SINDULAND GENIUS

Timeless ideas from the land where the Sindu Flowed

...As applied in the present context

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DHARMA: CORNER STONE OF INDIAN CIVILIZATION



Book Publisher: (to be published)
Author: Nixon Fernando
No of Pages: 130(approx)
Paper Back Price: -----
I.S.B.N: -----
Buying the book: This book will be made available shortly.

"....Dharma also manifests in society and Nixon has picked up four aspects of it and has been able to elaborate on the idea in a way that the insight will help in understanding and applying Dharma...."

----TN Seshan, Former Cabinet Secretary and Former CEC of India.
Dharmacover

ABOUT THE BOOK

In the land where the sindu flowed, the society had a method to address the issue of values. It was not about morals, neither was it about a social-contract. It was not about the pain of having to adjust with the other or to tolerate him either. Rather it was about truth. It was about human nature, it was about knowing who the other person realy was, it was about having an attitude that led to living fulfilled and contented lives. It was about being the best one could be. And it correlated with excellence, joy and prosperity, both for the citizen and for his clan or society.

The nature of this content was spiritual and it had to do with 'self realization'. Though the theoretical aspect was difficult to comprehend, the practical application of that wisdom was much easier. And one word that was important in this 'application' aspect was 'Dharma'. ...

True to Hinduism's universal nature, there are equivalents for this concept in all the major religions of the world. And it stands for doing the Highest Will; doing the best for humanity in a given situation.

This book was concieved as a source book for a course/program on Dharma on the directions of Mr. TN Seshan. He in turn lived to see the completion of the draft and gave the foreword.

This book should serve to give a window to India's rich intellectual past and suggest to the reader what the significance of that exalted thinking is in this present time.

It is also aimed at provoking deep thinking and triggering closer observation of one's own nature--and therefore human nature in general.

It would be of immense value to mentors of all kinds. It can facilitate the shift of the acharya into becoming a Guru. The practice of Dharma can make a leader transformational. And it can help anyone who holds authority to design systems, take decisions, and inspire his juniors, while operating at excellence.



FOREWORD




TN Seshan
Former Chief Election Commissioner of India,
Former Cabinet Secretary, GOI.
SeshanForDharma

Despite the prevailing despondency in the Indian nation, I have always nurtured, and sill nurture, a fond hope within me that the ancient learning of ours will re-assert itself and the sub-continent will once again rise to peace and prosperity. The civilization has withstood crises for many thousands of years and it will withstand the present onslaught too. All it will take for a nation to rise, is for its leaders to perform their duties with discipline and dignity. Dharma should be in fashion yet again and we would have arrived. But I still ask myself how does one get there? ...

It gives me pleasure to forward this book because it points in a direction of promise. If India must rise, it must ask deep questions and introspect. This book does ask and answer some of those questions. The author makes a strong case for us to re-visit our understanding of past wisdom and he focuses on ‘Dharma’ which he says, and I agree, is the most important thing in the Indian Civilization.

The author: Nixon was one of the senior students of the second batch of the MIT School of Government that we set up at Pune with the intention of grooming future leaders. He came to me in Chennai in 2007 in connection with research about my work at the Election Commission and has been associated with me ever since. After the passing away of my wife, he spends most of his time with me doing research and helping me with my intellectual work.

He has done well in his academics, in his extracurricular activities and in his service life at the NDA, and he also has an MBA to boot. So I even asked him one day, ‘What are you doing here?’

He has been into a deep study of the Indian situation and has been researching solutions for more than 25 years now. He told me, “When you were cleaning up the commission and your popularity rivaled the best of Bollywood stars, I was just out of university watching and hoping one day I would be able to present to you my ideas on how we could solve the problems of the nation. Destiny has brought me to your home”. Of late he has been asking me questions on what must be done in various areas in Indian society and Government and has been compiling the answers.

Nixon has written several books in the area of his research; the latest one being a huge compendium which he calls a Vision for India entitled “Rising to Second freedom”. He has written a book on the farmers’ suicides in Vidarbha. And he even did the leg work for the book 'Yogyathwa: Simple Access to Powerful Leadership" by Dr Bala Balachander and myself and he is one of the co-authors.

The right person for this book: I had asked him to work on the possibility of setting up of a finishing school that taught about Leadership and Dharma. This book is an outcome of that. What has emerged is a useful narrative on Dharma; and one can understand why it is of great importance to India.

