NGO in Patna
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Society for Indian Thought and Action (SITA) believes that the same truth has been expressed in different idioms, forms and manifestations in different traditions of the Indian civilization. India has welcomed other thought patterns and people from time immemorial. There is no faith or thought pattern of the world which is unrepresented in India. Indian thought and Indian people have also found respectable place in different parts of the world since the time of Gautama, the Buddha.
With the rise of modern universities in India and centers of Oriental and Indological studies in different parts of the world, a huge literature has emerged about Indian thought pattern and Indian people. In the emerging information and electronic highways, vast information and literature are available about other cultures and civilizations. The post-postmodern present day scenario do provide new opportunities in formulating alternatives for a better global civilization. A meaningful dialogue among civilizations and cultures with emphasis on cooperation among nations is required. In SITA, we have decided to study preserve and promote the uniqueness of Indian culture in thought and action by promoting open and honest dialogue. SITA further emphasizes that there is a need to promote honest and democratic sharing of knowledge, natural resources and human resources in the emerging world order.
The sustainability of Indian way of life is becoming uncertain today. We think and feel at this juncture of a transforming world order, that the best we can do to ensure a decent future, is to explore, develop, propagate and cultivate the resources of our own native traditions of thought and activity. While thoroughly familiar with the value of the Western contribution to our well- being-indeed, creatures of the Western dispensation, we feel and think that the greatest service we can offer to coming generations is the cultivation and propagation of our traditions, which well might have in the source of their unbroken continuity since time immemorial weathered shocks and tribulations in comparison with which our predicament is child's play. We realize how ill- equipped we are for the task. But, we think that if we try to raise ourselves to the demands of the challenge, we will have fulfilled the duty incumbent on us in our circumstances. We also feel the need to study and scrutinize the West from Indic perspective so that the new generation is able to compare the Indic with the Western in a holistic framework.
We have been facilitating workshops, seminars, dialogues and researches about the unity and diversity of Indian science and civilization as well as other civilizations and sciences. In the coming years, we have planned to organize workshops in different parts of India. We have also decided to promote literary, historical and sociological researches about the Vedic, Buddhist, Jain, Sikh, Bhakti etc. traditions in India and abroad. We are also planning an "Institute of Science and Civilization". This institute will not only study the thought pattern of different traditions but will also study the science, technology, political economy, educational pattern, communication, arts, aesthetics, healing systems and the ways of life of different Indian cultural traditions and their scientific and civilizational frameworks from Indic perspectives.
We are also planning to develop a 'Central Reference Library' where we desire to stock all the relevant books, journals, magazines, references, bibliographies, documents, datas etc. related with all the traditions of Indian Origin and all other traditions of foreign origin so that any researcher can find all the relevant literature and references at one place. We also plan to set up a website of Indian Sciences and civilization to coordinate and facilitate study/preservation of Indian Culture at home and abroad. SITA, apart from doing study and research of "Indian Culture in Thought and Action" and dialogue with other cultures and civilization, is also developing necessary organizational networks to implement the findings of researches in the interest of a better humanity and a better world to live.
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2. Ayurved / Health Project
3.Organic Farming & Herabl Plantation
4. Film & Media Project
5. Temple Project
6. Political Traning Project
7. School Project
THE HINDU AGENDA IN THE 21ST CENTURY: DECODING THE SYMBOLIC CODES OF VEDIC (HINDU) COSMOLOGY
The Historical Context
A new century is about to begin. And every person is trying to make sense of the type of changes that are in the process of unfolding, the type of structure which would evolve in the emerging world order and the sorts of constraints this would impose on a particular type of cultural group and national arrangement. On the whole, there are two broad groupings of all such thinking -pessimistic and optimistic. Seen in a historical perspective it is natural and expected. When the 20th century was approaching the people of 19th century might also have been perturbed and excited in more or less the same way. Then also the opinions were divided into pessimistic and optimistic. Some people were preparing themselves to welcome the ‘brave new world ' and some people were writing the doomsday thesis. If we evaluate the two agendas of 19th century about the 20th century now at the close of the 20th century we are startled by the mixed achievements — if there are unimagined successes in the fields of science, technology, medicine and mass communications, there are ample failures in terms of environment degradation, dehumanization of human relationships and hardening of emotions resulting in suicide, drug addiction, rape, genocide and terrorism as well organised professions. In the world of ideas socialism, capitalism and Freudian psychology and Newtonian physics rose to the height and then fell down. Now, we are listening to the new ideas of post-modernity, global village, end of history, end of national consciousness and groupings and the rise of global political economy at one end and ethnic violence and religious revival at the other end. The 19th century western agenda was proclaiming the death of God and family; now it seems that God has taken rebirth and family values are being reaffirmed. It seems the west is in the process of correcting some of the mistakes.
