(Published in journal Sadhana, January 22, 1994)

Excerpts from the book ‘Social Harmony’ by Narendra Modi

The miraculous strength of the Indian way of life and thought has the power to tide over all kinds of social, economic and political shocks and point out the path for the welfare of mankind.  This powerful flow of India’s innate energy has the potential to overcome any problem.  This energy signifies the centuries – old journey of progress of spirituality and culture.  Whenever attempts have been made to solve problems by ignoring this powerful force, it has resulted into failure or negative re actions.

India’s fight for freedom has been witness to this life force.  Whether it was the lotus and roti symbol of freedom fighters in 1857, Lokmanya Tilak’s exuberant Ganeshotsav or Gandhiji’s message of Ram Rajya – they were all expressions of India’s innate energy and that is why they had become successful media to create awareness among people.

Even the largest superpowers of the world are crumbling under the weight of their internal problems.  An orientation towards progress through economy or technology will not go beyond making man a slave of convenience.  In such times, once again, India finds itself bearing the essential responsibility of forging the path of human welfare.

However, before taking up any such responsibility, India must recharge its inner energy and make itself competent.  Unless and until India is able to rise above the petty disputes based on religion, region and language, it will neither prosper itself nor help others to do so.

Different communities and societies have come up with different solutions to their problems from time to time amid the struggle for rights, class distinctions or illusions of revolution.

Whether it was the Russian Communist Revolution based on equality, or the French Revolution or Mao’s Communism in China.  Each of these purported solutions failed due to internal conflicts before they could achieve their goals.  Since then, society has been trying to come out of the erroneous impression of revolution, reverse revolution and Cultural Revolution.

Freedom from Degenerate Social Systems If India wants to come up as united, harmonious, and powerful nation, it must free itself from the degenerative systems, traditions and beliefs.  What path is to be followed to achieve this goal?  In the past, several such efforts have been made in India, but as most of them did not work in tandem with the country’s inner energy, they lead to further problems instead of solutions.

We have always had a stream of social reformers eager to solve our problems.  Some of them turned critical of society.  They earned temporary fame, but could not come up with concrete results.

Some limited their sphere of work only to political and economic rights, which increased the influence of groups with vested interests, who started seeking personal achievements in social welfare and who encouraged hatred among different classes to further their own political ambitions, just as it happened  in the West.  Experience has taught us that any effort that does not recognize our inner energy will never succeed.

Only a gradual but firm process of social acknowledgment and social unity that aims at the removal of social evils, can bring a ray of hope.  In spite of a definite desire to move towards a harmonious society, the actions of some people turned society into a battlefield.  Some people used the mirage of revolution to poison minds and some pushed society into a deep slumber promising dreams of revolution.

History has witnessed that a negative approach can bring short – lived fame but not long – lasting results. Which method will help achieve social harmony?  An analysis of the efforts towards social harmony in the twentieth century reveals that the path shown by Swami Vivekananda in the late 19th century will prove beneficial; it will help us to reawaken our inner energy.  Distress over the Class System Swami Vivekananda had written in a letter to Justice Sir Subramaniam on January 3, 1895: “It is extremely essential to bring about a fundamental change in society.

Several plans for re-construction of society have failed in the past.  According to me, what has been done in the past is not wrong.  Our society is not bad; it is good, I simply wish to make it better.  I do not want to take it from falsehood to truth or from bad to good; I want to take it from truth to the highest truth and from good to best.  ”In the same letter, he has expressed his pain in these words:“ The modern class is not the real caste. It is in fact an obstruction to progress, which disturbs the uninhibited activities of castes and classes amid their differences.  Swami Vivekananda strongly believed that India has a longstanding tradition of solving its own problems.

The illusion that no efforts were made in the past towards the upliftment of the downtrodden and such efforts have started only recently is a deliberately constructed myth.  He would ask: “Has India ever faced a shortage of reformers? Have you read the history of India? Who was Shankaracharya? Who was Nanak? Who was Chaitanya? Who was Kabir? Who was Dadu? All these preachers were like the shining Didn’t Ramanuj empathize with the backward classes? Did he not try to bring them under his fold? ”The evils spread in society were as sociated with religion by some selfish people, which is why the God-fearing society is unable to come out of it. On the other side, there is a class that has chosen the easy way out of attacking religion instead of the underlying evils.

Swami Vivekanand understood this difference and hence he constantly tried to separate religion from the evils of society and tried to comprehend the truth.  He would say, “There is a swamp in front of us, where several people have died.  At present, our religion is not in the Vedas, Puranas, devotion or deliverance; it has entered the kitchen.

Currently, religion in India is neither on the path of knowledge nor intelligence; it only treads on untouchability.  It has ended up getting condensed in, “Aat mavat sarvabhooteshu” (consider all the living beings as your own soul).  Is this message meant to be confined to books only?

How will those who selves themselves are sullied by someone’s breath purify others?  Untouchability is a disease.  Rigidity ultimately leads to death.  Only absolute love can lead to progress.  Narrow – mindedness is the extreme form of selfishness.  That is why love is the only enduring truth of life.  ”While worshiping Lord Buddha, Swami Vivekananda would say: “In the

Buddha incarnation, God says that creating distinctions is at the root of all sorrows.  Differences created on the basis of in – born characteristics, qualities or wealth will only lead to despair.  The soul does not differentiate on the basis of sex, class or any other distinction.  Just as mud cannot be cleansed by mud, spirituality can never be achieved by difference of thoughts.