He is the right person for writing this book because he has the acumen and has intensely studied select scriptures, especially the Bhagwad Gita. His unique perspective on the Hindu system of thought is both meaningful and one that easily blends with the teachings of his own Christian faith and the teachings of other religions. Through such a universal perspective, he brings out hidden gems of wisdom that give us opportunities to introspect. Also, for Nixon, firm grounding in rational thought comes through his post-graduation in Physics and yet he sees no conflict between science and spirituality. Therefore, this perspective that sees resonance in the various religions, in science and in the works of the likes of Mahatma Gandhi is invaluable; it will help in the search for harmony in today’s public thought

A Brief Synopsis: I had advised him to begin the book with a chapter dedicated to debunking the idea that Dharma is equivalent of Religion. He has done that. Dharma is indeed not religion. Dharma is above religion as it universally applies to all of humanity and it deals with every act and interaction of each individual. Chapter 3 has a perspective on four things that impel action in human beings: Kama, Artha, Dharma and Moksha. Nixon’s analysis of this age old model shows that people who acknowledge only the first two of these as realities of human existence live lesser lives compared to those who know instinctively (or otherwise) that there are four.

Chapter 4 is the one that takes the reader back to basics. I always hold the view that “Dharma IS”; it is an experience and no amount of word power is going to do justice to describing it. But Dharma also manifests in society and Nixon has picked up four aspects of it and has been able to elaborate on the idea in a way that the insight will help in understanding and applying Dharma. Obedience to the will of the Supreme, establishment of the rule of law, transition from duty to no duty and the time and place specificity of a given Dharma are all important aspects of Dharma.

But Chapter 8 is by far the most crucial of the chapters in the book. In it, the author answers the question, “If Lord Rama was alive today, what is the systemic Dharma he would follow and protect?”

Taking it up from the first principles discussed earlier in the book, Nixon argues how ‘Democracy’ is the Dharmic solution that has been arrived at as the best possible in the present era. It has been recommended by leading lights of the world. The Indian elders too have chosen democracy and have established the Constitution of India as the mother document that tells us how team India will work together through democracy. Just as Arjuna was asked to defend the monarchic Dharma of his age, the citizens of today’s India are called upon to defend the democracy set up under the Constitution of India—Indians have to stand by the Constitution and take the nation to greater heights.

He remarks: “It is not ok if someone steals and murders out in the world and comes to a temple or church or mosque and offers a ‘cut’ as donation to God.” He implies that working for the Constitution is as sacred as is working for a house of worship.

The book then winds up with two chapters dedicated to how each individual must find what his role in the modern Dharma is, how he can excel in his duties, and how the pursuit of Dharma alone is going to give him satisfaction of a life truly lived.

What is of value in the book and to whom is it relevant: This is not a very large book but it is deep. It addresses the questions related to contentment in life and finding meaning in what one does. It attempts to restore to the limelight something that was a core motivating principle of the civilization. And surely it will provoke the readers to re-visit values, take reference with respect to some of the greatest ideas known to man and begin each day with better assurance that one is making his way after understanding what the wise want from him—in pursuit of the highest joy recommended by the ancients.

It is a must read for the Hindu, for the teacher, for the leader—in fact for every thinking individual; because of the universality of Dharma. An understanding of Dharma—and more importantly its experience—shows a pathway to calm down in the present intellectual noise and move forward assured that one is acting in resonance with the Supreme Spirit. At a time when the world has to deal with impending crises of environment, poverty and annihilation, the din in the public discourse is not helping. It is now time for timeless and universal thoughts like Dharma to re-surface and lead humanity to better places. Therefore this book is both significant and timely.

An important part of the book is that there is no brow beating. It is an exposition with which a reader is free to agree, or disagree. And for those averse to Metaphysical references, Nixon offers rational practical suggestions all along, which throw light on best suggested practices that both make sense and are in harmony with Dharma; so even those that do not have faith can benefit. It is self-education, if one adds this awareness to himself, of an idea that has been cherished for five thousand years or more. For all we know, it may light up the spark that sets real leaders going.

What this means to me: Duty has always been close to my heart, but Dharma is closer. Duty with Discipline and Dignity is Dharma. I have been groomed to stand up for what is righteous and I am proud to say that I did not relent for anything or anybody in all my service life. In the beginning of my career, at my very first independent posting, I had run into trouble with two Tamil Nadu ministers over a punishment I gave to a fourth person, someone important to the ministers; but the fellow was caught with his hand in the till. I went by the rule book and did not compromise to please anyone. Angry, the ministers offloaded me from their car in the middle of nowhere, in the hot sun and drove off. Chief Minister Kamaraj was gracious and righteous enough to stand by me and chided the ministers in my presence and that too in public. And so on, till when I was Cabinet Secretary, when I took drastic steps for Government to function on a day the entire opposition was on strike—as per the legitimate orders of the Prime Minister; on all occasions the rule of law was never compromised. And that was, in other words, upholding of the Constitution, which, in turn, Nixon shows, is nothing but the upholding of Dharma.

