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Social and political Values and Systems in India.

Oldest, Continuous and Uninterrupted living civilization of India

What is civilization – civilization is generally defined as a highly organized group of people with their own language and ways of living, an advanced state of human society containing highly developed forms of government, culture, industry, and common social norms. Civilization usually defines the parameters of the shared way of life in different spheres like having a shared and long-term sense of closeness in language, beliefs, and cultural artifacts such as art, literature, music, and religion etc. over a large population. Its culture enhances our quality of life and increases overall well-being for both individuals and communities.

In the past many civilizations developed in river valleys like Indus Valley in South Asia, Nile river Valley in northeastern Africa, and Huan-He-Valley of China. These civilizations had well-organized cities, powerful governments, complex religions (well-developed religious beliefs), specialized skills and jobs, social classes and methods of keeping records.

About civilization of India – Indian civilization is considered one of the oldest, continuous and uninterrupted living civilizations in the whole world.[i]  Considerations of self-discipline, hygiene and cleanliness on the basis of climatic conditions of the region have always been given importance. When the world was passing through the Dark Age, India was full of light. It has always been a cheerful land. The first few centuries are recognized as the golden period of Indian history. Inter-dependence in social life and self-reliance in personal life were the intrinsic features of Indian culture.

During this period, arts, commerce, crafts, philosophy and knowledge flourished magnificently.  Many travelers visiting India, from alien lands at different points of time, confirmed that India possessed huge wealth, knowledge, and quality of life.  Each person found a niche in the social system.  Its people reached a high level of intelligence having specialization in different areas.[ii] An average Indian, according to Dr. Albert Swheitzen,  Did not find life a vale of tears, from which to escape at all costs, rather he was willing to accept the world, as he finds it and, extract, what happiness he could, from it.[iii]

In the modern world, no society or nation can exist as a homogeneous cultural monolith.  India specially presents a unique picture of composite culture, which grew out of intermixing of people of different cultures, belonging to different identities.  As India passed through various phases in the past, each and every social group. As is known so far, civilization of India starts with a mysterious culture along the Indus River.

New evidence suggests the Indus Valley Civilization in India and Pakistan, famed for its well-planned cities and impressive crafts, predates Egypt and Mesopotamia. Such continuity and flexibility is difficult to be seen in any other part of the world.  When Christianity broke away from Judaism, it departed totally from the common cultural traditions.  Therefore, it is very difficult for the Western world to understand and appreciate Indian culture fully. However, the influence of Indus Valley civilization has come down to the present generation in an unbroken chain of succession, with some modifications and adaptations. 

Continuous attacks and migrations – Since time immemorial, invaders attacked from the North and led to migrations to South. Local rulers often competed for power. Many new social groups migrated from Europe, Middle East and other parts of Asia. And finally settled down in India. Geographic features tended to separate people into regional and local groups, each with its own way of life, customs and practices, different values, different languages, different scripts, different religious beliefs, different ways to worship, different dress style, different food habits.

Wonderful process of assimilation and fusion of different cultures – The history and culture of India are dynamic. Throughout its long history, local cultures have blended with those brought by invaders. Wonderful process of assimilation and fusion of different cultures has been a continuous process of the India civilization.

In other parts of the world, usually local authorities have tried to convert people of other communities, be it racial, immigrants, locals, tribal, or professionals into their own culture and faith, thus imposing on the newcomers their own value system. But India has shown its unique capability to absorb into its mainstream, all willing new coming social groups as whole into itself without annihilating their originality, internal order, customs or language. It has never tried to liquidate or absorb new groups artificially into its main stream. Rather it has given each one an opportunity to come under one umbrella, to preserve their own culture, style of living and traditions, as well as an atmosphere to flourish in their own way.

Absorptive nature of Indian civilization – Not only that, it has carefully nurtured and preserved the culture of each identity, coming into its fold, it has also absorbed the good points of other cultures also, which has enriched the composite culture of India. More than anywhere else in the world, it holds a multitude of thoughts, processes them and practices them. There has been co-existence of varied belief, pattern and thought due to inter-mixing and cultural mingling.

Adaptability of Indian civilization – Indian civilization has survived the vicissitudes of time, saved itself by erosion from within and assault from outside only because of the adaptability. It has taken different shades and meaning with changing times and places. Its character during Indus Valley Civilization was altogether different from what exists today. It is still in a transient phase. The multi-centricity of Indian society has given it a syncretic character, a pluralistic tradition and an absorptive nature of internalizing alien influences. That is why, it presents one of the oldest social institution and a continuous and uninterrupted living culture still existing in the whole world.[iv]


[i]  The other three being Egypt, Mesopotamia and Greece

[ii]           Basham, Ibid  p9.

