National Seminar on “Integral Humanism in Indian Thought”

India Foundation organized a two day National Seminar on Integral Humanism in Indian Thought at Nehru Memorial Museum and Library, New Delhi on 19-20 September, 2016 which saw attendance from noted academics, activists and students. The event started with floral tributes to Deendayal Upadhayay Ji on the occasion of his centenary birth celebration. Deendayal Ji was born on 25 September, 2016 at a small village in Mathura district of Uttar Pradesh in North India. Deendayal Ji was a social worker, educationist, economist, journalist, orator and above all a masterful organizer of men committed to the cause of nation-building in those turbulent days.

The Inaugural Session of the Conference was addressed by a galaxy of key thinkers of present times. Shri Mukul Kanitkar spoke of how Deendayal Ji’s Integral Humanism is a holistic philosophy of our times and not merely an ideology meant to be used in a particular time and situation. He distinguished Deendayal Ji’s Integral Humanism from M.N. Roy’s conception of Radical Humanism in as much as the latter is bereft of any shade of spiritualism which cannot be divorced from humanism in the long run. Highlighting the role of Integral Humanism in shaping India’s Education Policy for 21st century he observed that Deendayal Ji’s vision accorded full space to diversity of views and opinions. Much in the same way that no two men look the same, none should be expected to think the same per force or compulsion. He also observed that this vision is not only relevant during the days of struggle but also in times when the people alighted by the thought have assumed power to change India for better.

Dr. Mahesh Chandra Sharma started his address by equating the Integral Humanism with the entirety of Indian political thought staring with the Vedas to our contemporary times. Vedic invocations of ‘ekam sat vipra bahuda vadanti’ meaning ‘truth is one, sages call it by various names’ and ‘matra bhumi putro aham prithiviyah’ meaning that ‘Earth is my mother and I am her son’ are the essence of Indian thought and that they inform every corner of Deendayal Ji’s Integral Humanism. Also that this branch of sociological research eschews that false binaries of good and bad only, thereby, opening a wide field for ideas that are both good and bad. This grey area is the plane where we have to find out path of consensus by way of debate and discussion. Indian society operates on the model of consensus.

Prof S. R. Bhatt delivered his Presidential remarks to mark out that the idea of Integral Humanism is a holistic philosophy relevant not only in the past but also today. It is not bound by the chains of time and age. Hence it isn’t a mere ideology represented by an ‘ism’ like many contemporary thoughts. Deendayal Ji was both a thinker and a practitioner. His thought has both an ideological as well as practical panache. On the front of ideology he was open to new ideas and his practical side is best reflected in his vision that all the material creation is to be understood as human achievement. This, however, does not mean that man is the measure of everything as in the western thought. Indian mind comprehends the human being as ‘purusha’ who is all encompassing. It is man who makes society and that becomes a nation. It is these nations that finally constitute the world. Purusha is the best embodiment of Indian thought that identifies unity in diversity and diversity in unity. This integrity of human existence is what constitutes the essence of Integral Humanism of Deendayal Ji. Further all struggle, violence, hatred and jealousy is artificial and has no place in Indian thought. It is these ideas of Deendayal Ji that Modi government is implementing by way of programmes like Jan Dhan Yojna, Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, Beti Bachao Beti Padhao Yojna, Krishi Sinchai Yojna, Kaushal Vikas Yojna, Mudra Yojna, etc.