It is, however, not a new conclusion. As early as 1919 Sri Aurobindo had written in The Foundations of India Culture (p.154) "we have both made mistakes. Europe has understood the lesson. She is admitting the light of the East, but on the basis of her own thinking and living, not abandoning her own truths of life and science and social ideals. We should be as faithful and free in our dealing with Indian spirit and modern influences, be if possible not less but more spiritual than were our forefathers. India can best develop herself and serve humanity by being herself and following the law of her own nature, be keeping to her own Centre. This does not mean the rejection of everything new that comes to us."
This quotation is relevant in the context of contemporary India. There are many people who are claiming that the west was mistaken and now gradually they are correcting their mistake. They are coming close to us. Therefore, we are slowly emerging as the world leader. In this context people quote Sri Aurobindo that he had predicted long before that in the days to come India will emerge as the torch bearer of human civilisation... Yes, Sri Aurobindo had spoken on these lines but it was not unconditional:
He had also written, "But what are likely to be its great constructive ideas and instruments is as yet obscure, because the thought of this new India is till inchoate and indeterminate. So far there has been more of restatements than of new thought and experience. The more original minds have turned either towards pure literature or else been busy assimilating and at most Indianising modern ideas." (148-149)
He had categorically said that it was an accident that at the moment Europe came in upon us, we were in a state of ebb and decline.(p. 154) Elaborating his point he wrote, "The evening of decline... was prepared by three movements of retrogression:
1) A sinking of that superabundant vital energy; 2) A rapid cessation of the old, free intellectual activity as well as the creative intuition; 3) Spiritually remains but burns no longer with the large and clear flame of knowledge of former times. This amounts to a certain failure, a falling short in the process towards the perfect spiritualization of mind and life.
Now, the guest ion is whether we as a nation have corrected our mistake even at the dawn of 21st century. It is not difficult to find a few individuals who may have overcome these mistakes but as a group, as a society, as a nation we are far from realizing the Indian glory. It was in this context that Vivekananda had spoken of Hindu weakness, when he said, "we want a Vedantic mind in the body of Islam." He was pointing towards the general attitude of Hindus who are not very successful as a group. They are spiritual as individuals but their spirituality vanishes as group or nation.
Sri Aurobindo aired the same anxiety when he said that, "In the outward life of the nation we are still in a stage of much uncertainty and confusion, very largely due to the political conditions. A vehement religion of Indian patriotism has expressed itself, though not as yet, with any finality or fullness. Indian society is in a still more chaotic stage; the old forms are crumbling away while the new is still powerless to be born. We have had a revival of orthodox conservatism and have now in emergency an increasing sense of the necessity of renovation of social ideas and express forms by the spirit of the nation awakening to decipher yet unexpressed implications of its culture."
Sri Aurobindo wrote these lines in 1918. Gandhi became the leader of the Congress in 1919 and Dr Hedgewar founded RSS in-1925. Gandhi's aim was to spiritualise the Indian nation. The RSS was founded to realise the dreams of Vivekananda -- namely to strengthen the Indian nation by organizing the Hindus. Dr Hedgewar was a known admirer of Sri Aurobindo.
