The instance of how the American nation came into being is a lurid reminder of this inhuman state of affairs. Various peoples from Europe sailed forth to that continent in search of material wealth and happiness and began to establish their settlements. In the process, they annihilated the original inhabitants of that land. The barbaric atrocities and the savage genocide indulged in by the so called civilized Whites makes hair-raising reading. The original Red Indians who have managed to exist till today in certain areas have remained there as but show-piece specimens. Nor is America a solitary instance. Wherever the Western White had gone, whether Australia, America or Southern America, they have left behind the same trail of death and destruction. Even recently, we
have heard of similar horrors perpetrated against the natives by the Whites in South America.
The same is the case with the Communist dictatorships – Russia and China. There also, the one end and aim of all their plans is to "raise the standard of living", though clothed in a different terminology. As a result, the same process is at work: amassing of objects of physical enjoyment; to achieve this, resorting to accumulation of more and more
wealth; and to achieve that, greater aggrandizement of power followed by invasion and exploitation of weaker nations, conflicts, genocide and resultant de-humanising effects.
If one were to dispassionately observe the characteristics of the present-day so-called civilized modern societies, they appear to tally, almost word to word, with the attributes of the asuras as detailed in Bhagawad-Gita !
And thus we find that the two prominent features of the modem Western society, i.e. "permissiveness" and "competition", have led human society away from peace and happiness.
We shall now go a bit deeper into the problem in order to find out the basic cause for this failure.
The "Modern" Predicament
The basic impulse of all living beings, as all know is to seek happiness. So also, man. He desires to be happy – not for a day or two but continuously all through his life. And it is through the senses that man, like other living beings, tries to seek that happiness. To start with, there are the bodily and mental needs and appetites. The fulfillment of these hungers gives him a sense of happiness. There is no denying the fact that such fulfillment gives man happiness for some time. But it is also equally true that it is fleeting, temporary. Experience teaches him that the more he tries to enjoy the pleasures of the flesh the more acute becomes the hunger. He never feels satisfied. Greater the attempts for satisfaction of desires, greater will be the dissatisfaction. As such, greater the amassing of objects of enjoyment greater is the disappointment; greater the indulgence, greater is the disenchantment. Our Shastras have declared, "Na jatu Kamah Kamanamupabhogena shamyati" the desires are not quenched by enjoyment of sense. Even after the body becomes old and dilapidated, desires continue to be young : Trishna na jeerna vayameva jeernah. This is exactly the predicament in which the modern man is finding himself.
Source is Within
The Hindu philosophy steps in here to offer a cogent solution. It says, the real source of happiness lies within oneself and not without. Even a little introspection will bear this out. Take the instance of a man who is absorbed in enjoyment of music. Just then if he receives a wire conveying the death of a near and dear one, he immediately loses all interest in the music and goes away. If really music had the inherent power to give
happiness, then it should have made the man overcome his sorrow and made him continue to listen to music. But the very opposite was the effect. Music, which was a source of enjoyment till a moment before had now become a point of repulsion to him.
It only means that the external objects which, appear to give us happiness serve only as pretexts or instruments whereas its real source is within. But still we go after the external objects only because of delusion. It is like a dog, which begins to bite and chew dry bone. After a time, the bone pieces cut into its mouth. Blood oozes out. The dog tastes that blood and feels elated. That is how the external objects seem to give us happiness! It is obvious that such enjoyments will, after a while, stop giving us pleasure and land us in sorrow and disappointment.
Secret of Bliss
How then should one get at the source of happiness within oneself? A little reflection will show that even the object of enjoyment will entirely go out of the mind during that particular moment when one is supposed to be enjoying that object. It only means that we experience the happiness, which is inherent in us and not anything flowing out of that external object. Then the obvious conclusion would be that in order to be eternally and continuously happy, we should be able to reach that state where we can be happy without the aid of any external object.
Then what is the process for reaching that state?
It is a matter of common experience that a restless mind can never be happy. It is only when the mind is calm and peaceful that man enjoys happiness. To achieve such a quiet and tranquil state of mind it is necessary to see that the various types of desires do not raise their heads in the mind. When the water is disturbed with ripples one cannot see what is at the bottom. Nor can we see our reflection in it. When the ripples calm down and the water becomes still everything becomes clear. So also, when the mind becomes quiet one becomes aware of the reality in the depths of human mind. So long as the mind is restless that awareness is lost. And so happiness, which stems from the awareness of that reality is also lost. It only means that if the mental waves could be quietened, then one could enjoy happiness even without the aid of any external object of enjoyment.
