(II) The Aesthetic, Ethical and Religious Codes and Corruption
Violations of these codes are often termed corruption. Historically, the legal codes of the collectivities were derived almost entirely from these. A few years after the Great Depression of the 1930s, an increasingly important role of the state in managing an economy was advocated by J. M. Keynes and was progressively accepted by most democratic countries. It was only after this that the legal code began to be extended to such areas and issues that had hitherto been mostly free from any action of any kind of codes. Therefore, the newly made provisions of the legal code in these new areas were quite independent and without any strong supportive base in other codes.
Basically, legal code incorporates provisions of state administered physical punishments (corporeal, financial, etc.) to supplement and augment the effectivity of the aesthetic, moral and religious approbations, since, for a sizeable portion of humanity these alone are not a sufficient deterrents and one cannot reasonably expect such ones to refrain from doing unacceptable things except through the fear of adverse and painful physical consequences. In this day and age, the utilitarian spirit which tends progressively to erode all the codes of conduct is ever growing and has become so all-pervasive that it is threatening the very existence of the human race. Therefore, in such a scenario, an efficient – swift and effective – administration of the saner parts of the legal code has become both an imperative necessity and, thanks to the working of the utilitarian spirit, an insurmountable difficulty unless, in response to a call from below, the not easily approachable layers of the deeper and higher parts of our being are opened by the Grace enabling the descent of the truths of the eternal and infinite spirit in our being and nature to uplift all our life and action here to a higher plateau and set us moving towards the Eternal and the Infinite.
All the aesthetic, ethical and religious codes have their origin and source in the truths of the Supreme Spirit which is infinite and eternal and unaffected by variations in the Age (Yuga), culture, nature and the form of organization of the collectivities. In the absence of any written legal code – which emerged only when the organization of collectivities in its evolution reached a secondary or tertiary level – these codes played a supremely important role in the preservation and the smooth functioning of the collectivities. Some parts of these codes – although often varying in their scope and importance – are common to the whole human race, while others differ according to the Age, culture, nationality and religion to which a collectivity belongs. These codes have their origin in the suprarational and tend to penetrate such deeper and higher levels of the subjective being of individuals that a purely formal legal code cannot at all even begin to approach. Thus, these codes encompass a very deep and vast region of human psyche and tend to be far more effective than any direct action of the physical powers. Actually, these alone are responsible for maintaining order and harmony in the collectivities. It is only these codes that enter and maintain order, harmony and efficiency in the area of services such as health, education, philanthropy, social service, etc., because in these areas – which are impervious and altogether beyond the purview of any legal code – a right feeling and right will among the participants is indispensable if they are at all going to be effective in their task or worthy of the name of service.
(III) The Spiritual Code and Corruption
Essentially, the Spirit is an atmosphere created by the luminous and liberating action of the Divine Grace in the universe to save it from the darkness into which it has fallen by linking it to the unthinkable and ineffable mystery of the Absolute. The fundamental truths of the Spirit are the sole basis of the spiritual code and all the other lower codes that derive from it. These truths have found their highest and universal expression in the following triple formula of the Vedanta whose unequivocal assertions are: I am THAT, thou are THAT and all are THAT. Each unit or element – right down to the level of the ultimate particles of matter – is altogether THAT and identical with it which holds back nothing of itself from anything or anyone and gives itself completely to each. It is, thus, as completely and equally present in an ant-hill as in a solar system. This is the mathematics or the logic of the Infinite – this is complete, that too is complete, take the complete out of the complete and the complete is the remainder. The above Vedantic truths are the ultimate and the only true source of all ethics, morality and spiritual injunctions. When man is concentrated on the externals, these may seem to be completely covered up or even non-existent but in reality they are not capable of being diluted or reduced in their secret action behind all the appearances, for, these are forever and are the sole unalterable basis of all that exists.
