14. THE RENAISSANCE OF INDIA
There is no doubt that under Prime Minister Vajpayee, India had entered her Golden Period, her second Renaissance. But will the BJP remain faithful to its original aspirations, or will it become "Congressized" as Nostradamus has predicted? Do Indians even know about their own civilization and how it influenced the whole world at one time? Unfortunately schools and universities' curriculums teach a very bland and westernized outlook on India and one man, Murali Manohar Joshi, is fighting a lonely battle so that Indian children can learn to be proud of their own countries. There has to be a Renaissance in all aspects of Indian Life, including in science, where once India was a leader, but today is just happy copying the West. Finally, will the mother of Melting Pots become the India of the Third Millennium?
"NOSTRADAMUS AND THE BJP"
Michel de Nostre-Dame, better known as Nostradamus (1503-1566), was a famous French astrologer whose predictions - which included the assassination of John Fitzgerald Kennedy, or the premature death of the previous Pope - have proved infallibly accurate.
Last month, unpublished manuscripts of Nostrodamus have been discovered (and authentified) in an old trunk in the French city of Lyon. Curiously, there are two full pages, which deal at length with India, particularly with the Bharatiya Janata Party and the just concluded elections. We are giving here the first words in Latin, the language which he used, along with a rough translation in English .
"Politicus Bharatus Janatus Indicus veni grandus est vingtus unus centurus - Congressus oublium est …"
The Bharatiya Janata Party will come to dominate India in the 21st century, as the Congress, will slowly sink into oblivion.
"Malheureusus, duo annum millenium trahisonus idealum est Congressus ressemblum, fautum adoptus est. Electionirium Blanca Madamus attaquum"...
Unfortunately, to achieve power, the BJP may gradually forsake most of its idealism. In the 1999 elections for instance, (Nostradamus made here a prediction error : he said duum millenium = 2000), instead of concentrating on real issues - water, sanitation, education - it will waste all its energies on attacking the White Lady (Sonia Gandhi, we suppose).
"Surtoutnum idealus oublium Indianum magna Carta devenus est"…
But more than these basic issues, which any sincere politician should have at heart, it will not address the real burning changes which India needs to adopt so as to become again a Great Power.
And Nostradamus goes on to enumerate these changes :
"Congressus independantum Blancum copium est; necessarus changum indianus cumum facus est"…
As the Congress had heavily borrowed from the White Man (British ?) at Independence, it will become necessary to "Indianize" the nation so that it may manifest again its true unique soul.
"Panchayatum villagum empruntus. Sanskritus introdum est. Historicum ecritum manus, daemonus est. Yogum, respirationnus introdum est…"
Give back the power to the villages in the form of Panchayat. Reintroduce Sanskrit as the national language. Rewrite Indian History, which had mostly been devised by White Masters. Revive ancient traditional systems such as pranayama, yoga, and incorporate them in the education system and everyday life. Change the Constitution so that democracy may not be perverted as it will be. Privatise the over-staffed Iron Bird (Indian Airlines ?), which has the most expensive fares in the world…
"Malheureusus, secularus montrarus Congressus devenium est, corptionus introdus cancerus est..."
Unhappily again, goes on to say Nostradamus, the BJP in its eagerness to prove itself secular (secularus is originally a Latin word), will tend to become like the Congress : corruption, bureaucracy, the VIP plague, the madness of subsidies and the hunger for power, may eat its inner core as a cancer…
"Americanus octopussus contentus summum est; jaunus manus menacus ignorum est, Gaullus manum oublius est. Aurobindus Ghosus Propehetus ignorum est"…
It will try to please the American octopus (?) at the cost of India’s integrity, will ignore the great danger of the Yellow Hand (China ?), it will forget that a reuniting with Pakistan is of utmost importance for the stability of the subcontinent, will shun the friendship of the Gauls (France ?) and will also disregard the words of its Great Prophet, Aurobindo Ghose.
And this is Nostradamus’ scoop - if we may say :
"Politicus Bharatus Janatus interminum dividus duum et novus politicus formus"…
After some time, the Bharatiya Janata Party may split into two. Sincere idealists will form a parallel party which will have as its political platform many of the ideals which the BJP had forsaken.
"Indianus pretus reformus est, Grandus nationus manum"…
India by that time will be ready for the Big Change and the new party will sweep away the polls and implement these reforms.
