Indian Culture, Spirituality and Modern Economics – Part 3

Continued from Part 2

“There is no national life perfect or sound without the chatur-varnya. The life of the nation must contain within itself the life of the Brahmin,—spirituality, knowledge, learning, high and pure ethical aspiration and endeavour; the life of the Kshatriya,—manhood and strength moral and physical, the love of battle, the thirst for glory, the sense of honour, chivalry, self-devotion, generosity, grandeur of soul; the life of the Vaishya,—trade, industry, thrift, prosperity, benevolence, philanthropy; the life of the Shudra,—honesty, simplicity, labour, religious and quiet service to the nation even in the humblest position and the most insignificant kind of work. The cause of India‘s decline was the practical disappearance of the Kshatriya and the dwindling of the Vaishya. The whole political history of India since the tyranny of the Nandas has been an attempt to resuscitate or replace the Kshatriya. But the attempt was only partially successful. The Vaishya held his own for a long time, indeed, until the British advent by which he has almost been extinguished.”

(Sri Aurobindo, CWSA, Vol. 8, p. 19)

In this part, Prof. Gurumurthy brings several examples from modern India to demonstrate the strong linkages between economic prosperity and a strong localised community-oriented culture. This, he says is quite contradictory to what is generally assumed as the only possible model for economic development which is based on the West-centric individualist enterprise. He highlights that the Indian concepts of purushartha and dharma which continue to deeply ingrained in most traditional communities have been instrumental in creating collective economic prosperity. India traditionally has had a duty-based paradigm instead of the rights-based paradigm for organising collective life, he reminds.

~ Beloo Mehra

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To be concluded in Part 4

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