So far we have analysed and discussed important aspects of the PIH (PIH is achronym for philosophy of Integral Humanism). Earlier we have taken stock of Western social theories. In the following we make a brief comparison of the salient points and it will show the superiority of PIH.
A common feature of Western social theories is that they were all born as a reaction. Nationalism rose as a reaction to the autocracy of the Pope of Rome. Democracy was the reaction to the absolute power of the monarchy. Democracy cradled capitalism; and socialism and communism were the reaction to capitalism.
The three reactions referred to just now were all attended by conflicts and even bloodshed. To some extent conflicts may have been a practical necessity. But instead of planning to eliminate such conflicts, conflict came to be given the status of a principle. The principle states that the evolution of man owes itself to conflict. Darwin’s analysis of Zoology, Hegel’s philosophy and Marx’s analysis of history are all based on this principle. Capitalistic economics considers competition and conflict as a scientific truth. Communism dreamt of creating a classless society through a revolution by organizing all anti-capitalism forces.
Against this background a contrasting feature of PIH is seen; it has not arisen as a reaction to any particular set of circumstances or any particular theory or any particular event. And so it does not suffer from any one-sidedness, dogmatism or intolerance. It is based on positive and constructive thinking.
While pointing out the blunder in the principle of ‘progress through conflict’, Panditji say, “If by nature man is such that he does not mind fighting with others to enrich himself at the cost of others, then it is impossible to teach him to love others and live for them.
If this is man’s real nature, occasionally love and co-operation may appear to be present but these will have arisen out of helplessness and fear, and will be short-lived. Goodness, service, tolerance and discipline may be shown only as a convenient policy in some circumstances. The spirit of selfish aggressiveness can never be the cradle for the birth of voluntary and lasting goodwill and co-operation. We do come across love, co-operation and tolerance as well as hatred, non- cooperation and intolerance. But we do not consider the latter as conducive of life. For progress we have to take this as a basic principle and base our analysis of human activity and emotions on it.”
The second peculiarity of Western theoriesis that instead of thinking of man as a whole, only one aspect of man, was considered in each theory, democracy regarded man as a political animal, while capitalism and communism considered man as an economic animal. Because of this method of piece-meal thinking, even when some sound social ideas surfaced, the thinkers of the time failed to capitalize on them and broaden the base of their thinking. This is obvious from the fate met by three principles of freedom, equality and fraternity which the French revolution proclaimed.
Several factors in life are interrelated and interdependent. The method of studying one of the factors at a time as if it is independent of others and then drawing conclusions about whole human life from such studies will not lead to correct results. Panditji says that several problems in the West have arisen out of this piece-meal thinking of human life followed by a subsequent attempt at synthesis. Not only in the life of an individual, but in social life also Westerners have thought in terms of family, nation and humanity as separate entities. They have studied every one of these in detail. But they have not taken into account the strong inner bond which joins all these.
While studying man they have studied his body, mind and intellect in detail. But they have not taken into consideration that man is an integral part of every one of family, nation, humanity and the rest of the world also-all at the same time. It is because of the lack of this awareness of the underlying unity that there are conflicts between man and man, nation and nation, man and nation and man and nature.
Western thinking can be illustrated (see diagram) by a series of concentric circles. Let us suppose that the common centre is an individual. The smallest circle represents his family, the next bigger circle represents community and so on to larger and larger entities, the outermost being the universe. It is obvious that the Westerners have thought about family community, nation, humanity, all the time keeping the individual at the centre. But the defect in this thinking as represented in the figure is that while the circles are all concentric, they are independent of each other. The thinkers are also aware that the circles are successively larger. But their great error is that overlooked the fact that the circles are internally connected together and that they represent the successive stages in development of the consciousness of what constitutes ‘I’ or ‘I’ ness as it may be called. This thinking based on the assumption of completely independent entities may be due to the conflicts-Pope versus national church, monarchy versus democracy, capitalism versus socialism-which filled me last 500 years or so of European history. Another reason may be the social contract theory. A third reason may be that the thinkers were preoccupied with the physical sciences and technologies which were progressing by leaps and bounds.
