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Integral Humanism – A Study

एकात्म मानव दर्शन : एक अध्ययन

Panditji’s most valuable contribution to mankind was his enunciation of the concept of Integral Humanism. Those deeply involved in the make-and-break politics may mistake Panditji’s Integral Humanism as a new ‘ism’ or doctrine or dogma propounded by him inorder to counter all other prevailing ‘isms’ or to add a new one. It is all too well-known that prophets of an ‘ism’ or a new political thought claim originality. It is more so in the West. A slight deviation or difference with the current thought entitles one to proclaim himself the founder of a new doctrine. But no such thought ever crossed Panditji’s mind. As a true votary of culture, he was not given to this narrowness. He believed in what Bhagwan Sri Krishna said in the Gita that true knowledge is timeless. One may observe some variation in its expressed form owing to varied situations and conditions but that does not mean the creation of new knowledge. Panditji, through his creative ability and positive outlook put a new gloss on the true and eternal thought current and reinterpreted it to suit the changed and contemporary world. It would be clear, therefore, that integral humanism was conceived only to perfect ‘isms’ so that they could meet the challenges posed to them. It was farthest from his thought to add to the ideological bitterness obtaining in the society by outright rejection or repudiation of any of the contemporary ideas, ism or viewpoints while expressing his own.

Why this ‘ism’ or that

Pandiji was opposed to all ‘isms’. He only believed that which was truthful and timeless, could face the challenges of change and, therefore, could hardly fit into the steel-frame of any ‘ism’. In other words, no ‘ism’ can ever suit all countries and conditions and for all times. He precisely thought so. But in the modern age, people cannot think without an ‘ism’, and he too adopted the usage only as a compromise for the convenience of his audience.

But to dispel any doubts in this behalf, he used to explain that as one cannot easily concentrate his mind in निर्गुण (“Nirgun” or attribute-less) (or) निराकार (“Niraakar” or formless) ब्रह्मा (Brahma), he needs in the beginning, to fix his mind on सगुन (Sagun or of attributes) or साकार (Sakar or of forms) ब्रह्मा (Brahma). Once one gets accustomed to this form of concentration it becomes easier for him later to do so in respect of the “Nirguna” or “Nirakar” Brahma also. So to grasp easily the real and eternal truth which is above all ‘isms’, first one has to comprehend fully the reality that exists in this world through the medium of integral humanism.

Seer not a Philosopher

To engage oneself in constant debate, discourse or a controversy is the function of a philosopher. Panditji was not a philosopher in that sense of the term. To call him so is to belittle him. In the tradition of Bharatiya sages of yore, he was in fact a seer. Therefore, whatever he has seen and perceived, may be called दर्शन, “Darshan”. The word philosophy hardly conveys what we Bharatiyas mean by the term. This kind of “Darshan” is neither new nor unfamiliar to us. It has flourished in our soil. It will be worthwhile to understand this basic point before we proceed further so that there is no confusion because of the use of this suffix.

Why at all we needed the term and the concept of Integral Humanism at this juncture, specially when many many ‘isms’ and thoughts were born, spread and are regarded as progressive in the west. Many of our people wonder whether it is worth its while to strain our brains unnecessarily when our problems could be solved by borrowing wholesale the ‘isms’ or theories of the west. Similarly, it is also unreasonable to reject everything of western origin. It would therefore be useful to briefly review the currents and cross-currents of western thought in the last three or four centuries.

Western Thought

Let us, first of all, deal with ‘sect’, or religion. It can be stated briefly that when this drama of religion was being enacted on the European stage, the entire system or order was centrifugal. The Pope was the central point and the entire Christian world revolved around him. Later on, two revolts challenged the centralized authority of the Pope.

In the second phase of religion, the idea that there was no need of an intermediary like the Pope between the seeker and the sought became very powerful. This gave rise to sects like the Protestants. The people thought that interference by an external authority which may be confined to religious matters, should not be permitted in the affairs of the state. Thus was born the concept of Nationalism.

In the third phase, we find that the existence of religion was attacked and it was decried as meaningless as an ‘opiate’. To think of a supernatural power beyond perceptible human power came to be regarded as devoid of truth and mere flight of imagination. The origin, middle and the end of the universe was nothing but godless physical matter. Religion was nothing but an illusion. As physical elements and matter were believed to be origin of nature, mind too was considered a superstructure on matter. I other words, religion, culture, ethics, etc., has no independent existence and were mere reflections of social and economic conditions. Thus in the third phase, matter became fundamental and religion was totally rejected.