My work at the Election Commission can be summarized as just that; restoring the constitutional status of the Election Commission of India. Before I took office there was a time the Chief Election Commissioner sat in the waiting room of the Law Minister seeking to have expenses for the purchase of some books cleared. The impression was that the Election Commission was an appendage of the Law Ministry. I would have none of it. The Constitution wanted the Election Commission to be an autonomous body answerable to the parliament under certain conditions. On how the elections were to be conducted on ground the CEC was to be final authority. The governments on the other hand wanted the Commission to be pliant to their needs. I had to rage a tough battle to pull the Election Commission free from the Government’s clutches. Can you imagine that the person responsible for elections in the biggest democracy of the world stopped all election related work? It happened; in August 1993. For ten days all hell broke loose. When the then Supreme Court recognized that there was merit in my claim, it gave an order in my favor and I revoked my orders and elections were on once again. Whether it was asking governments to issue voter ID’s to all voters or whether it was implementing the Model Code of Conduct, or issuing show cause notices to a whole lot of Rajya Sabha MPs for wrongly stating their place of residence, everything was done keeping the rule of law paramount and upholding the Constitution at all times. I would quote rules and laws in all my decisions.

Now why am I telling all this here? It is because when the sincere government official way down the line understands that the systems operate according to the rule-of-law, then you see lions rise up amongst them. There were instances of DM’s switching off power supply to Union Ministers’ microphones exactly at 10.00PM, a sub inspector stopping a notorious MP from entering a constituency and registrars reporting on Union Ministers for forgery. When they know that the rule of law prevails—that the constitutional Dharma is being implemented from up above, they do their jobs diligently. The same government mechanism that was responsible for governance under the government, which did not seem to be too happy doing government work, would deliver comfortably on the election front. Holding up Dharma at the highest level adds great energy to any togetherness. In contrast, ego driven systems create confusion, despondency and fear in people. In Dharma alone the Nation can rise to Greatness.

In conclusion: If as a teacher you want to deliver the best to your students, do please understand the nuances of Dharma and enlighten your students, it can transform their lives. If you are a leader in any capacity, the principle of Dharma will add great strength to you and your organization. And even if you are just a citizen taking care of any kind of responsibility in society, if you stand by Dharma you stand focused on the way to Moksha. This book is sure to set you thinking along the right directions.

I have one wish for you, the same gift that Lord Rama’s mother gave her son when he set out on exile: “The Dharma that you protect will protect you”.

Bless you all.

Jai Hind!

TN Seshan, IAS (Retd)
Former Chief Election Commissioner of India
Chennai,
18/10/2019



PREFACE

The term ‘Dharma’ represents something invaluable, discovered to have amazing applicability and deployable in society to great impact. One needs to understand it for what it is, in order to benefit from its many graces. With this in mind, the book was designed to collect in one place important ideas regarding Dharma. The attempt has been to approach it from first principles, so that a person groomed in the scientific temperament can grasp the nuances and appreciate the beauty of the precept. ...

This book was conceived to act as a syllabus for a possible finishing school of Dharma and Leadership. Two earlier books, which the author co-authored, contained a few chapters on this topic. The ideas from these, and several articles written by him on the subject, have been put together to create a comprehensive book dedicated exclusively to Dharma.

Dharma, as an ideal, has been in vogue in the Indian Civilization for more than 5000 years and a lot could be written about it. But there is a need to filter out the non-essentials and present it in a complete, yet concise form that will make sense to even someone who is hard pressed for time. The compilation, therefore, needed to be handy and focused. Very importantly, it had to be presented in a way that someone educated in the present era could comprehend easily. Some minimal repetition has been used, in the interest of ensuring completeness of chapters.

Indians, more often than not, get it when they are told to do their dharma. This is owing to the ingenious institution of informal education that is part of Indian tradition, which includes story telling or play acting themes from the Puranas as a part and parcel of community and family life. When themes from the Puranas are enacted, wisdom seeps into the audience. However, an informal system can misfire, with inaccurate communication resulting in wrong concepts being propagated. As such, the confusion that exists today is natural and it needs to be addressed. People can either know about Dharma through instinct, or from being trained in the skill, or know it in-depth through understanding of its nuances. These are different things and only in the last case (through understanding) can one be confident, without an iota of doubt, in taking decisions and in demonstrating leadership that is tuned to excellence always. An attempt, therefore, needs to be made to resolve the technicalities involved so that one knows, by understanding, what Dharma is and be clear about acting in accordance with it.

