Management Lessons from Migration of Yadu Community to Dwārkā and Contemporary Labour Migration During COVID-19 (Part-III)

(Continued from Part-II)

Brig JS Rajpurohit, Ph.D.

Introduction

Dvāpara era of four-fold cyclical theory of Socio-political and religious change observed in the ancient Indian history, mass exodus from Mathura to Dwārkā is an exemplary case of management of human resource and disciplined crowd. The then elite section of society not only denoted but connoted Śri Kṛśṇa with the derogatory word, “Ranchod” (who flees from battle Jarāsandha, the king of Magadha wanted to take revenge from Śri Kṛśṇa for, he has killed his son-in-law, Kansa.

He had attacked Mathura seventeen times and had damaged the city, mired growth, hampered normal peace, civic life and progress. Jarāsandha was defeated by Lord Kṛśṇa in all the seventeen attacks. In his eighteenth attack, Jarāsandha made alliances with friendly forces to exterminate Yadu community. Realizing the gravity of situation, Śri Kṛśṇa acted wisely and decided to migrate majority of inhabitants from Mathura to Dwārkā.

This was the straw that broke camel’s back and forced Lord Kṛśṇa to take immediate action for survival of his clan or be prepared to suffer major losses. Lord Kṛśṇa took a bold decision and migrated Yadu community to Dwārkā. He had no time to plan the migration and was forced to migrate with almost no preparatory time. It would have taken him over a month (considering distance and resources available) a long time to reach Dwārkā but he had organized the migration with a fore thought, detailed planning and meticulous execution.

Management of people, animals and bullock carts all along 800 miles was a grand feat in those days, and has a number of lessons for us to follow, especially in times of COVID-19 crisis when labour migration became a major management issue. Migration of labor from a number of states back to their native villages was an unprecedented move that Indian government was unprepared for and actions taken by the government have lessons from ancient Indian migration organized by Lord Kṛśṇa.

Some questions arise in the present context; What forced Kṛśṇa to migrate? Why did he select Dwārkā only and not any other city? How did he organize the migration? Time taken and overcoming major turbulence due to migration? Could the contemporary migration of labour have been better organized than what was witnessed and our lessons from Lord Kṛśṇa?

Migration Lessons from Study of Contemporary Migration with the One Organized by Lord Kṛśṇa

Reasons to Migrate

Primary reason was fear of King Jarāsandha attacking Mathura in alliance with Kala Yavana (the Mlecchha king), Emperor Damghosha of Chedi, king Dantavakra of Karusa, Rukmi of Vidarbha and Avnti brothers Vind and Anuvinda. The main aim of Jarāsandha was to completely destroy Mathura and kill Kṛśṇa and Balrām. Jarāsandha had offered to Yadavas to hand over both brothers Kṛśṇa and Balrām to him failing which he would destroy Mathura. Kṛśṇa sought help of Hastināpur but they also expressed inability to help, and hence, Kṛśṇa was left with no choice. In contemporary issue of migration of labour,

the fear of death and destruction was very strong; death either by COVID-19 or by hunger; as there was complete lockdown in the country and with no job, survival was difficult. Decision was to migrate with families and children added to misery of migrants. There was no transport and hence journey was on foot, cycle or rikshaws. Time and distance from Delhi (taken as one central location) was almost 1300 kilometres (800 miles) that Kṛśṇa moved. Though Kṛśṇa, being avatar of Lord Viśṇu, could have killed Jarāsandha but spared him to be later killed by Bhīma, a devotee of Lord Viśṇu.

Selection of Dwārkā as destination

Primary reason was to move to a safe place where Jarāsandha would not be able to reach. Northern and central Bharat was within reach of Jarāsandha, the Magadh emperor, and hence were vulnerable. South was a suitable area; Gomantaka mountain and king of Raivata of Ikṣavāku Vamsa were strong obstacles for Jarāsandha as compared to northern region. Sea on the west coast was invincible by Jarāsandha and hence Kṛśṇa planned to migrate to Kaushasthali which he later named as Dwārkā (Dwār meaning gate and kā meaning mokṣa i.e. gateway to mokṣa).