[iii]           Dr. Albert Swhweitzen,  Indian Thought and its development.

[iv]           The other three being Egypt, Mesopotamia and Greece

May 28, 2020 Posted by | General | | Leave a comment

Animal instinct, mob-mentality and Humans’ march towards refinement

Introduction

Instinct – An instinct is something you don’t need to learn, it happens naturally, without you even thinking about it. Babies cry by instinct, and ducks follow their mother by instinct. Animals and humans learn a lot of things from other animals and humans.

Animal instinctAnimal instincts are present in all creatures including humans. Initially humans were not better than animals. Like animals, the automatic response to any contingency, all creatures try to protect themselves from harm. They usually do instinctively, whatever needs to be done without thinking or giving second thought to it.

Mob mentality – When a collection of people get together for any specific purpose, it is known as a group. The activities of people are more organized and its behaviour is more socialized in a group situation. But, collection of few people together becomes a mob when they show their protests in disorganized, disorderly and unruly manner; or when it intends to cause trouble to others; or shows their agitation irrationally; or turns violent.

The latest example of mob mentality is Shaheen Bagh protest. It was a sit-in peaceful protest, led by mostly by women. It began in response to the passage of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) in both houses of Parliament on 11 December 2019 and the ensuing police intervention against students at Jamia Millia Islamia who were opposing the Amendment. For about 70 days, blocked road affected more than 100,000 vehicles per day, adding hours to some journeys. General public wanted to know whether a few persons were right to protest in such a way causing so much difficulty, in movement, to lacs of people. And also that the protests can be held in common areas indefinitely.

Animal instinct

Every human’s desire, impulse, and feelings are linked to a basic instinct. Like all animals, humans were also born psychologically with some basic natural instincts. Instinct means inherent aptitude, behaviour, impulse or a fixed action pattern that is unlearned. Two most basic natural instincts are self-preservation, and desire for survival and fear. Next to it is the instinct to be able to cope with vital environmental contingencies.

  • Instinct of survival – Instinct of self-preservation or to survive is the most basic, natural and the earliest instinct. When humans are born as babies, they are helpless. They depend on others for their survival, especially the Mother. The need to protect their babies is also there in all creatures – be it animals or humans. The instinct of survival has given rise to the institution of Family.
  • Fear – All creatures suffers from fear. Fear is the main source of superstition. It is the main sources of cruelty, corruption and many other social evil. The biggest fear in human lives is “Fear of Death”. So first of all, it is necessary to eliminate fear of death from the mind. To conquer fear, wisdom is required.

Next comes the number of fear of unknown, fear of failure, loud noises, phonophobia and a fear of falling, basophobia.

People don’t understand or accept this simple fact that ‘Fear’ creates deterrence in whatever one wants to do it in life. Death is a reality and is inevitable.

Be Fearless” – ‘Be Fearless’ that is what Srimat Bhagwat Gita preaches. (Verse 20, Chapter 2, Bhagwat) Fear, insecurity and misunderstanding about human needs give birth to some evils/animal instincts like Ego (Ahankaar), Cruelity (Amanatva), Injustice (Anyay), Lust (Kam/Vaasana), Anger (Krodha)), Greed (Lobha), Superiority-complex/Over-pride, Jealousy, Over-Attachment (Moh) and Selfishness (Swartha).

At present pre-dominance of animal instincts is one of the greatest challenge facing Humanity. To get control over such undesirable instincts and make life happy and civilized, these qualities are required – understanding, sensitivity, perseverance, contentment, good thoughts and good deeds.

Mob mentality

When does a group of people called MobCriminal Code Section 18.2-38 definesMob” in part as “any collection of people assembled for the purpose and with the intention of assault or battery on any individual. “Mob mentality” refers to the tendency/intentions of people to do over reactive things,  to act disorderly or to cause trouble or violence, while in a group of others with the same tendency, which they would not do otherwise.

Mob-mentalityAnimal instincts in human minds incite them for causing troubles for others. Mob-mentality comes into play when a group of people try to gain something, they desire, and which is not possible for them to get decently and single-handedly. Then they form a group of some people to put pressures on other people or State Authorities.

