said that his development will be integrated.
Society And Individual not conflicting
We do not accept the view that there is any permanent inevitable conflict among the multifarious personality of an individual, and different institutions of the society. If a conflict does exist, it is a sign of decadence perversion and not of nature or culture. The error in western thinking lies in that some people there believe that human progress is a result of this fundamental conflict. Therefore they consider the conflict between the individual and the state as a natural occurrence, on the same basis they also theorized on the class conflict.
Evolution of Varna-system
Classes do exist in a society. Here too, there were castes, but we had never accepted, conflict between one caste and another as fundamental concept behind it. In our concept of four castes, they are thought of as analogous to the different limbs of Virat-purusha. It was suggested that from the head of the Virat-Purusha Bhrahmins were created, Kshatriyas from hands, Vaishyas from his abdomen and Shudras from legs. If we analyze this concept we are faced with the question whether there can arise any conflict among the head, arms. stomach and legs of the same Virat Purusha. If conflict is fundamental, the body cannot be maintained. There cannot be any conflict in the different parts of the same body. On the contrary “one man” prevails. These limbs are not only complementary to one another, but even further, there is individual unity. There is a complete identity of interest identity of belonging. The origin of the caste system was on the above basis. If this idea is not kept alive; the castes, instead of being complementary, can produce conflict. But then this is distortion. It is not a systematic arrangement, rather it is absence of any plan, any arrangement. This is indeed the present condition of our society.
This process of deterioration can set in the various institutions of a society due to a variety of reasons. If the soul of the society weakens, then all the different limbs of the society will grow feeble and ineffective. Any particular institution may be tendered useless or even harmful. Besides the need and the usefulness of any particular institution may change with time, place and circumstances. While examining the present state of an institution we ought at the same time, to think of what it should be like; mutual complementary and a sense of unity, alone can be the standards of proper conduct. Family, Community, Trade Union, Gram Panchayat, Janapada, State and such other institutions are various limbs of the nation and even of mankind. The are interdependent, initially complementary. There should be a sense of unity through all of them. For this very reason, there should be a tendency toward mutual accommodation in them instead of conflict or oppositions
State is not Supreme
State is one of the several institutions, an important one, but it is not above all other. One of the major reasons for the problems of the present day world is that almost everyone thinks of the state to be synonymous with the society. At least in practice. they consider the state as the sole representative of the society. Other institutions leave declined in their effectiveness while the state has become dominant to such an extent that all the powers are gradually being centralized in the state.
We had not considered the state to be the sole representative of the nation. Our national life continued uninterruptedly even after the state went in the hands of foreigners. The Persian nation came to an end with their loss of independence. In our country, there were foreign rules now and then in various parts of the country. At the some time the pathans seized the throne of Delhi, and then the Turks; the Mughals and the British too established their rules. Despite all this, our national life went on, because the state was not its centre. If we had considered state as the centre, we would have been finished as a nation long time ago. In some tale for children, it is described that an evil spirit resided in some parrot and to kill the evil spirit one had to kill that parrot. Those nations whose life centred in the state, were finished with the end of the state. On the other hand, where state was not believed central to its life, the nation survived the transfer of political power.
This had its had effects also. Late Dr. Ambedkar had said that our Gram Panchayats were so strong that we neglected the throne of Delhi. We did not remain alert as regards the state. as much as we ought to have done, thinking that nation’s life did not depend on the state. We forgot that, though it may not be central. the state is definitely an important institution serving some needs of the nation, just as a limb of the body. It is possible to pluck a hair without much harm but along with the hair, if some skin is also removed, and a little further, if the head too is cut off, then there will be great loss for the body. Therefore the body must be protected. Although the various limbs of the body are not absolutely indispensable yet each of them serves an important purpose. From the same standpoint, state, too, should have been deemed important in the life of a nation. There were persons who attended to this aspect. It was for this reason that the great teacher of Shivaji, Samarth Ramdas Swami, directed him to establish his kingdom. Dharma wields its own power. Dharma is important in life. Shri Ramdas would as well have preached to Shivaji to become a mendicant and spread Dharma following his own example. But on the contrary, he inspired Shivaji to extend his rule, because state too, is an important institution of the society. However, to consider something important is different from saying that it is supreme. The state is not supreme. The question arises, then, that if the state is not of fundamental importance, what is a that is absolutely important. Let us consider this question.
