Deen Dayal Upadhyaya

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Dharma Rajya

- Yadav Rao Deshmukh

India encountered two major Occupations and several invaders and conquerors and emerged in the 20 century intact, a sane, remarkably balanced society, legitimately called the world’s largest democracy. How did this happen when all around the Indian subcontinent there were and still are, societies that are neither secular  nor democratic and do not follow the norms of civilized life ?

The answer  is that broadly speaking there has always been in India a distinction between nation and state. The nation represents the unity and ethos of Bharat ,  while the state may come and go, whether it is Mughal rule or British colonial rule. Today, the Indian state and its Constitution comes close to representing the Indian ethos. This achievement was possible because of the timeless wisdom of our saints and sages , the remarkable leadership of the Indian freedom struggle and the  overwhelming support of the Indian people.

Names such as Balgangadhar Tilak,  Aurobindo Ghosh,  Gopalakrishna Gokhale, the leaders of the RSS,  are only a few of the hundreds of leaders, and the thousands of known and unknown heroes and heroines  that the freedom struggle threw up.

Of these,  the best known both internationally and nationally is,  ofcourse,  Mahatma Gandhi. Following his death, there were Vinobha Bhave, Syam Prasad Mukherjee, Jawaharlal Nehru,  Sardar Patel,  Dr. Ambedkar and many more luminaries, not to mention the heroes of the saga, the people of India. It did not matter what party they belonged to or  what affiliation they had. One and all, they were dedicated to the  liberation struggle and the well being of India.

Gandhiji formulated  a vision of a new society, the non hierarchical, non exploitative , classless society with gender equality , and freedom and prosperity for all. He called this ideal society , the village republic, Ram Rajya. While there were many followers of Gandhiji then and today,  there has been one figure who clearly inherits the mantle and that is Deen Dayal Upadhyaya( 1915-1968)  of the  former Bharatiya Sangh, founded by Syam Prasad Mukjerji in 1951 and which was headed by Deen Dayal  after Dr. Mukherji’s death , for over 15  years until his  own premature death in 1968. Since 1980 the Bharatiya Janata Party (well known to Indians as BJP) has considered Deen Dayal as one of the most important of their inspirational figures. Indeed,  the BJP has adopted Deen Dayal’s Integral Humanism as their foundational philosophy.

Although he passed away quite early in his career  he has left a legacy of thought which all Indians, not just the BJP must ponder over.  Perhaps it is no exaggeration to say that the world must ponder over it.  His philosophy of Integral Humanism is never more urgently needed than today when the planet is in dire peril both from environmental disaster(man made) and the greed and mendacity of  power, money and indifference to one’s fellow beings.  Integral Humanism was also propounded by the French Catholic philosopher Jacques Maritain, but his views do not include the practical environmental and social questions that Gandhiji attended to in his ideal village republic and which Deen Dayal Upadhyaya brings to the fore in his 4 Lectures on Integral Humanism ( they are listed as 4 chapters, in Integral Humanism, see Wikipedia)

In these lectures, the author not only incorporates the Gandhian ideal of a village republic but opens up the debate to a further level, the Dharma Rajya, which is already present in Gandhiji’s thought but needed to be made explicit for our times. Deen Dayal does this in the 4 Lectures, titled Integral Humanism and which were delivered in Mumbai (formerly Bombay) between April 22-25, 1965.

The human being he says in these Lectures,  is an organic entity composed of physical,mental, intellectual and spiritual needs and any social/political/economic  philosophy must take this into account if the individual and society are to be fulfilled.  In his opinion Hinduism provides the opportunity for this fulfillment. The present writer agrees with this position. The  monotheistic faiths,  unlike  Hinduism , are both homocentric and androcentric. They are also proselytizing religions and hence create problems for those who do not belong to these faiths. The history of conquest is clear evidence of that.  These faiths are centred only on man, and a limited view of the divine based on a narrow vision presented by the official orthodoxy.  They are homo centric and androcentric because they have no understanding of the  Divine as being  infinite,  not limited to finite,  human understandings of its  Presence, open to worship both as a pantheistic principle,  as an infinite principle , as being worshipped in both masculine and feminine expressions of the same and in any shape or form a particular worshipper chooses. The  Divine Names are not only expressions of infinite variety but also of the human being’s finitude in relation to the Divine.  This is the basis of the famed Hindu tolerance of different faiths. And  only a Hindu could say about Mother India that:

“ As Dashapraharana Dharini Durga (Goddess Durga with her 10 weapons) she would be able to vanquish evil; as Lakshmi she would be able to disburse prosperity all over and as Saraswati she would dispel the gloom of ignorance and spread the radiance of knowledge all around her. With faith in ultimate victory, let us dedicate ourselves to this task.”

( Deen Dayal’s speech at the Calcutta session of the Bharatiya Jana Sangh, 1967).

And only a Hindu, it would seem, in light of current happenings, can say in good faith :

“ With the support of Universal knowledge and our heritage, we shall created a
  Bharat which will excel all its past glories, and will enable every citizen in its
  fold to steadily progress in the development of his manifold latent possibilities
  and to achieve . . . a sense of unity with the entire creation . . .This is our message
  to humanity at the cross roads.  May God give us strength to succeed in  this task. “
  (Conclusion of  Fourth Lecture).

What then is this task ? The four Lectures deal with  the nation as an organic entity where family ,community, trade unions, gram panchayats,  janpada and the state are the limbs of the nation (Lecture 3). They must all be harnessed for the full development of individual and society. It is humanism, but with a significant difference, as we shall see.