This clarity is of immense value in the context of one being able to distinguish between genuine and fraudulent use. The word Guru, for instance, holds a very specific meaning in the Scriptural context; but today, all and sundry having anything to teach or communicate are casually referred to as Guru. This is actually sacrilege, but nothing can be done about it apart from throwing light on the actual meaning. The same thing applies to ‘Dharma’ as well. For example a thief claims that his Dharma is to steal and feed his family. So he says a prayer in a house of worship—that he should be able to steal well that day, and then sets out to steal. He takes comfort from the fact that he has been able to define thieving as his ‘Dharma’. Now that is a total mockery of the term and the truth is that people do this indiscriminately today. Even murder is being committed and condoned in the name of Dharma.

No wonder then that there is such degradation of public life in India. The anchor, on which righteous action was hinged, is now no longer connected to its true moorings. Pretty much any amorous act is condoned in public life and it is difficult to distinguish who is righteous and who is not. It has badly affected values in public life.

This failure to clear the confusion partially comes from the fact that the term Dharma is considered part of Hindu Religion and is therefore kept out of ‘secular’ Indian public life. This has even kept the term out of genuine academic research. The truth about Dharma though, is that it is a secular principle. It should be a part of normal life in India even in an official sense.

The intention of this book therefore, is to lead a discussion on this concept that is vital to the learning and traditions in the land were the Sindu flows. The claim is that the pursuit of Dharma can change lives. It can help one do their duties with pleasure, live fearlessly in faith, live in harmony with society, live inspired and above all find contentment and satisfaction in life. It is an ‘application’ built out of the ‘greatest treasure known to man’. It can help build individual merit and it can give prosperity to individuals, families, castes, communities, societies and nations.



CONTENTS

Preface
Acknowledgement
About the author
Foreword
Introduction ...

Chapters
1 - The word Dharma is not synonymous with religion
2 - Ideals are indispensable. Why not Dharma?
3 - Address the Dharma impeller for contentment?
4 - Dharma from first principles: four aspects
5 - Dharma and the leader
6 - Scientific validation of metaphysical concepts
7 - Everybody participates: Society’s foundation principle is ‘Giving’
8 - The Constitution defines systemic Dharma for Modern India
9 - An individual’s Dharma in the new context
10 - Rising with Dharma: Duty, Discipline, Dignity

Appendix
A - Fostering correct attitude in companies
B - Pandit Deendhayal sees constitution as subset of dharma
C - Secularism in constitution is today’s yuga dharma: K Subramanyam
D - Karma yoga
E - Who is wise?
F - Insights from A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada



CHAPTER 8
(Sample Chapter)
THE CONSTITUTION DEFINES SYSTEMIC DHARMA FOR MODERN INDIA

"Those who see worldly life as an obstacle to Dharma see no Dharma in everyday actions. They have not yet discovered that there are no everyday actions outside of Dharma."
-------------Dogen


If lord Rama were to be walking the earth today, what would Dharma be? What is the system he would have been obliged, duty-bound and dispassionately resolved to follow?

We know that though he was the crown prince, he went on exile. Though he never doubted the fidelity of his wife, he had to live separated from her and from his children. These decisions he took were on the basis of the Dharma of those times. Monarchy was in vogue and there were well established rules and principles for the functioning of monarchies. ... There were the injunctions to office bearers at the various levels about how to act and how not to act. These injunctions were built into the traditions that were in existence at that time and Lord Rama stood by those injunctions and traditions.

In that time and age, being the eldest son, Lord Rama was obliged to be King. That was in accordance with Dharma. No one else could be called to shoulder that responsibility before him; it was the role of the eldest son first. Whether he liked it or not, the burden of Kingship was upon him. Excellence in Dharma demanded that he sacrifice his family life and live separated from his wife and children.

Today, in the twenty first century, there is no monarchy in Ayodhya anymore. Ayodhya is part of India, and India has been constituted into a democracy. Today a Prime Minister leads the nation and the President is the nominated head of state; if Lord Rama were to shoulder either of the two roles, and if he was confronted with a situation where he had to choose between family and political suzerainty, would he be obliged to give up his family? Rather, would today’s Dharma ask him to respect his vows as a husband and resign from the leadership post instead?

