How is it that a country like India where the spiritual realization of Yoga was born and expressed in its three great religions – Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism- could discard its mastery of the human spirit over materialism: mind over material desires, the quest of simplicity over complexity; the triumph of spirit over matter?
How could this eternal spirit of India prostrate itself before the profane gods of consumerism and materialism, industrial production and market economy based upon western models of Neoliberal economics which are exploiting both man and nature at such a devastating rate in so populous a country as India ?
What of the spiritual adventure of India’s saints and mystics, their teachings and poetry and aphorisms which created the first religious literature of the world ? What of their quest for God in all diverse forms ?
How could the Soul of India adopt this alien philosophy of materialism with its pathological psychology, which represents the antithesis of everything which constitutes the heritage of India’s ancient culture and spirituality ? Rather, India should be –- must still be — the country supreme among the nation’s of the world in showing the way out of our present excessive materialism devouring Nature when the western model of continuous Growth based upon GDP threatens to destroy the world. India should be the path of Dharma, the seat of Rita, the expression of the Tao…
India’s poor are the very people who are secure in the abiding philosophy that the ideal way is to be content with less for the mind and body do not require the excess which desire and avarice create without bounds in man.
India’s philosophy expressed in each of its religions – and in the older religion of Nature-worship of its ancient autochthonous societies — is deeper by far than the shoddy western knowledge and science – in its inward contemplation of the consciousness which withdraws from the illusion of stimulation and sensation into mystic contemplation and concentration which is far more profound than intellection reason and material manifestation, to discover and interpret the essence of what life means.
Etymologists have discovered more words in Sanskrit expressing religious and philosophical thoughts than may be found in all European languages combined! And this was achieved without the need of developing systems of philosophy fashionable in the west, for the Hindu metaphysicians were familiar with realms of spiritual consciousness and experience far beyond logic or reason with which the west has always been preoccupied.
How then I ask, could a supra-rational race like India become enmeshed in the petty tinsel and gaudy offerings of the industrial economy, and how could it so willingly sacrifice the fruits of its evolution of ancient spiritual and cultural values and heritage so meekly at the profane altar of industrialism and Neoliberal economics? How could it sacrifice its living forests and fields, and allow the massive displacement of its farming and forest societies for the exploitation of mineral wealth on such a scale that it defies the imagination ? The culture of India has uptil now been a steady deepening of metaphysical awareness, an increasing concentration on the bare essentials and necessities required for healthy living and high thinking, and avoided falling in the trap of material delusion and the lust of greed? How have we lost our way in the past sixty-five years ?
To my mind the soul of India still lives in the genius of her poor, and the highest expressions of this spirit is seen in the farmer tilling his fields and the village women planting rice seedlings and then harvesting the ripened grain; this spirit is found in the village house-wife tending the earthen fire-place or gathering dry faggots in the jungle.
These are the eternal expressions of the highest Yoga manifest in Indian spiritual thinking. And this India still lives with the simple requirements of simple food for a healthy body and what the Greek poet Lucretius called “ sweet unanxious quiet for the mind.” This way of life in its epicurean simplicity affords the high social, ecological and moral order from which flows the artistic and cultural genius of India.
And what has Modern India done to lose the path divined by its mystics and seers, why has it sunk to its present depravity and crass materialism? It has become enmeshed with the snare of desire and greed created through the charms of industrialism and its economics of competition that pits the strong against the weak and takes the bread from a child’s hand to put food in the gourmet’s mouth.
It has become heir to the weakness of the flesh which the founders of Indian civilization conquered and become a prisoner of the senses and forfeited the freedom of the spirit. This reflects itself in the debasement of our gaudy art and taste in music, and this expresses itself in our addiction to soap television, and affects in every way our daily lives.
We must realize what is happening to our beloved India today, the India we call mother, and try to raise ourselves above this cheapening of ourselves and try to return to our roots – which are still to be found everywhere we look outside the filthy towns and cities – in the fields and forests, the quiet villages and their simple people – for India has not changed despite its massive urbanization and industrialization and the numbers of its poor has trebled in the past sixty-five years.
Let us return to the temples of ancient India where our sacred trees are, where our forests and fields are, where our streams, rivers and ponds are – the India where water is drawn by a rope from a well and where rice is husked in a foot operated rice-husker and wheat is made into flour between stones; let us return to the resurgence of our culture and to the bosom of our natural world which we are destroying with such wanton haste in a futile attempt to imitate our western masters; let us return to our ancient shrines and festivals and pilgrimages still enshrined in the calendar of our spiritual year let us return to our ancient ways of worship, and above all let us return to ourselves.