BUNCH OF THOUGHTS
The driving urges of modern societies: "permissiveness" and "competition" Both lead to social disruption, conflicts, wars-Result: destruction of peace. Ex: Western colonization-"Increasing standard of living" leads man away from happiness-Source of real happiness not in outside objects, but within-The way: Cessation of desires-Highest state. Moksha-Chatuvidha Purushartha offers the final solution.
There are some nations in the world, which pride themselves on being "progressive modern societies." It would be instructive to examine how far the dominant note of their life which is the pursuit of material happiness is conducive to the real progress and happiness of man.
The first aspect of this pursuit of pleasure is the process of never ending competition. Each one competes with the other in amassing objects of enjoyment. The second aspect is what is nowadays described as the "permissive society".
Way to Social Suicide
We shall start with the second aspect. In simple words, "permissiveness" means, the individual is left free to indulge in whatever way he chooses to enjoy himself. There is no restraint of any kind on him. It is unbridled licentious behaviour with respect to sex, food, drinks, family life, social intercourse and all such aspects. This is also reflected in their talk, writing and thinking as well. Will this type of "permissiveness" be conducive to the real happiness of man?
The first and foremost effect of this trend would be the destruction of social fabric. The social contract theory on which the Western societies are based cannot stem this tide, because the theory is essentially one of mutual understanding between the individual and the society to protect each others interests. But when the individual begins to assert that it is after all a contract between individuals, that basis of social integrity itself falls to the ground. The entity called the "society" will then disrupt and dissipate. And it requires not much of intelligence to guess what kind of fate awaits the pursuit of happiness by the individual where the society has disintegrated.
It is only when the society is looked upon as a living corporate body of which the individual is a limb that the real unifying social consciousness will be ingrained in him. Then alone will he be able to restrain his erratic impulses and harmonise them with the interests of the society. And this is exactly what the Hindu philosophy propounds.
Giving Rise to Unhealthy Urge
The other element of the modern society is "competition". It is claimed that healthy competition is necessary for progress. But it is a matter of common experience that competition will not remain healthy for long. By its very nature it cannot remain healthy. Very soon, it degenerates. Competition, which implies bettering ones performance over the other, soon gives place to the urge to become better by pulling down the other. These days, such a trend is becoming more and more pronounced even in sports. After all, sports is played for pure joy and for increasing ones skill and efficiency. It should not matter much, who wins or loses. But we find that even there the atmosphere has no more remained cordial. The craze for winning by any means, fair or foul, and unwholesome rivalry are beginning to vitiate that field. If this could happen in the case of sports, then what to speak of other fields where material interests are directly involved! Now, what is all this competition intended for? It is, according to them, to "raise the standard of living".
Since, their concept of happiness centres entirely round the satisfaction of the desires of senses, the term raising the standards of living" has only come to mean more and more amassing of the objects of physical enjoyment, which becomes the major preoccupation of the individual to the exclusion of all other thoughts and aspirations. In order to procure the objects of physical pleasures, accumulation of wealth follows. To achieve more and more wealth, power becomes necessary. But the insatiable hunger for physical enjoyment does not allow one to stop within ones own national boundaries. On the strength of its state power, the stronger nation tries to subdue and exploit the other in order to swell its own coffers. This leads to conflicts and conflagrations. And once this process starts there is no end to it. Moral bonds are all snapped. Normal human emotions are dried up. The values and virtues, which ought to distinguish man from the rest of animal kingdom, vanish. And it is this process of degeneration of man that is clothed in attractive terms such as competition and raising the standard of human living.
Let Examples Speak
The instance of how the American nation came into being is a lurid reminder of this inhuman state of affairs. Various peoples from Europe sailed forth to that continent in search of material wealth and happiness and began to establish their settlements. In the process, they annihilated the original inhabitants of that land. The barbaric atrocities and the savage genocide indulged in by the so called civilized Whites makes hair-raising reading. The original Red Indians who have managed to exist till today in certain areas have remained there as but show-piece specimens. Nor is America a solitary instance. Wherever the Western White had gone, whether Australia, America or Southern America, they have left behind the same trail of death and destruction. Even recently, we have heard of similar horrors perpetrated against the natives by the Whites in South America.
