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M, N. EOY 



Published by 

Probodh Bhattacharja for 


15, Bankim Chatterjee Street, 

Calcutta 12. 

August, 1950. 
Copy Right Reserved. 

Printed in India 

By B. N. Bosc at Bose Press, 

30, Brofo Mitter Lane, Calcutta. 


PREFACE .. .. ..yii 



NATIONALISM .. .. ..103 

IV MARX OR MANU .. .. ..134 

V INDIA'S MESSAGE .. .. ..190 

SANCE .. .. .. ,.237 


ALTHOUGH this volume is a collection of random 
notes, made in jail, it can be regarded as an intro- 
duction to the study of an important branch of 
social science, namely, criticism of the religious 
mode of thought. The first two essays were in- 
cluded in my book Science and Superstition, pub- 
lished about ten years ago, soon after I came out 
of imprisonment. That book has been long out of 
print, but is still in demand. The rest of the con- 
tents of this volume are hitherto unpublished 
material. The other essays published in the old 
book will be incorporated in an enlarged second 
edition of the first volume of Fragments of a 
Prisoner s Diary, which also will include some 
unpublished essays. 

The belief in India's spiritual message to the 
materialist West is a heady wine. It is time to 
realise that the pleasant inebriation offered a so- 
lace to proud intellectuals with inferiority com- 
plex. The legacy of. that psychological aggressive- 
ness is not an asset, but a liability. For it pre- 
vents India from making the best of national in- 
dependence. Therefore, a critical examination of 
what is cherished as India's cultural heritage will 
enable the Indian people to cast off the chilly grip 
of a dead past. It will embolden them to face the 
ugly realities of a living present and look forward 
to a better, brighter and pleasanter future. 


The transmigration of soul and the law of 
J(arma are the fundamental articles of faith with 
the vast bulk of the Indian people. The entire 
religious mode of thought, which still dominates 
the spiritual and intellectual atmosphere of ouf 
country, is rested on those twin-pillars. Modern 
education and penetrati&n of scientific knowledge 
are challenging the religious mode of thought. 
Yet, prejudice dies hard. The efforts made even 
by people with modern scientific education to ra- 
tionalise the religious mode ,of thought is only a 
matter of prejudice. A criticism of religious 
thought, subjection of traditional beliefs and the 
time-honoured dogmas of religion to a searching 
analysis, is a condition for the belated Renaissance 
of India. The spirit of enquiry should overwhelm 
the respect for tradition. The essays collected in 
this volume are expected to quicken that spirit. 

Superstition is rooted in the ignorance of the 
primitive man. In course of time, man outgrows 
the blissful state of ignorance. Nevertheless, he is 
haunted by superstitions haloed by tradition, and 
often raised to the dignity of the expression of 
revealed wisdom. Eventually, scientific knowledge 
gives him the power to break the spiritual bon- 
dage. The history of the development of science 
coincides with the history of a bitter struggle 
against superstition. In our country, the struggle 
is still to begin. Whatever little of modern scien- 
tific knowledge is now there, is very largely super- 
ficial, and is often utilised with the purpose of 


reinforcing superstitions. That is an abuse of 

These essays are bound to provoke an outburst 
of criticism. But that will not be serious criticism; 
it will be an arrogant condemnation of the scienti- 
fic spirit and scientific knowledge. At the same 
time, the purpose of initiating an organised 
struggle against superstition will be served. The 
clay feet of a number of time-honoured gods are 
exposed by these essays. Fatalism and blind faith 
have killed in the bulk of the Indian people the 
incentive for knowledge and progress. The root 
of this evil can be traced to the doctrine of the 
transmigration of soul. Therefore, the exposure 
of the fallacy of this doctrine is a historical neces- 
sity. It is necessary not only for the material pro- 
gress, but also for the spiritual liberation of the 
Indian people. 

A critique of the cult of "religious expert* 
ence " is equally necessary. That requires not only 
some knowledge of modern psychology, but good 
deal of moral courage. Because, in the prevailing 
intellectual atmosphere of our country, it amounts 
almost to heresy. How superstition treats the 
heretic, is a dreadful tale. Nevertheless, the here- 
tics are harbingers of real spiritual progress. In 
this book, the psycho-pathological foundation of 
the cult of "religious experience" has been ex- 
posed. The sanction for India's "spiritual mes- 
sage " is derived from that doubtful source of ins* 


piration. Once that is realised, unwarranted arro- 
gance may be replaced by a commendable modesty. 

A critique of the ideology of orthodox nation- 
alism may impel the spirit of a renascent India to 
outgrow the obsession with antiquated ideas and 
faded ideals, and transcend the narrow limits of 
a political vision clouded by a racial conception 
of culture. National independence would be of 
little significance if it did not let in the invigo- 
rating influence of a cosmopolitan outltook and 
humanist culture. 

These essays, which record the reflections of a 
solitary prisoner, are published with the purpose 
of provoking thought. They indicate an approach 
to the difficult problem of overcoming the age- 
long tyranny of superstition glorified as India's 
spiritual genius. The past is dead ; it must be 
buried. India must experience a renaissance- 
spiritual re-birth. Conditions conducive for that 
purpose must be created. These critical studies 
may make some modest contribution in that 

June 15th, 1950. M. N. ROY. 




THERE is a new excitement among the inmates 
of this little world of ours. Not exactly an ex- 
citement. It is rather a commotion a futile 
flutter. Excitement is an emotion caused by events 
which directly affect ourselves intimately. Nothing 
like that has happened. Only a story from beyond 
the walls has filtered in, and everybody is repeating 
it with some additional embellishing touches. It 
is surprising how stories do reach us in this segre- 
gated world with all its paraphernalia of rigid 
watch and ward. However, whenever they break 
through the blockade, they spread like wild fire, 
to the edification of solitary souls hungry for infor- 
mation. Particularly, when the stories are of the 
nature that stimulates idle fancy or feeds general 
credulity. Some of the warders would pick one up 
in the neighbouring bazar, and pass it on in a dis- 
torted or magnified form. Or some prisoners 
employed in the office might get snatches of some 
conversation among the clerks. The particular 
story causing the present commotion seems to have 
emanated from this source, which is usually 



regarded by the prisoners as beyond all possible 
doubt. It is said to be causing a little storm even 
in the greater world beyond the walls. It is about 
a girl remembering the events of her past life so 
vividly as to give yet another knock-out blow to 
those who, corrupted by the influence of the 
materialist West, question the truth of the trans- 
migration of soul. 

The story comes from holy Muttra. Can you 
possibly disbelieve anything that is reported to 
have happened in that place where countless 
miracles were performed by Lord Krishna when 
he was a naughty boy or an amorous adolescent ? 
Here is the story as I could piece it together. 
It is usually related many times a day, accom- 
panied with so many pious exclamations that, to 
get at what is supposed to be its sub-stratum of 
fact, is extremely difficult. It is marvellous how 
tenacity of belief can become the measure of 
accuracy ; and the blinder the faith, the more 
tenacious it is. 

The centre of the story, Shanti Devi, was 
born, presumably for the millionth time or there- 
abouts, nine years ago, the daughter of a Brahmin 
resident of a place in the neighbourhood of Delhi. 
It is reported that, for some time, she has been 
urging her parents to take her to Muttra where 
she claims to have lived her previous life. In 
the beginning, the parents, so they say, did not 


pay any heed to her assertion and request. But 
presently her claim became known to others out" 
side the family. A number of local gentlemen 
formed themselves into a "Committee of Investi- 
gation," and took the girl to Muttra. There she 
is reported to have performed the following mira- 
culous acts. On the station platform, she recog- 
nised a local Brahmin resident as her husband of 
the former life ; on the way, from a crowd of 
spectators, she picked out an old gentleman as her 
previous father-in-law ; she directed the Investi- 
gating Committee to the house she had lived in 
her last life; she showed intimate acquaintance 
with the lay-out of the house ; she indicated the 
ghat on the Jumna where she used to bathe ; 
she, of course, manifested great tenderness to the 
young son of her former husband ; the latter 
reported that his wife had died nine years ago 
at the birth of that boy. Now, in the face of 
all these facts, who can doubt the truth of the 
transmigration of soul ? 

The Committee, composed of gentlemen firmly 
convinced of the truth, naturally had no difficulty 
in coming to the conclusion that Shanti Devi's 
story had been completely borne out by facts. 
TTjie conclusion was reported publicly in the press 
and from the platform. Shanti Devi herself appear- 
ed in public meetings, and related her story which 
was then corroborated by one or the other mem- 


her of the Investigating Committee. Enthusiastic 
defenders of Hindu culture rushed to the press 
jeering at the pretensions of modern science and 
ridiculing the hocus-pocus of new-fangled psycho- 
logy. Science was dared to take up the challenge 
thrown down by the nine-years old heroine who 
had never heard of such strange names as physics 
and psychology ; her acquaintance with the three 
R's is most probably still to be made, if she 
would ever be contaminated by these symbols of 
wicked worldliness. The aggressive apostles of 
cultural nationalism themselves are rather subjects 
of psychiatrical and psycho-analytical study than 
competent critics of modern science. 

Having heard the story repeated time and 
again, I naturally turned it over and over in my 
mind. What interested me was not so much the* 
question of transmigration. I am indifferent to the 
question. Once upon a time, man had reason to 
invent a soul ; they must believe in their own 
invention. There are those, who, having known 
better, are scornful of antiquated toys. Their dis- 
belief is vehemently condemned or loftily deplored 
by others. I do not share the belief in truths 
invented by man when he was incapable of dis- 
covering objective truths. Truths discovered are 
a different matter. Being physical facts, they 
belong to the world of reality. \ define truth as 
a physical fact) That requires a word of expla- 


nation. The term "physical" includes biological 
as. well as mental. This is a sound statement 
incontestable scientifically. Metaphysicians may 
resent it ; but resentment or dogmatic assertion is 
no logic. Man's gods are made after their own 
image. I have no more respect for gods than 
for their makers. Have I not seen the clay- 
feet of the makers of gods ? So, the story of 
Shanti Devi did not stimulate me to meditate 
over the truth of transmigration. I simply did not 
believe in it, having no reason to fictionalise the 
fact of my existence. Men are perverted enough 
to be ashamed of being what they are, animals. 
Being thinking animals, they should have more 
sense ; but most of them don't. So much the 
worse for them. To possess the faculty of thought, 
but not to use it, is a misfortune. Therefore, 
they pretend to be gods try to hide the facts of 
their being with a fiction fabricated by perverted 
imagination. They prefer falsehood to truth. 

The subject of my reflection was the credu- 
lity on the part of people expected to be more 
discerning and discriminating. In Shanti Devi's 
meetings, there sat men and women who could 
not possibly be blind to the obvious perfunctori- 
ness of the enquiry into the phenomenon ; who 
could easily raise a whole host of questions that 
are to be answered before any conclusion could be 
accepted even hypothetically. 


The fundamental question is about the relia- 
bility of the evidence. If one simply believes in 
the transmigration of soul, there is nothing to be 
said about it. You cannot argue about an article 
of faith. One comes to believe in transmigration 
through the simplest process of thought, if it can 
be placed under that category of mental act which 
involves reason : Begin with the assumption that 
there is a soul which transcends the biological 
being of man. In the strict scientific language, 
the term physical would be adequate, because 
the physical being embraces everything that really 
exists ; however, I use the term biological to make 
it explicit that the soul of religion is not the 
sum total of the intellectual and emotional acti- 
vities of man. Having begun with an assumption 
which, by its very nature, can never be experi- 
mentally established, you further assume that soul 
is immortal. This additional assumption is neces- 
sary to differentiate the imaginary essence of man 
from the biological reality of his being. As the 
immortal essence of man, soul naturally survives 
physical death. And being a disembodied spirit, 
its tangible immortality can be realised only in 
the acquisition of a new corporal abode every 
time it is rendered homeless by the relentless 
operation of biological laws which it cannot con- 
trol. Thus, the dogma of transmigration is deduced 
from the assumption of an immortal essence of 


man, which assumption, in the last analysis, has 
no other basis than the primitive animistic notion 
of a world spirit. 

The idea of an immortal soul is not the 
acquisition of man when he reaches a high spiri- 
tual level. It is a very very primitive idea, its 
origin being not spiritual elevation, but ignorance. 
The phenomenon can be observed even now among 
the primitive races. The aboriginal inhabitants 
of the Malay Peninsula believe that souls are red, 
no bigger than grains of maize ; for other Malay 
races, they are vapoury, shadowy, filmy essences, 
about as big as one's thumb 1 ; in other parts 
of the Pacific Islands, soul is conceived of not 
as a tiny being confined to a single part of the 
body, but as a sort of fluid diffused through 
every part ; the backward masses of Japan con- 
sidered the soul as a small, round, black thing ; 
the Australian Bushman also believes the soul 
to be a small thing dwelling in the breast. 2 

Primitive people explain natural occurrences 
as caused by the action of spirits which arc 
believed to appear and operate as (1) ghosts, that 
is, spirits which have formerly been incarnate ; 
(2) dream-spirits which have temporarily left bodies 

1 The stikshma sharecr of the Hindu scriptures is 
also believed to be of the same size. 

2 Carveth Read, Man and His Superstitions. 


in sleep or trance ; (3) invisible, conscious beings 
which have never been incarnate. The concep- 
tion of the object of this belief, common to the 
primitive man, wherever or whenever he may live, 
varies from place to place and time to time. But 
eventually, it divides itself in two distinct schools, 
so to say, which have been named by anthropo- 
logists as Hyperphysical Animism and Psycho- 
logical Animism. One regards an object as being 
moved by the spirit inherent in itself ; the other 
attributes all movements to an agent which 
possesses the object for the time being, but is 
separable from it. Hyperphysical Animism con- 
ceives consciousness as a distinct entity capable 
of quitting the body, surviving its death and 
existing independently as disembodied spirit. 
Psychological Animism, on the contrary, ascribes 
anthropomorphic consciousness to all objects, 
particularly to the animate. This type of Animism 
can be detected in children even among civilised 
peoples. They are seen to hit back at such inani- 
mate things as a table or a chair upon being 
hurt by bumping against it. Evidently, the doctrine 
of soul and its transmigration evolved out of 
the Hyperphysical Animism which has been traced 
to the primitive man's desire to explain dreams, 
wherein the dead appears as in flesh. The expla- 

1 E. B. Tylor, Primitive Culture. 


nation is that on death the spirit leaves the 
body. Later on, there begins speculation about 
what the spirit is made of. The "soul-stuff" is 
conceived as material, though subtle and normally 
invisible. It is believed to be permeating the 
whole body. 1 

"This conception of soul-stuff may have 
been an important contribution to metaphysics. 
The doctrine of material substance is reached 
by abstracting all the qualities of things ; but 
then, there would be nothing left, were it not 
for this venerable idea of something invisible and 
intangible in things in which qualities may inhere, 

or which may serve as a support to them 

Along another line of speculation, this soul-stuff 
may become the Soul of the World when by 
philosophers spirits are no longer conceived to 
have bodies, but to be the very opposite of 
bodies ; a spiritual substance must be invented 
to support their qualities, in order to put them 
upon an equal footing with reality, with corporeal 
things .... but such speculations are confined to 
philosophers and theologians some of whom main- 
tain (as if reverting to the original savage idea) 
that spirit is the true substance of material things, 
at least that material things depend upon a spirit, 
or spirits, for their existence." 2 

1 J. G. Frazer, Belief in Immortality. 
2 Carveth Read, Man and His Superstitions. 


For ages, the belief in ghosts remained mixed 
up in popular mind with the idea of the "soul- 
stuff ". Eventually, metaphysical subtleties about 
the difference between mind and matter, spirit 
and body, conceived of the notion of a pure 
incorporeal, immortal spirit. The doctrine of 
transmigration was a logical outcome of that 
notion. However, even great modern metaphysi- 
cians bound, for their own prestige as philoso- 
phers, to have some regard for rationalism and 
scientific knowledge, have to admit that the 
venerable doctrine of soul originates in the igno- 
rance of primitive man. The famous German 
metaphysician Wundt came to the conclusion 
that the spirit of the living body is the starting 
point of Animism. 1 

The doctrine of soul being thus a spiritual 
relic of savagery, it may still hold its sway over 
the mind of the ignorant. But it is an entirely 
different proposition to claim scientific or even 
empirical support for the doctrine of transmigra- 
tion. Whatever may be the origin of the soul, 
its process of transmigration takes place here 
and now. If it is an objective reality, there 
must be some way of observing it. Deny the 
reality of scientific knowledge, dispute the validity 
of the scientific mode of thought, and science 

1 Myths and Religion. 



cannot do anything but leave you with your 
blind faith. But try to rationalise the dogmas 
of religion by claiming empirical basis for vene- 
rable superstitions, and you tread on dangerous 
ground. If you challenge science, then, the issues 
thus joined must be fought out scientifically ; 
you must observe the rules of the game. Scientific 
mode of thought differentiates itself from the 
religious mode of thought by refusing to accept 
any unverifiable hypothesis as the premise for 
deductions claiming to be objectively true. Scienti- 
fic and rationalist thought rejects religion not 
because its dogmas cannot stand the test of 
science and rationalism, but because of the falla- 
cious nature of the religious mode of thought 
itself, because of its own internal contradictions. 
If the religious dare to fight science and rationa- 
lism on the latter's ground, then, the combat 
must be conducted according to the scientific and 
rationalist methods. If they undertake to adduce 
empirical evidence in support of their super- 
stitions so that these could claim superiority to 
scientific knowledge, then, certain elementary laws 
of evidence shall have to be observed. The 
method of collecting evidence must be such as 
guarantees reliability. 

There was a statement by a young girl. It is 
claimed that the statement has been verified. The 
whole case rests on the assumption that the enquiry 



was conducted impartially. But is impartiality pos- 
sible in such an enquiry ? Preconceived notions 
rule out criticism ; evidence given by the super- 
stitious and recorded by the uncritical can never 
be relied upon. The enquiry into the case was 
not free from those defects. It was conducted 
by persons who regarded the case as yet another 
proof for their belief in the transmigration of soul. 
The evidence was given by people still less com- 
petent to participate in a scientific investigation. 
All concerned were ardent believers, untouched 
by the sceptical and critical spirit of enquiry 
which alone can lead to the discovery of objective 

It is not logically permissible to talk of prov- 
ing th? doctrine of transmigration empirically with- 
out showing that the assumption of immortal soul 
has even a hypothetical validity. The doctrine 
results from the belief in soul and its immortality. 
The ground of this belief is to be critically exa- 
mined. Science challenges this belief, and has 
exposed its groundlessness. As far as it is con- 
cerned, the existence of soul (not in the broad 
sense, but in the definite religious sense) has to 
be proved before the question of transmigration 
can receive any serious consideration. Who bothers 
about the imaginary peregrination of a non-entity? 
If the existence of soul were not assumed, then, 
the enquiry into the phenomena supposed to indi- 



cate some existence after death would be of an 
entirely different character. The result of any 
enquiry is greatly determined by its point of 

The story of Shanti Devi, or any other similar 
tale, 1 ' granted that its veracity has been empiri- 
cally verified, does' not necessarily prove the 
existence of an immortal soul. If it proves any- 
thing, it proves that memory survives death. 
This is an extremely fallacious assertion, and parti- 
cularly ruinous for the doctrine of soul. Memory 
is a biological function. It is stored up in the brain 
which is destroyed upon the death of the body. 
Loss of memory due to cerebral disorder is a well- 
known fact showing that memory depends on the 
normal functioning of the physiological apparatus 
called brain. And everything physiological is physi- 
cal. The brain is a lump of organic matter which 
can be analysed into its chemical components. None 
has ever postulated the existence of disembodied 
brains. In the light of physiological knowledge, 
that would be absurd. 

If memory survives death as an attribute of 
soul, what happens, then, to the idea of soul ? It 
is materialised ! To be possessed of a physiological 

1 There are any number of them told and generally 
believed. Since this particular story became the matter of 
public discussion, there have appeared in the press reports of 
other pretenders. 



property, soul must be a physical entity. But it 
is supposed to be a disembodied spirit, and the 
possibility of transmigration is deduced from that 
supposition. The soul has nothing in common with 
the body ; it resides in a body, unaffected by its 
physical functions, as an unattached spectator ; 
therefore, it does not die with the body. It discards 
a body like a set of old clothes, and goes on to 
enter a new, unless it has qualified for the state 
in which it can dispense with all clothes. Now 
we see that the old clothes stick to it ; more cor- 
rectly speaking, it does not leave them altogether. 
Because, if it did, there would be no memory. In 
any case, the smell of the old clothes clings to 
the soul, evidently spoiling its purity. One cannot 
really be unattached to something the memory of 
which is so very deeply impressed. 

"Scientific proof" of the transmigration of 
soul thus destroys the very doctrine of soul. In 
order to be what it is believed to be, namely, dis- 
embodied spirit, soul should not have any memory. 
It is proposed to prove the existence of soul on 
the strength of its possessing a property which it 
should not possess, if it were what it is believed 
to be. In other words, trying to prove transmi- 
gration "scientifically," you only succeed in dis- 
proving the existence of a disembodied spirit. This 
is a curious procedure like cutting the branch on 
which you sit. 



The originators of the doctrine of soul postu- 
lated the sukjhma shorter as the basis for the 
belief in transmigration. As Radhakrishnan says, 
"our ancients were courageous." They realised 
what transmigration involved, and moulded the 
concept of soul accordingly. The soul as conceived 
by them is not a disembodied spirit. It is of the 
size of a thumb. All these quaint and curious 
ideas are set forth at great length in the Upanishads. 
The ancients could be bold, because science was 
not yet to challenge their speculative assertions. 
Nor were these speculations altogether vain. 
They had a purpose a very mundane one. The 
ancients were laying down the laws of the ruling 
class. A transcendental sanction was necessary. 
So it was simply invented. The superstition of the 
savage was utilised for the purpose. The belief 
in transmigration had to be fostered for securing 
submission to the law of karma. The object of 
this is to defend the established social order to 
keep everybody in his allotted place. 

But to rationalise irrationalism, is a hopeless 
undertaking. An article of faith simply cannot 
be scientifically proved. Faith is above proof. 
What is believed to transmigrate, to survive 
death, is not a disembodied spirit, but the sufyhma 
sharccr. So, the doctrine of transmigration as- 
serts that a small replica of the body survives 
death. If that is assumed, then, memory of past 



life is hypothctically possible. But here you are 
definitely on the enemy's ground, trapped with 
no hope of escape. You are making an assump- 
tion which is definitely of scientific nature, which 
can be submitted to an empirical test. If what 
survives death is a physical entity, there must 
be some way of finding out what happens to it 
before the next birth. i 

The assertion is not simply an affirmation 
of the indestructibility of matter or of the 
law of conservation. The death of the body, of 
course, is not the destruction of the matter 
composing it, but only chemical dissolution of 
this latter. Death is destruction of a morphologi- 
cal organisation of matter. Matter is immortal. 
But the dogma of sufyhma sharccr asserts that 
the organisation of matter survives in miniature* 
There would be no sense in saying that mattter 
survives death ; because death occurs to an 
organisation of matter. Matter itself is not in- 
volved in the process. The idea of survival 
implies continuation after death of that which is 
supposed to be affected by the process. It implies 
survival of the organisation of matter. The body 
is destroyed in gross form, but an attenuated 
form of it, an exact replica of the organisation 
apparently destroyed, remains intact. 

This is a proposition which can be put to 
scientific test. The process of a human organism 



dying can be observed in the minutest detail. 
Indeed, the nature of this process is already known 
fairly accurately. It is a matter of clinical observa- 
tion. There is not the slightest evidence to show 
that at any point in the process a replica of the 
body leaves the dying organism. To carry over 
memory and the accumulated store of experience, 
that replica must have physico-chemical structure, 
however fine ; and such a structure cannot possibly 
elude scientific detection. 

No, the ingenious doctrine of sufyhma shareer 
won't do in this age when physiology has penetrated 
the mystery of death. It commanded credence in 
an atmosphere of ignorance about the structure 
of body and the nature of life. But without 
the assumption of the su\shma fharecr, it is not 
possible to maintain that transmigration can be 
proved. From the point of view of scientific 
method, all stories like that of Shanti Devi, no 
matter how very "authoritatively" told and 
"scientifically" corroborated, are prima facie un- 
tenable. A disembodied spirit cannot have 
memory ; and a physical organisation such as can 
carry over memory cannot survive death. On the 
one hand, you cannot prove your case on your own 
ground ; on the other hand, when your proposition 
is apparently such as can be scientifically tested, it 
palpably rests on a false premise and therefore docs 
not deserve further consideration. 



The whole procedure is logically fallacious. 
It rests on the assumption of that which it seeks 
to prove. If survival after death is proved by 
" unchallengeable facts", then, immortality of soul 
and the existence of soul itself are proved. That 
is the argument. But the possibility of survival 
pre-supposes the existence of something which 
does not die with the body. If this pre-supposi- 
tion were not there, all such stories would be 
received with extreme scepticism. Their veracity 
is prima facie doubtful from the point of view of 
scientific knowledge. In the absence of the pre- 
supposition, such stories could not be regarded 
a priori as corroborating an established doctrine, 
but as phenomena to be scientifically explained. 
An enquiry taken up with such an attitude of 
scepticism and scientific objectivity would adopt 
entirely different methods. 

Recent psychological research shows that col- 
lecting evidence is not a simple affair at all. 
The reliability of evidence depends upon a large 
variety of factors which are independent of the 
moral integrity of the witness. Preoccupation is 
the most decisive. Thanks to it, people imagine 
seeing things which are not seen by others not 
so pre-occupied. On the other hand, emotional 
or physical agitation makes people fail to notice 
the most obvious. The actual nature of the 
simplest and most obvious events is usually not fully 



realised by the great majority of those who happen 
to witness them. Only trained observers with 
keen intelligence are able to report events approxi- 
mately correctly. 

The pre-condition for a really scientific investi- 
gation is to ascertain that what are called facts 
are really facts. Without this preliminary caution, 
castles are built in the air only too easily, and 
are therefore bound to crash under the slightest 
impact of reason. Once fictions are taken for 
facts, the rest follows swimmingly. Many people 
who believe to have seen ghosts report an actual 
experience. But that does not prove that they 
have experienced any objective fact. Yet, such 
"facts" that reliable persons have actually seen 
ghosts persuade many intelligent people to believe 
in ghosts. Things imagined are seen by imagi- 
native eyes. They are "facts" as long as the 
imagination lasts. Therefore, figments of imagina- 
tion, though facts as such, cannot be taken for 
the evidence for any objective reality. 

Let alone experimental psychology, anybody 
who has read cleverly written detective stories 
knows that observation is not an easy business. 
To see is not to observe. A few instances of 
experimental recording of evidence may benefit 
those who dogmatically assert that the "verifica- 
tion" of such stories as Shanti Devi's is a chal- 
lenge to modern psychology. I am boldly or 



hopefully assuming that they can be benefitted, that 
they are not irreparably lost in prejudice. 

W. M. Marston discovered the method of 
detecting through a mechanical indicator of blood- 
pressure, whether an arrested person on examin- 
ation is telling the truth. The following experi- 
ment was made by that famous American psycho- 
logist. The experimenter was in a room with 
eighteen other educated persons mostly lawyers 
who had no previous knowledge that there was 
going to be any experiment. They were all behav- 
ing spontaneously as in any chance gathering all 
casually chatting. After a while, as arranged 
beforehand by the experimenter, a young man, 
dressed so as to attract attention, rushed into the 
room, and handed to the experimenter an yellow 
envelope. While the experimenter was occupied 
in reading the message, the bearer, as previously 
instructed, drew out a large knife in a way that 
everyone in the room could see him do so. Dr. 
Marston writes : " Not one of those eighteen 
witnesses noticed the knife 1 Their attention was 
on the supposed telegram. When asked in direct 
examination about the knife, they all denied seeing 
it. During cross-examination, they became still 
more vehement in their denials. They suspected 
that the cross-examiner was trying to trick them 
into making false statements. Yet the knife had 



been held in full view for approximately three 
minutes 1 " 

Then there are the so-called Aussage-tcsts, 
which show how really difficult fact-finding is. 
Students in a class room are asked to write 
down everything they observe. The professor 
arranges for a variety of events to take place 
which the students are to report. The mistakes 
are amazing, simply incredible. Had not the same 
test been repeated over and over again in different 
colleges, with different groups of students, the 
story would sound fantastic. On the average, less 
than thirty per cent, of the students report the 
events correctly. Such amazing mistakes, for 
example, are made : One of the events enacted 
was several people exchanging heated words. A 
number of students not only failed to report such 
an outstanding occurrence, but when asked about 
it later-on, denied all knowledge of it. In another 
experiment, no less than three students described 
" an unarmed person who had made no offensive 
remark " as whipping out a pistol and shout : 
" Stop, or I shoot ! " Apart from these singulari- 
ties which can be explained by modern psychology, 
the average result is that in no case out of hundred- 
and-fifty events to be observed more than forty-one 
arc correctly described. The most disturbing factor 
of pre-occupation is eliminated from all these 
experiments. The events enacted are all of the 



ordinary mechanical sort, which are not likely to 
touch off some pre-occupied idea. The students 
are eager to demonstrate their power of concen- 
tration necessary for accurate observation. Yet 
the reports are so very defective ! While the mind 
is attracted by one particular event, others happen 
which may or may not enter the consciousness of 
all present on the scene. That greatly depends on 
the circumstances and the mental make-up of the 

I wonder if the enthusiasts about such "de- 
monstrations" as the case of Shanti Devi are able 
to learn anything from these experimental tests of 
the reliability of eye-witnesses. So, I must put the 
point bluntly. The "verification" of the story is 
not reliable ; it has no scientific validity ; the report 
of the expedition to Muttra does not prove any- 
thing. The evidence of the Committee of Investi- 
gation is to be taken with a very large grain of salt. 
This does not imply any aspersion on the integrity 
and truthfulness of the gentlemen concerned. The 
scepticism is justified by the demonstrated fact that 
reports of thoroughly honest and intelligent 
eye-witnesses are seldom reliable. Instead of telling 
the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, they 
are never more than partially true and often alto- 
gether false. Therefore, no deduction from such 
evidence can be scientifically valid. 

What are the "facts" of this particular case? 



(1) The girl is reported to have picked out of a 
crowd several persons and identified them as her 
husband, father-in-law, etc. in the fomer life ; (2) 
she is reported to have directed the investigators 
to the house where she claims to have lived in her 
previous life ; (3) she is reported to have given 
clear evidence of familiarity with the house. There 
are other details. But these are the salient " facts." 

Now, think of the circumstances under which 
these " facts " were found. It was previously 
known at Muttra that the Committee was coming. 
Those picked out by the girl as her former relatives 
were previously informed of the story in which 
they subsequently figured so prominently and 
honourably. Yes, honourably ; that's the crucial 
point which upsets the balance of any possible 
objectivity or impartiality. 

The Committee was received at the station 
by a crowd eager to see a miracle performed. 
It was, therefore, in a state of great emotional 
excitement, which does not tolerate caution, and 
rules out criticism. In short, pre-occupation was 
the dominating factor of the mental atmosphere 
in which the story was " verified." How is it 
possible to be sure that her would-be relatives 
did not hail the girl before she recognised them? 
In the given situation, such a possibility could 
not be excluded. Granted that precautions were 
taken against their actually doing so, although the 



reports do not say that such was the case. Even 
then it was impossible to control the emotions 
of a whole crowd. It can be reasonably presumed 
that immediately on their appearance on the scene, 
there were such exclamations as "There comes 
her husband or father-in-law or son ! " Such ex- 
clamations would be totally involuntary, none 
would act with the purpose of giving the girl a 
tip. For the crowd, there was no doubt about the 
story. The idea that the girl might not recognise 
her relatives would not occur to anybody. So, 
why should any one ever think of coming to her 
aid? The members of the Committee, granted 
that they were sufficiently critical, would be 
naturally closely watching the girl, and conse- 
quently fail to notice the behaviour of the crowd. 
It would be quite natural for the credulous popu- 
lace, already acquainted with the story, to specu- 
late who might have been relatives of the girl in 
her previous life, in which house she might have 
lived, so on and so forth. Equally natural it would 
be for them to .believe that only people distin- 
guished for piety could have been related to such 
a spiritually gifted girl. Many must have aspired 
for that distinction ; and most probably the pre- 
tenders had staked their claim publicly. Conse- 
quently, the identification can have no value as 
reliable evidence, unless it was assured that all the 
necessary precautions had been taken. The assur- 



ance is lacking. The fact is that preconditions for 
a scientific investigation were totally absent. The 
unreliability of the " verification " results from the 
circumstances in which the enquiry was conduc- 
ted, as well as from the method adopted. The 
enquiry was hopelessly prejudiced by the fact that 
the story was publicly known at Muttra previous 
to the arrival of the Committee of Investigation. 
Having had previous information, it would be 
only natural for the would-be relatives to present 
themselves proudly and prominently at the station. 
One must have a very high degree of credulity to 
believe that, under the given circumstances, the 
girl's behaviour was not aided and influenced in- 
voluntarily. The essential condition for a reliable 
test would be to keep the people at Muttra totally 
in the dark. This condition was absent. The pre- 
caution was not taken. It could not be done. 
The story was a public property before the forma- 
tion of the Investigation Committee. The enquiry 
was undertaken when it was too late to conduct 
it under conditions which could give the most 
minimum guarantee for the reliability of the 

As regards the other "facts", they were 
" found" similarly under the pressure of circum- 
stances which were all too favourable for the pur- 
pose. Uncontrolled movement of the crowd, which 
previously knew where the house was, must have 



helped the girl direct the Committee. Then, in the 
house, who could guarantee that her actions were 
not forced by eager "relatives" reminding her of 
events of the past and indicating places, such as 
the sleeping room, bathing ghat, etc.? "There 
you used to keep your clothes, is it not ? " The 
girl would immediately "remember." None was 
consciously fabricating the story. All concerned 
were honest in their belief. That is exactly the 
point. In an atmosphere of unmitigated credulity, 
fictions are easily raised to the dignity of facts. 
Everyone present on the scene was there to see 
the demonstration of a truth, any doubt about 
which was out of the question. Granted that the 
Committee was the exception, it also was the victim 
of circumstances. 

