The greatness of a civilisation can be directly measured by the ideas it has conceived. Indian civilisation, especially during its Vedic period, has scaled great heights in this regard. It is one thing to be imaginative in epics and classics, but it is totally a different class to have immaculate concepts on matters affecting common man in their daily lives. Some of the Indian concepts on thoroughly materialistic matters tend to border on philosophy. Equality of man, richness and self-controls are some aspects of day to day life that our forefathers have thought out in great depth. Any impartial student of history would find it truly amazing to discover how the Indian rishis proposed novel concepts on matters so basic to mankind. A brief look at some of our own outstanding concepts will be enlightening for most of us.
Social concepts about the essential equality of man have found expression in all civilisations. Yet there has been nothing that can match the profoundness of our own Advaita. If socialism and struggle for social justice aim at highlighting the fact that no one is superior, what can be more meaningful than a belief about the existence of God in everything? Our ancient rishis have realised long time back that life is divine in any form and that there is no primacy about man in the long evolutionary chain of life. Even today, any man would prefer a fierce but faithful dog as companion than an ungrateful and dangerous human being. Then what is so noble and special about any man, just because he has the form of a human being. Equally important are the so called non-living things in this universe. If we analyse carefully, we can clearly establish that each and every one of the living beings is sustaining its life only because of the non-living things around it. Thus the concept about the same God being present in everything in this universe is so elementary and undisputable.
While modern isms like Communism and Socialism strive to enforce the equality of man in an artificial format, the immaculate philosophy of advaita underlines the same in a natural way. If we realise the simple fact that there is an element of God in each and every one of us, there is no approval or acceptance required from anyone. The whole concept is much more appealing when we realise that it is the same case with the apparently dead things around us as well. Everything in this universe is undistinguishable at the micro level and an ancient philosophy that is built on this is truly immaculate. How can things composed of undistinguishable components be considered and treated separately? Advaita reiterates this seminal idea in unambiguous terms. In this context, Adi Sankara, who popularised the concept of Advaita is the foremost socialist in modern times.
There can be an endless debate on who is the richest man on earth. Some say it is Bill Gates, some others George Bush or Pope or King Abdullah or some one else. This question boils down to the concept of richness in the questioner’s mind. Is it the bank balance or peace of mind or health that makes one rich? Or is it a combination of all these? Or still, is it the feeling of richness that makes one rich? I am sure there would be as many answers as the number of attempts to answer it. While the overall picture of happiness is definitely dependent on a whole lot of combinations, what is it that can make one consider himself rich in any situation? We pass through different situations in everyday life and the demand for each situation is totally different. A rich and powerful Saddam was cornered in an underground hole and sometimes even the richest cannot avoid pain in the best hospitals in the world.
It is in this most confusing scenario that we have to appreciate the ingenuity of our ancient rishis who introduced the concept of akshayapaatra, which stands for something that can offer anything what the possessor wants at any time. Imagine the convenience and comfort embedded in this concept of richness. One doesn’t need a bank account nor does he need black cats to protect him from the robbers. An akshayapaatra can provide food, currency notes, medicines and what not whenever and wherever you need it. All that one got to do is to attain one and use it properly. But attaining an akshayapaatra is no easy business. Lord Krishna gave one to Panchali, but only after he was convinced of her devotion. And he was cent percent sure that it will never be misused in her hands.
There are limits imposed on individuals from various quarters. The legal, moral and social restrictions on individuals in any society are well known. But the most important one is the self-imposed restriction by each one of us based on our own conscience. The concept of lakshman rekha is one without any parallels in this regard. Though first imposed (or suggested) by Lakshman on his sister-in-law Sita, to protect her from the advances of Ravana, the concept is much more meaningful in everyone’s life. Each one of us must be aware of the lakshman rekha in all the transactions or activities we indulge in. What happened to Sita when she did cross the rekha is a warning for all of us. And what is more important is to bear in mind the simple fact that we cannot always expect to have lakshmans to set limits for us. In the modern world, each of us have to define our own lakshman rekha at all times and all situations.
The list of such immaculate concepts that flowered and flourished in the Indian soil centuries back is endless. Little wonder that many historians have admitted India as the cradle of human civilisation. But the sad part is how many Indians, especially children, are aware of this enviable legacy of ours. Our own self-proclaimed historians are vying with one another in denigrating anything and everything that is applauded the world over as unambiguously India’s contribution to humanity. And our own elected governments are spending our own money in teaching our own children that India was a land of aborigines before the advent of Aryans, Missionaries and Mongolians. Do we really need any external terrorists to destroy the Indian nation?