He had approached Sri Aurobindo in 1920 at Pondicherry to lead the Congress by taking to active politics. Therefore, Vivekananda and Sri Aurobindo — at least the early Sri Aurobindo — were important inspirations of the RSS. Congress after Gandhi turned its back towards the Indian ethos and thus RSS became the sole torch bearer of Hindu nationalism after Gandhi's Congress. The RSS has succeeded in organizing Hindu masses and raising nationalistic themes. But so far the aim of the RSS has been to maintain the existing culture of this nation. No attempt has been made to gain the lost glory. If we follow the prescription of Sri Aurobindo, we cannot gain our lost glory unless and until we recognize our past mistakes, the causes of our decline; unless and until we institutionalise spirituality in different aspects of Indian national life.
Sri Aurobindo had said that from the spiritual point of view truth of existence is to be found by intuition and inner experience and the work of philosophy is to arrange the data given by the various means of knowledge and put them into their synthetic relation to the one truth. In this view science becomes not merely physical knowledge and its practical fruits but will make room for new fields of research, which start from spirit as the first truth and from the power of the mind to act upon life and matter. Art and poetry are seen to be a revelation of greater things concealed in men and nature and the deepest spiritual and universal beauty. Even politics, society and economy may become a framework within which man can seek and grow into his real self and divinity, an increasing embodiment of the divine law of being and a collective advance towards the light, power, peace, unity, harmony which the race is trying to achieve. This and nothing more or nothing less is what we mean by the application of spirituality to life.
To some extent Deendayal Upadhyaya's Integral Humanism fulfils the application of spiritualism in philosophy and the writings of Bankim Chandra, Suryakant Tripathi Nirala and Hazari Prasad Dwivedi are an attempt to spiritualize literature. The research of Jagdish Chandra Bose was an attempt to spiritualise science in a way. But these are examples of individual attempts of spirituality. There has been no successful attempt to institutionalise spirituality.
Ravindranath Tagore, Madan Mohan Malaviya, Kanhaiyalal Maniklal Munshi, Sri Aurobindo of Pondicherry, Vivekananda tried to institutionalise their individual achievements in the form of institutions. But their individual charisma was routinized. Their Vansa (intellectual heritage) could not flourish. Shantiniketan could not produce another Ravindranath. Could RSS produce another Guruji or Deendayal? BHU could not produce another Malaviya, Bharatiya Vidya Bhawan could not produce another K M Munshi, and Pondicherry Ashram could not produce another Aurobindo. And Ramakrishna Mission could not produce another Vivekananda. In this way Gandhi's view was vindicated — Gandhi wanted Congress to be disbanded — and we know that Congress could not produce another Gandhi.
RSS people can claim that in their organisation there have been at least three successful successions from Dr Hedgewar to Guruji Golwalkar and from Guruii Golwalkar to Deendayal Upadhyaya. But after Deendayal Upadhyaya? After the four lectures on Integral Humanism? Deendayal died in 1968. After his death what are the achievements of the RSS in terms of spiritual experiments? They may claim that they are at the verge of replacing Congress at the Centre. In their Shakhas they claim that we want to change society and national life through "Samskar' in Indian society? Who will do this sanskritisation and how? So far their only success has been in the realm of mobilisation and organisation of people for as specific obiect -- be it Ram Janmasthan or power at different state headguarters. So far they have been successful in getting power in UP, MP, HP, Rajasthan, Delhi, Gujarat and Maharashtra (with Shiv Sena). Only God knows what sort of attempts was made to spiritualise politics, society and economy in these states by the Sangh Parivar through governments. And what are their remaining agendas?
The Indian tradition claims that dharma is supreme and the historians of civilisation have furnished the facts which lead us to conclude that when we had Gurukuls like Nalanda and Takshashila, we were the torch bearers of humanity. When the Muslims came they destroyed our Gurukuls but could not develop alternative ones. Their interest was more in dance, music and fine arts than instituonalisation of earning and knowledge but the oral tradition and vocational education remained in India upto 18th century. The Muslims had destroyed only centralised Gurukuls which were the institutes of higher learning. On the other hand, Europe was reawakening from 13th century. By 16th century Europe and institutionalised centres of learning like Oxford and Cambridge. When Nalanda and Takshashila gave way to Oxford and Cambridge, England replaced India as the torch bearer of human civilisation. Now, it is the Harvard Business School which is guiding the fate of nations the world over.
