The Text of Integral Humanism

Chapter 4, Part 1

Yesterday we had discussed the functions of State in a Nation. According to the Bharatiya traditions. a nation is an organic living entity which has come into existence on its own and has not been made up or created by any group of persons. A nation brings forth a variety of institutions to fulfill its needs, as well as to give concrete shape to its inner fundamental nature. The State is one of these institutions which though being an important institution, is not supreme. In our literature where the duties of a king are referred to, his importance is definitely recognized. This is so, perhaps, to make him realize his immense responsibility. He exercised tremendous influence on the lives and character of the people. Hence he had to give due attention to his own behavior. Bhishma has said the same thing, in Mahabharat when he was asked whether circumstances make a king or a king makes the circumstances. He categorically stated that the king shapes the circumstances. Now some persons interpret this to mean that the considered the king above all. But this is not true. He did not suggest that the king was above Dharma. It is true that the king wielded a great deal of influence. and that he was the protector of Dharma in society, but the king could not decide what constitutes Dharma. He only saw to it that people led their lives according to Dharma. In a way he was equivalent to present day executive.

In the present State, the executive has the responsibility to execute the laws properly, but does not enact laws. When the executive does not function with honesty and efficiency, the laws are entirely disregarded, as we see very well around us. We can well say today "Executive is responsible for the present evils to a great extent." After all why has prohibition failed? Who is responsible for the failure?? When those very persons who have been entrusted with the task of implementing prohibition. Start taking monthly allowances from the bootleggers, how is the prohibition policy to succeed? The executive is, therefore, responsible for the proper enforcement of law. This is the meaning of Bhishma's statement. It would be a mistake to interpret it as acceptance of approved supremacy of a monthly allowances from the bootleggers, how is the prohibition policy to succeed? The executive is therefore, responsible for the proper enforcement of law. This is the meaning of Bhisma statement. It would be a mistake to interpret it as acceptance of approved supremacy of a king. If this were so, how was it that the tyrant king Venu was removed by the Rishis and Prithu was enthroned? This action by the Rishis was never condemned by any one in history. On the contrary it was hailed by everyone. When the supremacy of Dharma is accepted as a principle, then, though the authority of Dharma, the Rishis derive a right to remove a king who defaults in his duty. Otherwise, it would have been absolutely illegal to remove a king from his throne. Thus if a King does not act according to Dharma, it becomes the duty of everyone to remove him.

In Western countries, either a King was removed by some other king or people rejected the sovereignty of king altogether. There king was a representative of God and could under no circumstances be removed at least in principle.

In our socio-political set-up, the king and the State were never considered supreme. Not only that, there were other important institutions, (besides the State, which was only one of them) to regulate and to help carry on the social life. Those institutions had been organized both on horizontal and vertical level, i.e. on original and occupation basis. We have evolved Panchayats and Janapada Sabhas. The mightiest of the king did not ever disturb the Panchayats. Similarly there were associations on the basis of trade. These two were never disturbed by the State; on the contrary their autonomy was recognized. They devised their own rules and regulations in their fields. The Panchayats of different communities, shrines, nigams, Village Panchayats, Janapada Sabhas and such other Organization used to set- up regulations. The function of the state was mostly to see that these rules are observed by the persons concerned. The State never interfered with the affairs of these associations. Thus the State was concerned only with some aspects of life of the Society.

Similarly, in the economic field many institutions are created. We have to think what should be the nature of our economic structure. We must have such an economic system which helps in the developments of our humane qualities, or civilization and enables us to attain a still higher level of all round perfection. We should have a system which does not overwhelm our humane quality; which does not make us slaves of its own grinding wheels. According to our concept, man attains God like perfection as a result of development. What structure. what regulation should be specified in our economic system if we wish to achieve this goal? Let us, consider this point.

Economic system must achieve the production of all the basic things essential for the maintenance and development of people as well as the protection and development of the Nation. Having satisfied the basic minimum requirements, the question naturally arises, whether there should be more production for greater property and happiness. The Western societies consider it most essential and even desirable to go on continuously and systematically increasing the desires and needs of man. There is no upper limit in the context. Normally desire precedes the efforts at producing the things desired.

But now the position is reverse. People are induced to desire and use the things that have been and are being produced. Instead of producing to meet the demand, the search is on the markets for the goods already produced; if the demand does not exist, systematic efforts are made to create demand. This has become the chief characteristic of the western economic movement. Earlier, production followed the demand, now demand allows the production. Consider the use of tea for example. Tea was produced because people desired and wanted it. But Tea was produced and we were induced to develop taste for tea. Now tea is a common man's drink. It has become a part of our life. Similar is the case of vegetable ghee. Did anyone ever want to use it? It was first produced and then we were taught to use it. If whatever is manufactured is not consumed, there will be depression. Some of us many remember the great depression of 1930-32. There was abundance of goods at that time but there was no demand. Therefore factories had to be closed down. Bankruptcy and unemployment were widespread. Thus now-a-days it is most important that what is being produced must be consumed.

The Editor of "Organiser", an English Weekly, had gone to USA for a visit sometime ago. Upon his return, he related an interested instance.

There is a factory producing "Potato-peelers", a device for peeling potatoes. The production of this factory outstripped the demand for the device. The management of the firm faced the problem of finding some way by which people may be induced to buy more potato peelers. They called a meeting of all the salesmen of the firm. Among the suggestions put forward, one was to make the color of the handle similar to that of potato peel. so that along with the peel. the peeler may also be dumped in the garbage, often by mistake. Thus there may be greater demand. Also, the product was offered in a more attractive packing. Now this economic structure is not merely consumption oriented but is clearly leading to destruction. Throw away the old one and buy a new one! Rather than satisfying the need and demand from people. to create fresh demand has become the aim of modern economics. Supposing that we need not worry about the limited supply of natural resources, there is yet the question of balance in Nature. There is a relationship in different parts of Nature. If from the three sticks standing with mutual support, one is removed, the other two will automatically fall. The present economic system and system of production are fast disturbing this equilibrium of nature. As a result on the one hand new products are manufactured for satisfying ever increasing desires, on the other hand new problem arise every day, threatening the very existence of the entire humanity and civilization.

Go on to Chapter 4, Part 2

Chapter 1 Chapter 2 Chapter 3 Chapter 4

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