Reaction against Atheism

The next phase of development in Europe witnessed a reaction against materialistic atheism. Scholars and thinkers began to realize that whatever views Marx might have formed on degeneration of religion and the Church and howsoever relevant they might have been to the situation then prevailing there, it would be wrong to regard them universal or global. Instead, emphasis shifted to re-evaluation of the place of religion in the different countries in different periods. Thinkers began saying that even if religion was not to be regarded as fundamental to human life, they would have to concede, it had a distinct place and it would be wrong to think that religion was an opiate or its form was determined by social and economic condition.

Change in Marxists’ Thinking

Such ideas started gathering momentum. Further, even the staunchest of Marxists who, very loudly denounced God in favour of materialism and who condemned religion as opiate, started doubting Marx as crude materialist. His thesis in 1842, on the freedom of the individual and the freedom of the press, and his Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts published in 1844, prompted his followers to declare that he was not a mere materialistic thinker. They thought that just as inanimate and material things influenced abstract thought, abstract thinking too influenced insentient material objects. Similarly, if, on the one hand, social and economic situation played an important role in shaping religion, culture and ethics, on the other, socio-economic conditions were also influenced by religion, culture and ethics. In other words, they act and interact on each other.

Four Centuries of European Thought

Let us discuss what does European history of four centuries reveal? We find that in the early period individual is the primary unit. But when the curtain is raised, we do not find the free individual anywhere on the scene. He is merely a puppet in the hands of the Pope or of the Monarch with no free will of his own.

In the next stage, we see that the individuality of man asserts itself through defiance of the oppressors. This led to open revolt against the Pope and the Monarch, which liquidated the authority of the Papal state and monarchy. Later, the thought that individual freedom should remain unrestrained gained ground. Institutions like the Parliament, or other democratic systems which ensured individual freedom came into existence and people were happy that those agencies could protect individual liberty.

With the passage of time, individual liberty led to freedom for exploitation; the democratic institutions turned into means of exploitation of the weak by the strong, of the poor by the rich and of the less intelligent by the more intelligent. We thus witness in Europe emergence of two classes – the exploiting minority and the exploited majority. Those oppressed to any kind of exploitation were up against freedom of exploitation while those opposed to it wanted to do away with individual freedom. In other words, extinction of individuality of the individual was demanded. The situation, then, warranted a totalitarian apparatus. And what could it be?

All intents to establish a totalitarian state in the name of individual freedom and all institutions wanting freedom of exploitation met with strong opposition. Thus arose the need of a revolution, a bloody revolution, since democratic institutions were found to be incapable of ending exploitation. It is how the idea of a bloody revolution aimed at establishing a dictatorship of the proletariat gained popular support. Incidentally, a bloody revolution did take place in Russia. But experience proved that it was not the dictatorship of the entire exploited masses but of a coterie, a ruling coterie. People tolerated the order in the hope that, that was a transitory phase and that as soon as the dictatorship of the have-nots was established, the situation would change. But their hopes were belied and they began to realize that the dictatorship of an individual or a small clique has come to stay. That, perhaps, is the reason why we witness signs of revolt against this order, the one under which they are groaning.

Urge for Individual Freedom

It appears that rumblings against the communist state and the urge and efforts to restore individual freedom have set in. In the countries which are not directly ruled by communists but have communist parties, party leaders are hotly debating why could not democratic institutions and agencies be used to end exploitation. An influential section of such leaders argue that, may be the idea of bloody revolution was relevant and inescapable in the timers of Marx, but in the changed circumstances, parliamentary institutions could be utilized for founding dictatorship of the proletariat. On the other hand, in countries where Communism had not gained any foothold and where parliamentary democracy and other democratic institutions were welcomed as alternative to monarchy and as weapon to defend the individual, people seem to be losing faith in these very institutions. This section believes in complete freedom and is not prepared to bear with even such restraints and discipline as the western democracy prescribes for the individual. It makes no distinction between freedom and licence. Hippies, in the western world, belong to this section. They are not only opposed to democratic institutions but to any order that be. This, in short, is what has been going on in the West during the last three or four centuries; that is individual dominated as the central entity.

