Práńa Dharma


The Sine Qua Non of Human Existence

In this universe there are people whose thoughts, character and behaviour are similar – similar but not identical. Differences in human character and mentality, which are reflected in external human conduct, are due to varying propensities and tendencies. This is what accounts for the differences between people. Just as individual human beings have their distinctive characteristics, similarly, groups of people brought up in various geographical environments, historical eras, or cultural atmospheres, acquire their own group characteristics, too. Later those characteristics inherent in a particular group get mixed with the internal thoughts and ideas of other groups within a society. This leads to the development of national characteristics. In this way an entire national psychology – its external behaviour, its social outlook, and its philosophy of life – is developed. This process produces different national outlooks which distinguish one nation from another. It is also in this way that different human groups have developed different viewpoints towards life and the world. These differences are internal rather than external. Through proper education and well integrated social living in the individual and collective strata, internal qualities can be properly developed. Internal discipline in the psychic sphere of individual life is what we may call the Práńa Dharma of individual life. When the national characteristics are expressed in a particular vein, we may call it the Práńa Dharma of the nation. Although Italy, France, England and America are part of the western world, their national characteristics are not uniform. There are considerable differences in the mental thought-processes and external conduct of the East and the West. The thoughts and ideals of India are quite different from the other countries in the East. Since ancient times, India has been adhering to her distinct Práńa Dharma. Regarding life and the world, the Indian people are certainly spiritually inclined. They look upon each and every thought and deed as part of their spiritual practice. The reason is that in ancient India, children studied from the age of five till the age of twenty-five. They lived virtuous, disciplined and holy lives and received extensive training in spiritual knowledge as well as some degree of mundane knowledge. At the conclusion of their student careers, they returned home to adopt the life of householders. As householders they continued to cultivate both spiritual knowledge (pará) and mundane knowledge (apará). When they reached the age of fifty, having met all their family commitments, they would adopt the life of a Vanaprastha and retire to a forest to concentrate on the cultivation of spiritual knowledge. Thus all aspects of Indian life were based on spirituality. This subjective approach to life became the Práńa Dharma of Indians. Spirituality has penetrated so deeply into Indian social life that even the toughest and most notorious robbers offer something to the goddess Kálii before committing theft. They pray to mother Kálii and make pledges to her to ensure their success. The ancient Indian system of education was based on this original Práńa Dharma. Consequently, the Indian students developed a reverential, humble and noble trait in their conduct. The subtle way to undermine an individual or a nation is to divert them from their original Práńa Dharma, sometimes by forcibly snatching away their right to pursue it. This will sap them of their inherent strength and capabilities causing them to become increasingly weak. Just as a bird divested of its right to fly freely gradually becomes reduced to the status of a biped, similarly, human beings when deprived of their Práńa Dharma lose their elevated stance.

Moghul Rule and Indian Práńa Dharma

During the Moghul period India was subjected to severe political torture. The Pathan and Moghul rulers tried to inflict a blow to the Indian Práńa Dharma indirectly. However, by holding out allurements of high posts or by using other methods, they could not do much harm to the Indian Práńa Dharma. The reason was that the inner vitality of Islamic society itself was considerably weakened after assimilating the conflicting thought waves of Egypt, Siberia and Persia. Thus, though the Islamic Práńa Dharma existed alongside the Indian Práńa Dharma it could not cause much damage.

The British Rule and Indian Práńa Dharma

The British rulers were very clever. Instead of attacking the Indian Práńa Dharma directly, they resorted to the path of diplomacy. They believed that to maintain British rule in India they would have to create a group of native supporters who would remain Indian by birth and complexion but European in manners, customs, education, taste and culture. So they introduced a system of education based on their own British system. This was an obvious attempt to strike a blow at Indian Práńa Dharma. As a result, the people of India forgot their distinctive national characteristics and developed a completely Western outlook. The moral, spiritual and social qualities that were developed through the Indian system of education were ignored. Rather, Indian youth, under the influence of materialistic Western civilization, grew cynical, materialistic and atheistic. A class of educated persons was created who were neither English nor Indians. Many of them were employed in the Indian Civil Service. A certain scholar once remarked that the Indian Civil Service “is neither Indian, nor civil, nor service.” These people became alienated from the mainstream of Indian social life because their conduct, behaviour, customs, manners, thoughts and ideals were different from those of other Indians. This neo-class of people with modern education could not regard the simple, innocent masses of rural India as their own. The clever English rulers trained them in such a subtle way that they looked upon the British as being nearer to them than the Indians. The imperialistic British purpose was served: colonial rule was firmly established.