In the ancient Indian monarchy, besides the king, all other officials down the line had a Dharmic role to play. In today’s society likewise, what is such role each stakeholder of today’s society would have to play? What is the Dharma that an individual—in pursuit of enlightenment—would need to uphold?

In a very broad sense, Dharma is defined as the traditions and practices of honored ancestors. Does that mean that Indians must follow the traditions of wise ancestors who have lived thousands of years ago?

Not precisely so; we have already seen, that a change in era would necessitate a re-defining of Dharma. The lofty thinking of the ancients should inspire today’s Dharma alright, but at the same time, it must be practically suited for the times. What then, is it that defines it for us?

Search for a Self-Realized soul:
If the system that we choose should have the seal of authority of the Supreme Self then we need to look out for self-realized souls and to ask them as to what would be good for us. However, it cannot be just any self-realized soul - the chosen one must have a deep understanding of how the present economic, democratic and scientific orders work.

In ancient India, though many individuals were recognized as self-realized souls, it was upon the scholar-king Manu to set up the basic constitution of Dharma. Do we have such a scholar amidst us - a self-realized soul who also understands the innards of polity?

A person close to this definition that we have had in modern times is Mahatma Gandhi. In some circles, he is considered a saint. He also took part in political affairs with awareness of modern systems. Being a barrister, he understood the rule of law as it existed in the modern context. As a spiritual leader he was able to raise the consciousness of a generation of people and inspire them for the kind of political activity that reflected the highest of values. MK Gandhi never staked a claim to perfection in self-realization, while surely several contemporaries have been acknowledged to have attained the highest: Ramana Maharishi and Nisargadatta Maharaj are two examples. Similarly, people have marveled at many outstanding political leaders and intellectuals, but an effective combination is hard to find. Spiritual lights of this day can surely guide when a specific question is put across to them. They would do outstandingly well in an ‘enlightened Anarchy’ that Gandhi Propounded. However, setting up a temporal power structure needs awareness of modern systems. It is not easy for someone not so well informed about modern systems, even if self-realized, to come up with a constitution of a practical overall system that can deliver the goods for a nation. Therefore, effectively, Gandhiji was the best available and only opportunity for the nation—a politically informed and wise soul. It is another matter that Gandhiji’s constructive suggestions for free India could not be implemented in full measure due his untimely martyrdom.

How then, does one resolve the issue of a suitable Dharma for the times as being willed and designed by the Supreme Self?

What is the substitute for the Self Realized soul?
The scientific world has flourished for around six centuries now. Let us call this the Scientific Civilization. The scientific method, which is at the core of the Scientific Civilization, is indeed based on the pursuit of truth. The scientific method has evolved into a system that gathers knowledge, preserves it, builds on it and effectively transfers it to the next generation. The economic order, which the ‘free world’ has accepted, does have its handicaps, but it has performed better than any of the other systems that were tested in the present world. Democracy has also emerged as the best amongst the systems of government. People do say Democracy is bad, but it is the best among others that are even worse. As democracy evolved, it has incorporated within itself many working principles. These include checks and balances, division of powers, separation of religion and state, protection of minorities, affirmative action, preservation of Human rights, and so on. Many scholars and political leaders have elaborated upon these. Effectively, over the centuries, successful peoples and nations seem to have given us democracy, capitalism, the scientific method and several such ideals as the bouquet of solutions that are best pursued for the welfare of humanity.

Is this therefore the best?
Among the known ideas and ideals, yes…! Leaders of the ‘free world’ have gravitated to these ideals.

Can there not be better?
Possibly… the Chinese have another variant of democracy, but that variant does have its flaws too; the compromise on freedom brings it several notches down in becoming a valid preference. Communism, Socialism, Monarchy, Dictatorship all have their pluses and minuses, but a combination of Democracy and Capitalism, tempered by a socialistic leaning and scientific spirit seems to be the accepted optimal solution.

As of today, the general understanding is that nations built on these principles have the highest hit rate for success in the free world. Therefore it is around these ideas that we need to build up systems that can be Dharmic - capable of delivering equitable justice to all humans.

Do we have an Indian Dharma solution?
What is that solution for a Dharmic system that would be suitable for a large diverse nation like India? Have we arrived at such a system? If so, what is that system and where have we defined it?

The base document that lays the foundation for a suitable system for modern India is the Constitution of India. It is the mother document, which lays down how the Indian collective is going to execute its nation-building and nation-running. The Constitution even lays down the process by which we can improve upon the constitution itself. It tells us how we are going to function together as a team—team India.

So let us check whether the Constitution does indeed lay the ground work for a Dharmic order.