The necessary precautions not having been 
taken, the Committee could not possibly control 
the situation. It would be extremely bold for it 
to assert that throughout the enquiry nothing hap- 
pened which could influence the girl's actions. 
Should the Committee make such assertion, it 
would be testifying against its own objectivity* 
Then, as far as I know, not a single member of the 
Committee was sceptical about the doctrine of soul 
and the belief in life after death. That fact alone 
is sufficient to disqualify the gentlemen for the 

You cannot put your own faith to test. That 



is psychologically impossible. The desire to test it 
signifies that the faith is lost. As long as you 
believe a thing to be true, you don't feel the neces- 
sity of verifying it. If you do so, that is with the 
purpose of convincing others who do not share 
your belief. There is sufficient reason to think that 
that was the purpose of the investigation. Indeed, 
it was not investigation, but verification. Investi- 
gation pre-supposes scepticism. There was a con- 
crete instance of transmigration. The proposition 
was to verify it so. as to adduce empirical evidence 
in support of the doctrine. Obviously, the Com- 
mittee was prejudiced. Its object was not to find 
facts to ascertain if what appeared in the story as 
facts, were really facts. Its object was to prove 
that the story was true. 

Apart from these psychological and methodo- 
logical considerations, there are other grounds for 
doubting that the enquiry was conducted with 
rigour. There are discrepancies in the details of 
different reports. The Committee's report avoids 
these details. But pressmen deal with them, and in 
doing so, expose that the whole affair was rather 
a procession to celebrate a miracle than an enquiry 
for checking up the veracity of assertions made by 
an illiterate female infant. 

Thus, from the scientific point of view, the 
verification does not prove anything more than the 
tenacity of the belief in transmigration. But 



tenacity of belief is not the test of its truth. 
Obviously, the story was not put to a test. The 
report of the Committee is worthless as evidence. 
It may be respected as a declaration of faith ; but 
as a challenge to science, it is ridiculous. The 
pretentious challengers have not observed the 
elementary rules of the game, being blissfully 
ignorant of the elementary principles of scientific 
enquiry. It is amusing that even now clever 
people are seriously talking of a " scientific investi- 
gation" of the question. It does not occur to 
these "scientific" believers that the data for this 
proposed investigation, namely, the report of the 
Committee, are scientifically worthless. Nor is it 
possible any longer to verify the data. It is too 
late to create conditions necessary for a scientific 
enquiry. Any scientific investigation into the 
question of transmigration must begin with some 
other story. Then, the first condition must be that 
the story does not spread before it is put to a 
rigorously controlled test. 

It is rather surprising that so much excite- 
ment has been caused by this particular story. 
It is by no means a singular phenomenon. Tales 
of people remembering events of past life are 
frequently told in this country. They are of 
common currency even among the modern 
educated. But never before was there any orga- 
nised verification enacted. This particular story 



does not seem to be any different from others ; 
it does not offer any clearer or more conclusive evi- 
dence in support of the belief in transmigration. 
Even now one reads in the press reports of new 
phenomena. Why the scope of investigation is 
not extended? Why rest your case on data that 
cannot stand the test of criticism, and stick to a 
story that can no longer be subjected to a new 
verification? The "scientific" defenders of the 
doctrine of transmigration seem to be afraid of 
going too far afield. 

Anybody with some scientific education knows 
that these stories are bred in the cess-pool of 
superstition ; and that, given the atmosphere of 
rank credulity, in which they thrive, they do not 
offer any basis for a rigorous scientific investi- 
gation. Every instance of superstition cannot be 
regarded as upsetting the theories of science 
established on the solid foundation of systematic 
observation and rigorous experiments. A scientific 
enquiry must start from a plausible hypothesis ; 
and for an enquiry, to be conducted according to 
the scientific method, the hypothesis must be 
scientifically plausible. The only hypothesis that 
could be plausibly set up on the prima facie 
evidence of the current stories, including the 
present one, is that memory survives death of the 
body. But this hypothesis is not scientifically 
plausible, because it is excluded by the definite 



knowledge that no such physical organisation as 
can carry memory, survives the biological event 
called death. 

So, no enquiry would be scientific if it started 
from the acceptance of the stories on their face- 
value. It is necessary to go a step backward. 
The point of departure should be a critical attitude 
towards the stories themselves. 

If somebody announces the discovery of some 
hitherto unknown phenomenon, such as water 
freezing on fire, or a man with three legs, or 
a stone floating on water, which, if verified, would 
invalidate this or that scientific theory, the first 
thing to be done is to ascertain the reliability of 
the discoverer. It is not a question of moral 
integrity, but of intellectual ability and the psycho- 
logical state in which the discovery was made. 
How did he make the discovery? Where did he 
see the phenomenon described? Was he pre- 
viously acquainted with the scientific theory which 
is apparently contradicted by his discovery ? What 
was his attitude towards this theory? Did he 
really see the phenomenon, or is he repeating 
a hear-say? Is he capable of scrutinising, and 
correctly reporting? Is he not susceptible to 
hallucinations? These are some of the questions 
that must be satisfactorily answered before the 
discovery could be taken seriously, and its verifi- 
cation considered worthwhile. 



The stories about transmigration should be 
subjected to similar scrutiny before they could be 
taken for the basis of any scientific investigation. 
Shanti Devi's story was not so scrutinised. One 
might indignantly demand : Why should we 
think that a little girl had fabricated such an 
elaborate story? But there are different ways of 
looking at a thing. It could be asked, not 
indignantly, but with more pertinence : How could 
a story told by a mere child, born and brought up 
in an atmosphere of superstition, be taken on its 
face-value ? Is it not conceivable that the story was 
fabricated by others and put in her mouth? The 
fabrication could be done unconsciously ; it would 
be a fabrication none the less. I do not assert 
that it was fabricated, but suggest that such stories 
can be mere fabrications. And that was a vital 
point to be looked into. 

How did the story originate ? Did the parents 
of the child and others who claim to have it first, 
previously believe in transmigration? Undoubted- 
ly they did. That being the case, the story might 
have conceivably been constructed on the basis 
of some casual childish remark. The initial proce- 
dure, therefore, should have been a through 
cross-examination of those through whose inter- 
mediary the story reached the public. Such a 
procedure might have exposed the fictitious nature 
of the story, and obviate all the fuss made over 



its verification. When the data are not con- 
trolled, verification may make facts out of a 
fiction. It is a fact that, whatever might have 
been the genesis of the story, the people initially 
concerned with it are firm believers in trans- 
migration. This fact alone provides sufficient 
ground for the assumption that, by the time it 
reached the public, the story must have beerv highly 
coloured by the imagination of its original pur- 
veyors. The story as it reached the public must 
be very different from the original told by the 
girl, if she ever did really tell any at all. It is 
well-known how tales of the extraordinary are 
embellished in the course of propagation. The 
story might have originated in the following way, 
for example. 

The girl heard her parents or other members 
of the household talk about past life in general. 
Devout Hindus are always talking of the fytrma 
in previous births. There might have been refer- 
ences to people remembering events of past life. 
In course of such conversations, someone might 
have playfully asked the young girl what was 
she in her past life. Such conversations would 
be quite likely to quicken the imagination of the 
young girl. Whether the girl is temperamentally 
given to fantasy, could be easily ascertained 
through psychiatrical tests. This is one of the 
steps that should have been taken in order to 



dig into the origin of the story. A child with 
abnormal power of imagination would be quite 
liable to spin a fantastic yarn out of suitable 
materials picked up at random. Having heard fairy 
tales, such children would imagine seeing fairies, 
and would relate the "experience" so graphically 
and with such conviction as would assure the accep- 
tance of the story by the credulous. If the story 
was the product of imagination, how is it to be 
explained that she mentioned one particular place 
and some particular persons ? There is no difficulty 
about it. But before talking of explanation, it must 
be asked if there is really anything to explain. 
That the original story was so full of concrete de- 
tails, is open to reasonable doubt. At any rate, 
there is no guarantee that originally the girl 
actually did mention the place and persons. Those 
details could have been interpolated by those who 
made the story public. But granted that the girl 
herself did supply the details she could have hit 
upon the particular place and persons simply by 
hearing about them. 

The only valid argument against this psycho- 
logically plausible assumption would be to establish 
the fact that her " relatives " at Muttra were totally 
unknown to the family of the girl before she re- 
vealed the secret. This all-important point was 
never touched. None of the investigators ever 
took the trouble of ascertaining this fact. Indeed, 



none thought it necessary to scrutinise the origin 
of the story. Now then, supposing that the people 
at Muttra had been previously known to the girl's 
family, she must have heard the names mentioned. 
Then, the name of the place, Muttra, is very sug- 
gestive of all sorts of miraculous happenings. The 
girl might have heard that the death of the woman 
at Muttra had some temporary relation with her 
own birth, and moreover that she died at child- 
birth. Furthermore, that coincidence might have 
suggested to some member of her family that pro- 
bably the dead woman was re-born as the girl. 
While dwelling on the coincidence, someone might 
have casually or playfully asked the girl if she was 
the reincarnation of the Muttra woman. An affir- 
mative answer, given by the girl, mechanically, or 
allured by the idea of having lived at Muttra, would 
start the whole story with all the details put in 
subsequently ; and that would be done fully in 
good faith. The story as it eventually reached the 
public need not have any more substantial founda- 
tion of fact. Nevertheless, it would be a menda- 
cious fabrication. 

Once the point of departure is given by the 
whim or fantasy on the part of the girl, the 
whole story follows logically. Only, the worked 
out yarn was not originally told by the girl ; it 
was put in her mouth, but those who did so 
were unaware that they were spreading a false- 



hood They themselves honestly believed in the 
story. It derived its "truthfulness" from the 
faith on the part of the good people in the 
doctrine of transmigration. Given that faith, the 
story necessarily follows from the single affirma- 
tive syllable pronounced by the girl. If she was 
the dead woman, then so-and-so, of course, was 
her husband, so-and-so her father-in-law, her 
child was still living, she lived in that particular 
house, etc., etc. What could be more obvious? 
And it would only be all too easy for the girl 
to repeat the story as told by herself from the 
very beginning. 

The origin of the story may be explained in 
still another way even more scientific. The former 
explanation is psychological, the latter biological. 
It might sound rather far-fetched, but it is quite 
plausible scientifically. Of course, in this case 
also, the starting point is the assumption that 
the Muttra people were previously known to the 
girl's family. The assumption is permissible, be- 
cause this a point that can still be ascertained. It 
is not an arbitrary assumption. , Let others prove 
that it is baseless ; meanwhile, the exposure of 
the fictitious origin of the story is hypothetically 

But the investigation of this crucial point 
must be very rigorous. Statements of the parties 
concerned, however solemnly made, are not valid 



as evidence. Independent evidence must be sought. 
Meanwhile, the assumption of previous acquaint- 
ance stands. Without it, no scientific explana- 
tion is possible. Science has been challenged ; so 
it is entitled to offer its explanation, and its 
explanation should not be judged by the standard 
set up by the alternative view of the question. 
Science has no plausible ground for assuming 
transmigration. Therefore, it must approach the 
story from some other angle of vision with the 
object of explaining a phenomenon. If previous 
acquaintance is proved (and it is sure to be proved, 
provided that the enquiry is properly made, because 
it is practically certain that it was there), then, 
the origin of the story would be scientifically ex- 
plained, and consequently, it could no longer serve 
as a hypothetical ground for the doctrine of trans- 
migration. The story exposed as a fiction, the 
question of verification does not arise. 

Here is the other hypothetical explanation- 
from the biological point of view. The death 
of the woman at Muttra might have been talked 
about by the girl's mother before her (girl's) 
birth. It appears from the reports that there was 
an interval between the death of the woman at 
Muttra and the birth of the girl. The interval 
has not been definitely fixed yet another evi- 
dence for the looseness of the whole enquiry. 
So, it is just possible that rather the conception 



than the birth of the girl approximately coincided 
with the death of the woman. Indeed, for the 
convenience of the demonstrators of the doctrine 
of soul, this should be the case ; otherwise, the 
transmigrators would be confronted with a tough 

The new organism is "born" at the moment 
of conception. As soon as the ovum is fertilised, 
a new organism comes into being. Since the 
doctrine of transmigration must interpret soul as 
the sufyhma shareer, according to it, the em- 
bryonic body should be occupied by the transmi- 
grating soul at the moment of conception. 

But to return to the point. At the time of 
the conception of the girl, her mother might 
have thought of the recent death of the woman 
at Muttra. Assuming that there was acquaintance, 
such thought would be only too natural, parti- 
cularly because the death had been at child-birth. 
While remembering the death of a kin or an 
acquaintance, she might fancy that the dead 
woman would be born as her prospective child. 
Thoughts or fancies that occupy the mind of the 
mother at the moment of conception are known 
to be deeply impressed upon the embryo, and 
thus inherited by the child. That is the reason 
for the great difference noticed in the psychology 
of children born of spontaneous love and of those 
produced by "breeding machines". That is an 



incidental remark. Subsequently, the mother might 
keep on thinking of the possibility of the dead 
woman's going to be reborn as her child, and talk 
about that fancy of hers. Such behaviour on the 
part of the mother would render it possible that 
the girl was born with a pre-conceived idea, 
inherited from her mother, accidentally to emerge 
from her sub-conscious mind, in response to some 
external suggestion, as " the memory of past life ". 
Of course, even then the story would not 
be so full of concrete details. These would be 
filled in as in the case of the alternative psycho- 
logical explanation, but in a lesser degree. In this 
case, the nucleus of the story would spontane- 
ously originate with the girl. On hearing Muttra 
mentioned, she might suddenly be conscious of 
the pre-conceived idea inherited from the mother, 
and say : " Oh, I know Muttra. I lived there," or 
something like it. Any such declaration or insinua- 
tion on the part of the girl would confirm the 
mother's premonition. She would say that she 
had always thought so, or felt so. The mother's 
original fancy would thus be immediately trans- 
formed into a "reality". And the story would 
be woven with all the details, just as in the 
case of the alternative possibility. Only, in this 
case, it would have a broader foundation of " fact ". 
The girl, presumably, had never been to Muttra. 
So, she could have known the place, lived there, 



only in the past life. She says so. Therefore, 
she must be recollecting her past life. This assump- 
tion logically follows from the belief in transmi- 

While watching all the commotion caused by 
the story of Shanti Devi, who came to be such an 
object of reverence as to be received in audience by 
the Maharaja of Patiala as well as by the Mahatma, 
I could not help being somewhat scornful about 
the intelligence of the proud and aggressive defen- 
ders of the spiritual culture of India. It could be 
easily seen that there were a number of serious 
questions which the believers in transmigration 
would find very difficult to answer satisfactorily. 

For instance, why does not everybody remem- 
ber the events of past life ? Inability to answer 
this question convincingly, is fatal for the conten- 
tion that stories of rare individuals, having the 
remembrance, prove transmigration. It is held 
that the doctrine of life after death is not a 
matter of belief, of primitive animistic tradition ; 
that it can be empirically proved. Now, empi- 
rical laws are inductive generalisations. Human 
mortality is believed to be a law of nature, be- 
cause all men die sooner or later. But in the case 
of transmigration, we are asked to generalise from 
the exception ! That is a very curious idea of 
empirical proof. Suppose some individuals are 
found to have outlived the usual span of human 



life. The maximum claim justifiable on the strength 
of that discovery, provided that the data are cri- 
tically checked up, would be that mortality is not 
a general law. On the strength of the fact that 
a few men have lived well over a hundred years, 
it would be simply ridiculous to maintain that 
millions and millions, actually observed to die, do 
not really die ! The attempt to prove trans- 
migration empirically involves the responsibility 
of explaining why everyone cannot remember the 
past life. In the absence of this explanation, 
the empirical evidence is all against the doctrine. 
If memory is the evidence of past life, the general 
rule is the absence of this evidence. Unless this 
overwhelming evidence to the contrary is satisfac- 
torily explained, empirical defence of transmigra- 
tion is a hopeless undertaking. This explanation 
has never been attempted, because there is none. 

The Scriptures say that to see into the past 
and future, one must be endowed with divya 
drishti. Since the Scriptures are infallible, the 
faithful must believe that those who remember 
events of past life are possessed of a power which 
accrues only to the spiritually elevated. Indeed, 
those rare cases are so regarded. Shanti Devi has 
become a minor Saint. The curious thing is that 
this spiritual attribute is usually claimed, in these 
degenerate days of modern civilisation, by ignor- 
ant people. None of the educated defenders of 



transmigration seem to possess the requisite 
spiritual refinement which would enable them to 
experience the truth of what they so tenaciously 
believe in. The divya drishti is denied even to 
our modern Swamis those proud propagandists of 
Indian Spiritualism. This is rather unfortunate. 
Because the fact that divya drishti is seldom 
possessed by those who really possess spiritual 
refinements, encourages the irreverential conclusion 
that ignorance and the consequent superstition are 
the foundation of " divine " powers. And it follows 
logically that in the Golden Age of yore, there 
were so many more seers because there was so 
much more ignorance. 

However, the doctrine of divya drishti is no 
answer to the question. It "explains" why 
some can see what others cannot; but it does 
not explain why everybody cannot remember past 
life. If I really had a past life, then there is no 
reason for supposing that I must have a special 
kind of spiritual power to remember it. It won't 
do to argue that spiritual vision is clouded by 
attachment, by the bondage of the body. Memory 
is a sign of attachment. We remember things we 
like or dislike. Matters of indifference are easily 
forgotten. So, remembrance of past life is not a 
token of spiritual elevation ; on the contrary, it 
proves greater attachment than in ordinary cases. 
We are forced to the conclusion that, the greater 



the attachment to life, the clearer the spiritual 
vision, a conclusion which contradicts the assump- 
tion that the common people cannot see into the 
past, because the effulgence of their souls is 
clouded by the bondage of the body. The con- 
clusion is ruinous for spiritualism in general. 
Attachment, not only to this life, but also to the 
memory of the past, is the sign of spiritual 

It is impossible to rationalise irrationalisnu 
Transmigration is an article of faith, which follows 
from the ad hoc assumption of an immortal souL 
It cannot be proved. It is foolish of the storm- 
troopers of spiritualism to risk a battle with 
science on its own ground. Theirs is a hopelessly 
lost cause. 

There are still other questions which the 
defenders of transmigration also cannot answer. 
What happens between the death and re-birth ? 
How does the soul or the su\shma shareer enter 
the new body ? At what stage of its evolution 
does the embryo acquire a soul ? How is the 
choice of the next body made ? These are ques- 
tions which suggest themselves to anybody not 
blinded by faith. None of the traditional 
answers to them can stand scientific scrutiny. 
But unless these and many other equally perti- 
nent questions are satisfactorily answered, it is 
simple dogmatism to assert that transmigration is 



a demonstrated or verifiable fact. The spiritualist 
jubilation over the desired debacle of science is 
dogmatism pure and simple. If transmigration 
and other spiritualist beliefs are founded on the 
verifiable knowledge of objective realities, why 
the crusade against science ? Science knows no 
finality. It does not claim absoluteness. It never 
hesitates to throw over-board established theories 
if they are contradicted by objective facts. If 
transmigration could be proved to be a fact, 
science would be readily convinced. Only, it 
refuses to take anything for granted. The spiri- 
tualists, however, do not maintain that their 
view of life is scientific. Their point is that 
science is all nonsense. The reason of thq crusade 
against science is that it dispenses with the assump- 
tion of super-natural agencies for the explanation 
of life ; and belief in the super-natural is the very 
essence of spiritualism. Disembodied spirit is a 
super-natural category. It is above and beyond 
the laws of nature. Science can explain, hypothe- 
tically at any rate, all phenomena which may defy 
it. And scientific hypothesis is not ad hoc assump- 
tion. It is logically plausible and subject to veri- 
fication. If hypothetical explanations are not 
borne out by observation and experiments, science 
simply looks for other explanations. Exceptions do 
not definitely disprove a law ; besides, very often 
the exceptions, on close and critical examination, 



are found to be not exceptions at all. On the 
question of transmigration, science is not per- 
turbed by the challenge of the divine vision of 
ignorance and superstition. It can easily expose 
the fictitious nature of stories like that of Shanti 
Devi can reveal their origin in the atmosphere 
of superstitious beliefs based on ignorance. It 
can defend itself against the attack of spiritualist 
prejudice. Fighting science, on its own ground, 
spiritualism suffers irreparable defeat. Attack is 
not the best defence always. Sometimes it is 
simply foolish and ruinous. That is the case with 
the spiritualist crusade against science. 

Science and rationalism, on the other hand, can 
carry the fight triumphantly in the enemy's terri- 
tory. Rationlist thought does not challenge spiri- 
tualism to meet science on the latter's ground. It 
exposes the fallacies of spiritualist thought, and 
rejects it on the strength of its own evidence. Let 
spiritualism take up the challenge represented by 
the above questions which rise from the belief in 

The idea of su\$hma sharecr is implicit in 
the doctrine of transmigration. For one thing, 
the idea contradicts the notion of disembodied 
spirit ; it means that the soul is attached to the 
body. Secondly, if the su\shma shareer were a 
reality, conception as a rule should be immaculate. 
The physical process would be unnecessary. Why 



did, then, God give human beings, created after his 
own image, a physical structure which is a super- 
fluity in the divine scheme of things ? There 
should not have been males and females. The 
former, at any rate, could be dispensed with. All 
sukjhma shareers could enter mother's womb as 
in the case of Saints and Avatars. What a mishap 
that would be for the arrogant male ! And what 
a gloomy existence for the female to bear the 
pains of motherhood without the joy of love that 
makes it worthwhile ! I wonder how many normal 
females would relish being virgin mothers. How- 
ever, nature, with or without the sanction of 
God, is happily not such a monstrosity. Concep- 
tion of a new organism is a physical process 
which excludes the entrance of sufyhma shareer 
in the embryonic gross body. Genetics and gynea- 
cology trace step by step the whole process of 
evolution of a human organism from a fertilised 
egg. Until it leaves the mother's womb, the new 
organism has no direct contact with the external 
world. The foundation of all spiritual attributes is 
life. The inanimate is purely material. That which 
differentiates organic beings from gross material 
existence, namely, life, is a chemical phenomenon. 
An eggXa sperm cell=a new life. Where does 
the soul come in ? If it is a disembodied spirit, 
whose mysterious ways are beyond the compre- 
hension of science, well, have it that way; but 



then the doctrine of transmigration must be 
abandoned, because this cannot do without the 
su^shma sharccr, which evidently is not a dis- 
embodied spirit. 

There is still another fly in the spiritualist 
ointment. The birth (conception) of higher orga- 
nisms results from the combination of two living 
entities the ovum and the spermatozoa. If every 
living body is the seat of a soul, in other words, 
if the presence of soul brings about the pheno- 
menon of life, then two souls a^e involved in 
every act of conception, the result of which is 
one body, providing home for one soul. What 
happens to the other ? Which of the two souls 
contending for the prospective home, gets posses- 
sion ? How is the duel between souls seeking a 
vehicle of re-birth settled ? A " scientific " expla- 
nation of the doctrine of re-birth cannot carry 
conviction unless these questions are scientifically 
answered ; that is to say, unless it is able to give 
such answers as can stand the scientific test of veri- 
fication under control. 

The two living entities going into the forma- 
tion of a new organism come from two different 
bodies. So, if they bring along any traces of 
memory, that will be only memory of the parental 
bodies. They, having grown in those bodies, can 
possibly be the seat of extraneous informations. 
And science has discovered that parental charac- 



teristics, mental, emotional, as well as physical, are 
inherited that way. But remembrance of events 
is not a part of that inheritance which may be 
traced back throughout the whole line of evolution 
of the species. The previous birth of any one 
human being is lived in two places, the mother's 
as well as the father's body. It is lived as germ 
cells which, having no brain could not have any 
memory. In any case, previous birth having been 
lived in the sexual glands of two different bodies, 
the question of remembering the events of a life 
lived as a human being in the world at large does 
not arise, within the limits of scientific know- 

Yet another point of fact in the process of 
the birth of a new organism queers the case of 
the " scientific " defenders of the doctrine of 
transmigration. Life is not interjected from out- 
side. It is inherited from the parental bodies. 
This being the case, souls seeking re-birth cannot 
directly enter into new bodies, nor can they 
choose their new worldly abode. They must enter 
into the parental bodies, and wait for a chance 
to be born in a new body. But the germ cells 
are born in parental bodies. So, souls coming 
from outside, in order to live in them, are ficti- 
tious. And what is still queerer is that, suppos- 
ing that souls do come from outside, each must 
split itself into two, one half entering the mother's 



body and the other half the father's. Otherwise, 
the duel for the possession of the new home can- 
not be avoided. But even then, there arises a new 
problem : Where is the guarantee that the corres- 
ponding halves will come together at conception? 

Bodies in the state of puberty generate 
myriads of germ cells, only very very few of which 
go into the conception of new organisms. In 
such a situation, the probability of correspond- 
ing halves of a soul coming together again in one 
body, is extremely small. Here the " scientific " 
re-incarnationist could make a point : That pre- 
vious birth is not usually remembered precisely 
because of the extreme rarity of cases in which it 
is possible. But to make this point, itself not 
very strong, he must throw off his whole case. 
He must admit that transmigration is not direct ; 
and then he would have to prove that germ cells 
are seats of souls seeking re-incarnation. However, 
let him take care of his case, and let us follow 
our argument. 

It is known that a vast majority of germ 
cells are killed off in the process of the concep- 
tion of one new organism. If they are stored up 
through the practice of celibacy, which is more 
often professed than really practised, they don't 
go up to the brain and increase intellectual and 
spiritual power. They are generated in the sexual 
glands. There they remain, creating the natural 



impulse of love-life, the inhibition of which is 
not a way to spiritual elevation, but to hallucina- 
tion caused by mental derangement. What 
happens to those poor souls or half-souls whose 
prospect of re-birth is thus annihilated ? They 
cannot move on to newly generated germ cells to 
wait for another chance. Each new germ cell is a 
self-contained living being. It has its own soul, and 
therefore cannot be the home for another homeless 
soul. Anyhow, the chance of a new human exist- 
ence in the world at large comes to only a few, and 
that by sheer accident. Thus, the great majority of 
souls are deprived of the chance of re-birth. How 
are those poor chaps ever to work out their \arma ? 
There is still another nut to crack. The germ 
cells that went into the making of Shanti Devi 
had been there in the bodies of her parents con- 
siderably before they went into her conception. So, 
the soul of Shanti Devi must have been awaiting 
re-birth even before the woman at Muttra died. 
How do you connect the two ? The fact (granted 
that it is a fact) that the woman at Muttra died 
just before Shanti Devi was born, disproves exactly 
what it is believed to prove : The dead woman's 
soul could not possibly re-incarnate in Shanti Devi. 
In order to have the ghost of a chance to do so, 
she should have died long before. She was still 
living when Shanti Devi's su\shma sharper was 
either living half and half in the bodies of her 



parents, or possibly reunited in her mother's womb. 
The way out of this difficulty would be to assert 
that the dead woman's soul did go directly over to 
the embryonic girl. This assertion, obviously, can- 
not be made scientifically. Besides, it involves the 
ruinous admission that living bodies, not only germ 
cells, but even a human embroyo, can be without a 
soul. Because, had the germ cells that went into 
the conception of the girl or her embryonic exist- 
ence been possessed of a soul, there would be no 
room for an interpolating soul coming straight from 
Muttra. Or, why should the older occupant be 
dislodged ? The admission of the possibility of 
life without soul is ruinous for spiritualism, because 
soul was invented to explain the phenomenon of 

Originally, soul was assumed for explaining 
vital phenomena. Now these can be explained 
without any animistic assumption. They are 
mechanical processes, associated with a certain 
physico-chemical organisation of matter. Life it- 
self is a chemical process. Where does soul come 
in ? It can remain as an article of blind faith a 
dogma. Its position might not be so hopeless if 
it were possible to find some break in the process 
of embryonic evolution. Then it could be main- 
tained (until science was able to fill up the gap) 
that the soul slips in through the rift in the 
mechanical process. In the absence of any such 



break, thanks to the self-containedness of the 
process of embryonic evolution, it is not possible 
to answer the question : How docs the soul 
enter a new body ? Inability to answer this and 
other associated questions leaves the spiritualists 
no ground whatsoever, on which they can stand 
in the crusade against science. When their 
alternative view is so palpably untenable, except as 
a matter of blind faith, they cannot reject the 
scientific view with any pretence of reasonableness. 
And the scientific view does not stand by the 
default of any alternative, but by its own merit. 
The spiritualist view was born of the inability to 
explain life in terms of the physical laws of nature. 
It stood in the absence of scientific knowledge. 
The rise of science sounded the deathknell of 
spiritualism. It persists as a prejudice. Tradition 
dies hard. 

The great bulk of the Indian people still 
vegetate in the pre-scientific age. Hence the 
prevalence of the belief in miracles, in the occult, 
in the mysterious, in the super-natural. The thin 
stratum of the modern educated is so weighed 
down by the ballast of general ignorance that 
instead of being the bold bearers of the torch oi 
scientific knowledge, they act as valiant defenders 
of the tradition of superstition. The pompous 
crusade against science is a vain effort to defend 
a view of life which must disappear if India is to 



live. The belief in transmigration fosters fatalism. 
Fatalism destroys initiative. Spiritualist culture 
has taught the Indian masses to be resigned. The 
spirit of revolt is unknown to them. But they 
must revolt ; otherwise, instead of saving the world 
with the message of their spiritual culture, they 
will themselves follow other ancient peoples into 
oblivion. To conquer the future, the past must 
be shaken off. The people of India must have the 
conviction that man makes his own destiny. 
Karma, fate, transmigration, unattachment, 
immortal spiritual essence, Providential Ordinance 
all these are ghosts out of a dead past. Let the 
past bury its dead, so that the people of India may 
live in a future brighter than the present. 



RELIGIOSITY is not an Indian monopoly. It is 
more wide-spread in this country than in others 
because in no other civilised country, the masses 
are so very ignorant. Ignorance and religiosity 
are causally connected. Besides, what is called 
naturally religious temperament, is really a culti- 
vated habit. Therefore, it may persist even in 
educated people capable of casting off supersti- 
tious beliefs if they want. Nor is it a matter 
of voluntary choice. It is a psychological pheno- 
menon which has an interesting history. Soul, 
mind or personality is not a static entity. Like 
any other empirical reality, it also has a natural 
history. At any given moment, it is a sum total 
of past experience, the major portion of which, 
however, remains subconscious. Emotional or 
spiritual life is largely dominated by impressions 
and impulses buried in the subconscious mind. 
Hence the mystic nature of the psychic phenomena. 

About the time that the story of Shanti Devi 
was widely advertised as the knock-out blow 
to the scientific disbelief in the doctrine of re- 
incarnation, I read in an American periodical the 



account of a "religious experience". In that case 
also, the subject was a girl of that accursed land 
of rank materialism. Nevertheless, the account 
shows how religious temperament can be culti- 
vated, and that mystic religious experiences result 
from preconceived notions, being nothing more 
mysterious than auto-hypnosis. Such experiences 
are familiar phenomena in India. But they are 
seldom observed critically and recorded as data 
for psychological or psychiatrical investigation. 
Superstition reads in them manifestations of the 
super-natural ; and they reinforce the religiosity, 
not only of the uneducated credulous, but often 
of the learned sceptic. 

The account of the experience of the American 
girl is also an instance of superstition, a cultivat- 
ed habit of religiosity. But taking place in a social 
atmosphere different from that of India, the event 
was scientifically explained. Nevertheless, in the 
face of a scientific explanation of the phenomenon, 
the cultivated religiosity of the girl and others of 
similar temperament remained unmoved in its 
blind faith. Therefore, I shall record the account 
as an appendix to the criticism of the "scientific 
verification" of Shanti Devi's story. 

A middle aged worker of the Ford Motor 
Works went to a Revivalist meeting with his wife 
and seventeen years old daughter. The entire 
family belonged to the congregation. For that 



particular meeting, the text of the Evangelist 
sermon was : " I will pour out my spirit in the 
last days, and the young men shall prophesy and 
the young women shall dream dreams." 

It was a winter evr-ring, wet and cold. The 
parents were reluctant to take along the girl who 
was of weak constitution, having had three attacks 
of pneumonia. But the girl would not miss the 
meeting, because she believed that it was going to 
be a great occasion for her. She had made that 
enthusiastic declaration on the way to the church. 
Evidently, she was determined to catch the spirit 
of God and "dream dreams." 

As soon as the preacher roused the congrega- 
tion to a frenzy, usual in such Revivalist meetings, 
the girl rushed up to the altar and collapsed there 
in a heap. She was in a trance, described variously 
in different religions, as beatitude, samadhi, dasha, 
etc. Throughout the night, the whole congrega- 
tion remained in the church and prayed in pious 
ecstasy. Finally, the unconscious girl was carried 
home. There, she lay in her trance day after day. 
The parents declined to take her to the hospital. 
They firmly belived that the girl was having a 
communion with God. The proud father exclaim- 
ed that the state of the girl was produced by the 
death of the sinful nature of the body. 

Physicians, however, came to ascertain that the 
life of the girl was not in danger. On examination, 


no alarming symptoms were found. There 
was nothing wrong physiologically the pulse was 
normal, reflexes satisfactory. But psychiatrists 
ascertained that psychologically (as distinct from 
purely physical reflex actions), the girl responded 
only to religious stimuli. For example, when a 
prayerful hymn was sung, the girl's pulsation 
increased ; on being asked if she loved God or 
was with him, there was a faint smile on her 
otherwise entirely expressionless face. Responding 
to the priest's call for a fervent prayer, the 
girl's rigid arms shot up in a supplicating posture, 
while the rest of her body was irresponsive to any 
stimulus. She held her arms up in that posture 
for forty minutes, while all the conscious members 
of the congregation, though in ecstasy, got tired 
in ten minutes more or less, as any ordinary person 
would. That was a " miracle " which was pro- 
claimed by the priest to be a manifestation of the 
super-natural power attained through the commu- 
nion with God. Members of the congregation, of 
course, believed it to be so, and kept on praying 

On the sixth day, having been in that state 
of religious coma for hundred and forty-three 
hours, the girl finally woke up to make the follow- 
ing declaration : " I seemed to be standing on a 
cloud with the earth below me, and I had a 
glimpse of the Heaven. I saw God walking to- 



wards me on a white path." She also claimed 
to have seen the recently dead little son of the 
priest, "picking flowers along the path, dressed 
in pure white." 

