“Integral Humanism”

Published on:

Once while shaving a customer, a barber, prided in his razor being 60 years old. His father too had worked with the same razor. The customer was surprised especially because the handle was quite shiny and new In appearance. “Why the handle is quite shiny? How have your preserved the brightness for sixty years?” He asked. Barber too was amused with this. Is it possible to preserve the handle in a brand new appearance for sixty years? It has been replaced only six months ago”. He replied naturally. The customer was curious and asked and how old is the steel? Three years was the reply. In brief. the handle was replaced. the steel was also replaced, but the razor remained old! Its identity was intact. Similarly a nation too has a soul. There is a technique name for it. In the “Principles and Policies” adopted by the Jana Sangh, this name is mentioned. The word is ‘Chiti’. According to McDougal, it is the innate nature of a group. Every group of persons has an innate nature. Similarly every society has an innate nature, which is inborn and is not the result of historical circumstances.

A human being is born with a soul. Human personality, Soul and character are all distinct from one another.. Personality results from a cumulative effect of all the actions, thoughts and impressions of an individual. But Soul is unaffected by this history, Similarly national culture is continuously modified and enlarged by the historic reasons and circumstances. Culture does include all those things which by the association, endeavours and the history of the society, have come to be held up as good and commendable. but these are not added on to Chiti. Chiti is fundamental and is central to the nation from its very beginning. Chiti determines the direction in which the nation is to advance culturally. Whatever is in accordance with ‘Chiti’, is included in culture.

Chiti, Culture, Dharma

By way of an illustration consider the story of Mahabharata. Kauravas were defeated, and Pandavas won. Why did we hold up the conduct of Pandavas as Dharma? Or why this battle was not considered just a battle for a kingdom? The praise for Yudhistir and the dishonour heaped on Duryodhana are not a result of political causes Krishna killed his uncle Kansa, the established king of the times. Instead of branding this as a revolt. we consider Krishna as an Avatar of God, and Kansa as an Asura.

Rama was assisted in his invasion of Lanka by Vibhishana, brother of Ravana. Such conduct of Vibhishana instead of being branded as treason, is considered good and exemplary. He betrayed his brother and his king even as Jaichand had one later on. He might be branded as a “quisling”. But Vibhishana is not called “quisling’ by any one. On the contrary he is highly praised for his conduct, and Ravana’s actions are disapproved. Why so? The reason behind this is not political.

If there is any standard for determining the merits and demerits of particular action, it is this Chiti; from nature whatever is in accordance with ‘Chiti’, is approved and added on to culture. These things are to be cultivated. Whatever is against ‘Chiti,’ is discarded as perversion, undesirable, is to be avoided. Chiti is the touchstone on which each action, each attitude is tested, and determined to be acceptable or otherwise. ‘Chitti’ is the soul of the nation. On the strength of this ‘Chiti’, a nation arises, strong and virile if it is this ‘Chiti’ that is demonstrated in the actions of every great man of a nation.

An individual is also in instrument in bringing forth the soul of the nation ‘Chiti’. Thus apart from his own self, an individual also represents his nation. Not only that, but he also mans the various institutions that are created for the fulfilment of the national goal. Therefore he represents these too. The groups larger than nation such as “mankind” are also represented by him. In short, an individual has a multitude of aspect, but they are not conflicting; there is co-operation. unity and harmony in them. A system based on the recognition of this mutuality complementary nature of the different ideals of mankind, their essential harmony, a system which devises laws, which removes the disharmony and enhances these mutual usefulness and co-operation, alone can bring peace and happiness to mankind; can ensure steady development.

“Institution”- A Means To Fulfil National Needs

According to Darwin’s theory, living beings develop various organs as per the requirements dedicated by the circumstances. In our shastras, it was stated slightly differently, that the soul constructs, using the strength of “Prana’”, various organs as the need is felt, for the purpose of continuing life. Just as the soul produced these different organs in the body, so also in the nation many different organs are produced as instruments to achieve national goals. Like various departments in a factory, building, machinery, sales, production, maintenance etc. nations also produce different departments, which are called institutions. These institutions are created to fulfil the needs of a nation. Family, castes, guilds, (which are now known as trade unions)etc., are such institutions. Property, marriage are also institution. Formerly there were no marriages. Later on some Rishi established this practice of marriage. He produced the institution of marriage. Similarly Gurukul and Rishkul were institutions. In the same way, the state is also an institution. The Nation creates it. A lot of trouble in the West is due to the fact that they confused the state with the nation, they considered the state synonymous with the nation. Truly speaking, nation and state are not the same. In our country, the state was produced as per social contract theory. Formerly there was no king. Mahabharata describes that in Krityuga, there was no state or king. Society was sustained and protected mutually by practicing ‘Dharma’.

Later on interruption and disorganization came into existence. Greed and anger dominated. ‘Dharma’ was on the decline and the rule “might is right” prevailed. The Rishis were perturbed over the developments. They all went to Brahma to seek counsel, Brahma gave them a treatise on “Law and the Functions of the State”, which he had himself writer. At the same time, he asked Manu to become the first King. Manu declined saying that a king will have to punish other persons, put them in jail and so on; he was not prepared to commit all these sins. There upon Brahma said, your actions in the capacity of king will not constitute sin, a long as they are aimed at securing conditions under which the society can live peacefully and according to ‘Dharma’. This will be your duty, your ‘Dharma’. Not only that but You will also have a share of the ‘Karma’ of your subjects, whereby you will gain ‘Dharma’ considerably if your subjects maintain conduct according to Dharma. Although it is not explicitly stated here, but I believe that if the society under any king committed sin, a part of that too must automatically go to the account of the king. It is not proper if only good things are shared by the king and not the bad ones; both must be shared in the same proportion. Thus state came into existence as a contract. This contract theory can be applied to the state but not to the nation. In the West, it was exactly opposite. Society as a nation, according to them was a contract, but the king claimed a divine right and proclaimed himself the sole representative of God. This is wrong.

To be continued…

(Excerpts of the Speech delivered on “Integral Humanism” in Bombay on April 22nd – 25th, 1965 by Pt. Deendayal Upadhyaya in the form of four lectures.)