Dharma Sustains The Society
We shall have to examine the reasons why the state was established. No one will dispute that the state must have sosme specific aim, some ideal. Then this aim or ideal must be consider of highest importance rather then the state which is created to fulfill this ideal. A watchman is not deemed greater than the treasure he supposed to protect, nor is a treasure. The state is brought into existence to protect the nation: produce and maintain conditions in which the ideals of the nation can be translated into reality. The ideals of the nation constitute “Chiti”, which is analogous to the soul of an individual. It requires some effort to comprehend Chiti. The laws that help manifest and maintain Chiti of a Nation are termed Dharma of that nation. Hence it is this “Dharma” that is supreme. Dharma is the repository of the nation’s soul. If Dharma is destroyed. the Nation perishes. Anyone who abandons Dharma betrays the nation.
Dharma is not confined to temples or mosques. Worship of God is only a part of Dharma. Dharma is much wider. In the past, temples have served as effective medium to educate people in their Dharma. However just as schools themselves do not constitute knowledge, so also temples do not constitute Dharma. A child may attend school regularly and yet may remain uneducated. So also, it is possible that a person may visit temple or mosque without break and yet he may not know his Dharma. To attend temple or mosque constitutes a part of religion, sect. creed, but not necessarily “Dharma”. Many misconceptions that originated from faulty English translations, include this most harmful confusion of Dharma with religion.
Dharma And Religion Are Different
On the one hand we used the word religion as synonymous with “Dharma” and on the other hand increasing ignorance, neglect of our society and Dharma, and greater acceptance of European life, became the outstanding features of our education. As a result all the characteristics of a narrow religion, especially as practiced in the West were attributed automatically to the concept of Dharma also. Since in the West, injustice atrocities, were perpetrated, bitter conflicts and battles were fought in the name of religion, all these were enblock listed on the debit side of “Dharma” also. We felt that in the name of Dharma also battles were fought. However battles of religion and battles for Dharma are two different things. Religion means a creed or a sect; it does not mean Dharma. Dharma is very wide concept. It is concerned with all aspects of life. It sustains the society. Even further, it sustains the whole world. That which sustains is “Dharma”.
The fundamental principles of Dharma are eternal and universal. Yet. their implementation may differ according to time, place and circumstances. It is a fact that a human being requires food for maintaining his body. However, what a particular person should eat in, how much quantity, at what intervals is all decided according to circumstances. It is possible at times that even fasting is advisable. If a typhoid patient is given normal food, the consequences may be disastrous. For such a person, keeping away from food is necessary, similarly the principles of Dharma have to be adapted to changing times and pace.
Some rules are temporary and others are valid for longer periods. There are some rules regulating our conduct at this meeting. One of the rules is that I speak and you listen with attention. If an contravention of this rule, you start conversing with one another or addressing the gathering at the same time, than there will be disorder; our work will not progress: the meeting will not be sustained. It can be said that you have not observed your Dharma. Thus it is our Dharma that we observed your Dharma. Thus it is our Dharma that we observed the rules by winch the meeting proceeds smoothly. But this rule is applicable only as long as this meeting lasts. If after the meeting is over, even when you reach home, you continue to observe this rule and do not speak, a different problem will arise. Your family might have to call in a doctor. At home, the rules suitable there will have to be observed. The complete treatise on the rules in general, and their philosophical basis is the meaning of Dharma. These rules cannot be arbitrary. They should be such as to sustain and further existence and progress of the entity which they serve. At the same time they should be in agreement with and supplementary to the larger framework of Dharma of which they form a part. For instance. when we form a registered society, we have the right to frame the rules and regulations, but these cannot be contradictory to the constitution of the society. The constitution itself cannot violate the Societies Registration Act. The act has to be within the provision of the constitution of the country. In other words, the constitution of the country is a fundamental document which governs the formulation of all acts in the country. In Germany the constitution is known as the “Basic Law”.
Constitution cannot be arbitrary
Is the constitution too, not subject to some principles of more fundamental nature? Or is it a product of any arbitrary decisions of the constituent assembly? On serious consideration, it will be clear that even the constitution has to follow certain basic principles of Nature. Constitution is for sustaining the nation. If instead it is instrumental in its deterioration, then it must be pronounced improper. It must be amended. The amendment is also not solely dependent on majority opinion. Now-a-days the majority is much talked of. Is the majority capable of doing anything and everything? Is the action of the majority always just and proper? No. In the West, the king used to be the sovereign. There after when royalty was deprived of its so-called divine rights, sovereignty was proclaimed to be with the people. Here in Our country neither the kings, nor the people, nor the parliament have had absolute sovereignty. Parliament cannot legislate arbitrarily.