The Supreme Goal
When man realises this truth – that real happiness does not reside in external objects but in himself – then will he turn his gaze inside. The pulls of those objects will then gradually wear off. And when he completely frees himself from the attachment of the external objects he will attain the supreme state of liberation. Such a man will not run about seeking enjoyment in the outside world. He has no cravings of the physical desires which would render him restless, he is supremely contented, tranquil and at peace with himself, having found the fountainhead of true and everlasting joy and bliss within himself. And that happiness would be constant and unbounded in comparison with which the pleasure derived from the external objects would pale into insignificance. That is the
highest state to which man has to aspire and ultimately reach – the state of Mukti or Moksha
Why the Failure
When examined on the touchstone of this basic philosophy of supreme happiness, can the so-called progressive societies with their cut-throat competition, jealousy, hatred and violence be ever expected to give rise to human happiness? Is such a state of affairs conducive to making the human mind quiet and tranquil? In fact, the opposite is the case. Everything is calculated to incite more and more desires. The flames of desire are fed more and more. And so long as desires are unfulfilled mind is restless. It always hankers after the objects of senses. How then can such a mind become quiet and peaceful?
The Yoga Way
In Bharat, all our training is directed towards the single object of achieving mental peace. Patanjali in his Yoga-Sutras has advised that when one sees others are endowed with prosperity and happiness and virtuous and meritorious one is advised not to be jealous but to be happy and congratulate them. One is advised to achieve progress by one’s efforts but one should not indulge in competition or jealousy. One has to be circumspect and discriminative in deciding how much and in what fashion one has to amass and enjoy the external objects of enjoyment. Otherwise, it results in oneself trying to become happy even at the cost of others’ happiness. And this will disturb one’s mental balance thus destroying one’s own happiness. So also, Patanjali advises that when we see another man sinful and in distress, our natural reaction should be one of compassion. We should strive to the best of our capacity to alleviate the other’s suffering. Such an attitude on our part will bring peace and tranquility to our mind resulting in inner happiness to ourselves.
"Permissiveness" to Suffer !
The next feature of the modern civilization, "permissiveness" is the very opposite of peace and tranquility. Our ancient scriptures describe a time when there were no rules or codes of social conduct. But soon it bred enmity and conflict between man and man and led to anarchy and immorality all-round. That resulted in uncertainty, anxiety, fear, jealousy, hatred and all such propensities, which destroy the mental tranquility. Hence rules of behaviour were framed which would help avoiding such mental disturbances and restore mental balance and peace.
After all, the modern societies have come to the fore during last one or two centuries. It is not safe to come to conclusion regarding the essential aspects of human life on the strength of such limited experience, carried away by the dazzling appearance of their physical prosperity and scientific and technological achievements. It is only on the touchstone of long and enduring experience that one has to judge and decide the right kind of life-attitudes which lead to the real happiness of man.
Harmony of Both
The experience of millennia of our national life in this country says that the craze for unlimited sensual enjoyment and competitive rage to satiate the same would never lead to happiness. It has taught us to cultivate self-restraint – a requisite as much necessary to the preservation of social fabric as to the development of the individuals. In order to instil the spirit of self-restraint the concept of Chaturvidha Purusharta was propounded. This fourfold goal of life – Dharma, Artha, Kama, and Moksha – helps one to lead a self-restrained, balanced and harmonious way of life. And that arrangement envisages duties and obligations for the individual on both the planes – personal and social. Rules of behaviour – Dharma – conducive to achieving the supreme happiness of man will guide and control all the material aspects of life – Artha (politics and economics) and Kama (fulfilment of physical desires)
Two Bounds of River of Life
The soul and spirit of all these rules of conduct would be the supreme urge to finally attain the real state of our being, i.e. Moksha or whatever name is given to this fourth Purushartha. It is thus that all our physical propensities and enjoyments are held between Dharma on the one hand and Moksha on the other. Just as the river flowing within the bounds on either side will be beneficial, but becomes destructive when it breaks its bounds, so also is the case with the stream of human life. It is only when it flows between the two bounds of Dharma and Moksha that it will be conducive to the happiness of both the individual and the society. Whatever is permissible within these two bounds could be enjoyed by one and all. It is only this arrangement that can strike a balance between enjoyment and peace of mind and ultimately lead one to the state of highest bliss.
The mission of Hindu consolidation that the RSS has taken up is inspired by this vision of unlocking the door of supreme happiness for entire mankind. And as days go by, we are confident, the so-called progressive modern societies are also bound to take refuge in this ancient yet living wisdom of this holy land. As the Samskrit saying goes,
Rkon~ xtZfUr 'kkL=kkf.k tEcqdk fofius ;FkkA
Uk xtZfr egkrstk ;kon~ osnkUr dsljhAA
("The jackals of other theories will be howling only so long as the Lion of Vedanta does not give out the great and all-powerful roar !")
