Having progressively crossed the different evolutionary stages since the distant past human beings have at last reached the present stage. The journey has not been solitary: People have advanced together in society. Even in the primitive past, humans lived in clans and tribes, for alone they could not easily procure the means of livelihood. An individual who totally shuns collective life finds existence difficult, for humans are essentially social beings. Whenever one thinks of a human being one automatically thinks of the society in which he or she lives. Human existence is thus two-sided – individual existence and collective existence – and as such it has two sets of values: social values and human cardinal principles.
The social values of human beings are ascertained on the basis of social responsibilities. As a member of society a person has to discharge certain duties and responsibilities. Those who shoulder great responsibility are naturally accorded due recognition and respect, because the good of all depends upon the proper execution of one’s duties.
An analysis of history will show that in the Kśatriya era kings and emperors were honoured most. In their courts everyone bowed before them in spontaneous respect for they had conquered the hearts of the people by virtue of their heroism, valour and chivalry. During the Vipra era the Kśatriyas and other social classes were so overwhelmed by the Vipra’s intellectual might – which they had used to invent various things to further human welfare – that they surrendered before them. The Vipras were regarded as wise because their intellectual research benefited the common people. Out of awe and respect everyone prostrated at the lotus feet of these great people.
The truth is that human beings have always and everywhere paid tribute to social values, but never, not even for a moment, has anyone respected human cardinal principles.
Human Cardinal Principles
Human cardinal principles are the silver lining between the psycho-spiritual and spiritual strata of human existence. The meeting point of the spiritual and psycho-spiritual strata is called the human cardinal stratum. Human existence is trifarious, a combination of three currents: physical, mental and spiritual. Most people cannot transcend the limits of their physical existence: crude worldly pleasures become the only enjoyment of their lives. They embody all that is beastly in nature, goaded and tormented as they are by carnal desires. The subtle feelings of life, the subtle expressions and practices are beyond their reach. Their world is limited to their bodies and physical requirements.
Other people are more concerned with their minds. They feel that it is the supremacy of the mind that has differentiated them from animals. Their lives are guided by their desires for mental satisfaction. By virtue of their endeavours they create poetry, art, music, sculpture, etc. They express the finer human feelings of mercy, sympathy, love, friendship and pity. They believe that the mind flows for the sole purpose of attaining the Infinite, and hence they focus their energies on the contemplation of the Transcendental Entity. They are the spiritual aspirants, they alone are worthy of being called human beings. Drawn by the magnetic attraction of the Cosmic Consciousness they speed forward and reach the stage which marks the end of mental existence and the beginning of spirituality. At that stage one is no longer a human being, one is a veritable god. It is the duty of every person to reach this confluence of the mental and spiritual strata. It is the pinnacle of human progress. The point where humanity ceases to exist as it merges in divine beatitude. The culminating point of animality is the commencement of humanity. The highest peak of human progress is the beginning of divine bliss. Where animality ends, humanity begins, where humanity ends, divinity begins. The meeting point of the highest attainment of humanity and the blossoming of divinity is the base on which the cardinal human principles are established.
A glimpse through human history reveals that nowhere have human values been truly honoured. What is worse, nobody has looked upon humanity with sympathy. Only those were respected who, by serving their self-interests, climbed onto the higher rostrum of society. It is difficult to step down from the high position of vainglory to rub shoulders with the downtrodden. The neglect of humanity was particularly acute towards the end of each era of the social cycle. The progeny of the noble Kśatriyas, on gaining power, engaged themselves in the pursuit of pleasure and comforts, utterly neglecting their sacred duty to serve their subjects. They never cared to know people’s suffering. They were not concerned by the bent old man, decimated by poverty in the Himalayas, being mercilessly beaten by a royal servant for defaulting on his tax payment. Kind-hearted and philanthropic kings did exist, but was there any king who, besides meeting the psycho-physical needs of his people, opened the gateway to realization of the Infinite? For self-aggrandisement and in a bid to conquer the world they invaded countries, one after another. How could they afford to inquire into the tragic plight of the common people?
The Vipra era illustrated the same thing: the scholarly Vipras were hardly accessible to the common people. The innocent masses were busy appeasing the Vipras with oblations, honorariums and floral offerings. Where was the time for them to take of the needy families of the poor neighbourhoods who were perhaps dying of starvation? And what would be the material benefit of such an action? Service to the poor would pay nothing, so let them go to hell, let them die en masse. So nobody had anything to do with the poor. And anyway, the Vipras were busy with worship, prayer and observance of sacraments. All their energies were spent in the appeasement of the gods and goddesses enthroned in the temples, churches or mosques. There was simply no opportunity to inculcate more humane qualities. According to Vipran scriptures, a temple made of bricks and wood was of more value than humanity itself. Suppose an old beggar, numbed with the cold chill of the night, is standing wearily in front of a temple, his begging bowl empty. The temple is reverberating with ringing bells, and the deity is being worshipped in accordance with the scriptural dictates. While the devotees stand before the deity with hands folded in reverence, the beggar shivers bitterly outside. On completing the ritual, the people leave the temple one by one, followed by the priest. The beggar entreats him to let him sleep in one corner of the temple, but the priest replies emphatically, “I can’t afford to pollute the temple for your sake.” And the old man has to trudge into the world of uncertainty, and perhaps bury himself in the coffin of the cold. The sanctity of inert wood and bricks is valued more than a man’s life.
Notions of vice and virtue, codes of justice and scriptural texts – which are claimed to be the word of God – have been formulated by different religions to further vested interests. Those who oppose the scriptures or the system they propound are subject to severe punishment. To socialize with a person of a different caste is a great sin and those who commit such sacrilegious acts will be excommunicated. They have to make atonement according to scriptural decree, and sometimes the magnitude of their penance may be the cause of their death. If they plea for a milder dose of punishment, the priests express their helplessness: one cannot defy the scriptures!