Revolt against ‘Family’

Now after the individual, we will discuss the institution and the system of family which remained intertwined in all societies through the ages. Hindu Shastras, Confucianism, Islam and Christianity all alike, accepted it as indispensable.   But in the west, this too was attacked for two reasons. The Communist condemned the family as being artificial system. They asked ‘why as entity like family should be allowed to stand between the individual and the society?’ – So – ‘break the family and set up communes’, they exhorted. In another direction a strong dislike was expressed against family discipline which each individual had to undergo. This, according to the dissenters, is a negation of individual freedom. The family, therefore, deserves to be destroyed and the young men or women should bid good-bye to their parents after marriage. The smaller the ones’ family, the better for unrestrained actions and doings.The deficiencies and faults of the two schools came to the fore sooner than later. The experiment of communes, in Soviet Russia flopped and as a reaction the desire for family life grew stronger. Even under communist state demand for extending legal recognition to parenthood and fatherhood became so forceful that ultimately the rulers had to yield. Similarly, in democratic countries, more especially in the U.S.A, eminent thinkers raised their voice against Hippie cult of licentious way of life and suggested reintroduction of the joint family, without which, a stable society was a far cry. Such views are now being widely accepted in USA.


The unit next to family is nation, society or national society. Somehow, it appears that owing, perhaps, to the overwhelming influence of the Pope over European masses, the awareness of nation or nationalism could not develop. But the same grew out of the reaction against the Pope’s interference in religion and against foreign and imperialist aggression. This background gave birth to a reactionary type of nationalism in Europe, which reinforced the view that if nationalism and the authority of the Pope could not go together, nationalism and internationalism were also opposed to each other. Consequently, a crude and extremist form of nationalism was born in every country of Europe.  Later a reaction to this extremist nationalism was natural, which led to the emergence of another extremist ideology – Communism.

Communism discarded the concept of religion nation or nationalism etc., as being redundant and meaningless and required everyone to think in terms of internationalism which alone was considered relevant. When in 1914 during the First World War, workers in several countries supported their respective national governments; Lenin could not help expressing his anguish over their stance. He suggested that the workers, instead of co-operating with their governments, should have turned traitors and strengthened the wave of internationalism.

Before long the communists took over in a number of countries. But in the process the charisma of internationalism began fading and nationalism again started reasserting as a force so much so that even under the state wedded to internationalism a thinker like Morris Hindos in his book ‘Mother Russia’ makes a strong advocacy of nationalism. In this context the two chapters of the book, “Rediscovery of the Past” and “Russia for Russians” are quite significant. And how the two internationalist powers (Russia and China) are set on a collision course at present is too well-known for comment.

Progress Stunted

The present conflict between nationalism and internationalism leaves little or no scope for the west to think of mankind as a whole. The reason behind this is that their entire thinking is homocentric – which means, that the center of the universe is the human race and the western realm of thought has kept revolving around it. Let us not take sides in the ideological strife of the west as to which one is right and which is wrong. But one cannot help concluding that whenever an ideology was imported into this country from the west, it was acclaimed as progressive and all other were branded reactionary. In spite of this, we find that none of the so-called progressive ideologies lasted long. They continued to change and vacillate from one extreme to another. This makes it very clear that the western thought has yet to attain durability and finality.

Product of Reaction

In short, the western though instead of being positive is an outcome of reactionLet us put it like this: Suppose there is a particular situation prevailing in a country, it is bound to give rise to an idea or thought. It also needs revision when the situation changes. Therefore, the entire western thinking being based on reaction, we notice a serious ideological conflict in that part of the world. We reckon it as their second trait. The third one is that no western though is all embracing, is valid for all times. Moreover, it is very much segmented. The fourth being their failure to synthesize the essence of varied thoughts put forth from time to time, with the result that they remained diverse and incompatible. The French Revolution is an instance point.

Life Values

The subject for today’s discussion has in the present circumstances assumed great relevance and is a lesson for our country. It would, therefore, be essential to comprehend it well.

For the sake of equality, the difference in the minimum and maximum income is sought to be reduced (we too want it). It would then be argued that in the meantime inspiration for one’s development will go. If the live values were to be purely economic, one is apt to think as to why he should work hard. In spite of one’s sweating labour and becoming an Einstein or a Radhakrishnan if he for reasons of equality received no more than Rs.2000, his enthusiasm is dampened. On the other hand, if he is a damned idler and remains a peon he cannot be paid less than Rs.100. Why then one should be up and doing to become Einstein or Radhakrishnan.

Therefore, if the source of inspiration were purely material, the will to individual improvement or enterprise will die and if the same were to be encouraged with material gain as the end, the object of equality will have to be given good-bye. The present-day problem of brain-drain in our country has its roots in that the life values have become purely materialistic with the result that if a higher material development is not attainable in this land, it should be sought elsewhere.