There are also some people, who find it exciting to join a mob without any purpose, as in mobs, they remain invisible. They feel that they won’t be held responsible for their unruly actions, when they are part of a mob. The influence of mob, as a pressure group. increases with crowd size. More the number of people in a mob, more stronger becomes its voice.

Best way to control agitating mob – The emotions of agitating mob remains at the peak. During that period, they are in extreme depression, anxiety or irritability. To control their irrational behaviour at that moment is extremely important. Afterwards time becomes the healer, because memory of the public is too short. And their anger does not stay for long.

At present, the best way for the government to satisfy the mob is to form an enquiry Commission to look into their problems and suggest solutions. This way, at the peak hour of anger, mob feels that their voice has been reached up to the concerned authorities. With time, their anger/irritation calms down and authorities get enough time to resolve the issue rationally.

Human’s march towards refinement The thought  to conquer/overcome undesirable animal instincts came into human mind came long long ago and it started the process of refinement of animal instinct. However, human-beings can never be able to overcome their animal instincts totally. Now and then, it is reflected in the day today their behaviour even now.

What refinement means? – Life is never without a need, never without a problem and never without a hurtful moment. When mind is balanced and strong, even a difficult situation becomes a  challenge and an opportunity to move forward. And when mind is weak, everything seems to be a problem.

It is wisdom a person which protects, guides and helps to attain a meaningful life. Happiness does not depend on what one has. It depends on how he feels toward what he is having. One can be happy with little and miserable with much.

Shaping of instincts – Shaping of instincts, natural, animal or refined depends on following variables :-

Human-mind – Nature has gifted to all creatures a mind/brain (primal brain; hindbrain and medulla) with intelligence. Humans-beings are more fortunate as human mind is a set of cognitive faculties, which includes natural instincts, consciousness, imagination, perception, thinking. These faculties make humans more intelligent than animals.

The power of Human mind is rooted in intelligence. Intelligence capacitates humans to think and experience emotions. It works like a computer. It has certain capacities like reason, morality, consciousness and a sense of responsibility. These qualities of mind have transformed humans from animals to intelligent persons and helped them to come over their fear, leave behind undesirable animal instincts and move towards a more civilized way of life.

Mind works at three levels. At Preconscious levels animal instincts dominates. Sub-conscious mind is the creator of ideas and desires/dreams. A awareness/ego operates mostly in Conscious mind. It is Conscious mind that leads individuals towards positive or negative thinking/attitude.

The development of mental faculties depends on purity of ‘Manasa (thinking), Vacha (speech) and Karmana (deeds).

Thinking  – Thinking is an activity of an existential value for humans’ mind. Thinking processes and creates thoughts. Thoughts create energy and energy transform it into reality. Thought encompasses an “aim-oriented flow of ideas and associations and leads to human actions and interactions.

Mind-setHuman body is a vehicle which is driven by mind or conscience of an individual throughout his/her life. Mindset means mental and emotional framework or thinking of a person. Actions and reactions of an individual depend on his/her mind-set. Not only a person’s life but also one’s all-round personality and performance is deeply affected by it. Mindset may be positive or negative.

Nature has given every human being a mind with power of ‘Viveka’ (intellect), five sense organs and free-will to assess what is good and be happy or misuse these by negative thinking and be miserable.

  • Positive mindset – Positive mindset/thinking generates positive energy/vibes, which leads positive life with focus on the bright side of life and brings positive results. It generates confidence, improves mood and reduces chances of developing stress-related conditions.

It usually focusses on the present. It encourages people to become a better person today than yesterday, to use more sophisticated language, to accept success or failures gracefully, to mix up with good-natured persons and to spend life in a meaningful way. Positive thoughts reinforces understanding and wisdom. Positive thinking leads to happiness, health, wealth prosperity and wisdom.

Positive thinking and controlling both the mind and five sense organs (eyes to see, ears to hear, nose to smell, skin to feel and tongue to taste) are necessary to follow the path of truth, purity, righteousness, compassion peace and love.

  • Negative mindset – One should try to eliminate negative thoughts. People with negative thinking imagine the worst possible scenario in everything. They do not have the confidence to face the challenges of life. The extent of negative feelings can go from anger, frustration, irritability, to even anxiety and depression, passing through many other feelings, none of them pleasant.

The gateways to negative thinking are (hell/unhappiness – Ego, Lust, Greed (misunderstanding about the needs) and Anger. Negative thinking disturbs the balance of mind and soul, and invariably leads to unhappiness, self-destruction. Humans with negative mindset develop a feelings of denial. They try their best to escape from uncomfortable situations or hardships in life. They think of excuses for not doing duties.

