Aakar Patel | Integral Humanism as basic philosophy of BJP: What does it mean to the Sanghis?

On the third page of its constitution, the BJP lays out its membership conditions: “Any Indian citizen of 18 years or above who accepts Articles II, III and IV of the constitution shall, on making a written declaration… become a member” of the BJP. What are these things that are important enough to make a written declaration?

Article II of the BJP constitution concludes thus: “the party shall bear true faith and allegiance to the Constitution of India as by law established and to the principles of socialism, secularism and democracy”. Article IV says the party commits itself to the “Gandhian approach to socio-economic issues leading to establishment of egalitarian society free from exploitation”. It adds that the “party stands for decentralisation of economic and political power”.

Where do these matters figure in the way the party actually conducts itself? This will be interesting to see, but that’s for another time. Article III, the subject of this column, is a single line which reads “Integral Humanism shall be the basic philosophy of the party”.

Integral Humanism is the subject of four lectures in Mumbai given by Deen Dayal Upadhyaya between April 22 and 25, 1965. Upadhyaya held a BA degree and was a journalist at the RSS’ in-house Panchjanya. He was about 50 when he delivered these lectures and became president of the Jan Sangh (the BJP’s precursor) a couple of years after he delivered them. The following is a summary of the argument Upadhyaya presents:

*The cause of the problems facing Bharat is a neglect of national identity. The nation is like an individual and becomes ill if its natural instincts are disregarded or suppressed. Seventeen years after Independence, India was undecided about the direction it would take towards development. Independence is meaningful only it is the instrument to express culture.

*The focus in India was on episodic problems: economic, social and political. This was because India adopted a Western way of looking at economic, social and political doctrines along with Western science. Westernisation was synonymous with progress for Indians. However, the West was unable to reconcile nationalism, democracy and socialism. These were essentially Western ideals and they were all in conflict with one another. These ideologies were not universal and not free from the limitations of the people and cultures which gave birth to these isms. Ayurveda said that we need to find local cures to local diseases. Could Bharatiya culture provide a solution for the world?
*Dharma is given foremost place in Bharatiya culture. Dharma is the natural law that is eternal and universally applicable. Dharma is ethics teaching us not to lie, not to fight. When nature is directed according to the principles of dharma, there is culture and civilisation.

*Dharma is higher than the executive, legislative and judiciary. It is also higher than the people. If out of 450 million Indians, all except one voted for something, it would still be wrong if it was against dharma. The people have no right to act against dharma. The words “secularism” and “dharmnirpeksh” (the Hindi phrase for secularism meaning “that which is not dependent on dharma”) in the Constitution are wrong and bad because dharma is a necessary condition for the State. That which is not based on dharma is unacceptable, and therefore secularism was fatally flawed. National unity is India’s dharma; so diversity was problematic. For this reason, India’s Constitution needs to be changed from federal to unitary, with no legislative powers for the states, only for the Centre. Conflict between individuals and institutions of society is a sign of decadence and perversion. The West was wrong to see the adversarial relationship between the individual and the State as the reason for progress. The individual was made up of body, mind, intelligence and soul. A human being is born with a soul.

Personality, soul and character are different from one another. The person’s soul is unaffected by personal history. Similarly, national culture is continuously modified by history. Culture includes all things held as good and commendable, but they do not affect “chiti”, the national soul. India’s national soul is fundamental and central. Chiti determines the direction of cultural advance. It filters out what is to be excluded from culture.

*Societies are animate and a society has a body, mind, intellect and soul. Some Westerners were beginning to accept this truth. One of them, William McDougall, said that a group had a mind and a psychology, its own methods of thinking and action just as an individual did. Societies have an inborn nature that’s not based on its history. Events don’t affect it. This group nature is like the soul in individuals, also unaffected by history. This group mentality is like mob mentality but developed over a longer period. The nation needs both an ideal and a motherland and only then is it a nation. The State exists to protect this nation, which has an ideal and a motherland.

This was the message of the four lectures. It is not easy to figure out what the meaning of it all is. What, for instance, is the difference between mind and intelligence? What is a soul? How are these three things separate from a body? What does the sentence that “personality, soul and character are all distinct from one another” really mean? And what is the role of a political party and of government in any of this? The national soul, “chiti”, and group mind are not scientific phenomena and the works of William McDougall are not science (he thought, like Upadhyaya did, that the mind influenced evolution). One wonders how many BJP members who sign written declarations saying they accept Integral Humanism as their “basic philosophy” actually understand what it is that they have accepted.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle )
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