In order to change this unhappy and unhealthy situation, we need a life system with different values. The system should be an amalgam of material as well as non-material life values of universal nature. I am deliberately avoiding the term ‘spiritual’ nature. One is as much inspired by material motives as by the desire of social prestige or status. Let there be a system embracing both. Ancient Bharat did evolve such a system. The system ordained an inverse ratio for acquisition of social prestige and material gains.

That is, if one aims at highest social prestige, he should be prepared to forego personal material benefits in the same ratio to further elaborate the point, highest prestige or reverence could be commanded against lowest intake of society’s material resources. If, on the contrary, one wanted maximum benefit from the society, he was free to do so, but he won’t be entitled to social prestige in the same measure. This, an order based on careful balance of the two human incentives was achieved and maintained.

West lacks Balance

But the west lacked this balance. In the early days, after Communist Revolution in Soviet Russia, people were forced to work under the overseer’s whip. And today there exists 1 to 80 disparity in the minimum and maximum incomes which completely negates their avowed equality. Even existence of classes is being tolerated. The former Yugoslavia Prime Minster Djilas in his book, ‘The New Class’ confirms this disparity. Not only that, special amenities and benefits are being offered to some, as social incentives. I would recall here, when Russia shot its first Sputnik, Khrushchev proudly proclaimed it as a victory of communism. But soon came a rebuff from the well-known philosophers Bertrand Russell, “that was not the victory but the defeat of communism – that it was because of special treatment given to the scientists which was a privileged class, which enabled them to make the Sputnik”.

I also endorse it as a defeat of communism because they could not reconcile materialist way of life with equality. This is true of Russia, Yugoslavia and all other communist countries. To be precise, all incompatibilities obtaining in democracies are equally discernible in communist countries. To be precise, all incompatibilities obtaining in democracies are equally discernible in communist countries. In other words, western ideologies lack eternality, finality and durability. They are used to thinking in bits and grooves, with the result that the ideologies of the west instead of being positive are reactionary in nature. They lacked the capacity to harmonize the various desirable goals relating to a society and to a period of time.

No Blind Imitation

Against this backdrop, we are forced to recapitulate, whether we in this country, can afford a blind imitation of the west. Swami Vivekananda was told by western thinkers, “we would accept your ideas of spiritualism and in return you should accept our ideology of socialism. You agree with us in the sphere of economics, while we do so in the area of spiritualism”.

But, Swamiji replied,Brothers, you are right, but your new ideology is in experimental stage while ours is an ancient nation. We are no fanatics. Before we accept your ideology, let us see that it has stabilized. We should like to see the evidence whether it has sustained the society for some five hundred years. We cannot accept an ideology which has not yet been tired and is still in a state of experimentation”.

Communism – its plus and minus

Communism is acknowledged in the west as the most progressive ideology of the day! Let us scrutinize it in the context of Swamiji’s statement. Fifty years has hardly elapsed since the Russian Revolution when cracks appeared in communism. The very definition of communism is being disputed in its own camps. While Russia decries China as deviationist and revisionist, China hurls back the same invective at Russia and both use these accusations against Yugoslavia. Dange is revisionist in the eyes of Namboodiripad and vice versa. The two are agreed that Charu Mazumdar was a deviationist and revisionist and in the reckoning of the latter Dange and Namboodiripad are “misguided Marxists“.  If one were to compile the epithets used by one communist camp against the other, word communism, would be reduced to, word deviationism. There is nothing in communism which has not been found faultless. No rationalist can comfort himself over this situation. If within a short span of fifty years, the entire camp of the so-called progressive nations can come to such a degree of deviation, to quote Swamiji, “what is the guarantee that the ideology has the strength to sustain the society for five hundred years”?


When we deice to review various ideologies we will have to examine their merits and demerits without following them blindly. We should not object to adopting whatever is worthy. One reconstruction, the late Sarsanghchalak of RSS, once said of our old order, “There may be many withering leaves and branches of trees which have already decayed. Let them decay and fall. Let us not be sorry over this. Similarly, if fresh sprouts grow, we should welcome them. All that has to be watched is that they do form an organic while with the mother tree, they are one with the tree. The dried leaves and the dead wood will fall and new offshoots will issue in their place with the passage of time. This is a natural process. So let there be no hesitation, rather we should welcome new thoughts. The only condition is that they should help us in reaching our goals”. But it appears that west can hardly ensure this.

Bharatiya Way of Life

Now we are set on reviewing the western thought. Likewise they are doing the same about out thought. And about our socio-economic structure they hold views contrary to ours. They do not find anything congruous and consistent in any area of thought of system. Instead, they see chaos everywhere. Let us take such areas one by one and religion first.

