Timeless ideas from the land where the Sindu Flowed

...As applied in the present context

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1.0 Abraham Maslow's investigation into Peak and Plateau experiences just scratches the surface on the Indian Sages' understanding of human metaphysical nature. ...

1.1 For example the present mainstream perspective on wholesome living hinges itself on only two Purusharths that "impel" human behaviour, namely ‘kama’ and ‘artha’. The Ancient perspective in the subcontinent however adds two more impellors “Dharma” and “Moksha”. That is, humans have inherent urges for all four impellors to be satisfied. A mode of living designed after reckoning all four is definitely more comprensive. The promised outcome of a life, lived on such a wholesome perspective, is greater fulfilment and contentment. (Ref6: Ch 3)

1.2 One of the reasons why the spiritual ideas of the east have not found ready acceptance in the west is because the west is dealing with a Science Vs Religion dilemma. Western university scholarship has left out the insights developed in spirituality while restricting it to monastries. The traditional Indian formal education process however considers two distinct areas of study: Param Vidya and Aparam Vidya. The former deals with spirituality and the latter deals with everything else. Both were studied in the same institutions. Science belongs to the Aparam Vidya domain. As such, going by the traditional Indian perspective, there is no need for a clash between science and spirituality at all since the subjects are different.(Ref1: Sec1: Ch 2)

1.3 The power that drives leadership of the transformational kind is not the power of the gun, money, brute force, bureaucratic power, military authority… rather it is driven by the power of the spirit. It flows from the oneness that all humans enjoy at the level of the soul. Gandhiji wielded this power over his followers by always turning inwards for peace and strength. Only that power can lead to revival of vitality. And it is available in every individual. (Yogyathwa:a book co-authored with Prof Bala and Mr. Seshan)

1.4 A synthesis of western and Indian thought is necessary. And an outstanding example of how west could meet the east is Japan. The Japanese monarch, who was in control when the western influence came to Japan, was able to dovetail the two civilizations into a productive culture. In India the British were in control and the authorities thought on the lines of displacement of the Indian system by a western system. A proper synthesis is still pending.

1.5 The Indian system that revels in its understanding of human metaphysical nature has an effective system to transmit wisdom. With stories from the puranas and epics great amount of learning is transferred to the common man. So even the unlettered get educated; it is therefore not uncommon to see great wisdom even in the unlettered. (Ref1: Sec5: Ch 2)

2.0 The very same wisdom/spiritualism is at the root of casteism. Spiritualism, on its part, unites and does not divide. If emancipation of depressed classes is pursued without addressing spirituality the outcome cannot be permanent. By implication the policy of reservation barks up the wrong tree

2.1 The application need not be as good as or even close to the ideal. So it is true that there are many negative developments in Indian Hindu society (like untouchability for instance) that mask the core of genuine Hinduism. But that is not a criterion to measure the core ideal by.

2.2 One of the negatives of the Indian system often cited is Casteism. But the initiator of the system, Manu, has said that ‘all men are born equal’. By implication it means that what makes the difference is training and education; and that too one particular aspect of education which can make the difference.

2.3 Aadi Sankara was able to transform a group of Dalits into Brahmins in one generation. Low caste Vishnu worshippers in the 12th century are known to have risen in caste over the centuries, freely marrying Brahmins. And it is a known fact of history that through association with spiritual gurus many groups of people including castes, tribes and clans grew up in the caste hierarchy in society. What makes a difference to caste status is therefore in the domain of spiritualism.

2.4 Reservation will not lead to elevation of castes because it does not address the substantial domain of spiritualism. In fact the opposite happens; reservation reinforces the caste consciousness and misleads from the real solution to the problem. Spiritual elevation includes peace, patience, love, universality and such other emotions which are not present in an agitated mind. Agitation is not the solution. (Ref3: Sec 3)

2.5 Hinduism is a confluence of sub-religions; it is a confluence of Guru Parmparas. And Guru Paramparas are similar to Religions like Islam or Christianity. Guru Paramparas and religions are both inspired by Transcended souls, they all have a body of teachings that are preserved and they have a body of followers who preserve the knowledge and traditions instituted—and live their lives in the pursuit of that inspiration. Hinduism is therefore the future of the world. It has the elements to show how we can live together despite religious diversity. (Ref3: Sec 1)

2.6 The traditions carried forward by groups of families contain these spiritual lessons and are responsible for better values and better success in all dimensions of life. Castes are therefore important. The opportunity in casteism is in the scope it provides for the elevation of spiritual consciousness and lead to genuine personal transformation. Recognizing the spiritual nature of casteism is the opportunity for emancipation. (Ref3: Sec 3)

