By M.S.N. Menon
Yes. It can. For, India has been for ages all about the art of living in peace and harmony?in co-existence of races and religions and cultures. In short, in creating the perfect man.
Canada is a country of only two major ethnic strands?the Anglo-Saxons and the French. Both belong to the European civilisation. Yet they have not been able to find a way to live together in concord. But here in India, we have dozens of races, languages and cultures. We live together in peace. Hence, the global interest in the Indian experience.
Says a Father of the Jesuit Order: ?How people with many languages, religions and cultures live together in India is a lesson to learn. India has an important role to play in shaping the destiny of mankind.? No wonder, in a sea of mono-cultural societies, India was the only island of multiculturalism.
The Indian civilisation was founded on freedom. It was never bound to a system. Aurobindo warned us not to ?chain the human spirit to some fixed mental idea or system of religious cult ? (not to) declare all departures from it a peril and a disturbance.? It is this freedom, which produced the great diversity and richness of India'scivilisation.
The world can be organised only on the basis of two principles: the principle of freedom and diversity and the principle of uniformity with no freedom. The Semitic faiths? Christianity and Islam?are organised on the principle of uniformity. They have no freedom of enquiry. Can they become a model for the world? No way.
The Hindus considered mankind as one large family. But the Semitic faiths saw mankind as ?pagans?, ?heathens? or ?infidels?. And the Muslims saw the earth divided into two hostile camps: Darul Islam and Darul Harb. India does not believe that a loving God can divide mankind into such irrational categories.
No wonder, it was India'stolerant spirit which attracted men from all over the world. They all came?the Sakas, Kushanas, Scythians, Greeks, Tartars, Arabs, Persians, Turks and so many others. The flow has not ceased. The Tibetans are the latest to arrive and settle down.
There are believers and non-believers in India, heretics and sceptics, rationalists and free thinkers, materialists and idealists, hedonists and atheists. Indeed, the entire spectrum of human propensities?from affirmation to denial.
Plato was engaged in creating the perfect republic. That has remained the quest of the Western man to this day. But India was engaged in creating the perfect man. Without the perfect man, there can be no perfect republic. (How is it that this idea did not occur to the Western ideologues? To Karl Marx, for example?)
Gandhi'sExperiments with Truth shows that India was on the right track. Gandhi had no faith in systems. More so in Western systems based on an acquisitive society.
India'sis a universal spirit. Never parochial. That continues to this day. India had never stretched its nationalism beyond a point. ?I do not subscribe to the doctrine of ?Asia for Asians?,? said the Mahatma to a Japanese parliamentarian before the World War II.
Today about 10 to 15 million people are on the move every year, looking for new homes and new jobs. Perhaps this trend will continue. It cannot be stopped now. With what result? We will have mixed societies everywhere. But man has not learnt how to live in mixed societies. He has still the herd instincts. More so Muslims, who prefer to live in Islamised societies.
If the world looks to India as a model, it is because India is a more successful model of the mixed society.
The West stands for an active life. India for a contemplative, reflective life. Each is not complete in itself. We have to bring the two together. The perfect republic (the goal of the West) is not possible without the perfect man (the goal of India). Hence, the importance of India as a world model.