Chair calls for 2 minute silence at the start of Technical Sessions to pay tribute to the martyrs of Uri Attack dated 18 September, 2016. Prof. S.P. Mani gave his address a fitting start by recalling the Vedic dictums of ‘sarve bhuvantu sukhina, sarve santu niramaya’ and ‘ten takten bhunjitah’ as the core or foundational principles of Integral Humanism expounded by Deendayal Ji. He observed that balance is the key to success, whether in material pursuits or in spiritual world. He outlined that Deendayal Ji used sangam sanskriti to give India her swaroop. The essential features of India’s swaroop include:

  1. Acceptance
  2. Validation
  3. Celebration
  4. Gender Justice, and
  5. Sustainable Development

In his remarks Prof. K.B. Pandya raised the question as to what is India’s ‘chiti’? He urged that t6he answer to this question is to be located in India’s own store house of wisdom- Ramayan and Mahabharata. In Ramayana when Shri Rama accepts his mother Queen Kaikeya’s order to defines India and defies the limited logic of Western world. He recalls that when Deendayal ji was asked about the poor performance of his party in Lok Sabha elections in 1962 he simply said ‘all those who have won, are mine and I am their own’.

Dr. Ashok Modak in his enlightening remarks took up the challenging task of identifying key features of Deendayal Ji’s conception of Integral Humanism. Service to motherland is one of these key themes wherein we find that the patriotic urges of Indian people have played a significant role in saving India at many occasions. Similarly optimism of Indian mind is another key feature of our thought in distinction to the primacy of greed or other negative ideas in the West. Also spirituality, integrity, openness to change and all-encompassing holistic approach are key themes of Integral Humanism.

Prof. K.C. Pandey spoke on ‘Integral Humanism and Ancient Indian Thought’ and his address was focused on how consciousness is the foundation of all that exists. He spoke that self-realization involves ethical and mystical processes and the meeting of consciousness at individual and universal levels. Mr. Govardhan Bhatt spoke of the need of the need of synergy between science and spirituality. He also remarked that Deendayal Ji is a true follower of the advaita tradition of Shri Adi Shankaracharya. Mr. Krishore Dere spoke of Deendayal Ji’s insistence on self-reliance in economy and predominance of agriculture as the hallmarks of Indian independence and that he was dissatisfied with first 17 years of India’s progress soon after British Raj. Ms. Shikha Sharma observed that a solid foundation of society can be built on the foundations of advaita vedanata. Mr. Shubham Verma spoke of the recent trend of discarding all that is indigenous in India as unworthy of possession and observed that India will take its rightful place in the world community only when we stay true to our roots, and not otherwise.

Mr. Rajiv Dubey spoke on ‘Integral Humanism and Education in India Today’ and observed that the scene is both full of hope and despair at the same time where the hope is reflected in the ideas of Deendayal Ji and despair is reflected in illusive dream of Nehruvian consensus. The most prominent challenge to Indianisation of education today is the artificial distinction between science and spirituality whereby the two are made to look like two water-tight compartments with nothing common in between. Shri Ashok Pandurang spoke of the need to reignite the flames of cultural nationalism in India. He reminded the guests that India is not merely a country but also a mother for all of us. Shri Raghav Pandey spoke on the theme of ‘Integral Humanism and the Sustainable Way of Life’ and observed that going by the present rate of consumption of resources in rich and affluent sectors of the society we would require two and a half Earths to meet the global development needs. He highlighted that in Indic thought man and nature are integral to each other unlike the West where man is sovereign over nature and all that exists is made for his consumption. In an interesting analogy he observed that this even Kyoto Protocol fails to acknowledge that trees have spiritual value too and focusses excessively on their economic value only. Shri Rambahadur Rai observed that ideas of Deendayal Ji are in line with the basic texts of Gandhiji’s Hind Swaraj and Bal Gangadhar Tilak’s Geeta Rashaya. In a way Deendayal ji’s exposition of Integral Humanism in the course of his four lectures is a logical extension of the line of thinking as expounded in Hind Swaraj.