It is said about the British parliament that it is sovereign and can do anything. They say that “British Parliament can do everything except making a woman a man and vice versa.” But is it possible for the parliament to legislate that every Englishman must walk on his head? It is not possible. Can they pass an act that everyone in England must present himself before the local authority once everyday? They cannot. England has no written constitution. They regard tradition highly. But their traditions too have undergone change. What is the basis for making changes in their traditions? Whichever tradition proved an obstacle in the progress of England, was discarded. Those which were helpful in the progress were consolidated.
The traditions are respected everywhere, just as in England. We have written constitution, but even this written constitutions cannot go contrary to the traditions of this country. In as much as it does go contrary to our traditions, it is not fulfilling Dharma. That constitution which sustains the nation is in tune with Dharma. Dharma sustains the nation. Hence we have always given primary importance to Dharma, which is considered sovereign. All other entities, institutions or authorities derive their power from Dharma and are subordinate to it.
We need a Unitary Constitution
If we examine our constitution from the point of view of the growth of the nation, we find that our constitution needs amendment. We are one nation, one society. That is why we did not entertain any special rights on the basis of language, province, caste, religion, etc. but gave every one equal citizenship. There are separate states. There is no separate citizenship of state and of Union. We are all citizens of Bharat. By the same token, we have denied the right to secede to individual state. Not only that the power to demarcate the boundaries of state and to choose their names, is vested in the parliament, and not in assemblies. This is as it should be; in tune with the nationalism and tradition of Bharat. However, despite all this, we made our constitution federal, whereby what we have adopted in practice, we have rejected in principle. In a federation constituent units have their own sovereignty. These voluntarily relinquish their sovereignty to the federation, by an agreement. It may be that they surrender all their rights and thereby the centre requires sovereignty. But these powers are given to the Union. It has no power of its own. Thus the federal constitution considers the individual states as fundamental power, and the centre as merely a federation of states. This is contrary to the truth. It runs counter to the unity and indivisibility of Bharat. There is no recognition of the idea of Bharatmata, Our sacred motherland, as enshrined in the hearts of our people.
According to the first para of the Constitution, “India that is Bharat will be a federation of States”, i.e. Bihar Mata, Banga Mata, Punjab Mata, Kannada Mata, Tamil Mata, all put together make Bharat Mata. This is ridiculous. We have thought of the provinces as limbs of Bharat Mata and not as individual mother. Therefore our constitution should be unitary instead of federal.
Decentralisation of Power
A unitary State does not mean concentration of all powers in the Centre; just as the head of the family does not have all the powers with him even though all the transactions are carried out in his name. Others also share the executive power. In our body also, does the soul possess all powers? Thus a unitary State does not mean a highly autocratic centre nor does it entail the elimination of provinces. The provinces will have various executive powers. Even the various entities below the provincial level, such as the Jana Padas, will also have suitable powers. The Panchayats too should have powers. Traditional, the Panchayats had a very important position. No body could dissolve Panchayats. today, however. our constitution does not have any place for these Panchayats. There are no powers to these Panchayats in their own right. They exist at the mercy of the states only as delegated authorities. It is necessary that their powers be considered fundamental. In this way, the decentralization of power will be accomplished. The authority will be distributed to the lowest level, and will be fully decentralized. At the same time, all these entities of power will be centred around the unitary State. This arrangement will embody Dharma.
If we carry this concept of Dharma even further, not only the State and the nation but the nature of the entire mankind will have to be considered. In other words, the constitution of a nation cannot be contrary to the natural law. There are a number of norms of behavior which are not found in any statute book, yet they do exist. At times they are even stronger and more binding than any statutory law. The precept that one should respect one’s parents is not written in any law. The present day governments which are turning out variety of laws, day in and day out, have not passed a law to this effect. Still, people respect their parents. Those who do not are criticized. If tomorrow there arises a discussion, even in a court. it will be generally accepted that as long as a person does not attain majority, he should accept his parent’s decisions and should respect them.