Now, that was a mystic experience which, in 
this country, would naturally reinforce the reli- 
giosity not only of a small community, but of the 
entire population. The educated would read in 
it another irrefutable evidence of transcendental 
truth and realities beyond the reach of scientific 
investigation. Disregarding her predisposition to 
auto-hypnosis, superstitious mentality, debilitated 
physical conditions conducive to abnormal neurotic 
state (hysteria), in short, her general spiritual 
backwardness, the girl would be hailed as a seer, 
a sadhu, a Free Spirit, and could easily assume 
the authority of a prophetess commanding a 
devoted following, if she were so disposed. And the 
band of her disciples would be composed mostly 
of educated people. For, with all their traditional 
religiosity, the ignorant masses are not actively 
religious. Not being at all bothered by the dis- 
turbing influence of modern education, even of 
the most rudimentary and superficial kind, they 
do not feel the necessity of rationalising their 
faith. In modern countries, religion still thrives 
only in its appropriate atmosphere among the 
ignorant, ill-educated, intellectually deficient, frus- 
trated. There, religious mentality is cultivated only 



by those deprived of the benefit of modern edu- 
cation or dejected by the defeat in the fierce 
struggle of life. In India, religious revivalism is 
rampant among the modern educated middle-class 
intellectuals. It is mostly by their effort that 
religious mentality is assiduously cultivated. There- 
fore, mystic experiences, authentic or fraudulent, 
which otherwise would be lost in the vast wilder- 
ness of mass superstition, receive so much publi- 
city whenever they happen to come to the notice 
of the modern intelligentsia. 

The skepticism of the talented young man, who 
became famous as Swami Vivekananda, was swept 
away by the claim of an illiterate person to mystic 
experience which, if subjected to a psychiatrical 
scrutiny, would be found to be of the nature of 
the experience of the American girl. In both 
cases, the claim is personal communion with God. 
Science has no difficulty in conceiving the sincerity 
of the claim in either case, and yet show that 
the experience takes place on the background of 
superstition and, therefore, though authentic sub- 
jectively, is not an experience of objective truth. 
It is mental anaesthesia, self-hypnotism or neurotic 
struggle with reality. 

Predisposition is the condition for mystic 
experience. One can be so disposed constitutionally, 
that is to say, possessed of a mental make-up 
heavily loaded with preconceived notions. Neurotic 



condition conducive to the struggle against reality 
results from inhibition of physical impulses and 
suppression of normal mental activities. In appa- 
rently normal persons, the predisposition for mystic 
experience can be produced by hetero-suggestion. 
Even in such cases, the predisposition is there, 
congenitally, so to say. It is partially over- 
whelmed by reason. The wavering will to believe 
is reinforced by the claim to actual religious experi- 
ence on the part of someone who easily does 
the rest by means of suggestion. In authentic 
cases of mystic initiation, the guru performs this 
function, of placing the disciple in the state 
of self-hypnotism. Latent predisposition is thus 

The content of religious experience, whether 
spontaneous or attained through laborious prac- 
tices, is imaginary. Interest is focussed upon a 
particular image to the exclusion of other objects 
claiming the attention of any normal person. 
There is, however, nothing mystic in the experi- 
ence ; it is a psychological state, either produced 
spontaneously, or cultivated through the practice 
of auto-suggestion. \Every psychological state 
can be reduced to a physiological state of 
the braiii Emotions are governed by internal 
secretions^ which, in their turn, are affected by 
emotional states. In psychological states, believed 
to be indications of religious experience, con- 



scious mind lapses into a coma ; the ego visits the 
dream-land of the subconscious. Neurotic persons 
fall into mental coma spontaneously. Hysteria is 
not usually regarded as a religous experience 
but as disease. Samadhi is mental coma attained 
through practice. It is a form of hysteria. Visions 
seen in samadhi, therefore, are not more divine 
than the dreams of the neurotic or the hallucina- 
tions of hysteria. They are images of the seer's 
desires. One may "see" whatever he wishes to 
see, provided that he has the faith necessary for 
the purpose. The village urchin " sees " ghosts in 
every bush, because he believes in all the ghost 
stories he has heard all his life. To have mystic 
visions, one needs only to disturb the normal 
operation of mind. 

What is believed to be the attainment of a 
higher form of consciousness, experience of realities 
beyond the reach of mind, is really a psychological 
reaction. It is either associated with given patho- 
logical conditions as in the case of those suffering 
from hysteria, or produced by the canalisation of 
mental activity on one particular interest. In 
either case, there is a temporay suspension, or 
coma, of cerebral functions in the neo-mental, 
intellectual area (cerebral cortex), psychological 
activity taking place then only in the paleo-mental, 
thalamic region (base of the brain). In other 
words, the more primitive, biological, functions of 



the nervous system gain predominance over what, 
in the absence of a more appropriate term, can be 
called purely mental activity. (This term is in- 
correct and misleading, because even the purest 
mental activity is expenditure of nervous energy, 
liberated either by external stimuli, or by the 
reciprocity of internal excitations). 

Rational activity takes place in the neo-mental 
region. When that part of the brain is in a state 
of coma, all intelligent control and guidance of 
psychological activity disappear. The ego is con- 
fronted with a chaotic kaleidoscope of stored-up 
images shifting under the influence of nervous re- 
flexes and mutual excitations. The operation of 
reason and intelligence thus suspended, there is a 
return to primitive (culturally as well as biologi- 
cally) psychological state dominated by supersti- 
tions. Mental pictures, created by ignorance, 
appear as realities actually experienced. Inhibited 
physical impulses, suppressed desires, are sublimated 
into mystic images and spontaneous emotions 

So, in the state of beatitude, attained in 
religious experience, intellectually, man sinks to a 
lower spiritual level, instead of rising high above 
the reach of consciousness. The theory is that all 
activity of the conscious mind must cease as con- 
dition for the realisation of the super-human in 
man. Now, modern physiology shows that cessa- 



tion of the conscious mental activity is produced 
by a cerebral coma, and therefore is coincident 
with the relapse into a more primitive psycho- 
logical state, wherein biological reflex-action 
reigns supreme. In that state, man comes nearer 
to animal than God. The divine sha\ti released 
by the suppression of the conscious mind, redly, 
is something which is neither divine nor myste- 
rious. It is the life-force which man shares with 
all the members of the organic world ; and that 
force is a form of physical energy. Man is spiri- 
tually superior to other living creatures because, 
in human organism, there appear psychological 
phenomena which transcend biological laws hold- 
ing supreme mechanically throughout the animal 
and vegetable kingdoms. Before it becomes cons- 
cious, life is an animal force : not even human 
much less divine. 

If shatyi is supposed to be something other 
than life, then it is a mere name, for nothing. 
It is a figment of imagination. Human organism 
does not possess any other empirical category of 
force than life and mind. The object of religious 
experience must be an empirical category ; other- 
wise, it would be nonsense to talk of experi- 
ence. While the yoga system differentiates life 
(prana) from the soul as well as from mind 
(manas), in the Gita, they are identified. And 
all the different schools of Hindu philosophy are 



supposed to be co-ordinated in the Gita. In the 
second chapter, Krishna says : " Life cannot slay ; 
life cannot be slain." Evidently, life here stands 
for soul. The following line makes it still 
clearer ; therein identical qualifications are attri- 
buted to soul. " The soul was never born ; it 
shall never ceases", etc., etc. Indeed, the idea of 
soul is animistic. Its existence is deduced from 
the vital phenomena. The divine shatyi, therefore, 
is the same as life. Modern science has dispel- 
led all mystery about the vital phenomena. Shafyi, 
therefore, is animal force which in man develops 
the spiritual properties of reason and intelligence. 
Religious experience thus is the experience of 
the animal in man ; only, thanks to pathological 
conditions, which must be created by practice, if 
not existing spontaneously, animal instincts are 
sublimated. Superstition becomes revealed truth ; 
mental images, born of ignorance, appear as super- 
natural realities ; preconceived notions take con- 
crete form ; faith manufactures facts. 

In an artificially produced subconscious state, 
the ego experiences the mechanistic operation of 
the force of life. Reflex-actions of the nervous 
system, which constitute the foundation of mental 
life, are rather biological than psychological phe- 
nomena. If conscious mind is to be regarded as 
the obstacle to man's experiencing the free flow 
of divine power in him, then, the identification 



of this with the animal force of unintelligent 
life cannot be avoided. Intelligence differentiates 
man from the lower animal. It is the function 
of conscious mind. Suppression of the conscious 
mind, therefore, naturally leads to a sub-human, 
not super-human, psychological state. Super-con- 
sciousness is a fiction which really stands for sub- 

Modern biology has outgrown the recru- 
descence of vitalist prejudice. Neither Bergson's 
elan vital, nor Driesch's entckchy is more of 
an empirical reality than the divine shatyi of 
the Hindu mystic. " Scientific " vitalism ascribes 
purposiveness, that is, intelligence, to life which 
is described as a mysterious impulse. There is 
absolutely no empirical evidence in support of 
the contention. All the evidence is to the con- 
trary. Except in higher animals with developed 
brains, life operates as a blind impulse. Vitalism 
stands on a purely logical ground, having no 
ontological foundation. It argues that mental 
activity in higher animals proves that intelligence is 
inherent in the vital force. Even its logic is falla- 
cious. jLi leads to infinite regress, unless one stops 
at Panpsychism or Pantheism, neither of which 
doctrines can claim scientific support. Besides, con- 
sistent Pantheism is inverted materialism. When 
the world is reduced to one single entity which can 
be interchangeably called matter or spirit, the dis- 



tinction between body, mind, soul, intelligence, in- 
tuition, becomes meaningless. Religious experience 
pre-supposes dualism. Individual soul must free 
itself from the bondage of body, in order to feel 
its union with the world-spirit. The body could 
not be a bondage if it did not exist. The fallacy 
of its logic drives spiritualist monism to an absurd 
position. Shankaracharya declared Maya to be real! 
How could the world be real and unreal at the 
same time ? Modern absolute idealism also takes 
up the same position. According to Bradley, 
" appearances " are unreal, but they exist ! There, 
then, exists something which is not spirit. That 
is a contradiction of the panpsychist or pantheist 
view. Vitalism is unsound even logically because 
it leads to this contradiction. 

However, even logically, vitalism has no force 
as against evolutionary biology. The doctrine of 
emergence explains how consciousness appears as 
a " novelty." But the point is that, on the conten- 
tion of vitalism itself, mind stands higher than 
intuition in the scale of spiritual evolution. 
Mind is the afflorescence of intelligence, which, 
the vitalists contend, is latent in life-impulse. In 
other words, mind is a higher form of the vital 
force, the highest so far reached. May be, still 
higher forms will be evolved. But for the moment, 
we don't know anything about that. For the 
present, the future can be visualised only in 



terms of greatly developed mental activity. So, 
the flow of shaltfi, that is experienced while con- 
scious mental activities are suspended, is a mani- 
festation of life-force lower than intelligence. If 
there is anything divine in the life-force, it should 
be more manifest on a higher level of life. Intelli- 
gence is the highest manifestation of whatever 
spiritual or mystic power there may be hidden in 
life. Lapse into the subconscious state of mind, 
therefore, cannot be regarded as spiritual elevation. 
It is a reaction, degeneration. Religious experience 
(samadhi, etc.) is a psychological derangement, 
an artificially created psycho-pathological condi- 
tion. Only superstition can sublimate abnormality. 
The vision of the Seer or the ecstasy of the devotee 
is a psychiatrical phenomenon like the hallucina- 
tion of the hysteric or trance of the spiritist 

The discovery of the cause and cure of 
nervous disorder throws much light on the mys- 
tery of religious experience. The famous French 
physician Charcot discovered the relation between 
hysteria and hypnosis. While treating cases of 
hysteria, he observed that hypnotised patients 
accepted without the slightest resistance any idea 
suggested to them. Further investigation disclosed 
the fact that the tendency to be influenced by 
suggested ideas was not produced by hypnosis. It 
is a characteristic symptom of hysteria. Normal 



persons, provided that they are so disposed, can 
also be hypnotised But the mind of a hysterical 
patient is more open to suggestion than that of a 
normal person. Hypnosis is an artificially produced 
(as distinct from the pathological), more or less 
partial, coma of the conscious mind. Physiologi- 
cally, mental activity is expenditure of nervous 
energy liberated by external stimuli or internal ex- 
citations. Under normal conditions, the mind is 
occupied with a variety of interests. The liberated 
energy is canalised in diverse directions. As ex- 
pended energy is constantly replenished from the 
reserve put up by the cells of the nerve-tissues, there 
is a balance of cerebral functioning. Excessive con- 
centration on one particular interest upsets the 
balance. One particular set of neurones consumes 
its whole reserve. Consequently, other parts of 
the brain are not excited internally, while excessive 
concentration upon one particular interest renders 
them incapable of feeling external stimuli. In the 
absence of external stimuli as well as internal 
excitations, energy is not liberated. There is 
a temporary suspension of cerebral activity, except 
of one particular set of neurones which itself is 
exhausted by using up its entire reserve of energy. 
Hypnosis produces such a state of partial coma, 
because the hypnotised person's attention is con- 
centrated upon one particular interest. The hypno- 
tic state is really a momentary case of hysteria 



artificially created. Therefore, even normal per- 
sons, under hypnosis, are also open to suggestions. 
Besides, they are " normal " only apparently. They 
could not be hypnotised, that is, made to develop 
momentary symptoms of hysteria, unless so dis- 
posed. Evidently, the disposition itself shoud be 
regarded as a symptom of the tendency to hysteria. 
It is a fact that only weak-minded persons can be 
consciously hypnotised, although their weakness 
may not always be apparent. 

Hysteria, or the tendency thereto, as evidenced 
by suggestibility, indicates congenital deterioration 
of the entire nervous system including the brain. 
In other words, it is a sign of a hereditary mental 
degeneration. This conclusion, reached by Charcot, 
was reinforced by the investigations of Janet who 
found that hysterical patients could not have more 
than one idea at a time. That is a sign of mental 
deficiency. Rational thought is not possible in the 
absence of the association of ideas. Of course, 
hysterical symptoms occur also in people who are 
not mentally deficient, apparently. Even in those 
cases, the mind is predisposed to be obsessed with 
one idea. This is demonstrated by their sug- 
gestibility under hypnosis. The obsession with 
one idea, cither "normally" or under hypnosis, 
releases emotion to overwhelm intelligence. Because 
hysterical symptoms, developed in intelligent 
people, who appear to be mentally normal, cannot 


be traced to purely physical causes, to any 
specific defect of neural anatomy therefore, they 
have been regarded by the religious as signs of 
mystic communion with God. But they can be 
explained psychologically as produced by the con- 
flict of suppressed emotions ; and emotions are 
biological phenomena. By digging into the sub- 
conscious parts of mental life, psycho-analysis 
reveals the causes of the phenomenon of "mystic 
experience." There is nothing mystic about it ; 
that is to say, the content of such experience is 
not some super-natural force or transcendental 
truth ; it is hallucination produced by the conflict 
of suppressed emotions. 

On the other hand, psychologically, hysteria is 
auto-hypnosis. It is the result of a morbid occupa- 
tion with some particular idea or emotion, to the 
exclusion of others. This reverse relation between 
hysteria and hypnosis was discovered by Liebault 
and Bernheim, who demonstrated that symptoms 
of hysteria could be produced in hypnotised persons. 
Charcot had ascertained that, while associated 
with all sorts of mental and physical disturbances, 
hysteria fundamentally was an emotional disorder. 
Modern physiology has discovered how emotion 
produces the physical symptoms of hysteria. Caus- 
ing excessive liberation of nervous energy, too 
much to be used up in appropriate behaviour, 
strong emotions produce all sorts of physical dis- 



turbances, such as are recognised to be hysterical 
symptoms, and are believed to be the evidence of 
religious experience. Lapicque's investigations 
reveal emotions as purely physiological phenomena. 
An abnormal state of emotional excitement, which 
produces mental and physical symptoms of hysteria, 
is a state of auto-hypnosis. Because, that state 
represents momentary suspension of nomal cere- 
bral activity, and, in cases of physical disturbance, 
of the entire nervous system. 

Ordinarily, the mind, at any given moment, 
is occupied with a number of ideas checking and 
correcting each other. One of them may be the 
predominant. As a matter of fact, intense mental 
activity is concentration upon one single idea. 
Hence the exhaustion that follows. Intense men- 
tal activity means liberation and expenditure of a 
large amount of nervous energy. But except in 
rare cases of nervous break-down, caused rather by 
physical debility than psychological disequilibrium, 
exhaustion from intense mental activity does not 
produce coma. Because rationalist thought always 
involves more than one idea, it is never concen- 
trated upon one single interest. The very essence 
of rationalism is the checking and correlation 
of an idea in the light of others. Intense intel- 
lectual labour, apparently dominated by one idea, 
does not draw upon the energy reserves of any 
particular set of neurones ; the entire brain is 



involved in the process. The energy expended is 
liberated by internal excitements. The supply 
being copious, it is not totally consumed even 
when the demand is great. 

The distinctive psychological feature common 
to the hysterical and hypnotic states, is concen- 
tration upon one single idea to the exclusion of 
others, the interest being emotional, not intel- 
lectual An idea suggested to a hypnotised person 
operates independent of his conscious mind, 
indeed, overwhelming this for a time. So long as 
he remains in the hypnotic state, the normal 
function of his cerebral mechanism is suspended. 
The process is more pronounced in hysteria, the 
cause of which psychological malady is obsession 
with a fixed idea. From this it is clear that 
psychologically hysteria is unconscious auto- 
hypnosis. Sometimes it is conscious. Symptoms of 
hysteria can be produced in hypnotised persons, 
because auto-hypnosis lies at the bottom of the 
abnormal emotional state which brings about the 
nervous and physiological disturbance called 
hysteria. In hypnosis, the idea is suggested from 
outside ; the hysterical patient receives the sug- 
gestion from his subconscious mind. Charcot's 
investigations, carried on in greater detail by 
Janet, establish the existence of the unconscious 
process of auto-suggestion. Since hysterical 
symptoms can be produced by hypnotic sugges- 



tions, it is evident that the disease must be due to 
similar suggestions present in the patient's mind, 
without his being conscious of them. 

That is the internal connection between 
hysteria and hypnosis. The discovery of this 
connection between the physical and psychologi- 
cal aspects of a complex pathological condition 
throws a flood of light on the mechanism of reli- 
gious experience. It reveals the physiology of the 
exalted emotional state in which the mystic claims 
to come in sensible contact with realities beyond 
the reach of intelligence. 

Religious experience is a case of hypnotism, 
the suggestion for producing the abnormal emo- 
tional state coming either from outside or arising 
from the subconscious mind of the subject. But, 
in either case, ultimately, it is self-hypnosis, that 
is to say, hysteria. To realise this fact, one needs 
only compare hysterical symptoms, produced under 
hypnosis, with the tokens of mystic experience. 

Let us take the famous case of Ramakrishna 
Paramhamsa, which was so undoubtedly spontane- 
ous as to impress many intelligent observers and 
convinced not a few skeptics. At the touch of 
any metal, his hand used to be paralysed. The 
cause of that remarkable phenomenon, according 
to himself, was his aversion to money which he 
regarded as the emblem of worldliness. The 
phenomenon is physically explicable. It is a reflex- 



action, analogous to the shutting o the eye-lid at 
the approach of an insect, with the only differ- 
ence that it takes place on a high emotional level. 
And that only proves the physical nature of 
emotion. Like all complicated reflex-actions, the 
paralysis of the hand was preceded by a cerebral 
process a mental activity. Money is bad ; its 
possession involves one in worldliness, which is 
harmful for spiritual life ; so it must be avoided. 
This is a whole process of logical deduction. But 
it takes place in the subconscious mind, completely 
overwhelmed by an emotional super-structure 
aversion to money. That is hypnosis, the sugges- 
tion coming from the subject's subconscious mind 
where the rationalist foundation of his aversion 
remains hidden. The aversion to money alone 
would not have the hypnotic effect if it resulted 
consciously from an intelligent conviction. An 
intelligent desire to avoid contact with money 
would not produce a physical reflex at the touch 
of metal wares ; because intelligence would distin- 
guish metal from money. To regard a coin as a 
mere piece of metal and consider this latter as 
identical with any other piece of matter, would 
be abstract thought, though from the practical 
point of view it would be false. When the Param- 
hamsa threw some coins in the river, he was 
engaged in rational thinking. To shrink from the 
contact of such things as ornaments, whose value 



is calculated in terms of money, would also be a 
behaviour determined by intelligent thought. But 
it is utterly irrational to believe that the mere touch 
of any metal is corrupting because coins are made 
of metal. Indeed, intelligent thought can never 
lead to that conclusion. The original idea about 
the evilness of money is totally lost in irrational 
emotion. The behaviour, believed to be the con- 
scious expression of a rational idea, is purely physi- 
cala reflex-action. And when it takes on an 
abnormal form, such as paralysis, it is a symptom 
of hysteria, brought about by emotional excess. It 
is quite natural to remove our hand automatically 
whenever it comes in contact with a heated object; 
but if the reflex-action becomes more violent, for 
example, if someone runs away at the sight of fire, 
or suffers from any physical deformity simply from 
the proximity of a heated object, he is regarded as 
behaving neither rationally, nor naturally in the 
physical sense. In plain language, that is a case of 
hysteria, and is usually given medical treatment. 
Similarly, the paralysis of hand at the touch of 
any metal vessel is a case of hysteria. It is a 
physical phenomenon, and should have a physical 
cause. To maintain that it is produced by any 
spiritual force, is to debase the idea of spiritual 
force. The essence of the idea is qualitative distinc- 
tiveness from the material being. This distinction 
precludes the possibility of any causal relation 



between spirit and matter, soul and body. The 
paralysis of the hand, even of a holy man, must 
have a physiological reason. As it is not a normal 
reflex-action, the reason evidently is pathological. 
There is no direct physical cause, as, for instance, a 
strong electric shock ; so, it is clearly a matter of 
psycho-pathology. The reason is a morbid psycho- 
logical state in which all rational thinking is over- 
whelmed by emotional exuberance ; an hysterical 
symptom is produced by unconscious auto-sug- 

Emotion is a biological (as distinct from 
psychological) function. Therefore, it affects 
bodily behaviour. Normal physiological processes 
may be disturbed by emotional exuberance. 
Abnormal physical behaviours take place in the 
absence of the intelligent control of neural activity 
exercised by the brain. In the absence of that 
control, liberated nervous energy is not evenly 
distributed ; the excessive supply overflows the 
normal reaction tracks ; and brings about reflex- 
actions without apparent cause, such as accelera- 
tion or retardation of the heart, dilatation or con- 
traction of the peripheric blood-vessels, disturbance 
of gastric or other internal secretion, perspiration, 
profuse flow of tears, muscular contraction (in 
epileptic fits, cramps or partial paralysis), dilation 
of the pupils, so on and so forth. 

That is the physiological explanation of unusual 



bodily behaviours believed to be indications of 
mystic experience. The emotional state in which 
they appear is not a state of spiritual elevation, 
but of psycho-pathological degeneration. Con- 
scious mental activity is suspended ; organic func- 
tions thrown out of balance. 

Now, all these physical abnormalities can be 
produced ii\ hysterical patients under hypnosis. 
If a patient's arm is placed in a certain posture 
and he is told that it is paralysed, he will not be 
able to move it. Charcot and his pupils made a 
whole series of such experiments. The suggestion 
that he has drunk wine would produce in the 
patient all the symptoms of intoxication. Given 
an unprejudiced approach, a spirit of scientific 
investigation, it is clear that in either case of the 
mystic as well as of the hypnotic patient the 
abnormalities must be caused by the identical 
reason. It is the psycho-pathological condition in 
which suggestibility increases in proportion as 
intelligence is paralysed either by disease or pre- 
disposition. It is a general conclusion of psychia- 
trical practice that suggestibility is greatly 
increased by checking the critical faculty in the 
patient. For tfyis purpose, nothing is more effec- 
tive than blind faith and preconceived ideas. 
Therefore, religious people are particularly sugges- 
tible, the suggestions being inherent in their own 
mental make-up. The auto-suggestion, required 



for producing the hypnotic state called mystic 
experience, is supplied either by conscious faith or 
unconscious predisposition. When one firmly 
believes that there is a world of mystery in himself, 
and his faith is sufficiently fortified by the bliss of 
ignorance, he is sure to "experience*' it. All he 
has got to do is to take his faith seriously make 
it the sole interest of life. 

Physiological actions can be to some extent 
influenced voluntarily. For example, sometimes, 
physical ailments can be cured or produced through 
suggestions. But what appears to be "volition" 
in such processes is not a mental force. It is 
stimulus to organic reaction which quickens certain 
kinds of glandular secretion. Even a thorough- 
going vitalist like Driesch, having investigated 
these " psychic " phenomena, comes to the follow- 
ing interesting conclusion : " It is not volition, but 
a kind of imagination to which must be added the 
firm conviction that that which is being imagined 
will really come about. And thereupon it happens, 
and that which brings it about is the vital factor 
operating upon the body. The things which are 
here at length comprehended in a scientific form, 
are some mart ancient and others most modern ; 
the practices of Indian yogis and of Christian 
Science arc at tic bottom the same thing in a 
religious form." 1 The " vital factor " is an obses- 
1 Hans Drtcsch, Mm md *ke Universe. 



sion of Driesch. Modern biology has exposed the 
fictitious nature of this old notion refurbished by 
"scientific" mysticism. In the passage quoted, 
Driesch himself admits that unwittingly. The 
events ascribed to "volition" are brought about 
by the " vital factor " ; but we are also told that, 
what is believed to be " volition ", is really " imagi- 
nation." So, "vital factor" is an imagination. 
Because, things equal to the same thing, are equal 
to one another. The finding of recent biological 
research is that " vital factor " is the name for the 
electro-chemical process which functions as the 
"organiser of life." However, the point here is 
that science has exposed the physiological essence 
of certain "psychic phenomena" which had pre- 
viously been taken for the evidence of mystic 
power, whose cultivation is still believed to be the 
way to spiritual elevation. In other words, science 
has cut the ground under a venerable superstition. 

Concentration upon one single interest, un- 
less it is of intellectual nature, upsets the equili- 
brium of cerebral function ; an hysterical state is 
brought ^about in consequence ; and, hypnotised 
by auto-suggestions coming from his belief, one 
sees not only desired images, but hallucinations 
reflecting the conflict of emotions in the sub- 
conscious self. 

In the case of skeptics, converted by mystic ex- 



perience, there is unconscious predisposition which 
is liberated as soon as the resistance of criticism 
gives way before the power of pure faith. This was 
what happened, for example, with Vivekananda. 
Aggressive skepticism is an interesting psychological 
phenomenon. It is the manifestation of the sub- 
conscious desire to find some evidence for reinforc- 
ing the flagging faith. The bold assertion of 
Ramakrishna that he had seen God was rather a 
relief (unconsciously felt) than a matter of ridicule 
for the young skeptic. Skepticism is not positive 
disbelief. It implies readiness to believe if more 
convincing evidence would be available. So, the 
assertion awakened the predisposition to believe. 
That immediately weakened the critical faculty of 
the would-be Seer. Weakening of the faculty of 
criticism increased his suggestibility. The silent 
suggestion from the Paramhamsa that the young 
man could have the experience of God in him, 
self, reinforced by the auto-suggestion coming 
from awakened predisposition, placed him in the 
hypnotic state in which he found what he had 
been unconsciously looking for. Only, he did not 
find anything but believed to have done so. And 
faith moves mountains. 

An authoritative opinion, very appropriate in 
this connection, is again pronounced by the 
scientific mystic Driesch. Referring to the psycho- 
logical state created by imagination, reinforced by 



the conviction that the imaginary is real, he writes: 
" In this state, suggestion with reference to a parti- 
cular content, that is, a faith in the reality of this 
content, is attained without any ground of rational 
nature. I pass to the other person a hetero- 
suggestion, that is, I tell him that this or that 
thing is a fact ; and he internally transforms this 
external suggestion into an auto-suggestion, and is 
convinced that things are as I have said." 1 

But let us have some more facts showing that 
religious experience is a psycho-pathological 
(hysterical) phenomenon. Sometimes, hysterical 
patients under hypnosis behave as if they were 
dreaming. They would give informations about 
the cause of their disease which they could not 
while not under hypnosis. Afterwards, they would 
forget all about it. In the hypnotic state, hidden 
parts of mental life become revealed to the ego. 
Similarly, mystic experience is a peep into the 
obscure recesses of the ego ; and those dark cham- 
bers of mental life are filled with distorted images 
representing natural impulses, suppressed conscious- 
ly or unconsciously. It is also like dream. 
According to scriptural tradition, the divine light 
in man cannot be described even by those who 
have seen it. The Seer wakes up from a dream 
which is nothing but auto-hypnosis. The object of 

1 Hans Driesch, Mtm and the Universe. 


mystic experience cannot be described, because it is 
hidden in the subconscious mind. Modern 
psychology has dragged out the contents of those 
dark chambers. There is nothing spiritual in them. 
If honest mystics, while having their experiences, 
were placed under expert psycho-pathological 
observation, there would be much interesting reve- 
lation about the psychology of religious experience. 
Under hypnosis, they could be made to relate the 
contents of their experience without sublimating 
them. Of course, on waking up, they would for- 
get what they have said under hypnosis, and would 
return to the religious ideas which are unconscious 
sublimations of suppressed desires. And there 
would be no dishonesty in that. 

As a matter of fact, illuminating glimpses into 
the psychology of religious experience are afford- 
ed by the life-stories, historical or legendary, of 
famous Saints and mystics. The ancient Greeks 
associated hysteria with sex ; the very term im- 
plies that. Modern psychology traces its origin 
to the conflict of vital impulses, one being the 
sexual which is repressed (mystic experience often 
results from the suppression of sex-impulse). 
Whatever may be the nature of the conflicting 
impulse, all Saints and Seers are well known to 
have suffered from the same psychological symp- 
toms as mark the hysterical state created by 
the suppression of sex-impulse. They were all 



disturbed in their tapasya by the appearance of 
temptresses, deputed from the Court of the King 
of Paradise. In the language of modern psycho- 
logy, they were being haunted by the images of 
a suppressed desire ; they were suffering from 
hysteria. That was the psychological background 
of their mystic experience. Suppression of sex- 
impulse is believed to be the road to mystic 
experience. Knowing what it leads to, one cannot 
but regard mystic experience as the hallucination 
of hysteria. 

Nor is it a matter of logic alone. The factual 
evidence is incontestable. Sublimation of sex- 
impulse is a typical symptom of hysteria. Women 
disappointed in love would devote their lives to 
charitable services or become nuns. Men with 
similar experience! may depict romantic ideals of 
love in novels or mystic lyrics. These and many 
others are facts, established by modern psycholo- 
gical research. Even Indian religious life is rich 
in sublimations ; because it attaches so much im- 
portance to the suppression of the sex-impulse. 
The practices of certain religious sects (Vaishnavas, 
for example) are entirely composed of such subli- 
mations. There are others (Tantrics) who perform 
sexual acts, not as such, as a matter of physical 
necessity, but as a part of their religious practice. 
To make of the sex organ (lingam) the emblem 
of God, and to deify sex-impulse, are the most 



extreme forms of sublimation. To look upon every 
woman as one's mother, is yet another form of 
sublimating sex, very common in India. This 
form of sublimation is associated with the cult of 
conceiving God as the female (creative) force, or 
of splitting the indivisible One into male and 
female principles. (A curiously contradictory 
notion ! How can the indivisible be divided ? 
But that is a different question, which does not 
concern us here.) 

Ramakrishna Paramhamsa was altogether 
obsessed with the sublimation of sex into the 
"mother principle." Hence his extraordinary 
behaviour in the proximity of women. The mother 
complex served the purpose of auto-suggestion to 
put himself in a hypnotic state. That curious 
behaviour was a conditioned reflex,, developed un- 
consciously as a check upon the sex-impulse. The 
mere sight or touch of a woman does not awaken 
sex-impulse in every normal male. Then, why 
should the holy man fly into a trance to avoid an 
influence that cannot corrupt even all normal 
mortals ? That queer behaviour was not a sign of 
mystic elevation, but symptom of a bad case of 
hysteria. In his subconscious emotional life, the 
conflict of impulses must have been very strong. 
The more fierce the conflict, the more pronounced 
the sublimation ; otherwise, there would be 
insanity. That, however, does not mean that the 



sublimation is conscious. Indeed, in the sublimated 
form, the sex-impulse is totally unconscious. But 
it is there as the cause of abnormal emotional 
and physical appearances. To heap one's worship 
and devotion on a female image on the imaginary 
"mother principle" is a classic case of sublimat- 
ing sex-impulse. 

The religious practice of the shatyas worship- 
pers of God in a female image includes sexual 
acts. To combine worship of the female principle 
with the suppression of sex, involves a severe 
emotional conflict which naturally upsets mental 
equilibrium, and brings about a hysterical state. 
All Staints and Seers, modern as well as ancient, 
are victims of a very complicated type of hysteria. 
Ramakrishna Paramhamsa, for example, lived prac- 
tically always under auto-suggestions. Therefore, 
mystic experience was so very frequent with him. 