The following things can be said about the constitution:
1. The people who drafted it were amongst the best the nation could offer. Most of them had been purified in the fire of the freedom struggle. Known to have made sacrifices, most of them were well educated and well informed about the ways of the world—and yet the education could have been a handicap as the education was not inclusive of the traditional systems that flourished in our societies earlier.
2. The set of core ideas that the drafting committee worked upon, emerged out of the freedom struggle; these include universal adult franchise, democratic republic, separation of state and religion, federal form of government, and such other. The spirit of it was a yearning for freedom for all Indians on an equal footing.
3. When they drafted the constitution, the Constituent Assembly had many democracies to refer to - the American, the British, the Irish and the German among others. These democracies being tried and tested in those nations, the lawyers in the drafting team were able to extract best practices from the various constitutions. Importantly, they picked and chose based on what would suit our nation. In addition, they also innovated where necessary to handle a diverse nation like ours.
4. The substratum, on which the Constitution was implemented, was the colonial set up that existed prior to independence. Laws that were otherwise not scrapped or modified, continued to be in operation. Most, if not all the institutions that the colonial masters built, remained in operation in the lower levels of administration. When the legislators got into the act, they began modifying the pre-existing laws and systems in consonance with the spirit of the constitution. This entire exercise resulted in a sense of continuity; and what independence brought in was not an arbitrary implant but a transition—albeit a radical transition.
5. Even deeper in the substratum was the indigenous civilization. It is the only oldest living civilization of the world and has historical records dating back to more than 5000 years ago. It has had great traditions of learning, spirituality, trade and economics that once upon a time were among the most advanced in the world. This ancient tradition has, over the millennia, absorbed greatly from (and given to) diverse civilizations and religions of the world. It has at its very core, the ability to recognize wisdom from wherever it is available and benefit from it.
6. Though M.K. Gandhi was not alive to give (or not give) approval for the constitution that finally was written, it can still be said that his saintly presence influenced the making of the constitution. Gandhiji’s was a very influential presence even four or five decades prior to the coming of the constitution. It was in this time that the basic principles that would go into the constitution evolved. He also had a huge hand in shaping the leadership of the freedom struggle, who in turn went on to influence the Constituent Assembly. Most importantly, the Constituent Assembly went out of its way to include his vision in the directive principles of state policy in part IV of the Constitution and also in some schedules of the Constitution.
7. Another important aspect of the constitution is that the diversity of India was recognized in the drafting of the constitution in important ways:
a. One way was the novel method of having civil codes for various communities. This, we can say, is the first step towards creating a template for a democratic world government. The other democracies had so far been designed for more or less homogenous populations. India was the first democracy that was dealing with a truly diverse population. It is apt too, because India should be the nation that shows the way to Vasudaivakutumbakam (world-is-one-family).
b. A second way was the inclusion of a feature that is built into successful democracies already existing in the world—defenses set up against brutal majorities. Just because a certain parliament has a majority it does not mean it can do anything it wants. A modern democracy has several features to protect against this. These include the presence of two houses in the parliament, the need for more than simple majority for amending the constitution, the provision for judicial review of all laws enacted by the parliament, the provision of judicial review of executive actions and finally the articulation of the rights of minorities in the fundamental rights section of the constitution.
c. A third way is that religion has been divorced from polity by treating religion as a private affair. Religion is allowed, at the most, as a matter for a private gathering of individuals in a public space. The state as such does not profess a particular belief system, but it allows for trusts and societies that profess such faith. The treatment extended to all faiths is equal in principle.

These factors more or less indicate that the constitution lays the systemic foundation of a new age. Idealism is at its best; aiming to do justice to all Indians, treating them all as equals. It aims at setting up a collective where all Indians can prosper. It is this sentiment or spirit behind the constitution, which lays down the foundation of the new Dharma.

It is within this system—established by the constitution—that Indians have resolved to team up and try to do justice to each other. Indians will try to improve it further if it does not meet its goals.

How the Constitution has fared:
It has been close to seven decades since the constitution has come into force. Has it manifested the force of Dharma? Has it delivered equitably? Has it fulfilled its aim of delivering freedom in ‘full measure’ as was the original articulated aim?

Truly speaking, the record is mixed. It is one of the more free places in the world, but it is so free that the unscrupulous take advantage of it to harm the weak. Life and limb are safe in general, but when things go out of hand the wheels of justice move rather slowly. There seems to be more disparity rather than equity in wealth, education, welfare and rights—and this disparity is rather large. As we have reckoned in the beginning, India is languishing far behind in the platform of the world on various human development indices.