This way of thinking of a man in a piece-meal way has also affected attempts made outside Bharat to unite all humanity. All such attempts have tried to clamp all humanity into a rigid frame. In this connection we may mention Christianity and Islam. They are both monolithic and try to bind every man in the rigid frame of one prophet and one holy book. And it is blasphemy to speak of another prophet or another holy book.
Among the recent efforts at human unity, a special mention must be made of the philosophy of Marx. He had before his eyes the class exploited by capitalism. His dream was to pull down all political, economic and social barriers of separation and create a classless society recognizing no nation, no religion, no private property, no marriage and no family.
There are many other things apart from political, social and economic things which influence human life. Thus he has family, religion or sect, his beliefs, his country, national history, traditions, friends, foes and so on. Marx failed to take these into consideration.
Granting that the motive behind all these attempts at unity were noble, the fact stands that they did not meet with success. On the other hand they lead to terrible conflicts. The cause of this failure is obvious. The efforts tried to impose regimentation of form and ideas.
While attempting to bring about human unity, it is necessary to keep in mind that diversity exists side by side with similarity among individuals and among human groups. No persons are alike-they look different, they think differently, their dispositions are different, and their likes and dislikes differ.
Like individuals, each family and nation has its own personality. Thus a family has its ancestral deity and customs and traditions. In the case of a nation, it has its history and geography, its traditions, its ideals, and out of those arises an identity of its own.
Thus every individual, family and nation has its domain, a peculiarity and strength. This must be taken into account in attempts at unity. Real unity will come if we plan so that all these will be able to co-operate without giving up their separate personalities. The principle will be unity in diversity, by trying to destroy it and by trying to impose a formal rigidity, then the result will be not unity but bitterness and conflict. The bloody history of Christianity, Islam and Communism are witness to this.
Bharatiya culture has also considered unity of men-nay it has considered the unity of humans, the animal and plant world and even the inanimate world. But the basis of this consideration is not the superficial diversity but the under-lying unity. Since there is a single principle-Atma-common to all, the diverse manifestations are naturally inclined to co-operate with each other. Culture consists in promoting this complementary nature.
This basic idea of Bharatiya culture can be explained with a diagram. The spiral begins with the individual represented by the centre of the spiral. The individual consciousness of what ‘I’ is, grows successively, travelling outward along the spiral. Of course, this sort of development is possible only for those individuals who work for the four Purusharthas (Objectives in life). This goes on till the whole universe is reached. And Bharatiya thought does not stop even at the universe. It ends in a big circle which represents the Universal Soul, who is all-pervasive and is the heart of this philosophy of Integral Humanism.
Let us consider the different stages in the development of man from his infancy. As an infant, his life centres entirely around his ‘I’. As it grows, it begins to recognize his mother, father, brother and sister. Slowly its ‘myness’ comes to include the whole family without losing consciousness of ‘I’. Later still, he befriends others with similar qualities, activities and dispositions and shares their pleasures and sorrows. Thus growing through family and community he comes extend his ‘myness’ to the whole nation. Finally he comes to regard the whole world as his abode.
Describing the progress from an infant’s limited consciousness to the advanced stage of all humanity, Shri Dattopant Thengadi says, “The quality of a man’s mind in the ever extending circles from family to the entire universe is really the expression of the expansion of consciousness of his soul. Greater the size of this awareness, greater will be the pervasiveness and nobility of institution with which the individual is associated. But this expansion of ‘myness’ consciousness being nothing but the realization of the ever greater region over which the soul extends, it does not ever contradict its earlier smaller volumes but it contains them. The peculiarity of the concept is that it does not envisage different and isolated ‘I’ nesses. It does not consider some constituents to the exclusion of others. It is all-inclusive. Separateness means that if I am one with my family, then I do not love myself; if I am one with society I must hate family. The spiral path does not admit of such separate soul. ‘I’ comprises all. This means that if my mind has developed to the level of society, I love my society, family and also myself. If my mind has developed to all humanity, I love also my community and nation. If further I am one with the whole universe, I am also one with my nation. I am one with an individual, with family, nation, all humanity, all animate and inanimate world, and finally with the all-pervasive and all-constituting Almighty but on different levels, all at the same time.”
Now it is very difficult for a common man to absorb all at once this PIH and act on it. The acquisition of its knowledge and practice must be done by degrees. That is there must be a progressive unfoldment.