Split-up personality is another hysterical symp- 
tom. It is often produced in spiritist mediums 
under hypnosis. The story of Mr. Jackyll and 
Dr. Hyde is not a pure fantasy. Hysterical patients 
are known to develop a second personality. All 
recollections of a certain portion of life is lost, 
and the patient believes himself to be an entirely 
different person. Very remarkable cases of this 
curious phenomenon, commonly characterised as 
" occult ", may be caused by the conversion of an 



emotion into morbid symptoms. A very typical 
case was the famous Vaishnava prophet, Chaitanya. 
It is said that he believed himself to be the incar- 
nation of Radha. In trance, he enacted the part 
of that mythical mistress of Krishna. Undoubt- 
edly, he imagined himself to be the beloved of 
God ; and that imagination was the content of his 
mystic experience. It was, nevertheless, a hysterical 
symptom, produced by the suppression of sex- 
impulse which found the morbid emotional 

Nature is not easily bullied. She takes revenge 
which is often spiritually catastrophic, though it 
may be glorified by the superstitious victims and 
their credulous followers as token of spiritual 
elevation. Psychologically, the stribhav culti- 
vated by Vaishnava mystics like their prophet, is a 
perverted expression of sex-impulse of the same 
type as homo-sexuality. In this abnormal 
emotional relation, which is now regarded as a 
psycho-pathological phenomenon, and medically 
treated as such, one of the partners imagines him- 
self to be sexually converted. The emotional 
abnormality originates in difficulties or frustration 
in finding an appropriate object of affection, 
which, experienced in the earlier stages of puberty, 
create hysterical condition. Cultivated in practice 
over a sufficiently long period, it becomes a physical 
habit with no deep psychological foundation, and 



thus the addict may not suffer from any mental 

But sublimated in a religious devotion, its 
original psycho-pathological nature is accentuated. 
Because, the emotion does not find even an 
abnormal physical expression. It develops intros- 
pectively. In course of time, the balance between 
emotion and intelligence is upset. The whole 
mental life is thrown off the gear of orderly 
cerebral mechanism. The devotee falls a victim 
of chronic hysteria which, consciously cultivated, 
becomes the characteristic feature of his spiritual 
life. That 'is a standing state of auto-hypnosis, 
and consequently abounds in mystic experience. 
Chaitanya, for example, would dream (in trance 
or ecstasy) of being in the embrace of Krishna, or 
caressing his feet in the classical Hindu fashion ; 
and that image of unconscious erotic desire would 
be interpreted as mystic communion with God. 
There is nothing spiritual in such experience, 
which is abnormal satisfaction of a natural impulse 
driven underground as sinful. 

The Freudian school of psycho-analysts is of 
the opinion that all religious symbols are expres- 
sions of suppressed emotions, chiefly of the sexual 
nature. Freudian " pan-sexualism ", however, is 
rejected by other psycho-analysts ; and, although 
Freud himself cannot be so accused, many of his 
followers are certainly guilty of exaggeration. 



Nevertheless, there is general agreement about the 
fundamental role of sex-impulse in emotional life. 
A critic of Freudian pan-sexualism writes : " We 
admit that further enquiry into the history of the 
human mind may prove that the sexual impulse 
has been a great factor in the development of 
religion and art ; and there are many facts that 
point that way." 1 Hinduism provides a surfeit of 
such facts. Sex figures very prominently in Hindu 
symbolism. It also determines the devotional prac- 
tices to a considerable extent. But the most sig- 
nificant fact is that even the metaphysical aspects 
of Hinduism are directly linked up with a pres- 
cribed attitude towards the physical impulse of sex. 
Brahmacharya is the condition sine qua non 
for mystic experience. The burden of this virtue 
is suppression of the sex-impulse. A natural im- 
pulse cannot be killed. It is simply driven down 
in the subconscious mind, where it becomes harm- 
ful. It forces its way out, and influences the 
conscious mental life in various disguise. The 
control of instinctive impulses, by itself, is not a 
harmful practice. As a matter of fact, their intel- 
ligent control distinguishes man from animal. 
Organisation of natural impulses into a well 
balanced emotional life is the essence of spiritual 
development. That is done by reason and intelli- 

*J. H. Van der Hoop, Character and the Unconscious 



gence. Impulses, useless for, or antagonistic to, 
such a spiritual development, may be suppressed 
without any harm. If they are few and really 
unimportant in the scheme of intelligent life, they 
will remain quietly in the subconscious mind. The 
intellectual worker may habituate himself to light 
meals in order to avoid the cerebral function 
temporarily slowing down by the use of excessive 
physical energy in the digestive process. That 
would be a control of the impulse to eat. But the 
physical requirement would still be there to be 
satisfied by the supply of a certain irreducible 
amount of energy to compensate for the recurring 
expenditure. Only, the demand should be made 
through the consumption of such food as might 
contain greater energy in smaller quantities. That 
is intelligent control of a natural impulse. Simi- 
lar process of control can be applied to the satisfac- 
tion of sex-impulse. One need not ruin himself 
psycho-physically through the practice of abstinence 
in order to avoid the dissipation of energy in 
elemental passion and lust. Indeed, sex-impulse, 
powerful and fundamental as it is, is automatically 
controlled by the operation of other emotions and 
intellectual occupations. The sex-impulse of all 
normal human beings, with a varied interest in 
life, is necessarily controlled, more or less. People 
with high intellectual occupations are less consci- 
ous of the impulse than the Brahmachari, who may 


not be anything more than a religious loafer. You 
cannot be really unconscious of an impulse which 
you are combating consciously. Control necessary 
for an all-round spiritual development is an auto- 
matic process. Only idle minds are swayed by 
elemental passions and desires. Occupied with 
things, not directly concerned with the ego, one 
ceases to be constantly conscious of the sex and 
other natural impulses. 

However, while control (intelligent satisfac- 
tion) of basic impulses belongs to the scheme of a 
well-balanced mind, and minor impulses (for 
example, desire to go to the theatre one particular 
evening, or to visit a friend, etc.) can be suppressed, 
the suppression of, or even the attempt to suppress, 
a major impulse is positively harmful. 

Sex is a major impulse ; indeed, the most 
fundamental. That is easy to see. Spiritual deve- 
lopment presupposes life ; and existence of life 
requires reproduction. If there is any creative 
principle, that is to be found in the sex-impulse. 
The idea that spiritual development is conditional 
upon the suppression of sex-impulse is, therefore, 
obviously absurd. The practice is as sensible as 
to strike at the root of the tree to make it flower 
and bear fruit. The satisfaction of natural impulses 
cannot be antagonistic to spiritual development, 
if the faculty naturally belongs to man. Sex 
being the fundamental impulse of life, its satisfac- 



tion is necessary for the physical, intellectual and 
emotional well-being of man. Its suppression is 
bound to be injurious psychologically as well as 
physically. In fact, it cannot be suppressed. It 
manifests itself in morbid symptoms, the form of 
which is determined by unconscious predisposi- 
tions. An abnormal psychological state is created. 
Mystic experience is a feature of that state. It is 
the product of hysteria, cultivated artificially 
through the practice of Brahmacharya. A psycho- 
pathological state is purposefully created to that 
the struggle against reality could be carried on with 
apparent success. Mystic experience does reveal the 
real nature of the self, because it is a peep into the 
dark chambers of the subconscious mind wherein 
lurk the predispositions and congenital tendencies 
which profoundly influence all the behaviour of life 
in so far as this is not guided by intelligence. But 
in mystic experience, realities about the nature of 
the self appear in distorted images. Therefore, it 
is rather hallucination than realisation of the truth. 
It is a gross superstition to seek in distorted pictures 
of one's inner self the guidance for conscious life. 
One should rather try to dig up the ugly realities 
behind the fascinating pictures. That would be 
real knowledge of the self. The knowledge of its 
defects, deformities, handicaps, would enable one to 
remove them through the exercise of intelligence, 
and thus liberating the self progressively from the 



bondage of unconscious predispositions, set it on 
the endless road of real spiritual elevation. Science 
(psychology) helping us to overcome the time- 
honoured superstition about the nature of self, 
enables us to find objective truths about ourselves 
instead of hallucinations. Truth is a more depend- 
able guide to life than fantasy. 

Mystic experience results from a struggle 
against the realities of life. In hysterical patients, 
the struggle is unconscious, being a product of 
a neurotic state. The religious man, swayed by 
superstition, takes up the struggle consciously. It 
is an instance of what Freud describes as "the 
escape into illness." In his case, the neurotic state 
is the product of deliberate practice. Once that 
psychological condition is created by the suppression 
of normal impulses and other prescribed practices, 
the struggle becomes unconscious. Mental life is 
submerged in emotional exuberance. The ruling 
emotions are morbid, being not the normal expres- 
sion, but sublimation of natural impulses. Hypno- 
tic dreams, hallucinations, phantasies, are the 
characteristic features of a morbid emotional state. 
Truth cannot be attained by the sacrifice of reason 
and realities. The light of known realities alone 
can illuminate the way to hidden truths. 

The psychological foundation for mystic experi- 
ence is predisposition which may be conscious or 
subconscious. An idea suggested from outside 



brings about an emotional state overwhelming 
normal cerebral function, only when it is such as 
awakens some predisposition. The subconscious 
mind is a store of predisposition acquired either 
through automatic experience or under the pressure 
of social environment. Congenital predispositions 
are inherited. By far the greater part of the ego is 
subconscious. Therefore, predispositions dominate 
mental life whenever emotions are not controlled 
by reason and intelligence. This happens in mystic 
experience as well as hysteria. 

Religion is belief in the super-natural. Igno- 
rance is its foundation. Metaphysical agencies are 
postulated by man unable to explain natural pheno- 
mena otherwise. Ignorance is the " original sin " of 
mankind. Therefore, no people or individual is 
naturally more or less religious than others. Thanks 
to the original sin of ignorance, religious predis- 
position remains deep-rooted in every human being 
until a very high level of spiritual development is 
reached. Man's spiritual life may remain befogged 
by the ignorance of his forefathers even when he 
himself has consciously cast off the " original sin." 

Knowledge strengthens the highest mental 
faculties of rationality and intelligence. Conse- 
quently, it shakes the influence of religious pre- 
judice. Religiosity is the badge of spiritual back- 
wardness. Therefore, the greater the intellectual 
backwardness the stronger the religious predisposi- 



tion. The psychology of the intellectually back- 
ward is prone to be swayed by emotions. These 
are more primitive biological functions, being ex- 
pressions of physical impulses. Not balanced by 
reason and intelligence, they conflict with each 
other one trying to overwhelm the other. The 
result is the psycho-pathological state called hysteria. 
The religious, therefore, are more susceptible to 
hypnosis. In other words, they are more hysteri- 
cally predisposed. Naturally, mystic experience is 
more frequent among them. That is the psycholo- 
gical explanation of the religious temperament of 
the Indian people. Even when the religious pre- 
disposition is hidden by a thin layer of modern 
education, it is still there to be awakened by some 
appropriate suggestion. As a matter of fact, 
modern education creates an emotional conflict in 
the religiously disposed, even when the disposition 
is partially suppressed by reason and knowledge. 
In these cases, the emotional conflict is likely to be 
so strong as to produce hysteria. For that reason, 
we have this swarm of modern swamis preaching 
mysticism as a matter of experience. 

There is an internal connection between the 
practice of Brahmacharya and mystic experience. 
Only, the connection is not spiritual, but patho- 
logical. It is the reverse of the relation " sound 
mind in a sound body." The spiritual tempera- 
ment more correctly, religious atavism, of thr 



educated youth is buttressed upon the traditional 
prejudice in favour of that pernicious practice. 
(It is more pernicious when only professed, but 
not practised ; and that is generally the case.) 
This temperament is the psychological pheno- 
menon of " regression " on a mass scale. An un- 
satisfied or abnormally or partially satisfied desire 
causes great mental tension and compression of 
physical energy, seeking emotional expression. 
Driven underground, so to say, it flows into sub- 
terranean channels ; the result is resurgence of 
more elementary forms of emotion. " As the water 
of a dammed-up river is pressed back and flows 
into long abandoned channels, so the emotional 
tension will try to express itself in obsolete forms. 
Old habits, events or fantasies, which were accom- 
panied in the past by strong emotions, will emerge 
once more as possible outlets for the suppressed 
emotion. This process is called regression, and 
occurs also in normal people." 1 The "normality" 
of people suffering from this psychological regres- 
sion is only apparent. If they were psychologically 
quite normal, people with modern education could 
not be aggressively religious, and try to rationa- 
lise irrationalism, which is the very essence of 

To react upon the environment, is the most 

1 J. H. Van der Hoop, Character and the Unconscious. 



fundamental impulse of life. From an automatic, 
unconscious, physical process, the reaction gradually 
develops into a conscious approach with the pur- 
pose of understanding. Originally, a purely physi- 
cal interaction, the relation between living beings 
and their environments becomes eventually differen- 
tiated into physical stimuli and psychological res- 
ponse thereto. The psychological content of the 
conscious reaction to environment is the impulse 
to know. Religion is the most elementary expres- 
sion of this impulse. The essence of religion is 
belief in the super-natural. It satisfies the primi- 
tive man's incipient rationalist impulse to know. 
The significance of the impulse to know is the 
desire to find the cause of observed phenomena. 
The primitive man finds the cause in imaginary 
super-natural or super-human agencies. That is 
the foundation of religion. Imagination, reinforced 
by the conviction that that which is imagined 
really exists, assumes the complexion of 
" knowledge." The conviction has a pseudo-ration- 
alist basis : Natural phenomena must be caused ; 
they are beyond human control ; ergo, their cause 
must be super-human. Thus, religion becomes a 
psychological "fixation." 

This phenomenon occurs also in the process 
of individual spiritual development. The race 
being an aggregate of individuals, its psycholo- 
gical as well as the biological history can be traced. 



in broad outlines, in the development of the indi- 
vidual. It is an established finding of modern 
psychological research that a child's desire for gra- 
tification may be so deeply influenced by peculiar 
circumstances as to remain fixed in its earliest form 
of expression. That is the reason of some grown- 
up people behaving childishly in certain respects. 
Religiosity in educated people is spiritual childish- 
ness a psychological fixation. Thanks to the 
" original sin " of ignorance, the satisfaction of the 
primitive man's desire for an understanding of 
phenomena, which dominate his existence, is neces- 
sarily found in faith. That peculiar mode of satis- 
faction puts its stamp on subsequent emotional and 
intellectual development. It is cast in religious 
mould. The twilight of primitive ignorance en- 
dures, more or less, over a long period of human 
development. Consequently, the forms of emo- 
tional and ideological expression are fixed by that 
circumstance. They persist even after the founda- 
tion of religion is undermined by scientific know- 
ledge. Gradually, intelligence and reason, fortified 
by the advance of scientific knowledge, overwhelm 
those antiqfuated psychological traits. But they 
cannot altogether be eradicated at once. That re- 
quires a long period of time, during which new 
forms of expression are developed under different 
cultural conditions. Meanwhile, the psychological 
forms fixed in our spiritual childhood, and culti- 



vated over a long period of slow adolescence, sink 
into the subconscious mind. 

Now, mental tension caused by the suppres- 
sion of a major physical impulse drives emotional 
energy underground. There the old forms of ex- 
pression provide it with channels to flow into. 
What is called regression, takes place. This is an 
abnormal psychological phenomenon a symptom 
of emotional morbidity. The recollected old forms 
of expression cannot be fitted into the scheme of 
the conscious mental life. There is an emotional 
conflict which overwhelms reason and intelligence. 
Cerebral functions are necessarily slackened, even 
suspended, when excessive nervous energy flows 
into the subterranean channels of the subconscious 
mind. The resurgence of the ghosts of old super- 
stitions coincides with, indeed, is preceded by, a 
derangement of conscious mental activity. Regres- 
sion, therefore, is a hysterical symptom. It takes 
place in hysterical patients. Mystic experience is 
a classical case of regression. It is an abnormal 
psychological state. It is a symptom of emotional 
morbidity, inasmuch as it is brought about by the 
practice of the suppression of the major impulses 
of life. 

The mental tension caused by the practice 
of Brahmacharya paralyses cerebral activity ; sup- 
pressed sex-impulse finds abnormal satisfaction in 
fixed forms of emotional expression ; that is to say,. 



in forms determined by primitive faith. The fixed 
forms may be conscious psychological traits as in 
the case of the avowedly religious ; or they may 
lie in the subconscious mind. In the latter case, 
their reappearance is more plausibly regarded as 
mystic experience ; because, then the phenomenon 
appears to defy rational explanation which, of 
course, it does not. Once intelligence and reason 
are consciously or unconsciously subordinated to 
the predisposition to find satisfaction in faith, one 
sees anything he wishes to see ; imaginations are 
believed to be pictures of reality. 

Faith alone, however, does not lead to mystic 
experience which is a rare phenomenon even in 
the religious atmosphere of India. It is unknown to 
the masses of the Indian people with all their pro- 
verbial religious temperament. They are religious 
because they do not know any better ; that 
is to say, their spiritual backwardness precludes 
the development of higher forms of mental and 
emotional activity. They are fully satisfied with 
their spiritual childishness. Undisturbed by any 
departure from the blissful heaven of ignorance, 
their faith, though degenerated into rank super- 
stition, does not require rationalisation. Conse- 
quently, their primitive spiritualism knows no 
emotional conflict, which alone produces the 
psycho-pathological state in which mystic experi- 
ence is possible. Palpably contradictory ideas may 


remain side by side in the primitive mind without 
causing any emotional conflict. That paradox is 
the mark of its primitiveness. It has not yet deve- 
loped the faculty of systematic thought, which is 
to associate ideas in a logical chain. 

While for the vast bulk of the Indian people 
religiosity is a matter of habit, an emblem of spiri- 
tual stagnation, in the case of those with modern 
education, it is a psychological regression. With 
these latter, faith has lost spontaneity, though 
many of them are not conscious of that spiritual 
progress ; and those who realise it more or less 
vaguely, feel distressed and endeavour to stem it. 
They take to prescribed religious practices which 
include suppression of natural impulses physical 
as well as psychological sex being looked upon as 
the devil of the drama. This is conscious and volun- 
tary regression, which produces genuine emotional 
conflict inasmuch as the desired suppression is suc- 
cessfully practised. In the great majority of cases, 
it is not successful ; but the effort itself is physi- 
cally harmful. Besides, the shame of the failure 
creates an emotional tension which is aggravated 
by the anxiety to hide it. Parallel to this, there is 
unconscious regression. The unconscious process is 
more far-reaching because it is rather spontaneous 
than voluntary. It lies at the bottom of the reli- 
gious mentality of the educated who preach the 
doctrine of India's spiritual mission. Modern educa- 



tion, provided that it is not altogether superficial, 
inevitably brings about some psychological change. 
The process is reinforced by the conditions of life 
in cities. Instinctive impulses tend to seek new 
forms of emotional, intellectual and physical ex- 
pressions. Conscious resistance to the tendency 
would be inconsistent with reason and intelligence, 
which faculties are quickened by modern education* 
But the social atmosphere and cultural traditions 
are opposed to the tendency. And the mental as 
well as physical behaviour of man is determined 
by those factors. The predisposition is to resist the 
tendency. But it cannot be done rationally* 
Therefore, the resistance is offered unconsciously. 
Nevertheless, the result is the same, emotional ten- 
sion. Produced by an unconscious psychological 
conflict, the tension is not consciously felt. It finds 
an automatic expression in aggressive religiosity, 
the endeavour to rationalise faith. The symptoms 
of regression are determined by the forms of spiri- 
tual expression fixed by the peculiar circumstances 
of the past. 

The religiosity of the Indian people is a badge 
of spiritual infancy, a psychological fixation as 
far as the masses are concerned ; and with the 
educated, it is a symptom of regression which, 
being spiritual atavism, is an abnormal psycho- 
logical state. When through voluntary suppres- 
sion of physical instincts and emotional impulses, 



the abnormality is consciously cultivated, so as 
to develop symptoms of hysteria, mystic experi- 
ence occurs in exceptional cases. The goal of divine 
madness is attained only by a few. Because nature 
provides guarantees against mass insanity. 

With all their proverbial religiosity, the masses 
of the Indian people are no more given to the volun- 
tary suppression of elementary human desires and 
impulses than any other people. While their spiri- 
tual life stagnates behind a dam of superstition, 
physically and emotionally they behave, on the 
whole, like normal bipeds. Thus, religiosity does 
not upset the equilibrium of their primitive psycho- 
logy. Thanks to superstitious beliefs, cultivated 
through ages, they are totally devoid of the faculty 
of criticism. Therefore, they are naturally open to 
hypnotic suggesions particularly en masse. But 
that psychological tendency cannot affect their 
nervous system, the soundness of which is guaran- 
teed by the satisfaction of all fundamental biologi- 
cal impulses. 

In the case of the educated also, as a rule, 
nature prevails ; suppression is not practised. Even 
those who honestly try, mostly fail. So, while re- 
ligiosity is generally cultivated, and considerable 
psycho-physical injury results from the practices 
attempted for the purpose, it is only in exceptional 
cases that the operation of biological laws is dis- 
turbed to the extent of producing full-fledged hys- 



teria. And searching psychopathological examina- 
tion would reveal congenital predisposition in these 
exceptional cases. Obviously, the determining 
factor of predisposition is not the "spiritual 
nature " ; because that is shared by all, and yet 
mystic experience is a rare phenomenon. It is 
either neurosis, a physical malady, or an uncons- 
cious emotional maladjustment. In any case, the 
Seer suffers from potential hysteria, which aggra- 
vated by the suppression of normal impulses, deve- 
lops manifestly morbid symptoms, auto-suggesti- 
bility, hallucination, trance, double-personality, etc. 
Since hysterical predisposition involves physical ab- 
normality or emotional maladjustment, it guaran- 
tees success in the practice of suppression. Com- 
plete suppression, however, is not always necessary 
for developing an acutely hysterical state. The 
attempt is enough to expose the subconscious emo- 
tional conflicts which touch off the congenital pre- 
disposition. Mystic experience is hallucination of 
hysteria, sublimated by superstition. 




THE common characteristic of Indian patriotism, 
irrespective of its shades, is the antipathy for the 
" Western civilisation." The degree of this charac- 
teristic common complexion of the ideology of 
Indian nationalism, of course, varies according to 
the social background of particular political groups. 
The attitude, for example, of the Hindu Mahasabha 
or the Arya Samaj, not to mention the die-hard 
Sanatanists, is of fierce hostility, backed by sanc- 
timonious self-righteousness. On the other end of 
the front stand the liberal reformers who stultify 
themselves politically as well as ideologically by 
disavowing admiration for a course of social deve- 
lopment which they must follow, if they are true 
to their professions and principles. 

The realisation of the political ideals of Indian 
nationalism will clear the obstacles to a capitalist 
development of the country ; India will " civilise " 
herself on the model of the West. In order to out- 
grow the domination of capitalist interest, exercised 
directly or indirectly, Indian political aspirations 
must transcend the narrow limits of orthodox 



nationalism. The ideal of national freedom must 
reflect the objective striving of the masses for social 
liberation. In that case, India would be able to 
inherit the great achievements of the "Western 
civilisation," free from the abuses of capitalist ex- 
ploitation. Then, and only then, would a cri- 
tical attitude towards "Western civilisation," in 
its entirety, enrich the ideology of Indian Renais- 
sance. As the situation is, and as the perspective 
appears at present, all the diatribes against 
" Western civilisation " are entirely out of place. It 
is so foolish to sling mud at the moon for its blemi- 
shes when you are crying for it. 

Between the two extremes of frankly professed 
revivalism and the self -contradictory attitude of the 
modernist Liberals, there stands the Congress, with 
millions of heterogeneous adherents and sympathi- 
sers, occupying the centre of the nationalist ideolo- 
gical front, under the proud banner of Gandhism. 
The attitude of the Congress is the most typical 
and representative. In spite of all its obvious con- 
tradictions, mental acrobatics, unexpected somer- 
saults, "Himalayan mistakes" (which in plain 
language mean woeful debacles), Gandhism still 
dominates the ideology of the great bulk of the 
politically awakened and forward moving (though 
not forward looking) sections of the Indian popu- 
lation. And Gandhism is believed to be the veri- 
table antithesis of Western civilisation. 



A Gandhist need no longer decry railways, 
motor cars and even modern hospitals as Satanic 
contrivances. The Prophet himself has moved far 
away from that original position of pristine purity. 
Close association with not only the Gujarati cotton 
kings, but also all the modern magnates of money, 
and honorary membership of the Indian Chamber 
of Commerce cannot but dampen the zeal 
against modern industry. Illustrious patrons 
of the Congress Birlas, Bajajes and others 
of their kind may put on the white cap, but 
are the last persons to brook any serious opposition 
to capitalism. Yet, the typical Indian nationalist, 
inebriated with frothy Gandhism, speaks as the pro- 
phet of a new civilisation. To be sure, he does not 
know what his pet ideal would look like when, if 
ever, realised. But he very emphatically proclaims 
that India does not want to imitate the West. If 
he only knew how ridiculous it is to be heading 
towards a goal, protesting all the time that he does 
not want to go that despised destination ! 

So unreasonable is this article of faith of Indian 
nationalism that even people with a more or less 
decidedly progressive outlook start with the decla- 
ration that they are not admirers of Western civili- 
sation whenever they dare criticise the established 
social customs and institutions. These half-hearted, 
shame-faced reformers repeat parrot-like the super- 
cilious disapproval of Western civilisation, eve;. 



when they advocate the introduction of social and 
political institutions associated with it. For 
example, give freedom to the women as in Europe 
and America, but don't let them abandon the ideal 
of Indian womanhood, don't let them be contami- 
nated by the " abuse " of that freedom, as is the case 
with the women in the West ; abolish the caste 
system, but guard against the promiscuity of 
Western society ; encourage capitalism, but avoid 
the greediness of Western materialism ; get rid of 
religious superstitions and have a rationalist view 
of life, but don't accept experimental science as the 
only source of human knowledge. Such is the 
attitude of the advocates of progress, of those who 
grudgingly admit that there is something wrong 
with Indian society, and are distressed not to find a 
remedy in ancient traditions. They find it difficult 
to reject the outcome of a thousand years of 
human progress called Western civilisation. Yet, 
they don't have the courage to break with the old 
and embrace the new. 

Theirs is the theory of the so-called synthesis, 
a compromise between progress and reaction ; the 
compromise is to take place on the basis of the 
" spiritual genius " of Indian culture. The abomin- 
able Western civilisation will be admitted into Holy 
India only after it has performed the ceremony of 
Prayaschitta. The Western civilisatoin is not 
altogether rejected ; it is only asked to place itself 



under the purifying influence of India. The 
spokesmen of this spiritual imperialism do not 
know what they are talking about. They expound 
the doctrine of " synthesis " with a show of philo- 
sophic wisdom. But what do they actually pro- 
pose ? An impossibility harmonious inter-weaving 
of two mutually exclusive systems of culture and 
forms of thought, belonging to different historical 
epochs, centuries apart. 

Philosophically understood, synthesis is the 
process of a new positive category coming out of 
the negation of something which has previously 
existed also as a positive category. Chemically, 
synthesis results from what is called a compound 
mixture. It is something entirely new, and 
different from the old, and the constituents from 
which it results. A synthesis of the conflicting ele- 
ments contained in what is known as Western civi- 
lisation, (that is, capitalist society) will be the rise 
of an entirely new type of civilisation on the basis 
laid by the capitalist civilisation itself. The posi- 
tive elements of the capitalist civilisation will go 
into the making of a higher form of civilisation. 
Indians talking of a synthesis propose just the re- 
verse process. They suggest that the "good" in 
Western civilisation should be adopted by India, 
to be harmonised with her native culture. 

Two functions of the capitalist civilisation can 
be styled "good", if the term is defined as p;> 



gressive, inducive to human progress. One is 
destructive : Capitalism performs a " good" function 
when it disrupts, and eventually clears away, the 
ruins of the mediaeval feudal social order with its 
religious mode of thought. The other "good" 
function of capitalism the constructive function 
is to bring about industrial development to a 
point from where humanity can easily enter into 
a higher stage of social evolution. The destructive 
"good" function of capitalism cannot be 
harmonised with the traditional Indian culture 
which was based upon a social order, disrupted 
and finally destroyed by it more than two hundred 
years ago in Europe. It is doubtful that the Indian 
social " synthesists " would welcome that " good " 
in Western civilisation. To recognise that function 
of capitalism as good, would mean wholehogging 
for Western civilisation. Then, there could be no 
more wise talk of synthesis. 

Those who cannot appreciate without reserve 
the historical value of the destructive "good" 
function of capitalism, cannot possibly welcome and 
avail of its constructive "good" its positive out- 
come. Moreover, the latter " good " function opens 
up a vista of the future whch is entirely irreconcil- 
able with a wistful look backwards. 

Indian nationalist criticism of the capitalist 
civilisation is not directed against its real evil the 
reactionary, degrading, degenerating features it de- 



velops in the period of decay. Indian nationalists 
reject precisely what is " good " in capitalist civilisa- 
tion. Culturally, the positive outcome of the capi- 
talist civilisation has been the tremendous advance 
of science, in theory and practice an advance 
which has prepared the ground for final libera- 
tion of man from the age-long spiritual bondage. 

The basic evil of capitalist civilisation, in the 
cultural aspects, has been the systematic and per- 
sistent attempt to block the spiritual liberation of 
man, even when it was creating the conditions 
favourable for that liberation. That was done by 
protecting and fostering religion (of course, in 
modernised forms), idealist philosophy and all sorts 
of the associated obscurantist metaphysical specula- 
tion, just when the triumphal march of scientific 
knowledge was disrupting the foundation of these 
relics of the dark ages. Yet, curiously enough 
materialism is held, by the Indian nationalists, to 
be the fundamental sin of Western civilisation ! 

As a matter of fact, the situation is just the 
reverse : Materialist philosophy is a bugbear no less 
hated and combated by the ruling classes of the 
West than by our nationalists the would-be rulers 
of India. Why? Because materialist philosophy 
is the mighty instrument for the spiritual liberation 
of mankind. This weapon, originally hammered 
out roughly by the great thinkers of antiquity 
(India had her share of that glorious pioneering 



work), has been perfected in course of the history 
of capitalist culture. Therefore, all fighters for 
freedom and honest advocates of progress must 
appreciate Western civilisation as the hitherto most 
brilliant chapter of human history. To decry that 
imposing monument of human progress, from the 
standpoint of an antiquated culture, as the Indian 
nationalists do, is simply reactionary. 

"Western civilisation is materialist" and 
" Eastern culture is spiritual " these are the favou- 
rite shibboleths of the Indian nationalist ideology. 
While harping on this theme ad nauseum, none 
takes the pain of proving the contention. It is re- 
garded simply as an axiomatic truth, which be- 
comes all the more categorical, the more it it asser- 
ted domatically, and proclaimed loudly. The purpose 
of this book is not controversial. It will neverthe- 
less be demonstrated that, what is claimed to be 
the " special genius " of Indian culture, is not special 
at all ; that spiritualism, that is, the religious form 
of thought, characterises human ideology every- 
where in a certain stage of social evolution. It will shown that the modes of thought change 
in accordance with the variation of social environ- 
ments, and therefore no particular way of thinking 
can be the eternal and immutable characteristic of 
any people. 

If India clings tenaciously to a particular mode 
of thought which has been rejected or reformed or 



camouflaged by the Western nations, it is not be- 
cause the latter are morally depraved by nature, and 
therefore have not been able to remain on the high 
level of a religious ideology. It simply proves that 
advance of civilisation (progressive conquest of 
nature by man) has enabled those nations to think 
more in terms of reason and positive knowledge 
than in terms of faith and metaphysical fantasies. 
It simply proves that changes in the conditions of 
life inevitably revolutionise human ideology. It 
proves that India clings to an antiquated mode of 
thought because she did not experience similar 
changes. Otherwise, the peope of India also would 
to-day be thinking more or less similarly as the 
Western peoples. They did so until only three 
hundred years ago. 

The gigantic transformation of the conditions 
of life experienced by the Western peoples during 
the last two hundred years has created the gulf 
which separates them ideologically from the Indian 
people. Subject India to the same process of trans- 
formation, and the gulf will close up in no time. 

The great bulk of Indian nationalists exclaim : 
"Ah ! That is precisely what we want to avoid"; 
and complacently believe to have proved the spiri- 
tual superiority of the Indian culture. Is not the 
desire itself born of an innate spiritual inclination? 
Unless Indians were by nature spiritually inclined, 
how could they resist the temptation of travelling 



the road of greed and worldly grandeur like the 
wayward peoples of the West? But one may ask 
an entirely different question : Was it by choice 
that India did not travel that road? Is she resisting 
the temptation even to-day? The least regard for 
the facts of history and the realities of the present 
situation will compel the answer to be decisively 
in the negative. Even the disappointed jackal 
makes a laughing-stock of itself by attempting to 
hide the chagrin in an ill-fitting garb of lofty in- 
difference for the sour grapes. Such harmful self- 
deception should not have any place in the ideology 
of a great people in the process of a renaissance. 

The proclamation that India wishes to avoid 
travelling the path of Western nations implies two 
very important admissions. Firstly, that, given the 
similar changes in their conditions of life, the Indian 
people also would think just in the same way as the 
peoples of the West. This admission knocks the 
bottom off the dogma of innate spirituality of the 
Indians. It is admitted that India has remained 
wedded to the religious mode of thought simply 
because she has had no opportunity for outgrowing 
it. The second admission is that Indian nationalism 
is utterly futile. It does not believe in its own pro- 
gramme. The nationalist movement, the striving 
for political freedom, itself is the decisive testimony 
to the fact that the Indian people are just as much 
concerned with the conditions of life as others. 



Political freedom will enable the Indian peo 
pic to catch up with the progress of two hundred 
years that separates them from the Western nations. 
The historical significance of Indian nationalism is 
precisely the realisation of that which its prevalent 
ideology disclaims ! Is it not a pitiful spectacle ? If 
you really believe that you are spiritually superior 
to others, that your superiority is innate, then why 
bother about other things of life. Being innate, 
your spiritual genius cannot be destroyed or cor- 
rupted by the vicissitudes of the mundane existence. 
So, your nationalism is a mistake ; the will to poli- 
tical freedom is a deviation from your spiritual 
nature. Show your spirituality by bearing the 
cross of political slavery and economic ruin. Either 
your spirituality is a sham, or your nationalism is 
a huge joke. 

