Two weeks ago, we wrote about the amazing congruence in the foundational axioms of American & Indian Societies – the American axiom embodied in the Declaration of Independence – “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal”. The Indian axiom enunciated in the Isha-UpaNiSad simply & profoundly in the following words:
यः तु सर्वाणि भूतानि आत्मन् एव अनुपश्यति (Yah Tu Sarvaani Bhutaani Aatman Ev Anupashyati)
सर्व भूतेषु च आत्मानं ततो न विजुगुप्सते (Sarva Bhuteshu cha Aatmaanam Tato Na Vijugupsate)
One who sees All Beings in One’s Self & One’s Self in All Beings,
[that One] is not recoiled/repelled [by any being].
This state was defined as one:
यस्मिन् सर्वाणि भूतानि आत्मैवाभूत (Yasmin Sarvaani AatmaiyevaBhut)
Where All Beings are Unified in One’s Self
Today we look at the implementation of these profoundly noble thoughts in both societies & discuss the correlation of the implementation to the material success of the two societies. The first step is to describe a fundamental concept:
1.Rutam-Satyam & Catholic-Secular
Indian Thought makes a distinction between Rutam (ऋतं ), universal, cosmic, all-encompassing truth, and Satyam (सत्यम्), earthly, temporal, material truth, material in the sense of application to society.
Grecian-European thought made a similar distinction via the adjective Catholic, universal, all-embracing, and the adjective Secular, meaning earthly, temporal, material.
These distinctions are important because implementation of society’s foundational axioms are based on this distinction. The universal truth doesn’t change but the material or earthly truth does change as society changes and leads to changes in the implementation of foundational universal axioms.
2. “All men are created equal” – Implementation in America.
Some of the Founding Fathers who wrote this noble illuminated thought owned African-American slaves. So was their noble vision of equality of all men a blatant lie? Was it mere propaganda? We don’t think so.
They were launching a war for their freedom from a brutal, tyrannical, colonial regime that was beset with caste distinctions and rigidly enforced caste strata. The Founding Fathers had left Europe and they didn’t want to import any of the horrors of Europe into their own new society. Their war was to build a just society for all. To that end, they laid out the noble axiom as a foundation of the society they were building.
The key is the meaning of the term “All” in the Declaration of Independence. The implementation of the term “All” in the declaration was a fight against British royalty or aristocracy, against the distinction between people born into a higher aristocratic caste & others that were not well-born. It was declaration to unite all America-born people of British or European descent against the British-born colonial rulers who looked down on them & ruled them with contempt. This was the definition of “All” during the fight for American Independence. That term in those days was never meant to include African slaves, people of color or native- Americans.
The term “All” in the Declaration of Independence was Rutam/Catholic/Universal while its implementation in that American society was classic Satyam/Secular/Societal. That is not a negative. The above is not to cast blame on the Founding Fathers. Imagine if they had simply stated the reality by writing “All people of British origin are created equal regardless of their lineage“. That would have been consistent with the material realities of their American society. So why did they not do so?
Because, in their greatness, they wanted to enunciate an all-encompassing universal thought even though they themselves didn’t quite accept it in their earthly lives. They reached for Rutam or Universal truth. The words they wrote were and continue to be magical in their magnetism for all generations. Through out American history, leaders have changed their society to become truer to the Rutam vision of the Founding Fathers.
It was not easy. It took 90 years after the Declaration of Independence and a brutal five-year civil war under a great President named Lincoln to ban slavery. It took another 100 years for another President named Johnson to pass the Civil Rights Act even though he knew his own political party would be decimated in the South as a result.
It was not easy for non-British immigrants to come under the “All” tent. The Irish were given a pejorative name and then immigrants from Mediterranean Europe were given another pejorative name. It was via a period of conflict-led assimilation that they all gained entry into the “All” tent. It took another struggle for women to be included in the “All” tent.
Through out this process, America kept getting stronger & more prosperous. Winning is about uniting like-minded people into a common cause for a common benefit. America needed to bring more and more people of different origin into its “All” tent to keep getting stronger. In this, America was served by its universal foundational axiom. The profoundly noble vision of “All men are created equal” became a magnet for all bright capable entrepreneurial people in the world and they all tried to come to America. They still do.
Those who look down on the above steady process or those who blame the founding fathers should look to Europe. Europe never conceived of a noble universal vision; they never had an all-embracing human goal. That is why today’s Europe is still the same divided, hateful, society bedeviled by ethnic & caste apartheid. That is why the fall of Europe vis-à-vis America began in 1776 and continues to this day.
The great vision of the Founding Fathers & the brilliant steady implementation of that universal vision is the true American success story, a story for the past and the present. That is why Indian-immigrant Sundar Pichhai was named the CEO of Google this week, why Satya Nadella was named the CEO of Microsoft last year, why Indian-Americans have succeeded in different professions in America.
This will remain the story of America for the future as well. Because even Donald Trump, a candidate for President who is perceived as anti-immigration, openly states that he wants to attract the best people in the world to America. He knows that he can do so because of the magnetic attraction of that great Universal Rutam or Universal Truth on which America was formed – “All humans are created equal“.
3. “All Beings are unified in One’s Self” – Implementation in India – 1st 2,500* years
Remember that Indian Thought was originally developed during a period of intense warfare between what are now called as “Sur” and “A-Sur”, between people who believed in the primacy of Brahman, the all-encompassing, incomprehensible, unalterable Divine Reality, and the people who didn’t.
