There is a general expectation in the masses that things may improve after the installation of the new government headed, most likely, by Narendra Modi. It is the sheer power of the spirit – the deeper truth of our individual and collective being – that such a hope has persisted throughout and continues to be entertained even in the face of an almost unbroken record of poor governance, – governance that has been getting progressively worse over the last sixty five years. To the ordinary material intellect which takes its stand on appearances, such a record of a direct and continued contradiction of the persistent hope is a solid argument against readily entertaining any such hope in the near future and according to it, such a phenomenon may be attributable only to the foolishness and irrationality of general human nature. However, to a deeper view of the workings of evolutionary nature, such an opposition between an unrealized but persistent ideal or hope and the realized fact appears, to use Sri Aurobindo’s words, “… as part of Nature’s profoundest method and the seal of her completest sanction”1 – her sanction for the future realization of such an ideal or hope. So, let us remain hopeful for a glorious future for this country against all apparent denials and odds.
Although the final election results are due only around the middle of the next month, it is progressively becoming clear that the ruling party is set to get a sound drubbing – well deserved and earned* – at the hands of the Indian people. The new government and leadership is not expected and even cannot reasonably be expected – given the tremendous asuric forces that, being well entrenched in this field, can impeccably use the false sense of self-preservation to turn even a decent soul into little more than a ‘political animal’ – to do anything but remain solely concerned, at least initially, with the surface material needs and concerns of the masses.
It should be clear from the above that this may be so even when there is a perception in some quarters of the new leadership that unless we stop the progressive deterioration of our national character – something that cannot be accomplished merely by making newer and newer and more stringent laws and erecting more elaborate government machinery – resulting from an unabashed pursuit of materialistic goals under the pressure and assault of Western values and the institutions that have sprung up and evolved out of such values, there can be no real deliverance for us and improvement in our condition because India is not Europe and has a separate Dharma of its own and cannot fulfill herself by aping an alien culture. Here it is instructive to quote the following soul-stirring words of Swami Vivekananda:
“If you give up … spirituality, leaving it aside to go after the materializing civilisation of the West, the result will be that in three generations you will be an extinct race; because the backbone of the nation will be broken, the foundation upon which the national edifice has been built will be undermined, and the result will be annihilation all round.”2
If the new leadership continues in the old-rut without paying heed to this aspect of India then we cannot expect anything much different but only a repetition of the old wine in new bottles.
The root of all our present problems lies in the acute human selfishness that has emerged or come out into the open due to our blind pursuit of the materialistic ideal and pervades all our individual and collective thinking, feeling and living. During the past few years, things have come to such a state that the snowball of selfishness and corruption have become visible to all who at all care to look behind the surface appearances of things. Even among those who are rigorously pursuing their selfish pecuniary aims, there are likely to be very few who would not, in their reflective moments, feel that their life has become really very sinful and they are not wrong because, truly, selfishness is the only sin and selflessness is the only real virtue. The names of some of the most common fruits of this poisonous root which have assumed a much greater prominence ever since the beginning of this century are Commercialism, Corruption, Adulteration, Pollution, Exploitation, Terrorism, etc. All these are interrelated and spring from one common root – acute selfishness. After the terrorist attack of September 2001 (in the USA), terrorism came to be universally acknowledged as the most serious problem faced by humanity. But recently corruption has taken the front-rank in India, especially after a spontaneous demonstration of strong public disapproval and disgust at the conduct of politicians and big business who have been in league plundering public resources and money. What makes this problem still more disturbing for the common man is the awareness that all these shocking exposures of graft are only the tip of the iceberg.
Now, what is the solution? Charity begins at home and one must begin with oneself, not by looking censoriously at others and their conduct but by looking into the depths of one’s own being – the only place where the roots of all our problems lie. Only by doing so can one discover how when one passionately pursues a materialistic – or for that matter any egoistic – ideal one exposes oneself to the danger of adverse vital forces taking effective possession of one’s surface being and nature. When this happens, the result is that “…man intellectually developed, mighty in scientific knowledge and the mastery of gross and subtle nature, using the elements as his servants and the world as his footstool, but undeveloped in heart and spirit, becomes only an inferior kind of Asura using the powers of a demigod to satisfy the nature of an animal. According to dim traditions and memories of the old world, of such a nature was the civilisation of old Atlantis, submerged beneath the Ocean when its greatness and its wickedness became too heavy a load for the earth to bear, and our own legends of the Asuras represent a similar consciousness of a great but abortive development in humanity.”3 To a deeper glance, this is an exact description of the present condition of humanity in general which, with the threat of moral and ecological disaster looming large on the horizon, faces the prospect of extinction in not too distant a future.
*This needs explaining. The ruling party had been – at least during its present term – solely moved by the spirit of a very narrow self-interest which makes one almost entirely oblivious to the interest – however narrowly perceived – of the nation. This is obvious from its blind and persistent appeasement of organized groups based on caste, religion, language etc. and its unabashed attempts to placate or buy the common man through hand-outs and other frills. The latter policy is being shamelessly and perniciously pursued by the politicians even when they know very well that when the government takes a rupee out of people’s pockets, it can give them back – thanks to the utterly corrupt government machinery – only a small fraction of it through its schemes. The government’s own publication has this to report on this: “A study by Dutta and Ramaswami . . showed by using 1993-4 NSS data that the bottom quintile of rural population in Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh got 10 percent and 20 percent, respectively, of the foodgrain that they were supposed to get. In general, several studies . . . confirm that our track record of delivering to the vulnerable remains highly flawed. One of the most comprehensive recent studies of this, by Swedberg . . , suggest that a key secret lies in giving the benefit to the poor directly. Swedberg estimates that to transfer Rs. 1 to a poor household by the current method of giving cheap food first to PDS stores and then having them transfer it to the poor, the Government of India incurs a budgetary expenditure of Rs 9. At this rate a large food programme would be fiscally unviable.” (Economic Survey 2011-12, P. 28.)
1. Complete works of Sri Aurobindo 21, page 4
2. Complete works of Swami Vivekananda 03, page 153, Mayavati Memorial Ed. ISBN 81-85301-46-8
3. Complete works of Sri Aurobindo 01, page 439