Then, to hark back to history and a legend is 
a double-edged sword. It cuts both ways. The 
West, too, can boast of its Janakas, and they are 
living to-day, giving a spiritualist complexion to the 
materialist civilisation. If acquisition of wealth is 
justified, provided that it is devoted to good pur- 
poses, can you accuse a Rockfeller of materialism? 
Does he not spend huge sums for the very virtuous 
purpose of spreading Christianity, for saving mil- 
lions and millions of heathen souls? Has not a 
Carnegie contributed magnificently to the promo- 
tion of peace? The list can be prolonged to include 



practically all the richest men of America and 
Europe. Yet, those are the very people who imper- 
sonate what is decried as Western materialism. 

A dispassionate observation of facts unmistak- 
ably reveals the essential similarity of the ideals and 
activities pursued in the daily life of all peoples ir- 
respective of the geographical location of their 
habitats. The apparent diversity is only a form. 
The great bulk of the Indian people are also con- 
cerned mainly with the material things of life. Not 
for enjoyment, but as a matter of necessity. It is 
not only the case to-day, it has been so always. And 
the culture of a people, after all, is to be judged by 
the standard of its bulk. High-sounding phrases 
or pet doctrines, invented by the "intellectual elite", 
do not reflect the real ideology of a people. Even 
intellectuals themselves, in practical life, are 
obliged to come down from the giddy altitude of 
their ideals. The great majority of Indian intellec- 
tuals are ardent believers in the spiritual superiority 
of their race. They are eloquent defenders of the 
" Aryan " ideals of life. They are convinced, by 
some queer and questionable process of reasoning, 
that such noble qualities as the spirit of sacrifice, 
sincerity, purity of mind, etc., are Indian mono- 
polies. They cherish the day-dream of participat- 
ing in the mission of India to save the tormented 
humanity from the sin of materialism. This all 
sounds so beautiful, and it is so exhilarating to re- 



peat it with a ring of conviction. But what, after all 
this moonshine, is the ideal the Indian intellectuals 
actually pursue ? To get a semblance of education, 
not for the sake of education, but for its market 
value; to equip themselves with the object of acquir- 
ing worldly goods. Do the youth of the materialist 
West pursue any different ideal ? 

If the concern for the physical necessities of 
life is " materialism ", the peoples of the West are 
no more to be blamed than the Indian for perform- 
ing what is only a biological function. No rational 
person can ever dispute the fact that to subsist and 
reproduce are the essential functions of every orga- 
nism. The human being naturally tries to perform 
these basic biological functions under the most 
favourable conditions. The ability to create such 
conditions, and to improve them progressively, 
separates man from the lower animals ; that is to 
say, hankering for comfort is a biological urge. 
Anyone who would dispute the view must* defend 
the absurd proposition that the cave-dweller is the 
ideal human being. 

But the opponents of materialism, of course, 
do not stretch their spiritualism to such an obvious- 
ly absurd extent, although logically they should. 
Because, who is to determine where the line is to 
be drawn? Once the biological necessity is admit- 
ted, any limit to it can be set only arbitrarily. In 
spite of all humbug, there is scriptural evidence 



that materialism, in the sense of the desire to sub- 
sist, reproduce and acquire worldly goods, is not 
against the genius of Indian culture. According to 
the scriptures, the object of human life is fourfold : 
Dharma, Artha, Kama and Mo\sha. Sandwiched 
piously in between Dharma and Mo\sha, Artha and 
Kama do not cease to mean what they are. The 
fact remains that the acquisition of worldly goods 
as well as sexual enjoyment was not only sanctioned 
scripturally, but was recognised as the object of 
human life, on equal footing with religion and 
salvation. Enjoyment in general is the broad inter- 
pretation of the term Kama given by all the com- 

The Mahabharat contains the most elaborate 
and comprehensive exposition of Dharma. The 
closing verse of the Epic declares: "Artha and 
Kama are derived from Dharma." This very signi- 
ficant declaration is put in the mouth of Vyasa. 
The divine inspiration of that saintly law-giver of 
ancient India was the sanction for the codes of 
Dharma formulated in the Mahabharat. The in- 
junction is : Be religious, and you will have all the 
pleasures of the world. The materialistic essence 
of Indian spiritualism is evident. What is still 
more significant is that the saintly injunction is 
associated with a note of exasperation: " But none 
listens to me." In the very "Golden Age" of 
Indian history the pursuit of Artha and Kama was 



not even restricted by Dharma. The prevalent 
"materialism" must have exasperated the saintly 

One of the charges commonly hurled against 
the Western civilisation is that of sexuality. On 
this point again, Indian sanctimoniousness is borne 
out neither by present practice nor by past theories. 
In fact, ancient and mediaeval literature of no other 
country is so full of erotics as that of India. Leave 
aside the classical example of the mediaeval 
Vaishnava and the ancient Bhagavata cults ; the 
Brahma Sutras themselves lay down : " The sexual 
instinct is germinal in the child, and obtains full 

expression when the proper age comes. So " 

It is not at all difficult to reconstruct the conclusion 
left unsaid. It must be, since sex is a natural in- 
stinct, it is to be enjoyed; the Dharma sanctions it. 
According to the Gita also, God operates as " the 
rightful desire (Kama) in all creatures." Rightful 
that is, according to Dharma. But in spite of 
such an admirably liberal interpretation, Dharma 
was superceded by the other ideals of human life 
even in the Golden Age of Indian history. 

At the end of the Mahabharat, Vyasa informs 
that Dharma was generally disregarded. Dharma 
evidently meant social codes which, in a backward 
stage of human development, are defined every- 
where in religious terms, and remain in operation 
on the authority of some divine or heavenly sanc- 



tions. One must acquire worldly goods, satisfy the 
sexual urge, and enjoy the pleasure of physical life 
generally, but under certain conditions governed 
by the laws of the established society. 

Does the daily life in the materialist West fall 
short of this ideal? None but a raving maniac, 
utterly ignorant of the subject under discussion, 
would venture an answer in the affirmative. High- 
way robbery as a means of acquiring wealth and the 
caveman's method of winning his mate are no more 
practised in the Western countries than in India. 
The peoples of Europe and America pursue the 
objects of Artha and Kama just as much governed 
by Dharma as the Indians. And essentially, there 
is little difference in what they respectively accept 
as the legitimate limitations to their pursuits. In 
the last analysis, the limitations, be they in the form 
of the Hindu Samhitas or generally accepted moral 
codes or the civil law, can be reduced to the good 
old Mosaic Ten Commandments. 

As regards the fourth object, Moksha, the 
average European or American is a Christian, and 
is as true to his religious belief as the average 
Indian is to his. It is simply impertinent to main- 
tain that the average Westerner is hypocritical 
about his religious beliefs, whereas the average 
Indian is sincere. There is absolutely no evidence 
in support of this amazing contention, so often 
made light-heartedly. Salvation of the soul is a 



cardinal principle also of Christianity, and an 
average European or American Christian, by virtue 
of being better educated, is able to follow his faith 
more intelligently than the average Indian whose 
religion is but a bundle of superstitions and habits. 
Moftsha has practically vanished from the latter's 
religious vision. The struggle for the bare physical 
existence cruelly governs his whole being, with 
Kama, often in very unappetising forms, dominat- 
ing the dark corners. Shackles of antiquated social 
codes, such as the caste regulations together with 
the civil laws of the British Government, have taken 
the place of Dharma the limitation of the pursuit 
of the two basic objects of human life. 

The more reasonable protagonist of spiritualism 
would come forward with the rejoinder : Granted 
that the above picture depicts the reality of the 
situation, it only proves a certain degree of degene- 
ration of our culture ; the object of Indian national- 
ism is to arrest the deplorable process, and revive 
our spiritual culture as the model for the world. 
The present failing to prove the case, the evidence 
for the spiritual superiority of Indian culture is to 
be discovered in the past. Before Dharma degene- 
rated under the impact of Western materialism, 
Mo\sha shone as the guiding star of life, and Art ha 
and Kama occupied but minor places in the life of 
the Hindu. That is the contention. Historically, 
it is simply not true. Even the legends of the Epks, 



unscientifically accorded the dignity of history, do 
not corroborate the contention. The best traditions 
of Indian culture go back to the beef-eating and 
soma-drinking Brahmins of the Vedic age. The 
Epics are full of descriptions of royal courts vying 
with each other as regards grandeur, luxury and 
vain glory. Even when Dharma was pure, and 
Mofaha did not vanish from the vision of life, 
Artha and Kama were not despised. They were 
certainly enjoyed, if not actually worshipped. But 
you do worship what you enjoy, if worship has 
any meaning. The quintessence of the Dharma of 
India in her Golden Age is contained in the Santi 
Parva of the Mahabharat. Read it to find how 
eager even the Brahmins were to acquire worldly 

If the talk of a few is to be taken for the 
evidence about an entire community, then Europe 
and specially America deserve the palm of spiri- 
tuality on the strength of the army of priests voci- 
ferously preaching Christian virtues from numerous 
pulpits. And Christian virtues have no reason to 
be ashamed before the " Aryan " ideals of life. It 
would be staking an absurd claim to contend that 
similar conceptions of God, soul and other spiritual 
categories might have greater regenerating values 
when stated in the Indian scriptures. It would be 
equally illogical and damaging for the very doctrine 
of spirituality to assert that Christianity was 



corrupted by materialism, whereas extra-mundane 
notions of life proved immune to such degeneration 
in India. If spiritual categories are what they are 
claimed to be, they must be incorruptible under all 
circumstances and everywhere. But if they lose 
force in one place, and under one set of circum- 
stances, their immutability is disproved, and it is 
but a logical deduction that, given similar change 
of conditions, they would go the same way every- 

"What does it profit a man if he gains the 
whole world and loses his soul ? " This highly 
spiritualistic sermon is repeated every day through- 
out the Christian world. As a matter of fact, 
Christianity contains all the articles of faith, all the 
metaphysical doctrines and moral dogmas which 
are cited as the evidence of the spiritual nature of 
Indian culture. Christ himself taught : " The 
kingdom of God is within you." It means that the 
salvation of man is to be attained through the 
realisation of the soul an ideal identical with the 
"Atmadarshan" of the Hindus. St. Paul chided 
his audience : " Are Ye so foolish ? Having begun 
in spirit, are you made perfect by the flesh ? " 
Coming to the fathers of the Church, we find 
Gregory of Nicea teaching : " Human soul is 
identical with God." Finally, one may learn from 
the greatest Christian theologian, Thomas Aquinas : 
"That intellectual light that is within us, is not 



else than a certain participated likeness of the 
Uncreated Light in which are contained the Eternal 

No use murmuring adverse reflections or 
entertaining doubts about the divinity of the 
creatures of the Christian Gospel or about the 
sincerity of the faith of their congregations. On 
this issue the table can be turned against the 
Indians just as well. The divinity of the Brahman, 
the standard-bearer of " Aryan " culture, is palpably 
open to doubt. The modern Swami can hardly 
claim superiority to an up-to-date Christian theo- 
logian. Only blind prejudice and impotent 
national chauvinism can brand the Christian con- 
gregations of Europe and America with spiritual 
inferiority to the Indian masses. The former have 
at least a faith, whereas the latter have only super- 
stitions. There is absolutely no reason to believe 
that, when one repeats the enigmatic aphorisms of 
Vedanta, or recites the Gita, his catholicity is 
beyond doubt, whereas the sincerity of a Christian 
priest is to be suspected when he teaches the 
Gospel of Christ. 

There are those who identify materialism with 
capitalism. They cannot denounce materialism as 
a Western product. Capitalism is not a thing of 
to-day. Nor did it drop from heaven or spring out 
of the hell. It is an economic system which evolved 
over a whole period of history. Although, for 



many reasons, it happened to flourish more luxuri- 
antly in Europe, its germs had been sprouting for 
hundreds of years in all the civilised countries. 
The facts, proudly cited, often exaggeratedly, by 
nationalist historians, regarding the growth of 
industry (handicraft) and expansion of trade in 
India, " when the fore-fathers of modern Europe 
were going naked ", only prove that India was 
heading towards " materialism " even before the 
European peoples outgrew their primitive inno- 
cence. The growth of handicraft and the conse- 
quent expansion of trade eventually usher in 
capitalism. Leaving aside the controversial facts 
about the pre-historic and antique periods, it can 
be established with reliable data that commodity 
production on the basis of handicraft was well 
advanced in India even before the advent of the 
Europeans. So, India stood on the threshold of 
modern capitalism, and was walking into the 
corrupting embrace of materialism, when Europe 
was still largely merged in the darkness of the 
highly " spiritual " middle-ages. Two very impor- 
tant things are thus proved : Firstly, the love of 
lucre, as typified in capitalism, is not a peculiar 
feature of Western civilisation ; and secondly, India 
developed this sinful love earlier than Europe. 

The Indian nationalist is not ashamed of this 
sinful love. He only wishes to legalise, rather 
sanctify, it in a happy and a harmonious wedlock 



between capital and labour, thereby setting an 
object lesson to the materialist West. The proposi- 
tion is to " spiritualise " capitalism. The least 
understanding of the nature of capitalism would 
show the absurdity of this Utopia. Accumulation 
of wealth in the possession of the owners of the 
means of production by exploiting the labour power 
of the wage-slaves, is the essence of capitalism. 
That is " greed ", if a moral term is to be used for 
describing a social impulse. The Utopia of an 
ethical capitalism, however, is nothing new. It is 
an old song. It was heard in the materialist West 
long before Gandhi fascinated with it his uncritical 
followers. The most remarkable thing is that 
people, passing sweeping judgment against Western 
civilisation, are often totally ignorant of its history. 
Some knowledge of the social history of Europe 
opens one's eyes to the fact that it was the classical 
home of capitalism, namely, England, which gave 
birth also to a whole variety of utopain doctrines 
for the moral rehabilitation of that "unnecessary 
social evil." 

The Christian Socialism of Charles Kingsley and 
his followers anticipated Gandhism by more than 
half a century. If William Lovett, the leader of 
the " moral force " wing of the Chartist movement, 
was here to-day, he would be found eminently qua- 
lified, in every respect, for admission into the inner 
conclave of the Pope of Indian nationalism, and 



membership of the Working Committee of the 
Congress. The Christian Socialists held that disre- 
gard for " spiritual values " made the workers bitter 
against the employers. They set about to " spiritu- 
alise " the atmosphere, so that a perfect social har- 
mony could be established for the benefit and happi- 
ness of all. To the workers, brutally exploited by 
rapacious capitalism, and bloodily suppressed by 
the Government whenever they revolted against 
intolerable conditions, Kingsley piously preached : 
" Be fit to be free, and God Himself will set you 
free .... There will be no true freedom without 
virtue, no true science without religion, no true in- 
dustry without the fear of God and love to your 
fellow-citizen." It may be pertinently pointed out 
that the Gospel of Christ, as falsified by Saint 
Mathew, was the source of inspiration of Kingsley's 
highly " spiritualist " view of freedom. (The origi- 
nal Gospel recorded by St. Luke was a powerful 
cry of revolt. Christianity rose as the ideology of 
the rebellious slaves. As such, originally it was as 
sublime as any religion can ever be.) Kingsley's 
sermon to the toiling masses, bleeding on the cross 
of capitalism, was of course livened up, and made 
more attractive by denunciation of the rich with 
an apostolic fervour. But that was followed by 
the very pragmatic proposition to throw some 
crumbs of justice and magnanimity to the hungry 
multitude before it was too late to stem the omi- 



nous tide of revolt. The purpose of the Christian 
Socialist propaganda of Kingsley, Maurice, 
Stephens and other devout reformers was to divert 
the attention of the victims of capitalist greed from 
the sorrows and sufferings of life to illusive spiritual 
and moral ideals. The hero of Kingsley 's novel, 
Anton Locke, is an ex-Chartist workman. The 
philosophy of deception is put into his mouth : 
" Fool that I was ! It was within rather than with- 
out that I should reform. For my part, I seem to 
have learned that the only thing to regulate the 
world is not more of any system, good or bad, but 
simply more of the spirit of God." 

One of the master-builders of the British Em- 
pire, Disraeli, came under the wholesome influence 
of Christian Socialism. He bitterly criticised the 
laissez-faire policy of the whig bourgeoisie as the 
cause of the social misery, depicted with real artistic 
merit in his famous book Sybil, and advocated 
social reform a benevolent attitude to the working 
class. Does the pious " anti-capitalism " of the 
Gandhists propose anything more spiritual ? 

Another famous British statesman of the nine- 
teenth century, Sir Robert Peel, said : " Take my 
word for it, it is not prudent to trust yourself to a 
man who does not believe in God and in a future 
life after death." As a matter of fact, all the lead- 
ing men of the nineteenth century the classical age 
of vulgar materialism running rampant were all 



highly religious, God-fearing souls. Philosophical 
materialism of the eighteenth century of the 
French Encyclopedists had turned out to be dan- 
gerous for the established order of society. So, the 
ruling class had taken refuge under the protection 
of God, and their pious spokesmen agitated for 
more benevolence, more kindness, more justice, in 
the relations of the established social order based 
on the exploitation of man by man. 

" Thou shalt not make mammon thy god ; 
thou shalt not make gold thy god, but thy servant ; 
thou shalt not suffer the paradox of poverty and 
plenty, else thou sinnest grievously." Who do you 
think pronounced those biblical words ? An Assis- 
tant Secretary of State of the United States of 
America under the Roosevelt regime. This Mahat- 
mic sermon could be preached just as well by any 
orthodox Indian nationalist. But in practice, the 
cap is not placed, neither in India nor in the West, 
on the head it fits. The hypocritical sermon is 
meant for the masses, so that the preserves of the 
fortunate few are not in the least touched. The 
sanctimonious attitude towards poverty is not bom 
of spiritualism, but of the fear of revolution. It 
is highly interesting to note that the object of the 
rulers of the most materialist country of the West 
happens to be identical with the Gandhist attitude 
towards capitalism. Gandhi also denounces capita- 
lism, but does not advocate its abolition. His 



avowed desire is to establish harmonious relations 
between the capitalists and workers to persuade 
the former to be benevolent guardians of the latter. 
Addressing a public meeting at Nagpur in Novem- 
ber 1933, the Mahatma declared : " I have been 
doing my very best to secure adequate wages for the 
labourers and to convert the capitalists to be the 
trustees of workers rather than their employers." 
On innumerable occasions, previous to that and 
subsequently, he has repeated the same sentiment. 
In the light of such utterances the Mahatma cannot 
be looked upon as a greater enemy of capitalism 
than Disraeli. Both advocate giving the bitter pill 
a sugar-coating. 

The Christian Socialism of Kingsley and others 
simply aided capitalism which it proposed to reform. 
Anton Locke's pious pessimism captured the de- 
pressed spirit of the workers, heavily defeated in 
their first great struggle for freedom. A few 
miserable crumbs from the overflowing table of 
the capitalists, accompanied by the expression of 
pious wishes, succeeded in making the workers 
accept wage-slavery as a normal condition of life. 
The masses were brought back under the spell of 
religiosity, and meekly submitted to the established 
codes of ethics and law. The average English wor- 
ker became not only a believer in constitutional re- 
form, but also a devoutly religious man. 

In no other country is to be found a community 



of civilised men and women more religious than 
the English proletariat. Since the doctrine of spiri- 
tualism bore them such magnificent fruits, the 
English capitalists also became converts to it, con- 
veniently forgetting the rationalist and materialist 
traditions of their revolutionary forefathers. 
Sickening philistinism ran rampant in the land of 
Bacon, Hobbes and Locke. The Victorian era 
the period of phenomenal capitalist development 
and colonial expansion was intensely religious. 
Gladstonian liberalism sailed merrily with the 
fraudulent colours of harmony between capital and 

No reasonable person can possibly believe that 
the magic wand of Gandhism will spiritualise the 
capitalist system in any different fashion. It is not 
a part of the " spiritual genius " of India to abolish 
capitalism. The proposition is only to " moralise " 
it, humanise it. Materialism, in the worst sense 
of the term, always thrives in the gairic garb of 
spiritualism. Those who reject spiritualism, that 
is, religious mode of thought, have nothing but 
disdain for what is vulgarly called materialism. 
Their moral attitude is depicted in the words of 
Epicurus one of the illustrious founders of philo- 
sophical materialism. He cast away the belief in 
gods and threw off the shackles of religion, not to 
"eat, drink and be merry", but "in order to be 
noble and virtuous because it is a pleasure to be so". 



The vulgar doctrine of " eat, drink and be merry ", 
maliciously attributed to the materialist sage of 
ancient Greece by the barbarous Christian theolo- 
gians, has been adopted by the ruling classes which 
devoutly profess Christian virtues, and pompously 
talk of high ideals. Nor is vulgar materialism con- 
fined to the ruling classes of the West. It has been 
practised by them also in India in the past and is 
practised at present as well. The Epics and other 
classical literature are full of incontestable evidence 
to that effect. At present, the orthodox cotton 
kings of Ahmedabad, for example, do not lead a 
life more altruistic than the westernised Parsi mill- 
owners of Bombay. The Banya who washes his 
corpulent frame daily in the holy water of the 
Ganges and spends several hours in Puja-patha, beats 
Shylock in his game. It is just as erroneous to 
castigate the entire Western world for the vulgar 
materialism of its ruling class, as it is to declare 
Indian culture innately spiritual on the strength of 
the reactionary orthodoxy of the few having a stake 
in the established order of things. The multitude 
of people, in the West as well as in the East, are 
simply engrossed in the performance of biological 
functions. The desire to eat, drink and be merry, 
on the part of those, who at best can ever get just 
a glimpse of that kingdom of heaven, is a veritable 
incentive to progress an urge to freedom, spiritual 
as well as mundane. Spiritualism, discouraging 



this legitimate desire in them, stands in the way 
not only of material progress, but of the real spiri- 
tual emancipation of mankind. 

The antithesis of spiritualism is philosophical 
materialism which has absolutely nothing to do 
with the vulgar characterisation "eat, drink and 
be merry." It is not the ideology of the capitalist 
Western civilisation. On the contrary, all the in- 
tellectual forces of the capitalist society are concen- 
trated in fighting the hated and dreaded foe the 
philosophy of revolution which heralds a civilisa- 
tion higher than the capitalist. So, by denouncing 
materialism, the Indian nationalists do not reject 
the capitalist civilisation, but enter into an unholy 
alliance with it. They place themselves in such a 
position because of their erroneous notion about 
materialism. This does not mean that a better 
acquaintance with the enemy would make them 
love it. But in that case, they would at least be 
able to talk more intelligently and seriously. At 
the same time, there would be a differentiation in 
their ranks. The progressive elements, freed from 
the prejudice born of ignorance, might find in phi- 
losophical materialism a powerful means for the 
realisation of theijr goal. In any case, they are 
bound to break away from the traditions of reli- 
gious orthodoxy. 

To-day, in the Western countries, the bour- 
geoisie are carrying on desperately a losing struggle 



against the revolutionary philosophy of materia- 
lism ; but their forefathers had to carry on the 
historic fight against the religiosity of mediaeval 
barbarism in order to shake the moral and spiritual 
foundation of the pre-capitalist society. Their 
ideological weapon in that fight was philosophical 
materialism. The revolutionary weapon, forged 
originally by the great thinkers of antiquity, was 
profitably employed and greatly sharpened in 
course of the struggle of the rising bourgeoisie. 

Materialist philosophy has to be called in to 
assist also at the re-birth of India. As long as the 
progressively minded intellectuals will remain 
wedded to the antiquated forms of religious 
thought, superficially rationalised to be all the more 
harmful because of its deceptiveness, they will 
simply stultify themselves. The boldness required 
for tearing down the rotten structure of Indian 
society, in the vicious atmosphere of which all in- 
centive to progress is checked, can be born only out 
of a spirit set free by scientific knowledge. 

The weakness of the Indian struggle for freedom 
lies in its ideology. An objectively progressive 
movement is saddled with a whole cargo of re- 
actionary ideas which contradict its very being. 
The latent forces of the movement are being 
cramped by its ideology. If we want to go forward 
in the future, we must have the courage to break 
away from the past. The longer we linger with 



the virtues of the past virtues which have ceased 
to be virtues, having become veritable vices in 
course of time the farther shall we remain from 
the victories of the future. The fighters for 
freedom who want to go forward must seek 
inspiration in philosophical materialism which alone 
can make a correct appreciation of the past culture 
as containing the germs for a superior culture to 
come. Only that much in past greatness is useful 
which helps to attain a greater future. The rest of 
the past are shackles to be shaken by those who 
want to be free and go ahead. Therefore, a correct 
understanding of philosophical materialism is an 
urgent necessity of the moment. It will immensely 
strengthen the forces of progress, and hasten the 
much delayed renaissance of India. On the other 
hand, it will enable our opponents, that is, the ideo- 
logists of reaction, slavery, degeneration and degra- 
dation, to put up their case with a modicum of phi- 
losophical knowledge, so that some intellectual 
pleasure might be derived from fighting them. 



A DISPASSIONATE examination of the history of 
Indian culture and a critical appreciation of its 
positive outcome will require a book by itself. Here, 
I shall only record some evidence, gathered at 
random, which reveals the real nature of our " spi- 
ritual " culture. On the evidence of its contempo- 
rary protagonists and defenders, Indian culture is 
no less materialistic than the so called western cul- 
ture. As a matter of fact, spiritualism, that is, the 
religious view of life, while antithetical to materia- 
list philosophy, is, and always and everywhere has 
been, associated with vulgar materialism. Indian 
culture has always been materialistic in the vulgar 
sense, as distinct from the philosophical sense. It 
is hostile to the philosophy, not to the practice, 
of materialism. That is only natural. After all, 
Indians, even of the legendary Golden Age, also are 
terrestrial beings, and as such could not possibly 
rise above the necessities of physical existence. 
Therefore, it is a sheer fiction that Indian civilisa- 
tion was fundamentally different from the civili- 
sation of other peoples, approximately on the same 
level of social development. The nature of a civili- 



sation is not determined by the points of the com- 
pass, but by the conditions of the age in which it 
develops. What is called a spiritual civilisation, 
represents a backward stage of social progress. 
Indian culture is distinct from modern western cul- 
ture inasmuch as it clings to medievalism. 

The other day, in an article expounding the 
inexhaustible, all-embracing nature of Indian 
culture, no less an authority on the subject than 
the venerable Dr. Bhagwan Das gently rebuked 
the radical elements of the nationalist youth for 
the unnationalistic tendency of seeking inspiration 
from the dubious foreign sources, instead of drink- 
ing deep at the fountain-head of native tradition. 
(The word * native ' is used for the linguistic 
exigency of avoiding repetition ; I hope it would 
not offend nationalist super-sensitiveness. Besides, 
what is the harm in using the word ? We are 
natives of our country. So, why should we resent 
being called so ?) Dr. Bhagwan Das says that 
Indians are not afraid of socialism. Undoubtedly, 
he meant broad-minded and humanitarian Indians 
like himself. Unfortunately, India, like any other 
country, is populated mostly by ordinary mortals 
who, swayed by the irresistible realities of terres- 
trial life, cannot attain the state of philosophic calm 
and emotional exaltation. 

So, the fact is that socialism has become a bogey 
in India as well as in any other country. Of course* 



to the multitude, with nothing to lose but their 
chains, (and a chain is a chain even when it is rusty 
as in India), socialism offers the way to salvation in 
this mortal world. Therefore, in a way, it is true 
that India, with her pauperised masses, is not afraid 
of socialism, should not be, at any rate. But there 
are Indians and Indians. If the great majority of 
the Indian people have nothing to lose but their 
chains, the foreign rulers are not alone responsible 
for this national misfortune, nor are they the sole 
beneficiaries thereof. There are Indians with stakes 
in the present conditions of the country. They can 
not naturally share the detached and benevolent 
attitude of modern rishis like Dr. Bhagwan Das. 
They have also something substantial to lose. One 
should not expect them to face the menace of socia- 
lism with a philosophic calm, much less to be sym- 
pathetic to it. They are afraid of socialism ; and 
fear breeds hatred. 

Though the authoritative exponent of Indian 
culture assured that its spiritualist traditions would 
enable Indian society, as a whole, to embrace socia- 
lism, the fact is that those with stakes in the present 
conditions of the country are afraid of socialism. 
They consist of a small' minority of the Indian 
people which is responsible for, and is benefitted by, 
the misery, ignorance and general degradation of 
the masses. Their attitude towards this " product 
of western materialism" is that of hostility and 



hatred. Let alone the direct beneficiaries, even the 
nationalist political leaders, so very loud in their 
profession of concern for the masses, frown upon the 
socialistic tendency spreading among the younger 
generation which, under the pressure of the 
experience of economic realities, and thanks to 
the blessing of modern education, is breaking 
away from the bondage of venerable tradition. 
Indeed, practically all the nationalist leaders have 
expressed their disapproval of, if not open hostility 
to, socialism. 

That being the case, the statement of 
Dr. Bhagwan Das should be dismissed as a sweep- 
ing generalisation, utterly unfounded. Neverthe- 
less, it is not without significance. He is holding 
up a fiction to obscure facts. The modern intel- 
lectual is attracted by socialism ; let him have a 
fraudulent variety, so that he may not fall for 
dangerous ideas. Let the perverse child have the 
toy. By socialism, Dr. Bhagwan Das means 
something entirely different from the abhorrent 
materialistic doctrine which the misguided, de- 
nationalised, Indian youth is learning from out- 
landish prophets of social justice, who must be 
false prophets, if what they teach is not to be 
found in Manu. 

Dr. Bhagwan Das, together with other 
revivalist defenders of Indian culture, is of the 
opinion that the last word of social science (poli- 



tics, economics, law, civics, so on and so forth) has 
been said by the sages of ancient India. There- 
fore, he deplores the fact that the youthful 
enthusiasts for social justice are seeking inspira- 
tion from Marx and Lenin, ignoring or neglecting 
the teachings of Manu. Let the Indian socialists 
eschew Marx, to be guided by the wisdom of 
Manu, and they will find a place in the all- 
inclusive embrace of Mother India. If Socialism 
conforms with the codes which provide the moral 
sanction to the established social system, naturally, 
it will not be dreaded by those who enjoy a 
privileged position in, and derive benefits from, 
the status quo. 

That is the kind of socialism Dr. Bhagwan 
Das has in mind when he makes the sweeping 
generalisation which appears to make the incredible 
impression that, thanks to their spiritual culture, 
the Indian upper classes would readily forego their 
lucrative privileges. Granted that ancient India 
really had her Janakas, to-day she cannot boast 
of any bearing the remotest resemblance to those 
benevolent patriarchs of legendary fame. Besides, 
charity may be a virtue; but it is not social justice. 
It adds insult to injury. Alms-giving is not 
socialism. Some of the rich, in India as well as 
in other countries, are liberal givers of alms. There 
are those who give in charity a part of their ill- 
gotten wealth. On that token, there is no less 



of Manu's socialism in materialist America than 
in spiritualist India. Rockefellers and Carnegies 
should be regarded as modern incarnations of 
Janaka; and a civilisation that could produce 
dozens of modern Janakas should not be accused 
of materialism. 

Let us suppose that the inspired wisdom of 
Manu anticipated the teachings of Marx, and that 
scientific socialism is not an ideal unknown to 
ancient India. Why, then, this curious animus 
against this doctrine which, on your own claim, is 
not outlandish at all ? Since Marx simply repeat- 
ed what the Indian sage had taught, there can be 
no reasonable objection to the Indian youth learn- 
ing the teachings of Manu second-hand, if they 
are not able to appreciate the original goods. They 
are on the right road, anyhow ; and if Marxism is 
nothing but a feeble echo of the profound wisdom 
of Manu, the erring Indian youth are sure to 
return home in a round-about way. Why not let 
them have the rope, and wait for the return of 
the prodigal ? 

Evidently, there is a reason for this curious 
attitude. The taboo on Marx means fear of the 
spread of real socialism. If the ideals of social 
justice preached by Marx allure Indian youth away 
from the traditional allegiance to Manu, that is 
because there is nothing common between socialism 
and the feudal-patriarchal social codes of mediaeval 



India. Whatever might have been the merits of 
the codes of Manu, they could not possibly be 
socialistic. This goes without any argument. 
The necessity for the socialist reorganisation of 
society does not arise before the attainment of 
social conditions which make such reorganisation 
possible. However, one need only read Manu to 
find that he was not the prophet of new social 
order, but an apologist of the established system. 
And that system was not socialistic, even in the 
primitive sense. 

Manu's laws themselves expose the nature 
of the social system for the preservation of which 
they were given. It was a system dominated by 
priestly patriarchs. They may have been bene- 
volent, but were certainly not democratically 
minded. Their power was not even constitutional- 
ly limited. Manu's codes lay down social obliga- 
tions. They don't mention popular rights, not 
even of the most rudimentary kind admitted in 
primitive tribal organisations. Undoubtedly, Manu 
legislated for a society much above the tribal level. 
The primitive communism of the pre-Vedic era 
had disappeared. The society at the time of 
Manu was based upon the patriarchal form of 
private property guaranteed by a theocratic State. 
The whole social philosophy of Manu is sum- 
marised in his definition of dharma, and it is the 
Hindu conception of dharma which is supposed 



to be the essence of India's message to the world. 
Dharma is a religio-ethical concept of social 
conduct. Manu defines it as "contentment, for- 
giveness, self-control, abstention from unrighteously 
appropriating (what belongs to others), obedience 
to rules of purification, coercion of organs, wisdom, 
knowledge of the supreme soul, truthfulness arid 
abstention from anger." 

That is a formidable catalogue of virtues, all 
of which could be easily and profitably professed, 
even practised, by the privileged class of priests 
and patriarchs. For the rest of the society of the 
time, the practice of these virtues would mean 
voluntary submission to the established order. 
Look at these time-honoured gods a little more 
closely, and their clay-feet will be palpable even to 
the least critical. 