PART ONE - THE MISSION
III. Challenge of the Times*
Birth of Democracy as a reaction – The evil of Capitalism – Next reaction, Communism – Falsity of its prophecy and promise, ex: Russia – Both theories shifting from original stand – Both stemming from materialism – Failure as a theory – Wrong concept of equality – Our view of individual and society – Man, not system, important. ,
After the British have left our country we are faced with the problem of deciding the right pattern for our future national reconstruction. There are two major patterns of social set-up which are in vogue in the modern world.
Fate of First Reaction
One, the older of the two, is called Democracy. It originated as a reaction to the unbridled monarchy in the countries of Europe. The individual was then a mere serf, devoid of all initiative and freedom, just a toy in the hands of the ‘divine’ kings. People rose in revolt, overthrew ‘the divine right of kingship’ and smashed the power of monarchy for all time. The inspiring slogan of ‘liberty, equality and fraternity’ was on the lips of everybody. It was loudly trumpeted from housetops that the long dark night of slavery and tyranny had finally ended and a new era of ‘individual freedom’, sanctity of the individual rights’ and ‘equality of opportunity for all’ had dawned.
But, by about the same time, the age of machine also had set in. Industries had begun to flourish. Science and technology had begun helping industrialists to set up bigger and bigger plants. Millions of labourers were employed in those engines of mass production. Under the slogan of ‘equality of opportunity’ persons with greater intelligence and wealth monopolised all those new avenues of production of wealth and became the unchallenged financial overlords. On the strength of their overwhelming power of money they even captured the political machinery. And the common people were left high and dry, except for a solitary political right to vote, which too they were not free to use under the oppressive economic conditions.
Thus the high-sounding concept of ‘individual freedom’ only meant the freedom of those talented few to exploit the rest of the common people and reduce them to abject serfdom. The horrible conditions of the labourers -men, women and even children – working in those factories defied all description. They were now groaning under the heels of the new tyrants in place of the old.
Tragedy of Second Reaction
It was at this stage that Communism came up as a reaction against the new tyranny of Capitalism. Communism started with the assumption that industrial revolution was bound to result in dire economic disparity, giving rise to two classes, the ‘haves’(Capitalists)
and the ‘have-nots’ (Proletariat, i.e., working class). There would, therefore, ensue a class
* Talk delivered at Bangalore on 2nd November 1949.
conflict in which, they again assumed, the proletariat would come out victorious. After that, there would be an end to the misery of the masses as the state, run by the working class, would take over the entire burden of looking after the material needs of the people by controlling all means of production and distribution of wealth. Thus, it was prophesied that greater the industrialisation of a country, greater the economic disparity and therefore, greater the class conflict and sooner the ushering in of the rule of the proletariat.
But this prophecy – which was the climax of its materialistic interpretation of history – was completely belied by the future course of history. Out of all countries it was in Russia, industrially a most backward country, that Communist revolution registered its first success. Even to this day countries like America, England and Germany which are in the forefront of industrial progress – in fact where the industrial revolution first took shape – have not shown any signs of advancing towards Communism. On the contrary, it was China, another industrially backward country, which has become Communist in recent years. Thus the claim of historical inevitability of Communism based on its materialistic interpretation of human history has been shattered on the rock of hard realities.
Secondly, what is the condition of the common mass of people in that promised land of freedom, peace and plenty? It is all too well known that the ‘dictatorship of the proletariat’ has been reduced to the dictatorship of the dictator of the dictatorial party, i.e. the Communist in these countries. Mass liquidations, slave camps, communes, forced labour, brainwashing and all such inhuman engines of dictatorship have reduced the individual to such low depths of misery and slavery as was unheard of even under the unbridled kingship or during the worst days of Capitalism. That is how their call of “you have nothing to lose but your chains’ to the masses has resulted in practice!
The Promise and the Performance
Have they, at least, succeeded in their goal of satisfying the primary material needs of their people, which was their first promise to them? Take the example of Russia, the first great country, which made the experiment in a thorough-going manner. They liquidated all private property, all the industrialists, and took over all industries in their own hands. On the agricultural front, they liquidated all the landlords and the peasants, grouped them into communes and collective farms. So, it was from all aspects a thorough going experiment. Naturally we ought to expect a tremendous growth in the prosperity of Russia during the past fifty years.
Some say, "Look, they have been able to send a rocket to the moon". But so far as the masses, in whose name they speak, are concerned, going to the moon is not their main problem. Belly is their major problem. It was, in fact, the main pivot of the Communist revolution. Have the Russian Government been able to give two square meals to the residents of their country? That is the first question. As a matter of fact the success of any
government or any particular theory of government is to be measured in terms of its capacity to give every citizen two square meals, a place to rest in, sufficient clothing, treatment in case of illness, and education. That is the acid test.