In present scenario, migrating labour moved from states like Maharashtra, Gujrat, Punjab, Delhi and others to their native places in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal, Assam, etc. Last census by the government was conducted in 2011 that shows an existing and known pattern of migration within India that people undertake in search of jobs. But this was an unexpected and unique reverse migration due to unprecedented pandemic that created panic among labour and

temporary social instability in India. Timely assessment of situation and planning of movement could have prevented the circumstances becoming serious and masses moving on the streets. The state governments like UP and Bihar became active and started sending buses for their respective labour that the centre and Delhi governments also started helping. The situation took political, economic and social complex web and took longer to settle.

The migration plans

Lord Kṛśṇa had to migrate over night against will of Balrām, king Agrasen and many others. They all were ready to fight Jarāsandha and even prepared to die. But that was not acceptable to Kṛśṇa. He preferred his clan to migrate and survive. The move was majority on foot and in bullock carts. Mythology also says that Lord Kṛśṇa prayed and Bhu devī moved them overnight in their sleep to Kaushalsthali to which the author has reservations as it appears more of philosophical construct about the migration. Move of ladies, children and animals would have been slow, difficult and torturous. Kṛśṇa organized their stay enroute in Gomanatak mountains and with Raivata king. To that end, he even accepted marriage of princess Revati daughter of King Raivata with Balrām.

Resource management and controlling movement of the clan with the help of friendly kings ensured safety and well-being of his people. A contemporary analysis of labour migration during pandemic suggests that this movement was sudden and possibly administration was taken aback and had no plans in place at the outset for labour migrating from west to east. It was a graduated response

from government officials and plans were implemented as per the developing situation. Trains like Shramjivi Express were pressed into service much later. The dilemma of letting them migrate or stop all movements itself was not clear. Adhoc administrative arrangements were made by various districts’ administration, Non-government Organisations, and local people between Delhi and Lucknow and beyond to Patna.

Leadership

The leadership during the migration of Yādavas was well defined; Lord Kṛśṇa was in charge and he along with his brother Balrām orchestrated entire journey. Kṛśṇa had his share of social, physical, economic threats before, during and post migration which he tackled through flexibility of thought and decisive in action. In contemporary migration of labour, there were number of leaders in the fray, each one with personal, social and national goals. Though the common aim was safety of the migrants but whether they should move or stay in respective locations itself was a major decision dilemma.

Meanwhile, the labour continued to travel, which posed leadership challenges at both state and centre level. Despite a sincere leader like Mr Narendra Modi being at the helm of affairs, the situation got out of control. The realization dawned much later when integrated and collective decisions were taken to use public transport for movement of the migrants. The democratic challenges could have been overcome if, civil administration had adapted a flexible style of collaborative leadership style. May be some political leaders could have risen to visionary and servant leadership levels, the situation would have been different.

Conclusion

The two cases of migration are far different in time zones, yuga zones, technology and almost in every other sense; some readers may even find it comparing apples with oranges, the fact still remains that people migrated and they suffered the agony of leadership crises and consequent physical, economic and psycho- socio predicaments. The datum shows that a huge number of men and women was humiliated, they became outcastes within their own nation. Empathy and physical support were

so much more needed during migration as compared to any other time in recent history. When the well to-do people in the society needed them, they enjoyed their at services but when that need was temporarily ended due to COVID-19; we did not look after them and they were forced to migrate back to their villages and towns. Once the realization dawned that these very people are the working force of India; measures were put in place to help them out. Gradually the situation eased out.

We needed a Kṛśṇa in present crisis who could have reduced their agony, if not fully overcome.

We have a charismatic leader who can impact the situation in future

Brig JS Rajpurohit, Ph.D. Group Commander, Group HQ NCC, Gorakhpur (UP)

Dvāpara Management Perspective of Migrants in India during COVID-19 : The Situation and the Problem (Part-I)

Brig JS Rajpurohit, Ph.D.

आवयोर्युध्यतोरस्य यद्यगन्ता जरासुत|
बन्धून् वधिष्यत्यथवा नेष्यते स्वपुरं बली||47||

“If powerful Jarāsandha comes while we are busy fighting Kālayavana, Jarāsandha may kill our relatives or else take them away to his capital.”