Contentment ? There is no point in preach- 
ing this virtue to those who have no reason to be 
discontented. To practise it, is no effort for the 
privileged. Discontent on the part of the have- 
nots is a natural enough sentiment, and as such 
morally justifiable. But it is a standing menace 
to the social status quo. A virtue, to be practised 
as a religious duty, was made out of contentment 
because it would guarantee the position of the 
privileged. The latter could easily set the example, 
having no reason to be discontented ; and thus 
encourage those with ample reason to rebel again ^ 



their fate, in the practice of the virtue with the 
forlorn hope of placating the gods who dictate 
the destinies of man. For the privileged, the 
virtue is only a matter of profession, which gives 
the comfortable feeling of self-righteousness, an 
emotional gain for nothing. From the multitude, 
however, it demands hard practice. They must 
make real sacrifice to practise contentment. 

Forgiveness is a virtue only when it is practis- 
ed by those who have been wronged. So, the 
moral burden is again on the masses, who must be 
constantly wronged should a minority be 
vouchsafed power and privilege. Then, practice 
of the virtue by the latter is recommended as a 
policy. The powerful can afford to be magnani- 
mous. That would only benefit themselves, secur- 
ing the gratefulness of the forgiven, who have 
much more to forgive. Forgiveness is not a virtue, 
but sheer hypocrisy, when delinquencies for- 
given are justifiable morally, because they are 
committed under the pressure of necessity. It is 
not virtue to pardon a theft committed by a hungry 

Unless the masses were taught self-control, 
that is, the habit of doing without the elementary 
necessities of life, the surplus produce of their 
labour could not accumulate in the possession of 
the upper classes. Self-control is the religio- 
ethical formulation of the fundamental principle 



of the economics of a society based upon non- 
productive ownership. In a limited sense, as a 
check upon action and emotion, it is denial of 
individual freedom, and inhibition of natural 
impulses. In the former case, it is a subtle but 
very effective method of exercising social coercion ; 
in the latter, it is harmful intellectually as well as 
emotionally. What is recommended is not self- 
control, but self-annihilation. Control is desirable 
and necessary, socially as well as ethically. But it 
amounts to denial of the right of the individual to 
human existence and normoral exercise of biological 
functions, unless the demand for control is preceded 
by an express recognition of that right. Social 
harmony secured through the arbitrary restriction 
of the physical and emotional life of the masses 
guarantees an established order at the expense of 
the future. The virtue of self-control keeps the 
standard of living of the masses in a static condi- 
tion ; indeed, it has a depressing effect. The 
economic development of a country primarily 
depends on the growth of the consuming capacity 
of the population. That is an elementary principle 
of economics. The dharma of self-control is 
dictated by conditions of pre-capitalist economy 
which, based on non-productive ownership 
(sacerdotal, patriarchal, feudal) precluded expan- 
sion of production. The total production having 
been necessarily limited, the grandeur of the upper 



classes (described, for example, in the Maha- 
bharata) was possible only if the producing masses 
could be persuaded or coerced to practise the 
virtue of simple life. The simpler, the better. 
The virtue of self-control stands for the spoliation 
and exploitation of the masses. 

The next virtue on the catalogue is respect 
for the sanctity of private property. This alone 
exposes how fantastic is the contention that Manu 
was the prophet of socialism. If the socialists, 
acting on the advice of Dr. Bhagwan Das, spurn 
outlandish doctrines and turn to Manu for the 
ideal of social justice, they must practise the virtue 
of "abstention from unrighteous appropriation". 
Faithful to the traditions of India's spiritual 
culture, nationalist leaders professing sympathy 
for the ideal of social justice, discountenance the 
least disturbance of the established property 
relations, which mocks at the professed ideal. It 
is worse than Utopian to discover socialist princi- 
ples in a mediaeval social philosophy, which invokes 
religious sanction for the right of private property, 
while providing religio-ethical pretexts for the 
spoliation and expropriation of the producers of 

After this, it is hardly necessary to go through 
the remaining virtues on the catalogue. Some of 
them are mere variations of those already examined. 
Others are metaphysical conceptions open to all 



sorts of interpretations. Truthfulness, for example^ 
has no meaning so long as the question, what is 
truth remains unanswered. The religious answer 
to this question declares a fiction to be the only 
reality ; makes truth out of a falsehood. Truth is 
correspondence with reality ; reality is objective 
existence ; change is the only thing that exists 
objectively ; what does not change, does not exist; 
ergo, change or changeablcness is the only truth. 
But religion raises the metaphysical concept of 
absoluteness to the pedestal of truth. Absoluteness 
is not objectively real. Therefore, it is a falsehood. 
Since reality is changeable, correspondence with it 
cannot be immutable. There is no absolute truth. 
The abstract concept of truthfulness is meaning- 
less. What is truthful to-day, may be positively 
false tomorrow, and it might have been so yester- 
day. What appears to be true from one point of 
view may be false from another. The illogical 
doctrine of absolute truth provides a metaphysical 
justification for the maintenance of a given social 
order by all means, including violence and 
coercion. If truth is immutable, any change is a 
violation of truth. Truthfulness is loyalty to the 
established regime. The socialists are advised to 
seek inspiration from this spiritualist philosophy! 

* Let alone socialists ; even those advocating 
milder forms of social reform do not find many 
noble ideals and progressive principles in Manu* 



The fact is that the Draco of India was the law- 
giver of the mediaeval form of class domination. 
His laws were the instrument for the preservation 
of the privileges of priestly patriarchy. One need 
not be a de-nationalised disciple of Marx to realise 
that India must repudiate the teachings of Manu 
as a condition for her much too belated 

For example, Professor S. V. Puntambekar of 
the Benares Hindu University, a liberal, writes : 
" No doubt, Manu's code has a spiritual outlook, 
a moral emphasis, a social organisation, /a funda- 
mental principle, a political scheme and an educa- 
tional method." Having given the devil his due, 
the Professor goes on : " But it will not help in 
modern times. It is socially a code of conquerors 
and of the feudal classes suited for feudal times. The 
principle of inequality, of classes and of special 
privileges and liberties, forms the background of 
its social structure and legal justice. The con- 
quered, the serfs and slaves, and the non-political 
classes of merchants, artisans and labourers, are 
given no equality of status or privilege with the 
nobility and clergy, who are revered as warriors 
and guardians of society, both in secular and 
spiritual affairs. The idea of the sacredness of 
private property, of heredity and hereditary suc- 
cession, and class system are its moral foundations. 
The notions of the divine right of monarchy and 



of the aristocracy of land and religion sharing in 
its privileges and powers, are its political theories. 
None of these reflects the spirit and the philosophy 
of new times." 

Here speaks a person of moral courage and 
intellectual honesty. He knows his Manu, and 
would not spin out fictions to gloss over facts. He 
appreciates the codes of Manu in their historical 
setting, but is not^handicapped by the metaphysi- 
cal dogma of absolute truth. What was good, 
meritorious and useful in the past, should not be 
raised to the status of wisdom unaffected by time. 
But the Professor does not stop at the above correct 
exposition of the codes of Manu. He goes on to 
point out the motives of those who cry " Back to 
Manu ", and courageously lays bare the selfish 
significance of the spiritualistic social principles 
they expound and ideals they hold up. 

"To-day, under the onslaught of new demo- 
cratic and radical or revolutionary philosophies 
our conservatives feel driven to philosophise about 
their conception of social order and their outlook 
on social progress. Their philosophy is, of course, 
apologetic, and developed to justify the position of 
the propertied and privileged classes. But owing to 
the forces of the spirit of modern times, their chief 
representatives cannot continue to be very re- 
actionary. They are willing to accept as just most 



of the contentions of the other liberal classes, 
provided that they themselves are permitted 
to enjoy their most important social and 
economic privileges. They arc even prepared 
to champion, within the limits of their 
personal and property security, the rights of 
individuals such as tenants, workers or labourers. 
They are, therefore, concerned more with defending 
themselves and their property than with maintain- 
ing any traditional principles of society or morality. 
Hence they advocate the absolute right of private 
property, specially in land, the present law of inheri- 
tance, succession and taxation, and also the prin- 
ciples of class system and lalsser ]airc. They believe 
in the tried wisdom and experience of their fore- 
fathers and of old institutions and traditions. They 
have no faith in the devices and untried theories 
of rationalism and democracy adopted in reorganis- 
ing society, religion and politics. They do not 
believe in the potency of individual reason. There 
is for them something mystic, something sacred, 
something living, something eternal in their past 
wisdom, institutions and culture. They do not 
believe in the right of disobedience or resistance to 
laws and institutions of the country or in a revolu- 
tion in any form. They do not want a breach with 
the past. The positive ideal of the conservatives is 
a kind of idealised feudalism. They believe in an 
expert governing class of hereditary nobles. They 



are against any democratic system based on equality 
or merit or competition. They like functional orga- 
nisations (caste) and fixed privileges and status of 
a mediaeval society." 

This is a terrible indictment of the spiritualist 
ideology that dominates our nationalist movement. 
No use resenting the impudence of a benighted 
liberal for criticising those who are " suffering and 
sacrificing" for the freedom of the country to 
question the disinterestedness of the sea-green in- 
corruptibles of the Congress. That would be simply 
peevish. The regrettable fact is that it is a well- 
founded criticism. Those pledged to truthfulness 
should not be afraid of facing the truth. The sooner 
this deadly truth about the much vaunted spiri- 
tualist tradition is realised, the better for the future 
of India. If she is to advance towards the goal of 
progress and prosperity of the masses, she must 
break away from the reactionary ideology represen- 
ted by a good many of its present leaders. 
* # * * 

There was a debate on socialism in Delhi the 
other day. Several prominent Congress leaders 
participated. For one reason or another, they all 
opposed the proposition that the economic problems 
of India could be solved only through the adop- 
tion of a socialist programme. The General Secre- 
tary of the Congress, Kripalani, argued that India 



could never accept socialism because it is associated 
with materialist philosophy, which is incompatible 
with her cultural traditions. He availed himself 
of the occasion to deliver what he must have believed 
to be an altogether deadly attack upon materialism. 
Being an Acharya, not an ordinary professor, he 
would not be content with the usual claptrap argu- 
ments. He must say something wise, original and 
even " scientific ". He was not disappointing. He 
did produce an argument which, though not very 
wise, was certainly original in the sense of betray- 
ing a woeful ignorance of the subject under discus- 
sion. He made the amazing assertion that material- 
ist philosophy discouraged enquiry and therefore it 
was anti-scientific. The most outstanding fact in 
the history of human development, however, is that 
the spirit of enquiry has always been associated with 
the rejection of views antithetical to materialism. 
The belief in a super-natural force, which is the 
essence of spiritualist philosophy, sets a limit to 
human intelligence. Because, if it were accessible 
to human understanding, it could not be regarded 
as super-natural. Faith and enquiry are mutually 
exclusive. The spirit of enquiry can never be acco- 
modated with the out-and-out religious doctrine of 
Providential Ordinance, nor is it compatible with 
mystic spiritualism. There is little to choose be- 
tween the Hindu conception of Lila and the faith 
of other religions in the creation by a personal God. 



Both are equally dogmatic. The doctrine of Ula 
is also based on the belief in a personal God. Ir- 
rationalism being the very essence of religion and 
religious philosophy, these are antagonistic to the 
spirit of enquiry, and consequently the rise of 
modern science coincided with a revolt against 

That is a historical fact. And that rationalist 
revolt, reinforced by scientific development, which 
it quickened, culminated in the materialist philo- 
sophy. Unrestricted enquiry into the nature and 
cause of things is conditional upon the assumption 
that there is nothing inscrutable, that whatever 
really exists can be known. That is the funda- 
mental principle of materialism. Presumably, by 
enquiry, Kripalani meant metaphysical speculation. 
But that is not scientific enquiry, which needs posi- 
tive knowledge to equip man with the power to 
push the enquiry farther and farther into the 
secretes of existence. While turning its back upon 
idle metaphysical speculation that fruitless coha- 
bitation with the "barren virgin of the Final 
Cause " materialism stimulates the enquiry into 
the unknowable. The vain effort to know what is 
believed to be unknowable is not enquiry. 
Materialism does not say that everything has been 
known ; it simply asserts the cognisability of every- 
thing that really exists. Nothing could give a 
greater impetus to the spirit of fruitful enquiry. 



Even the enquiry into the spirit, soul, God, is not 
logically excluded by materialism, provided that 
some rational ground for assuming their existence 
could be indicated ; if the belief in them could 
have the character of a sufficiently plausible 

That much for Kripalani's ignorance of the 
subject he talks about with an air of wisdom and 
boldness. If he were to be credited with the know- 
ledge that one with his academic pretention should 
have, his regard for truth would be open to doubt 
Not a very commendable qualification on the part 
of an advocate of spiritualism ! Granted moral 
integrity (regard for truth), he had better cultivate 
the spirit of enquiry so that he might know a little 
more about materialism before presuming to judge 

Kripalani's ignorance or disregard for truth, 
however, is not of particular interest. There is 
something more interesting which I wish to record 
as evidence thereof that Indian culture is not so 
spiritualist, after all ; that it is as materialistic (not 
in the philosophical, but the vulgar sense) as the 
western civilisation so much maligned by the ortho- 
dox nationalists. Here is what one of them one 
distinguished by his particular vociferousness said 
in the same debate. Satyamurthi of Madras made 
the following declaration : that India would never 
accept socialism because the love, of private pro- 



perty is deep-rooted in her cultural traditions. That 
is rather stunning. We should thank Satyamurthi 
for telling us the truth ; and admire his courage of 
disregarding the wise dictum which places a limit 
to truthfulness. Some of the shrewd law-givers of 
the Golden Age advised that unpleasant truths 
should not be told. Satyamurthi represented the 
true spirit of Manu. Challenged by the teachings 
of Marx, the followers of Manu must take the field 
as apologists and defenders of everything antago- 
nistic to socialism. 

Socialism, of course, does not propose to abolish 
the ownership of personal belongings. Under it, 
private property in the means of production, distri- 
bution and exchange shall be abolished. Because, 
it is the instrument of the exploitation of man by 
man the basis of class-ridden society which, by 
its very nature, must be vitiated by selfishness, greed, 
violence and a whole lot of other immoral practices. 
The opposition to socialism inspired by the love of 
private property, therefore, implies defence of the 
right of man to exploit his fellow-men. One defends 
what is threatened. Socialism threatens the private 
ownership of the means of production land, capi- 
tal, factories, machines, etc. inasmuch as it is the 
instrument of the exploitation of the masses. The 
current belief that the peculiar structure of the 
Indian society precludes the development of private 
property to the stage where it becomes an instru- 



ment of exploitation, is simply fantastic. It repre- 
sents ignorance of the science of economics, and of 
the laws of social evolution. 

Except in primitive communities, in which the 
means of production belong to individual produ- 
cers, and economic relations remain confined to 
barter, private property, always and in every form, 
is an instrument of exploitation. Whereas in the 
earlier stages of capitalism the owner of the means 
of production still performs the function of pro- 
ducer, pre-capitalist forms of private property 
(theocratic, patriarchal, feudal) are entirely para- 
sitic. Based on them, society remains in a more or 
less static condition, maintained by such Draconion 
religio-ethical laws as the codes of Manu. Success- 
ful operation of these laws obstructs the germina- 
tion of new forces, which heralded the rise of capi- 
talism as the liquidator of the mediaeval social 

In spite of Manu, the spiritual atmosphere of 
India could not be kept altogether immune from 
the germs of capitalism. And it was precisely 
thanks to those corrupting germs that India 
attained a comparatively high stage of civilisation 
already in the olden days. A prosperous trade in 
manufactured goods could not develop except 
through the intermediary of a mercantile class. 
Moreover, it was conditional upon production for 
exchange, partially if not entirely. Shipping and 



trade-relations with distant lands could never thrive 
on the narrow foundation of the surplus of a 
production which was essentially for use. Since 
India exported manufactured goods already in the 
beginning of the Christian era, probably even 
earlier, in her Golden Age private property must 
have passed out of the hands of individual pro- 
ducers and consequently developed into the means 
of exploitation of the expropriated producers. Of 
course, capitalism was still a long way off. But 
capitalism is not the only form of exploitation ; 
and certainly not the worst. Pre-capitalist forms 
of exploitation are unmitigated evils ; and the spi- 
ritual civilisation of ancient and mediaeval India 
was based on those entirely parasitic forms of 
private property. 

Thus, it was not by virtue of the imaginery 
special genius that India deliberately shunned the 
path of modern capitalism. As a matter of fact, 
she was well advanced on that path before other 
peoples appeared on the scene. Having had a 
start, she lagged behind because of her " spiritual " 
culture compulsory practice of dharma, which 
killed in the masses of her population all the initia- 
tive necessary for the stimulation of the forces of 
production and the consequent rise of new classes 
to take over the leadership of society from reaction- 
ary priesthood and a decrepit aristocracy. India 
failed to enter the stage of modern civilisation be- 



cause she remained wedded to backward, more 
parasitic, economically ruinous forms of private 

Development of industries at the expense of 
the masses is the economic programme of nation- 
alism. The preaching of dharma on the authority 
of Manu's ghost will be very useful for the realisa- 
tion of this programme of selfishness. Still under 
the pernicious spell of a reactionary tradition, the 
masses will be easily persuaded to practise self- 
control and sacrifice for the material aggrandise- 
ment of the fortunate few. It is not allegiance to 
the spiritualist past, but an ambition for a materia- 
list future, which accounts for the hostility towards 
socialism on the part of orthodox nationalists who 
profess so much concern for the welfare of the 
masses. The above statement of Satyamurthi was 
not made casually. It is a statement of the 
accepted social philosophy of orthodox nationalism. 
Other Congress leaders have time and again ex- 
pressed similar views, though not often with the 
same bluntness. Satyamurthi is a representative 

The overthrow of imperialism by a movement 
under the slogan "Back to Manu" or even "Back 
to the villages " may be a counterrevolution. India 
would be led neither back to Manu nor kept in an 
Arcadian simplicity. Politically, an undemocratic 
regime will be established. Traditions of an ancient 



culture would be fully exploited for the purpose. 
Socially, however, the new regime would be a bad 
imitation of the demagogically denounced, but 
secretly coveted, western civilisation. It would be 
a bad imitation because there would be no demo- 
cratic freedom and cultural progress associated 
with normal capitalist development. Puma Swaraj, 
under the tricolour of orthodox nationalism, may 
be a ruinous, extremely unstable regime of exploita- 
tion of the masses. Nationalist China presents 
the tragic picture of the regime that ma"y be the 
fate of India also under the rule of orthodox 

This is neither a morbid fancy nor sheer extra- 
vagance. I am not concerned with the character 
of this or that individual leader. The object of 
this criticism is a body of preconceived ideas which 
have had a reactionary influence on the public life. 
Therefore, they must be discarded, however noble, 
virtuous, altruistic, spiritualistic they may be made 
out to be by the interested people. The fact that 
they happen to be advocated by men and women 
whose moral integrity and humanitarian motives 
may not be doubted adds to the traditional glory 
of these hackneyed shibboleths. Therefore, criticism 
must be all the more searching and thoroughly 
iconoclastic. Pet ideas and popular doctrines 
should be dissected with a scientific rigour ; they 
should be carried to their logical consequences. 



Then we shall be able to judge whether they are 
helpful or harmful. Ideas guide action ; so, let us 
clarify our ideas, because only then effective action 
will be possible. 

There is plenty of evidence indicating that 
under the rule of orthodox nationalism the most 
reactionary type of dictatorship may be established 
under the cover of benevolent paternalism, which 
will bolster up the most parasitic forms of exploi- 
tation on the pretext of social harmony. Lately, 
we have heard of objections to socialism some 
wise, some demagogic, others frankly capitalistic. 
Look closely at these objections, and you will find 
that they are not objections to socialism, but to 
democratic freedom, even of the kind established 
by capitalism. The Congress-Socialists have failed 
to expose the undemocratic nature of the opposition 
to their propaganda, and the latter has therefore 
greatly lost its force. 

In India to-day, the advocates of the greatly 
belated social renaissance should stand on the plat- 
form of democracy. Political and social changes 
necessary for the establishment of democratic free- 
dom will amount to a profound revolution. The 
Congress-Socialists vaguely realise the situation 
when they say that political freedom must precede 
economic emancipation. But the economic tasks 
of a movement cannot be so separated from its 
political programme. The correct attitude on the 



part of the socialists will be to appear as the 
advocates of democratic freedom. Then they would 
avoid the mistake of following a tactical line which 
raises the demand of national independence divested 
of its social implications. The programme of 
democratic freedom combines the political and so- 
cial aspects of the movement. By advocating it, 
the socialists will be pursuing their ideal of social 
revolution, but disarm their honestly mistaken 
opponents ; on the other hand, the rest of the 
crowd will be exposed as anti-democratic. The 
result will be weakening of orthodox nationalism, 
which is the condition for the attainment of demo- 
cratic freedom. 

* * * * 

Reviewing a socialist publication (Why Socia- 
lism ? by Jaiprakash Narain), one of the leading 
Congress press organs wrote : " India is tradition- 
ally bourgeois. Her religion, her society, her insti- 
tutions, have all been built on the corner-stone of 
authoritarianism and property. There is no deny- 
ing that democracy in India, whenever it comes, 
will be more akin to the democracy of the Reich 
than the democracy of Great Britain." (Hindustan 
Times, Delhi, April 20, 1936). The reviewer's 
characterisation of Indian culture is strictly scrip- 
tural. It is borne out by Manu. Only, while well- 
versed in scriptures, the reviewer is rather deficient 
in sociology. India is not traditionally bourgeois. 



Her misfortune is that she failed to throw up a 
mercantile and manufacturing class sufficiently diffe- 
rentiated from the feudal-patriarchal ownership of 
land, and sufficiently strong to revolt against, and 
overthrow the feudal order. That society is 
bourgeois which is based primarily upon capitalist 
production. India never reached that stage, cer- 
tainly not in the olden days. Traditionally, Indian 
society is theocratic-feudal-patriarchal. However, 
the reviewer is quite correct in what he means to say. 
Presumably, to demonstrate his acquaintance with 
worthless modernism, he used the wrong termino- 
logy. He meant that traditionally Indian society 
is based upon class domination ; and the specific 
form of domination is clearly described by him. He 
must be given the credit not only of calling the 
spade a spade, but also for logical consistency, 
though most probably unconscious. 

The zealous critic of the new-fangled, un-Indian 
doctrine admits that Indian tradition is antagonistic 
not only to socialism, but even to democratic 
freedom. The anti-democratic nature of Indian 
culture and tradition, of course, can be logically 
deduced from what they are said to stand for. 
Property as such is not antagonistic to political 
democracy. Capitalist property, for example, nor- 
mally is associated with parliamentary government. 
Indian society, however, rests on still another pillar: 
authoritarianism, which is negation of democracy. 



But the reviewer does not leave us to draw the 
logical conclusions from the picture he correctly 
depicts. He frankly says : What is all this nonsense 
about socialism? Or that confounded non- Aryan 
Marx? Traditionally and by virtue of our culture, 
India would follow the footsteps of the heroic 
Hitler ; she has no use for the old forgeys who 
preached the Rights of Man, individualism, demo* 
cracy and all that tommy-rot 1 

It is not an obscure journalist who points out 
the dreadful perspective of socio-political develop- 
ment in independent India, if she remains faithful 
to her spiritualist cultural traditions. More autho- 
ritative pronouncements also open up the same 
perspective, though not always with such naive 
frankness. Several months ago, addressing the 
students of the Lucknow University, Govind 
Bhallabh Pant told that each of them should strive 
to be a Gandhi or a Tagore or a Mussolini or a 
Hitler or a Ford. Some of the students may have 
been bewildered by the mixed company recom- 
mended and by the promiscuity of the ideal held 
up before them. Pant's promiscuous idealism should 
not be dismissed as an individual aberration. 
Fascist tendency is inherent in orthodox nationa- 
lism. Authoritarianism, medievalism, demagogy, 
spiritualist cant, vulgar materialism these traits 
are all common to both. Indeed, Fascism (which 
in Germany takes the deceptive label of National- 



Socialism) is nationalism which finds its ideals not 
in future progress, but in past traditions. Our 
orthodox nationalists also have their eyes fixed on 
the past. TJiere is thus a spiritual affinity which 
often manifests itself. More than one nationalist 
leader has returned from Hitler's Germany full of 
enthusiastic admiration, and also from Italy. Musso- 
lini's civilising mission in Abyssinia should have 
influenced the Indian attitude towards fascist 
Italy. Yet, there are Congress leaders who dis- 
approved of the nationalist movement declaring 
solidarity with the victim of fascist aggression. 
Kripalani, for instance, went to the extent of 
guardedly justifying Italy's action, and openly main- 
tained, as against the demand of the socialists, that 
it was no business of Indian nationalists to take 
sides in the conflict ! 

Shortly before Mussolini launched on his 
African venture, he delivered an oration on the 
spiritual values of oriental culture to a gathering 
of Indian students. Some " radical " nationalist 
leaders (Subhas Bose, for example) were present at 
that memorable scene and spoke about the spiritual 
affinity between Fascism and the struggle of the 
subject peoples for freedom. The fate of Abyssinia 
must have given them a rude shock. But did it? 
That still remains to be seen. In the meanwhile, 
Subhas Bose has entertained us by the picture of a 
" synthesis of nationalism and communism " which, 



according to him, will result from, the victory of 
the Indian struggle for freedom ! Germany has 
had her National-Socialism ; and there is not one 
single lover of freedom, peace and progress, who 
does not bitterly bemoan her fate. India might 
have a similar experience, only under the slightly 
different flag of National-Communism, if she did 
not look out before it was too late. 

Reverting to Pant's promiscuity of ideah, 
Gandhi and Tagore, each in his own way, embody 
what is called the special genius of Indian culture. 
Both are ardent opponents of western 
materialism, would not only prevent India, 
if they could, to fall under the degenerating 
influence of modernism, but also bring to 
the tormented world the panacea of India's 
message. The doctors, however, do not agree. 
The panacea has been differently prescribed. 
For the one, it is a denunciation of modern indus- 
trialism and also of nationalist exclusiveness ; for 
the other, it is non-violence. Gandhi is also hostile 
to modern industrialism, but politics has brought 
him in contact with sobering influences. On the 
other hand, the ideals which Indian youth might 
alternatively follow, curiously enough, happen to 
be personifications of the crassest forms of the evil 
of western civilisation that are to be cured by the 
medicines prescribed by Gandhi and Tagore. 

Ford has perfected the industrial technique of 



the capitalist mode of production to the point 
where man becomes completely enslaved to the 
machine, a mere part of it. His " humanitaria- 
nism " the much advertised policy of paying high 
wages is determined by the old utilitarian wisdom 
which prohibits the killing of the goose that lays 
the golden eggs. The legend of Ford's fatherliness 
is no longer believed except by those who have no 
understanding of modern industrial technique, 
and are utterly indifferent to the human value of 
labour. The fact is that Ford's system is such an 
extreme form of exploitation of human labour as 
has no regard even for the elementary principle of 
capitalist economics which lays down that wages 
should represent the money value of the most mini- 
mum necessities for the subsistence and reproduction 
of the labourer. The productivity of a unit of 
labour performed under the Ford system is much 
greater than in less exacting industrial processes. 
So, in reality, the higher wages paid by Ford are 
lower than the average scale of wages elsewhere. 
The essence of Ford's system is to make a man 
produce more in a given unit of time and pay him 
for only a fraction of his speeded up productivity. 
But even this fake paternalism has broken down. 
Higher wages are a thing of the past while the 
other aspects of paternalism are stubbornly de- 
fended. With the threat of summary dismissal 
Ford combats the effort of his employees to organise 



themselves in trade-unions. He would not accept 
the principle of collective bargaining, because that 
would limit his arbitrary power on the slaves tied 
to the monstrous machines which he owns, not as 
means of production but as merciless instruments 
of exploitation. That is one of the ideals placed 
on par with the spiritualist ideals born of Indian 
culture ! 

The others are still worse. Mussolini and 
Hitler are personifications of the most violent forms 
of capitalist exploitation. They are avowed enemies 
of all the cultural values of modern civilisation. 
They not only practise, but brazenly glorify vio- 
lence. They are veritable gods of war. They are 
the rabidest apostles of predatory nationalism, 
which logically leads to brutal aggression upon the 
weak. In short, they stand for everything that is 
opposed to India's message as delivered by Gandhi 
and Tagore. Yet, the ideology of our orthodox 
nationalism idealises them. 

An alternative explanation of the apparently 
incongruous mixture of ideals is that the preacher 
is totally devoid of any moral conviction or social 
principles. He does not believe in whatever he may 
profess. That means that the political standard- 
bearers of orthodox nationalism pay only lip loyalty 
to the spiritualist traditions for demagogic purposes 
to keep the masses under the spell of authori- 
tarian and fatalistic tradition, so that they may 



not grudge against the shining chains of national 
freedom, when these have replaced the rusty fetters 
of colonial slavery. 

In any case, it is clear that either the ideals of 
orthodox nationalism are false ideals, or the poli- 
tical leaders sailing under that misleading banner 
are dishonest and therefore not trustworthy. The 
incipient forces of Indian Renaissance are thus beset 
with a double danger. Ideologically, they are pur- 
suing a dangerous fiction ; politically they are at 
the mercy of misleaders who are fools if not knaves. 
And the two dangers are inter-connected. The 
one results from the other. Get rid of the false 
ideology, and you will see through your heroes* 
With a clear social orientation, the fighters for 
national freedom will be able to throw up a cour- 
ageous, different and honest leadership which is 
the crying need of the moment. 

* # # * 

The orthodox nationalist leaders carefully avoid 
giving any idea as regards the political constitution 
and social structure the country will have under 
Swaraj. That is a very curious attitude for the 
leaders of a political movement to take. But the 
nature of the political regime to be established 
under the leadership of a party logically results 
from its social outlook. The paternalistic social 
outlook of the Congress leaders implies a negation 
of democratic freedom. A picture of the political 



constitution which can have the sanction of the 
spiritualist tradition of Indian nationalism was 
presented the other day by one of the modern re- 
ligious leaders of India while delivering the Con- 
vocation Address at the Agra University. He said : 
" The wrong spirit of democracy is the cause of the 
prevailing discontent and confusion. The existing 
cause of conflict in politics, in economics and in 
the soul of man will not be lifted from any society 
till, through higher education, it will be able to 
produce leaders, thinkers, statesmen and legislators 
who will recognise the natural inequality of men in 
intellect and will, and understand the benefit of 
giving perference to the good of the society over 
personal interests, and appreciate the subtle differ- 
ence between happiness and pleasure." The spea- 
ker was Sahebji Maharaj of Dayalbagh. 

So, the orthodox nationalist Swaraj will not, 
after all, be restoration of the Ramraj. It will be 
a modernised Brahmin Raj, an intellectual aristo- 
cracy wielding absolute power which is their mono- 
poly, because the multitude is by nature deprived 
of that qualification. That is the corollary of the 
doctrine of "natural inequality". The excellence 
of Hindu philosophy is said to consist in a principle 
which is diametrically opposed to this doctrine. It 
is said that the self-same divine light burns in all, 
making everybody potentially equal ; and the equa- 
lity is realisable. Now we arc told that spiritual 



equality does not imply even potential equality on 
this earth. Some are made, by God presumably, 
superior to others and are therefore destined to 
rule by divine right, so to say. 

That is not the view of a stray individual. It 
is a " spiritual truth ". The doctrine of inequality 
is preached by Lord Krishna himself in the Gita, 
which is the gospel of orthodox nationalism. 
Evidently on that authority, the famous "scheme 
of Swaraj " prepared by the late C. R. Das with 
the co-operation of the modern Rishi Dr. Bhagwan 
Das, vests supreme administrative and legislative 
authority in an intellectual elite particularly quali- 
fied for the job. 

A year later, the same doctrine was preached 
to the students of another University by an autho- 
rity on the Hindu scriptures. " Equality and free- 
dom, about which there has been a lot of ill-digested 
talk among the Indian youth, should not degene- 
rate into social anarchy. Any attempt to write on 
a clean slate and to demolish the past completely, 
and to build anew, is against the nature of India's 
genius and will prove a dismal failure. The pro- 
blems of the world will be solved by educated men 
inspired by the ideal of disinterestedness and 
disciplined skill suggested in the teaching of the 
Gita." (Mahamahopadhyaya Kuppuswami Sastri, 
Madras University Convocation, 1936). 

Of course, I do not maintain that men are bom 



equal, or that at any conceivable time in the future 
the entire mankind will be levelled up intellectually. 
But on the other hand, biological sciences show 
that, except for th^ diseased, every human being, 
given favourable conditions, is capable of developing 
unlimited powers of intellect and will. The un- 
folding of the inherent possibilities of development 
is held in abeyance so long as the blessing of higher 
education is kept reserved for the privileged few. 
All we need do is to change the conditions of life 
so that a growingly large number of people will 
have plenty of leisure, with the requisite facilities 
for intellectual development, and there will be any 
number of men fit to be leaders, thinkers, statesmen 
and intellectuals. The process of unfolding po- 
tential possibilities could not be general imme- 
diately, and the present demarcation between the 
intellectual elite and the dumb-driven mob will 
begin to lose its sharpness only when several gene- 
rations have grown up in the midst of changed 
conditions. As a matter of fact, in the more 
advanced countries of Europe, thanks to the spread 
of education and the consequent general cultural 
progress, brought about by the curse of democratic 
freedom, the demarcation has almost disappeared. 
There leaders, thinkers, statesmen, legislators hail 
from all walks of life, and nobody can assert that 
those rising from the lower classes are in anv 
way inferior to the scions of the social elite. Natu- 



rally, the former do not recognise any natural 
inequality of men, they themselves being the refu- 
tation of the damnable doctrine. The prevailing 
discontent and confusion are not the result of the 
spirit of democracy, but of checks placed upon its 
free development. 