It is indeed difficult to say whether seven decades of freedom is good enough a time to have cleaned up the huge amounts of poverty in the land. The USA, France and England are leading democracies and they have had centuries to stabilize and attain their present status. Is it therefore too ambitious to expect world class results from the Indian democracy in just seven decades?

In any case, for good or for worse, no one has come up with a system that can deliver more optimally. The Chinese experiment with communism and their later addition of aspects of capitalism – thus practicing their own version of democracy does not seem to really nurture freedom. None of the presently successful nations are truly monarchies. Even Great Britain is a symbolic monarchy. Besides monarchy, dictatorship and communism, there does not seem to be any other system worth taking note of.

More or less, we can conclude that, the collective wisdom of the scientific civilization has presented Indians with a bouquet of ideas and the leaders of our freedom struggle have drawn the best from it. Considering that it carries the best the free world has to offer, that it embodies a spirit of equity and justice to all, that it was set up through wide consultation and that it even offers scope for improving upon it - it does represent a yearning or stretch towards Dharma. Given the lack of anything better, it becomes evident that Dharma needs to be worked within the framework of this constitution itself. The leaders in the temporal, moral and spiritual field must resolve thus, and take the nation along that path with the Supreme Self as the highest ideal worth pursuing.

Until such a time a new and better system is invented, the system supported by the constitution is the optimal one and it needs to be pushed to its practical best. The pursuit of Dharma must imply the seeking of excellence within this framework. The various religions, guru-paramparas, and spiritual and moral lights must encourage individuals to build upon this system, so that the will of the Supreme Self is manifested in its working.

The challenges are not small. Some very crucial factors need to be dealt with urgency:

The caste issue: A very important aspect of life in India, which has not yet been resolved effectively, is the caste problem. Owing to misunderstandings about the original system and the context in which it was generated, its exterior is badly maligned and its excellent core is hardly visible. Many atrocities happen in the hinterland on the basis of caste equations and this is one area where the constitution has not delivered fully yet.

Majoritarianism: Just because someone has a majority and because this is a democracy, there is a tendency to say that ‘I have the stick – so the cow is mine’. That was never the intention when Democracy was chosen. There can be majorities on various bases; Sex, language, religion, caste. So if one can work up a majority on the basis of any of these criteria, does it give that group the right to do as they please? The answer is No.

Just as traditional Indian monarchy was not the dictatorship of the King, so also Democracy is not the dictatorship of the majority. The Indian kings, the excellent ones - the gods on earth - have all been known for upholding Dharma—which encompassed the traditions of righteous rule. Likewise, the principle of majority in a democracy is just a method for taking decisions, but that decision needs to be consistent with the highest values of Vasudaivakutambakkam, Sarva Dharma Samanabhava, Universal oneness of the Supreme Self, and one divine God Head for all of humanity; in short the decision must be Dharmic. This requires that adequate checks and balances are added into a working democracy, so that it will pursue the ideal of Dharmic Governance. In summary, democracy is just a method for decision making; it is not supposed to facilitate an equivalent of a dictatorship of the majority. Democracy must be an equivalent of a Dharmic monarchy by the majority.

‘Nirvana’ and ‘needs’ facilitator: The spiritual guide must look upon the arrangement by the constitution as a system that will allow for each individual to be able to reach for the highest that a human being can attain—the promise of the goods of Nirvana. In turn, the system must look to satisfy the needs of every individual—the needs that are mentioned in hierarchy by Maslow in his famous theory. The aim should be to meet all ‘needs’ of all stake holders without too much enthusiasm to satisfy their ‘greed’ or the ‘wants of blind desire’. This aspect is not yet stressed upon overtly in democracy the way it needs to be. Just as spirituality was connected with monarchy in the past, spirituality must instruct democracy to rise towards Dharma.

Religion separated from government, yet influencing character building: Kingdoms and nations worldwide have benefitted vastly from adhering to the principle of separation of religion from state. Religion must not direct what the system should be, but surely, it must direct behavior of its faithful in such a way that their contributions add up to make the present system a heaven on earth. With the adoption of the constitution, the system in India is up and running. This is what the Indian must dance with right now. The endeavor of the wise and the yogis from the various religions must be to make it work brilliantly—whatever it takes. Thought leaders, spiritual lights and Religious heads must facilitate in their followers, the ability to rise in Dharma and perform their roles in society to the pleasure of the Highest—The Supreme Self—The One that governs all of humanity.

