Renaissance could be of two types; it could mean revival of the past in the present; it would also mean recovery of the essence from all that lies around but incapable of manifesting the essential spirit, and therefore building up a new body, life and mind that could manifest the essential spirit more and more appropriately, more and more progressively, and more and more puissantly. The renaissance and the resurgence that we should aim at cannot be and ought not to turn the present India into the mould and form that vibrated in some remote past. The condition in which we find ourselves today provide useful materials for new creation, — for a new mind, life and body, provided we can bring forward that which represents the true essence of India and provide to it and build for it a new and majestic architectural form and design, — a new temple for the essential Spirit of India. The complex Socio-cultural elements which we find at the present juncture of the Indian history can all be utilized profitably and propitiously, so that they could all subserve a dynamic process of creative resurgence that would give a concrete shape to the perennial breath of synthesis. India has always tended to aim at comprehensiveness, and even when it has built up exclusive forms of thought and life or even of spiritual tendencies and realizations, it has, in due course, turned towards a larger synthesis. Among the elements of our present society and cultural trends of thought and life, those materials which have come to us from the west and those elements which represent the essential genius of India, if studied properly, if developed properly and if utilized properly could be seen to be the right materials for the needed synthesis. Resurgent India will change radically its outer garments, — its outer forms of thought, outer forms of institutions and even its outer modes of life; the new forms that will come to be built will clearly be seen as creative forms of synthesis of the East and the West; but even in these forms of synthesis the essential and perennial spirit of India will have found to have been recovered and made manifest, — even more puissantly than before and even more gloriously than before.
In any case, the creative force that is at work, it seems, has been laboring secretly towards that end. The ideals of rationality and the rationalistic trends of thought, both in philosophy and science which have come from the West have been received by the spirit of India with a kind of welcome which suggests India's intention for assimilation. The western ideals of Liberty, Equality and Fraternity have also received the assimilative welcome, and our socio-economic and political institutions are being sought to be developed under the impress of these socio political ideals. At the same time, the perennial spirit of India, which was greatly eclipsed, has become reawakened, and it has even become greatly ripened through a rapid summary of the fruits of the spiritual knowledge that was gained through a long stretch of ages, that perennial spirit of India has already begun to assert itself in a new and dynamic form. The new spirituality of India has not only begun to make impact more and more puissantly, but it appears to carry with it a new alchemy by means of which the contemporary problems of conflicts of religions and of civilizations can ultimately be resolved and thus can secure for humanity a brighter and happier future.
Influences from the West are pouring in our country with great force, and doors of India are widely swinging open for these influences to sweep nooks and corners of towns and villages. Influences from other parts of the world are also infiltrating through the borders of India.
Among these influences, the most powerful and almost irresistible influence is that of individualistic competition, which is the hallmark of the modern forms of capitalism. The ideals and methods of communalism are rushing into the country, and although they collide with the gospel of capitalism, they collaborate with capitalism in accentuating the power and force of materialism. It is very clear that external influences cannot be arrested; at the same time, it cannot be argued that we are not obliged to become inundated by these influences and the only course open to us is to become drenched by them and suffer consequential subjection or slavery.
Every influence is an invasion, but the appreciation of invasion depends upon self-preparedness; and self-preparedness, even if it exists, has attached to it various degrees of wisdom that can determine the way in which the invasion can be sought to be rejected or the way it is sought to be received for purposes of assimilation and for purposes of refashioning ourselves. Unfortunately, at this very moment when we should have taken up the task of self preparation we find ourselves sleeping; the more unfortunate situation is that we had the good fortune of a powerful wave of awakening that was capable of combating our political slavery and of gaining political independence; we have allowed ourselves to fall in a slumber. In other words, we had just been able to gain strength, and in that very hour we lost the opportunity and allowed ourselves to be subjected to soporific drugs. The woe that befalls the strong who misses the opportunity is greater than the woe that befalls the weak and the oppressed. That greater woe has fallen upon us. Normally, the consequences can be irreparable, unless we realize what has happened and wake up in full wakefulness and set ourselves to the task with vigour and rigours and resolve to labour indefatigably. And realizing that the misfortune that has come upon us is full of peril, we shall not lose time in debating whether we can look forward to the future with any legitimate hope. We shall simply need to work with voluntary optimism; we shall simply set ourselves to the task, — for then only we have the possibility of fulfilling it.