Therefore, if RSS people claim that no durable change is possible through the agency of state and government they are right. They are also right when they claim that it is Sanskar or education through which the desirable change can be achieved in Indian society. But it is a truism. Everybody knows this fact from time immemorial. Macauley knew this very well when he deliberately changed Indian education to suit the British interests. It was a political decision. Then it became an economic decision. When we became a free nation the Indian middle class under the leadership of Nehru made a social decision to continue the same colonial education system.
The RSS wants to change this and they have floated Bharatiya Shikshan Mandal, Sankalan Samiti, and Vidya Bharati etc. But these are marginal attempts which are not taken seriously by anyone. These are half hearted gestures. The best minds of RSS are involved in mobilisation, organisation and propaganda. They are not involved in research, training and contemplation. D. B. Thengadi, K. C. Sudershan, S. S. Bhandari and M. M. Joshi could have been the worthy successors of Deendayal Upadhyaya had they taken full time research job and developed all India Coordinating Centre of Research, Training and Social reconstruction. But instead D. B. Thengadi thought that organising the labour force is more important than systemising the Indian tradition and proper training of the young generation. K C Sudershan thought that supervising the over growing organisation of RSS and propagating the RSS ideology is more important than developing the RSS ideology on the line of Indian tradition.
S. S. Bhandari and M. M. Joshi thought that being a part of the political mobilisation strategy is more important than developing an institution of alternative development on the basis of Integral Humanism. Thus, the best minds of RSS are preoccupied with "Kshatriya' Karma, although they were capable of being a "Rishi" of our times in the true tradition of our illustrious ancestors. But as things stand today, it is not unnatural. From the days of Ram Mohan Roy and Vivekananda Indians have unconsciously accepted the western assertion that Indians are good in spiritual matters. They are the real genius in this realm as an individual. But they are incapable of organising their society; they are incapable of governing their state. Therefore, the RSS leaders are trying to prove that they can organise their society, they can govern their state.
The RSS mind has been defensive in its thinking. The only exception has been Pt. Deendayal Upadhyaya. Grains of originality are found in Thengadi and Joshi as well but only in the conscious state. Unconsciously they are still operating at a defensive stage. Therefore, no serious attempt has been made to challenge the western paradigm at institutional and experimental level. At best, there is only rhetoric of the third way. So far as substance is concerned they are still confused. They have only broad sketches and abstract philosophy and no details in terms of substantive experimental proving in different aspects of life and society.
Deendayal said we have to make our tradition swadeshanukul. It is what Aurobindo also said in his "The Foundation of Indian Culture". But a common man does not know the meaning of these prophetic lines. What is our tradition in different fields? To what extent these are useful? To what extent it can or should be changed? How can we change a few aspects of our tradition? These are important substantive questions which were posed by our ancestors in later 19th and early 20th centuries. Ram Mohan Roy explicitly and Vivekananda implicitly stressed that there should be a synthesis of Indian spirituality and western science and technology. Till this date this has been dominant thinking among the Indian nationalists. DRI, Gonda Projects, Chitrakoot University, Bishnupur projects are regarded as RSS or RSS inspired projects. These projects also accept the above mentioned paradigm of Indian spiritualism and western science and technology. The activities of Vidya Bharati are also in tune with this paradigm. (At the level of rhetoric there may be a few exceptions but at the level of behaviour the mainstream of RSS accepts this paradigm of Indian spiritualism and western science and technology).