(Śrīmad Bhāgwatam 50.47)

Lord Kṛśṇa led the migration of entire Yadu community from Mathura to Kausalsthali or Dwarka to protect his clan from Kālayavana and Jarāsandha who were ready to attack Mathura from two different directions. Jarāsandha had attacked Mathura 17 times earlier and was defeated by Lord Kṛśṇa every time. The Śrī Kṛśṇa ensured that before the mass exodus, inevitable requirements to sustain the community were arranged at Kausalsthali; Lord Kṛśṇa had ensured adequate safety and livelihood measures, besides offering prayers to Varuṇa deva (Ocean God) to release twelve yojana land for planned city and requested Lord Viśwakarmā to construct a fortified city to ensure safety and welfare of his people.

COVID-19 has brought about unique circumstances in India that have influenced Indian economy, polity, society and environment. Burgeoning population and sudden migration of masses, specially labour class has resulted into an unexpected crisis. It has deeply altered the psyche of every conscious Indian, particularly the poor. Throughout the globe, different governments are fighting the infection in their own ways with their specific internal and external methodologies. Migration figures released by Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) on 05 April, 2020 showed that over 1.25 million migrant workers were residing in temporary shelters in 27,661 relief camps organized by various state governments in India.

The daily newspaper, ‘The Hindu’s’  legal correspondent on 07 April, 2020 reported that a large number of NGOs (non-governmental organizations) and social groups also came forward to help the victims COVID-19. Chief Justice of India was informed that State and Centre authorities provided food to over 54 lakhs and NGOS helped out over 30 lakh displaced people at different places in the country. “This reverse migration is one of the largest in the history”, says, The Wall Street Journal. People are moving from cities to rural areas due to panic created by the pandemic.

A large number of people from states like Uttar Pradesh (UP), Bihar, Madhya Pradesh (MP), Punjab, Rajasthan, Uttarakhand, West Bengal and J&K migrate every year to metros and states with ample opportunities and prospects of employment in different sectors of economic activities. UP followed by Bihar are the biggest donor states and Maharashtra followed by Delhi, Tamil Nadu, Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh and Kerala are the largest recipient states  in the  migration pattern. Those in search of employment in any form are primarily poor people with limited skills and get jobs in power, energy, construction sectors. 2011 census of migration by NSSO states that almost 400 million population or one third of India migrated in search of jobs. Rural to urban migration figures stand 22.1% where most men get absorbed in industrial and infrastructure sectors and women in cottage/MSME/Homes. A view of the migration pattern provides enough evidences to suggest its importance in building Indian economy. South Asia Journal, 2011 reflects a vibrant state of internal Indian migration figures.

The nature of recent migration during April-May 2020 projects a new pattern for it is not part the routine regular move of people to and fro from their native places; it is a forced reverse migration due to pandemic. Centre and state governments were busy managing the COVID-19 crisis and urban and metro residents locked themselves. It appeared that that’s the end of their hope of survival and possibly that psychological stress with no clear statement and policy direction from state governments and civil administration were major reasons for instant reaction. Sudden movement was unexpected and unanticipated; it dishonored all rules and regulations of COVID-19 and added a new dimension to existing COVID-19 crisis. If the government administration had been proactive to social undercurrent and adaptive to handle human disasters; this crisis of reverse migration could have been mitigated. The exodus of migrant workers could have been prevented or at least better managed to ease their return. The need was to realize the enormity of this unfortunate crisis and its professional management. The management of the crowd involved use of police force and punishing the hungry men and women without any remorse and emotions is unexpected of a civilized democratic egalitarian society and state. The same very people who were supporting pillars of the society, became social burden just because they did not belong where they worked, and were poor.

Human history has experienced pandemic in the past as well and managed by the administration successfully. Śrī Kṛśṇa provides a vivid example of mass exodus in Dvāpara Yuga and Paliwal community in medieval period of Indian history. Ancient Indian civilization, the Harappan civilization migrated from Indus valley to Indo-Gangetic plains. These are but some of the examples to draw our lessons from. Harappan civilization flourished after migration. Unfortunately, the present political and civil administrative structure is struggling to help migrants reach their home destinations. The determination of governments and people in present circumstances will decide what lies in store for our next generation.