The British Rule and Chinese Práńa Dharma

The British also tried to destroy the natural Práńa Dharma of the Chinese people. Prior to Kuomintang rule, Chinese people were simple, peace-loving, energetic and spiritually inclined. But the British imported a huge amount of cheap opium into China and made the energetic and pious people idle and indolent. Thus the Chinese race deviated from their original Práńa Dharma. As a result, it was easy to mislead them onto the path of communism. The British were responsible for the annihilation of the Chinese Práńa Dharma. The communists completely destroyed the ancient Chinese religion and finished the unfinished task of the British.

Capitalism in Indian Práńa Dharma

Although capitalism does not directly oppose Práńa Dharma, the all-devouring exploitation of capitalism robs the people of their possessions and drives them into the street as beggars. For such people it becomes virtually impossible to properly follow their Práńa Dharma. Even the feudalistic exploitation in Indian social life did not run counter to the original Práńa Dharma. But the present capitalistic (Vaeshyan) exploitation has financially ruined the Indian people. Hence, it is impossible for the people to follow their Práńa Dharma. At this period of crisis in Indian Práńa Dharma the materialistic philosophies are getting scope to rear their heads.

The socio-economic philosophy of Ananda Marga calls for the elimination of capitalism. It clearly emphasizes the need to fulfill minimum economic needs and create an ideal congenial social environment in which there will be maximum utilization of collective wealth and the rational distribution of resources to solve all economic problems. Every human being will get ample opportunity to follow Práńa Dharma.

Communism and Indian Práńa Dharma

Materialism can never be the base of human life in any country because it is detrimental to the all-round development of human beings. Materialism is the philosophical base of communism. Communists act against human Dharma by propagating the defective philosophy of materialism. Communism is diametrically opposed to Indian Práńa Dharma. Although they raise high-sounding slogans of human emancipation and progress, human well-being cannot be accomplished by communism. The communist states give much importance to the application of material science and technology. This may help increase the wealth of the country and thereby alleviate the financial distress of the people to some extent, but by solving economic problems one does not solve all problems. If that were the case, the affluent countries of the West would be utopian. Human beings are not merely destined to fill their bellies. There is much more to human life than that. Human beings are veritable children of God having a thirst for unlimited happiness. Limited physical wealth can never quench their infinite thirst. Obviously, their Práńa Dharma should provide them with the necessary ways and means to satisfy their unlimited hunger. Communism ignores the higher human and spiritual values of life. It lets the human soul stand unrecognized. The condition of human beings in today’s communist countries is no better than that of domestic cattle in dairy farms.

Ananda Marga wants to establish the Práńa Dharma of the entire universe, and the Ananda Marga philosophy has been conceived to that end. Ananda Marga’s spiritual treatise, social treatise, ethics, spiritual cult, socio-economic theory and educational system will all help in establishing Práńa Dharma. Whatever a genuine Ananda Margii does in his or her life is always conducive to Práńa Dharma. The Ananda Marga philosophy – unlike the Vedantic sannyasin who professed the philosophy of illusion – is not in favour of dismissing this quinquelemental world as mere illusion. On the contrary, Ananda Marga accepts this world as a relative truth and strives to cope with its problems. Both wealth and poverty force people to digress from their original Práńa Dharma. That’s why the socio-economic philosophy of Ananda Marga has advised its supporters to be ever-watchful so that one is forced to die due to want of food.

Education and Práńa Dharma

Defective systems of education also strike a blow in Práńa Dharma. This is exactly what happened in India during the British regime. Ananda Marga is ever vigilant in this regard. Hence, the Ananda Marga system of education has been formulated in such a way that the fundamental Práńa Dharma of humanity has been fully recognized. The educational system of our schools is based on the principle of Práńa Dharma. It includes the study of various aspects of modern branches of human knowledge, as well as the development of qualities such as reverence, good manners, humility, dignity of labour, social consciousness, etc. The Western system of education has miserably failed to inculcate these rare qualities in the students minds. Had there been radical reforms in the defective education system introduced in post-independent India, she could have solved many undesirable problems. The reformers of Indian education can make an experiment even today by introducing a new system of education based on national Práńa Dharma.

All the countries of the world can apply Ananda Marga philosophy according to their distinctive national Práńa Dharma. There is enough scope to introduce Ananda Marga philosophy in this way.

16 February 1967, Ranchi
Published in:
A Few Problems Solved Part 6
Ananda Marga Philosophy in a Nutshell Part 4 [a compilation]
Prout in a Nutshell Part 6 [a compilation]
Tattva Kaomudii Part 2 [unpublished in English]