In integral approach, individual, society, nation, humanity and animate-inanimate life are considered as organic and therefore they function in coordination and not in conflict
In Bharat, there are some theists, some others are atheists, some are dualist while others are non-dualist with uniqueness, some worships deities while others believe in formless concept of God and all of them are of the same tradition constituting the same structure as integral parts. Even among theists, there are 33 crore Gods. When we had the population of 33 crores, we literally had a God per person. Every individual could adopt a path as per his/her psychological, physical and spiritual state. In the West, there is regimentation of thought. Where my path only can reach to the God is part of the inherent thinking, Bharat must be naturally perceived as land of contradictions. For them it is a state of instability, even chaos. Even our individual perspectives on family, society, international community etc are contradictory to each other for them.
We think that there should be holistic development of individual and he should get complete happiness. The social and economic systems should be conducive for that. The same recognition is there to the family institution. We say Matru devo bhava, (revere your mother as God). Individual is recognised, it does not mean one should get detached from the family after marriage. Both individual and family have their own significance. Similarly, Tyajet ekam kulasyarthe (For the sake of the family’s welfare, one intractable individual may have to be renounced) and Atmarthe prithvim tyajet (For the sake of the Self, the whole universe may have to be renounced) are the two instructions given in the same breath. People under the influence of Western ideologies find this completely contradictory. But we know that it is not so.
Individual and Society
In any theorisation of social set up, the question of relationship between the individual and the society is of crucial importance. In the Western liberal individualistic school of thought, there has developed self-centred, right oriented, lop- sided mindset because of the excessive individualistic approach. Individual freedom is degenerated into licentious pursuit of self interests. On the other hand in the communistic social theory, excessive insistence on equality, bringing down all the individuals to one level, negating their individual personalities, gave rise to regimentation of masses. Eternal Hindu view of life—Ekatma Manava Darshan does not hold either the individual or the society as the basic entity. It assumes that healthy social set up is essential for the pursuit of individual urges and for the development of such a healthy society, the individual also must keep his pursuits of interests within the bounds of social welfare. The important premise of Ekatma Manava Darshan which can cultivate such an attitude of the individuals and the society is that the relation between the society and the individual is symbiotic in nature similar to that between body and its organ. It is the crucial point in Hindu view of life which cultivates the sense of social commitment in individuals by progressive enfoldment of their consciousness.
In Western cultural milieu this sense of social commitment arises out of the right oriented contractual reciprocity of the individual towards other individuals and towards society or it arises out of a sense constitution morality of the enlightened citizenship, in a way much elevated and sublime, but in a contractual mindset at the same time. In the communistic concept of society, individual is reduced to bonded labour by the state apparatus, melting down all the conflicting interests of the society and the individual.
If this sense of social commitment is nursed on the basis of organic intimacy, as envisaged by Ekatma Manava Darshan, in would be sound, positively effective foundation for healthy, harmonious social set up. And this prescription only, will erase and nullify the present fissiparous tendencies between the individuals and between the individuals and the society.
Nationalism and Internationalism
We always insist that ours is a cultural nationalism and it cannot be fitted in any of the criteria, prescribed by the Western social thinkers, on the basis of the evolution of nation-state in the West during the last four five centuries out of conflicts between the church and the state. Our society has a common cultural bond irrespective of different languages, races, religious sects, regional diversities that has developed us in one nation throughout the unbroken course of the last several centuries till this date.
But taking into account the lacuna mentioned above, about the political power in our tradition, which was the reason of our political and cultural degeneration throughout last thousand years, we must give a new dimension to our concept of cultural nationalism and the political power, in the present international scenario of conflicting and asserting exclusive national identities. No doubt cultural unity is the basis of our national life. But if the same is attacked and encroached by alien cultures, it should be the duty of the political power to protect it politically and militarily from such aggression. There must be always a protective political shield for our cultural identity.
But for this to happen the basis is the exclusive sense of our national identity based on ‘common friend and foe’ relationship. Because of the all inclusive humanistic approach imbibed in our social psyche, our society could not develop such aspect of our sense of exclusive national identify.