But the spiritualist philosophy of India recom- 
mends a return to the rule of intellectual aristocracy 
which, until now, has always entered into an 
alliance with the secular aristocracy. Such an 
alliance thrived not. only on the sacred soil of India. 
The Holy Roman Empire, which ruled Europe for 
one thousand years, was such an alliance, the clergy 
(intellectual as well as spiritual aristocracy) having 
had the upper hand most of the time. Similarly, 
in ancient India, the Brahmins ruled in conjunction 
with the Kshattriyas occupying a higher place in 
the social hierachy. That mediaeval political system 
guaranteed in India as well as in Europe a social 
order based upon such a purely parasitic form of 
private property and such a ruinous mode of ex- 
ploitation of the labouring masses, as rendered any 
spread of culture impossible. Given not the least 
opportunity for unfolding their human potentiali- 
ties, the multitude was branded with natural 
inequality. Yet, they were all either Naranara 
yanas or the children of God. Such is the hypocrisy 
of religious thought palmed off as the spiritual 
panacea for all the evils of a world which has 



travelled far away from the reactionary rule of the 
sacerdotal aristocracy. It is true that there is one 
thing which the intellectual elite, as the ideologists 
of the feudal aristocracy, alone can do " to appre- 
ciate the subtle difference between happiness and 
pleasure " ; and teach the masses to prefer the for- 
mer to the latter. There we have the function of 
spiritualism in a nutshell. One of the intellectual 
c'lite, which claims the right to rule by divine right 
even in the middle of the twentieth century, makes 
the difference quite clear lest his hearers might fail 
to grasp the subtlety. We read the following in 
Sahebji Maharaj's Convocation Address at the Agra 
University : " You never can make life happy with 
mere abstract intelligibility the ideal of science. 
You must control the lower appetite of man and 
satisfy his higher cravings with the help of religion." 
The speaker might be a particularly fanatical 
defender of reactionary ideas ; but the more signi- 
ficant fact is that these ideas could be preached in 
a modern University and thousands of educated 
young men listened to them without a single voice 
of protest. 

The possession of intellectual superiority is 
proclaimed to be the qualification for political 
power and social leadership. Yet the hankering 
for that quality is discouraged ! If too many aspired 
for it, the monopoly of the privileged few would 



be threatened. The cross of responsibility should 
be borne only by the chosen few. 

"Abstract intelligibility", that is, scientific 
knowledge, is deprecated because it disturbs the 
religious spirit of resignation to the inscrutable Will 
of God, who has made men naturally unequal, some 
endowed with the quality to rule, others destined 
to perform dutifully lowly functions allotted to 
them. Don't try to know too much. That will 
only make you doubtful about the traditional 
values of life. Whoever eat of the fruit of know- 
ledge are sure to be driven out of the paradise of 
faith. Ignorance is bliss. Since blissfulness is the 
ideal of human life, knowledge must be placed at 
a discount, if not altogether under taboo. But one 
may ask, if scientific learning is to be avoided, what 
then is higher education ? We are told that it is 
cultivation of the religious spirit, which subordi- 
nates knowledge to faith. If faith in Divine Pro- 
vidence is the standard of education, it logically 
follows that the purer the faith, the higher the 
education, and the Indian masses are possessed of 
the highest education by this standard. Where, 
then, is the natural superiority of the intellectual 
elite ? There is one qualification which distin- 
guishes the elite from the multitude of believers. 
It is the ability to rationalise faith ; in other words, 
to justify immoral social relations which are guaran- 
teed by blind faith on the part of the masses. That 



distinction entitles them to the privilege of ruling 
so long as society remains an immoral order claim- 
ing the sanction of metaphysical principles of 

The higher education of the ruling elite, thus, 
is the skill to deceive the people in the name of 
God. The duty of those aspiring for political power 
and social leadership is to give stones to the hungry 
crowd when they ask for bread, and call the stone 
shalgram shecla or the Shiva lignum. The func- 
tion of religion is to teach the masses to do with 
the most minimum of earthly goods, so that the 
great bulk of the fruits of their labour remain the 
share of the privileged few. These are entitled to 
" pleasure " derived from the enjoyment of wordly 
goods. But the masses should be taught to prefer 
"happiness" which flows from the ability to toil 
and starve with resignation. The rule of an 
intellectual aristocracy is better than democratic 
government, because the former is qualified to 
teach the masses that one gets more happiness 
from starving than from eating. 

We are further sermonised : " Your modern 
education can make people clever, but not happy. 
Your modern democratic rights can make people 
powerful, but not self-controlled. The more you 
accumulate earthly good, the greater becomes the 
desire for them, and you are never satisfied. It is 
evident that everybody in this world cannot possess 



motor cars and horses ; nor can everybody be a 

Since the doctrine of happiness without 
pleasure can go down only in an atmosphere of 
ignorance, and the consequent intellectual servility, 
modern education is to be shunned like a plague. 
It makes people " clever ". What a crime ! In a 
a society given to the disparaged scientific ideal of 
intelligibility and with the perverse tendency to 
encourage cleverness, there is no room for an in- 
tellectual elite claiming authority as a matter of 
divine right. When an increasing number of com- 
mon people begin to shake off the bliss of ignor- 
ance, and acquire the ability to look at things in- 
telligently, and examine venerable ideas critically, 
the spiritual value of happiness derived from abject 
resignation becomes open to doubt. Clever people 
are naturally not happy to starve, or go without 
other elementary human necessities. The society 
ruled by an intellectual aristocracy with the en- 
slaving and dehumanising dogma of spiritualism 
must be composed of dumb-driven cattle. Modern 
education foments rebelliousness. It disturbs the 
spirit of resignation which is the fountain of happi- 
ness without pleasure. 

The possession of earthly goods like motor cars 
and horses is not condemned ; nor is it a sin to be 
a multi-millionaire. It is damnable materialism 
only when those who manufacture motor cars 



want to ride in them, those who build houses want 
to have a decent place to live in. That is " lower 
appetite". The common man's stomach cannot 
digest rich food which must be reserved for those 
few who are accustomed to luxury. That is pro- 
vidential dispensation. 

Then, how is it evident that everybody cannot 
possess a motor car ? And a house, together with 
all the other amenities of life which today are re- 
served for the privileged few ? Of course, there 
cannot be a whole population of parasites. But 
there is absolutely no obstacle in the way to pro- 
viding every member of a community with all the 
ease and comfort of a civilised existence. Modern 
democratic rights equip the masses with weapons 
necessary for conducting a struggle for the estab- 
lishment of such civilised conditions of life. So, 
they must be deprecated. Should the Indian 
masses ever get hold of that weapon, they would 
sooner or later be powerful and shake off the fetters 
of self-control imposed upon them by religion 
that charter of slavery bearing the seal of God. 
They practise the virtue of simple life because they 
are forced to. Let them have the power to con- 
quer a fuller, better, happier life on this earth, and 
they will not be slow to assert themselves. But 
that will necessarily mean encroachment upon the 
traditional preserve of the privileged. Therefore, 
democratic freedom has no place in the spiritualist 



politics of Indian tradition ; democratic rights arc 
condemned as evils which corrupt the virtue of 

A reactionary philosophy, loyalty to antiquated, 
parasitic, ruinous social institutions, and the result- 
ing anti-democratic spirit drive the orthodox 
nationalist leaders to a position where they must 
rub shoulders with all sorts of queer company. 
Let me illustrate : " We are prepared to make 
joint efforts with any political party for the for-/ 
mulation of a practical programme on lines which 
have proved successful in countries other than 
Russia, and without causing disturbance to the 
existing order of things. No one can deny tlW 
the contentment and happiness of the masses should 
be our main objective. But this will never be 
accomplished by up-rooting centuries' old institu- 
tions, and going counter to India's culture and 
tradition.'* Now who do you think uttered these 
noble sentiments ? The credit could be given to 
any member of the Congress Working Committee, 
perhaps except the President* and the three Social- 
ists who are entirely out of place and do not count 
in the determination of high politics. These words, 
which might have fallen from the lips of any other 
apostle of Puma Swaraj, were uttered by 
Sir Cowasjee Jehangir as the President of 
the conference of the Bombay Liberal Federation. 

* Jawaharkl Nehnr 



The Bombay Baronet, in spite of being the 
embodiment of "western materialism" (read 
capitalist exploitation) which is polluting the 
sacred soil of India, is able to appreciate the 
spiritual value of happiness as against pleasure. 
He also is a defender of centuries' old institutions 
and India's cultural traditions, although personally 
he does not believe in any one of those 
antique gods. But he encourages their worship 
because that is helpful for keeping the masses in 
contentment and happiness. Starvation wages and 
the chawls of Bombay represent the order of things 
that should not be disturbed. Barring that, the 
Baronet is ready to profess the high ideal of 
humanitarianism as loudly as anybody. 

The bogey of Socialism and Communism is 
raised with the object of combatting the growing 
consciousness of the urgent necessity for a radical 
change of the established order, not only political 
but also economic. Historically, this required 
change is brought about by the democratic revolu- 
tion. Therefore, Indian nationalist hostility to 
Socialism is in reality opposition to democratic 
freedom. When you oppose revolutionary changes, 
you do not fight an abstract idea ; you place your- 
self against the specific changes that are on the 
order of the day. 

The crusade against an imaginary attack upon 
the sacred institutions of traditional significance is 




justified with the pseudo-democratic proclamation 
that the questions about the constitution of the 
National State and the re-construction of society 
could not be raised now ; they will be settled by 
the people when free. No political party which 
knows its business can ever be so open-minded. If 
sincere, it is a deplorable empty-headedness, not 
open-mindedness. The people cannot be led to a 
void. There must be a goal ; and they must know 
where they are going. The posing and discussion 
of fundamental questions about the objective of a 
movement are deferred when it lacks the unity of 
purpose ; when the ideology and social outlook of 
the leadership run counter to the sub-conscious or 
semi-conscious strivings of the people. In such a 
situation, rank hypocrisy becomes the guiding 
principle of propaganda, and agitation degenerates 
into sheer demagogy. The people are deceived by 
their leaders, some of whom may be deceiving them- 
selves. The masses are told that the Congress is 
determined to help them. At the same time, no 
orthodox Congressman should explain how the 
condition of the masses will be improved. Place 
your faith in miracles, and meanwhile raise the 
hopes of the masses. Talk of social reconstruction 
frightens vested interests and impairs unity, so 
very essential for attaining Swaraj, which however 
should remain mystified, to turn out a myth in 
the fulness of time. But it is not difficult to sec 



through the veil of mystification. If not to frighten 
away vested interests is a condition for the attain- 
ment of Swaraj, the goal obviously is mortgaged 
heavily in advance to those interests, whose ad- 
hesion to the cause is so solicitously canvassed. 

While thus insisting that the Congress should 
not be committed to any definite programme of 
social reconstruction, the orthodox leaders, never- 
theless, do not make any secret of the fact that 
they have very definite ideas about the socio-poli- 
tical future of the country. Only the other day, 
Vallabhbhai Patel thundered that the Congress 
had no use for Socialism, Communism or any 
other ism. It is incredible that such an idiotic 
assertion would be made by one hailed as a great 
leader. If the assertion means anything, it means 
that the Congress has no principle. But that is 
not true. The Congress has a very rigidly formu- 
lated " creed ". What Patel means, then, is that, 
so long as leaders like himself remain in control, 
the Congress will not accept any revolutionary 
principle elaborated in a programme of social re- 

What are those other isms which are to be 
rejected, so that the Congress may remain true to 
Gandhism ? That is also an ism. And the pre- 
sent leaders of the Congress cannot disown it. 
Is it not significant that, while opposing the socia- 
list programme, they have failed to advocate a 



clearly defined programme of bourgeois democra- 
tic revolution ? If both are ruled out, one expli- 
citly and the other implicitly, what remains ? It 
can be logically inferred that under Swaraj India 
will have a political constitution more backward 
than parliamentary democracy ; socially, she will 
retain property relations the abolition of which by 
a democratic revolution is necessary for the 
modernisation of her economy and the conquest 
of progress and prosperity of the nation. Swaraj 
will be a Dead Sea fruit a superficial political 
change which will leave intact the economic struc- 
ture of society as a whole, which is fundamentally 
responsible for the poverty, misery, ignorance, and 
degradation of the masses. The perspective is still 
more ominous. There is a likelihood of the coveted 
Swaraj being transformed into a fascist dictator- 
ship. Under the game banner of orthodox 
nationalism, Swaraj is more likely to be Hitler 
Raj than Ram Raj, which, being a legend, can 
never be realised, anyhow. 

# # # # 

There still remains the familiar but fallacious 
question why should India follow the path of 
European socio-political development ? The 
question might have some pertinence if any 
nationalist theoretician could indicate a possible 
alternative line of evolution, instead of, as they 
usually do, expatiating on the legendary glory of 



the past. Involution is not an alternative to evolu- 
tion. Reaction and progress are not identical. 
The question is backed up by the utterly ground- 
less assertion that India's mystic special genius will 
enable her to strike out a novel way of socio-politi- 
cal development, which will defy all the empiri- 
cally established laws of history. Since the spiri- 
tualist view of life is claimed to be the special 
genius of India, with that superiority she is doomed 
to vegetate in the foul backwaters of antiquated 
medievalism. This dogma of special genius has 
deprived Indian nationalism of the benefit of clear 
thinking. Let this ghost be laid on the strength of 
an unchallengeable evidence. 

Sir Radhakrishnan is the recognised authority 
on Indian philosophy. He is a panegyrist, not a 
critic. Speaking in Madras (April 1936), he 
admitted that "we might not be able to contri- 
bute very much to the economic and political 
thought of the world. India's great contribution 
is religion and philosophy. But let us not imagine 
that we have a monopoly in that. I have always 
felt that in the history of the world, there has been 
no real contrast between the East and the West. 
It is only in recent times that there has been a 
cleavage between the Enlightenment, Humanism 
and Rationalism of the West and Spiritualism of 
the East. Rationality, enlightenment and human 
rights those are the key-notes of modern western 



civilisation." Mutatis mutandis, their rejection is 
the essence of what is called the special genius of 
India. Only, there is no speciality. Western civi- 
lisation was also spiritualistic in the past. 
Sir Radhakrishnan himself said later on that the 
existence of a " mysterious something is not recog- 
nised in recent times by the West, while it was 
recognised in the Middle-Ages." 

That is a statement of historical fact. And 
what does it mean ? It means that spiritualism 
is the philosophy of a mediaeval society. So, the 
special genius of India may keep her away from 
the temptation of the ways of Western develop- 
ment the ways of rationalism, enlightenment, 
human rights but it cannot show her an alterna- 
tive way out of the morass of medievalism. There- 
fore, to ask why should India follow the 
European line of socio-political development ? is 
to ask why she should come out of the darkness 
of medievalism, why should the Indian people be 
deprived of the bliss of ignorance ? Why, in- 
deed ! The question implies that India is quite 
content to be without rationality, enlightenment 
and human rights. 

Those who want to conquer the future must 
turn their back on the past, break away from the 
paralysing grip of traditional notions. The essence 
of our ancient culture is religion. Spiritualism is 
blind faith in an inscrutable power which must be 



obeyed It is a tclcological view of life and the 
world. Everything is providentially preordained. 
Everything happens in fulfilment of a divine pur- 
pose. Thus, religious spirit the essence of Indian 
culture is naturally antagonistic to any change to 
be brought about by human effort. Fatalism in 
the garb of religiosity has been fatal to India. 
The programme of reforming religion is un- 
realisable. The power of religion lies in the claim 
to immutability. Hinduism particularly docs not 
admit of any reform. It is Sanatan Dharma 
eternal, unchangeable, infallible. Reformers deceive 
themselves as well as their followers. Hinduism 
itself cannot be reformed, and it is against all social 
change. Orthodox religionists tell us the hidden 
truth behind the lies of spiritualist rationalism. 

The Sanatanist conference of Gujarat (August 
1936) declared that " Socialism is definitely against 
Hindu scriptures and Sanatan Dharma, and that its 
spread must be checked by all possible means." 
The President of the conference delivered himself 
of the following sentiments : " The king is the 
most important factor in preserving the peace of a 
country. The capitalist system is most suited to 
India, and all attempts to overthrow it should be 
opposed." For Socialism, read any change in the 
established social order. Because, monarchist senti- 
ment is antagonistic to the introduction of a demo- 
cratic regime, although it accomodates capitalism, 



which, as in India, does not rise as a socially revolu- 
tionary force. 

The mill-owners of Ahmedabad and the cotton 
kings of Gujarat are mostly Sanatanists, osten- 
tatiously religious at any rate. Who is more 
demonstratively devotional than the Marwari mer- 
chants ? The above declaration cannot be dis- 
missed as that of some obscure Sanatanist. It is 
almost a verbatim repetition of pronouncements of 
Congress leaders already referred to. As a matter 
of fact, the Congress leaders only echo the Sana- 
tanist spirit, which is the essence of Indian culture 
idealised by them. They simply try to gloss over 
the crass superstitious aspects of that spirit, so that 
it might be reconciled with a superficial modern 
education. But in relation to the social implication 
of the religious spirit, they do not differentiate 
themselves from the outspoken Sanatanists. 

There are other critical students of India's past 
who also plead passionately for a break with the 
traditional notions, although they do not share the 
views of a conscious revolutionary. Nobody would 
accuse Sir Hari Singh Gour of any socialistic incli- 
nation. On the other hand, it would be sheer im- 
pudence to deny him the credit of patriotism. 
Moreover, his learning is unquestionable. He is an 
authority of Hindu law. So, his opinion deserves 
careful consideration. 

" We can no longer feed upon the dry crumbs 



of old tradition. We should no longer accept the 
old because it is old, but stretch it out on the dis- 
secting table of reason. There should be no tender 
regard for ancient authority which has painted all 
our history so red with our own blood. What 
India wants is a Renaissance, which must accom- 
pany a revolt against traditional belief and tradi- 
tional credulity. What India needs is an intellec- 
tual iconoclasm which will destroy the still more 
sinister idolas of our superstition. Our forefathers 
lived primitive lives. Their wants were simple, 
their struggles hard, their environments limited. 
That life may create a yearning for its return, but 
we cannot return to the simple lives of our fore- 
fathers when we are born in the rattle of machi- 
nery and its finished outpourings, before which 
man-made products are crude and uneconomic. 
Some feeble and wholly inadequate efforts are being 
made to improve the lot of the depressed classes ; 
but nothing short of absolute inequality is possible 
so long as Hinduism remains tied to the shackles 
of caste. Some self-complacent Indians reconcile 
themselves to their reactionary march on the 
ground that we have always been a people who have 
scorned the materialism of the West. Our strength, 
they say, lies in our spirituality. But are we sure 
that this is not an empty phrase ? What has 
India contributed to the spiritual uplift of ourselves 
or of the world ? We have expelled Buddhism, 



the supreme spiritual force generated in our midst. 
We deny the materialism of the West, and asso- 
ciate it with the filth and squalour of factory life ... 
Let us face the facts as we find them. The so-called 
materialism of the West has added to human happi- 
ness and alleviated human suffering, which will 
astound those if they only took stock of the ranges 
of disease which used to decimate the populations 
of eastern countries before the healing balm of wes- 
tern science started its humane mission of saving 
the people against themselves." (Hindusthan 
Review, February 1936). 

These few lines, carrying the authority of a 
thorough study of the subject, are worth more than 
all the Gandhist clap-trap which fatally fascinates 
even the more progressive elements in the nation- 
alist movement. India will not be able to shake off 
her political servitude and economic misery, her 
social backwardness, her intellectual coma, so long 
as the educated youth remains drugged by the spiri- 
tualist message of a Vivekananda, Dayanand or an 
Aurobinda, or of any other prophet who may preach 
some such doctrine. The spirit of Renaissance is 
the urgent intellectual need of the time. It is 
abroad, but too feeble to influence the situation as 
yet It must be fostered. Those engaged in that 
task will not win cheap popularity, but their efforts 
will contribute much more to the cause of Indian 



freedom than the dramatics of political demonstra- 

Finally, I shall cite the most damaging judg- 
ment against our so fondly cherished spiritual tradi- 
tion : most damaging, because it is pronounced by 
a judge biassed in favour of the condemned. In his 
farewell address to the students of the Andhra 
University, Sir Radhakrishnan said : " Many of 
the fundamental evils of Indian society can be 
traced to two important factors, namely, irrespon- 
sible wealth and religious bigotry. While economic 
injustices are not peculiar to our country alone, 
religious bigotry, which treats millions of our coun- 
trymen in a shameless and inhuman way, and im- 
poses senseless disabilities and inconveniences on 
the womanhood of the country, is a standing 
danger. It is corruption of the spirit in the guise 
of superstition. Those who impose those disabili- 
ties on other human beings, are themselves victims 
of ignorance and superstition. There is such a thing 
as degeneration of accepted ideas. Many of them 
are kept going artificially even after life has left 
them. We must liberate ourselves from the tyranny 
of the dark past, from the oppression of spectres 
and ghosts, from falsehood and deceits. There are 
millions tcxlay whose life has been rendered mean- 
ingless by social maladjustments which are sancti- 
fied by religion, and they may be pardoned if they 
dismiss religion as a luxury which they cannot 



afford," The speaker concluded by a passionate 
appeal " to resist economic and religious tyranny ". 
He exclaimed : " It is the duty of every patriotic 
person to resist. In our country, we have to resist 
despotism on every side." 

This cannot be dismissed as the ravings of a 
destructive revolutionary, as loose talk of a socialist 
propagandist. It is the verdict of a sober thinker. 
When a confirmed protagonist of the spiritualist 
philosophy is driven by his human sentiment to 
such a righteous indignation against the practical 
products of his own philosophy, it can no longer 
be doubted that there is something radically wrong 
with it. A few days later, in a speech in Madras, 
Sir Radhakrishnan once again vehemently con- 
demned " the seemy sides of Hindu society ". The 
evils condemned by him are bred in the foul atmos- 
phere of social stagnation. They can be eradicated 
only through a profound social and ideological re- 
volution. Traditional notions must be discarded, 
venerable dogmas must be subjected to severe criti- 
cism, time-honoured institutions must be mercilessly 
pulled down. The reactionary ideology of orthodox 
nationalism must be replaced by a revolutionary 
philosophy. All the advocates of democratic free- 
dom, cultural progress, general welfare, all true re- 
formers, all sincere humanitarians, all opponents 
of violence and lovers of peace, all who want to 
transform the fiction of social harmony into a 



reality, all who would conquer the future instead 
of living in "a legendary past, should travel that 
way. Materialist philosophy knowledge instead 
of faith, reason instead of authority, the physical 
instead of the metaphysical, the natural instead of 
the super-natural, facts instead of fiction this can 
lead not only to political freedom, economic 
prosperity and social happiness ; it indicates the 
only way to real spiritual freedom. 



THE "decline of the West" being in reality 
only the decline of capitalism, the crisis of western 
civilisation means only disintegration of the 
bourgeois social order. In that context, India's " spi- 
ritual mission" appears to be a mission with a 
mundane purpose, namely, to salvage a social system 
based upon the love of lucre and lust for power. It 
is not suggested that the believers in India's spiritual 
mission are all conscious of its reactionary implica- 
tion. Probably very few of them are. Most of them 
may be credited with a sincere antipathy for capi- 
talism. But antipathy does not necessarily give 
birth to a desire to go farther than capitalism. It 
indicates an attachment to pre-capitalist social con- 
ditions, which are idealised. Objectively, it is there- 
fore the token of a reactionary social outlook. 
Indian spiritualism is not different from the 
western kind. The merit of a philosophy is to be 
judged by its historical role and social significance. 
The sincerity or otherwise of its protagonists is al- 
together beside the point. 

The preachers of India's "world mission" never- 
theless take their stand on the dogmatic assertion 



that Indian philosophy is different from western 
idealism. The basic principles of idealist philo- 
sophy, together with the survey of its mediaeval 
and pre-Christian background, prove that this 
assertion is utterly groundless. While the emo- 
tional aspect of Indian speculation is well matched, 
if not surpassed, by Christian mysticism, intellec- 
tually it can hardly claim superiority to western 
idealism, either modern or ancient. As regards 
transcendental fantasies, the western mind has been 
no less fertile. The great Sage of Athens, the Seers 
of Alexandria, the Saints of early Christianity, the 
monks of the Middle-Ages that is a record which 
can proudly meet any competition. On the ques- 
tion of moral doctrines, Christianity stands un- 
beaten on the solid ground of the Jewish, Socratic 
and Stoic traditions. Should the modern West be 
accused of not having lived up to those noble prin- 
ciples, could India conscientiously be absolved of 
a similar charge ? The claim that the Indian 
people as a whole is morally less corrupt, emotion- 
ally purer, idealistically less worldly, in short, spiri- 
tually more elevated, than the bulk of the western 
society, is based upon a wanton disregard for 

First, let us examine the argument advanced 
to maintain the spiritual superiority of Indian phi- 
losophy. Then we shall proceed to analyse its social 
significance. And its social significance will reveal 



its historical background. Thus, it will be possible 
to make a correct appreciation of Indian culture, 
and ascertain if it can be a better alternative to 
the modern western culture, granted hypotheti- 
cally that a retrograde movement is possible in 
the history of human progress. 

The origin of the claim that Indian philo- 
sophy is different from western idealism can be 
traced to the doctrine of revelation, although 
modern advocates of the claim fight shy of standing 
boldly by the very crux of their case. For, that 
would oblige them to forego all scientific preten- 
sions, and come out frankly as defenders of a full- 
blooded faith. Only this way can Indian philosophy 
be proved to be different from western idealism. In 
that case, the finger will be laid on a real, not an 
imaginary, point of difference. The point is that 
orthodox Indian philosophy is essentially a system 
of mystic theology. The difference between Indian 
philosophy and modern idealism is identical with 
the difference between this latter and neo-Platonic 
mysticism. But to reduce the difference to the 
reality of historical sequence would be to blow up 
the myth of the Indian spiritual message ; because, 
then the message could no longer claim originality 
the product of a special genius. Therefore, the 
kernel of historical reality is carefully hidden in a 
florid verbiage which seeks to make up for the defi- 



ciency of argument in support of the claim to an 
imaginary difference. 

It is maintained that western idealism is a mere 
intellectual system of speculation, whereas Indian 
philosophy is based upon pure experience. This 
contention must face the question : what is expe- 
rience ? It should be noted that western idealism, 
as distinguished from metaphysical speculations, 
also starts from experience. It holds that experience 
is the only source of knowledge. But the " experi- 
ence" of Indian philosophy apparently is not an 
act of cognition ; it is not derived through a mental 
process. For, in that case, it could not be an extra- 
intellectual or supra-intellectual achievement. Thus, 
the real difference is not, as it is stated ; it is in 
the concept of experience. 

Experience presupposes a dual existence a sub- 
ject and an object. It results when the ego comes 
in contact with the non-ego. This contact, in its 
turn, takes place through senses. The only possible 
way of making an experience is through the organs 
of sensation, which make the ego conscious of the 
thing to be experienced. Experience, therefore, is 
the result of sensation ; and the sum total of the 
process of sensation is mind or intelligence. Expe- 
rience, therefore, is derived through an intellectual 
process. It is not an extra-intellectual or supra-in- 
tellectual act. 

Obviously, the experience of Indian philosophy 



is something different. It is not the way to acquire 
knowledge of things existing objectively outside the 
ego, and coming in contact with the ego through 
processes of sensation. It is what is called " direct 
experience " by the frankly metaphysical schools of 
modern western philosophy. It is experience made 
directly, that is to say, not through the interme- 
diary of sense organs, not through the usual process 
of cognition. Consequently, this experience does 
not represent the knowledge of something existing 
objectively outside the ego. It is a sort of self-illu- 
mination of the ego. It is revelation, if you do not 
mind calling the spade a spade. And revelation has 
absolutely nothing in common with the concept 
of experience. Experience is conditional upon the 
ego getting in touch with the non-ego through the 
medium of sense organs. Eternal truth, absolute 
knowledge, on the contrary, is revealed to the ego 
only when it has completely detatched itself from 
the non-ego. 

Indian philosophy, as philosophy, cannot be 
distinguished from western idealism. If it is really 
based upon experience, it must deal with sensible 
objects. It must admit the process of sensation as 
identical with experience as the only way to know- 
ledge ; it must be an intellectual system, a system 
of positive thought. But as a matter of fact, Indian 
philosophy is not based upon experience. It places 
knowledge beyond the reach of the physical pro- 



cess of cognition. It discovers truth on the super- 
sensual plane. Thus, Indian philosophy claims dis- 
tinction from western idealism by leaving the 
ground of philosophy. It claims to possess the 
knowledge of the super-natural, whereas western 
idealism limits itself to the science of nature. That 
is the difference between the two, and it is a real 
difference, being the difference between a system 
of mystical metaphysics and philosophy. Orthodox 
Indian philosophy is essentially a system of religi- 
ous speculation, whereas the classical idealism of the 
West originated in a challenge of reason to faith. 
The doctrine of direct experience is but another 
name for faith, only faith transferred from the God 
to the divinely inspired. An experience which is 
made on the super-sensual plane, in the state of 
ecstasy, in samadhi, is not verifiable. An unverifi- 
able truth must either be dismissed as a fiction or 
be taken for granted. There is absolutely no possi- 
bility of ascertaining whether the seer actually saw 
what he claims to have seen. He must be taken 
on his word. The criterion of truth, thus, is not 
experience but the testimony of one who is as likely 
to be a saint as a charlatan or a demented soul. 
Honest fantasy of the morbidly emotional ; or naive 
imagery reflecting the prejudice of the ignorant ; 
or the hallucination of those obsessed with a fixed 
idea ; or the wilful lie of the imposter all or any 
one of these can claim the dignity of knowledge 



acquired by direct experience, can usurp the autho- 
rity of absolute truth discovered in the super-sen- 
sual way. 

Of course, the believers in the doctrine of direct 
experience will retort that it is open to anybody, 
whosoever may wish, to verify its authenticity. But 
failure to gain the experience is attributed to the 
lack of spiritual uplift necessary for the attainment 
of the state of beatitude. Thus, a premium is 
placed on imposture or self-deception. Whoever 
would admit spiritual inferiority when there is an 
easy escape from that disgrace ? Whoever would 
resist the temptation of being acclaimed a seer 
when the highest price for the honour might not 
be more than a bit of self-deception, if not an actual 
lie. The holy profession is not overcrowded be- 
cause the innate rationalism of man sets a limit to 
its advantages. The profession thrives in an inverse 
ratio to rationalism. The greater the ignorance of 
a people, the more widespread will be the belief in 
direct experience, in revelation. 

Even with the damaging distinction of direct 
experience, Indian philosophy cannot claim supe- 
riority to western idealism. Plato is the father of 
that classical school of philosophy. His metaphysi- 
cal speculations directly went into the ecstasy of 
the Alexandrian mystics. Since then, throughout 
the Middle-Ages, ecstasy was an article of Christian 
faith. The mediaeval saints all experienced divine 



light in their inner selves saw divinity face to face. 
Modern idealism set out to destroy the dogma; 
but after an initial period of brilliant success, it 
got scared away by its own shadow cast ahead, and 
degenerated into a rationalist faith, a scientific reli- 
gion. It came to scoff, but stayed to pray. In 
our days, modern idealism also has set up the doc- 
trine of pure experience, and resurrected the dogma 
of " religious experience ". 

Idealism was predestined to go that way. By 
its very nature, it was bound to land in the quiet 
backwaters of religious experience. Mystical meta- 
physics was inherent in its being. A denial, be it 
open or through subterfuge, of the objective reality 
of things outside our consciousness, necessarily 
throws us back upon introspective speculation in 
search of an absolute criterion of truth. The doc- 
trine of the objective existence of immaterial idea 
inevitably leads to the conclusion that the physical 
organs of cognition cannot present us with a com- 
plete picture of things to be known. Immaterial 
categories cannot be within the reach of sensory 
organs. Mind, in so as it is fed by the organs, can 
not conceive those transcendental categories. They 
are therefore matters of intuition. So, we are back 
again to the familiar dogma of revelation. Only, 
the "scientific" idealists of our days naturally do 
not use the old religious terminology. They invent 
scientific terms to express an old dogma. Anyhow, 



the conceptions of direct experience, pure experi- 
ence, religious experience, are not altogether foreign 
to contemporary western idealism. Indeed, idealist 
philosophy degenerated into this sort of esoteric 
speculation preparatory to the rise of the contem- 
porary mysticism as the ideology of the epoch of 
capitalist decay. 

A contemporary philosophical writer, himself 
a modern theologian, makes the following observa- 
tion on the nature and validity of direct or reli- 
gious experience : " The truest visions of religion 
are illusions, which may be partially realised by 
being resolutely believed. For what religion believes 
to be true, is not wholly true, but ought to be true; 
and may become true if its truth is not doubted.'* 
(Reinhold Niebuhr, Moral Man and Immoral 
Society). The replacement of intelligence by illu- 
sion as the basis of philosophy is not a peculiarity 
of India, and therefore it can hardly serve the 
purpose of providing evidence of its superiority. 
Pointing out that in the history of Europe intelli- 
gence was often overwhelmed by " habits and tra- 
ditions", one of the foremost western philosophers 
of our time writes : "At critical times, widespread 
illusions, generated by intense emotions, have 
played a role, in comparison with which the influ- 
ence of intelligence is negligible." (John Dewey, 
Intelligence and Power). 

Indian philosophy, which makes the vain effort 



to seek immutable truths beyond the reach of in- 
telligence, was the product of such critical times 
in the past. Contemporary western idealism has 
degenerated into a similar state of introspection 
because of the crisis of the modern capitalist civi- 
lisation. In either catse, intelligence is replaced by 
emotion, tradition and illusion, in order to rein- 
force the shaken position of vested interests. 
Pleading for "the attitude of mind exemplified in 
the conquest of nature by the experimental 
sciences", Dewey says : "The alternative is dog- 
matism, reinforced by the weight of unquestioned 
custom and tradition, the disguised or open play of 
class interest, dependence upon brute force and 

Such is the nature and significance of western 
idealism, when it is divested of intelligence and 
reason, which originally distinguished it from the 
earlier forms of religious metaphysical speculations, 
Indian as well as western. Western idealism was 
different from Indian philosophy when it rejected 
the religious dogma of revealed truth, fought faith 
with the weapons of reason and intelligence. 