"Sanskritus savantuus nationalum languus, decentralisum governmentus, aryanus theorum mortuum est, dharmum hinduus devenum. Christianum, Islamus influencum"…
Scholars will sit down to modernise and simplify Sanskrit; government will be decentralised; India will strive to form of a federation of SAARC countries; the theory of the Aryan invasion will be proved false and it will be shown that Indian civilisation is at least ten thousand years old and has influenced all great ancient civilisations and religions such as Christianity and even Islam.
And finally :
"Aurobindus Ghosus realisum est, Indianum Agus ancientus mortum non est"..
And the prophecy of Sri Aurobindo will be fulfilled : "India of the ages is not dead nor has She spoken Her last creative word. And that which She must seek now to awake, is not an anglicised oriental people, docile pupil of the West and doomed to repeat the cycle of the Occident's success and failure, but still the ancient immemorial Shakti recovering Her deepest self, lifting Her head higher towards the supreme source of light and strength and turning to discover the complete meaning and vaster form of Her Dharma".
P.S. Nostradamus had written a Post Script:
"Post Scriptum : Politicus Bharatus Janatus minus votus, realisus stupidum est et changum exorcisus"…
As the BJP, in spite of its alliance getting overall majority (in 1999), will actually win less seats than in the previous election (because of it folly of forsaking its idealism and only attacking the White Lady), it may come to its senses and take-up again its original ideals, thus avoiding the Split. In this way, this semi-defeat may help to exorcise the demons of mediocrity.
" SEVA AND GOVERNMENT "
In ancient India, the concept of "Seva", of service to others, was very predominant. It was then felt that the very action of forgetting oneself and giving one’s work towards the welfare of one’s brothers and sisters, was one of the most powerful tools to the realisation of the inner Self. Today, the tradition of Seva is being revived by many contemporary spiritual movements which are creating a new avatar for Hinduism. More than that, for the first time since independence, India has a Government which can boast quite a few Ministers, who are bringing back the practice of service to their country. That is to say, that they are not in power to fill their pockets, but put the betterment of "Mother India", before their own petty self-interests, or even those of their parties.
One such politician is Dr Manohar Murali Joshi - and amongst all the NDA Ministers, he is the one who has been most targeted by the Press. Yet, Dr Joshi has a mission, an ideal - not for himself but for his own country. The first thing that Dr Joshi feels is that "Indians lack self- confidence", this very modern and western bend of mind which says: "we can do it" and drives people to go beyond themselves to reach their goals. And it is true : Indians are often self-depreciating and are always comparing their countries to western nations and their achievements. "Yet, says Dr Joshi, we should tell our children that modern computers would not work unless India had not invented the concept of the zero, or that high grade steel in ancient India was so good that Alexander the Great wanted it to fashion his own sword, or that rhinoplastic surgery was performed in Vedic times, long before it was known in Europe".
Manohar Murali Joshi also believes that Indians lack "esprit de corps", the team spirit which makes a nation great. "Look at our hockey or crickets players, says Dr Joshi, they are great individually, but cannot perform well collectively on a steady basis". Dr Joshi could also have added that Indians are probably amongst the most undisciplined people in the world: they always break queues, drive without thinking one second about the other, clean meticulously their own front porch, but throw their garbage in the street, and have hoarded so much black money that if it would surface, it would make India one of the richest nations in the world. And here again, the key is to educate : "It has been stated that Hinduism, being too individualistic a religion, is responsible for this lack of collective spirit, argues Dr Joshi, but nothing is further from truth". And Murali Joshi to quote from Sri Aurobindo, India’s great avatar of the New Age: "Indian civilisation lived with a noble, ample and vigorous order and freedom; it developed a great literature, sciences, arts, crafts, industries; it rose to the highest possible ideals of spiritual knowledge "...
"It is the British, asserts Dr Joshi, who attacked and ridiculed Hinduism, which they rightly perceived as the main obstacle to their complete hold over India". And he could have added that they also created "Macaulay’s children", Indians in body, but British in mind, whose descendants can still be found amongst Indian Intelligentsia ! "Hinduism is very community-oriented religion, contends Dr Joshi, as apart from the concept of seva, look how collective is our temple worship, with its bhajans, or how the old Panchayat system was democratic from the village all the way to the top (and not like today, where everything is decided in Delhi, with the villages having absolutely no say in anything).