Such exclusive sense of national identify is not a narrow chauvinism nor is it at variance with internationalism or with humanity at large. It is the presumption in our ideological premise that the progressive, spiral elevation of human consciousness, through the societal level can naturally develop onto the level of humanity. On the contrary if consciousness of national identity is weakened, while enhancing the internationalism, the will and the energy of the society to stand by the humanity at large is weakened and therefore if it is desired that Hindu society should be at the service of humanity and the universe, then Hindu society must be strengthened and enriched.
Western thinking is at the most internationalist or humanist, they cannot go beyond that. From our perspective elevated human consciousness can reach even to the wider circle of existence up to the animate and inanimate nature. Hindu view of life perceived the same life force, as sustains the human beings, also in nature and assumes and experiences that there is organic symbiotic relation between the human beings and the nature also.
A common feature of Western social theories is that they were all born as a reaction. Nationalism rose as a reaction to the autocracy of the Pope of Rome. Democracy was the reaction to the absolute power of the monarchy. Democracy cradled capitalism; and socialism and communism were the reaction to capitalism.
The three reactions referred to just now were all attended by conflicts and even bloodshed. To some extent conflicts may have been a practical necessity. But instead of planning to eliminate such conflicts, conflict came to be given the status of a principle. The principle states that the evolution of man owes itself to conflict. Darwin’s analysis of Zoology, Hegel’s philosophy and Marx’s analysis of history are all based on this principle. Capitalistic economics considers competition and conflict as a scientific truth. Communism dreamt of creating a classless society through a revolution by organising all anti-capitalist forces.
Against this background a contrasting feature of PIH is seen; it has not arisen as a reaction to any particular set of circumstances, or any particular theory, or any particular event. And so it does not suffer from any one-sidedness, dogmatism or intolerance. It is based on positive and constructive thinking.
Message of Deendayalji
While pointing out the blunder in the principle of ‘progress thru conflict’, Panditji says, “If by nature man is such that he does not mind fighting with other to enrich himself at the cost of others, then it is impossible to teach him to love others and live for them. If this is man’s real nature, occasionally love and cooperation may appear to be present but these will have arisen out of helplessness and fear, and will be short lived. Goodness, service, tolerance and discipline may be shown only as a convenient policy in some circumstances. The spirit of selfish aggressiveness can never be the cradle for the birth of voluntary and lasting goodwill and co-operation. We do come across love, co-operation and tolerance as well as hatred, non-cooperation and intolerance. But we do not consider the latter as conducive to life. For progress we have to take this as a basic principle and base our analysis of human activity and emotions on it.”
Contrast of Two Systems
The Western theories instead of thinking of man as a whole, consider only one aspect of man in each theory. Democracy regarded man as a political animal, while capitalism and communism considered man as an economic animal. Because of this method of piecemeal thinking, even when some sound social ideas surfaced, the thinkers of the time failed to capitalise on them and broaden the base of their thinking. This is obvious from the fate met by the three principles of freedom, equality and fraternity which the French revolution proclaimed.
Several factors in life are interrelated and interdependent. The method of studying one of the factors at a time as if it is independent of others and then drawing conclusions about whole human life form such studies will not lead to correct results. Panditiji says that several problems in the west have arisen out of this piece-meal thinking of human life followed by a subsequent attempt at synthesis.
Not only in the life of an individual, but in social life also Westerners have thought in terms of family, nation and humanity as separate entities. They have studied every one of these in detail. But they have not taken into account the strong inner bond which joins all these. While studying man they have studied his body, mind and intellect in detail. But they have not taken into consideration that man is an integral part of every one of family, nation, humanity and the rest of the world also-all at the same time. It is because of the lack of this awareness of the underlying unity that there are conflicts between man and man, nation and nation, man and nation, and man and nature.
