Integral Humanism Revisited

Integral humanism is not a quick-fix solution for electoral success nor is it a convenient strategy for capturing power. It is not even a political philosophy devised to promote and support any political party. It is a comprehensive world-view which originated in India as a result of the profound insight of generations of wise men who are known as the ‘Rishis’. It covers every spectrum of human life and its foundations are eternally sound and always relevant. It is from that rich philosophy that the great Indian culture evolved. Any truly nationalist movement can benefit from this all embracing philosophy. It is inclusive of spiritual as well as material progress of mankind.

P. Parameswaran

Continue from 16-31 July, 2019 Issue…

Each has to be studied and understood correctly and in due proportion. Provision has to be made for the total development of each in order to ensure that a perfect man is evolved. This can be achieved only when the society provides the congenial climate. Man is not an isolated being nor can he evolve to his full stature in isolation. It is because of that the philosophy of Integral Humanism takes into account the whole gamut of circumstances necessary for the full growth of all the individuals. This includes primarily the society which is constituted by the basic unit – family, and also the nation and ultimately the entire humanity. Integral Humanism as a philosophy is pragmatic enough to deal with all the problems and demands of the present times. That is why it is called the “Yuga dharma”
Naturally it must lay down the guidelines for a practical restructuring of all the areas of human life.

In today‘s situation, dominated by the Western paradigm, this is a Herculean task. It may be comparatively easy to enunciate a philosophy, but to work out and apply it in the individual and collective life, requires collective thinking and action by the best minds of the country through ceaseless effort involving repeated trial and error. It should be stated to the credit of Deendayalji, that he has broken the path for this eventual transformation. It is up to us to earnestly follow up this philosophy through serious effort to its ultimate fulfillment.


History of India is the story of the most ancient civilization successfully overcoming threats and challenges of unparallel magnitude and still continues vibrant enough to play the role of world leadership. Through all vicissitudes she has been able to maintain the thread of her cultural identity unbroken. The Vedic civilization still continues. This was possible because of her unique ability to combine tradition with modernity. The foundation of Indian culture is eternally relevant and universally valid. That is what is known as “Sanathana Dharma”. But whenever great changes take place and adaptation becomes necessary Indian genius has found it flexible enough to accept necessary adjustments through reforms. Most of the reformers were saints and sages. Rishi mean men with intuition and far sight. “Eternal values for a changing society” has been our traditional method of reforming the society. That is how the concept of “Sanathana Dharma” and “Yuga Dharma” came into existence. “Ekatma Manava Darsan” is the “Yuga Dharma” for this age. The chief characteristics of “Ekatma Manava Darsan” can be broadly enumerated this.

(1) Unity of existence – ‘SARVAM KHALIDAM BRAHMA’

(2) Multiplicity and variety that we experience are only the varied expressions of this latent unity under different names and forms.

(3) Being the expression of one, multiplicity is interconnected and interdependent. They are not independent of each other – all relations whether inter human or between Man and Nature or between nations and nations should be on the basis of this interconnections and inter dependences. They should not be conflictual.

(4) The same is true about the various constituents that make up individuals and society. The principle of existence is mutual cooperation and coordination and not conflict and contradiction. On the basis of this, every department of life, every discipline should be looked upon as part and parcel of one single whole and therefore mutually supporting and making up one whole.

(5) Science and spirituality should be viewed as two different approaches to realize the ultimate Truth. As such, there is no real conflict between the two. Consequently science and technology must complement spirituality and humanity. It is on the basis of this fundamental approach that all the areas of activities from the individual to the universal should be formulated. The motto can be well summarized in the words of Bhagavad Gita “Parasparam Bhavayanthaha Shreyaha Paramavapsyathe”. When this principle is properly understood and honesty pursued it will lead humanity towards the goal of “Vasudhaiva kudumbakam”.

But it is quite true that to give concrete shape to this sublime idea in the midst of the most complicated circumstances in which we live requires a lot of strenuous effort, unshakable determination, practical wisdom, infinite patience and perfect understanding and mutual cooperation among all who are committed to the idea of Integral Humanism. For humanity to survive there seems to be no other way. This is not an alternative paradigm but the only paradigm which is open to us.


Leaders of independent India, traumatized by partition and its legacy of problems took India in a direction quite different from that envisaged by her national geniuses, and which she legitimately deserved. They were unduly influenced by foreign models of ideologies. Though they spoke in terms of non alignment they leaned heavily on the side of Soviet model of socialism for economic development. Domestic policy was aggressively anti-Hindu though they clothed it by the word “secularism”. The net result was self aberration. It was to correct this aberration and give a genuinely national orientation that Integral humanism was conceived. It was a holistic philosophy covering all the areas of national life.

Mahatma Gandhi had popularized the concept of Rama Rajya; Vinoba Bhave was an ardent advocate of Sarvodaya. Integral Humanism largely resembled both these in broad details. Those were the days when there were many world thinkers who saw the danger ahead posed by the current Western model and emphasized the need for an alternate approach to capitalism and communism, which were not only materialistic but also promoted vulgar consumerism. They believed in gigantic mode of production – whether industrial or agricultural. Humanistic economic thinkers like Prof. Shoemaker, had started advocating “technology with human face” and “small is beautiful”. But our first Prime Minister borrowed heavily from the Soviet model of gigantic industrialism and ‘green revolution’ in agriculture. Both were not only unsuitable to Indian conditions but also were fiercely opposed by Mahatma Gandhi whose ‘brand name’ they liberally exploited. It was in this context that Deendayal Upadyaya propounded the concept of Integral Humanism in which the total development and well- being of Man were to be the goal of all economic and political activities.

As opposed to gigantism he advocated decentralized economic and political system where ‘Man’ could fully exercise his economic and political freedom through small scale industrial units and agricultural farms supported by the local bodies. It envisaged every home to be a centre of production of goods. In the field of agriculture, family- owned plots of land were to become the units of intensive cultivation. Irrigation facilities were to be assured to every farm, so that agriculture will not solely depend on the monsoon. This would result in improved production, large scale employment and balanced development of rural and urban areas. The spirit of Swadeshi would become alive. Cultural values could be maintained. Self Government (Swaraj) would become a reality. Man’s individuality will not be drowned in an ocean of urbanized chaos. Latest technologies available now could be eminently suitable for this kind of small scale, decentralized production. Such a model would also be in tune with the tradition, values and experience of India’s vast population. In spite of all these favorable factors, unfortunately the Nehruvian model became the order of the day in independent India.

After the collapse of Communist model in 1990, our country was taken to the other extreme of economic liberalization where private capital and corporate bodies began to run the show. The need and relevance of a truly Indian model such as integral humanism was not seriously considered much less experimented. Now is the time for such a leadership to emerge who can think unblended by prejudices and harmful hangovers. They can launch a bold experiment on the basis of integral humanism as enunciated by saintly visionaries like Swami Vivekananda and Mahayogi Aurobindo, Gandhiji and Sri Guruji with a comprehensive and practical vision. To embark upon such an indigenous model will be the true way of paying our debt to Pandit Deendayal Upadyaya who gave us the philosophy of Integration and who passed away prematurely. To be continued…

(Page no-393-94, the foundation of
Indian Culture, Shri Aurobindo)