3.0 Communalism is essentially a clash of political ideology and does not amount to spiritual conflict.

3.1 The ‘Clash of civilizations’ theory propounded by Samuel Huntington is the antithesis of Vasudaivakutambakkam. The latter claims that if Spirituality attains its peak in an individual then that person sees the oneness of God in all humans; therefore the real success of religion is in the ability of its followers being able to see the whole world as one family. (Ref3: Sec 1: Ch 4)

4.0 It is evident that clashes do happen between religions and it is because at least some of those involved in those clashes have failed to benefit from the main purpose of those very religions they claim to represent. Taking a leaf of wisdom from the Greeks, men can be classified into selfish ‘idiots’, Clan loyal ‘tribals’ and all-embracing ‘Citizens’; conflicts are due to 'Idiots' and 'Tribesmen'. The 'Idiot' and the 'tribal' are failures of their respective religions; in essence a religion is not successful in a particular one of its members if it does not raise the level of consciousness of that particular member to 'citizenship'.

4.1 The principle of Secularism generated in the west arose in the environment of the differences between science and spirituality. Deeply influenced by science, the secularism that is in use today is predominantly devoid of belief in God. The ancient Indians also practiced secularism in that the idealism kept all faith systems equidistant from administration, however that secularism was faith endowed or it believed in the existence of God. So the wise Indian kings did not have atheistic secularism, what they practiced was faith endowed secularism.

4.2 It is absurd that between the possibility of multiple Gods and the possibility of the same inspiration being called as God, Father , Yaweah, OM, Word, Krishna Consciousness or Allah, the tribesmen and the idiots conveniently assume the former as true. The clash is therefore between competing tribes and it has little to do with the prime function of religion—spiritual elevation. The ‘Clash of civilizations’ is just a clash of ideologies or clash of methodology; in essence there is no clash.

5.0 Having realized the true nature of contentment and happiness, the Indian masters did not carry forward their 'society-building' by focusing on a 'rights' perspective; they built their society around the concept of 'duty' instead. They used the subtle and universal concept of Dharma which encompases the sense of duty. By drawing a parallel, it can be said that the Indian Masters would reckon that the Indian Constitution lays down the foundations of Dharma for post-independence India and would want Indians to do their duties diligently towards it. If Lord Rama were a citizen of India today, he would have stood by the Constitution.

5.1 If it is the Krishna consciousness that decides what will be the system that human togetherness must pursue, what would that system be for India today? At one time in the Indian subcontinent republics existed but they could not survive the onslaught of Monarchy. In today’s world it is Democracy that has proved its credentials. It is therefore only proper that our elders (Gandhiji and his team of leaders of the freedom struggle), opted for Democracy for India. An Indian, if he is a true devotee of Lord Rama, would uphold the Constitutional Dharma just as Lord Rama upheld Monarchy Dharma in his age. (Ref6: Ch 8)

5.2 It is not proper that one does what is divine in respect of places of worship and plays foul in civil or economic matters. The divine desires that justice be done to one and all through the civil, political and economic systems that exist in the world at a given time. The leaders of religious organizations must inspire their followers to uphold the systemic dharma (constitutional dharma) as part of their spiritual duties. (Ref6: Ch 9,10)

6.0 Real executable power in the hands of local communities will give its members better control over their individual destinies. village dwellers should realize that they must take up responsibility.

6.1 The most successful of kingdoms in the historical past of India exemplified autonomous villages as the basic unit of government. In those times the villages were the doers and the State (under the king) was the auditor. Today the State (government) is the doer and the village is the passive receiver. (Ref4: Sec 3: Ch 1, 2, 3, 4)

6.2 This situation was created because the Colonial rule disempowered earlier existing grassroots institutions and new systems were introduced that were not indigenous. At independence the position was not effectively reversed. (Ref4: Sec 3: Ch 6, 8, 9)

7.0 Despite sincere efforts by various governments ever since independence, effective decentralization has not happened in most of India. The exceptions are the various village revolutions that dot the length and bredth of India. At the state level the exception has been Karela, where the communist governments were able to shift a lot of respoinsibility to local communities. Kerala's success at education is a visible outcome. But the lack of support for entrepreneurship and inability of the grassroots movement to support grassroots cultural initiative has limited its success.

