The state should be neither totalitarian, nor theocratic. As state is just one of the social institutes and associations, it should not disturb the transactions of all such organisations. Similarly, it should pursue faith-neutral polity.
Pandit Deendayal Upadhyaya, who elucidated the concept of Integral Humanism first in Gwalior in 1964 and later in Mumbai in 1965 was one of the legitimate legatees of the tradition of Bharatiya seers (Rishis & Munis). That was why, the following statement made by him in the above mentioned Mumbai lecture series mirrored spontaneously the basic tenet of Bharatiya ethos.
“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 mind have to be adapted to changed times and those that we take from other societies have to be adapted to our conditions.”
Deendayalji’s elucidation of Integral Humanism must indeed be considered as the timely articulation of eternal principles and truths realised in Bharat. Least wonder, it contained certain predictions about future events and the world witnessed their validity in subsequent years. One may here refer for instance to Deendayalji’s attack on those who consider that the state and the society are synonymous and condone the centralisation of all powers in the state. People at large experienced the validity of Deendayalji’s viewpoint within 25 years after the presentation of Integral Humanism, when the Soviet Union began to crumble and collapsed finally in 1991. If Deendayalji’s prediction regarding catastrophic consequences of statism proved true through the demise of the Soviet Union in 1991, his forecast about capitalist consideration of the man as being a mere selfish creature running after money proved its mettle in 2008 when the Lehman’s collapse due to profit seeking of market participants caused the global financial crisis.
As Deendayal Upadhyaya made all these predictions through his lecture series on the philosophy of Integral Humansim, it is bound to be relevant forever!
These examples underscore the relevance of Integral Humanism for grasping the downfall of socialism as well as that of capitalism. Similar elaboration in connection with the implications of other valuable concepts such as state, nation, democracy and development process will further highlight how the philosophy of Integral Humanism is immensely relevant in the present era.
The Concept of State
Integral Humanism plainly states that the institution of state has come into existence with a view to putting an end to the situation of disorder and disorganisation. The state is accordingly expected to pass relevant laws and to implement order. Integral Humanism is thus in agreement with Western Isms. Bharatiya thinkers and the Western thinkers similarly point out that the state has emerged as a result of a contract. The former are however quite explicit in this connection, because according to them society is broader than and superior to the institution of the state. Therefore, all of them categorically point out that the state is expected to function with honesty and efficiency and in case, the state fails in its duty the society is entitled to stage a revolt. Integral Humanism is in tune with this thinking!
As per Integral Humanism, the state should be neither totalitarian, nor theocratic. As state is just one of the social institutes and associations, it should not disturb the transactions of all such organisations. Similarly it should pursue faith-neutral polity. Dharmarajya does not mean a theocratic state and that is why there is freedom to worship according to one’s religion.
Unique peculiarity of Bharat lies in the fact that the state has never occupied the central or the key position in its national life. Integral Humanism, of course does not deny the significance of the state. Deendayalji laments over the fact that our forefathers did not remain alert as regards the state, as much as we ought to have remained. In the immediate aftermath of 15th August, 1947, it was Dr Ambedkar who recognised the importance of the throne of Delhi, Deendayal Upadhyaya appreciated that.
The state sponsored by Integral Humanism does not cause a challenge to the world order and does not opt for “Big Brother Attitude” while dealing with its neighbours with small states. Thengadiji opines in this connection that Integral Humanism is based on Hindu ethos, which conceives of basic unity—organic unity in the midst of apparent diverstities. The way the big states like Russia and China have crushed the aspirations on the part of the neighbouring small states, reminds us of “the distortions or perversions of the state-concept as well as of other concepts due to the absence of holistic or integral outlook. Such an absence has resulted in the degeneration of nationalism into imperialism, national self-reliance into jingoism, dynamism into adventurism, stability into stagnation, liberty into licentiousness and discipline into regimentation.” Deendayalji’s emphatic statement that Dharmarajya is totally opposite to the theocratic state is indeed ever shining particularly in the present context, when the entire Islamic world is witnessing horrible sectarian, ethnic and tribal clashes, conflicts and wars.
The concept of nation
The Mumbai lectures on Integral Humanism contain the following definition of nation: “When a group of persons lives with a goal, an ideal, a mission and looks upon a particular piece of land as Motherland, this group constitutes a nation.”
Before presenting this concept of nation Deendayal Upadhyaya categorically points out that nations do not come into existence by a mere co-habitation of people. Greeks and Egyptians have been living together respectively in Greece and Egypt and still the old Greek nation as well as the ancient Egyptian nation have ceased to exist. The story of Israel sings the same song of course in a different tune. Deendayalji has therefore pointed out that the genesis as well as the growth of a nation relies on the affection on the part of the people for the goal or for the mission as well as on the popular attachment for the particular land. Such a goal (?) is called chiti and the do’s as well as the dont’s which are conducive to the chiti shape the culture of the nation. That is why the definition of the nation sponsored by Integral Humanism is called spiritual and cultural definition. It reminds us of the definition of Hindu nation articulated by Swami Vivekananda in his speech at Lahore on 10th November 1897:- “A nation in Bharat must be a union of those whose hearts beat to the same spiritual tune.”
The philosophy of Integral Humanism refers to the concept of Virat as well. Chiti is the nation’s soul. The strength and energy acitivising the nation is called Virat and channelised by Chiti. Virat in the nation is quite similar to the Prana in the body of the individual, in the sense that it strengthens and energises the nation. If the Virat is strong, if the vitality is powerful, common individuals overcome narrow and parochial tendencies, prefer cooperation to conflict and opt for unity in the place of diversity. We get the glimpses of Virat in Maha Kumbhas and Pushkars, in festivals and mass rituals where thousands of Bharatiyas come together and link themselves to the geography of Bharat. When our Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited Varanasi immediately after the historic victory in the 2014 parliamentary election with a view to worshipping Ganga Maiya, people felt throughout Bharat the articulation of Virat.
