India of today has a special psychological climate, which we need to explore and understand.
There is at first the emerging international or global layer of influences which have penetrated deeply into a large number of institutions and modes of our developing life patterns. These influences bear real stamp of the European Renaissance which, in turn, had succeeded in the revival of the ancient Greek culture. The Greek culture was an amazing efflorescence of the development of the faculties of the body, life or mind under the supervening influences of the powers of the reason and its three-fold character: rational, aesthetic and ethical. The pursuit of the ideals of Truth, Beauty, and Goodness, which were greatly emphasized by Plato had remained the driving forces of the Greek and the later Greco-Roman culture, and they have become living forces since renaissance, of modern Europe and the entire modern world. These three ideals are more readily admitted by the modern mind, including the modern Indian mind. In the Renascent Europe, the rebirth of the powers of the Reason has generated not only multisided culture of the physical, vital, aesthetic, ethical, or rationalistic pursuits, but the most striking and predominant and unprecedented advancement that has been achieved in the field of Science and Technology. The application of rationality to social and political life has resulted in the erection of 3 great ideals: Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity, and the greatest experiments in social and political life has since been dominated by democratic, socialistic and communistic movements, -- as can be seen through the history of parliamentary democracy in England, France and even Europe and U.S.A. The communistic experiments lays great emphasis on the ideal of equality has also prominently influenced the entire world during the last two centuries. The application of Science to Technology has been the main spring of the industrial revolution, the nuclear revolution, and electronic revolution. It is these three revolutions which have accentuated competitive individualism and capitalisms as also great wars, cold war and continuing conflicts among the contemporary multipolar world. The globalization is today immensely facilitated by the electronic revolution.
The contemporary Indian climate cannot be properly understood without taking into account the great ideals of Greek culture, the renascent European emphasis on Reason and the consequent phenomenon of ever advancing march of Science, and the emergence of the global life under the inspiring force of the ideals of Liberty, Equality and Fraternity.
But this is not enough. The study of Greek culture will show that, despite the shining experiments of the pursuit of the rationalistic, aesthetic, and the ethical culture, the conflict between the ethical and the aesthetic and the conflict between the rationalistic and the ethical tendencies were not resolved, and while these ideals have come into the forefront in the modern world, they still need to be pursued farther until rational, ethical, aesthetic can be reconciled. At the heart of the contemporary Indian psychological climate, there is today the
great problem of finding a synthesis in which the rationalistic ideal of truth, the aesthetic ideal of beauty and the ethical ideal of the good can be reconciled.
It has also to be understood that the ideals of Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity, which came to be greatly proclaimed by the French revolution, and which have traveled all over the modern world, found their place in the very preamble of the Constitution of India and in various institutions. Political, social, economic and cultural, — are still struggling in the modern world for their reconciliation and synthesis. An intense struggle of these three ideals is also at the heart of the contemporary psychological climate of India.
But we need to go farther and deeper. The India of the ages continues to live, and during the last two hundred years the entire past of history seems to have been repeated in a summary form so that the most important elements of that past have become living forces of the contemporary India. "Go back to the Vedas" was greatly proclaimed in the 19th century under the influence of Dayanand Saraswati; "Go back to the Upanishads" was greatly proclaimed during the same 19th century by the leaders of Brahmo Samaj, Devindra Nath Tagore, Keshav Chandra Sen and others, "Go back to the ancient Indian wisdom" also came to be proclaimed by the Theosophical society, "Realize God, realize the Divine Mother, and realize the truths of all religions and realize God in action", this great message came to be proclaimed by Sri Ramakrishna and Swami Vivekananda, and go back to the Vedas, Upanishads, the Gita, came to be proclaimed by Tilak, Gandhi, Tagore and Sri Aurobindo. The new tide of Sikhism, Buddhism, and Jainism, of Advaita and of Bhakti movement are also visible with striking force in the contemporary Indian climate. And in this climate the conflict among religions, which had become sharp when Islam came to India, which has been persistently confronted and repeatedly repaired, has also come forward and caused not only the partition of India but still persists as a kind of a deep malaise in the very heart of India.
