As western tutored democracies and communist-inspired dictators fall, India enters its 76th year of Independence. India is a case of half glass full or half glass empty, depends on the eyes of the beholder.
4 centuries ago, the famous French Philosopher Rene Descartes conceptualized the mind as being separate from the body. This understanding formed the basis of modern western philosophies like rationalism, dualism, materialism and communism. His understanding also went into modern medicine which sought to relate all illness to changes and transformation in material elements. Based on this, Western processes aim at external unity, i.e., political unity.
Contrarily Bhartiya principles follow a more integrated approach with respect to an individual / nation. An individual / nation has 4 attributes, body, mind, intellect and soul. Mind and body are considered the inner and external instruments to realize the truth. Spirituality is realizing the truth. The process of destroying or freeing oneself of all the memories, identities and adaptations acquired in the mind and body is called spirituality. The end result is mindfulness. Science is finding the truth. Science is evidence based whereas spirituality is experience based.
The great civilization that’s Bharat, aimed for Spiritual and Cultural unity before external political unity. Bhartiya spirituality is inward looking, it aims for inner unity first. Nature [prakriti] offers all the keys to revelation of the truth. To adapt processes in nature [prakriti] to realize the truth is culture [samskruti].
Spiritual unity which Bharat strived for was an inclusive one. In the words of Sri. Aurbindo “Spiritual unity is a large and flexible thing, that does not insist like political and external on centralization and uniformity. It’s idea of empire was a uniting rule that respected every existing regional and communal liberty. It did not unnecessarily crush living autonomy. It aimed for synthesis of her life and not mechanical oneness”.
At the beginning of this millennium as invaders from Persia descended into Bharat, Shankara’s advaitism, Ramanujam’s vaishnavadvaitism, Veerashaivism along with Buddihism and Jainism were contending with one another for the establishment of supremacy of their faith. It is in these trying times, the Bhakti movement by Vachanakarya’s, Alvars, Dasa’s and Pandharpur movement acted as a unifying force. From this unity rose two great empires. The Vijayanagar empire which halted the Islamic invasion into the south and the Maratha empire which bought an end to the Moghuls.
Centuries later as the first war of independence in 1857 failed, the country was again ravaged by divisions sowed by the British. Then Anadamath and Vandematram happened. Through Vandemataram Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay personified Bharat as mother “Bharatmata”. Sri Aurbindo said later “The mantra had been given and in a single day, people had been converted to the religion of patriotism. The mother had revealed herself “.
During this time, Swami Vivekananda’s inspiring talks galvanized and united the nation further. Swami Vivekananda’s speeches worked up a revolution in the minds and habits of the people. He propounded the concept of Practical Vedanta and DaridraNarayan to realize the truth. In tune with the needs of the time, the unifying force subtly moved from bhakti to inner awakening and seva.
Later the nationalists led by Tilak roared “Swarajya is my birth right”. All these developments culminated in a massive support for the Indian National Congress. INC became an epitome of the freedom struggle.
In august 1947, India got political independence, but spiritually and culturally remained a slave. The establishment of post 1947 India made a conscious effort to dismantle, denigrate and destroy the spiritual and cultural unity. The Bhartiya way of life was reduced to religion and western secularism was imposed on India. Yoga and Meditation became religious acts. Sub identities in the name of religion, region, language, caste and subcaste were encouraged, to weaken the spiritual and cultural unity.
Disillusioned by the politics and policies of INC, Dr K.B. Hegdewar, left the INC and founded a socio-cultural organization RSS. 89 years later, in 2014 a member of the RSS was elected as the fourteenth Prime Minister of India.
Homeostasis is a process by which the body reacts to external and internal challenge’s so as to maintain a stable internal environment. – In my opinion spirituality is a similar process in the body of the nation. It is this capability of Bharat which enabled it to survive even as many younger civilizations perished. The process of spiritual unity is a continuous process evolving, adapting, absorbing, relinquishing and rejecting as the situation demands – organic evolution.
This phenomenon of evolving processes to meet both internal and external challenges, so as to fulfil the ultimate aim – realizing the truth, is the true essence of Santana Dharma.
In these covid times, as countries are struggling for their first dose of vaccination, some are pushing for a third dose. The virus can mutate in any corner of the world and spread. What we need is a dose of spiritual unity, Bhartiya way of life.
Finally, as Sri Aurbindo said “……… must be on its guard against any tendency to cling to every detail that has been Indian. That has not been the spirit of Bharat in the past, there is no reason why it should be so in the future. In all life there are 3 elements. The fixed and permanent spirit, the developing yet constant soul and brittle changing body. We will keep none which the national spirit desires to replace by one that is still better and truer expression of the undying soul of the nation”.