To be continued…..

Brig JS Rajpurohit, Ph.D. Group Commander, Group HQ NCC, Gorakhpur (UP)

Understanding The Tradition of Vedic Recitation [Part-I]

SB Photo

-Dr. Soma Basu

1.1. The relevance of ancient Indian texts on Phonetics –

The purport or relevance of the ancient scriptures (Śāstras) on Phonetics is most modern considering their invaluable importance in the methodical phonetic procedure developed by them, which helped preserve the Vedas without the slightest variants in the most faithful way possible. The Vedas are the most ancient bulk of literature humanity has ever produced. They are not only scriptures, but also the fountainhead of Indian culture and human civilization. Actually, they are the treasure house of knowledge par excellence. They are the source of integral wisdom, science, tradition and culture of a remarkable civilization. They are oral compilations of distilled wisdom of cosmic knowledge survived from the time immemorial. We all know that the Veda has to be studied along with its six ancillary texts, i.e., the Vedāṅgas. They are the last treatises of Vedic literature. The Vedāṅga likely developed towards the end of the Vedic period, around of after the middle of the 1st millennium BCE, These auxiliary fields of Vedic studies emerged because the language of the Vedic texts composed centuries earlier grew too archaic to the people of that time.

ṣaḍaṅgo vedo’dhyeyo jñeyaś ca.

1.2. The function of the auxiliary disciplines of the Vedas (Vedāṅgas) –

The necessity of the Vedas and precisely the limbs or auxiliary disciplines of the Vedas (Vedāṅgas) will never die out, in as much as these are the most dependable source to look up to for answers to many a query that invoke intricate exploration. Understanding Vedāṅgas is a pre-requisite to understanding the Veda. The function of the Śikṣā (i.e., the foremost of the six limbs – [The other five being Kalpa or ritual, Vyākaraa or grammar, Nirukta or etymology, Chandas or meter and Jyotia or astronomy.]) is to fix the parameters of Vedic words. Phonetics is most important in the case of the Vedic language; because we see that a mere change in sound leads to change in results and effect. The ancient Indian science of phonetics, which is taught so meticulously in the Śikṣā texts, is the ultimate knowledge discussed in such an ancient time regarding construction of sound and language for synthesis of ideas, in contrast to grammarians who developed rules for language deconstruction and understanding of ideas. We are astonished to know the content of the major treatises of this particular branch which are most relevant in today’s perspective since they analyze sound, vowels and consonants, rules of combination and pronunciation to assist clear understanding, to avoid mistakes and for resonance pleasing to the listener. The methodology found in the Śikṣā texts has been not just highly technical, it has strong aesthetic “sensuous, emotive” dimension, which foster thinking and intellectual skills in a participatory fashion. The reciter’s mind and body are engaged, making language and sound as an emotional performance. In theNāradīya Śikṣā, it has been expressed beautifully, –

Just as a tigress takes her cubs tightly in her teeth without hurting them, whilst fearing that she might drop them and injure them, so one should approach the individual syllables (2.8.31). (transl. by Annette Wilke and Oliver Moebus, (2011). Sound and Communication: An Aesthetic Cultural History of Sanskrit Hinduism. Walter de Gruyter. ISBN 978-3-11-018159-3. [Source :Internet]

1.3. Some information –

1.3.1 From the ancient texts –

In the Atharvaveda (12.1.45), there is the unique realization janaṃ bibhratī bahudhā vivācasaṃ nānādharmānaṃ pr̥thithaukasam |

which means, “Let the earth, bearing in many places people of different speech, of diverse customs (-dharman) according to their homes…” [Trans. W. D. Whitney.  Atharvaveda Saṃhitā. Cambridge , Mass.1905 (1st Edition), MLBD : Delhi 1962, 1971, 1984 ( rpt.) Vol.8, p. 668.]

