A Continuation of Bharatiya Thought Tradition

(Courtesy: Dr.Mahesh Chandra Sharma)

Deendayal Upadhyaya emerged as a great political thinker in the second half of the 20th century, at a time when a number of ideologies held sway in the world. The ideas thrown up by the 16th Century Renaissance global has assumed a dimension. The visible world has ceased to be an unsolved mystery. Adventurous individuals had undertaken journeys around the Globe. Science, materialism and humanism had thrown a challenge to the theological view of the world. Faith and the realm of the mysterious had been shaken by science. Rationalism superseded faith and man abandoned the secure shelter of God’s Grace. The belief in secularism, democracy and individualism gained ascendancy challenging the established rule of theocracy. It was Europe in a new incarnation.

Freed of the fear of God, man set out to conquer nature and the world. European colonies were established in the newly discovered territories. These colonies however witnessed a serious assault on imperialism mounted by irrepressible sentiments of nationalism.

Western knowledge and sciences extended their reach to the Asian and African continents through the spread of Western imperialism. Western contact decisively influenced ideas in the countries of Asia and Africa, but the Asian nationalist mind treated any acceptance of western ideological supremacy as an insult to its unique ethos and genius. Hence, it rejected western ideologies. Deendayal Upadhyaya was a product of a similar nationalist thought processed in Bharat.

Bharatiya Reawakening

Raja Ram Mohan Roy is generally to be the leader of the Bharatiya Renaissance. Brahmo Samaj, Arya Samaj, Prarthana Samaj, the Ramakrishna Mission were the movements that spearheaded this renaissance. Swami Dayananda, Vivekananda, Ramtithra and Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa who around the Bharatiya society out of its stupor into self-recognition. The great reformist leaders of the time, however, were also greatly influenced by the English education they received. The political movement born out of this reawakening was split since its inception. One Nationalist stream rejected the British rule along with its concomitant influences, whereas the other accepted western ideological content while rejecting the British rule.

The chief spokesmen of the first stream were Lokmanya Tilak and Maharshi Aurobindo who emphasized the excellence (superiority) of native knowledge and way of life. They talked of पुनश्च हरि ऊँ and वेदान्तिक स्वराज्य. For them, the Bharatiya intellectual tradition was on a par with a Greek which provided the basis for European thought. The Bharatiya tradition was for them, like the Greek, self-sufficient and didn’t need any Western props. This insistence on intellectual independence was inherent in the resounding declaration – “Self rule is our birthright”. When these great men talked of native genius they unambiguously meant the Hindu philosophical tradition, values and world view. The freedom fighters in the Tilak mould were all votaries of this nationalist stream of thought.

People like Dadabhai Nauroji and Gopalkrishna Gokhale, however, considered the British rule as blessing and treated Western science and knowledge as the greatest achievement of mankind. They were certainly for self-rule but for self-rule based on Western institutions. Dadabhai Nauroji expounded his views on the subject in his famous book “Onus-British Rule in Bharat”. He wanted an Bharat ruled by Indians on the British parliamentary model. People like Nauroji and Gokhale didn’t evaluate Western knowledge in terms of native/foreign but rather as modernist. They wanted an amalgamation of the Bharatiya and Western philosophies.

Deendayal Upadhyaya entered politics under the influence of the Tilak school of thought. Dr. Keshav Baliram Hedgewar, the founder of R.S.S, was a Congressman in the Tilak tradition and wanted Shri Aurobindo to takeover this nationalist movement after Tilak’s death. Sri Aurobindo however did not agreed to this. The politics of Mahatma Gandhi accorded with Gokhale’s thinking even though some pople think that it was close to Gokhale in political aims but followed Tilak’s methods to realize these aims Dr. Hedgewar parted company with both to found R.S.S. for the rejuvenation of the Hindu Nation. Deendayal Upadhyaya represented the Hindu nationalist view of the R.S.S in politics and believed in the purity and strength of the Bharatiya culture. To understand Deendaya; Upadhaya’s political philosophy, it is essential to acquaint ourselves with this cultural tradition in some detail.

The Philosophical Tradition

The Bharatiya philosophical tradition rests on the saying: वादे वादे जायते तत्त्वबोधो बोधे बोधे भासते चन्द्रचूडः i.e., discussion and exchange of ideas alone lead to the knowledge of the essential. The Dharma that evolved out of the Vedas, the Upanishads, the Ramayan and the Mahabharat….the eternal Arya Dharma came to be known as Hindu Dharma in course of time. This Sanatana Dharma was never, in strict terms, an institutional religion. Hence, different sages and philosophers contributed their varied, at times antithetical ideas to the mainstream of the Hindu philosophical corpus. This expansive process gave birth to different philosophical expositions. The mainstream philosophical tradition can be broadly divided into the theistic and the atheistic world views. The atheistic view is represented by three sub-streams… the Lokayat, the Buddhist and the Jain philosophies. The theistic has six main schools of thought.

