RSS's prescription for the intellect: gurukul over school, Kautilya over Keynes
Intellectual freedom and awakening – such a simple-sounding concept, isn't it? But as any philosopher will tell you, it is so difficult to achieve. But now help has arrived, in the form of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS).
The RSS has a simple prescription for achieving this simple concept – snap out of your colonial hangover! Go to a gurukul instead of a school, study Kautilya instead of Keynes, and chant shlokas instead of blabbing about in English.
At a time when the country is witnessing a surge of propagation of unscientific and obscurantist ideas by the saffron brigade, the RSS's prescription, carried in the Independence Day issue of its mouthpiece, Organiser, only highlights its agenda of turning India into a Hindu Rashtra.
It accuses the British of distorting history and the 'Leftists' of carrying forward the colonial agenda.
Ironically, in doing this, the RSS ends up walking the same path – of distorting history and pushing forth its own agenda, in the garb of dismantling the colonial mindset.
This is not to say that indigenous scriptures, language, art and sciences should not be promoted. Far from it. But what the RSS wants you to do is forget the progress the world has made over the last two millennia, and subscribe ONLY to the ancient Indian school of thought.
Swaraj in ideas
The Independence Day special edition of the Organiser delves into India's quest for intellectual freedom through reawakening of “Indic thoughts”, and calls for obliterating the colonial mindset that continues to plague the country even 70 years after independence.
It also wants all Indians to know about the universality of Bhagavad Gita, “honoured as the most important book by India's independence movement”.
“Thanks to colonisation of minds, self-abandonment, selfdenial, self-reproachfulness and all this resulting in lack of self-confidence has become the typical characteristic of our eminent elites in almost all fields,” says the editorial, calling on Indians to strive for 'Swaraj in Ideas' in the coming years.
“Colonised psyche is not limited to education and language but our entire political discourse, strategic thinking, development discourse, laws, issues related to religious practices and even our understanding of social institution like family or temple trusts is controlled and managed by the colonial outlook,” it says.
“While challenging the foreign ideas incongruent with our national ethos and reinvigorating civilisational wisdom with present context is the process of decolonising our minds. It is perhaps the most painful process still utmost necessary to realise the dream of a 'New Resurgent Bharat' in the coming years.”
Sanskrit in academics
In his article 'Dismantle Colonial Relics', J Nandakumar of the Prajyan Pravah – an RSS affiliate – bats for Sanskrit getting a deserving place in the academia. Nandakumar blames the 'Leftists' for “carrying forward the colonial agenda”.
“Anything Hindu is being ridiculed as communal, obscurantist, retrograde and what not. This propaganda in the academic circle is being consistently done by the Leftist intellectuals. In a way, they are taking forward the colonisation agenda of the West,” says Nandakumar.
“The devastation has been mammoth so a conscious and consistent effort is needed to Indianise our academic environment, and it can happen only through discussions and debates.”
He also argues that “without our own languages, how can a nation progress”?
“Sanskrit and other Indian languages should get a deserving space in the academic parlance. The re-emergence of Sanskrit and the wide acceptance of Yoga, etc, suggest that the young minds are now more inclined to Bharatiyata than their immediate predecessors,” says Nandakumar.
Follow Ramdev to a gurukul
Questioning the relevance of burdening students with English, 'an alien language', German-origin scholar Maria Wirth says children should emulate yoga guru-turned-business tycoon Ramdev and attend a gurukul.
“…In fact, they would be much better off if they went to a gurukul like Baba Ramdev did, obtain knowledge that truly matters, develop body, mind and spirit and discover the purpose of their lives. Baba Ramdev made me realise how odd it is to continue with English in India. He himself had escaped English education and the slave mentality that often comes with it,” Wirth says in her article 'Shun English Vinglish'.
“There are few people who are as knowledgeable, energetic and successful in transforming their vision into reality as he is. He is connected to his roots via Sanskrit and can see the damage that the British have inflicted on India.”
Wirth says English-medium education is advantageous only to those planning to study abroad, and claims it is a 'blunder', as children will be neither good in English nor in their mother tongues.
“They are unlikely to break through the glass ceiling that separates them from the haves. Can India, 70 years after independence, finally make a gradual transition to teaching all, including higher education in the respective mother tongue and teach Sanskrit and English as obligatory languages and others optional?
“As much as the English speaking left liberals may deny it, Sanskrit, Ramayana, Mahabharata and Vedic philosophy unite India even today. It would be foolish to further dilute this glue by promoting an 'English India', while the West discovers the value of Sanskrit and Indian philosophy,” Wirth says.
The universality of Gita
Former NCERT director JS Rajput insists Indians should not just know the country's history, but also get acquainted with the Vedas, Shrutis, Smritis, Vedanta and scriptures like the Ramayana and the Mahabharata.
“Gita stands declared as a book that is a mere 'religious book of Hindus'. Can there be a better example than Gita to be placed before the young to understand India, Indian mind and its spiritual pursuits? The young of India stand systematically deprived of this acquaintance with their heritage. Gita is not a sectarian treatise. Robert Openheimer [sic] reveres it and recalls it when the first Atomic Explosion is 'successfully' tested,” writes Rajput.
Replacing Keynes with Kautilya
Prof. Bhagwati Prakash, vice-chancellor of Pacific University, Udaipur, has a prescription to cure the ills the economy suffers.
“There is a need to change the economic discourse from Western to oriental to emancipate common the masses from miseries, in India and worldwide,” writes Bhagwati in his article titled 'Replacing Keynes with Kautilya'.
He cites various principles and theories in the Vedas and the Smritis to cure inequality that plagues India, where the richest 1% of people hold 58% of the wealth.
“Yagyavalkya Smriti and Shubra Niti [sic] say the wages to be paid should be ample enough to cater to the essential needs of a decent living. Moreover, to ensure a decent living for all inhabitants, the Rigved propounds decentralised industry, commerce, trade and agriculture, with every family as the centre of the economic unit,” he says.
“Economic disparities arising out of concentration the capital intensive and centralised economic activities were not there, as the Rigved stressed over decentralised enterprise. Shukra Niti, Vidur Niti, Yajyavalkya Smriti and Mahabharat say that the tax should be levied, the way honey bee collects nectar, without hurting the flower i.e. in collecting tax we should not scuttle the total economic activities in the economy,” he says, stressing on the need for promoting 'Made by Bharat' products, brands and services.
The RSS's vision should set alarm bells ringing among the public, because now that the Sangh Parivar is in power at the Centre and in a majority of states across the country, the agenda discussed here could become official policy in a jiffy.
And then, given its emphasis on forgetting the modern in favour of the ancient, the day may not be far when the Indian intellectual, famed worldwide for his or her knowledge today, could become a laughing stock for not keeping pace with the world.