Fortunately, India of the ages is not dead, and reawakened India has already found the secret of its rebirth; even though asleep for the time being, we can recapture that secret and begin to implement it. Let us rapidly acknowledge that materialism that is invading India today has three very powerful and helpful messages, and let us embrace these messages in their fullness. The first message of this materialism is that science and technology are indispensable, and that India which had in its past a great tradition of relentless scientific inquiry and highly developed technology, and should be able to embrace once again wisely and heartily the advancing quest of science and triumphs of technology; and let us accept to be drenched by the spirit and profession of inquiry that the tide of materialism is pouring into our country. The second message of materialism is that Matter is not an illusion, that the material world is not illusory and that the primary law of evolution is material and that nothing in the world, not even the highest and golden dreams can be sustained if they do not get embodied in practicable and well grounded materiality of Matter. Let us embrace this message, too, and let us liberate ourselves from the illusions that matter is illusion, and let us study Matter as never before and labour indefatigably to test all our golden dreams on the anvil of Matter. The third message of materialism is contained in the promise it gives to liberate humankind from the life of drudgery and life of squalor. Let us accept this message; let us not cherish poverty and justify poverty; let us aim at prosperity, abundance and plenitude. Let us aim at rejoicing at the growth and the happiness that plenitude can bestow upon nations and the world.
And yet all is not well with materialism, let us have clear-sighted and radical criticality in dealing with materialism as philosophy and as gospel of life. Materialism claims to be rationalistic, but let us be clear, it is not and it deserves to be banished from the realm of philosophy. Its basic statement is that Matter is real; because it is sensible; this statement that appears to be obvious is fallaciously turned into the statement that Matter alone is real and that the sensible alone is the whole mark of reality. Materialism has no argument to show how the premise of the argument justifies the conclusion. If pressed for an answer, it turns the conclusion into the premise and the premise into the conclusion and it betrays its circularity, viciousness of its circularity and the logical fallacy of petitio prinicipii. Let us admit that matter is real, but let us liberate ourselves to enter into the wider and widest field of knowledge in the light of which we shall be able to see clearly that matter alone is not real. Let us admit that matter is sensible, but why should we bind ourselves to the dogma that only the sensible is real. It is not the fact that even in the material plane, there are realities which are not sensible.
Materialism has come forward today with the glittering label of science and technology. But is this label fundamentally and perennially valid? Science professes to enquire and inquire without any refusal to enquire. But is it not a fact that materialism refuses to inquire into the claims and proposals to enquire into life and mind and supermind? And does not materialism refuse to enquire into these domains a proiri? And does not materialism try to erect barriers to inquiry when the proofs of the supraphysical are presented by insisting that supraphysical must be demonstrated as physical and that the laws of the supraphysical must follow the laws of the physical. Let us profess enquiry and practise inquiry, — without prepositions, without any dogma, — religious or materialistic. Let us reject materialism that rejects enquiry into the realms of supraphysical realities. For it is quite possible, hypothetically, and scientifically, that the supraphysical may be as real as the material or that it may be more real than the material.
Let us be prepared to enquire into the long and uninterrupted lines of explorations that India and the world has witnessed over the ages and affirmed the reality of Spirit and placed before humanity the great ideals of God, Light, Freedom and Immortality. Examine them scientifically, freely, without bias and without dogmatism. And brave if we are, and bravery consists of rejecting these very ideals, reject them, but only after proving that these ideals are unreal and unrealizable dreams, even when the proofs of their reality and the methods of proofs which have been built in our own culture have been tested and found untenable. Let us deny these ideals, but not dogmatically, — not to deny them for the sake of denial, — but only when the enquiry has been made and only when the enquiry has ended in its natural fullness. But let us add that there is an inner strength in India, the strength which comes from luminosity of knowledge and in that strength India speaks to us and assures us that its affirmation of the spirit are fully demonstrable and that its latest affirmation of the spirit is capable of fulfilling all the scientific demands of validity and capable of fulfilling the fullest plenitude of the prosperity of material life, and that too, divinely transform material life.
The new India, the resurgent India, will have to develop a vast programme of the quest, and it will need to engage itself in this quest vigorously and rigorously. It is this vigorous and rigorous India that will define the resurgence of India. India of today is capable of this resurgence. Will India still ignore this task and reject it?