Those who are ensnared by the scriptures cannot be expected to know the value of human life. It takes millions of years, lives and stages to get a human body. But nobody knows how many invaluable lives have been nipped in the bud, or how many innocent lives have been slaughtered at the altar of the scriptures.
Vice and virtue are the outcome of mental perversion under the influence of time, space and person. The mental perversion which is vice in one country or in one age passes for virtue in another country or another age. Thus it is unwise to attach absolute importance to the notion of vice and virtue nurtured by some individuals at a given time. Vice and virtue have their origins either in religious faith or social prejudices, as a of natural or other causes, and they undergo changes in time, space and person. In ancient India grief-stricken wives, mourning the death of their husbands, were dragged pitilessly onto the funeral pyre and burnt to death. Those who did this remained unaffected because according to the their scriptures it was a virtuous act. Today, however it is treated as a vice.
These fabricated religious injunctions have been a repeated cause of exploitation. Placing blind faith in the scriptures people used to derive pleasure from cruel human sacrifice. The scriptures also proclaimed that to live the life of a virgin was a vice. Hence, it was not uncommon for a nine year old girl to be forced to marry an old man waiting at the jaws of death. After the death of her old spouse, hymns were chanted to make the young bride believe that she was destined to return to her husband after her own death and had no right to turn a new leaf in this life by marrying again. What a tragic existence for a sentimental woman to have to live a life of austerity to ensure unison with a husband in the life hereafter.
Polygamy, on the other hand, was not forbidden for men. A woman who was married to a man having a number of wives suffered a life of misery due to her co-wives. The folk lores or doggerels bear an excellent testimony to this: “Peace will come with my co-wife’s death. Oh what joy! I shall kill my co-wife and adorn my arm with bangles.” Even today within the same social group the cutting remarks of the mother-in-law and the husband’s sisters rob the wife of her zest for life. The story goes that a wife had her rice rationed to one earthen cup full by her mother-in-law. One day, as luck would have it, that measuring cup broke into countless pieces. Oh, what joy the wife felt. But the mother-in-law cruelly remarked, “The small earthen cup has broken, but the big one is left for us. Your joy is in vain, daughter-in-law, for my hand will now be your measure.” Can there be any greater cruelty than this? Even when supplying the minimum requirements meanness was perpetrated with such cruelty.
The inhuman rules and regulations and tortures inside the house filled a woman’s life with bitterness. Nobody knows how many have wept away sleepless nights having suffered tortures for which no redress was possible. The dogma of the scriptures crushed their emotional feelings, their hopes and aspirations like a steam roller flattening soft clay. Nobody has paid any heed to their sobs and tearful outbursts. The irrational social dictates based on vice and virtue have been a perennial source of injustice for human beings. Humanity has always been hated and trampled.
I repeat that no scripture should gain supremacy by slighting or neglecting humanity. Scriptures should be written to further human progress. They should provide rules, but these rules should in no way send humanity to its grave. Their utility lies in promoting freedom from bondage and leading humanity along the path of union with Cosmic Consciousness, the source of everything. Scriptures that throttle society to death or arrest its natural movement, should never be accepted.
Vice and virtue should be defined in the interest of human values not on the whims of certain individuals. People must move towards that stage which is the zenith point of human progress and from which no further advancement is possible. That which blocks this movement is vice and that which facilitates it is virtue. To exploit an individual, a group or the entire society for one’s own interest or the interest of the group is vice. To rob a person of the right to exist is also vice. There should be scope to punish such acts; but punishment is not an end in itself. If punishment kills or prevents one from progressing along life’s path, it may also be treated as vice. Punishment should be for rectification. The penal code will be based on human values. Ananda Marga’s social treatise states: First use sweet words and inform the offender of their mistake. Then use harsher words to convince them of the social damage caused by their actions. In the third stage, inform them about the possibility of penal measures. And in the fourth stage, if the situation warrants such action, take penal measures against him, but remember, punishment should be inflicted humanely.
Those who commit acts of vice, for whatever reasons should be given scope for rectification. If they fail to realize what they have done, they should be convinced by logical argumentation. If they ignore such reasoning they will be liable for punishment. Only the offenders themselves will be punished – under no circumstances will their relatives be punished too. Penal measures will be withdrawn as soon as the offenders have corrected themselves. An entire life should not have to be wasted over a single act of vice. On no account should anybody be branded forever.
Those who worship a marble deity in the dark corner of a temple and neglect the poor multitudes – who are themselves an embodiment of God – gain nothing in this life nor for the life hereafter. The neglect of a person who is the embodiment of God is tantamount to neglecting God Himself. A truly righteous person realizes that God does not confine Himself to the temple, but manifests Himself in His creation.
“Why are you lying in the gloom of the temple?
Raise your eyes. Look! God is not confined to four walls.
He has gone where the farmers are tilling and toiling all year round”.
In the Vipra era, humanity was affronted by the creation of divisions between high and low. People of high-birth would lose their caste if they merely stepped on the shadow of the so-called low-castes. Even worse, if a Vedic Brahman touched a person from a low family he was declared an outcaste. In no other age has humanity suffered such hatred and insult. Rabindranath says, “By standing aloof from your fellow man daily, you have hated the God enthroned in his heart.”
Instead of hating anyone, the Sadvipras will encourage everyone to build good careers. This will be Sadvipra’s principle duty. None should feel that they have been doomed for good.
Shrii P R SARKAR
Supreme Expression II