Integral humanism for a New India
Cruising on the Pandit Deendayal Upadhyaya Marg in New Delhi last week, I was consumed by myriad emotions profound gratitude for Panditjis thought leadership, excitement that his philosophy can shape the New India and unbridled anger that frivolous pronouncements of a few people that made news recently
Cruising on the Pandit Deendayal Upadhyaya Marg in New Delhi last week, I was consumed by myriad emotions – profound gratitude for Panditji’s thought leadership, excitement that his philosophy can shape the ‘New India’ and unbridled anger that frivolous pronouncements of a few people that made news recently!
Some of us remember Shashi Tharoor, the Congress MP accusing Pandit Deendayal Upadhyaya of disrespecting the Constitution and wanting to change it to create a ‘Hindu Rashtra’ in which Hinduism is the State religion. I wish to say that nothing can be farther from the truth.
Hans Rosling, the author of ‘Factfulness', in a way made my task easy by publishing his book on people like Tharoor who ‘over dramatise’ and kill the ‘fact-based world view’ of things and people. Reason for distorting the truth? Overdramatic instincts and overdramatic world view.
It is important to push the refresh button to see reality as it is. Pandit Deendayal Upadhyaya, was one of the key stalwarts of the Bharatiya Jana Sangh, the parent organisation of the BJP, a philosopher, a nationalist who gave India his idea of ‘integral humanism’ – the concept was first presented by Panditji in the form of four lectures in Bombay in 1965.
He covered a wide range of topics from Uniqueness of India, Dharma and Ethics, Foreign Policy, Self Confidence, Culture and Conflict, Soul of a Nation etc. I present excerpts from those lectures to showcase their relevance even after 50 years!
Let me start with Panditji’s concept of ‘Glocalisation'. He said: “To ignore altogether the developments in other societies, past or present is certainly unwise. we must absorb the knowledge and gains of the entire humanity so far as eternal principles and truths are concerned.
Of these the ones that originated in our midst have to be clarified and adapted to changed times and those that we take from other societies have to be adapted to our conditions.”
At one go, Panditji captured the value of ‘eclectic wisdom' and ‘glocalisation’ that the contemporary world talks of today. His idea of ‘Swadeshi' is also in line with this concept.
‘Glocalisation’ as a term first appeared in the late 1980s and at a 1997 conference on ‘Globalisation and Indigenous Culture’. Sociologist Roland Robertson stated that it is the co-presence – of both universalising and particularising tendencies. ‘Glocal’, an adjective is being used today to reflect something that has both local and global characteristics.
Panditji’s observation “Every country has its own peculiar historical, social and economic situations. Even though the basic organic activity is the same in all human beings, the drugs which may be helpful in England may not prove equally helpful in India,” reflects his understanding of not only ‘Pharmacogenetics’ (This stream of knowledge specifically speaks of the varied response to a drug based on one’s ethnicity) but also the value of customisation for India-centricity.
Contrary to what some people say, Panditji always spoke of culture, dharma and not religion. He is known for saying “From the national stand point we shall have to consider our culture because that is our very nature. Independence is intimately related to one's own culture.
Dharma is not confined to temples or mosques. Worship of God is only a part of Dharma. Dharma is much wider. To attend temple or mosque constitutes a part of religion, sect, creed, but not necessarily ‘Dharma’.
According to him, “Ethics are not framed by anyone. They are discovered. A suitable analogy is that of the law of gravitation, that if we throw a stone, it falls on the ground. This law of gravitation is not framed by Newton. He discovered it.”
Panditji merged the concept of Dharma with Artha, while bringing in the concept of ethics on the way - be it running a business or the business of running a country all are intractably linked according to his 'Dharma Rajya'. The accusation that he was given to caste system is far from true.
He said, “If we analyse caste concept, we are faced with the question whether there can arise any conflict among the head, arms, stomach and legs of the same Virat Purusha. If conflict is fundamental, the body cannot be maintained.
These limbs are complementary to one another.” Panditji's idea that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts – the gestalt of a society and culture can be seen from “Society too has its body, mind, intellect and soul. Group feelings cannot be considered a mere arithmetic addition of individual feelings. Group strength too is not a mere sum of individuals’ strength.”
His understanding of ‘One Cohesive Nation' is seen from his explanation of why mighty nations of antiquity, Greek and Egyptian civilisations perished - they were merely living together in the same geographical area without experiencing cohesion.
India - A torch bearer for other nations
India as we know today enjoys the geo-political clout and, in a way, has emerged a torch bearer for world nations - as envisaged by Panditji. He said way back in 1965 “Our entire attention was engaged in fighting for independence or staving off new hordes of invaders. We have not been able to contribute to world progress.
The nation has certainly put her genius to work, in the changing circumstances to meet the challenges thrown at her. Ganga at Banaras may not be crystal clear as at Haridwar. But still it is the same holy Ganga. It has absorbed numerous rivulets with all their refuse. The current Ganga must inevitably glow onwards.”
It is not an exaggeration to say that his concepts of ‘Integral Humanism', ‘Antyodaya' (the rise of the last person), ‘Chiti' (soul of the nation) and 'Nishkama Karma' (which is akin to Abraham Maslows highest goal of self-actualisation) are more relevant to the world at large.
Pandit Deendayal Upadhyaya was futuristic. His integral humanism can indeed shape the New India that all of us are aspiring to see - for this we must ignore those given to drama and delve deeper into Panditji’s dream for India, that is Bharat. (Writer is President, Futuristic Cities, Global Thought Leader, Advisor on Smart Cities, Governance & Policy)