In the eyes of westerners, a complete anarchy prevails in the sphere of religion. For them, there is no single or uniform faith in Bharat. While one is a theist the other is an atheist, the third a monoist and the fourth a dualist. Some worship idols, some formless God and other reject God in all forms. Even the believers do not have a common God. Gods abound, perhaps they number as many as their worshipers – some 333 million. This number was arrived at perhaps to match the Indian population of yore. Every individual is free to choose his or her own path to suit his nature, psyche, physique, and need of the soul. The paths are bound to differ. But this is unthinkable in the west, firstly because, there is regimentation in thinking and secondly because, they are used to an exclusive thinking that ‘I or my path alone is right’. It is not very unnatural for them to deduce that India is full of diversities and contradictions and they are indeed baffled by them. Similarly, the places of family, nation, society, internationalism vis-à-vis the individual also appear to them to be fraught with inner contradictions.

We believe that the individual must have the fullest scope of development and is entitled to utmost happiness. Therefore, the social and economic system should be so fashioned that the individual has full scope for happiness and development. Along with individual we have also recognized family. Mother and father have been regarded as gods (मातृ देवो भवः, पितृ देवो भवः matru devo bhav, pitru devo bhav). It was never suggested that because the entity of the individual has been recognized, he is free to abandon his parents and live away with his wife after marriage. Not only that the role of the individuals as well as that of the family has been defined and delimited, it has up for been further laid down that the individual should be given the sake of family. He can even be sacrificed. It has further been ordained that give up the whole world for the sake of the self (आत्मार्थ पृथिवीं त्यजेत atmarthe prithivim tyajet). Those influenced by western thought will apparently find these thoughts as inconsistent and incompatible. But we all know it is not so.

Individual and Society

The relationship of the individual with the nation-society has been similarly defined. But in the west, there appears a conflict between the two. A fierce controversy rages there over the question of the border between the individual and the society. If the individual is permitted bigger latitude the society is curtailed in the same ratio and if the society is allowed a wider range of control, the individual’s liberty is abridged in the same measure. Therefore, we witness a tug of war between the individual and society in the west.

But in Bharat, both have their due place. Neither is at loggerheads with the other. While the principle of individual’s right to complete happiness and development and also the society’s obligation to social discipline is demanded of the individual on the other. The individual is expected to strive for his contentment and development and simultaneously required to surrender to the will of the society, i.e to do his duty to the society unhesitatingly and voluntarily. The ultimate lies in his readiness to offer his happy and developed self at the feet of the society. Thus, we can infer that there exists a complete identification between individual freedom and social discipline to the great astonishment of the west.

Nationalism and Internationalism

What has been said above about man and society relationship is true of nationalism and internationalism. In the west, nationalism is a product of reaction. This is why there has been inherent disharmony between nationalism of two nations and between nationalism and internationalism. We have a nationalistic prayer saying “I am born in this good nation, give me happiness and glory”, (प्रादुर्भूतोऽस्मि राष्ट्रेऽस्मिन्, कीर्तिं वृद्धिं ददातु मे – श्री सूक्त pradur bhuvan surashtre asmin kirtim riddhim dadatu me). We find more similar prayers for the good of the world.

I recall here an occasion during the deliberations of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (World Hindu Conference), when a question was posed ‘how to define Hindu’. I cannot deal with the question here in depth but will touch upon one aspect of it where Hindu connotes nationalism, internationalism or even something beyond or more. The answer, however, was that when the whole world was uncivilized, world civilization was invariably identified with Hindu nationalism. But even that supreme position we never thought of exploiting other nations in the interests of our own. Our motto was कृण्वन्तो विश्वमार्यम्Krinvanto Vishwamaryam”, i.e  we are Aryans and will make the world Aryan – we are cultured and will strive to share our culture and refinement with others and raise their level. This thought forms the base of our positive nationalism, which is a historical fact and which instead of creating clash between nationalism and internationalism, provides rudiments of internationalism. We have been averse to the idea that one who claims to be a nationalist cannot be an internationalist and conversely one who is an internationalist cannot be a nationalist. Again the westerners are amazed at it. They fail to grasp how one can be a nationalist and an internationalist both at the same time. But we see no contradiction in it.