20 September, 2016

Second day of the Conference began with Shri Guru Prakash’s talk on ‘Integral Humanism and Social Justice in India Today’. He pointed at the empirical data to the effect that social disparities between rich and poor and those between castes and communities are widening day by day and it is this malady that Deendayal Ji’s vision of Integral Humanism seeks to redress by ensuring the equitable distribution of resources. He also pointed out that it is neither possible nor wise to adopt foreign ‘isms’ in India and that the need of hour is to abandon the artificial constructs of right and left in order to ensure the ultimate goal of antyodaya. He also observed that most post-colonial academic researches on social justice have focused on caste system’s divisive and oppressive features extensively but have erred in failing to take stock of Hinduism’s continuous and unending processes of course correction, like the works anti-caste saints of India. In this regard he pointed out at the example of hundreds of dalit saints in India like Sant Chokhamela, Sant Janabai, Sant Ravidas and Guru Ghasi Das, etc.

Shri Digvijay Singh emphasized on Integral Humanism as an alternative to contemporary discourse. Ms. Chandani Sengupta spoke on ‘Intergral Humanism and Swami Vivekananda’ highlighted that Swami Vivekananda was always clear that the only true humanism is the one that involves dignity for all and fraternity of all, thereby making it incumbent on our rich to care for the poor and under-privileged. She said that both Swami Ji and Deendayal Ji thought of service to mankind as the best way of man-making. Dr. Apoorv Mishra spoke on a comparative study of Danndayal Ji’s Integral Humanism and Jacques Maritain’s Integral Christian Humanism. He pointed out that both scholars agree in their rejection of capitalism, individualism, socialism and communism. Also both of them emphasize on the role of religion in shaping political ideas and in building a society rooted in its culture. But where they disagree is the fact that Integral Christian Humanism assumes its thesis to be self-evident as is God in Christian theology while Deendayal Ji follows the Vedantic model of shastrartha in form of debate and discussion.

Dr. Sethuraman Rammohan spoke on ‘Integral Humanism in the Light of Quantum Physics’ in the light of Vedic dictum ‘yad pinde tad brahmande’. He also pointed out that Integral Humanism is a holistic system of total harmony between individual, society and nature and that integral man has a comprehensive view of the four purusharthas of dharma, artha, kaam and moksha. Prof. Dilip Kumar Mohanta spoke of the need for practical idealism and the relevance of Deendayal Ji’s ideas in building a happy and prosperous nation. Mr. Chintamani Malyiya identified deendayal Ji’s ideas as a continuous stream of thought in harmony with those of Swami Vivekananda, Shri Aurobindo, Gandhiji and Babasaheb Ambedkar.

VALEDICTORY SESSION

Shri Ram Madhav spoke of quintessential importance of Deendayal Ji’s ideas to Indian political thought. He highlighted that soon after independence India embarked upon a mission to build ourselves on the ‘socialistic pattern of society’ and asked what we have achieved by socialistic development model apart from bureaucratic five year plans and centralization of power. Deendayal Ji was a firm believer in India centric world view rather than blind aping of the West. West’s political and economic thought considers man as an economic animal. Freud observed that man’s ultimate goal is to fulfil his desires. As against this Integral Humanism as propounded by Deendayal Ji conceives a society that is free from all discrimination, disease and want.

Shri Krishna Gopal Ji spoke on the need of consensus building and balanced life as integral traits of Integral Humanism of Deendayal Ji. He believed that democracy in India is not a gift of the West and held a firm view that the Indian polity after independence has been raised upon artificial Western foundations, hence not rooted in the timeless traditions of India’s ancient culture. He was sure that the Indian intellect was getting suffocated by Western theories and ideologies and consequently there was a big roadblock on the growth and expansion of original Bharatiya thought. He hailed modern technology/science but wanted it to be adapted to suit Indian requirements. He believed in a constructive approach. He exhorted his followers to co-operate with the government when it was right and fearlessly oppose it, when it erred. He placed nation’s interest above everything else. Another key theme of his philosophy was enlightened self-interest of Indian people which meant that we achieve the best for ourselves without harming the interests of others.

Two day National Seminar thus came to satisfactory conclusion by generating greater academic awareness about his thoughts. But true to Deendayal Ji’s life and his message the attending audience resolved to continue with shastrartha on how to implement his vision in India today.

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