Dharma means Innate Law
Thus the fundamental law of human nature us the standard for deciding the propriety of behavior in various situations. We have termed this very law as’ Dharma’. The nearest equivalent English term for Dharma can be “Innate law”, which, however, does not express the full meaning of Dharma, Since ‘Dharma’ is supreme, our ideal of the state has been “Dharma Rajya”. The king is supposed to protect Dharma. In olden times at the coronation ceremony the king used to recite three times. “There is no authority which can punish me”. (Similar claim was made by kings in the western countries. i.e., it was said, “King can do no wrong”, and hence there too, nobody could punish the king). Upon this, the Purohit used to strike the king on his back with a staff saying. “No, you are subject to the rule of Dharma. You are not sovereign”. The king used to run around the sacred fire and the Purohit would follow him striking him with the Staff. Thus after completing three rounds, the ceremony would came to an end thereby the king was unambiguously told that he was not an unpunishable sovereign. Dharma was above him, that even he was subject to Dharma. Can the people do whatever they please? It may be contended that democracy means just that. The people can do what they please. But in our country, even in people wish, they are not free to act contrary to Dharma. Once a priest was asked: “If the God is omnipotent, can he act contrary to Dharma. If he does, then he is not omnipotent”. This was a dilemma. Can God practice Adharma or is lie not omnipotent? Actually God cannot act contrary to Dharma. If he does, then he is not omnipotent. Adharma is a characteristic of weakness, not of strength. If fire instead of emitting heat, dies out it is no longer strong. Strength lies not in unrestrained behavior, but in well regulated action. Therefore God who is omnipotent is also self- regulated and consequently fully in tune with Dharma. God descends in human body to destroy Adharma and re-establish Dharma, not to act on passing whims and fancies. Hence even God can do everything but cannot act contrary to Dharma. But for the risk of being misunderstood, one can say that Dharma is even greater than God. The universe is sustained because he acts according to Dharma. The king was supposed to be a symbol of Vishnu, in as much as he was the chief protector of Dharma Rajya.
Dharma Rajya is not a theocracy
Dharma Rajya does not mean a theocratic state. Let us be very clear on this point. Where a particular sect and its prophet or Guru, rule supreme, that is a theocratic state. All the rights are enjoyed by the followers of this particular sect. Others either cannot live in that country or at best enjoy a slave-like, secondary citizen’s status. Holy Roman empire had this basis. The same concept was existing behind “Khilafat”. The Muslim kings world over used to rule in the name of Khalifa. After the first world war, this came to an end. Now efforts are afoot to revive it. Pakistanis the most recent theocratic state. They call themselves an Islamic State. There, apart from Muslims all the rest are second class citizens. Apart from this difference there is no other sign of Islam in Pakistan’s administration. Quran, Masjid, Roja. Id, Namaz etc. are same both in Bharat as well as in Pakistan. There is no need to the state and religion. By such a tie-up, there is no increase in an individual’s capacity to worship God. The only result is that the state slips in its duty. This does not happen in a Dharma Rajya. Rather there is freedom to worship according to one’s religion. In a theocratic state one religion has all the rights and advantages, and there are direct or indirect restrictions on all other religions. Dharma Rajya accepts the importance of religion in the peace, happiness and progress of an individual. Therefore the state has the responsibility to maintain an atmosphere in which every individual can follow the religion of his choice and live in peace. The freedom has its inherent limits. I have the freedom to swing my hand, but as soon as there is conflict between my hand and someone else’s nose, my freedom has to be restricted. I have no freedom to swing my hand so as to hit another person’s nose. Where other person’s freedom is likely to be encroached upon, my freedom ends. The freedom of both parties has to be ensured. Similarly every religion has the freedom to exist. But this freedom extends only as far as it does riot encroach upon the religion of others. If such encroachment is carries on, it will have to be condemned as misuse of freedom and will have to be ended. Such limitations will be required in all aspects of life. Dharma Rajya ensures religious freedom and is not theocratic state.
Secular State a Fallacy
Now-a-days the word “secular state” is being uses as opposed to theocratic state. The adoption of this work is mere imitation of the western thought pattern. We had no need to import it. We called it a secular state to contrast it with Pakistan. There is some misunderstanding arising out of this. Religion was equated with Dharma and then secular state was meant to be a state without Dharma. Some said ours is a state (without Dharma), whereas others trying to find a better sounding word, called it Dharmanikshepa (indifferent to Dharma state). But all these words are fundamentally erroneous. For a state can neither be without Dharma nor can it be indifferent dharma just as fire cannot be without hear. If fire loses heat, it does not remain fire any longer. State which exists fundamentally to maintain Dharma to maintain law and order, can neither be needharma nor Dharmanipeksha. If it is Needharma it will be lawless state, and where there is lawlessness, where is the question of the existence of any state? In other words Dharma and State are self-contradictory. State can only be Dharma Rajya (rule of Dharma) nothing else. Any other definition will conflict with the reason of its very existence.
