The gap between the potential and performance of India in the past six decades could be due to the state of the nation being diseased. So, let us analyse whether the principles of secularism (separation of religion and politics) in public life, a western graft, is at the roots of creating the infection.
Disease – a harmful deviation from the normal structural or functional state of an organism. A diseased organism commonly exhibits signs or symptoms indicative of its abnormal state. Thus, the normal condition of an organism must be understood in order to recognize the hallmarks of disease.
The Indian world view emphasizes the basic unity of all existence and its interrelation and connectivity, whether it be an individual, family, society, nation or universe in all its dimension – religion, politics, science, social, psychological, physiological or legal framework in all its dynamic and fluid format.
The western culture had a similar worldview where science, philosophy and religion were not separated, till the Eleatic school of thought in the sixth century postulated an intelligent and personal God standing above the world and guiding it. This was the beginning of a materialistic trend that eventually led to a dualism between various aspects of a unified existence. By the seventeenth century, Rene Descartes had divided nature into mind and matter with the material world being a multitude of different objects assembled into a huge machine, to be used and exploited by different interest groups.
The fragmented, cartesian view is further extended to society which is split into different nations, races, religions and political groups. The belief that all these fragments – in ourselves, in our environment and in our society – are really separate can be seen as the real reason for the present series of social, ecological and cultural crises. It has alienated us from nature and from our fellow human beings.
The mechanistic, newtonian classical physics was shocked and transformed in the late nineteenth century by the advent of the new quantum physics which conclusively proved that the universe was an inseparable, dynamic and undifferentiated whole, connected with each other and within one’s self at the subatomic level. Soon,the new biology, new chemistry and other sciences also proved the same hypothesis.
The recent worldwide popularity of various philosophers and thinkers, who are propagating the concept of unity and interconnectivity in all aspects of existence is resonating with the hearts and minds of all deep thinkers and laymen alike. It also makes me wonder whether the separation of various organic aspects of man – mind and body is the correct way or is it time to rediscover the principles of unity of all aspects of thought in private and public life. Isn’t it time to abandon this artificial and foreign infection ailing the nation. Isn’t it time to abandon the separation of private and public life and embrace the holistic and completeness of mind and action like Gandhiji?
PS: Swami Vivekanand says “Here in India , it is religion that forms the very core of the national heart. It is the backbone, the bed-rock, the foundation upon which the national edifice has been built. Politics, power, and even intellect form a secondary consideration here. Religion, therefore, is the one consideration in India”. His definition of religion was “Any sect that may help you to realise God is welcome. Religion is the realising of God”
Gandhiji, who used to get inspired, sing hymns, talk and quote with various religions in public life was revered not for his strategies and principles, but because he was a “Man of God”. Secularism is a Western graft unsuitable and unnecessary here as diverse communities here have been living together peacefully in the same geographical area. Gandhi did state that those who think religion has nothing to do with politics understand neither religion nor politics. As per Gandhi, ” Indeed religion should pervade everyone of our actions. Here, the religion does not mean sectarianism. It means a belief in ordered moral Govt. of the universe. This religion transcends Hinduism, Islam, and Christianity etc. It does not supercede them. It harmonizes them and gives them reality.”