In the ancient texts like the Taittirīya Saṃhitā (2.4.12.1) and the Śatapatha Brāhmaṇa (1.6.3.8) there is a well-known story narrated where it has been described how Tvaṣṭr̥ repeating the words ‘indraśatrur vardhasva’ in wrong accents caused the fire to be extinguished instead of inflaming it against Indra as he intended. The legend is all about how Tvaṣṭr̥ wanted to pronounce the word ‘indraśatruḥ’ (meaning ‘destroyer of Indra’) as a Tatpuruṣa compound (in which the last syllable of the compound has the udātta accent), while he actually pronounced the word as a Bahuvrīhi (meaning ‘whose killer would be Indra’), in which case the first word of the compound has the udātta accent (as in ‘indraśatrurḥ’) [P. V. Kane. History of Dharmaśāstra.  Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute, Poona, 1941. vol. II, pt. I, p. 347.]. Pāṇini says, ‘samāsasya’ (6.1.223) – samāsa-niṣpaṇṇa-śabdasya anta-svaraḥ udātto bhavati and ‘bahuvrīhau prakr̥tyā pūrvvapadam’ (6.2.1) – bahuvrīhi-samāse, udātta-svarita-yuktaṃ pūrvvapadaṃ prakr̥tyā bhavati… etc.

1.3.2  From the Bible –

The story of the Tower of Babel in the Book of Genesis (11:1-9) offers an explanation for the many different languages spoken on earth, though on the surface, otherwise it carries deeper meaning too. According to the story, all the descendants of Noah spoke a single language. They began to spread eastward as they increased in number. After finding a fertile area called Shinar they settled there and instead of setting up a society that fits God’s will, they decided to challenge His authority and build a city with a tower that could reach Heaven. They wanted the tower to be a proud monument to themselves and a symbol that would keep them united as a powerful people. However, God thought it otherwise. Unhappy he came down and looked at the city and watching the tower said, if as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them. Come, let us go down and confuse their language so they will not understand each other. (Genesis 11:6-7) God, recognizing their arrogance, regained control over them through a linguistic stratagem. Therefore, God made the people speak many different languages so as not to understand each other and work together on building the city and tower. He scattered the people around the world and the city was abandoned. After that incident, the number of languages increased through diversification, and people started to look for ways to communicate.

(to be continued…..)

Dr. Soma Basu, Associate Professor, School of Vedic Studies, Rabindra Bharati University, Kolkata

Homa Organic Farming for Sustainability and Climate Change Adaptation (Part-II)

-Mr. Anand Gaikwad

(continued from previous article)

For environmental balance and rain induction/cloud formation, the techniques mentioned in ancient Vedic sciences i.e. performance of yajñas are of great importance.

Components of Technology / Methodology

Fully integrated organic farming practices, i.e., components of livestock, biogas slurry, composting of biomass and animal manure, practicing biodiversity, intercropping, rotation of crops etc.

Creation of Resonance Point – Installation of Agnihotra/Trambakam Hut for receiving and broadcasting subtle energies from sun and moon cycles.

Bovine is Divine –  Full and complete integration of cow family with the farm.

Performance of AgnihotraIn Agnihotra the substances used are cow dung cakes, cow ghee, rice, dry–wooden sticks of certain trees, medicinal herbs etc that helps in cleansing of Biosphere. The agronomic practices of performing Agnihotra/Medicinal Homas as fumigation techniques are essential components of Vedic Agriculture or “Homa Farming”.

Biogas Slurry – Enrichment and enhancement of Biogas slurry with effective micro–nutrients/Homa ash/Panchgavya for soil health and Rhizosphere Management.

Panchgavya/Kunapajala – An elixir prepared by using five products of cow i.e. cowdung, cow urine, milk, curd and ghee plus some other ingredients. This works as a nourishing elixir for soil and useful in Rhizosphere and Biosphere Management of the farm.

