- Corruption – A Comprehensive Study of its Origin, Growth and its Solution
- I. A Deep Perspective on the Present Position of India in the Light of the Critical Importance of Its Work in the Evolution of the Human Race
- II. A Perspective on the Age of Reason and Its Achievements
- III. The Economic Barbarism of Modern Man and Its Fallout
- IV. The Indian Scenario
- V. Where it may lead us – The Working of the Commercial and Utilitarian Spirit and its Possible Culmination
- VI. The Way Out
- VII. The Future of Humanity and India’s Future Role in it
A. A perspective on the Anna Hazare Movement and the Global Awakening Against Corruption
(a) What it is not
Some critics have branded the Anna Hazare Movement (AHM) as motivated, illegal and extra-constitutional. Now we examine each of these in turn.
The recent world wide movements against corrupt politicians and big business are anything but motivated. They are apparently and very visibly spontaneous eruptions of people’s bottled up emotions against the corrupt, unethical and sordid conduct of people in authority. The people who have dubbed it ‘motivated’ may themselves be motivated or confused or too cynical to believe that one can act unselfishly without a hidden motive behind.
The government initially took the position that the AHM was misdirected and illegal. Misdirected, because in a democracy people can and should get things done through the electoral mechanism, and ‘illegal’ because it was in defiance of the government prohibitions which were put in effect to safeguard against a possible breach of public peace and order. The government’s position was mistaken but it had to find it out only by way of people’s reaction to its acts. Actually the whole approach was untenable. In a democracy how can people be constrained to express their grievances solely through the electoral mechanism? In addition, the functioning of our electoral machinery has become so unsatisfactory that if people are not allowed to air their grievances openly, our system will be little different in practice from an authoritarian regime.
Since according to our Constitution, Parliament alone has the authority to pass laws, the attempt by the AHM people to force their version of the proposed Lok Pal Bill on the elected Parliament was extra-constitutional and against the spirit of the Constitution and democracy. Actually the truth may be just the opposite. What is the spirit of a democratic constitution? Is it not that the Parliament must reflect the will of the common people? Why the common people had to rise in favour of the AHM? Is it not be because the Parliament had ceased to be sensitive to people’s aspirations? In most cases, to get elected to our parliament a person must have power either of money or of muscle or both or at least the patronage of people who have these. Such people, when they get elected have only a one point program – to stay in power if they have it and acquire it if they don’t. No wonder that the Parliament constituted by such people tends to become insensitive to the aspirations of the people.
(b) What it may be limited to:
The AHM started with the avowed object of pressurizing the government to draft an effective Lok Pal Bill. Now even if a satisfactory Bill is passed and the requisite administrative machinery put in place on top of all the heap that is already there, can anyone reasonable pin one’s hope of combating corruption on this measure? Certainly not, especially in the light of our past experience of the repeated failure of all the laws and the elaborate government machinery put in place from time to time to check corruption. In fact, in spite of the repeated efforts things have been getting progressively worse over time on this front. As things are, when a new law is passed and the requisite machinery is put in place to check corruption, it is not long before people learn to buy their way out of it and the only practical difference it makes is that common people now have to bear the extra burden of supporting the additional anti-corruption machinery. Even if the new measures brought in under the pressure of AHM prove effective in their object, they are going to cover only a small part of the problem. The major and the more painful part of the corruption problem is that which concerns the unethical conduct of our professionals engaged in various services such as medical and health, legal and educational. The nature of these professions is such that they are and will always remain beyond the reach of the arm of law. In these services the most important part is the right spirit and the accompanying tender feeling and when that is missing these things turn into unspeakable monstrosities and no law or outer machinery can have any real impact on the conduct of people in these psychological realms. Thus if the AHM were to be limited to putting better and better machinery in various problematic areas, then it is unlikely to make any practical difference in the long run in these fields and the downward march of our individual and collective existence will continue unabated.
(c) What it may lead to:
The AHM, the Jasmin and other kindred revolutions in the Arab world and the Occupy Wall Street Movement that has spread to hundreds of cities throughout the West are all very evidently spontaneous eruptions from the heart of the people who have been increasingly feeling very uncomfortable with the way things have been happening and the direction in which they have been moving. It is just a start and still they have already succeeded in making governments and people in power and authority much more sensitive to the feelings of common people than they have ever been in modern times. The most surprising thing is that – thanks to the power of information technology – in such a short span this has spread the world over and is not limited to the countries where the eruptions took place. Even in a totally authoritarian country like China this unprecedented thing has started taking root and there have been a number of reported instances where the authoritarian government considered it prudent to bow down before the expressed wishes of common people in some localities. The world is not the same anymore.