Beyond Humanity

What lies next, is beyond the west’s comprehension. They, at best, can think of internationalism or humanity and not beyond. But our thought has transgressed this limit and dwells upon still further – the entire life. Only we have conceived life other than human life. There are some among Hindus who feed fish, ants and cows with sugar and flour. Why so? Because they believe all life is like their own. Not only that, even inanimate objects are regarded as part of creation of the ParamAtma like their own selves, and worship even stones for they see the creator in them, as God is omnipresent. Further, our people inquired of themselves ‘what is man’, ‘what are other beings’, ‘what all this animate, inanimate, sentient, insentient creation is’ and themselves realized later that all creation is one. But they, nevertheless, discovered that unity was different from the uniformity. We never believed that all must be uniform but did think that all are one and how strong this unity is, has been best expressed in, सर्वं खल्विदं ब्रह्मSarvam Khalvidam Brahma” (Chandogya Upanishad), meaning, all this world is one.

Our religion and our country has the capacity to sustain the universe, the creation. Certain principles and ideals are eternal an ever-lasting and, therefore, immutable. Our religion with the force of these truthful and eternal principles has churned our best thoughts and ideas to suit changing situations and conditions. All apparent contradictions and discord have been harmonized to a great extent. If we think of one point or one thing alone many things appear conflicting. Sometimes we talk of Karma (action) and sometimes of sanyas. One one hand, we believe in Moksha and on the other in ‘all is worthless’. Sometimes, we declare धर्मस्य मूलं अर्थाम Dharmasyamulam arthah” (money is the root of Dharma). But all these apparently different and divergent views have converged into one coordinated system sometimes is unintelligible to an ordinary mind. Relying on Swami Vivekananda it can be safely said that our religion has the capacity to sustain the society and it has done so for hundreds of years. It is true that sufficient thought could not be given to what changes are warranted in the social set up over the last twelve or thirteen hundred years. Again, I would caution that there is no need to be alarmed at the word ‘change’ as changes have been effected in the society with the sanction of Dharma and philosophy from time to time. It has been said, तर्को प्रतिस्टा श्रुतियों विभिन्न रैको मुनीर यस्य वाचः प्रमाणंTarkoprathista shruthayom vibhinna, raiko munir yasya vachah pramanam”, i.e., Vedas differ, Smritis differ and words of no Muni should be treated as last word. Unfortunately, the lasting peaceful conditions which are required to this effect changes eluded us for these twelve or thirteen hundred years and some distortions and flaws crept into the system. Some surgery is undoubtedly need, but to quote Gandhiji ‘operate the diseased part but do not kill the patient;, Remove the defect but let the system work. Our society is sustaining itself for the last several centuries. We always had ageless and unchanging laws and changing provisions going hand in hand.

Now the question arises, should we accept different western ideologies as progressive, modern and better just because they are new. It would be fair to make comparative study of the two and take what is best in them. On comparison, we find that our Sanatan Dharma stands superior to western thought. It has many characteristics but in the present-day context the late Pt. Deendayal Upadhaya had said, “We stand for Integral Humanism“.

Modern Dharma

The difference in the two pictures is probably clear now. The principal feature of our धर्म,  (Dharma), as related to contemporary situation, has been termed, “Integral Humanism” by late Panditji. Sanatan Dharma more or less has the same take. It is this make which can ensure happiness and prosperity for the mankind through the ages.

A Clear Direction

Now we should also bear in mind that our way of thinking in this country is unique. The reason is that there lies fundamental difference in the basic concepts of Indian philosophy and the thoughts of non-Indian thinkers. Panditji very clearly pointed out that in the West, though has been given to various points, institutions and concepts in a compartmentalized manner. They have thought of the individual, family society and humanity as separate and non-interacting entities. When dealing with the individual, they lost sight of other organs of the society. The same applies to their thinking on family, society and humanity. This is inherent in their contemplation. They confine themselves to one organism. Let us take religion for instance. They have various faiths and sects, but one believes itself to be only right and others wrong. Now let us look at our own country. We too have numerous faiths and beliefs but here we say, “my path is right and so is yours too”. The west asserts “my religion alone leads to God”. This is the western metaphysics while Bharat says, “your religion also leads to God”. The same approach is found in socio-economic matters. They have concentrated on one entity as it has no correlation or inter-action with the other. For the sake of clearer understanding, I would add that in their system, the individual forms the center and around it are concentric circles representing family, community, nation and humanity respectively. As I have stated, this is a concentric arrangement in which individual is the center. The circles though surrounded the center, yet to have no independent existence and function and without interplay.Against this, our arrangement, which is not new but ancient, is an ever expanding spiral. It begins with the individual but goes on enlarging to family, family to society, society to nation, nation to humanity and ultimately to the universe or Srishti without ever de-linking with the center i.e, the individual.