The founders of Indian Thought were people of unsurpassed universal human vision and of enormous sense for what was good for the material society. This is why they formed the concept of Rutam, the Universal Cosmic Truth, and Satyam, the material or earthly Truth. They understood that society on earth had miles to go or perhaps was even inconsistent with the Rutam vision but that the noble Rutam was a critically important vision for society to aspire to. This major distinction was articulated by Sanat-Kumar, one of most ancient of Indian thinkers, in the concept of Hitam (हितम्) as Satyam – or “what is most beneficial to society is the material Truth“**.
Indian leaders understood clearly that the path to the all-encompassing Rutam – “All Beings are Unified in One’ Self” – had to take place in stages via a process of assimilation and acceptance. You see this progression in Indian history, the steady assimilation of different into the one “All beings” tent – the people called A-Sur, the clans called Va-Nar, the Indo-Greeks, the Shak people from what is now called Indo-Scythia, the Kushans etc. You see that in the assimilation of Jain & Buddhist followers into mainstream Indian society.
Through out these 2,500+ years, India kept becoming stronger, more prosperous and more dominant in the world. By late in the first millennium CE, India had become the richest and most advanced country in the world.
During this period, India defeated and destroyed armies of two great invaders that had conquered Europe & Middle East, Alexander of Macedonia and the Huns. This period also saw conflict, regular conflict, between different states within India. States became dominant and stayed so until other states rose in power. But these conflicts were within the “All beings” tent and were waged according to Dhaarmic rules laid down to ensure warfare within societal rules.
Then came the mistake, the suicidal mistake.
4. Mixing up Rutam or Cosmic, Universal Vision & Satyam or Earthly Reality – India since 900-950 CE
Sometime around 900-950 CE, Indian society became soft and focused on the meaning of after-life instead of what is beneficial to earthly or material society. In that change, Indians lost the uniting sense of “All beings”, the uniting sense of the distinction between Indians & outsiders. Worse, Indians began using the “All beings” vision to include external invaders.
This meant rules designed to manage internal wars between Indian states began being applied to wars against external invaders. This was suicidal. In every war between Afghans/Uzbeks/Mongols & North Indian states, the Indian armies kept fighting with their Dhaarmic rules of warfare while the invaders, conversant with the restrictions of those rules, fought with misdirection and tactics designed to exploit the restrictions. A simple example was the restriction against night warfare, especially night warfare. In many battles, the invading Afghan forces attacked the sleeping Indian armies well before dawn and using misdirection to hide the real attack from their feints. The result was predictable – defeat of the larger Indian armies. But the North Indian states never changed their tactics or loosened the restrictions on themselves.
What proved more suicidal was the loss of distinction between “us” and “them”, the distinction between Indian & Invader. That happened because the “All” in “All beings are unified with One’s Self” got applied to foreign invaders too. The result was Indian states saw no difference between fighting their neighboring Indian state and fighting an invading foreign army. This is why powerful central Indian states kept fighting with each other while northern Indian states were being overrun by Afghan invaders. This continued well into the 18th century when Indian states kept fighting with each other while the British were annexing weaker Indian states one by one. Not that Indians didn’t realize what was going on. But the dogma of foreigners were a part of “All beings” tent pari passu with Indians prevented them from uniting against foreigners.
This nonsense continues to this day. A majority of Indians, especially North Indians, refuse to understand that the regime called Pak-I-Stan or “Land-of-the-Spiritually Pure” is anti-Indian to its roots. They think those guys are a part of Indian “All Beings are unified” tent. That is why there is very little appetite for any offensive operations against NonPakistan. This is still the India that never attacked Afghanistan in the last 1,000 years, the India that meekly waited for the next Afghan invasion that they would fight in their homes and die for their homeland.
This nonsense is still widely celebrated in Bollywood & on Indian TV. This is why a noble story of an Indian going to NonPakistan to return a lost young girl to her parents & getting viciously beaten up by NPak forces becomes a block buster hit in India while movies about Indians going into NonPak to rescue Indians to bring them back home become unsuccessful.
5. Difference between America & India post 950 CE
America has never made the mistake of eliminating the societal difference between “us” & “them”, the difference between “American” and “non-American”. To this day, you see America practicing this every day and in every aspect of society. America has different rules of behavior towards Americans & behavior towards non-Americans. This is true in combat and in normal functioning of society. This is why Donald Trump became an instant front-runner by promising to build a wall between US & Mexico and by promising to strictly uphold the laws against illegal immigration.
America has always understood the difference between an all-encompassing human vision that is Cosmic Truth and the need for vigilant implementation of that vision for the benefit of today’s society. It is as if America is living the wisdom of Sanat-Kumar who argued at the beginning of Indian Thought that “what is most beneficial for Society is Satyam, or material Truth.”
Back around 900-950 CE, Indians confused themselves between the huge difference between Rutam, the all-compassing, universal Cosmic vision and Satyam, the earthly, material, temporal reality based benefit to society. As a result, the uplifting moral beacon of the UpaNiSad became a restrictive self-defeating chain.
This was India’s suicidal mistake and the last 1,000 years are the result. It is time for today’s India to wake up. After all, shouldn’t a beginning be made in the 69th year of India’s Independence?
* By 2,500 years we meant the period in India up to 900-1,000 CE from the beginning of known time. It could be 3,000 years or 2,000 years depending on your view of when known Indian thought originated.
** यत् भूत हितम् अतत्यतम् एतत् सत्यम् मतम् मम (Yat Bhut-Hitam Atatyantam Etat Satyam Matam Mam) – enunciated by Rushi Naarad to Shibi as Sanat-Kumar’s teaching in the Mahaa-Bhaarat.
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