The spiritual instructions and injunctions are the external and, for that reason, necessarily diluted forms of a spiritual Guru’s dealings with his disciples which having their ultimate basis in the fundamental and suprarational truths of the spirit are too nebulous, varied and often contradictory in appearance to be stipulated and satisfactorily expressed in the form of a written spiritual code. In the Indian conception of Dharmas, that is, the standards, rules and laws of right action and living formulated by the sages and seers, the specific form of these depends – as repeatedly pointed out in the traditional Indian formula – on Desh (Place), Kala (Time) and Patra (Person). The Dharmas may be looked upon by some as coming close – at least at their loftiest heights – to the nature of a spiritual code; but here it must be understood that the spiritual code at its core is constituted not so much by the Dharmas as by the laws of the nature as it rises towards the Divine and in the highest formulations of this code, it is not the following of Dharma (however lofty and wide) that is enjoined on a mature spiritual aspirant but the abandonment of all Dharmas – sarva dharman parityajya. More appropriately and strictly speaking, the Dharmas are a part of religion which is – in spite of a jungle of formulas, prohibitions, practices and rituals of which it is supposed to be constituted – in its essence a mould for enabling a growing human soul to climb to the peak of all human achievements from where it can proceed further freely by rising into the wide-infinite skies of the Spirit. Therefore, in the spirit of Sanatana Dharma, it is best to leave the spiritual code open ended even when one prefers to treat some of the noblest and loftiest formulations of the Dharma as parts of its treasure which contains the most precious possessions of the human race. It is a strict subjection to the yoke of the Dharma that kept the historical Indian monarchies from degenerating into the despotic tyrannies characteristic of the Persian and the Western and Central Asian polities. With the passage of time, the Dharmas get codified in the form of a large number of treatises composed by the seers for the purpose of providing a detailed guidance to individuals and social groups in their actions and dealing with others. These are called shastras and are the chief source of the traditional aesthetic, ethical (or moral) and religious codes in India. It should be obvious from the discussion above that the infringements of the spiritual code – which by their very nature are too subtle to be visible to anyone but the adepts in this field – would not at all come into the ambit of corruption as it is commonly understood, for, even, when they come to common notice, such infringements are apt to be looked upon as deviation, retrogression, or fall from the path for the spiritual aspirant rather that corruption.
The Absolute Reality is invariably present behind all the happenings and appearances in and beyond time and space and is the sole ultimate and immediate determinant of all that exists, comes into existence or goes out of it. All of what really matters to us is always safe in THAT. In the words of Sri Aurobindo:
“An outstretched Hand is felt upon our lives. It is near us in unnumbered bodies and births; In its unslackening grasp it keeps for us safe The one inevitable supreme result No will can take away and no doom change, The crown of conscious Immortality, The godhead promised to our struggling souls When first man’s heart dared death and suffered life. One who has shaped this world is ever its lord: Our errors are his steps upon the way; He works through the fierce vicissitudes of our lives, He works through the hard breath of battle and toil, He works through our sins and sorrows and our tears, His knowledge overrules our nescience; Whatever the appearance we must bear, Whatever our strong ills and present fate, When nothing we can see but drift and bale, A mighty Guidance leads us still through all. After we have served this great divided world God’s bliss and oneness are our inborn right. A date is fixed in the calendar of the Unknown, An anniversary of the Birth sublime: Our soul shall justify its chequered walk, All will come near that now is naught or far.”1
Needless to say that the action of the supreme Spirit or even of the individuals permeated with its presence, regardless of the appearances to the contrary, cannot even remotely be affected or stained by the utilitarian spirit or any vicissitudes of the workings of the terrestrial evolutionary nature. Herein lies the foundation of our ultimate safety and assured fate which, in the words of Sri Aurobindo, has taken here the form of a mutual debt:
“A mutual debt binds man to the Supreme: His nature we must put on as he put ours; We are sons of God and must be even as he: His human portion, we must grow divine. Our life is a paradox with God for key.”2
It is difficult to get a hearing for such notions in the present din of words that only plead for the reign of trifling truths of temporal worth. However, all those who have been able, in spite of the present dark scenario where the prospect of an impending ecological and moral disaster looms large on the horizon, to keep their faith in the Divine Grace intact will find the following words of Sri Aurobindo very assuring:
“When darkness deepens strangling the earth’s breast And man’s corporeal mind is the only lamp, As a thief’s in the night shall be the covert tread Of one who steps unseen into his house. A Voice ill-heard shall speak, the soul obey, A Power into mind’s inner chamber steal, A charm and sweetness open life’s closed doors And beauty conquer the resisting world, The Truth-Light capture Nature by surprise, A stealth of God compel the heart to bliss And earth grow unexpectedly divine. In Matter shall be lit the spirit’s glow, In body and body kindled the sacred birth; Night shall awake to the anthem of the stars, The days become a happy pilgrim march, Our will a force of the Eternal’s power, And thought the rays of a spiritual sun. A few shall see what none yet understands; God shall grow up while the wise men talk and sleep; For man shall not know the coming till its hour And belief shall be not till the work is done.”3
1. Complete Works of Sri Aurobindo 33, Page 59
2. Complete Works of Sri Aurobindo 33, Page 67
3. Complete Works of Sri Aurobindo 33, Page 55