The same is the case with the Communist dictatorships Russia and China. There also, the one end and aim of all their plans is to "raise the standard of living", though clothed in a different terminology. As a result, the same process is at work: amassing of objects of physical enjoyment; to achieve this, resorting to accumulation of more and more wealth; and to achieve that, greater aggrandizement of power followed by invasion and exploitation of weaker nations, conflicts, genocide and resultant de-humanising effects.
If one were to dispassionately observe the characteristics of the present-day so-called civilized modern societies, they appear to tally, almost word to word, with the attributes of the asuras as detailed in Bhagawad-Gita !
And thus we find that the two prominent features of the modem Western society, i.e. "permissiveness" and "competition", have led human society away from peace and happiness.
We shall now go a bit deeper into the problem in order to find out the basic cause for this failure.
The "Modern" Predicament
The basic impulse of all living beings, as all know is to seek happiness. So also, man. He desires to be happy not for a day or two but continuously all through his life. And it is through the senses that man, like other living beings, tries to seek that happiness. To start with, there are the bodily and mental needs and appetites. The fulfillment of these hungers gives him a sense of happiness. There is no denying the fact that such fulfillment gives man happiness for some time. But it is also equally true that it is fleeting, temporary. Experience teaches him that the more he tries to enjoy the pleasures of the flesh the more acute becomes the hunger. He never feels satisfied. Greater the attempts for satisfaction of desires, greater will be the dissatisfaction. As such, greater the amassing of objects of enjoyment greater is the disappointment; greater the indulgence, greater is the disenchantment. Our Shastras have declared, "Na jatu Kamah Kamanamupabhogena shamyati" the desires are not quenched by enjoyment of sense. Even after the body becomes old and dilapidated, desires continue to be young : Trishna na jeerna vayameva jeernah. This is exactly the predicament in which the modern man is finding himself.
Source is Within
The Hindu philosophy steps in here to offer a cogent solution. It says, the real source of happiness lies within oneself and not without. Even a little introspection will bear this out. Take the instance of a man who is absorbed in enjoyment of music. Just then if he receives a wire conveying the death of a near and dear one, he immediately loses all interest in the music and goes away. If really music had the inherent power to give happiness, then it should have made the man overcome his sorrow and made him continue to listen to music. But the very opposite was the effect. Music, which was a source of enjoyment till a moment before had now become a point of repulsion to him.
It only means that the external objects which, appear to give us happiness serve only as pretexts or instruments whereas its real source is within. But still we go after the external objects only because of delusion. It is like a dog, which begins to bite and chew dry bone. After a time, the bone pieces cut into its mouth. Blood oozes out. The dog tastes that blood and feels elated. That is how the external objects seem to give us happiness! It is obvious that such enjoyments will, after a while, stop giving us pleasure and land us in sorrow and disappointment.
Secret of Bliss
How then should one get at the source of happiness within oneself? A little reflection will show that even the object of enjoyment will entirely go out of the mind during that particular moment when one is supposed to be enjoying that object. It only means that we experience the happiness, which is inherent in us and not anything flowing out of that external object. Then the obvious conclusion would be that in order to be eternally and continuously happy, we should be able to reach that state where we can be happy without the aid of any external object.
Then what is the process for reaching that state?
It is a matter of common experience that a restless mind can never be happy. It is only when the mind is calm and peaceful that man enjoys happiness. To achieve such a quiet and tranquil state of mind it is necessary to see that the various types of desires do not raise their heads in the mind. When the water is disturbed with ripples one cannot see what is at the bottom. Nor can we see our reflection in it. When the ripples calm down and the water becomes still everything becomes clear. So also, when the mind becomes quiet one becomes aware of the reality in the depths of human mind. So long as the mind is restless that awareness is lost. And so happiness, which stems from the awareness of that reality is also lost. It only means that if the mental waves could be quietened, then one could enjoy happiness even without the aid of any external object of enjoyment.