PerceptionPerception means the way in which something is regarded, understood, or interpreted. Framing of human mindset in either way depends on the perception of an individual.

Perception is relative. Perception creates one’s reality, one can look at life and see scarcity or abundance. It all depends on ones mindset. It is beyond the capacity of a human to perceive he whole truth.

Each person perceives the world and approaches life problems differently. “Your perception is yours and my perception is mine”. Perception occurs in five stages: selection, stimulation, organization, interpretation-evaluation, memory and recall.

Truth – It is a fact that Truth or Reality always remains one and the same. There are millions of people, each one having his/her own independent understanding. Based on different each persons’ perception, Truth/reality can never become more than one.

Meditation – Looking inwards/self-introspection helps in making a person mentally, emotionally and spiritually strong.

Khalil Gibran says, “Your living is determined not so much by what life brings to you as by the attitude you bring to life; not so much by what happens to you as by the way your mind looks at what happens.”

Attitude and Aptitude– Attitude and Aptitude play an important role in making the personality of a person and deciding his role in life.

  • Attitude is the collection of thoughts and beliefs that shapes one’s thought habits. And thought habits affect how one think, what one feel, and what one does. Because they are related to mindset, it also helps to understand attitude and beliefs.
  • Aptitudes are natural talents, special abilities for doing, or learning to do, certain kinds of things easily and quickly. They have little to do with knowledge or culture, or education, or even interests. They have to do with heredity. There is a close relation between Aptitude and intelligence. In general, aptitude helps humans to make/design their career and occupational decisions.

Attitudes according to ancient Vedic Hindu Philosophy Ancient Vedic Hindu philosophy thinks that individuals differ from one another in natural endowments, intelligence, aptitudes, attitudes, skills, personal needs and other innate characteristics. Accordingly it has assigned different tasks to different individuals.

  • About attitudes – According to Hindu Philosophy, thinking of human beings depends on three natural instincts/Gunas/ qualities, Sattva (purity), Rajas (activity) and Tamas (darkness, destruction).
    • Sattva embraces in itself purity, knowledge and harmony. It leads to goodness, joy, satisfaction, nobility and contentment, and frees human mind of fear, violence, wrath and malice.
    • Rajas represents passion, manipulation, action, and energy. Rajas fills human heart with a feeling of attachment, desire – a longing for creating one’s own comfort-zone, and self-satisfaction.
    • Tamas temperament leads to impurity, laziness, ignorance and darkness. It is the consequence of ignorance and it prevents all beings from seeing the reality. Increasing sattva is possible by reducing rajas and tamas, both in the mind and in your body.

Togetherness – The need to protect, preserve, pursue common interests and progress for the common good brought people together. There is a need for humans beings to build their relationship with others with love, laughter, sacrifice, patience, grace and forgiveness. They should avoid fights, anger, lust and greed. For inner peace, they must learn to ignore such things or thoughts that troubles them. There is no need to be jealous of others. Nobody can snatch from anyone anything, what he deserves. What is for you will remain with you. One should be wise enough to understand the difference between needs and desires and luxuries.

Start of the process of refinement, Step IInitially instinct of survival led humans to live together in small migratory  groups,  as wandering “nomadic herdsmen”. In the beginning, Humans were not better than animals.  Their life, as Hobbes describes was, “Nasty, brutish and short”.

Living together had made people feel more secured. Slowly, but steadily, instead of being wandering people, they learnt to live together in a settled life-style. Thus began the process of  refinement over the animal instincts and humans entered into an era of civilized life.

The purpose was to lead a more secure, decent and comfortable life-style. Togetherness made it easier for individuals to refine their animal instincts and to become more humane and civilized day by day.

Need and desire to live together has made individuals more humane. Slowly and steadily people had become so used to living together that it was considered that “if a human-being does not live with men or among men, then surely either he is god or beast.” (Famous Greek philosopher Aristotle)

Formation of groups, Step IIIt is the natural instinct of human mind to belong to one or the other group. On the basis of  their inherent qualities, needs, problems and difficulties, individuals get together and constitute their own independent group.

Differences in attitude and aptitude of different people has given rise to the formations of different social groups in every society. Individuals have become members of different groups for a multitude of reasons, mostly to satisfy their needs to provide companionship, survival and security, affiliation status, achievements or to gain power or control over state authorities as a pressure groups.