In a Dharma Rajya, the state is not absolutely powerful. It is subject Dharma. We have always vested sovereignty in Dharma. Presently there has arisen a controversy. Parliament is sovereign or the Supreme Court? Legislature is higher or judiciary? This quarrel is like a quarrel whether left hand is more important or right hand? Both are limbs of the state, the Legislature is well as Judiciary. Both have distinct functions to perform in their individual sphere each is supreme. To consider either one above the other would be mistake. Yet the legislators say, “we are higher”, On the other hand members of the Judiciary assert that they have a higher authority, since they interpret the laws which the legislature makes. The Legislature claims to have given powers to the Judiciary. If necessary, legislature can change the constitution. Hence it claims sovereignty. Now since powers are bestowed by constitution, they are talking of amendment to the constitution. But I believe that even if by a majority the constitution is amended, it will be against Dharma. In ‘reality’ both the Legislature and the Judiciary are on an equal plane. Neither the Legislature is higher nor the Judiciary. Dharma is higher than both. The Legislature will have to act according to Dharma and the Judiciary will have to act according to Dharma. Dharma will specify limits of both. The Legislature, the Judiciary or the people, none of these is supreme, Some will say, “Why ! People are sovereign. They elect”, But even the people are not sovereign because people too have no right to act against Dharma. If an elected government allows people to go against Dharma and does not punish. then that government is in reality a government of thieves. Even the general will cannot go against Dharma. Imagine the situation if by some manoeurving, thieves gain a majority in the government and send one of their ranks as an executive ! What will be the duty of the minority if the majority is of thieves and elects a thief to rule. The duty clearly will be to remove the representative elected by the majority.
Majority is not Always Right
During the second world war then Hitler attacked France, the French army could not stall the onward march of Nazi troops. The then Prime Minister of France. Marshall Petain decided to surrender. The French public supported the decision, but De Gaulle escaped to London where he declared that he did not accept the surrender. France is independent and will remain so. From London, he formed a Government of France in Exile and eventually liberated France. Now if the majority rule is to be considered supreme, then De Gaulle’s action will have to be condemned. He had no right to fight in the name of independence. De Gaulle derived his right from the fact that the French nation was above the majority public opinion. The national Dharma is above all. Independence is Dharma of every nation. To preserve independence, and to strive for regaining it when lost is the duty of every citizens.
Even in our country a majority had not risen against the Britishers; only a few had. Some revolutionaries arose, some brave people arose and fought. Lokmanya declared “Freedom is my Birth right”. He did not declare this birthright with the support of a majority or by a referendum from the public. Now a days people advocate that the merger of Goa should be decided by referendum, that there should be plebiscite in Kashmir etc., etc. This is wrong. National unity is our Dharma. Decision concerning this cannot be made by plebiscite. This type of a decision has already been taken by the nature. Elections and majority can decide as to who will form the government. The truth cannot be decided by the majority. What the government will do will be decided by Dharma.
You all know that in the USA where they swear by democracy, at one time Lincoln did not accept wrong public opinion. On the question of the abolition of slavery when the southern states declared their intention to secede. Lincoln stood firm and told them: “You have no right to secede even in a democracy”. He fought against this and did not allow them to secede. Nor did he tolerate slavery. He did not show readiness for a compromise whereby there may continue partial slavery to accommodate southern states. He did not accept the principle of meeting halfway. He categorically declared that the system of slavery was against tradition, the Dharma, the principle which were at the basis of American nation. Therefore the system of slavery had to be abolished. When the Southerners decided to secede he told them “You cannot secede”. On this point there was a civil war and Lincoln did not compromise with Adharma.
Here in our country the situation in this regard is very much like old Hindu marriages where a married couple could not divorce even if both the parties wished. The principle was that their behavior should be regulated not by their sweet will but by Dharma. The same is case with the nation. If the four million people of Kashmir say that they want to secede, if the people of Goa say they want to secede, some say they want the Portuguese to return, all this is against Dharma. Of the 45 million people of India. even if 449,999,999 opt for something which is against Dharma, even then this does not become truth. On the other hand, even if a person stands for something which is according to Dharma, that constitutes truth because truth resides with Dharma. It is the duty of this one person that he tread the path of truth and change people. It is from this basis that persons drives the right to proceed according to Dharma.
Let us understand very clearly that Dharma is not necessarily with the majority or with the people. Dharma is eternal. Therefore. in the definition of democracy to say that it is a government of the people. It is not enough, it has to be for the good of the people. What constitutes the good of the people. Dharma alone can decide. Therefore, a democratic Government “Jana Rajya” must also be rooted in Dharma i.e. a “Dharma Rajya”. In the definition of ‘Democracy’ viz. “government of the people, by the people and for the people”, of stands for independence, ‘by’ stands for democracy and ‘for’ Indicates Dharma. Therefore, the true democracy is only where there is freedom as well as Dharma encompasses all these concepts.
24 April 1965