Cosmic influence of Planets on Plant life –  Rudolf Steiner’s philosophy is that plants grow not only through the fertility of the soil but also with support from cosmos – the rhythms of the sun, moon, planets and wider constellations of the Zodiac. According to Biodynamic principles, the four parts of the plants i.e. root, stem, leaves, flower and fruits correspond to the four classic elements of nature. The Sap inside the plants flow upward or downward according to ascending or descending moon cycle. According to Vedic Sciences, all objects, substances and life patterns in the universe are made from Panchmahabhutas. In “Vrikshyaayurveda of Parashara (By N. N. Sarkar and Roma Sarkar) it is stated that Plants have consciousness and feelings. As a part of plant physiology the text records a concept relating to the transport system inside the plant. The vascular circulating system consists of Syandani and Sira. Of these, Syandani performs the function of transporting elementary fluid (Panchbhautik Rasa) from earth (soil) with the help of roots. Through Sira the fluid circulates both in the inward and outward directions. The rasa is to be conceived (according to Sankhya Darshana of ancient philosophy) right from the basic invisible matter. This rasa nourishes the plant organs with all the derivations of five “Panchmahabhautik elements” viz. “Khsiti (earth)”, “Aap (water)”, “Tej (Solar/Agni)”, “Vayu (air)” and “Aakash (space)”.

Just as Biodynamic farming, Homa organic farming is based on yajñas and Life Bio-energy forces, whose main source is the energy from the sun. This Cosmic energy we call it as “Prana-tatva” or “Pranic energy”. In following the principle य॒ज्ञेन॑ कल्पतां प्रा॒णो य॒ज्ञेन॑ कल्पताम्-अपा॒नो य॒ज्ञेन॑ कल्पतां॒ व्या॒नो य॒ज्ञेन॑ कल्पतां॒ चक्षु॑र्-य॒ज्ञेन॑ कल्पता॒ग्॒ श्रोत्रं॑ य॒ज्ञेन॑ कल्पतां॒ मनो॑ य॒ज्ञेन॑ कल्पतां॒ वाग्-य॒ज्ञेन॑ कल्पताम्-आ॒त्मा य॒ज्ञेन॑ कल्पतां य॒ज्ञो य॒ज्ञेन॑ कल्पताम् ॥ as mentioned in Rudram Chamakam (10).

The most important thing about this agricultural methodology which is based on Vedic Sciences is that it recognizes the forces of “Aakash (space)” the fifth element i.e. the subtle energies of both light and sound (Nad-brahma) to enhance the Cosmic influence of planets on plants. Aakash is the mother of all other elements and “Nad” or “Sound” is its most omnipotent and subtlest force, which has capacity to reach Cosmos of Twenty-seven Constellations. Shri Vasant Paranjape in his book “Homa Therapy – our Last Chance” says “when these specific mantras are uttered at the specific times of sunrise/sunset “RESONANCE” takes place in the pyramid.  The most powerful effect is with the word “SWAHA”. It is the Resonance which heals.” This is how plant plagues and epidemics go away. Resonance plays vital part in natural phenomena.  He further says “when Mantras are done in conjunction with Homa fires the vibrations from mantras become locked up in the ash and therefore ash becomes more powerful under this method to heal atmosphere and create conducive Biosphere for healthy growth of plants and animal life.”

Nakshatra-wise rain-forecast and performance of Homas according to astronomical positions of constellations for attracting influence of cosmic forces on plants / animals and for rain-induction is the area of research that leads to preparation of location based specific agro-climatic calendar. This will be another dimension of Homa farming. Additionally, it is also proposed to study the effect of ashes from Samidhas of Yajñyiya Vrikshas used during Havans. The relationship of Agnihotra/Yajñas, environment and Agriculture are explained in the following diagram:diagram

Thus, these practices based on Vedic Sciences and recommended in texts like “Vruksha Ayurveda of Parashar, Kashyapiya Krishi Sukti, Brihit Samhita by Varah Mihir” are helpful in Biosphere Management for healthy plant / animal life and human life.

-Mr. Anand Gaikwad, Krishi Bhushan Sendriya  Sheti  M. S. & Retd. Executive Director/Company Secretary

 

Imparting Indian Culture : A Global Perspective – II

Continued from Part-I

The Inwardness of Indian Mind

How to convey this idea of Indian spirituality to the student of Indian Culture or to an audience? Perhaps through the second characteristics “inward looking” or inwardness. Inwardness means to live from within outwards both individually and collectively. Individually it means not to live in the surface physical, vital or intellectual being but in inner subliminal or spiritual mind or soul, which can intuitively see or feel or perceive the inner invisible realities behind the outer visible forms. Collectively it means to create a society based on psychologic and spiritual principles, which felicitates the inner psychological and spiritual development of the individual towards his spiritual destiny.