7.1 The situation needs to change. The village dwellers must take charge, without waiting for the external powers (government, politicians) to do what they have been promising. If the community teams up great things are possible. Pursue the six freedoms and the village will be on its way to take charge of itself. (Ref4: Sec 2: Ch 1-9)

7.2 Village republics existed in India, particularly in the Chola period. Inscriptions found in Uttaramerur of Chengelpet district describe one such. It will suffice to say that in as far as political structure and spirit of cooperation is concerned it is close to what Mahatma Gandhi called as Gardens of Eden. Only when a village is truly self-governing can the members of the community have control over their own destinies. (Ref4: Sec 3: Ch 3)

7.3 People from outside can also help. Corporate executives, Government servants, political activists, Social activists, educationists, entrepreneurs, artists, professionals, sports persons all can contribute in their respective domains of work by facilitating grassroots freedom. The starting point for this is to understand what that freedom in the villages must be. Then one can innovate according to their own strengths. (Ref4: Sec 5: Ch 1-3) Refer to for getting this practically executed in the villages of India.

7.4 It is now time for the villages of India to take charge. The present constitutional arrangement and laws provide scope for great team action. There are many village revolutions happening even today. While governments must work at operationalizing grassroots initiative in every village, the villages must not wait. They must team up and take on responsibility for their own progress. The possibilities have been demonstated time and again, it must become the norm. the website Panchayati Swaraj serves as facilitator for village teams to rise to the occasion and rise to freedom. (Ref4) (

8.0 In order to rid the farm sector of its distress, which in turn, is evident in the spate of farmers’ suicides, it is important that the economic aspect of villages be addressed on priority. In the capitalist system money has an important role and if money does not flow into the villages it is difficult for the villages to move their citizens into a positive spiral of development. As the villages attempt to get their economies integrated into the mainstream, the citizens of India must take to Gandhian action in the form of ‘Swagrami’ which in turn imitates ‘Swadeshi’ of the freedom Struggle. (

8.1 There is masked unemployment in the villages. In a developed nation a small portion of less than 10% people are sufficient to grow food for the rest. An important part of moving from a developing nation to a developed nation involves reducing the agriculture dependent population form the present high levels to around 10% or less. So the surplus population needs to be moved into secondary services and production. (Ref2: Ch 6) In this link Check out the report on the Suicides in Vidarbha, in particular read the Conclusion chapter 6 (the report can also be downloaded for free in this page).

8.2 Village entrepreneurship needs to be supported upfront. Village brands must be built up rapidly. Village produce must find a good market.

8.3 As a citizen wishing well for the villages there is an urgent need to patronize village goods and it must be a Gandhian mass movement. Just as Swadeshi was needed to assert the ‘right to livelihood’ of the Indian during the independence struggle, it is necessary to have a similar movement to support village production in this time and age.

8.4 The answer should be “Swagrami”. All well-meaning citizens of India must go out of their way and patronize village goods and village brands.

8.5 But there is a responsibility on the part of the people of the village as well. They must produce goods that can sustain in a capitalist free market. So they must produce goods that are “NECESSARY, CLEAN, QUALITY”

8.6 Swagrami will succeed only if it is a mass movement. If Gandhians can team up to call for a national movement it will make a difference; a difference which even governments cannot make… It would be a sincere attempt at the common Indian solving an issue that is a terrible national tragedy. This would be a true tribute to Gandhiji in 150 years of his birth. (Ref:

9.0 The various institutions that constitute modern India must shed the elements that relate to the colonial mentality and tune themselves to support genuine freedom. There is a need to look inwards into Politics, Village Self-rule, The police force, the Judiciary, Social Work, Medical Practice, Sports and Art institutions, Government and Education, and re-assess as to whether they are attuned to wisdom and freedom.

9.1 Politicians must invest in the success of villages and therefore in their own futures. Unite villages. Help them achieve their goals. Politicians must not offer themselves for elections to village leadership. Both political leaders are as important as village leaders for running the system; but they must not mix. If villages must be successful they need to remain united as one community. For this unity to happen the separation of leadership must be religiously maintained. (Ref4: Sec 5: Ch 2)

9.2 A free village must implement this through their collective power. It is a choice between freedom and favouritism of various parties. Party leadership is also important, especially in all interactions with state and central government and other government authorities. Political leaders are needed to run the democratic machinery of the nation. Just as both conductors and drivers are required to run a normal city bus, both classes of leaders are needed to run the present democratic arrangement. The roles of village leaders and political leaders are therefore both important and different and should not mix.