All this recent history of India obliges us to rediscover India. Unfortunately, during the last sixty years the Indian leadership, too busy with pressing problems of shaping independent India under the weight of the unreconciled ideals of the truth, beauty and goodness and the unreconciled ideals of Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity has reached a point of hollowness in which only two concerns weigh most weightily, ─ concern for increasing tide for capitalism and increasing weight of the politics of the vote.
The governing climate of India revolves around the daily and seasonal battles of the march of reforms that are centered on increasing the prosperity of India under the banner of competitive capitalism, the daily and periodical battles of vote banks which can only be fuelled or dimmed by appeal to castes, communalist forces and competing sops in favour or against populist and opportunistic measures. Added to these two forces is the tremendous tide of the philosophy of materialism. Students of India are being largely counseled and encouraged to seek from their
education what they can gain through individual competition and success through the tide of expanding capitalistic markets in India and the world, and they are counseled and encouraged by materialism that is ruling not only over the job-market but which is also ruling over the intellectual world in which they live on account of studies in science, technology and business and vocational courses, where the philosophy of materialism is the ruling Sovereign, ─ either in its explicit form or in the forms of agnosticism, scepticism, or through intellectual fashions which advocate facile ways of scoffing at religion and spirituality and the realm of values which can be dismissed by taking recourse to relativism and post modernistic refusal to enquire or to limit enquiry only up to the boundaries where questions can be raised which require no imperativeness to find answers.
Added to the materialism that pervades the modern scientific movement and the capitalistic utilities of technologies is the force of the materialism that is growing powerfully in India through the increasing tide of materialistic communism. This materialism is armed with a wider base of its spectrum, which not only rests on the materialistic bias of science but also a fairly detailed analysis of history, which concentrates with great convincingness on the story of class struggle, even while ignoring the enormously complex factors with profounder history of the world revealed to us, when we have the patience and the profundity of enquiring into the meaning of human civilization.
This is the picture of Socio-political perspectives that we can draw in brief terms, and as we can see, there is, as yet, no stock-taking in which the total perspective of the Indian climate can be grasped. Much that is visible here in these broad terms is discomforting to many idealists who are striving to develop and dwell with all that they think is great and glorious in the multisided expression of the inner spirit of India; there is much in this picture which can breed cynicism and pessimism in the minds of those in the prismatic light of narrower horizons of dreamlands; there is much in this picture that is inspiring, there is much in this picture that seems to open up paths towards greater prosperity, and greater advancement that they think will be inevitable if you just march ahead in the times that are opening up today; there is much that is bewildering and confusing, and there is much that seems to invite imminent loss and defeat of Indian spirit and even rude shocks that can come, if the competing imperialistic forces of today succeeds in subjecting India ideologically, economically and even politically. All these moods, ─ optimistic, cynical, pessimistic, even defeatist impart their special effects on the contemporary psychology of Indian climate.
Are we summarizing in our current decade the great confusion and even darkness that fell upon India in the 18th century, soon after the death of Aurangzeb? The need of the hour at that time was: no division, but union. But division prevailed, and India came to be subjugated perilously. Today, too, the need of the hour is: no division, but union, and this need, even though pressing upon leadership, is falling upon deaf ears. Are we on the way to a period of fresh subjugation?
What is the record of India in matters of foreign relationships since we attained independence? The countries surrounding India are either hostile or on different or on the verge of growing unfriendliness. In Asia, as a whole the position of India is precarious. Powers in Europe are, by large, favorable to India, but they have no fundamental stake in what is happening or what can happen to India; roads to greater friendship with America are being built but there are formidable thorns in the road. The greatest weakness, however, that India has not been able during the last sixty years to nurture the renaissance and resurgence which had begun to take birth during the years that prepared the freedom struggle and during the first few decades of that great struggle.
The true hope can be built only if India recovers its spirit, only if renaissance and resurgence begins to assert itself and comes to be nourished by many forces which are capable but yet drowned or downcast by the prevailing confused and bewildered conditions that dominate our psychological climate. "Resurgent India" need not remain a rhetoric slogan, but a new spirit can be poured into it, and we can build strong foundations for voluntary optimism, and India of today can rapidly be put on the road to realize, sooner than later, of a truly vibrant resurgent India.