Every outer activity, even something mundane like economics, is the outer expression of some inner psychological needs or forces, and these psychological forces are in turn the expression of some cosmic and spiritual truth or forces. The Vedic social ideal is to make the whole collective life of man a conscious expression of these deeper and higher psychological, cosmic and spiritual forces. We may convey the idea of the spirit as the source and goal of this inwardness and spirituality as the quest for this deepest and innermost truth of the spirit in every activity of human life.

spirit

In ancient India, philosophy for the sage and seer is the intellectual expression of his spiritual experience.  For others or for the collectivity, philosophy is a means for the intellectual being of the individual and the collectivity to receive, hold or assimilate the truth of the spirit as much as they can, with whatever limitations or imperfections. Religion in ancient India is the attempt to communicate the truth of the Spirit to the instinctive and emotional being of the masses through concrete symbols, images and legends.  Through philosophy and religion, the spiritual truths discovered by sages through spiritual experience were made accessible to the intellectual and emotional being of the community or in other words, we may say light of the spirit descends into the intellect and emotions. This may lead to much dilution of the spiritual truth, but at the same there is a greater diffusion of the truth of the spirit into the masses.

Towards a Balanced Approach

However the student of Indian Culture should not be given the impression that ancient Indian Culture is a total success or something perfect or complete. It was a great attempt to create a civilization based on a spiritual vision.  But the attempt was only a partial success with some glaring failures. It was a great success in religion, philosophy and culture. But in society and politics, the attempt broke-down and went astray somewhere in the middle. In society, Indian attempt achieved only what Sri Aurobindo describes as “half-aristocratic, half-theocratic feudalism” (Sri Aurobindo, Collected Works, Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Puducherry, SABCL, Vol.14, Foundations of Indian Culture Pg.335) with the caste system as its last result. In politics and government the attempt to govern politics by dharma couldn’t be sustained after the epical age. As Sri Aurobindo describes this attempt to govern outer life by Dharma –

“But the difficulty of making the social life an expression of man’s true self and some highest realization of the spirit within him is immensely greater than that which attends a spiritual self-expression through the things of the mind, religion, thought, art, literature, and while in these India reached extraordinary heights and largenesses, she could not in the outward life go beyond certain very partial realisations and very imperfect tentatives,—a general spiritualising symbolism, an infiltration of the greater aspiration, a certain cast given to the communal life, the creation of institutions favourable to the spiritual idea. Politics, society, economics are the natural field of the two first and grosser parts of human aim and conduct recognised in the Indian system, interest and hedonistic desire: Dharma, the higher law, has nowhere been brought more than partially into this outer side of life, and in politics to a very minimum extent; for the effort at governing political action by ethics is usually little more than a pretence” (Sri Aurobindo, Collected Works, Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Puducherry, SABCL, Vol.2 Karmayogin, Pg.210).

 The main aim of the political thought of Ramayana and Mahabharatha is to uplift politics to a higher level by harnessing it to the yoke of Dharma or in other words, dharmic elevation of the political life of the community. But in later ages Dharmic aims were subordinated to the practical and economic interests, Artha. This Indian term Dharma is a pregnant concept with a multidimensional significance. But in general we may define Dharma as the values, ideals or ways of living derived from the higher laws of life or Nature, which leads to the higher evolution of humanity in the mental, moral, aesthetic and spiritual domains of consciousness.

So while it is necessary to highlight our past achievements, the student should also be given a very unbiased and objective assessment of our past failures. In fact our emphasis should be neither on our past achievements nor our failures but on the future work to be done by India. The factors or causes behind our achievements and failures have to be brought out in such a way that it gives a clear direction to the future work to be done.

So our aim in the education of Indian culture should be not to create a narrow-minded and sentimental patriot, but someone who is imbued with the essential spirit and genius of India but at the same time with a broad global outlook which can understand and appreciate the greatness in other cultures.

-Mr. M.S. Srinivasan, Senior Research Associate, Sri Aurobindo Institute of Research in Social Sciences, Sri Aurobindo Society, Puducherry, India.