It may be argued that all these things produce some results and then fizzle out because of the – historically proven – insubstantiality of such rudderless movements in the long-run. It may be further suggested that, although not very likely, it is distinctly possible that after all the long travail and intense suffering, in the end, the Arab people may again – as did the French after the conclusion of the French Revolution – find themselves under another authoritarian yoke different only in name. Here it must be pointed out that even if such a thing comes to pass, the authoritarian rulers would neither have legs to last for any length of time nor would they dare commit excesses anywhere close to the extent they were committed by the regimes that they replaced. The logic of the evolutionary nature is such that the possibility of such relapses cannot be ruled out but all this does not in any way affect the certainty and the irreversibility of this fundamental change in the equation between the rulers and the ruled that is taking place not only in the Arab World but across the Globe and there can be no real going back from this – it has and will stick.
Here it seems necessary to take a digression. In the context of the discussion above it is important to bear in mind that the issue here is not actually about the form of the government (authoritarian, democratic or some form in between) but of the spirit of governance, which means that those who would rule would not do so just formally in the name of the people using some outer machinery (elections, voting, parliaments) to sanctify their authority but would actually be very sensitive to the feelings of the common masses – not in appearance only (like in the modern democratic forms of government) but truly. And the time has come when people can no longer be fooled by the appearances or the talk of the sanctity of the sacred written documents (constitutions) or elected bodies (parliaments, assemblies, etc). This may explain why these movements were not confined just to the countries where there are (or were) authoritarian regimes but succeeded in having people spontaneously erupt in India and other democratic countries across the world. A decisive beginning has been made in this direction and the march will continue; it may come across some detours but it will not be stopped or reverted because, at present, the future of humanity hangs in the balance and nature can no longer afford the luxury of one more round of partial victories followed by defeats. Europe’s failure in truly giving form to the triple godhead of Liberty, Equality and Fraternity – brought to the forefront of European consciousness by the French Revolution – is perhaps one of the most important causes that led to the last two World Wars and fortunately the present state of defence technology is such that humanity can no longer afford a third one which may very well prove to be the last. Fraternity is the only base on which both equality and liberty can be built and it is because of the absence of the true spirit of this godhead (which exists only in the soul) that all attempts steeped in the spirit of Western Culture and based on taking either equality (Communistic or Socialistic forms of authoritarianisms) or liberty (capitalistic democratic forms) as their starting point or base have failed to establish the triple-godhead.
The basic reason behind this kind of difficult equation is simple. Men are created equal in the spirit but not in their outer nature and are endowed with varying assortment of abilities, capacities and qualities. People who are endowed with a strong vital nature, and consequently a powerful will, have always been able to stamp their will on all those around them. Such people will always come to occupy positions of importance and authority in any walk of life – especially in the political and economic fields because of the special attraction they have for the human vital ego – regardless of the nature of the outer form of a government or society. The past experience of humanity amply bears it out and the European experience of the last century only confirms it beyond any shadow of doubt. The crux of the matter is that the wolves will always dominate the sheep no matter where and in what kind of physical arrangement or structure they are put together. We all know how nature has put them together in humanity with a perfect similarity in the outer appearance and with no other distinguishable features. They differ only in capacities and force, the things which become visible only in action and manifestation and then who – except perhaps some other wolves who would have their own axe to grind – can stop them, certainly not the sheep. The only approach that can possibly tame the human wolf is the approach through the heart – not from its surface parts but from its depths where the soul has its station and where all feel oneness. Once the deep and inherent feelings of Love and Brotherhood are awakened in human hearts, the discords automatically begin to dissolve and humanity can smoothly advance towards the triple-godhead because it is only Love that can prevent the misuse of Liberty and it is only Brotherhood which can make Equality tolerable.
Now coming back to our main theme, we believe that this increased sensitivity of governments to the wishes of people which the AHM and other movements have been instrumental in bringing about has provided humanity with what it sorely needs at the present juncture in its evolutionary destiny. It is significant step in the right direction, the direction of the organization of Human Unity which alone can ensure the survival of the race.
