The Text of Integral Humanism

Chapter 3, Part 5

Some rules are temporary and others are valid for longer periods. There are some rules regulating our conduct at this meeting. One of the rules is that I speak and you listen with attention. If an contravention of this rule, you start conversing with one another or addressing the gathering at the same time, than there will be disorder; our work will not progress: the meeting will not be sustained. It can be said that you have not observed your Dharma. Thus it is our Dharma that we observed your Dharma. Thus it is our Dharma that we observed the rules by winch the meeting proceeds smoothly. But this rule is applicable only as long as this meeting lasts. If after the meeting is over, even when you reach home, you continue to observe this rule and do not speak, a different problem will arise. Your family might have to call in a doctor. At home, the rules suitable there will have to be observed. The complete treatise on the rules in general, and their philosophical basis is the meaning of Dharma. These rules cannot be arbitrary. They should be such as to sustain and further existence and progress of the entity which they serve. At the same time they should be in agreement with and supplementary to the larger framework of Dharma of which they form a part. For instance. when we form a registered society, we have the right to frame the rules and regulations, but these cannot be contradictory to the constitution of the society. The constitution itself cannot violate the Societies Registration Act. The act has to be within the provision of the constitution of the country. In other words, the constitution of the country is a fundamental document which governs the formulation of all acts in the country. In Germany the constitution is known as the "Basic Law".

Is the constitution too, not subject to some principles of more fundamental nature? Or is it a product of any arbitrary decisions of the constituent assembly? On serious consideration, it will be clear that even the constitution has to follow certain basic principles of Nature. Constitution is for sustaining the nation. If instead it is instrumental in its eterioration, then it must be pronounced improper. It must be amended. The amendment is also not solely dependent on majority opinion. Now-a-days the majority is much talked of. Is the majority capable of doing anything and everything? Is the action of the majority always just and proper? No. In the West, the king used to be the sovereign. There after when royalty was deprived of its so-called divine rights, sovereignty was proclaimed to be with the people. Here in Our country neither the kings, nor the people, nor the parliament have had absolute sovereignty. Parliament cannot legislate arbitrarily.

It is said about the British parliament that it is sovereign and can do anything. They say that "British Parliament can do everything except making a woman a man and vice versa." But is it possible for the parliament to legislate that every Englishman must walk on his head? It is not possible. Can they pass an act that everyone in England must present himself before the local authority once everyday? They cannot. England has no written constitution. They regard tradition highly. But their traditions too have undergone change. What is the basis for making changes in their traditions? Whichever tradition proved an obstacle in the progress of England, was discarded. Those which were helpful in the progress were consolidated.

The traditions are respected everywhere, just as in England. We have written constitution, but even this written constitutions cannot go contrary to the traditions of this country. In as much as it does go contrary to our traditions, it is not fulfilling Dharma. That constitution which sustains the nation is in tune with Dharma. Dharma sustains the nation. Hence we have always given primary importance to Dharma, which is considered sovereign. All other entities, institutions or authorities derive their power from Dharma and are subordinate to it.

If we examine our constitution from the point of view of the growth of the nation, we find that our constitution needs amendment. We are one nation, one society. That is why we did not entertain any special rights on the basis of language, province, caste, religion, etc. but gave every one equal citizenship. There are separate states. There is no separate citizenship of state and of Union. We are all citizens of Bharat. By the same token, we have denied the right to secede to individual state. Not only that the power to demarcate the boundaries of state and to choose their names, is vested in the parliament, and not in assemblies. This is as it should be; in tune with the nationalism and tradition of Bharat. However, despite all this, we made our constitution federal, whereby what we have adopted in practice, we have rejected in principle. In a federation constituent units have their own sovereignty. These voluntarily relinquish their sovereignty to the federation, by an agreement. It may be that they surrender all their rights and thereby the centre requires sovereignty. But these powers are given to the Union. It has no power of its own. Thus the federal constitution considers the individual states as fundamental power, and the centre as merely a federation of states. This is contrary to the truth. It runs counter to the unity and indivisibility of Bharat. There is no recognition of the idea of Bharatmata, Our sacred motherland, as enshrined in the hearts of our people.