The difference of the two systems is worthy of note. We dwelt upon the individual, family, community, society, nation and mankind. And so did they. But as I have submitted these two systems widely differ. They treated all as distinct though concentric entities with no inter-relation but we did not. So their though remained exclusive.In our system, on the other hand, one entity originates from the other and expands into the next and thus forming an infinite spiral with no inner conflicts and no tensions. Individual nowhere comes into clash with family and family with community and so on and so forth. Not only that one is not opposed to the other, we have gone a step further, we believe one is complementary to the other. I would further illustrate my point. An infant knows little about anything but himself. As he grows he recognizes his parents, his brothers, sisters and the people around him and thus develops the awareness of family, but this awareness does not negate his ‘I’. To him, ‘I’ and the family both are a reality. He grows and develops his mind and becomes capable of action. He then forms a community with people of like mind and like action and becomes indistinguishable and inseparable from his community. By and by he develops an identity with the nation and becomes one with it. And at last comes the state f Sanyas, सन्यास (renunciation) when he realizes that all humanity is one, nay, entire cosmos is one and he is not only the citizen of the world but of the universe.

So from an infact ‘I’ (aham), to the highest attainment, rather renunciation as a sanyasin – is a long journey in the realm of self-cum-social consciousness of man. As his consciousness grows, his attachment with the old (small) entity, though a reality, starts wearing and that with the new one – the bigger one – becomes stronger. The last and the ultimate, i.e., “all this universe is Brahma (God)” is reached when one discards everything material (takes to Sanyas).

No Chaos

In other words, all units or entities are realities of life. As our consciousness grows, our vision widens. As all are realities, one is not at cross purpose with the other. None can be denied and none discarded. This is like the seed, sprouting into plant, plant growing into a tree and tree blossoming and bearing fruits. The seed, the plant, the flowers and the fruit all look different. None appears to have any relation with the other. To some, it may appear that there is chaos in the nature. But is it so? Not at all. All this is the process of evolution, growth and development. There is no conflict between the seed and the tree. The tiniest and the tallest entities, though have their independent existence, together form a single integrated whole. Bharatiya way of thinking is akin to this.

Why Integrated Life

We have laid enough emphasis on individual, the smallest unit, and rightly so. We conceive of an individual so organized and integrated as is unknown to the west. There the stress is on material progress. As you know, the U.S.A is considered to be the most advanced nation and country. They have attained a high level of prosperity but is it not surprising that common people there should be deprived of happiness and contentment? Their life seems plagued with contradictions, strife, unrest highest crime incidence, suicides and things like that. There appears tremendous increase in high blood pressure, heart ailments and criminal tendencies. The country which has the capacity to buy the whole world could not buy mental peace. So we are constrained to think, “What after all is our goal?” – Happiness which is enduring and real.

Europe, in spite of limitless acquisition is groping for happiness. Christ rightly said that, even if one has the whole world and yet loses his soul he is the loser. The west has reached the moon but has lost its happiness. On the contrary, our smallest unit, the individual is more organized and integrated. He is not divided or torn. An American psychologist has said of American society, ‘our roads are full of crowds of isolated, solitary and self alienated humans’. When they are so isolated within themselves, what use they can be to the world? There is no harmony between the individual and the society. The ill lies in considering man a physical and economic being. They think that once man is given money and material, comfort, happiness and peace will follow. But this expectation is belied. This is why highest standards of living failed to bring in its wake the much sought after happiness. This flows from the defect that they always thought in isolation, in bits, so to say, and never, thought of  various facets of human nature and its needs except that man is an economic being.


We admit that man is also an economic being and there be no doubt about it. His needs of food, sleep (aahaar, nidra, bhaya, maithunam cha), fear and sex must be satisfied. But this was not enough and we did not stop here. We thought that man was something more than economic being. He is a physical, psychological, political, social, and religious being too.

आहार निद्रा भय मैथुनं च सामान्यमेतत् पशुभिर्नराणाम् ।
धर्मो हि तेषामधिको विशेष: धर्मेण हीनाः पशुभिः समानाः ॥

(आहार, निद्रा, भय और मैथुन – ये तो इन्सान और पशु में समान है;  
इन्सान में विशेष केवल धर्म है, अर्थात् बिना धर्म के लोग पशुतुल्य है)

As I have said, his individuality has many facets. Therefore, if all aspects of human nature are not attended to in entirety, he will be deprived of the state of real happiness and contentment. In our wholesome thinking while we did not neglect man’s needs and desires and conceded that they should be satisfied, we also imposed reasonable restraints. It is not true that only Freud gave serious thought to sex. In this country, sex has been treated in all seriousness, an indispensible force. In Chapter 3, Sloka 42 of the Gita, it has been said:

