Shyam Khosla is a professional journalist of 45 years' standing. He is a political analyst and columnist and has authored more than 1000 articles on contemporary issues. He retired as Delhi Bureau Chief of The Tribune and also worked in Indian Express. He is the Chairman of the Panchnad Research Institute and also the Director, Indian Media Center.
Prof. B K Kuthiala is Director, Institute of Mass Communication and Media Technology, Kurukshetra University. He is a social scientist by training and a researcher of repute. He has authored several books and regularly writes in several newspapers and magazines. Kuthiala teaches mass communication and media research.
Post-independence India has witnessed a significant deterioration in the quality of intellectual debate. The thought processes of the intellectuals have been so much dominated by the political ideologies and events that it is hard to find learned persons without any ideological biases. The issues and problems fail to receive a holistic analysis and appraisals and the consequence is that the problem solving is also politicized. Further aggravation of critical problems of the nation is the result of absence of correct and timely diagnosis. Susmvad is not the practice to be seen but vitandavad is the order of the day. Deliberations in seminars and conferences and discussions on television are mostly non-productive, if not counter-productive.
Panchnad Research Institute (PRI) is an effort to create a free forum for open debate for persons of different persuasions. With more than twenty study centers spread over the entire North-Western region of the country, PRI involves the learned in mutual dialogue even at small town level. Monthly discussion meetings do not end with any prescriptions but the participants carry with them the views expressed by others and ponder over their existing opinions and attitudes in the light of what others in the discussion said.
In his introduction, Dr Murli Manohar Joshi, an eminent political leader and thinker, makes a lucid case for the revival of the concept of sanskriti as the basis for the re-emergence of the Indian society. His scientific interpretation gets reflected in the words "But the new physics is now talking about 'wholism' that whole is not merely the algebraic sum of its parts but something more. Accordingly, human society is not an aggregate of different nations, races or religions, it is an indivisible whole"
Justice Rama Jois drawing heavily from the Indian scriptures presents 18 principles of Dharma and contends that dharma is not religion but a way of life.. He sets a higher goal for humanity by saying "...man being the highest form of life should not lag behind in serving others; not merely human beings." His premise rests on the negation of the western practices based on the struggle for existence and the survival of the fittest.
Francois Gautier strikes a highly optimistic note and visualizes India as a superpower in the 21st century.
He identifies various strengths of ancient Indian knowledge system and believes that the entire world needs to be benefited by this unique source of human welfare. He contends "Arise 0 India, be proud once more of thyself. This should be India's motto for the Third Millennium, after five centuries of self-denial. For, in spite of its poverty, in spite of the false Aryan invasion, in spite of the Muslim holocaust, in spite of European colonialism, in spite of Macaulay's children, in spite of the Partition, in spite of the Chinese threat, in spite of the Westernized framework, India still has got tremendous potential. Everything is there ready to be manifested again, ready to mould India in a new modern nation, a super power of the 21st century." Prafull Goradia makes an illuminating journey of the manifestation of nationhood through ages, beginning with the contention that "Nevertheless, the desire of the Indian civilization to underline its unity was first demonstrated as long ago as some 3400 years. It was Sri Krishna who first personified the unity of India. On his shifting from Mathura to Dwarka, Sri Krishna went on to become president of the Andhaka-Vrisni League..."
It seems that in spite of their spectacular achievements, the learned elite of the world are not satisfied with the present day societies, and want to replace them with some other better politico-socio-economic structure. Today, all kinds of "isms" are becoming helpless in solving the problems of mankind. The so-called high technology is also posing threat to the very existence of mankind and its environment. After a long sequence of experiences of various systems, approaches and policies, a dire necessity is being invariably felt for a new system and approach in the whole world. In the quest for an alternative it will be fruitful to look into the fundamentals of Hindu thought which may, probably, help us to find out some guidelines and directions for the construction of a new world order. HindU approach completely rejects the concepts like 'economic man', 'scientific man', 'biological entity', 'social animal' etc. and introduces the concept of integral man as a part of all pervading 'Brahma'. According to Hindu thinkers, man can be an instrument for providing many happy and healthy solutions to the ills of the society provided an attempt is made to evoke the divine in him and to bring out his innate goodness to the fore. It is beyond doubt that Hindu society, Hindu thought, and Hindu mind and psyche is basically 'dharma pradhan'.
Here the concept of 'dharma' brings the forms and activities which shape, sustain and nourish human life (dharnad dharnzaity a-hurdharmana vidhrtah prajah). In this context, dharma becomes the set of moral and social rules and regulations which are essential for the smooth working and balanced growth of the society. Hindu values of life undoubtedly accept the importance of 'artha' and 'kama' but it simultaneously emphasizes that they should always be regulated by dharma. Ancient Hindu thinkers tried to put forward an integrated and balanced approach at every stage and at every point. They did not diagnose man's different problems, unrelated to and isolated from each other. For them all the problems of man had a combined and total effect on his bearing and his existence, and so no one particular problem would find its solution in isolation. They knew that man's multifarious problems are inter-connected, inter-dependent and inter-woven. Thus, maintaining a panoramic view of life, the Hindu thinkers have not seen problems merely in their narrow teens and considerations, but relating to the entire social set up they have tried to find out their solutions on the broader ground. A Hindu is expected to look upon every human being as his brother or sister, nay, as himself, and upon humanity as his family. Our philosophy of life does not preach only to care for one's own bread and butter and to be confined to one's own comforts, but advocates happiness and welfare for all. That is why a Hindu says in his prayer, "May all be happy; May all be healthy; May all obtain the good things: Let not a single individual be cursed with misery." Thus, the stress in Hindu thinking has been on distributing the property and consumption of goods in the society and not on keeping them limited to and concentrated to oneself only. It has been clearly stated in Atharva veda that says that one should earn with hundreds of hands and should spend (or distribute) with thousands of hands.
In this regard Hindu sages have given enough guidelines regarding the allocation of wealth for different purposes so that its proper utilization can be ensured. In Hindu thought we find an attempt to evolve a social structure in which a proper balance could be struck between 'vyasti' (the individual) and 'samai' (the society), artha and dharma, materialism and spiritualism, accumulation and renunciation, earning and distribution, here and here-after, personal and public interest, freedom and control, and all such things. Hindu sages have tried to provide solutions of various problems on the basis of human, moral, spiritual and integrated view of life. Here, one thing which is specifically to be noted is that to give practical shape to their ideas ancient Hindu philosophers evolved various institutions and concepts within the framework of the contemporary social structure in such a way that through them it may become a way of life to act and behave in accordance with those moral principles and social ideals. With this in view we can see the importance of different institutions and concepts evolved by ancient Hindu social thinkers. There is discernible concern all over the world about the growing pollution and deteriorating environment. Thinkers would do well to study and analyse deeply the Hindu philosophy and viewpoint regarding environment, lifestyle, behavioural pattern, social intercourse, festivals, traditions, customs etc. Hindu thinkers admit two forms of environment: external and internal. The former manifests itself in the form of soil, water, air, flora and fauna etc. and the later refers the internal ambience of the soul. Both are the handiwork of the Almighty and therefore a harmony exists among these various constituents. The Hindu thinkers lay great stress on comprehending this harmony. A fresh thinking has started in the world about the inter-relations of ecology, environment, energy, employment, equity and ethics.
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