The basis for this division into the theistic and the atheistic is provided by the Vedas. The theistic tradition treated the Vedas as the final authority whereas the atheistic refused to accord the status of ‘infallibity’ to the Vedas. Maharishi Charvaka is recognized as the first expounder of the atheist school of thought. In his opinion action (‘Karma’) should not spring from either the fear of hell or consequences in the next birth or from the hope of reward in heaven or the next birth.

यावत् जीवेत् सुखं जीवेत् ऋणं कृत्वा घृतं पिबेत् |
भस्मीभूतस्य देहस्य पुनरागमनं कुत : ||
(“Live in happiness and comfort as long as you live; take loans and drink ghee. There is no rebirth once the body is consigned to flames”).

Buddhism and Jainism, however, inspite of their refusal to accept the Vedas as the final authority, are not materialistic, but rather spiritualistic. They are anti-God, but believe in “Nirvana” all the same. Actually Bhagwan Buddha revolted against dogma and the distortion introduced in the Vedic ritualism and upheld the validity of what he called experienced truth. He elucidated four “eternal truths” only. With the lapse of time, Shankaracharya assimilated the Buddhist philosophy into the Vedic thought and declared Buddha to be an incarnation of Vishnu.

निन्दसि यज्ञ विधेहरर श्रुतिजानम्
सद्य हृदय दर्शित पशुधातम् |
केशव घृत बुद्ध शरीरं , जय जगदीश हरे ( जयदेव कृत गीत गोविन्द)
(“Oh Krishna, to you, who to condemn the Vedic ritual and animal sacrifice appeared in the incarnation of Buddha pay my obeisance”).

Bhagwan Mahavira, the acknowledged founder of Jainism, also questions the Vedic authority. The Jains treat the Shraman tradition as parallel to the Brahminical tradition. Bhagwan Mahavira, according to them, is the Adipurusha.

As per the Jain belief, Bhagwan Mahavira was the originator of the rule of law in the later half of the eon. He was the one to have taught Indians to earn their livelihood through sixfold functions of agriculture, commerce, governance, industry, sculpture etc.

Jainism also believes in progress of the soul and rebirth. It is considered anti-Vedic primarily because it raised its voice against ostentation and the violence inherent in the Vedic rituals. The Jain Syadvad and Anekant Darshan integrate Jainism in the Hindu philosophical tradition.

The theistic tradition is represented mainly by six schools namely, Vaisheshik, Nyaya, Samkhya,Yoga, Purva Mimamsa and Uttar Mimamsa. Maharishis Kanad, Gautam, Kapil, Patanjali, Jaimini and Vyasa respectively are their expounders.

The six sages, with their unique logic and emphasis, elaborate upon the element basic to Jiva, Jagat, atman and Paramatman mentioned in the Vedic literature in their respective philosophies. It is these six schools of philosophy that threw up the various Dvaita and Advaita sects and sub-sects like the Vaishnava, the Shaiva and the Shakta. Jagadguru Shankaracharya sought to establish the basic underlying unity of these sects and subsects. That’s why Shankaracharya enjoys the unique quasi-founder status of the present day Sanatana Dharma.

We witness a gradual turning away from the ‘gross’ to the ‘fine’ in the Bharatiya philosophy. Wordly prosperity and the desire to lead a rich wordly life got entangled in an analysis of Being. The Greek invasion exposed the dangers of the disregard of worldly life. It was in these times tha Acharya Chanakya gave us his immortal creation, the Arthashastra. This great book expounded a philosophy that was antithetical to the lofty soul-principle and non-violent ethical ideals of Bharatiya philosophy. Kautilya’s Arthashastra reflected the needs of the times in which it was conceived.

After Chankya, Bharatiya philosophy could not continue its march inviolate. The unifying linguistic vehicles of Pali, Prakrit and Sanskrit no longer remained available to the regional saints and learned men to carry forward the unified growth of the earlier tradition. The Bharatiya philosophical current continued to flow in the medieval ages with the regional streams sometimes merging into it and sometimes splitting away.

