New Delhi: Article 3 of the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) constitution states that ‘Integral Humanism’ is the party’s basic philosophy.
The philosophy was propounded by Pandit Deendayal Upadhyaya, a pracharak of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), who was also the president of the Bharatiya Jana Sangh, the forerunner of the BJP.
‘Integral Humanism’ as a documented philosophy was first presented in the Gwalior session of the Jana Sangh in 1964 and was duly accepted the very next year at the Vijaywada session of the party. From 22 to 25 April 1965, in a four-day lecture series, Upadhyaya explained this philosophy threadbare.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, while paying tribute to Upadhyaya on his 53rd death anniversary on 11 February this year had said, “His commitment to serving the poor, marginalised and our villages continues to inspire us.
“Today, Upadhyayaji’s views are as relevant as they were during his days. In fact, they will continue to be relevant in the coming time as well.”
The prime minister, who was addressing BJP workers on the occasion, had also attributed his government’s efforts to make India self-reliant to the vision of Deendayal Upadhyay.
In this context, let us take a look at the key tenets of ‘Integral Humanism’ that is considered to be the guiding philosophy of the BJP and its governments.
On defining nation
When a group of persons live with a goal, an ideal, a mission and look upon a particular piece of land as their motherland, this group constitutes a nation. If either of the two — an ideal and a motherland — is not there, then there is no nation.
There is a ‘Self’ in the body, the essence of the individual; upon the severance of its relation with the body, a person is said to die. Similarly there is this idea, ideal, or fundamental principle of a nation, its soul… a nation too has a soul. There is a technical name for it.
In the “Principles and Policies” adopted by the Jana Sangh, this name is mentioned — Chiti (Chiti is a Sanskrit term and it broadly means universal consciousness. It forms the core of the philosophy of Integral Humanism)
If there is any standard for determining the merits and demerits of a particular action, it is this Chiti: Whatever is in accordance with our nature or Chiti is approved and added on to the culture. These things are to be cultivated.
Whatever is against Chiti is discarded as perversion, undesirable and is to be avoided. Chiti is the touchstone on which each action, each attitude is tested, and determined to be acceptable or otherwise. Chiti is the soul of the Nation. It is on the foundation of this Chiti that a nation arises and becomes strong and virile. And it is this Chiti that is manifested in the action of every great man of a nation.
On role of the state
The state is one of several institutions, an important one, but it is not above all others .
One of the major reasons for the problems of the present-day world is that almost everyone thinks of the state to be synonymous with society. At least in practice, they consider the state as the sole representative of society.
Other institutions have declined in their effectiveness, while the state has become dominant to such an extent, that all the powers are gradually being centralised in the state. We had not considered the state to be the sole representative of the nation.
Our national life continued uninterruptedly even after the state went into the hands of foreigners.
The state is not supreme. The question arises, then, that if the state is not of fundamental importance, what is it that is absolutely important.
On dharma and its role in a nation
The state is brought into existence to protect the nation, and to produce and maintain conditions in which the ideals of the nation can be translated into reality.
The ideals of the nation constitute Chiti, which is analogous to the soul of an individual. It requires some effort to comprehend Chiti.
The laws that help manifest and maintain Chiti of a nation are termed dharma of that nation. Hence, it is this dharma that is supreme. Dharma is the repository of the nation’s soul. If dharma is destroyed, the nation perishes. Anyone who abandons dharma, betrays the nation.
On religion vs dharma
Religion means a creed or a sect; it does not mean dharma. Dharma is a very wide concept. It is concerned with all aspects of life. It sustains society. Even further, it sustains the whole world.
That which sustains, is dharma. The fundamental principles of dharma are eternal and universal. Yet, their implementation may differ according to time, place and circumstances.
On supremacy of dharma
The nearest equivalent English term for dharma can be ‘innate law’, which, however, does not express the full meaning of dharma. Since dharma is supreme, our ideal of the state has been dharma rajya.
On dharma rajya vs theocratic state
Dharma rajya ensures religious freedom, and is not a theocratic state. Dharma rajya accepts the importance of religion for peace, happiness and progress of an individual.
Therefore, the state has the responsibility to maintain an atmosphere in which every individual can follow the religion of his choice and live in peace. The freedom to follow one’s own religion necessarily requires tolerance for other religions.
Upadhyaya gave a detailed account of the economic principles which a society and state should follow to achieve balanced and sustainable economic growth. Here are the key takeaways:
Employment: Full employment must be a primary consideration… Instead of the usual exhortation of “every worker must get food”, we must think of “everyone who eats must get work”, as the basis of our economy.
Capitalism and Communism: Both these systems, Capitalist as well as Communist, have failed to take account of the ‘Integral Man’, his true and complete personality and his aspirations. One considers him a mere selfish being hankering after money, having only one law, the law of fierce competition, in essence the law of the jungle; whereas the other has viewed him as a feeble lifeless cog in the whole scheme of things, regulated by rigid rules, and incapable of any good unless directed. The centralisation of power, economic and political, is implied in both. Both, therefore, result in the dehumanisation of man.
Upadhyaya specifically underlined six objectives that Indian economy should pursue:
- An assurance of the minimum standard of living to every individual and preparedness for the defence of the nation.
- Further increase above this minimum standard of living whereby the individual and the nation acquire the means to contribute to world progress on the basis of its own Chiti.
- To provide meaningful employment to every able-bodied citizen, by which the above two objectives can be realised, and to avoid waste and extravagance in utilising natural resources.
- To develop machines suited to Bharatiya conditions (Bharatiya technology), taking note of the availability and nature of the various factors of production.
- 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 that cannot be violated except at the risk of great peril.
- The ownership, state, private or any other form, of various industries must be decided on a pragmatic and practical basis.
He was a proponent of both Swadeshi and decentralisation and considered centralisation to be one of the key roadblocks when it came to economic growth.
“Centralisation and monopolisation have been the order of the day for all these years, knowingly and unknowingly. The planners have become prisoners of a belief that only large-scale, centralised industry is economic, and hence, without worrying about its ill-effects, or knowingly but helplessly, they have continued in that direction. The same has been the fate of Swadeshi,” he said.
“The concept of Swadeshi is ridiculed as old-fashioned and reactionary. We proudly use foreign articles. We have grown overdependent upon foreign aid in everything from thinking, management, capital, methods of production, technology etc, to even the standards and forms of consumption. This is not the road to progress and development. We will forget our individuality and become virtual slaves once again. The positive content of Swadeshi should be used as the cornerstone for the reconstruction of our economy.”
(The writer is a research director at RSS-linked think-tank Vichar Vinimay Kendra. Views expressed are personal.)