The second view was presented by Gandhi who said we cannot learn much from the west. Gandhi seriously believed that we have our own tradition of science and technology. And it is still relevant and capable of solvinq most of our problems. Very few Indians believed in Gandhi's assertion. None denied that we had such a tradition but most said it is outdated and irrelevant today. Recently there has been a revival of this paradigm due to internal reflection and external pressure of Globalisation, balance of payments and ecological degradation. But even today it is still at an ideological stage. This paradigm is at the moment far from operationalisation and concretisation. Gandhian Institutes of Studies have failed miserably in this sense. And now there is paucity of funds to support serious research endeavour of looking at alternative developmental paradigm using Indian methods, techniques and tradtions. Universities, UGC, ICSSR etc. finance only such research projects which support globalisation and/or use western paradigm. And now, there is talk of privatisation of higher education.
Therefore, there is a serious need to institute an International Hindu Foundation which will act as a coordinating centre of research, training and social reconstruction and finance different intellectual endeavours in this direction in different parts of the world. I have produced a blue-print for an Institute of Vedic Sciences on the pattern of ancient Gurukuls to solve some of the problems of contemporary times in the Hindu way using Indian Shastras but synthesizing them with western political economy in particular.
Sanatana Dharma or the ideology of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam is the true spirit of Indian tradition and not the concept of Hindu Rashtra, The concept of Hindu Rashtra is a superimposition of western (German) romanticism or western conception of nation and it is not derived from the Indian tradition of Vedas, Vedanta and Lokjivan or Loksahitya. The Hindu Nationalism of Sawarkar and Golwalkar is an attempt to semitise Indian tradition. Sri Aurobindo and J Krishnamurti were categorical in this regard that nationalism is not a desirable thing. Deendayal Upadhyaya defined Rashtra in a different way which is a middle path — a creative interpretation of the Vedic (Atharva-Veda) tradition on the one hand and ambiguous defence of cultural nationalism of the RSS tradition. He introduced the concept of "Chiti" to define a nation. In this sense nation or Rashtra becomes another name of Indian culture. But "Chiti" is a type of consciousness and it is not a geo-cultural concept. Thus if nation is "Chiti" it is only a cultural concept and not the geo-cultural concept.
Thus "Bhumi' or "Bhauma' becomes secondary which is the foundation of Indian culture or any culture -- because "Chiti" can be translated into sociology as collective representation or collective consciousness in Durkheimian sense of the term.
The "Chiti" of Indians was not centered around the sacred space called ‘Matribhumi' or ‘Bharat Mata'. The sentiment of unity in India was metaphysical or unconscious or passive –
it was not real, this worldly or conscious or active. Had it not been the case we would not have been defeated. In the all known history of India we were fighting each other in terms of narrow loyalties. National interest was never supreme. From the time of Alexander's invasion of India to the invasion of Huns, to the invasion of Gori, Babur , Nadir Shah and Abadali to the invasion of the Portugese, French and the British our "Chiti" was far from nationalistic. We were loyal to different kings, empires, regions etc. but it was not an al] Indian Chiti. Our traders and princes were not nationalistic. Even our priests were not nationalistic.
Even after independence, we are a nation state but not a nation in the indigenous sense of one Chiti. Our Chiti is divided in the terms of caste, faith and economic interests. In this sense those who speak of multinationlities in Indian state have some ground reality behind their argument.
But social anthropologists have taught us that states and nations are not co-terminus with order, culture and civilisation. It was a colonial view which proclaimed that statelessness or nationlessness is a symbol of lawlessness, disorder, incivility, primitiveness and chaos. The researches of social anthropologists like E. E. Evans-Pritchard have proved that different societies may be organised by different principles and alternative development theorists are proclaimina that there may be different indexes, parameters and paradigms of development based on different world-views.
Therefore, it is not necessary to prove somehow or the other that we had a nation long before the west developed it's first nation. It was a defensive attitude of the Indian intellectuals durinq the colonial rule.
Vedic society was originally a tribal society. From tribe to caste to empire to nation to... There has been a process of evolution which was cyclical instead of linear. It was an evolution from homogeneity to heterogeneity to again homogeneity, something like Thesis. Antithesis and Synthesis: a type of dialectical evolution. Every culture evolves in this manner in its own way.
