“Integral Humanism”

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…Continuing from previous issue

In our Country, the king may have been first recognized in antiquity but the society as a nation is considered self-born. State is only an institution.

Similarly other institutions, like the state, are created from time to time as the need is felt. Every individual is a limb of one or more of these institutions. A person is a member of his family, as well as his community; he may also be a member of some association of his fellow professionals, if he pursues a profession. Above all he is a member of the nation and society. If we consider even larger sphere he is a member of the whole mankind, and then the entire universe, Truly speaking an individual is not merely a single entity but a plural entity. He is a part of not just one, but a member of many institutions. He lives a variety of lives. The most important aspect, is that despite this multiple personality, he can and should behave in a way which does not bring different aspects of his life into mutual conflict but which is mutually sustaining, complementary and unifying. This quality is inherent in man.

A person who uses this quality properly, becomes happy and on the other hand one who does not do so, reaps unhappiness. Such a person will not have balanced development in the life. As an illustration, a man is son of his another, husband of his wife, brother of his sister and father of his son. A single individual is a father and is also a son, he is brother and also husband. he has to maintain all these relation with intelligence, understanding and tact. Where a person fails to do so, there is conflict. If he sides with one party the other feels wronged. The conflicts between his wife and his sisters, his wife and mother result from his inability to behave properly. There upon some of his relations are strained. He is pained because his duties towards his mother and towards his wife clash. When he can resolve this conflict, and fulfil all his obligations properly, it can be said that his development will be integrated.

Society And Individual not conflicting

We do not accept the view that there is any permanent inevitable conflict among the multifarious personality of an individual, and different institutions of the society. If a conflict does exist, it is a sign of decadence perversion and not of nature or culture. The error in western thinking lies in that some people there believe that human progress is a result of this fundamental conflict. Therefore they consider the conflict between the individual and the state as a natural occurrence, on the same basis they also theorized on the class conflict.

Classes do exist in a society. Here too, there were castes, but we had never accepted, conflict between one caste and another as fundamental concept behind it. In our concept of four castes, they are thought of as analogous to the different limbs of Virat-purusha. It was suggested that from the head of the Virat-Purusha Bhrahmins were created, Kshatriyas from hands, Vaishyas from his abdomen and Shudras from legs. If we analyze this concept we are faced with the question whether there can arise any conflict among the head, arms. stomach and legs of the same Virat Purusha. If conflict is fundamental, the body cannot be maintained. There cannot be any conflict in the different parts of the same body. On the contrary “one man” prevails. These limbs are not only complementary to one another, but even further, there is individual unity. There is a complete identity of interest identity of belonging. The origin of the caste system was on the above basis. If this idea is not kept alive; the castes, instead of being complementary, can produce conflict. But then this is distortion. It is not a systematic arrangement, rather it is absence of any plan, any arrangement. This is indeed the present condition of our society.

This process of deterioration can set in the various institutions of a society due to a variety of reasons. If the soul of the society weakens, then all the different limbs of the society will grow feeble and ineffective. Any particular institution may be tendered useless or even harmful. Besides the need and the usefulness of any particular institution may change with time, place and circumstances. While examining the present state of an institution we ought at the same time, to think of what it should be like; mutual complementary and a sense of unity, alone can be the standards of proper conduct. Family, Community, Trade Union, Gram Panchayat, Janapada, State and such other institutions are various limbs of the nation and even of mankind. The are interdependent, initially complementary. There should be a sense of unity through all of them. For this very reason, there should be a tendency toward mutual accommodation in them instead of conflict or opposition.

Dr. Ambedkar had said that our Gram Panchayats were so strong that we neglected the throne of Delhi. We did not remain alert as regards the state

State is one of the several institutions, an important one, but it is not above all other. One of the major reasons for the problems of the present day world is that almost everyone thinks of the state to be synonymous with the society. At least in practice. they consider the state as the sole representative of the society. Other institutions leave declined in their effectiveness while the state has become dominant to such an extent that all the powers are gradually being centralized in the state.

We had not considered the state to be the sole representative of the nation. Our national life continued uninterruptedly even after the state went in the hands of foreigners. The Persian nation came to an end with their loss of independence. In our country, there were foreign rules now and then in various parts of the country. At the some time the pathans seized the throne of Delhi, and then the Turks; the Mughals and the British too established their rules. Despite all this, our national life went on, because the state was not its centre. If we had considered state as the centre, we would have been finished as a nation long time ago. In some tale for children, it is described that an evil spirit resided in some parrot and to kill the evil spirit one had to kill that parrot. Those nations whose life centred in the state, were finished with the end of the state. On the other hand, where state was not believed central to its life, the nation survived the transfer of political power.

This had its had effects also. Dr. Ambedkar had said that our Gram Panchayats were so strong that we neglected the throne of Delhi. We did not remain alert as regards the state. As much as we ought to have done, thinking that nation’s life did not depend on the state. We forgot that, though it may not be central. the state is definitely an important institution serving some needs of the nation, just as a limb of the body. It is possible to pluck a hair without much harm but along with the hair, if some skin is also removed, and a little further, if the head too is cut off, then there will be great loss for the body. Therefore the body must be protected. Although the various limbs of the body are not absolutely indispensable yet each of them serves an important purpose. From the same standpoint, state, too, should have been deemed important in the life of a nation. There were persons who attended to this aspect. It was for this reason that the great teacher of Shivaji, Samarth Ramdas Swami, directed him to establish his kingdom. Dharma wields its own power. Dharma is important in life. Shri Ramdas would as well have preached to Shivaji to become a mendicant and spread Dharma following his own example. But on the contrary, he inspired Shivaji to extend his rule, because state too, is an important institution of the society. However, to consider something important is different from saying that it is supreme. The state is not supreme. The question arises, then, that if the state is not of fundamental importance, what is a that is absolutely important. Let us consider this question.

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.)