To sadvipras [spiritual revolutionaries] the value of human life surpasses all other values. So states and scriptures, societies and religions, acquire significance only insofar as they develop humanity to the maximum through learning, culture, physical health and economic plenty. It is for the sake of developing humanity that civilization has so many institutions of different kinds, that states take their various forms, that theories proliferate, and that the scriptures abound in ordinances and regulations. What in the world does the state stand for, what is the use of all these regulations, and what are the marvels of civilization for, if people are prevented from manifesting themselves, if they do not get the opportunity to build good physiques, to invigorate their intelligence with knowledge, or to broaden their hearts with love and compassion? If, instead of tending to lead human beings to the goal of life, the state stands in the way, it cannot command loyalty, because humanity is superior to the state. According to Rabindranath Tagore, “Justice and law at the cost of humanity is like a stone instead of bread. Maybe that stone is rare and valuable, but it cannot remove hunger.”
It is customary to give preference to social value(1) over human value. Sadvipras want to strike at the root of this custom. For them, human value takes precedence over social value. Human beings form the society, and hence human value must lay the foundation for the social value. In other words, those who show respect to human value will be entitled to social value. It was mentioned earlier that human value means nothing but to treat the joys and sorrows, hopes and aspirations of human beings sympathetically, and see them merged in Cosmic Consciousness and established in divine majesty. And if one is to elevate oneself to that sublime height, he or she will have to be supplied with an environment suitable to his or her physical, mental and spiritual existence. It is the birthright of everyone to make headway in their trifarious existence. It is the duty of society to accord recognition to this human right. Society has failed to do its duty, and that is why life is full of sorrow and suffering.
No one can say for certain that no great person might have emerged from among those wayward urchins whom we are wont to slight and hate. Women who have turned to prostitution for the sake of their physical existence might have grown into noble personalities if their agony had been appreciated sympathetically, and if they had been rehabilitated by society. But since society has nothing to do with human value, a good number of great personalities are withering away in their embryonic stage. The sadvipras will undertake to revive this neglected section of humanity. To them no sinner is contemptible, no one is a rogue. People turn into satans or sinners when, for want of proper guidance, they are goaded by depraving propensities. The human mind goaded by depraving propensities is satan. If their propensities are sublimated, they will no longer be satans; they will be transformed into gods. Every course of action of society ought to be judged with an eye to the dictum “Human beings are divine children.”
Thus the purpose of the penal code which will be framed by the sadvipras will be to rectify, and not to punish, a person. They will knock down the prisons and build reform schools, rectification camps. Those who [are] inborn criminals, in other words, those who perpetrate crimes because of some organic defects, ought to be offered treatment so that they may humanize themselves. And regarding those who commit crimes out of poverty, their poverty must be removed.
The significance of society lies in moving together. If in the course of the journey anybody lags behind, if in the darkness of night a gust of wind blows out anyone’s lamp, we should not just go ahead and leave them in the lurch. We should extend a hand to help them up, and rekindle their lamps with the flames of our lamps.
Vartiká laiyá háte calechila ek sáthe
Pathe nibe geche álo pare áche tái
Tomrá ki dayá kare tulibená háth dhare
Ardhadańd́a tár tare thámibená bhái.
[While marching together with lamps in our hands, someone’s lamp has gone out, and he is lying beside the road. Brothers and sisters, will you not stop for a moment to lift him up?]
Stop we must, otherwise the spirit of society is in jeopardy.
A rśi [sage] has said: Samamantreńa jáyate iti samájah [“Society is the collective movement of a group of individuals who have decided to move together towards a common goal”]. That is, whether people are pápii or tápii [sinners or victims], thieves, criminals, or characterless individuals, they are so only superficially; internally they are filled with the potential for purity. The principal object of the sadvipras is to explore and bring this potentiality into play. They will accord human value to everyone without exception. Those who have done hateful crimes must be punished, but sadvipras will never hate them, or put an end to them by depriving them of food, because sadvipras are humanists. The pandits puffed up with vainglory could turn their attention to their books instead of attending on the ailing non-Hindu Haridas, but Chaitanya Mahaprabhu found it impossible to remain indifferent to him. He took Haridas in his arms and nursed him carefully, and thus showed respect to human value.
However, when the question of social responsibility arises, it must be considered with great care. Irresponsible people cannot be entrusted with social responsibility, because those who shoulder social responsibility will have to lead humanity on the path of development, and correct the ways of sinners. If they themselves are of evil mentality, it will not be possible for them to discharge their social responsibility. It has been said: “The collective body of those who are engaged in the concerted effort to bridge the gap between the first expression of morality and establishment in universal humanism is called society.”(2) So social responsibility should be entrusted to those who are capable of discharging it creditably. If moralism is the starting-point of the journey of society, then those who are at its helm must be moralists. And since society aims to establish universalism, those people must be universalists. And if the gap between moralism and universal humanism is to be bridged, spiritual sádhaná is a must, so those people must practise rigorous sádhaná. Their philosophy of life must be, “Morality is the base, sádhaná is the means, and life divine is the goal.”
This great responsibility must never be entrusted to those who are themselves criminals. Unless and until such people correct themselves, they will not be given any social value, though in no way will they be denied human value. At present social value is given importance, but those who are selected to discharge social responsibility do not possess the aforesaid qualities. They have occupied their posts on the strength of their money or on the basis of patronage, but this has not resulted in any collective welfare. That is why there is an instruction in our social scripture:
Do not be misled by anyone’s tall talk. Judge merit by seeing the performance. Remember, whatever position one is in offers sufficient opportunity to work. One whose character is not in accordance with Yama-Niyama should not get opportunity [to become] a representative.… to [[vest]] an incompetent person with power means to push society towards destruction knowingly and deliberately. (“Society” in Caryacarya Part 2, 1999)
The sadvipras will install qualified persons in power, and the social order which will be evolved by virtue of their leadership will give due importance to one and all. In this new society based on Neohumanism, everyone will find their life worth living. All will regain their lost positions of honour.
(1) Earlier in the complete discourse of which this is the concluding part, the author had explained “social value” as the recognition that society pays to its leaders by virtue of their position. –Eds.
(2) Shrii Prabhat Ranjan Sarkar, “Moralism” in Human Society Part 1 (slightly rephrased here by the author). –Eds.
Neohumanism in a Nutshell Part 1 [a compilation]