9.3 The police must realize that the police force is a product of a Colonial past. The police force of the colonial past had to fight the population in order to preserve colonial power over them. After Independence we are a free nation. The police must therefore change its attitude and become a people’s force. All citizens have police functions and some have been selected to wear the uniform and handle the responsibility officially; that should be the attitude. They must help in re-defining the Dharma of the Indian police officer and execute the same in the best interests of the constitution of India. (Ref5: Sec 5)

9.4 The judiciary needs to think in revolutionary terms. Having three centuries worth of cases pending calls for radical action. There is a great opportunity in having a grassroots judicial system that operates at the level of the local community. Such systems have existed in the past in India and even today a system as such exists in Britain. Together with the legislature the Judiciary must constitute a grassroots judicial process that operates largely from voluntary community efforts. In the initial stages it can be targeted primarily at arbitration. Tradition, practice and to a limited extent law should form the basis of the system. It is quite feasible to have a formalized system with well-defined power which even the unlettered can operate—if it was a success in the past, it should be easier now. (Ref5: Sec 4)

9.5 Social workers should coordinate informally in the spirit of an enlightened anarchy when they work as an informal team for village freedom. They must form an informal team and coordinate their efforts in such a way that the output is optimised. The coordinating agency will be elected on the principle that the greatest of them is the one that is in service of all. It will have a small office and will shoulder the primary responsibilities of coordination of all social work happening in its area of influence. Taluka and District need to be two important levels having such agencies. They will also ensure that no seeds of discord are sown in their efforts at emancipation. They must not accentuate factors that divide communities. For example, working for women should not mean that they should drive a wedge between men and women. They must be sensitive to rural practices and traditions. (Ref5: Sec 6)

9.6 The various systems of medicine including Allopathy, Ayurveda, Unani, Homeopathy and Siddha must cooperate to come out with adequate coverage for each village so that people of all economic classes are catered for. All the branches of medicine need to sit together and work out if they can cooperate and work out a comprehensive solution. Besides, each village must explore the possibility of covering the entire village through some system of medical insurance so that everyone has coverage. (Ref5: Sec 7)

9.7 An important dimension of life is fulfilled in sports and arts. It needs to be patronized not only in the professional sense or as entertainment but as an integral part of life itself. It is integral to building up personalities. Excellence in the arts and sports is a great character and community builder. Families, education institutions and religious organizations must patronize these at as high a level as possible. (Ref5: Sec 8)

9.8 Government executives will be responsible to the constitution and to the government of the day. Each official will have an area of influence where he can make a difference. He must innovate and ensure that through his influence the village communities unite and take charge. It will diminish corruption and the aim and mission of the government’s existence will be better fulfilled. It will help solve huge problems of disparity, poverty and environment. The nation can thrive. The government official therefore must play his dharmic role in the constitutional democracy and that is all that will be needed. (Ref4: Sec 5: Ch 3)

9.9 Education must account for the param Vidya dimension also. Once an individual has taken to the profession of education as teacher, trainer, coach or professor, it must be his endeavour to update himself on matters of param vidya also. It involves life skills, spiritualism and learnt attitudes that are secular and can make a difference to the student’s life, attitude and success. It is a duty that teacher in India must take on until such a time that he understands his dharmic role. In summary, teachers must understand the spiritual aspect and endeavour to impart spiritual strength to their wards. (Ref5: Sec 9)

9.10 The Param vidya factor talks in terms of end-of-knowledge or veda-anta. Teachers must at the minimum understand the rationality in this. The content is of such value that a teacher will automatically transfer that learning to the student. It involves the identification of Dharma and fulfilling it to the best of one’s ability. This process is of immense importance in value education and it forms the core of an empowerment process. A teacher must be able to aid in this. (Ref5: Sec 9), (Ref6: Ch 8, 9, 10)

9.11 Dharma is used here not in the sense of it being religion. It is more than that. It is about doing the most humane thing possible in any situation. It has to do with doing what God would expect from us in each situation. What one must do depends on various factors including the system that is in place, the designated role of the individual, the expectation of wise elders and serendipity. Each person needs to decipher what Dharma is for him using the guidance of spiritual lights, wise elders, predecessors who have blazed a trail in their respective fields. And do what he knows is the will of God and the wise. (Ref6)

10.0 In summary:

In Dharma the individual Indian must rise to touch his highest potentials. (Ref6) This will happen only when the authority of the constitution is upheld religiously. Effectively decentralizing governance (so that each village has control over its own destiny) (Ref4) and taking a leaf out of the ancient wisdom (that talks of the equality of all humans) (Ref3) India can move into a world where casteism, communalism, poverty are all squarely and sensibly addressed. There is a world of excellence, peace and prosperity that awaits India and the journey to it must start at the point where the baby is separated from the bath water in as far as the Ancient Indian Wisdom is concerned.
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