There are evils in Hindu society such as Untouchability and this has got to go, says Deen Dayal. So did Gandhiji and  the BJP  and the Sangh  Parivar are  also dedicated to eradicating Untouchability. There is also a further interesting dimension to Deen Dayal’s thinking. While recognizing the limitations of Western thought, he welcomes whatever positives  it has to offer, such as the West’s contributions to modern science.  He sees what is valuable in the West’s ideas of socialism, liberal democracy, communism, but rejects their one sidedness. The  four lectures develop his arguments against these systems in an overview that is a testimony  to Deen Dayal’s erudition and his philosophical acumen.  He then introduces what he sees as Hinduism’s central concept,  Dharma.

Dharma is an untranslatable word, he avers, and rightly so. It cannot be limited to religion or Law or Order. The closest approximation would be that it is the universal Presence/ Being that holds together the universe and human societies.  Deen Dayal does not use this particular phrasing but that is the intent of his writings on Dharma,  which is readily understood by a Hindu,  but not  necessarily by  all members of the international community who are not used to thinking in a Dharmic mode.

And yet, it is urgent that both India and the international community pay heed to the notion of Dharma. Both Deen Dayal’s and Gandhiji’s understanding of a society’s welfare are enhanced by this dimension. Hence, the superiority of their vision over the Marxian vision of  ‘ from each according to his ability and to each according to his need.’ (Critique of the Gotha Programme, 1875).
Marx’s understanding of the individual’s needs and social arrangements (the classless, non exploitative society) , though commendable, excluded both the divine and the natural worlds and focuses exclusively on man and society. His humanism is derived from the Greek sophist philosopher Protagoras, who said that man is the measure of all things.

Hence, there is very little of environmentally conscious programs in classical Marxian thought and certainly  there is notably the absence of the Divine, either in the universe at large or in the historical process.  This limited  Humanism is also what drives contemporary Marxism ( although there is presently a shift to environmental issues ). Hence, also the inability of Indian  Marxism to work with the Hindu ethos to effect social change. They seem to be religiously wedded to the limited world view of both Marxism and western thought.

Deen Dayal’s  Integral Humanism ( as also Gandhiji’s) opens up the individual not only to his/her fellow human beings but also to Nature and to the Divine. Practically speaking this also makes sense. Studies have shown that in the next half century most of the world will be urban. India alone, will retain an agriculture based economy. Gandhiji saw his village republic as being close to Nature. Deen Dayal, working in the context of post Independence India,  with an already flourishing economy based on a capitalist mode of production,  attempted to humanise  this system by putting forward an integrated economy that would see human society as an organic system, even in economic planning and programs.

In the fourth Lecture Deen Dayal spells out the 6 aspects of a healthful (from all angles) features of an integrated economy. They are:

  1. An assurance of a minimum standard of living and preparedness for the defence of the nation.
  2. Further increase above this minimum standard of living whereby the individual and the nation acquires the means to contribute to world progress on the basis of its own ‘Chiti’.
  3. To provide meaningful employment to every able bodied citizen by which the two objectives can be realized and to avoid waste and extravagance in utilizing natural  resources.
  4. To develop suitable machines for Bharatiya conditions (Bharatiya Technology) taking note of the availability and nature of the various factors of production (Seven Ms).
  5. This system must help and not disregard the human being, the individual. It must protect the cultural and other values of life. This is a requirement which cannot be violated except at the risk of a great peril.
  6. The ownership, state , private or any other form of various industries must be decided on a pragmatic and practical basis.

This economic philosophy is directed not only at the State’s responsibilities but to society at large and seems to have played a great role in the exemplary village uplift programs of the Sangh Parivar.  Surendra Singh Chauhan and his associates have established a model village of self reliance,  using modern methods of organic agriculture in Mohad, Madhya Pradesh.  The atmoshphere is one of co operation and good neighbourliness and no one in the village is discriminated against on the basis of caste,  creed or social status.  There are regular prayer sessions,  which are attended voluntarily.  Mahatma Gandhi would certainly have endorsed this initiative.  There are already a few hundred such model villages and the goal is to set up a model village in each district in the country.

Alongside of this are the various social services independently rendered by charitable Hindu organizations,  ranging from Mata Amritandamayi’s hospitals, Sri Satya Sai Baba’s social and educational work,  to name two prominent ones ( see Organiser,  Aug. 17, 2008 issue) which are part of the overall Hindu ethos .  The many Deen Dayal Upadyaya colleges, universities, educational institutions, hospitals etc. are again a tribute to the relevance of  Integral Humanism. One should not omit honourable mention of Swami Ramdas’s immensely beneficial and popular program of teaching Ayurveda and Yoga in the villages. Not only will this benefit the villagers but it will also conserve ancient knowledge, which the contemporary world is fast losing, to its loss . The more than 70, 000 service programs described in Sewa Bharati are  evidence  of the  dedication of the Sangh Parivar to the welfare of the tribals  and the disadvantaged and disabled who are part of the Motherland.

India today  has become immensely creative , as it has been down the ages. It is upto the next governement at the centre that this  Dharmic legacy  is  deepened.  A people based economy has to vie with a modern  profit -only economy.  How modern economic goals can be  accomodated with the former will be the challenge for any economist of the future and especially the near future in India.

It will be the basis , an integral part of  a viable Dharma Rajya which Deen Dayal Upadhyaya had  been dedicated to all his life.

Vande Mataram !

Dr. Vijaya Rajiva taught Political Philosophy at a Canadian university.

Compiled by Amarjeet Singh, Research Associate & Programme Coordinator, Dr. Syama Prasad Mookerjee Research Foundation, 9, Ashok Road, New Delhi - 110001
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