What about the environment, which is so degraded today : tigers are being killed at the rate of one day, says a recent report; every year an area the size of France is deforested in India; and the holy Ganges is so polluted that it is not even fit for bathing. Are not those who defecate in the Ganges, cut their own forests and kill tigers, mostly Hindus ? "But on the contrary, replies Dr Joshi, the Scriptures tell us never to urinate in the Ganges, they enjoin us to plant trees at the time of festivities and not to kill animals. It is again the impact of ten centuries of colonisation which has made us forget this very Hindu respect of Nature".
Finally, unless you educate Indian children about the greatness of their own civilisation, which taught the concept of seva, of collective discipline and respect for Nature’s bounties, there is no way that India is going to produce the leaps and bounds which she needs to become a superpower. You also have to rewrite Indian history, which basically has been crafted by British historians to further their claim of superiority on the "natives", using false evidence, such as the theory of the Aryan Invasion, which all recent archaeological and linguistic discoveries are proving as false. The history of the independence of India, which has been concocted by Congress historians to show the Congress in the best light, should be reviewed too and Indian children should be told about the untold horrors of ten centuries of Muslim invasions so that they can face their own history.
And this is the task that Dr Joshi has set for himself in the true spirit of seva. Of course, "secular" historians and journalists, who often have such a Marxist-inspired vision of their country, will scream every time Mr Joshi makes a move towards "Indianisation" of what is basically a very bland copy of Western culture. But just think how seven years ago Dr Joshi had the guts to go and raise the national flag in Kashmir on 15th of August. Remember how he was reviled and ridiculed by the Indian Press ? Today he would be hero… "We can do it"…
WESTERN SCIENCE AND SPIRITUALITY
Will Science and Spirituality ever meet ? This was the topic of a seminar at the prestigious Indian Institute of Technology and Science in Bangalore. Indian scientists, one after the other, expounded, each more brilliantly than the other, on how reason, rigor, logic and the spirit of inquiry are the most important parameters of Scientific discovery. None of them, except for Abdul Kalam, made references to ancient Indian Science and all of them spoke of science from a Western point of view.
It is true that Western Science, because of its immense material resources, has come to dominate the world. One needs nowadays billions of dollars for research - and India doesn't have them, nor can it remunerate honorably its scientists and engineers – hence many of India's top scientists have exported themselves to the West. But it may also true that Western Science, however brilliant, is like a blind man, because it dissociated itself from the Spirit as early as the 17th century. The first reason being that the Christian Church was extremely powerful in Europe, not only in religious affairs, but it also kept interfering in Government matters. On top of that, it was very rigid and backwards in scientific topics, believing until very late that the Earth was flat or that the world started in 4003 BC. And whoever disagreed with these views was burnt at the stake !
The second reason is that many thinkers of the 17th century, particularly French philosophers such as Descartes or Pascal, had unilaterally decreed that the only valid scientific and philosophical tool of enquiry was Reason and Logic. A third factor came in the 20th century with the advent of Marxism and Communism, which felt that spirituality poisoned people’s minds and hence had to be eradicated.
Was this divorce from the Spirit and Science beneficial to the West? Well, Western scientists have been able to devise the most sophisticated weapons to kill man; but man is still not capable of killing his own ego; soon the United States will send human beings to Jupiter, or Mars; but man today is not capable of reading his own mind! The truth is that the West, in spite of a huge prosperity based on its tremendous technological and scientific achievements, is becoming a sick society, where children go on rampage killing other children with weapons; where every other man and woman in the United States is under psychiatric treatment for depression or for insomnia, where out of five marriages, three end in divorce. .
Nobody in the conference, except Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, who was a guest of honour, also bothered to ask this question: has Indian Science kept in touch with the Spirit? Well, if you look at Indian Science in the past, major discoveries, such as the position of the stars, the calculation of solar eclipses, or the concept of the zero, were made at the time when there was no instruments. How were they made? Because there always was in India a profound and everlasting quest for the spirit. It is in this manner that Buddha, was able to say, long before Einstein, that everything in our Universe is constituted of atoms, constantly changing, dying and being reborn at each moment. And this is the first theorem that any scientist should apply: "Know Thyself, Know Thy mind". Because If you know your own mind, then you can fathom all other minds; if you know one particle of the world, you know all the particles of the world. This is the truth that India has been practicing for millenniums.