Western thinking can be illustrated (see diagram) by a series of concentric circles. Let us suppose that the common centre is an individual. The smallest circle represents his family, the next bigger circle represents community and so on to larger and larger entities, the outermost being the universe. It is obvious that the Westerners have thought about family, community, nation, humanity, all the time keeping the individual at the centre. But the defect in this thinking as represented in the figure is that while the circles are all concentric, they are independent of each other. The thinkers are also aware that the circles are successively larger. But their great error is that they overlooked the fact that the circles are internally connected together, and that they represent the successive stages in development of the consciousness of what constitutes ‘I’ or ‘I’ness as it may be called. This thinking based on the assumption of completely independent entities may be due to the conflicts—Pope versus national church, monarchy versus democracy, capitalism versus socialism—which filled the last 500 years or so of European history. Another reason may be the social contract theory. A third reason may be that the thinkers were preoccupied with the physical sciences and technologies which were progressing by leaps and bounds.
This way of thinking of a man in a piece-meal may has also effected attempts made outside Bharat to unite all humanity. All such attempts have tried to clamp all humanity into a rigid frame. In this connection we may mention Christianity and Islam. They are both monolithic and try to bind every man in the rigid frame of one prophet and one holy book. And it is blasphemy to speak of another prophet or another holy book.
Among the recent efforts at human unity, a special mention must be made of the philosophy of Marx. He had before his eyes the class exploited by capitalism. His dream was to pull down all political, economic and social barriers of separation and create a classless society recognising no nation, no religion, no private property, no marriage and no family.
There are many other things apart from political, social and economic things which influence human life. Thus he has family, religion or sect, his beliefs, his country, national history, traditions, friends, foes, and so on. Marx failed to take these into consideration.
Granting that the motive behind all these attempts at unity were noble, the fact stands that they did not meet with success. On the other hand they lead to terrible conflicts. The cause of this failure is obvious. The efforts tried to impose regimentation of form and ideas.
While attempting to bring about human unity, it is necessary to keep in mind that diversity exists side by side with similarity among individuals and among human groups. No persons are alike—they look different, they think differently, their dispositions are different, and their likes and dislikes differ. Like individuals, each family and nation has its own personality. Thus a family has its ancestral deity and customs and traditions. In the case of a nation, it has its history and geography, it traditions, its ideals, and out of those arises an identity of its own.
Thus every individual, family and nation has its domain, a peculiarity and a strength. This must be taken into account in attempts at unity. Real unity will come if we plan so that all these will be able to co-operate without giving up their separate personalities. The principle will be unity in diversity. If on the other hand unity is attempted without taking into account the diversity, by trying to destroy it and by trying to impose a formal rigidity, then the result will be not unity but bitterness and conflict. The bloody history of Christianity, Islam and Communism are witness to this.
Bharatiya culture has also considered the unity of mennay it has considered the unity of humans, the animal and plant world and even the inanimate world. But the basis of this consideration is not the superficial diversity but the underlying unity. Since there is a single principle—Atma—common to all, the diverse manifestations are naturally inclined to cooperate with each other. Culture consists in promoting this complementary nature.
This basic idea of Bharatiya culture can be explained with a diagram. The spiral begins with the individual represented by the centre of the spiral. The individual consciousness of what ‘I’ is, grows successively, travelling outward along the spiral. Of course, this sort of development is possible only for those individuals who work for the four Purusharthas (Objectives in life). This goes on till the whole universe is reached. And Bharatiya thought does not stop even at the universe. It ends in a big circle which represents the Universal Soul, who is all-pervasive and is the heart of this philosophy of Integral Humanism.
Let us consider the different stages in the development of man from his infancy. As an infant, his life centres entirely around his ‘I’. As it gorws, it begins to recognise his mother, father, brother and sister. Slowly its ‘myness’ comes to include the whole family without losing consciousness of ‘I’. Later still, he befriends other with similar qualities, activities and dispositions and shares their pleasure and sorrows. Thus growing throught family and community he comes to extend his ‘myness’ to the whole nation. Finally he comes to regard the whole world as his abode.