इन्द्रियाणि पराण्याहुरिन्द्रियेभ्यः परं मनः ।
मनसस्तु परा बुद्धिर्यो बुद्धेः परतस्तु सः ॥

( इन्द्रियोंको स्थूल शरीरसे पर (श्रेष्ठ) कहते हैं; इन्द्रियोंसे श्रेष्ठ मन है;
मनसे भी पर बुद्धि है और जो बुद्धिसे भी पर है वह (आत्मा) है )

… which means senses are above desires, mind is above sense, intellect above mind and soul (आत्मन, atman) is indescribable and above all. Some scholars have interpreted सः this sloka as Kama, the sexual desire. But even if this is agreed, sex has not been left unbridled and unrestrained. It has been subjected to restriction. Bhagwan Sri Krishna himself claims, “I am Kama”, but at the same time he also says, “I am Kama and Kama should be satisfied but not against Dharma”.

Life based on Dharma

Like sex we admit money has a place in life. All should be able to satisfy their material needs. One need not have to worry night and day about how to fill his belly. He should have enough leisure to devote it to literary, artistic and cultural pursuits and also to God if he so desires. Thus, while taking full cognizance of money and sex, man has been cautioned against their use beyond a reasonable limit, lest it may spell his doom and disintegrate the society. Our ancient seers were very conscious of the possible pitfalls and evolved a philosophy which incorporated some eternal laws and some universal laws. They also perceived and tested them. They did not merely search, codify or compile such laws. The sum total of the perceived laws – eternal and universal – made to prevent the individual from falling, the society from degeneration and for the highest development and progress of the individual is known as Dharma. But Dharma alone is not enough. Money and sex were not ignored. They were, however, sandwiched between Dharma on one end and Moksha (‘salvation’) on the other. Thus was evolved a quartet of Dharma, Artha, Kama and Moksha for guiding the human endeavor and enterprise. This being coordinated, organized and integrated system did not divide or split the individual but gave free choice of his life’s goals and ideals best suited to his physical, mental, intellectual and spiritual capacities and capabilities, keeping his individuality intact.

What is Integrated Humanism?

It must always be remembered that unless various ingredients of the individual and individuality are organized, an organized society remains a far cry. In fact this organized state is our starting point where from we march towards the individual, family, nation, humanity and the entire universe, i.e., all animate and inanimate creation. And this is integral humanism, we will find that it not only obviates conflict between various entities, but establishes that one emanates from the other as part of a process of development in which the smaller entity though autonomous in its area, merges into the bigger one. So far as the human society is concerned, its sequence can be from individual to family and family to nation and nation-state and then to one world state on the basis of integral humanism. In the realm of thought the highest level would be the principle of non-dualism Advait.

Goals of Integral Humanism

The world state or government as conceived under integral humanism will be quite different from the once conceived by the communists. Their world will be mono-centric and monolithic, while ours will be multi-centric and multilithic. The communist system will be sustained by regimented thinking and will display uniformity, but in our world system no such uniformity is foreseen. Every nation will be free to develop according to its own genius. Every nation will consider itself an organ of the body – the world government – in the same way as an individual subordinates himself of his own free will his entire acquisitions and achievements to the society at large. We will be one with the whole mankind and whatever material progress we attain through our best efforts, its ripe and sweet fruits will be offered at the feet of the Humanity. This is how a nation while remaining free and sovereign, will progress and will be bound with others by good-will and cooperation, flowing from its commitment to the spirit of universality. A world government on this model will be after Pt. Deendayalji’s dream of Integral Humanism, followed by non-dualism Advait, in the world of thought which is logical consequence. In the end, I would reassure that if we hold fast to the thoughts and ideals, propounded by him, we should be able to dispel the confusion in the midst of which the present generation finds itself confounded.

(Translation of a Speech by Shri Dattopant Bapurao Thengadi, organised by Deendayal Upadhyaya Smarak Siksha Samiti at Kanpur in February, 1970).

(Courtesy: Deendayal Upadhyaya’s Integral Humanism: documents, interpretations, comparisons, New Delhi: Deendayal Research Institute, 1992, Integral Humanism – A Study, pg:70-84, Edited by Sri.Devendra Swarup). 

(Courtesy: Sri.Raghunandan, Dakshina Madhya Kshetriya Samyojak, Pragnya Pravah).

For further reading, please refer the link : Deendayal Upadhyaya – The Seer of Integral Humanism