Friday 1 September 2023

Vasudaiva Kutumbakam : Yuva Bharati September 2023


                                                    (Manava Dharma or Market Forces? 
                                                            – The Choice for Mankind)

A sublime thought has been coming down from very ancient times and gathering momentum for centuries together from this sacred land of Bharat. It was not just a thought but an idea that was practised in everyday life till it became a culture and a civilisation. The thought has been beautifully described by the sage who is also a poet in the famous Sanskrit Subhashita –

 Ayam nijab paraiveti, Ganana laghuchetasam,

Udaracharitanamtu, Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam


– Men with narrow vision divide the world into mine and thine whereas the noble hearted look upon the world as one single family – one’s homestead. This was not just a poet’s fancy. But the result of an intense realisation of the Ultimate Truth –Sarvam KhalvidamBrahma – All that exists is only Brahma. The entire universe is an expression of that truth, one expressing as the many. The entire history of India has been an attempt to express this experience in the day-to-day life of every individual and the society. Variety and diversity of course were there but, at the base, there was unity as well. Hence the dictum – unity in diversity. This was reflected in every aspect of life right from the personal to the national level. But, our far-seeing and adventurous forefathers did not confine this wonderful experience within the frontiers of Bharat. Their love and concern for humanity was so intense that it took them to the farthest quarters of the world. The message of unity was spread through practice and example and the history of the world bears testimony to the fact that the imprint of Indian cultural ambassadors is visible in every part of the world, felt, and seen. That was probably the most sublime period of Indian history. Researchers who are committed only to truth have discovered through dedicated study that even the western civilizations like the Greek and Roman, the languages like Greek and Latin had their original home in India and gradually spread across the continents and reached those distant lands. It was not through military conquest but through the gradual spread of a vibrant culture. But later on, the colonial conquerors from the west made history stand on its head and propagated that the Indian culture and civilization were brought to this country by the invading alien conquerors. But, let us leave the conquerors alone, because the truth is slowly but surely emerging victorious and it is bound to establish itself on its own strength and validity.

 After the great imperial days of Greece and Rome, the west sank into the darkness of the Middle Ages shutting itself out from the rest of the world. Finally when it woke up on account of the shock of a renaissant Greek culture and started looking outward spurred by the fervor of Christian missionary zeal and also by the ambitions of imperial conquest, the countries of Europe started on a series of invasions subjugating the continents of Asia and Africa. There was a systematic attempt to demolish and destroy ancient and peaceful civilizations, existing in those parts of the world. The devastations caused by these conquerors are writ large across the continents. The basic cause of this kind of colonial invasions is the world view which inspired them through their sectarian and intolerant religious texts. It was totally in conflict with the Bharatiya world view of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam. The motivation of the colonisers from the west was trade and religion. The means they employed was conquest through military power, through cunning and deceit. The last three to four centuries – the so-called modern history – is replete with instances of such treacherous and unprincipled conquest and annexation of territories and people by an alien civilization. The logic of this world view, when put into practice, has inevitably led to the present situation, where the west is dominating the world with the slogan – the Global Market. Through military power, through organized evangelisation, through economic exploitation, and through intellectual manipulation, the west has established its domination over the rest of the world. The world has been converted into a global market which implies the operation of all the market forces with its dire consequences under which not only the rest of the world but even the west is now reeling.

 The world as one family and the world as a market are the two poles around which humanity stands polarised. Home and market have widely different laws – not only different but actually conflicting. The law that governs the home is love whereas the market is driven by the law of cunning and competition. Home is built upon identity of feelings whereas the market is built upon conflicting interests. The former seeks peace whereas the later seeks profit. Home is founded on spiritual values whereas market knows only material values. Mutual cooperation is the basis of family. Mutual exploitation is the recognised policy that sustains the market. Market promotes vulgar consumerism whereas home promotes restrained and value-based consumption. The big question that faces humanity is – which of the two is the ideal to be followed, the world view to be accepted, the way of life to be followed. The western experiment has been tried and is found wanting and inadequate to sustain a peaceful and prosperous world order. Humanity is at the crossroads. As many great thinkers even from the west, like Arnold Toynbee have unambiguously pointed out, it is only the eastern way that can bring about peace and harmony and ensure the survival of human species on this mother earth. The choice today is between “ManavaDharma” and “Market forces”, between a global family and a global market. In this, the vision of India is very clear. It has been strongly and powerfully expounded by all our renaissance leaders – a galaxy of them – the most famous representative being Swami Vivekananda. More than 100 years ago, he put it most emphatically – “the whole of the west is standing on a peak of a volcano. It will burst within 50 years. What will save the west is the message of the Upanishads”. This prophet’s message unfortunately was not taken seriously and the volcano has been erupting time and again. Honest thinkers from the west have been expressing their frustration. Eleanor Stark has expressed this disappointment in the famous book, The Gift Unopened. The author wrote – “Columbus discovered the soil of America. Swami Vivekananda discovered the soul of America”. Swami Vivekananda himself at the end of his “Paper on Hinduism” presented at the Parliament of Religions explained beautifully what he meant by the soul of America. –

 “Hail, Columbia, motherland of liberty! It has been given to thee, who never dipped her hand in her neighbor’s blood, who never found out that the shortest way of becoming rich was by robbing one’s neighbors, it has been given to thee to march at the vanguard of civilization with the flag of harmony”. (Complete Works Swami VivekanandaVol-1, Page 20). But then, the history of the world took a different turn with world wars both cold and hot. America the liberator, herself became the predator of weaker nations. Instead of upholding the virtues of protecting and promoting democracy and human rights, she herself started supporting and sustaining authoritarian regimes and military juntas. In place of religious tolerance and cultural pluralism, America herself became the biggest promoter of evangelization and also the creator of Jihadi fundamentalism. With evangelization and marketization and also religious fundamentalism and terrorism raising their ugly heads, creating chaos and confusion, the humanity is struggling to find a ray of hope and an alternate way of life. It is here in this crucial hour that India has to play her decisive role and assert that it is “Manava Dharma” and not “Market forces” that would lead mankind to its glorious destiny. But, for this, India has to set a model which the world could emulate. That is precisely the need of the hour.

                                                                                                                                     P. Parmeswaran

                                                                                          (Late President of Vivekananda Kendra)