The quality of a man’s mind in the ever extending circles from family to the entire universe is really the expression of the expansion of consciousness of his soul. Greater the size of this awareness, greater will be the pervasiveness and nobility of the institution with which the individual is associated. But this expansion of ‘myness’ consciousness being nothing but the realisation of the ever greater region over which the soul extends, it does not ever contradict its earlier smaller volumes but it contains them. The peculiarity of the concept is that it does not envisage different and isolated ‘I’nesses. It does not consider some constituents to the exclusion of others. It is all-inclusive. Separateness means that If I am one with my family, then I do not love myself; if I am one with society I must hate family. The spiral path does not admit of such separate souls. ‘I’ comprises all. This means that if my mind has developed to the level of society, I love my society, family and also myself. If my mind has developed to all humanity, I love also my community and nation. If further I am one with the whole universe, I am also one with my nation. I am one with an individual, with family, nation, all humanity, all animate and inanimate world, and finally with the all-pervasive and all-constituting Almighty but on different levels, all at the same time.
Not Anarchy but Evolution
In other words, each unit is true. As per the level of consciousness, we would realise the other levels. Therefore, there is no need to hate or negate the other level. As a tree grows from a seed, all other elements like trunk, fruits, flowers etc are part of the whole still have independent identity. Apparently they look different but integral parts of the evolutionary process. There is no contradiction within them. There is an inherent unity from the smallest unit to the biggest one and therefore, there is no conflict. This is the peculiarity of the Bhartiya thinking.
Dharma as the basis of Life
It is prescribed that these Purusharthas are not to be pursued separately by unconnected means. It must be a unified endeavour on the part of the individual. Thus acquiring material well-being and bodily pleasures must have the referential foundation of Dharma – social, moral, ethics, leading to the final goal- salvation – Moksha. The concept of Purushartha thus is not that of four Purusharthas but of fourfold Purushartha. Here there is an attempt to synchronise the fourfold urges of human personality-physical, psychological, intellectual and the spiritual.
The Hindu way of life has envisaged the multi-centred social set up by evolving the multi-centred power structure. Hindu Society had developed various autonomous self-sufficient institutions to run the affairs of various fields of social life. All these institutions, though autonomous were supposed to be interrelated and complementary to each other. As mentioned above, the power structure in this social set-up was not uni-centred but multi-centred and hence these institutions were not solely dependent on the political power.
The function of the political power thus envisaged in Hindu view of life, was to see that all such institutions and mechanisms work in a co-ordinating, harmonising way according to the principles of social ethics to maintain and develop the welfare of the individual and the society. It was also the duty of the political power to develop infrastructural institutions and systems which no autonomous institution in various fields could develop. To maintain the internal security and to protect the subjects from external aggression was also one of the main duties of the king. Main premise of the ethical value sustaining this political power was that political power was not for the satisfaction of the material greed of the ruling entity but for the service and upliftment of the subjects. As is mentioned in the context of individual Purusharthas, the material pursuits of the king were to be kept within the bounds of social ethics-Dharma. Thus the connotation of the term Dharma Rajya was not the one of theocratic state run as per the dictates of any religion but that of a state striving for overall welfare of the society as per the principles of social ethics-Dharma.
Thus in the overall scheme of things developed by our ancient seers, as described above in brief, there is an attempt to achieve the fulfilment of the individual happiness and the welfare of human society at large in a near perfect manner balancing various apparently conflicting tendencies and urges of the individual in a coordinating and synchronising way.
Contribution of Integral Humanism
The evolution of global state from the integral humanist perspective is entirely different from the communist world view. While communist worldview is based on centrality of one and state and forced uniformity, integral humanism permits each state to evolve as per the respective nature and characteristics. As individual develops himself as per the ability and contributes to the nation, nations have to develop themselves for the larger contributions to humanity. This realisation of being independent still performing as a part of the larger whole would be the ultimate manifestation of integral humanism propounded by Deendayalji.
Dattopant Thengadi (This write-up of Late Dattopant Thengadi, an eminent thinker and organisation builder, is reproduced from Rashtra Dhama)