Finally, nobody in the symposium cared to mention that Western Science owes a lot to India. Pythagoras, the father of modern Algebra, was inspired by Indian mathematics; Egyptians built their pyramids by means of Indian arithmetic; 18th century French astronomers were using Hindu calculations of the positions of the stars and the solar eclipses… But unfortunately, Indian Science has today a very Westernized outlook, because what is taught in the universities and colleges might be the best of the scientific knowledge, but there is a lack of that connection with the spiritual, and hardly any mention of India's ancient tradition of scientific enquiry. This is all because Western colonization : the British were able, through education, to impart upon the Indian intelligentsia, a certain Western bend of mind; on top of that, many of India’s top scientists have a strong connection with the West, as the ultimate achievement for them is to have a chair in a foreign university, where some of them brand India as a backward, fundamentalist country. Isn’t it so Mr Amartya Sen ?.
But the real issue is: how can Indian Science re-link itself again with the spiritual? There is no question that the Spirit is very much present in India: everywhere you go, you find ashrams, yogis, sadhus, ordinary people practicing meditation or pranayama; the natural tendency here is to understand that beyond visible things, there are levels and levels of consciousness above us. There is also no question that Indian scientists have proved that they can compete with the best: there have been Indian Nobel laureates, there have been Indian geniuses like Ramanujan, who, with no sophisticated means, were able to devise stupendous mathematical theorems. But Indian science has to look again within and it has also to delve in its scientific past. The secrets of the Vedas, for instance, both spiritual and scientific, have never been fully deciphered; Sanskrit too, mother of all languages, who could become THE scientific language of India, has never been analyzed in a modern manner. And then, not only will Indian science regain its predominance, but it could show the West how to reestablish the spiritual link and unite at last Matter and Spirit.
INDIA’S ROLE IN THE THIRD MILLENIUM
Has Western civilisation reached the end of the road ? Each culture has its own uniqueness: the Greeks were great thinkers, the Indians unsurpassed spiritualists, the Egyptians superb occultists. The West's genius is undoubtedly materialism, its immense capacity to achieve material perfection and its great vitality. But materialism has its shortcomings and ultimately, because it blanked out spirituality, except in a superficial and ritual manner, it may bring in the decline of Western civilisation. The first signs of its weaknesses are already there for everyone to see: the collapse of communism, the erosion of capitalism with recession and unemployment and the on and off raging wars in Yugoslavia and the ex-USSR republics. That the United States still survives as a superpower, should not deceive anybody: often the core is weakened, decades before it becomes outwardly apparent. History does not happen in a few years. Materialism is doomed.
India has just entered the third millennium. It matters not that it is a bit of an artificial date created by the West, who arbitrary decided that the year zero started with the birth of Jesus Christ. India is entering the Third Millennium. And what can she wish for Herself? That she succeeds in her liberalization ? Overcomes the hurdles of westernization, which has killed the soul of so many so-called Third World countries? Or gets rid of the dreadful legacies Nehruvianism, which tried to destroy all which was holy and ancient in this country and embraced instead western concepts totally alien to India such as Marxism ?…
And if she does this, then at last, in spite of her huge problems, will India become a Super Power in the Third millennium. And at last, the West will take notice of her, as it did of China 30 years ago. But what more than China can India bring to the World? Democracy for sure, because India is certainly a much more democratic country than China. She has proved it in fifty years of strife, of fighting separatisms all over the nation, of a people mature enough to elect their leaders and send them back to their classroom when they felt that they did not do well. India has remained a democracy in spite of the huge bureaucratic babudom spawned by Nehruvianism and the corruption and an arrogant class of westernized civil servants. What else does she possess more than China ? India is also a bastion of pro-western, open-minded, English-speaking highly cultured people. Soon the West will realize that alone in Asia (with Russia), India is fighting a lone battle against a rising sea of Islam fundamentalism, whether in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, or Chechnya. No western nation could wish a friendlier country than India, whose elite dreams of sending their her sons and daughters to study in Harvard and always looks up at itself through a western prism, although this has not stopped the US from ignoring India all these fifty years…
But there is something else, something infinitely more important which India can bring to the West. And it is NOT her democracy, which the West has anyway. Not even her standing-up to Muslim fundamentalism, or her westernize outlook… But her spirituality. India is a vast and ancient land, which alone has managed to keep within itself, by the stubborn of its people, who were battered by numerous invasions and by the silent tapasayas of her yogis hidden in her Himalayan caves or her dark and foreboding temples, the immaculate truth, the ultimate knowledge, the secret of our destiny. At at a time when the world has never been feeling so rotten, where mankind is erring on the road to evolution, at a time when man has forgotten the Why and How of his existence and all religions not only have failed, but have turned against their fellow men as Islam (and partially Christianity) show us today, India holds the key to man’s future.