The Medieval and Modern Bharatiya Thought

The Islamic and the Hindu thoughts coalesced in the medieval times to give birth to the Sufi literature. With its ideological and practical culture, Islam also brought into Bharat its imperialist politics. Hence the coming together of Islam and Hinduism was not without its bitterness. During the Islamic period of Bharatiya history, saints like Swami Vidyaranya, Tulasidas, Surdas, Ramdas, Tukaram and Eknath carried forward the Bharatiya intellectual tradition. The medieval Bharatiya thought process, as opposed to its past creativity appears quite weak, defensive and to a certain extent reactionary. It is worth quoting Swami Vivekananda in this context:

Most saints of the sects established by Ramanand, Kabir, Dadu, Chaitanya and Nanal, despite their differences, continued to spread the message of human equality and universal brotherhood. Most of their energies were, however, spent in countering the rampaging Islamic influence. They had hence no time to generate new ideas and hopes. Even though they had a considerable measure of success in demolishing Islamic fundamentalism, theirs remained essentially a struggle for survival. They were defensive”.

Behind every period of cultural Renaissance in the history of Bharat, we witness a resurgence of political unity which in turn strengthened and fulfilled the spiritual aspirations of the people. But before the advent of the Maratha and Sikh political rule, the spiritual awakening was essentially reactionary in nature. One shall look in vain even for a touch of intellectual luminosity in the culture that pervaded the Mughal courts of Pune and Lahore. There cannot be even a distant comparison of this culture with the intellectual vigour of the Malwa and Viajayanagar Empires. The medieval period could be called the darkest period in the Bharatiya history. Both these empires, which encapsulated the frenzied hatred of the people against the Muslims and shone like meteors in the Bharatiya firmament, lost all their luminosity the moment they succeeded in smashing the much hated Mughal empire.

The contact with the British brought together the Bharatiya and the Western thoughts. The Bharatiya reawakening was a product of this meeting of the Orient with the Occident.

Pandit Deendayal Upadhyaya was thrown up by the same Bharatiya cultural, intellectual tradition which has been traced above. Deendayal was influenced most by the Sanatan Dharma stream of thought. His writings and thought richly contextualize the essential Vedantic thought of the Vedas, the Puranas, the Smritis and the Upanishads. His terminology reflects the same Vedic paradigm. He received his intellectual grooming from two of his great contemporaries – the second chief of the R.S.S., Sri M.S.Golwalkar, and Sri Umakant Keshave Apte. Intellectually he rejected the atheistic Lokayat Buddhist and Jain Philosophies as well as the Muslim and Western influences. There is no trace of any of these influences in any of his writings.

Deshik Shashtra

Deendayal’s thinking reflects a natural affinity to the ideas of Vivekananda, Tilak and Aurobindo. He refers to Gandhiji and Vinoba Bhave also, but only marginally. He draws heavily on Tilak’s commemorative volume entitled “Deshik Shastra” book that includes both Vedanta and the social philosophy expounded in the Vedic literature, commenting on this book, Deendayal Upadhyaya says:

It is needed today that people are told about the Bharatiya contribution in the field of physical sciences too. About forty years ago Sri Badrishah Duldharia published a volume called “Deshik Shastra” after receiving instruction from the philosopher saint Sri 108 Somvari Babaji Maharaj. He was inspired to write this book by Lokmanya Tilak’s Karmayog Shastra. Basing his Karmayog Shastra on the Bhagwad Gita,, Lokanya Tilak pulled the Bharatiya philosophical tradition out of “Nivratti” into “Pravritti”. The eternal truths propounded in Bharat were brought out the Himalayan caves into the arena of action”.

Deshik Shastra discusses the basic principles underlying a national code of conduct. Lokmanya Tilak himself lauded the exposition of the subject after going through the book’s manuscript. Karmayog Shastra and Deshik Shastra can be said to be complementary to eachother. Every individual engaged in the task of nation-building must study both these tests.

Deendayal Upadhyaya incorporated the philosophy of Ekatma Manavvad as a guiding principle in the political manifesto of the Jana Sangh after deep deliberation and study spanning over two decades. Referring to Shankaracharya and Chanakya in the introduction, he says:

Today Iam reminded of two great men who revolutionized Bharatiya life. One is Jagadguru Shankaracharya who, armed with the message of Sanatana Dharma, set out to demolish immoral conduct in Bharatiya life, and the other Chanakya, who sought to unite the scattered Republics pursuing their respective political courses into a nation on the principles of Arthashastra. In a somewhat similar context today, we present the philosophy of Ekatma Manavvad as a counter-point to the sterile Western view of man – a philosophy that aims to a comprehensive, all round development of man“.

Deendayal Upadhyaya seeks to establish a new Prasthapan tray of Shankar’s Vedanta, Kautiya’s Arthashastra and his own Ekatma Manavvad.

(Courtesy: Deendayal Upadhyaya’s Integral Humanism: documents, interpretations, comparisons, New Delhi: Deendayal Research Institute, 1992, Integral Humanism – A Study, pg:103-108, Edited by Sri.Devendra Swarup).

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Film on Pandit Deendayal Upadhyay ‘s Integral Humanism by Dr. Mahesh Chandra Sharma:

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