Integral Humanist Approach is an optimum summation of Bharatiya culture, is a thread that binds specificities and reflects unity in diverse spheres of life
This year we are celebrating birth centenaries of the two great personalities, one who articulated the philosophy of life with national perspective and the other who actualised it on the ground. The one who propounded the philosophy was Pt Deendayal Upadhyay while the one who carved that out in reality was Nanaji Deshmukh. This perspective towards life is known as Ekatma Manav Darshan (Philosophy of Integral Humanist Approach). We are also celebrating golden jubilee of articulation of this school of thought.
First of all we have to crystallise the Integral Humanist Approach in brief. Actually, it is nothing but optimum summation of different aspects of Bharatiya culture. In short, a mirror of the Eternal Bharat, a thread that binds specificities, spirituality, industrious living, unity with the nature, economic thinking, society and unity in diversity of Bharat.
After independence, we digressed ourselves from our eternal ethos with the new direction of development. This deviation resulted into revulsion to whatever that is Bharatiya and reverence to anything that reflected the Western thinking, life style, approach etc. Then, we were in the initial years of our political independence. Last, three decades were of foreign rule and darkness of forced ignorance. A miniscule but elite class hijacked our system. Our frustration towards whatever that is Bharatiya naturally encircled us with the foreign ideologies of socialism, communism, capitalism etc. This naturally forced us to forget our eternal specialities. Our view of life was fading out from our minds. Political leadership did not realise the strength of enormity our eternal tradition and intellectual prowess of our nationhood. They started looking for models of development here and there.
In such vacuum, Pt Deendayal Upadhyaya reintroduced our own philosophy to the nation. The same seed is turned into a massive banyan tree now. Deendayal ji said, we have to develop integral approach towards knowledge and achievements of entire humanity. While marching ahead, what is ours should be in tune with the time while what is foreign should be adjusted to our domestic conditions.
Integral Humanist Approach evolved as an alternative to capitalism and communism after 1947 but due to political reasons it could rise on the global scene. If we compare capitalism and Integral Humanist Approach, then it is clear that while capitalism emphasises on material development of individual, Integral Humanist Approach allows it with healthy competition and interdependence. Similarly, communism makes individual completely dependent on the state while Integral Humanist Approach guarantees holistic development of an individual.
People under the Western and Communist influence discarded this approach as a mere imagination which cannot be brought into reality. Then, Nanaji Deshmukh was one of the leading figures of the Bhartiya Jan Sangh and was one of the central figures in the strategy of non-Congressism due to his strong ideological basis with flexible approach. The killing of political and intellectual compatriot, Deendayal Upadhyay, completely shattered him. Raising a model of development on the edifice of Integral Humanist approach became his passion.
At the peak of his political career, he declared his retirement from the political arena and made the twin principles of interdependence and excellence as his life mantra and objective. He resolved to provide with a model of development based on Integral Humanist Approach in which the society on its own would build up new models of development without being at the mercy of the state or government.
This was happening in 1978. In 1968, he had laid the foundation of Deendayal Shodh Sansthan (Deendayal Research Institute) which sharpened the intellectual foundations for the future groundwork in the first decade. In 1978, Nanaji dedicated this institute to the holistic development of villages based on Integral Humanist Approach. For the institute he had given five guiding principles, namely, zero poverty, zero illiteracy, zero unemployment, zero illness and zero disputes.
His prime objective was to raise a model of integral development for villages which would assimilate all these principles in one thread. He wanted this to be a matter of faith for which doing something on the ground was essential. Nanaji was convinced that mere articulation and speeches will not make this approach acceptable to the common masses. It should be presented in a proper shape to the society.
Another important aspect of Integral Humanist Approach was combining eternal thinking with the present situation. Nanaji was very conscious about this so he never had any apprehensions about modern science and technology. Starting from Gonda in Uttar Pradesh, he raised a model in Beed district of Maharashtra and then adopted Chitrakoot, where Lord Ram had spent his life in exile, as his centre of experimentation. To assure the excellence in the work, he adopted a scientific method. He asked an international agency to develop parameters for the institute to make it adaptable to the modern techniques. Every ten years, that agency also audits the performance of institute which is more social than economic. The institute is 47 years old now and has travelled a lot in progressive direction, establishing several milestones. This was possible due to visionary, innovative and able leadership of Nanaji. He surprised many with the transformation of villages purely on the basis of Bharatiya thinking.
There are 6 important dimensions of DRI: 1. Ram Darshan (Spiritual and Social connect through Lord Ram), 2. Arogya Dham (health), 3. University for Entrepreneurship Development (economy) 4. Educational institutions (education) 5. Agricultural Research Centre (Agriculture) 6. Jan Shikshan Sansthan (Vocational Training)
Ram Darshan is an amazing example of Nanaji’s imagination. It provides with auspicious sight of Lord Ram which is not only spiritual but social and industrious. It is a centre of inspiration for lakhs of people around. It is playing a crucial role in the process of enculturation of the society. Thanks to this centre, workers of the DRI could make 500 villages litigation/dispute free. ‘In tune with time and place’ was the cardinal principle of Integral Humanist Approach he constantly reminded everyone around. He beautifully combined the traditional wisdom of society with the modern technology. For instance, dentistry was the monopoly of urban centres but it was Nanaji’s thinking because of which villagers had access not only to dentistry but even plastic surgery in the vicinity of Chitrakoot.