As pointed out above, the French Revolution had brought into prominence the three godheads of the soul – Liberty, Equality and Fraternity. These are destined to be the basis of the organization of Human Unity. Before we proceed further it is important to understand the significance of the French Revolution and evaluate humanity’s unsuccessful attempts to organize a society on this basis. In the words of Sri Aurobindo: “The greatness of the French Revolution lies not in what it effected, but in what it thought and was. Its action was chiefly destructive. It prepared many things, it founded nothing. Even the constructive activity of Napoleon only built a halfway house in which the ideas of 1789 might rest until the world was fit to understand them better and really fulfil them. The ideas themselves were not new; they existed in Christianity and before Christianity they existed in Buddhism; but in 1789 they came out for the first time from the Church and the Book and sought to remodel government and society. It was an unsuccessful attempt, but even the failure changed the face of Europe. And this effect was chiefly due to the force, the enthusiasm, the sincerity with which the idea was seized upon and the thoroughness with which it was sought to be applied. The cause of the failure was the defect of knowledge, the excess of imagination. The basal ideas, the types, the things to be established were known; but there had been no experience of the ideas in practice. European society, till then, had been permeated, not with liberty, but with bondage and repression; not with equality, but with inequality and injustice; not with brotherhood, but with selfish force and violence. The world was not ready, nor is it even now ready for the fullness of the practice. It is the goal of humanity, and we are yet far off from the goal. But the time has come for an approximation being attempted. And the first necessity is the discipline of brotherhood, the organisation of brotherhood,—for without the spirit and habit of fraternity neither liberty nor equality can be maintained for more than a short season. The French were ignorant of this practical principle; they made liberty the basis, brotherhood the superstructure, founding the triangle upon its apex. For owing to the dominance of Greece & Rome in their imagination they were saturated with the idea of liberty and only formally admitted the Christian and Asiatic principle of brotherhood. They built according to their knowledge, but the triangle has to be reversed before it can stand permanently.”(CWSA 1: 512-13)
“The action of the French Revolution was the vehement death-dance of Kali trampling blindly, furiously on the ruins She made, mad with pity for the world and therefore utterly pitiless. She called the Yatudhani in her to her aid and summoned up the Rakshasi. The Yatudhani is the delight of destruction, the fury of slaughter, Rudra in the Universal Being, Rudra, the bhuta, the criminal, the lord of the animal in man, the lord of the demoniac, Pashupati, Pramathanatha. The Rakshasi is the unbridled, licentious self-assertion of the ego which insists on the gratification of all its instincts good and bad and furiously shatters all opposition. It was the Yatudhani and the Rakshasi who sent their hoarse cry over France, adding to the luminous mantra, Liberty, Equality, Fraternity, the stern and terrible addition “or Death.” Death to the Asura, death to all who oppose God’s evolution, that was the meaning.With these two terrible Shaktis Kali did Her work. She veiled Her divine knowledge with the darkness of wrath and passion, She drank blood as wine, naked of tradition and convention She danced over all Europe and the whole continent was filled with the warcry and the carnage and rang with the hunkara and the attahasyam. It was only when She found that She was trampling on Mahadeva, God expressed in the principle of Nationalism, that She remembered Herself, flung aside Napoleon, the mighty Rakshasa, and settled down quietly to her work of perfecting nationality as the outer shell within which brotherhood may be securely and largely organised.” (CWSA 1: 513)
European society has failed to organize fraternity – the base of the apex and hence has never been able to found a successful and enduring social and political structure. Socialism and Communism gave supreme importance to equality but failed to achieve either equality or the other arm of the triad – liberty. Capitalistic Europe gave the supreme importance to liberty but it also failed to achieve either liberty or equality. In the words of Sri Aurobindo, “….Two ideas of that formula Europe has pursued with some eagerness, Liberty and Equality; but she has totally rejected the third and most necessary, Brotherhood. In its place she has erected the idol of her heart, Machinery, and called it Association; for Association without Brotherhood is merely Machinery.” (CWSA 1: 547-48)
“Freedom, equality, brotherhood are three godheads of the soul; they cannot be really achieved through the external machinery of society or by man so long as he lives only in the individual and the communal ego. When the ego claims liberty, it arrives at competitive individualism. When it asserts equality, it arrives first at strife, then at an attempt to ignore the variations of Nature, and, as the sole way of doing that successfully, it constructs an artificial and machine-made society. A society that pursues liberty as its ideal is unable to achieve equality; a society that aims at equality will be obliged to sacrifice liberty. For the ego to speak of fraternity is for it to speak of something contrary to its nature. All that it knows is association for the pursuit of common egoistic ends and the utmost that it can arrive at is a closer organisation for the equal distribution of labour, production, consumption and enjoyment.