Has Russia answered this test? Russia has an extensive territory. At one time, it was the biggest wheat-producing country in the world. In proportion, the population is small and so a smaller number of mouths to feed. They have all the modern implements of agriculture. Added to that are the colossal resources of the all-powerful State at the back of each and every plan. In spite of all these, in order to feed the resident citizens of Russia, the Russian Government has to actually import wheat and other edibles from Canada, from USA and other countries. A more convincing proof of the utter defeat of Communism need not be called for now!
The Grand Retreat of Both
Faced with such tragic consequences, the Communist countries, too, are having second thoughts about their system of absolute governmentalisation. They have begun to realise that the destruction of individual freedom kills the creative urge and incentive for work in the individual. They are, therefore, gradually moving towards individual freedom. They are being compelled, as in some East European countries and even in Russia, to allow the individual to own a few things and a little freedom to enjoy his property.
Chester Bowles of America has stated: "Russia is now allowing, what are called, ‘kitchen farms’ to be personally cultivated by farmers to the tune of 34% of the total land they cultivate. But the production from these 34% personal holdings (which do not have the benefit of heavy farm-machinery which is all monopolised by the State) has been 60% of the total produce, whereas 66% of the State-owned farms has yielded but 40%." That has once again proved that the promise of total governmentalisation, i.e., absolute collectivism, with which they started, is beating a hasty retreat in the land of its own birth.
On the other hand, those countries where Democracy was born with the promise of ‘absolute individualism’ have also gone back upon their original stand. Having seen the tragic results of the unrestrained ‘equality of opportunity’ and of ‘freedom of the individual’, they were forced to undertake drastic measures to curtail in practice those theoretical concepts in the interest of the common social good. In fact, that is how they were able to avoid revolution and maintain their democratic structure.
We thus find that both the above theories, Democracy and Communism, have two things in common, i.e., both were born as reactions to the previous order and both have had to resile from their original stand and forced to move towards each other – Democracy from its individualism towards collectivism and Communism from its collectivism towards individualism. In respect of both their birth and growth there is a remarkable similarity though, of course, their starting points were diametrical opposites because of historical reasons.
Let us take an instance of this twentieth century. Once in Calcutta, two little children playing on the roadside fell into an open manhole. A gentleman who was hurrying to his
Stemming from the Same Root
This need not cause any surprise to us, for if we go deeper and get at their roots we find that both of them stem from a common concept of the goal of human life. According to the Western thought – from which both the concepts of Democracy and Communism took birth – the life of man for all practical purposes is limited to the physical plane. And the human being is just a bundle of physical wants. Accordingly, production and distribution of material objects, which were believed to satisfy the material appetites of man became the one all-consuming passion of all their theories. Further, equality of man was propounded on the material plane because all men were equally in need of all these basic material needs.
As the individual was only a physical entity goaded entirely by those physical desires, there was no reason for him to look upon society as anything more then an instrument to serve his needs. But a society made up of such individuals exclusively dedicated to their own selfish interests could not be expected to endure even for a day. Society, for its sustenance, demands a spirit of sacrifice on the part of its constituents. And without society, individuals also cannot carry on their physical existence. So a sort of compromise, a contract, had to be worked out between the conflicting interests of the individual and the society.
This ‘contract theory’ is thus the result of the concept of an inherent conflict between the individual and the society. It is this basic conflict that expressed itself in the form of Capitalism on the one hand and Communism on the other, i.e., on the one hand, the individual becoming the enemy of society and on the other, the society becoming the enemy of the individual. And as we have seen, both the systems are now trying to mitigate the evils that have flowed from the common materialistic concept of human goal.
But to identify man with a mere bundle of material desires is to equate him with an animal. If man is just an animal, why should he lead an amicable and ordered life? All that can be said is that human beings do not prey upon one another like animals, simply because if X wants to devour Y, some Z will try to devour
X. Thus, to prevent themselves from being mutually destroyed, some sort of arrangement had to be arrived at. But it cannot explain why the will to sacrifice for others, the spirit of comradeship in misery, should at all rise in the mind of man. But all through the history of mankind we come across such persons who have sacrificed their lives for others willingly, lovingly and smilingly. There is the story of Dadhichi in our ancient literature who volunteered to offer his bones to be made into a weapon to destroy the demon Vrittasura. He was a seer living in the forest. As an individual he desired nothing. Then, what made him to sacrifice himself ?
office, happened to see the children suddenly disappearing in the manhole. Without even waiting to take off his coat he jumped into the manhole, caught hold of the children who were being washed away in the current and pushed them outside. But he himself was caught in the mud and died. Why did he die? What is that told him, "Go, that is your direction?" Materialism does not explain.