Swaraj during the Independence Struggle was not limited to the ‘Self-Rule’. The ‘Swa’ in Swaraj also meant self-thinking based on civilisational wisdom. Despite many efforts during the Independence struggle, Bharatiya mind is still grappling with the colonial mindset. From global politics to family issues, everything is understood and interpreted from the Western prism. The liberals and the Communists take pride in denying everything that is Indic. On the other hand, common people who cherish and imbibe these Indic traditions through specific customs and festivals, find it difficult to understand this intellectual jugglery on the Western parameters. This is the reason behind the evident disconnect we experience between the intellectuals and common masses. There is a strong sentiment for decolonising the Bharatiya Mind. What should be the replacement? The answer lies in Bharat Bodh, revitalising the Indic perspective to see Bharat with Bharatiya prism.
This special edition is an attempt to introduce the fundamentals of the Indic perspectives and traditions with the aim of nationalising Bharatiya Minds.
This incident must be at least 6,000 years old. On the banks of River Saraswati, all intellectuals and sages of Aryavarta got together in an Ashram. As the deliberations started, one of the sages put forth a problem before the assembly: kIZY³fZd¿f°ffÔ ´f°fdÀf ´fiZd¿f°f ¸f³f:?l What is the inpiration behind the functioning of this mind?
The other Rishi expanded the problem and asked,
kIZY³f ´fif¯f`: ´fi±f¸f ´fi`d°f ¹fböY: …
IZY³fZd¿f°fû Uf¨fd¸f¸ffÔ UQd³°fl
¨fÃfb ßfûÂfÔ IYCX QZUû CX³fdöY?
This body is a mere skeleton without the breath of life, but who puts life in this body? What is the inspiration behind the expression through speech? We see through eyes; we listen through ears, what are the motivational forces behind the functioning of eyes and ears?
For a moment the entire assembly was stunned. Then started the samvad, real deliberations. After the end of all arguments, the finding came out in the form of proceedings, today that is known as the Kenopanishad. The ancient Indic knowledge system evolved like this.
The Nature of Indic Knowledge
‘Jna’ is the Sanskrit root of the word Jnana (knowledge) which means to know. Knowledge in Indic tradition is considered as a matter of experience. Without knowledge, no human endeavour can be successful. The knowledge gained through the five senses has its limitations. Man (Mind), Buddhi (intellect), Chitta (Psyche) and Ahamkara (Ego) are more important instruments than the senses. Mind represents the rational choices between good and bad; intellect enables us to absorb the truth, psyche strengthens the foundation of knowledge, and through the ego, we understand the nature of ‘self’.
The Indic knowledge tradition is incessantly flowing from the Vedic age till date; this is the real Idea of Bharat. Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam (The World is One Family) and Sarve Bhavantu Sukhinah (Let everyone in the world be happy) have been the greatest messages of this tradition Darshan or philosophy is a logical and rational way of decoding the meaning of the entire universe, including the human life. The Indic thinkers peculiarly considered themselves as the part of nature. Getting astonished by the unique and orderly systems of the universe, they tried to reach to the roots of those systems. In the initial phase of human life itself, they reached to the science of the Universe. From the astronomical point of view, they explored the entire Solar system and came to know about the Orion constellation. In this process, they addressed the core question of ‘who am I?’ and tried to understand the nature of Supreme Power. When they realised that the ‘self’ or ‘soul’ is not different from the Supreme power but a part of it, they uttered the self-proclamation: kÀfûÚWXÔl (I am the part of the Almighty). The realisation of fundamental unity and eternity in the universe is the unique achievement of the Indic knowledge system.
Due to the enlarged thinking on philosophy, the physical sciences also got an impetus. In the Indic Knowledge Tradition, the knowledge is divided into two parts: Vidya (Spiritual, the consciousness of unity) and Avidya (Material, the consciousness of multiplicity). Though both are separate and Vidya is considered to be superior; they complement each other. The four Vedas, Itihasa, Puranas, Upanishads, Mathematics, Logic, Music, Ayurveda etc. are considered tobe as the Vidya. The experimental sphere of these Vidyas is vast and all-pervasive. The science of spirituality, Adhyatma, is considered to be the highest form of Vidya.
The Avidya is about the material and sensual pleasures. The present education system imparted in schools and colleges mainly deals with the Avidya. It is not to be denounced but to be controlled. The acquisition of Avidya has to be balanced with the Vidya. For the balance between the two, concentration, hard work, persistence efforts, and strong resolve to attain the goal is a must. The right Guru (guide and philosopher) is necessary to undertake this Sadhana (dedicated pursuance of knowledge).
The Education System
Due to the centrality of the spiritual education, the Indic knowledge tradition acquired respect in many countries of the world. Wherever Bharatiya sages, monks or traders went, they were received with utmost respect. The systematic development of knowledge tradition with defined goals was the primary reason behind this respect. The evolution of this process started right with the Vedas. The sages, imparting this knowledge system, stayed in the Himalayas or forests but thought about the entire Universe, including the society. To preserve their findings, they formulated certain Mantras and Sutras and transmitted them from generations to generations through the oral tradition.
Today also many such schools are going on, the Guru-Shishya Parampara is still evident. Till the Mahabharat era, around 5000 years ago, this tradition was fully flourished and stabilised. None other than Sri Krishna underwent this process in the Sandipani Ashram with other pupils.
The Science of Yoga
The Yoga is the most astounding accomplishment of our knowledge system. In the six Darshanas, the philosophical streams, even Yoga is considered to be as a separate discipline. It is the most experiential knowledge system. Mantra-yoga, Hath-yoga, Laya- yoga and Raj-yoga are the four types of Yogas. While Bhagvatgeeta is the Yogashastra, what Swami Vivekananda propounded in America was the Rajyoga. Today, the entire world is recognising this treasure of Hindu Knowledge system.
The Bharatiya knowledge system has been relevant to all times is another unique feature of this tradition. Irrespective of political conditions, external aggression, the importance of the knowledge system remained the same, and various sects or Sants and Sanyasis preserved this tradition since the ages. Even after the Mahabharata period, the Gurukul tradition was intact for more than 2000 years. Some complementary systems were also evolved. The establishment of Takshashila around 2500 years ago is the classic example of this tradition. Thousands of students and teachers from all over the world lived there with a rich treasure of libraries and a disciplined way of pursuing knowledge. Later, the universities like Nalanda and Vikramashila also strengthened this process.
The Social Content
Bharat has many languages. The food habits, clothing and even the deities have different geographical context. Still, the cultural and spiritual tradition is the same. The main reason for this inherent unity is the edifice of the knowledge system that started with the Vedas and flourished through the 18 Puranas. The beauty of this knowledge system is that it percolated to the society through various means like rituals, festivals, stories etc.
This knowledge tradition is incessantly flowing from the Vedic age till date; this is the real Idea of Bharat. Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam (The World is One Family) and Sarve Bhavantu Sukhinah (Let everyone in the world be happy) have been the greatest messages of this tradition. This tradition has become a matter of research even for the Western intellectuals and scientists.
(The writer is a renowned historian)