The Supreme Goal
When man realises this truth that real happiness does not reside in external objects but in himself then will he turn his gaze inside. The pulls of those objects will then gradually wear off. And when he completely frees himself from the attachment of the external objects he will attain the supreme state of liberation. Such a man will not run about seeking enjoyment in the outside world. He has no cravings of the physical desires which would render him restless, he is supremely contented, tranquil and at peace with himself, having found the fountainhead of true and everlasting joy and bliss within himself. And that happiness would be constant and unbounded in comparison with which the pleasure derived from the external objects would pale into insignificance. That is the highest state to which man has to aspire and ultimately reach the state of Mukti or Moksha
Why the Failure
When examined on the touchstone of this basic philosophy of supreme happiness, can the so-called progressive societies with their cut-throat competition, jealousy, hatred and violence be ever expected to give rise to human happiness? Is such a state of affairs conducive to making the human mind quiet and tranquil? In fact, the opposite is the case. Everything is calculated to incite more and more desires. The flames of desire are fed more and more. And so long as desires are unfulfilled mind is restless. It always hankers after the objects of senses. How then can such a mind become quiet and peaceful?
The Yoga Way
In Bharat, all our training is directed towards the single object of achieving mental peace. Patanjali in his Yoga-Sutras has advised that when one sees others are endowed with prosperity and happiness and virtuous and meritorious one is advised not to be jealous but to be happy and congratulate them. One is advised to achieve progress by ones efforts but one should not indulge in competition or jealousy. One has to be circumspect and discriminative in deciding how much and in what fashion one has to amass and enjoy the external objects of enjoyment. Otherwise, it results in oneself trying to become happy even at the cost of others happiness. And this will disturb ones mental balance thus destroying ones own happiness. So also, Patanjali advises that when we see another man sinful and in distress, our natural reaction should be one of compassion. We should strive to the best of our capacity to alleviate the others suffering. Such an attitude on our part will bring peace and tranquility to our mind resulting in inner happiness to ourselves.
"Permissiveness" to Suffer !
The next feature of the modern civilization, "permissiveness" is the very opposite of peace and tranquility. Our ancient scriptures describe a time when there were no rules or codes of social conduct. But soon it bred enmity and conflict between man and man and led to anarchy and immorality all-round. That resulted in uncertainty, anxiety, fear, jealousy, hatred and all such propensities, which destroy the mental tranquility. Hence rules of behaviour were framed which would help avoiding such mental disturbances and restore mental balance and peace.
After all, the modern societies have come to the fore during last one or two centuries. It is not safe to come to conclusion regarding the essential aspects of human life on the strength of such limited experience, carried away by the dazzling appearance of their physical prosperity and scientific and technological achievements. It is only on the touchstone of long and enduring experience that one has to judge and decide the right kind of life-attitudes which lead to the real happiness of man.
Harmony of Both
The experience of millennia of our national life in this country says that the craze for unlimited sensual enjoyment and competitive rage to satiate the same would never lead to happiness. It has taught us to cultivate self-restraint a requisite as much necessary to the preservation of social fabric as to the development of the individuals. In order to instil the spirit of self-restraint the concept of Chaturvidha Purusharta was propounded. This four-fold goal of life Dharma, Artha, Kama, and Moksha helps one to lead a self-restrained, balanced and harmonious way of life. And that arrangement envisages duties and obligations for the individual on both the planes personal and social. Rules of behaviour Dharma conducive to achieving the supreme happiness of man will guide and control all the material aspects of life Artha (politics and economics) and Kama (fulfilment of physical desires)
Two Bounds of River of Life
The soul and spirit of all these rules of conduct would be the supreme urge to finally attain the real state of our being, i.e. Moksha or whatever name is given to this fourth Purushartha. It is thus that all our physical propensities and enjoyments are held between Dharma on the one hand and Moksha on the other. Just as the river flowing within the bounds on either side will be beneficial, but becomes destructive when it breaks its bounds, so also is the case with the stream of human life. It is only when it flows between the two bounds of Dharma and Moksha that it will be conducive to the happiness of both the individual and the society. Whatever is permissible within these two bounds could be enjoyed by one and all. It is only this arrangement that can strike a balance between enjoyment and peace of mind and ultimately lead one to the state of highest bliss.
The mission of Hindu consolidation that the RSS has taken up is inspired by this vision of unlocking the door of supreme happiness for entire mankind. And as days go by, we are confident, the so-called progressive modern societies are also bound to take refuge in this ancient yet living wisdom of this holy land. As the Samskrit saying goes,
Rkon~ xtZfUr 'kkL=kkf.k tEcqdk fofius
("The jackals of other theories will be howling only so long as the Lion of Vedanta does not give out the great and all-powerful roar !")