The concept of democracy
From the perspective of Integral Humanism what the world needs to pursue is participatory democracy rather than representative democracy. If Upadhyayaji has invited our attention at one place to the futility of the right to vote without the accompaniment of the right to food, he has underscored on another page the significance of the right to food by alluding to the most suggestive Sanskrit shloka: “cqHkqd~fr% fda u djksfr ikia” (What sin will not be committed by one who is starving?) Deendayalji’s commentary in connection with the slogan.
“Really speaking, our slogan should be that one who earns will feed and every person will have enough to eat. The right to food is a birthright. The ability to earn is a result of education and training. In a society even those who do not earn must have food. The children and the old, the diseased and the invalids, all must be cared for by the society.”
Deendayal Upadhyaya states categorically through this sentence that it is the responsibility of the society to care for the marginalised, alienated and estranged fellows. Deendayalji thus shares with Dr. Ambedkar the concern for the destitute and the downtrodden.
The study of the history of democracy in Europe led Deendayalji to point out that democracy emerged in Europe in reaction to unjust autocracy and later entrepreneurs and industrial tycoons transformed democracy into plutocracy causing incalculable injustice to labour class. Deendayalji therefore felt it essential to highlight the peculiarities of Bharatiya democracy.
Deendayalji’s writings and speeches inform us that democracy has taken roots in Bharat since the ancient times, as Bharatiya ethos have taught us to believe that everybody possesses full right to give expression to the truth as he understands it. And it is the exchange of thoughts with one another that enables us to arrive at knowledge! Deendayalji has therefore concluded that democracy relies basically on the popular faith and conviction that problems can be resolved through dialogues and interactions. He has stated in other words that adult franchise, holding of election at regular intervals, separation of powers, etc. happen to be outward or external features of democracy.
It is essential to add here that after diagnosing the ills of West-sponsored democracy Deendayalji found it necessary to suggest some remedial measures as well for overcoming the ills of democracy such as need of sustained efforts for shaping due public opinion and cultivating restraint and tolerance. It is essential here to delineate the process of Lokmat-Parishkar (shaping of public opinion). Deendayalji has pointed out that government in socialist or communist nations shapes public opinion through “brain washing’ through denying due human rights to dissenters, and governments in capitalist countries either opt for anarchy or for reliance on government machinery. In ancient Bharat, however, it was the group of elites, fully unattached to mundane matters which used to shape public opinion. Deendayalji therefore expected elites in Bharat to carry forward the ancient legacy.
The concept of development
Deendayalji’s lecture series on Integral Humanism delivered in Mumbai elucidates a very lucid analysis of the concept of development. Uniqueness of this analysis lies in the fact that it concentrates its attention on the parameters of the Bharatiya ethos. Deendayalji reminds us of Bharatiya ethos, when he underscores that we aim at attaining Godlike perfection as a result of development. He further highlights the aim of attaining Godlike perfection by the expectation that the human beings should not work for bread alone, but for the responsibility of serving our society, for serving the needy, marginalised brethren. The Western paradigm asks everybody to earn his or her bread. It does not ask you and me to think of feeding destitute and downtrodden. We, in short find everywhere solid encouragement to the human beings to be greedy, callous, self-centred, unethical, anti-God and anti-environment.
It is of course true that quite a few well-known Western economists began to measure development during post second world war decades not in terms of GDP but with the help of new indices such as Levels of Living indices, Physical Quality of Life Index, Human Development Index, etc. Uniqueness on the part of Deendayal Upadhyaya lies in the fact that he not only discarded capitalist and socialist addiction to growth but also declared that the above mentioned new indices were also inadequate!
Deendayalji spelt out that the Bharatiya economy should assure minimum living standard to every individual, should raise above this minimum standard of living whereby these individuals would be able to contribute to the world progress on the basis of Bharatiya chiti. Deendayal Upadhyaya in short informs us that if the society is to provide above mentioned minimum requirements, the state is to play the role of a guardian.
Deendayalji does share with Marx the empathy for the victims of capitalist exploitative order through his statement that the capitalist viewpoint makes the machine a competitor of human labour. He also states how capitalism is responsible for the phenomenon of fetishism through the next statement “…the economic and social system (of capitalism) cannot distinguish between the object and the instrument.” Deendayalji’s diagnosis of capitalism is thus quite apt, it is in tune with that attempted by Marx. His remedial measures are however different. He thus entrusts the task of putting an end to the phenomena of alienation and fetishism to society and guardianship in this connection to the state. Integral Humanism, through its concern for the well-being of a common man saves the latter not only from the exploitative order of capitalism but also from the cruel statism.
According to S Gurumurthy, the G-20 Governors meeting in October 2005 unanimously endorsed the viewpoint that there is no uniform development model that fits all countries. This meeting accordingly expected each country to choose development policies and approaches that suit its specific characteristics. The fact that the G20 Governors found it essential to give due significance to the specific characteristics of the particular country in the arena of the choice about development policies and approaches informs us of the world acceptance of the concept of chiti.
Deendayalji’s thinking about several concepts, articulated in the philosophy of Integral Humanism is indeed highly relevant in the present era!
Dr Ashok Modak (The writer is Adjunct Prof in University of Mumbai)