There is a need to study the principal Upanishads from sociological perspective. Structuralism of Levi-Strauss and Lacan can be of much help in the study of Upanisadas, Ramayan and Mahabharat. I had planned once the study of Advaita Vedanta through Durkheimian approach. I see Levi-Strauss, Lacan and Focault as the improvement over Durkheimian approach now.
Now, I am convinced that sociology has great potential. We can outgrow the colonial experience and distortion as a community of scholars. The French structuralist tradition and American sociological tradition is relatively an open ended system of discourse which can be useful in the advancement of a genuine understanding of India through indigenous sources. As a descriptive and as an institutionalised way of looking at society, culture and humanity sociology started in Indian with Manu smriti.
Modern sociology has refined some of the techniques of data collection and data interpretation. These techniques and methods can be of some help in the study and interpretation of Indian tradition. For example, recent studies by French scholars in the field of social history and mythology can be very useful in the study of our Puranas, Ramayan, Mahabharat and other myths, stories, kathas and akhyans. It is better to use tried and trusted methods of sociology than to rely on the commonsense, whims and wishes of self-proclaimed scholars of Indian tradition. After all it is the community of scholars who make sense of a particular type of intellectual discourse. The same "text' thus generates different types of intellectual discourses in different community of scholars and activists of cultural moments.
Our aim is to develop our own sociology or a science of society. But we cannot develop this sociology from scratch. The problem of reading our texts and interpreting our tradition in contemporary language, conditions of communication, socialisation and transformation of ideas into interests is very much there. In such a context we will have to read selected Hindu texts of substance as well as methods by the appropriate (selective) use of modern (western) traditions of intellectual discourse.
For example, Weberian thesis of Hinduism is not very relevant for us but we cannot say the same for the Durkheimian attempt to understand the "Elementary forms of Religious life" and "Primitive Classification". In the same way, Parsonian pattern variables are easily dispensable but we will be a loser if we do not utilise the researches of E. E. Evans-Pritchard (African system of Politics and Nuer Religion etc.), Levi-Struss (Elementary Structures of Kinship and the three volumes of Mythologies) , Focault (History of sexuality and Archeology of Knowledge etc), Toynbee , Will Durant, Spengler, Sorokin, Braudol and I Berlin (Study of Civilisations), the classical political economy of Adam Smith, Marshall , Richardo and its valuable critique by Marx and Developmental Theorists.
In this sense Edward Said has a point when he traces the inter-linkages between Orientalism and some forms of western contemplation. Tapan Roychaudhari's attempt of reading Bengal Renaissance and 19th century Hindu agenda echoes the voice of Edward Said. But we should not be apologetic about it. When intellectual churning process beings in a culture at a particular (span of) time it is but natural that the creative aspect of other cultures becomes natural for thought. A fertile dialogue begins about we and they "our" weaknesses and "their" strength. It had happened in Europe between 1.1th and 10th centuries. Now there are many studies in the west itself which acknowledge the contribution of east particularly Hindu India in the development of modern west. For example, the French tradition of sturucturalism owes a debt to Grammar of Panini via Whitney and the Christian Missionaries got the inspiration from the Buddhists. Therefore, we should not be apologetic if it is proved that the RSS has got its organisation inspiration more from Christian missionary order and German Romantic nationalism than from sanatan ethos of Hindu tradition.
It is my humble assertion that the Hindus as a community as well as a culture must set their 21st century Hindu Agenda by developing their new Gurukuls sciences, methods, techniques on their own basically from their own culture but these things can be developed only in steps and stages from the existing conditions, living traditions of knowledge, of communication etc. This is the only feasible methodology of developing alternative paradigm of intellectual discourse to restructure and rejuvenate Hindu society and culture in 21st century. Gradually we will be able to develop Indian alternative of Global problems, crises and development. It is under this light that my blue-print of Institute of Vedic Sciences should be appreciated or evaluated.
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