According to the first para of the Constitution, "India that is Bharat will be a federation of States", i.e. Bihar Mata, Banga Mata, Punjab Mata, Kannada Mata, Tamil Mata, all put together make Bharat Mata. This is ridiculous. We have thought of the provinces as limbs of Bharat Mata and not as individual mother. Therefore our constitution should be unitary instead of federal.

A unitary State does not mean concentration of all powers in the Centre; just as the head of the family does not have all the powers with him even though all the transactions are carried out in his name. Others also share the executive power. In our body also, does the soul possess all powers? Thus a unitary State does not mean a highly autocratic centre nor does it entail the elimination of provinces. The provinces will have various executive powers. Even the various entities below the provincial level, such as the Jana Padas, will also have suitable powers. The Panchayats too should have powers. Traditional, the Panchayats had a very important position. No body could dissolve Panchayats. today, however. our constitution does not have any place for these Panchayats. There are no powers to these Panchayats in their own right. They exist at the mercy of the states only as delegated authorities. It is necessary that their powers be considered fundamental. In this way, the ecentralization of power will be accomplished. The authority will be distributed to the lowest level, and will be fully decentralized. At the same time, all these entities of power will be centred around the unitary State. This arrangement will embody Dharma.

If we carry this concept of Dharma even further, not only the State and the nation but the nature of the entire mankind will have to be considered. In other words, the constitution of a nation cannot be contrary to the natural law. There are a number of norms of behavior which are not found in any statute book, yet they do exist. At times they are even stronger and more binding than any statutory law. The precept that one should respect one's parents is not written in any law. The present day governments which are turning out variety of laws, day in and day out, have not passed a law to this effect. Still, people respect their parents. Those who do not are criticized. If tomorrow there arises a discussion, even in a court. it will be generally accepted that as long as a person does not attain majority, he should accept his parent's decisions and should respect them.

Thus the fundamental law of human nature us the standard for deciding the propriety of behavior in various situations. We have termed this very law as' Dharma'. The nearest equivalent English term for Dharma can be "Innate law", which, however, does not express the full meaning of Dharma, Since 'Dharma' is supreme, our ideal of the state has been "Dharma Rajya". The king is supposed to protect Dharma. In olden times at the coronation ceremony the king used to recite three times. "There is no authority which can punish me". (Similar claim was made by kings in the western countries. i.e., it was said, "King can do no wrong", and hence there too, nobody could punish the king). Upon this, the Purohit used to strike the king on his back with a staff saying. "No, you are subject to the rule of Dharma. You are not sovereign". The king used to run around the sacred fire and the Purohit would follow him striking him with the Staff. Thus after completing three rounds, the ceremony would came to an end thereby the king was unambiguously told that he was not an unpunishable sovereign. Dharma was above him, that even he was subject to Dharma. Can the people do whatever they please? It may be contended that democracy means just that. The people can do what they please. But in our country, even in people wish, they are not free to act contrary to Dharma. Once a priest was asked: "If the God is omnipotent, can he act contrary to Dharma. If he does, then he is not omnipotent". This was a dilemma. Can God practice Adharma or is lie not omnipotent? Actually God cannot act contrary to Dharma. If he does, then he is not omnipotent. Adharma is a characteristic of weakness, not of strength. If fire instead of emitting heat, dies out it is no longer strong. Strength lies not in unrestrained behavior, but in well regulated action. Therefore God who is omnipotent is also self- regulated and consequently fully in tune with Dharma. God descends in human body to destroy Adharma and re-establish Dharma, not to act on passing whims and fancies. Hence even God can do everything but cannot act contrary to Dharma. But for the risk of being misunderstood, one can say that Dharma is even greater than God. The universe is sustained because he acts according to Dharma. The king was supposed to be a symbol of Vishnu, in as much as he was the chief protector of Dharma Rajya.

Go on to Chapter 3, Part 6

Chapter 1 Chapter 2 Chapter 3 Chapter 4

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