Yet is brotherhood the real key to the triple gospel of the idea of humanity. The union of liberty and equality can only be achieved by the power of human brotherhood and it cannot be founded on anything else. But brotherhood exists only in the soul and by the soul; it can exist by nothing else. For this brotherhood is not a matter either of physical kinship or of vital association or of intellectual agreement. When the soul claims freedom, it is the freedom of its self-development, the self-development of the divine in man in all his being. When it claims equality, what it is claiming is that freedom equally for all and the recognition of the same soul, the same godhead in all human beings. When it strives for brotherhood, it is founding that equal freedom of self-development on a common aim, a common life, a unity of mind and feeling founded upon the recognition of this inner spiritual unity. These three things are in fact the nature of the soul; for freedom, equality, unity are the eternal attributes of the Spirit.” (CWSA 25: 547-48)
It should be clear from all the above that we cannot possibly found a collectivity on the formula of the French Revolution unless we first concentrate on the base of the triangle – Brotherhood – which exists only in the soul and the Spirit and can exist nowhere else without it. This leads us to the true solution – the imperative necessity of seeking for the spiritual Reality – The Truth of our Being.
B. The Only Way Out
We must realise in our mind, heart and soul that the modern ideal of progress and material prosperity, even when pursued efficiently, cannot lead us to a state basically different from the state of the modern developed societies which has nothing to recommend for itself. Consider the loneliness and psychological and emotional deprivation of individuals resulting from an extreme concentration on one’s physical being – even to the extent of the exclusion of one’s nucleus family – and imagine the relentless suffering that comes one’s way from the feeling of not being loved or wanted by anyone and from the psychological disorders resulting from this – so common in “developed” societies – and it would be obvious that India is still much better than the advanced societies it is foolishly aspiring to imitate. This will be a state, lower – in terms of individual happiness and fulfilment – than where we are even at present, because we have not yet gone whole hog in the material pit and we still inherently trust the power of the eternal Indian spirit to prevent that from ever happening in the future. We may not sink to the bottom but as long as we are shut up in our present narrow surface consciousness with its enormous concentration on material pleasures and comforts, the effective pursuit and attainment of any ideal state (worthy of its name) is not really possible for us. The key to the whole problem lies, as India has always known, in a transition to a higher level of consciousness. For, at present level of consciousness, no matter how ingeniously and efficiently we organize our society, we cannot basically do too much better than the other materially advanced societies. In fact, this evolutionary world has been so planned as to have a built-in incentive for rising into ever higher and higher planes of consciousness, because the problem and difficulties at any level of consciousness – and they are different at different levels – are really solvable only at a higher level of consciousness.
We must turn to the Divine Magician for the attainment of a higher level of consciousness. “There is no fundamental significance in things if you miss the Divine Reality; for you remain embedded in a huge surface crust of manageable and utilizable appearance. It is the magic of the Magician you are trying to analyse, but only when you enter into the consciousness of the Magician himself can you begin to experience the true origination, significance and circles of the Lila. I say “begin” because the Divine Reality is not so simple that at the first touch you can know all of it or put it into a single formula; it is the Infinite and opens before you an infinite knowledge to which all Science put together is a bagatelle.” (SABCL 22: page 97)
It is to the Divine Magician that India must turn to for a true resolution of all her problems. And, as Vedanta tells us, He is not far, He is our very own self – the highest truth of our being and nature in which we are inseparably one with all existence. To aspire for the Divine is to aspire for the greatest possible perfection and fulfilment. “Whatever is man’s faith or sure Idea in him, that he becomes,” says Lord Krishna in the Gita. Now, this is the sheer truth of the workings of this universe which is at the very foundation of all Yoga systems. Thus, if a person whole-heartedly aspires for the Divine with an unshakable faith, he is sure to realise his essential identity with Him and eventually have his whole nature transformed into the Divine Nature.
The Indian society can, therefore do nothing better than to make the seeking, finding, and manifestation of the Divine on the part of its members as the first and the only aim of all its activities and endeavours. In the process it will tend to grow in knowledge, power and beauty and there will be an automatic dissolution of the problems that normally beset a society, including material deprivation and poverty. To make an effective start in this direction, “There must be a group forming a strong body of cohesive will with the spiritual knowledge to save India and the world. It is India that can bring Truth in the world. By manifestation of the Divine Will and Power alone, India can preach her message to the world and not by imitating the materialism of the West. By following the Divine Will India shall shine at the top of the spiritual mountain and show the way of Truth and organise world unity.” CWM7, pages 286-87
All this is not to suggest that we should – even if we could, which is impossible – go back to the past forms of ancient Indian culture. That will be an unnatural imposition on the present time spirit. Rather, we should do as Sri Aurobindo suggested, “You need not come back to the old forms, but you can retain the spirit which might create its own new forms,...” India’s Rebirth, page 176
We call upon all our brothers and sisters, the world over, to make a start in this direction in their own way.