The biological relations with the roots cannot be mere physical or material. Similarly, roots of the society cannot be revived without keeping human relations at the centre. With the same perspective, Nanaji developed a concept of Samaj Shilpi Dampatya (Couples for Social Reconstruction). Educated and newly married couples would vouch to serve the society, go to different families, talk to them, understand their problems, As per the vision of integral approach, family is the medium of continuum, unity and development of social life. Nanaji also considered family as the basic unit of his work.
Along with family, Nanaji gave utmost importance to education. In Bharat, education was an instrument of seeking knowledge. At the same time it was a tool for enriching traditions and applying them as per the need of time. As Prof Jagdish Chandra Basu said his friends from fisherman community inculcated the curiosity and passion in him about the nature. Nanaji also used the same method to nurture young talent. We can see the same experiments taking place in institutions like Hemchandrachaya Sanskrit Gurukulam of Ahmedabad. In another model at Hoshangabad where in the campus of Bhausaheb Bhuskute Memorial Trust, you will find students learning computers in pure rural settings. Like students of urban centres, these students are also keen to use new gadgets but the content is as per their surroundings, in tune with time and place.
In Bharatiya tradition, there are five ‘J’s for ensuring balance in nature: Jan (Populous), Jal (Water), Jungle (forests), Janwar (Animals) and Jameen (Land). Integral Humanist approach, in tune with our physical and emotional bonds among these factors, takes care of protection and conservation of all of them.
The successful experiment of DRI, inspired many in the society. In Chitrakoot itself there is a Shri Sadguru Sewa Sangh Trust that serves hundreds of patients on daily basis especially in the field of eyecare and with integral approach. On the revival of Nesu river in Nandurbar district of Maharashtra, traditional knowledge and modern techniques are beautifully combined.
Before arrival of the British, there was a tradition of inhabitant learning. British uprooted them as they were the main hurdles in entrenching their rule. In the new ecosystem, we need to get together the remaining pieces, document them, and learn from the people who still practice them. In fact, villagers have innate ability to grasp things from the surroundings due to their social values. In tribal areas of Nandurbar, women are seen explaining medicinal and other usages of vegetables which would surprise even the experts. In Alwar district of Rajasthan, Nanduwali river was almost lost. When there was no initiative from the government, two brothers took the initiative and revived the river. They also followed the method of integral approach 5 ‘J’s.
Villagers of Lapodia in Dundhar region of Rajasthan have become a pilgrimage for people who are interested in sustainable development. The village of Laxman Singh, villagers have applied the 5 ‘J’ model. We can meet Chararsingh community in Jaislmer district where average rainfall is about 4 mm, striving for self-dependence and self-respect. On the other hand, in Ufaraikhal located in the hills of Uttarakhand, Sachidanand Bharati has taken the villagers together to create more than 25 thousand small lakes.
In integral approach, livestock is an integral part of holistic development, which includes buffaloes, camels, goats etc. Recognising that role of 15 Bharatiya breeds as soul and fundamental constituent of the rural life, DRI has undertaken research on the same. Nanaji articulated the spiritual, social and economic aspects of not only cow but entire trajectory of cow family. He is said to ensure breeding of Bharatiya cow, we also need to understand the usage of bull for agricultural and other purposes. Besides, milk and agricultural purpose, organic fertilisers have been the biggest contribution of livestock, hence key factor in integral thinking which is being recognised at the international level.
Deendayal ji also insisted on local resources and skills. As people are sensitive towards those resources, they do not exploit them but use judiciously. Those resources are integral part of their social and cultural lives. Nanaji called this as Natural Resource Management and insisted that locals should be the trustees of natural resources in their area. With the same objectives, he established University of entrepreneurial training to further the idea of natural resources, skills and needs.
During the British period, biggest loss to our society and economy was the damage done to our traditional industries. Earlier British destroyed them as a conspiracy, after independence the then rulers neglected it due to their apathy and repulsion towards Bharatiya thinking. This has not only destroyed self-reliance of our villages but also led to the destruction of self-confidence and self-respect of our industrious society. Nanaji tried to restore this self-respect through self-reliance. The model of 500 villages in and around Chitrakoot is a living example of Integral Humanist Approach. Nanaji wanted to replicate this model all over Bharat.
The utility of decentralised production along with decentralised marketing was recognised by Nanaji as it takes care of the local preferences and needs and also saves time and energy of people. Therefore, he inspired locals to strengthen the systems of local markets at all the three projects in Gonda, Beed and Chitrakoot. These systems were part of integral thinking for him. For him that was the only way to rekindle the indigenous traditional knowledge systems. His firm faith on the ability and intellect of the common people was the key behind this.
It is a matter of pride for all of us that in the year when birth centenaries of Pt Deenayal Upadhyaya and Rashtra Rishi Nanaji is being celebrated, United Nations has unanimously agreed to celebrate a Yog Day and incorporated the principles of sustainable development rooted in Integral Humanist Approach.
Atul Jain (the writer is secretary of Deendayal Research Institute)