In Summary:
The foundation for the present Dharma is not laid down by a single intellectual like it was in the case of “Manu” in his kingdom, or for that matter “Muhammed the Prophet” in Arabia or to an extent even “Chanakya” in his time and age. Instead, the present system has evolved out of the inputs of academicians, revolutionaries and suzerains from across the world. It has emerged through treaties at the international level, through the definition of Human Rights and through the work of scientists. It has taken centuries to evolve and as of today, the ‘materially successful world’ looks at a combination of Democracy, capitalism, Social security, MAD (Mutually Assured Destruction) dynamics and such other ideals to attain stability and prosperity in the world. Thanks to alternative thought processes that arose in the form of communism, socialism, ethnic rights, and the like, improvements have continually been made to the present system.

The system in India, with the Constitution of India at its core, tries to extract the best out of all these principles. Even so, there is no doubt that the solution worked out through the constitution is far from perfect. There is currently great disparity in justice, great amount of wretchedness (even amongst the moneyed) and atrocities are being committed against the weak. Very critical, is the fact that the current system is not moving strongly enough towards addressing the issue of the environment; and there is every reason to believe that there is an impending disaster round the corner owing to incessant environmental degradation. The Indian nation is yet to pull its weight in this sphere. All these issues need to be addressed properly within the constraints and opportunities of Democracy and capitalism.

It is possible that some perfect Dharma will emerge in the future, but in the meanwhile we have to do with Democracy and capitalism. The leader has his role cut out in reading what the Supreme Self in him wants, to then push Democracy and capitalism towards greater perfection in Dharma.

Rather than fan his desires and wants, the democratic setup under the Constitution of India must facilitate the divinity present in man.



What readers have said about the book...


"Dharma—cornerstone of Indian civilization" a must read book for understanding the true meaning of word Dharma. Author Nixon Fernando has done marvelous job in referencing the historical concepts of Dharma and in narrating in the most simple way making it a pleasant read. Dharma is the true manifestation of rational and wisdom and ... is a roadmap for a just and ideal world as Krishna promised. Nixon has touched upon these aspects scholarly with a great narration. This great book is very concise and well researched. Dharma is often misunderstood as religion and being misinterpreted in so many ways. Dharma is the true and idealistic set of principles for the perfect world and pathway for that society (which is) free from Injustice, suffering, corruption, and inequality. This book also has a great list of appendix worth reading. I recommend this book to the law makers, company executives and teachers. I give this book all 5 stars.
Dr. Shiviling Hullavard, Data Privacy and Compliance Officer, University of Alaska

It is a good guide to follow for a person to lead/follow or work in the country. The author also shows a good understanding of the subject of Dharma.
R K Ramanathan, Former Project Director (TD) and Programme Director (NPSM), Aeronautical Development Agency, DRDO, Bangalore.

I can see your efforts in bringing forth this book. Very Good! I am myself very keen on finding a way to take people ahead. I have found Dhamma in the Vipassana meditation as taught by Shri S N Goenka.
Ms Rohini Joshi, Teacher and Former Lecturer National Defence Academy

At the outset I thought why this book, but towards the end I saw how you had simplified high level understanding. At this juncture of my life, when I am feeling peace and contentment in routine homework—no boredom, no worries (almost)—your book comes as reinforcement that what I am doing is probably right. I find it engaging. It may be the bible for the doers who accept your leadership. I also got to know the sacredness of the constitution. Hope this finds its way to chapters and essays in higher secondary English.
Mrs. Annam Anandan, Teacher and House Wife

Subject matter is beautifully described. Good explanation, any average person can easily understand. Really a great job.
Mrs. Jayshree Hiremath, Teacher and House wife

A well written, concise explanation of Dharma. The changing concepts of what constitutes Dharma and the need for constant adaptation, which needs to be done by us, rather than strictly following and trying to impose archaic systems and pass it off as "Dharma", is well brought out in this book. That Dharma is secular, and transcends religions, is also another point that is aptly addressed in this book…. Simple prose for easy understanding makes the book stand out.
Dr. Bala Krishna, Prof and Head Pharmacology, AIIMS Bhopal

The author indeed makes a strong case for us to re-visit our understanding of past wisdom and he focuses on ‘Dharma’ which he says, and I agree, is the most important thing in the Indian Civilization. What has emerged is a useful collection of ideas on Dharma… …surely it will provoke the readers to re-visit values, take reference with respect to some of the greatest ideas known to man… It is a must read for the Hindu, for the teacher, for the leader—for every thinking individual in fact because of the universality of Dharma. This book is sure to set you thinking along the right directions. ‘The Dharma that you protect will protect you’.
Mr. TN Seshan, IAS (Retd.) Former Chief Election Commissioner India (in the Foreword)


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