Today, from the tip of cape Comorin to Kashmir, you cannot go to a place in this country without finding some spiritual place, some sadhu practising a particular tapasaya, some course in meditation for householders. You have just to step out of the big cities, its five star hotels, its mad traffic, its hurried businessmen with their ties and briefcases and enter India’s country side, and you step again in India’s immortal Dharma, you can still feel the line of continuity of 7000 years of sages. This is the Wonder that IS India.
And what do you think would happen if this ancient knowledge –pranayama, hata-yoga, meditation - still alive in India, was officially recognised by the Indian Government, by Indian themselves and UTILISED in every day life. What do you think would happen for instance if pranayama was systematically taught to sportsmen from the beginning of their training ? It would produce supermen; it would be difficult to beat Indian athletes, because through this marvellous technique they would have achieved perfect concentration. What would happen if Indian businessmen used too Pranayama ? It would double their capacity of work and endow them with enthusiasm for their task. Or if school children were taught at a very early age the combined techniques of pranayama, hata-yoga, meditation and Ayurveda ? It would maybe produce the next human species of our era, a race which is spiritualised in both mind and body. Unfortunately, for the moment, not only the Indian government does not recognise the Wonder that Was India, but it constantly denigrates these great techniques which are part of India’s heritage; the Christian and Muslim minorities reject them outright as part of the Hindu culture. And also modern Indians, whether businessmen, intellectuals, or bureaucrats, disdain this golden treasure of India.
But fortunately for the planetary evolution, India’s yogis, gurus, teachers are going all around the world to spread this wonderful knowledge. Some are genuine ones, some are semi-fakes, some are total fakes. But it does not matter, because almost all of them carry abroad the message of yoga and are propagating India’s eternal dharma around the world slowly but surely and thanks to them, there are more and more people in the West who are interested in Indian sciences, who practise pranayama, hata-yoga, or meditation. It maybe even that India will have to realise its Wonder when the West will point its finger at it, as happened in a lesser way in Japan with its martial art techniques, Zen Buddhism, rock gardens and Bonzai art, when America took hold of them.
For we have lost the truth. we have lost the great sense, the meaning of our evolution, the meaning of why so much suffering, why dying, why getting born, why this earth, who are we, what is the soul, what is reincarnation, where is the ultimate truth about the world, the universe... But India has kept this truth. India has preserved it through seven millennium of pitfalls, genocides and mistakes.
And this may be India's gift to this planet during the next century: to restore to the world its true sense. to recharge humanity with the real meaning and spirit of life. India could become the spiritual leader of the world.
For indeed, this is one of the most amazing paradoxes of today's world: here you have a country, India, which rates today as one of the poorest on this planet, which is disregarded by most Western nations (and many of its own people), as irrelevant, backward, too bureaucratic - and lately, as a hotbed of Hindu fundamentalism. Yet, India holds the key to the world's future. For India is the only nation which still preserves in the darkness of Her Himalayan caves, on the luminous ghats of Benares, in the hearts of her countless yogis, or even in the minds of her ordinary folk, the key to the planetary evolution, its future and its hope. This knowledge which once roamed the shores of the world from Egypt to China, is today lost everywhere. Europe has now entered a turbulent Age; it will take a long time before it unites in spite of the near uniformity of its races and religions. The West, in its thirst for materialism, does not know anymore where it stands and has lost this precious knowledge, which India still holds, alone in the world.
The 21st century then, will be the era of the East; this is where the sun is going to rise again, after centuries of decadence and submission to Western colonialism; this is where the focus of the world is going to shift. And as when India used to shine her culture all over the Orient: Japan, Thailand, China, Burma, or Cambodia and influence their civilisations and religions for centuries to come, once more She will radiate: "India of the ages is not dead nor has She spoken Her last creative word; She lives and has still something to do for Herself and the human peoples. And that which She must seek now to awake, is not an anglicised oriental people, docile pupil of the West and doomed to repeat the cycle of the Occident's success and failure, but still the ancient immemorial Shakti recovering Her deepest self, lifting Her head higher towards the supreme source of light and strength and turning to discover the complete meaning and vaster form of Her Dharma. (Sri Aurobindo)