Setting up of the norms, Step III – The next step was setting up of the rules and norms. When people started to live together in different groups and got settled in different areas, they had created their own rules, values and systems in conformity with environment of that place.

Earlier their activities were confined within a small area or territory because of primitive communication and transport systems. But slowly, but steadily, with the advancement of technology in the areas of transportation and communication, their activities have spread all over the world. 

Influence of each other on instincts and behavior – While living with their respective groups, individuals’ instincts and behavior are deeply influenced by the thinking and behavior of other fellow-beings. The presence of near and dear ones around them, constantly moulds the mindset of humans toward either positive or negative thinking and behavior. People’s opinion and behavior also get influenced by the ideas of their leaders or role-models.

There are many ways, togetherness in a group can influence behavior of individuals as well as society. Usually interdependence, social interaction, perception as a group, commonality of purpose, and favoritism are the factors responsible for creating different groups.

Classification of society according to their aptitude – Vedic Hindu society has envisaged different activities for different groups of people based on natural instincts,  predominantly psychological characteristics, attitude and aptitude.

  • Persons having “Sat and “austerity, flair for learning and possessing intellectual/spiritual qualities to set standards for the whole society have been put in the category of Brahmins. They have been assigned the work of pursuing knowledge.
  • Befitting to their attitude and aptitude, men of action with `Rajas qualities, having courage, warrior skills, bravery,  leadership quality have been given the responsibility to defend the their people from internal and external aggression, maintain law and order in society and take care of the weaker sections of society.
  • People having business acumen have been given the task to carry on business.
  • People incapable to do the  above three tasks on their own and needing others guidance to perform a job are advised to get engaged in service sector under the guidance of other three categories.

According to Smritis”, it is not birth, but the qualities, attitude and aptitude and deeds, which fitted one into a particular group.[i] But, later on, as the population increased, upbringing, atmosphere and convenience tended to make these groups hereditary.

It is more convenient  and economical for the people also to practice their traditional occupations and acquire its basic qualifications from their elders in the family in a natural way. It has been seen that an illiterate Marwari  can invest his money in share market with more ease and confidence than a person having academic qualifications in this area.

Ideal state of Greek philosophers -The great ancient Greek  philosophers like Plato and Aristotle, had dreamt of a similar kind of classification for their Ideal State like Varna System for their Ideal state.

Principle of rule and subordinationGreek philosopher, Aristotle, has said that in Nature, there is a principle of rule and subordination, at large. It appears specially in the realm of animate creation.

By virtue of this principle, soul rules the body, those who possess the rational faculty of soul rules those, who possess only physical power and the faculty of understanding the directions given by another person’s reason. It is clearly natural and beneficial to the body that it should be ruled by the soul. So is the persons with strong mental power to guide the society.

Again it is natural and beneficial to the effective part of the body that it should be ruled by the mind and the rational part, whereas the equality of the two elements is always detrimental. Aristotle says that what holds good in man’s inner life, also hold good outside it.

Their ideal society was divided into following four sections: –

  • Philosopher king    –         For intellectual work for the society,
  • Army men              –         To protect the nation from outside invasions and maintain internal peace and order, and
  • Business community     – To do all kinds of transactions and
  • Slaves                           –   To do manual work

In their ideal state, all the people were supposed to belong to one group or the other, not on the basis of birth, but on the basis of their capabilities and aptitudes. Whatever Greek philosophers had dreamt, Indian society through Varna system has converted it into reality.

Nurture the nature – One needs to come to terms with the forces of nature. Conformity with nature insulates a person from shocks of life, pain and sufferings.

The teachings of Sanatan Dharma  of Hindu epics presents a scientific manual of self-management, self-reliance, and self-discipline, which is relevant even till today. It is based on natural instincts of human beings.  It guides people to assess and understand inherent nature of human beings, accept them and deal with them accordingly.

Conclusion

Take life as it comes – Life does not allow anybody to go back and fix what has been done wrong in the past. Life cannot be changed, undone or forgotten. What is done is done. Struggles are required in order to survive in life because in order to stand-up, one needs to know what failure/falling down means. Therefore, it is necessary to have a positive mindset and try to resist negative, bitter or depressive feelings.

Challenge the challenges – Take life as it comes. Be prepared mentally to face challenges in life and move on. Challenge the challenges coming on your way. Every problem has a solution. So don’t get disheartened. Never hesitate to take hard decisions/strong actions to overcome the hurdles. 


[i]            Varna 180, 21, 23.

May 28, 2020 Posted by | General | | 1 Comment

   

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