Although western idealism, as long as it re- 
mained on the strictly philosophical ground, did 
have some points of difference with the mystic 
theology of India, recently the difference has dis- 
appeared owing to its own mystic-metaphysical 
deviations. Consequently, the spiritual message of 



India has become superflous, the West having found 
a similar mission in its own traditions of Christian 
morality and mysticism. It is, however, extremely 
difficult to find out what exactly is the message 
of India. The difficulty arises from the fact that 
Indian philosophy embraces a heterogeneous, often 
conflicting, body of speculative thought. The 
principles of Indian culture have been differently 
stated by the various schools of its modern inter- 
preters. Emphasis has been laid respectively on 
religion, positive thought, emotional values, moral 
standards, so on and so forth. The confusion is 
due to the failure of the interpreters of Indian 
culture to view its development in the historical 
perspective. Those who glorify it as the highwater 
mark of human culture and propose to impose it 
on the world are, paradoxically, incapable of appre- 
ciating its merits properly, to discover its positive 

The Sanatan Dharma, however, is generally 
accepted as the embodiment of the basic principles 
of Hindu culture. Sanatan Dharma, as the very 
name implies, is a body of religiously conceived 
social doctrines, which claim eternal validity. It 
was not only beneficial in the past, but would be 
equally so if it were practised to-day, and offers 
the panacea for the future. It is maintained that 
India's present plight is due to her deviation from 
the path of the eternal truth revealed in the Sanatan 



Dharma. Back on that path, she would surely 
return to the Golden Age and set an example to 
the world tormented by materialism. It is not 
explained why India herself deviated from her 
destiny. Why did her "spiritual genius" fail to 
keep her on the right road ? Then, the ideal it- 
self is also a puzzle. It has been variously inter- 
preted as a religion, a faith, a system of philosophy, 
a code of morals. Whatever it might have been 
in the past, we must judge it on its present show- 
ing. We must analyse it as it presents itself to the 
world as the cure for all its troubles and tribula- 

For an authoritative statement of the principles 
of Sanatan Dharma, and its prescriptions for cur- 
ing India as well as the rest of the world of the 
canker of modern civilisation, we shall quote from 
an address to the conference of its defenders and 
exponents, held in Calcutta in September 1933. 
The presence of Jagatguru Sri Shankaracharya 
vouched for the representative character of the 
conference, and placed the stamp of authenticity 
on the views expressed on that occasion. 

The president of the conference, M. K. 
Acharya, denounced the law against child marriage 
as the product of " the slave mentality of the un- 
thinking," and stigmatised Gandhi's agitation for 
temple entry as "ausaric" (demoniac). Then he 
proceeded : such attacks are going " to whip up 



all lovers of Sanatan Dhctrma to unite in defence 
of the higher laws of life. Such dharmic awaken- 
ing is necessary for the larger interests of India 
and of the world at large. Very soon, every 
country on earth will be faced with problems that 
cannot be solved without a fundamental change 
in the mental and moral outlook from a hankering 
after sense gratification, which is the goal of 
western materialism, to a striving after sense 
control, which is the essence of India's dharmic 
culture. India for millennia has been the 
privileged home of Sanatan Dharma that teaches 
how every man and woman, according to their 
birth and environment, must practise swadharma 
or self-control, must evolve their higher 
nature, and so realise the bliss of Divinity deep- 
seated in the heart of all beings. For this bliss, all 
humanity blindly pants, not knowing that neither 
cigarettes and cinemas and sense enjoyment nor 
superficial democracy nor temple entry can lead 
them to the path of dharmic discipline, through 
which alone the highest bliss can be realised. It is 
for India to reveal this path to the modern world. 
Let us wake up and qualify ourselves for this great 
world mission. Let us not be obsessed with either 
the artificial temple entry agitation of people who 
have no faith in temple worship, or with the super- 
ficial White Paper Scheme (of the Indian Consti- 
tution) drawn up by people who do not know the 



genius of India. Both are bound to do more harm 
than good, unless fundamentally recast the one 
in consonance with the true religion of God-love, 
the other in consonance with the higher principles 
of Swaraj." 

Indian nationalists in general would vigorously 
repudiate the pretension of the president of the 
Sanatan Dharma conference to represent the spirit 
of Indian culture. But that would be for political 
reasons. His enunciation of " India's message to 
the world" as well as his statement of the cardi- 
nal principles of Indian culture, is quite commen- 
surate with the prevalent nationalist ideology. The 
indignant outburst of the champion of Sanatan 
Dharma may be marred by frivolity here and 
there ; but there is no flaw in his logic. He is not 
half-hearted in his belief. He is a whole-hogger- 
an unblushing full-blooded reactionary. He knows 
that any political advance, even that mighty little 
proposed in the White Paper scheme, might take 
India further away from the cherished ideals of 
Sanatan Dharma. Therefore, he is not ashamed of 
opposing political progress in the interest of 
cultural reaction. His position is much more 
logical than that of those who would combine 
political progress with cultural reaction. 

The attack against Gandhi may be another 
ground on which the representative character of 
Mr. Acharya's views will be disputed. That, how- 



ever, is a very insecure ground. The Mahatma 
himself has admitted the legitimacy of the 
Sanatanist opposition to his agitation for temple 
entry and removal of untouchability. He would 
not have his pet hobbies enforced by law. His pro- 
claimed desire is to introduce these superficial 
measures of social and religious reform with the 
approval of the die-hard orthodox. Besides, the 
Mahatma himself is an avowed protagonist of the 
Sanatan Dharma, and fully believes in the spiritual 
ideals and moral principles adumbrated by 
Mr. Acharya. 

Purged of the political tendency (which, by 
the way, is quite logical) and the attack upon 
Gandhi, the statement of Mr. Acharya could be 
made by any other preacher of India's spiritual 
mission, be he a Rabindranath Tagore or a 
Mahatma Gandhi or any orthodox Congressman or 
an Arya Samajist or a member of the Hindu 
Mahasabha or a Vedantist of the Ramakrishna 
Vivekananda Mission or a modern intellectual like 
Sir Radhakrishnan. This being the case, the views 
of the venerable president of the Sanatan Dharma 
conference can be taken as representative, and 
analysed to explain the, real nature of India's 
culture and the significance of her message to the 

Thanks to the generosity of Mr. Acharya, we 
have actually an embarrassment of riches. The 



picture presented by him is so very complete that 
hardly any retouching is necessary to make its 
meaning clear. The social basis of Indian culture 
is naively laid bare. The function of the " higher 
laws of life" is clearly indicated. In the past, it 
was to maintain the ruling classes in their positions 
of power and privilege. To-day it is to hold 
together the withered limbs of a decayed social 
organism. "The essence of India's dharmic 
culture " is such an elaborate system of taboos and 
repressions upon the natural inclinations of the 
masses as spells a decisive check against the normal 
forces of social evolution. 

The keynote of the culture which is offered to 
the world for its salvation is " self-control ". For- 
tunately, we are not left in doubt about the real 
meaning of this oft-repeated formula. " Sanatan 
Dharma teaches how every man and woman, 
according to their birth and environments, must 
practise swadharma or self-control." So, the spiri- 
tual genius of Indian culture consists in its success 
to have taught everybody to be reconciled to his 
fate. His or her position in society is fixed for ever. 
Self-control means willing subordination to the 
established system of social slavery. The "higher 
nature " evolved through the practice of the sterl- 
ing virtue of self-control is slave-mentality. That 
is the ideal of Indian culture placed before the 
masses. And this ideal of slave-mentality, intellec- 



tual inertia, moral death, lack of all signs of life, 
except the faithful discharge of duty prescribed by 
the ruling class that is the way to " divine bliss ", 
which the slave must find in his own self as the 
consolation for the depressing blankness of life. 
The function of the "divinity deep-seated in the 
heart of all beings " therefore is to keep the slave 
out of harm's length, to keep him in the bliss of 
ignorance, so that the idea of changing the condi- 
tions of his life, of ever encroaching upon the pre- 
serves of the master, may never occur to him. 

Sense enjoyment is, of course, taboo. Not only 
such frivolities as cigarettes and cinemas disturb 
dharmic discipline, but democracy is also detri- 
mental to the realisation of " the highest bliss " ! 
The purpose of dharmic discipline thus is to reduce 
the material necessities of life to the lowest con- 
ceivable level. This is the moral ideal of a static 
society of a society which has ceased to grow, and 
whose retarded growth, in its turn, kills all 
impulse of life in its fossilised organism. In a 
static society, wealth is not produced in a progres- 
sively larger volume. Unless consumption is re- 
duced to the lowest possible level, the margin of 
surplus wealth will be very narrow. The income 
of the ruling classes, which under such conditions 
usually are an alliance of the priesthood and patri- 
archal-feudal aristocracy, goes down. Out of this 
mundane background rise the moral principles of 



the Sanatan Dharma. The fewer the necessities of 
the masses, the more earthly possessions accrue to 
the aristocratic rulers, who can thus live in splen- 
dour, opulence and luxury, while their sacerdotal 
allies preach the virtues of self-control, abstemious- 
ness, simplicity, as the roads to a higher life. Apart 
from its flagrant immorality, this dharmic disci- 
pline is a decisive check upon the progress of the 
community as a whole. Expanding consumption 
is an impetus to the development of the productive 
forces. The consuming capacity of the most luxu- 
rious and extravagant ruling class is limited by 
their numerical smallness. Therefore, the restric- 
tion even of the elementary requirements of the 
masses by an elaborate system of taboos and repres- 
sions, buttressed upon dogmatic religious doctrines, 
has a reactionary influence upon the entire society. 
Sanatan Dharma, rising as the ideology of social 
stagnation, condemned the Indian people to a pro- 
cess of slow cultural death in the interest of a 
privileged minority. 

By prohibiting sense enjoyment, the dharmic 
discipline raises ignorance to the dignity of highest 
virtue. Consequently, it places a premium on pre- 
judice which thrives on ignorance. And prejudice 
precludes all cultural progress. Experience gained 
through sense perception is the only road to 
knowledge ; and knowledge is the basis of culture. 
Condemn sense enjoyment, and you block man's 



road to knowledge ; you sentence him to perpetual 
barbarism. It is absurd to distinguish one sense 
enjoyment from another. If it is sinful to smoke a 
cigarette, it is equally perverse to listen to music. 
If it is forbidden to feast one's eyes on feminine 
beauty, the joy of looking at a rose or of watching 
the sun-set or even admiring artistically made 
images of gods and goddesses, cannot be logically 
permitted. If the natural sex instinct is to be sup- 
pressed, the equally natural hunger for food and 
thirst for water should not also be tolerated. 
The absurd taboo on sense enjoyment has no moral 
force. It is rooted in the vulgar-materialist interest 
of the ruling class. Firstly, its object is to keep 
the masses on the lowest level of physical existence 
so that they may consume the smallest fraction of 
the fruits of their labour, and consequently the 
lion's share go to the parasitic classes. Secondly, 
to keep the masses in the bliss of ignorance, so that 
they could be exploited all the better. 

The basic principle of Sanatan Dharma being 
that the social position of the individual is fixed 
by birth, it can naturally have no use for democracy. 
Any political advance of the Indian people must 
be "in consonance with the higher principles of 
Swaraj ". These higher principles in the domain 
of politics have not yet been formulated. But pre- 
sumably, they must be governed by the basic 
principles of the Sanatan Dharma, which admit- 



tedly excludes democracy. Since social position is 
predetermined by birth, and the individuals must 
perform the functions respectively allotted to them, 
presumably by the Providence, the position of those 
belonging to the upper strata of society is as un- 
changeable as that of those lower down in the 
social scale. Thus, we have a stratified social orga- 
nisation, rigidly held together by Sanatan Dharma, 
which itself is immutable, and eternally valid, as 
its name implies. To possess slaves is a divinely 
sanctioned right of the slave-owner, just as to 
serve his master is the religious duty of the slave. 
If this "spiritual message" of Sanatan Dharma 
could possibly be conveyed to the masses of the 
western peoples, undoubtedly their rulers would be 
highly thankful to India. What surer guarantee 
could be available to delapidated capitalism than 
the conversion of its victims to the cult of the 
" highest bliss of Sanatan Dharma " , to be attained 
through voluntary submission to the lowest 
possible standard of living? But there is little 
chance of Sanatan Dharma succeeding in this 
ambitious world mission. India herself must throw 
off the yoke of her precious spiritual genius, if she 
wishes to escape further degeneration, demoralisa- 
tion and utter destruction. 

* * * * 

The most commonly agreed form of India*? 
world message is Gandhism. Not only does it 



dominate the nationalist ideology ; it has found 
some echo outside of India. It is as the moralising 
mysticism of Gandhi that Indian thought makes 
any appeal to the western mind. Therefore, an 
analysis of Gandhism will give a correct idea of 
the real nature of India's message to the world. 

But Gandhism is not a co-ordinated system of 
thought. There is little of philosophy in it. In 
the midst of a mass of platitudes and hopeless self- 
contradictions, it harps on one constant note a 
conception of morality based upon dogmatic faith. 
But what Gandhi preaches is primarily a religion : 
the faith in God is the only reliable guide in life. 
The fact that even in the twentieth century India 
is swayed by the naive doctrines of Gandhi speaks 
for the cultural backwardness of the masses of her 
peopk. The subtlety of the Hindu philosophy is 
not the measure of the intellectual level of the 
Indian people as a whole. It was the brain-child 
of a pampered intellectual elite sharing power and 
privileges with the temporal ruling class. It still 
remains confined to the comparatively small 
circle of intellectuals who try to put on a thin 
veneer of modernism, and represent nothing more 
than a nostalgia. The popularity of Gandhi and 
the uncritical acceptance of his antics as the highest 
of human wisdom knock the bottom off the 
doctrine that the Indian people as a whole is 
morally and spiritually superior to the western. 



The fact is that the great bulk of the Indian people 
are steeped in religious superstitions. Otherwise, 
Gandhism would have no social background, and 
disappear before long. They have neither any 
understanding of philosophical problems nor are 
they concerned with metaphysical speculations in 
preference to material questions. As normal 
human beings, they are engrossed with the problems 
of worldly life, and, being culturally backward, 
necessarily thinks in terms of religion, conceive 
their earthly ideals, their egoistic aspirations, in 
religious forms. Faith is the mainstay of their 
existence ; prejudice, the trusted guide of life ; 
and superstition their only philosophy. 

Gandhism is the ideological reflex of this 
social background. It sways the mass mind, not 
as a moral philosophy, but as a religion. It is 
neither a philosopher nor a moralist who has 
become the idol of the Indian people. The masses 
pay their homage to a Mahatma a source of 
revealed wisdom and agency of super-natural 
power. The social basis of Gandhism is cultural 
backwardness ; its intellectual mainstay, supersti- 

It has found some response in the West also 
not as a system of philosophy, but as a cult of reli- 
gious morality which, if accepted by the masses, 
might be helpful in saving the tottering structure 
of capitalism in stemming the tide of revolution* 



Gandhi calls himself a man of the masses. He is 
supposed to be the champion of the poor. He has 
demonstratively taken the vow of voluntary 
poverty. He is believed by his educated followers 
to be the most powerful enemy of capitalism. He 
has been acclaimed by the more adoring disciples 
as the greatest Socialist. Yet, the curious thing is 
that the message of Gandhism appeals not so much 
to the oppressed masses of the West as to the 
capitalist ruling class and its ideologists. In India, 
many a leader of materialist commerce and " soul- 
killing" industrialism are among the most devout 
disciples as well as generous patrons of the avowed 
enemy of capitalism. Are the capitalist rulers of 
the West perchance getting converted to the cult 
of voluntary poverty ? Or is India shunning the 
sinful path of industrialism at the behest of the 
Mahatma ? There is not the slightest reason to 
believe that such a miracle can be wrought by the 
modern Saint. 

But it is not difficult to find an explanation 
of the curious spectacle. The explanation is pro- 
vided by the Mahatma himself. On his way back 
from London, after the second Round Table 
Conference at the end of 1931, he gave a long press 
interview in which he summarised the message 
that he had delivered to the West. At the same 
time, he made the following characteristic and 
highly significant declaration of faith : " So long 



as I believe in a benevolent God, I must believe 
that the world is getting better, even though I sec 
evidence to the contrary." 

This can be taken as the central point of 
Gandhism. It is the philosophy of blind faith* 
Nothing can be more beneficial to the established 
order of things, be it in the West or in the East, 
than the propagation of this blind faith and the 
acceptance of a code of religious morality based 
upon a dogmatic belief. This is the spiritual 
message of India which finds some response in the 
West, and may possibly have a greater success. 
Because, it fits in with the ideological needs of the 
western capitalist society in decay ; because it pro- 
vides a moral justification and a super-human 
sanction for social injustice and for the entire 
system of exploitation of man by man. 

Love, goodness, sacrifice, simplicity, absolute 
non-violence (in thought as well as in deed) these 
are the moral precepts preached by Gandhi. They 
are all categorical imperatives, being based upon a 
blind faith. They are all immutable, being 
different forms of the self-same transcendental 
truth, manifestations of the divine will. What 
would be the result if these noble moral precepts 
were practised at large ? It should be noted that 
Gandhi, like a true prophet, delivers his message 
to the masses. That is the most important point 
to be borne in mind while examining Gandhism. 



Addressed to the masses, the spiritual and moral 
message of Gandhi means a direct support for its 
antithesis, for what it pretends to combat, namely, 
for vulgar materialism. Love, goodness, sacrifice, 
simplicity, absolute non-violence all these admirable 
virtues practised by the masses would strengthen 
the position of power and privilege of those who 
personify the love of lucre. The faith in the bene- 
volence of God, the belief that the inequities of 
the established social order are all for the good, 
would simply enable the masses to bear their cross 
of sorrow and suffering cheerfully. Those who are 
making profit out of these ungodly conditions of 
the God's world would thrive. The practice of the 
virtues preached by Gandhi would mean voluntary 
submission of the masses to the established system 
of oppression and exploitation. If the workers 
could be taught to love their employers, capitalism 
would be spared labour troubles which aggravate 
in proportion as it decays. Wage-slaves performing 
labour of love, wealth would freely accumulate in 
the hands of the employers. Social peace would 
secure the position of capitalism. The ideal of 
goodness would keep the masses away from the 
evil of envying the rich as well as of the desire to 
harm those who thrive at their expense. Inspired 
by the noble spirit of sacrifice, the masses would 
readily offer themselves at the altar of capitalist 
greed ; they would not then resent and revolt 



against their lot ; they would not look upon their 
privations and poverty as the result of the estab- 
lished social relations, but as token of their own 
sublimation. Simplicity on the part of the masses 
will be a guarantee for the unequal distribution 
of wealth, the lion's share accruing to the upper 
classes. Finally, non-violence the piece de resis- 
tance of Gandhism. This is the central pivot of the 
entire philosophy, holding its quaint dogmas and 
naive doctrines together into a comprehensive 
system of highly reactionary thought. 

The cult of non-violence is exactly the opposite 
of what it appears to be. It offers a direct aid to 
violence in practice. Every form of class-ridden 
society is maintained by indirect violence. There- 
fore, those who preach non-violence, to be scrupu- 
lously observed at all cost by the exploited and 
oppressed masses, are defenders of violence in 
practice. Non-violence, practised by the oppressed 
and exploited, would offer the surest guarantee to 
any social system maintained by violence, directly 
or indirectly. It would mean disappearance of all 
opposition to capitalism. In the absence of all 
opposition, all desire and effort to overthrow it, 
capitalism would become permanent. India's spiri- 
tual message delivered by Gandhi, if accepted by 
the West, would thus keep the latter tied for ever 
to the wheels of the chariot of the Juggernauth of 
vulgar materialism. Love, the sentimental counter- 



part of the cult of non-violence, thus is exposed as 
a mere cant. 

It might be argued that absolute non-violence, 
in thought as well as in deed, on the part of the 
masses, would obviate the necessity of the use of 
violence by the ruling classes. Indeed, Gandhi's 
proposition to overcome violence by non-violence 
must have some such idea behind it. Non-violence, 
then, means absolute submission of the masses to 
the established order of oppression and exploitation. 
The ruling class might possibly lay aside the wea- 
pon of coercion when the very least danger to their 
position of privilege would disappear. Even then 
they would not be converted to the divine doctrine 
of non-violence ; they would simply suspend active 
application of violence in the absence of any neces- 
sity thereof. The weapons would not be discarded; 
they would be laid aside, to be put to use whenever 
there would be the slightest suspicion of danger. 
As long as the slave revels in his slavery, being 
utterly incapacitated either by his own ignorance 
or by a subtle propaganda, even to dream of 
freedom, the knout need not be used. But the 
slave remains a slave ; the existence of slavery im- 
plies the parallel existence of the slave-owner ; and 
the knout is an integral part of the slave-owner, 
just as teeth and claws are that of the tiger. 
Owning slaves out of love is a Utopian dream, 
which will never be realised. 



The Gandhist Utopia thus is a static society 
a state of absolute social stagnation. It is an Utopia 
because it can never be realised. Absolute stagna- 
tion is identical with death. To begin with, all 
resistance to the established order must cease. 
That would offer absolute guarantee to the status 
quo. The ruling classes would refrain from using 
force simply because it would not be necessary. 
Their power and privilege, being completely un- 
disputed, would require no active defence. But 
this idyllic picture can be drawn only by the cold 
hand of death. Life expresses itself as movement 
individually, in space, and collectively, in time. 
And movement implies overwhelming of obstacles 
on the way. Disappearance of all resistance to the 
established order would mean extinction of social 
life. Perfect peace reigns only in the grave. 

Neither the preachers nor the proselytes of 
Gandhism, however, would have the consistency 
of carrying their cult to the nihilistic extreme. 
There would be a certain macabre majesty in such 
a boldness. But with all the absoluteness of its 
standards, Gandhism remains ori the ground of the 
relative. After all, it prescribes a practical cure for 
the evils of the world. Philosophically, it is prag- 
matic. And the remedy suggested is the re- 
actionary programme of forcibly keeping society in 
a relatively static condition. Gandhism offers this 
programme because it is the quintessence of an 



ideology which developed on the background of a 
static society. 

But India's spiritual message, while still find- 
ing an echo in the ruins of the native society, can 
have no standing appeal to the world of modern 
civilisation. There, the society is armed with 
potentialities which preclude its falling into a state 
of stagnation. Modern civilisation is a dynamic 
process. It must go forward. Not only the masses, 
but even the capitalist rulers of the West must 
reject the ideology of social stagnation. And pre- 
cisely in this dynamic nature of the civilisation, 
developed under its aegis, does the Nemesis of 
capitalism lie. It cannot carry civilisation farther, 
nor can it hold it back in a static state permanently 
as a guarantee for its continued existence. The 
perspective, therefore, is an advance of modern 
civilisation over the boundaries of capitalism. 
The materialist philosophy throws a flood of light 
on that perspective of the future of mankind. 
India's spiritual message, on the contrary, would 
teach the West to turn back upon the goal within 
reach, and relapse into mediaeval barbarism. 

A detailed critique of Gandhism is not a part 
of our present purpose. The point sought to be 
made here is the social significance of the spiritual 
message of India. That will be done by looking a 
little more closely at a few the more prominent 
of the gods of Gandhism. This critical examina- 



tion will reveal their clay-feet. The vulgar-mate- 
rialist implication of the spiritual message will be 
evident. It will be seen that, in this age of 
rationalist thought and scientific knowledge, spiri- 
tualist philosophy, be it western or Indian, has but 
one social role to play, namely, to defend the estab- 
lished order of class domination. In its zeal to 
perform this none too glorious role, spiritualism 
falls foul of modern civilisation, the great accom- 
plishments of which have brought man face to face 
with spiritual emancipation, not as a fantasy but 
as a reality. Hitherto it has been an illusion. 

In order to appreciate a system of thought 
properly, it is necessary to go down to the concrete 
points made by it, to discuss its positive proposi- 
tions. Gandhism talks ad nauseum of love, truth, 
goodness, etc. These are propagated as abstract 
categories which defy definition. They may mean 
any thing or nothing. Besides, they have been 
preached in all ages, and never have these noble 
virtues been in theory rejected by man, individu- 
ally or collectively, in the East or in the West. 
They have always been the ideals of man. Since 
they have never been defined so as to command a 
common acceptance, it is not fain to accuse any 
man or community of discrepancy between profes- 
sion and practice. Therefore, it would be dogma- 
tic to charge western civilisation of having aban- 
doned these traditional ideals, just as it would be 



gratuitous to claim that Gandhism represents their 
practical application to life. We must either give 
both the parties the credit of following those 
ideals, or suspect them alike of hypocrisy. These 
elusive shibboleths do not take us anywhere. They 
do not enlighten us as to what exactly is the world 
message of Gandhism this typical product of 
India's spiritual genius. 

But there are other points of Gandhism which 
can be examined with greater success. In examin- 
ing them, we find ourselves on the solid ground of 
the concrete. They are not mere abstractions, 
empty of any content of reality. They are pre- 
cepts whose real meaning can be easily read by 
putting them into practice. For one thing, there 
is faith, which has played such an important part 
in the spiritual development of man. The basis 
of modern civilisation, scientific knowledge, is in- 
compatible with faith ; whereas Gandhism proudly 
declares its faith in the divine will. Mankind 
begins its journey towards real spiritual liberation 
by leaving the traditional ground of faith. Faith 
is born of ignorance. If the world remained in 
the mental state evidenced by the Gandhist con- 
fession of faith, it would make no progress. The 
faithful, unless their profession is hypocritical, arc 
debarred from doing anything to change a given 
condition of the world. For, otherwise, they would 
be violating the divine will, interfering with provi- 



dential arrangement. They cannot have such anti- 
thetical ideas as good and evil, right arid wrong, 
love and hatred, so on and so forth. God being 
benevolent, the embodiment of goodness, justice, 
love, everything in the world happening in the 
world must be good and right. Can there be any- 
thing more convenient to those who enjoy worldly 
power and privilege, than this divine philosophy of 
truth ? The masses accepting the established order 
as divinely ordained, as willed by a benevolent God, 
its security is guaranteed by the religious view of 
life. The upper classes can enjoy their power and 
privileges without any anxiety. Such is the social 
significance of the spiritual value called faith. And 
faith is the corner-stone of Gandhism. The whole 
body of orthodox Hindu philosophy rests upon the 
self-same corner-stone. It starts from the assump- 
tion of a super-natural spiritual being, and sets itself 
the impossible task of knowing the unknowable. 
Naturally, it traces knowledge to revelation. Illu- 
sion is the source of illumination. 

India's message to the world is, therefore, a 
message of faith. Gandhi has acquired the proud 
distinction of the acknowledged bearer of this mess- 
age, because he has the honesty to deliver it in all 
its nakedness. He has the courage of the fanatic. 
He is not ashamed of professing a mediaeval faith, 
because the bliss of his ignorance is undisturbed by 
the modern Indian intellectual's zeal to be fashion- 



ably scientific. The message of faith, however, is the 
message of medievalism the call of the wild. For 
centuries, Europe remained fascinated by this call. 
Finally, it found a way out of the wilderness, and 
remade the world with scant regard for the Provi- 
dence. The foundation of faith has been irrepar- 
ably shaken by science. It has been discovered that 
the conditions of life are not providentially 
ordained ; that they are created by man and there- 
fore can be altered by man. This epoch-making 
lesson of modern civilisation will enable humanity 
to overcome the present crisis. It is a guarantee 
against the civilised peoples of the West relapsing 
under the spell of mediaeval faith. 

Now, for more concrete points of the message 
of Gandhism, let us hear the prophet himself. In 
the interview referred to above, he said : " The 
strongest impression I am carrying home from 
Europe is that Europe cannot for any length of 
time sustain the artificial life its people are living 
to-day, because that life is too materialistic. There 
must be a return to simplicity and proper propor- 
tions. The flesh has gained precedence over the 
spirit. The machine age is ruling western civilisa- 
tion. Over-production and lack of the means of 
proper distribution may finally spell the doom of 
capitalist society. The only solution I see is a re- 
turn to hand industry and the emancipation of the 
individual from factory slavery. It would be an 



eventful day in the life of great countries like 
England and the U.S.A. to adopt the spinning 

There we have a clear and concise statement of 
all the practical points of Gandhism from the 
sublime to the ridiculous. The sublime is the 
vision of a life free from the vulgar-materialistic 
extravagances of the capitalist society ; the ridicu- 
lous is the prescription of the patent medicine of 
the spinning wheel. Anyone with the least under- 
standing of the economic problems of the world 
to-day and some knowledge of their background 
can see that the prescribed solution is ridiculous. 

Let us make a careful note of the fact that the 
evangelical zeal of this statement runs counter to 
the equally fervent confession of faith made in the 
same interview. The belief in a benevolent God 
must not permit the Mahatma to look upon the 
world with an eye of criticism or even of uneasi- 
ness. He must not only take the things as they 
are, but believe that they are " getting better even 
though I see evidence to the contrary ". But vanity 
often overwhelms the piety of the prophet. The 
message of India claims universal application, and 
disregards the limit of time on the strength of being 
inspired. Once it deviates from the fountain of 
faith, it loses its peculiarity, and must be submitted 
to the criteria of human reason. The message of 
the Mahatma is obviously contrary to his faith. 



The world is always getting better by the grace of 
God, if not thanks to the creative genius of man ; 
then, how could the Mahatma maintain that the 
mediaeval world was better than the modern ? To 
hold this view, as the Mahatma expressly does, is 
to discard the article of faith preached by himself. 
According to the fundamental principle of 
Gandhism, indeed of the spiritualist philosophy of 
all shapes and colour, namely, the belief in a super- 
natural force as the guiding factor of the Universe, 
capitalism is providentially ordained. It is not per- 
missible to tinker with the God's world. The 
pretension to improve upon the work of God is 
blasphemous. Gandhi irreverently sits in judgment 
on the wisdom of God, while proclaiming to the 
world that faith in the benevolent God is the safest 
guide in life ! His censure of modern civilisation 
and the prophetic view that Europe is doomed un- 
less it goes back several hundred years, amounts to 
this. He appears to declare that God made a mis- 
take in allowing events that took place in Europe 
during the last two-hundred years, and presumes to 
rectify the lamentable mistake committed by the 
infallible divine intelligence. And this irreverent 
task he sets to himself as the prophet to whom has 
been revealed the path to the salvation of the 
modern world. A message vitiated with such hope- 
less internal contradiction can hardly claim a seri- 
ous consideration. 



Spiritualist philosophy, however, cannot but be 
self-contradictory. It is not worried by this defect, 
which can be easily explained by its basic dogma, 
that the divine will is inscrutable. A consistent 
spiritualist must be a solipsist. If there was really 
an absolute being as the origin of the phenomenal 
world, the world would never be created. The 
very absoluteness of the supreme principle would 
preclude it from functioning as the cause of the 
world. The very godliness of God would not allow 
him to act as the religious believe him to act. If 
anyone really believes, as Gandhi with all the spiri- 
tualists does, that everything in the world takes 
place according to a divine will, mysterious purpose 
or super-natural force, then he must sit quiet and 
watch the unfolding of the divine drama or con- 
template the incomprehensible. Whatever he may 
do, his own faith would preclude any activity on 
his part. The spiritualist tries to extricate himself 
out of this tight corner a position to which he is 
driven by the logic of his own philosophy with 
the argument that his activity is also caused by the 
divine will. But his argument falls to the ground 
as soon as he really acts. Because, immediately he 
runs counter to his faith. His action or even 
thought inevitably clashes with that of some others. 
Thus, he runs counter to the divine will. For, the 
action or thought of the others is also an expression 
of the divine will. Indeed, the faithful must accept 



every act of God as good. He must be completely 
satisfied; and satisfaction precludes all activities. 
The faithful cannot appear as a prophet. He can 
not be a reformer, because the zeal to reform the 
world testifies to a lack of faith in the benevolence 
and justness of God. The very idea that the world 
needs reform represents a doubt about the omni- 
science and infallibility of God. Gandhi is the 
classical example of a prophet who claims to act 
according to his profession. 

This may appear to be a most unfounded cri- 
tique of Gandhism. Have not the sworn oppo- 
nents of Gandhi admitted his sincerity? The retort 
is beside the point. The man Gandhi is not the 
subject matter of our examination. We are analy- 
sing a philosophy which not only claims superiority 
in the past, but proposes to lead the world in the 
future. We are not concerned with the sincerity 
or otherwise of a person. We are exposing the 
fallacy and contradictions of the message delivered 
by him. If the message is found to be riddled with 
fallacies and vitiated by contradictions, the sincerity 
or saintliness of the Messiah would be of no avail. 
And we have already detected many flaws ; let us 
proceed undeterred by personal considerations. 
The awe of authority stands on the way to truth. 

Being contrary to his faith in providential 
ordinance, Gandhi's message cannot claim the in- 
disputable authority of revealed truth. It must 



then be judged on its own merit. It is the business 
of the prophet, if he presumes to know better than 
his God. Our concern is to see whether the remedy 
suggested by him would really cure the evils of 
capitalism. Here we touch the social philosophy 
of Gandhi. We have already noted the anti-capi- 
talist sentiment prevalent among Indian spiritua- 
lists. We have also pointed out the reactionary 
nature of the apparently revolutionary sentiment. 
Gandhi's view of the conditions of contemporary 
Europe, together with his prescription to cure them, 
bears out our contention. 

While expressing the familiar sentiments re- 
garding the Western civilisation, the bearer of 
India's spiritual message does not hide his concern 
for the security of the capitalist social order. He 
deplores "over-production" and lack of the "means 
of proper distribution ", because they might " spell 
the doom of capitalist society." If Gandhi were for 
the abolition of capitalism, why should he be 
troubled by the spectre of its doom ? On the con- 
trary, he should welcome the perspective. Of 
course, the solution he offers is not expressly to save 
capitalism from the threatened doom. But capi- 
talism is not the object of his denouncement. It 
is modern civilisation. Thus, the doctor patheti- 
cally fails to lay his finger on the disease which he 
undertakes to cure. Instead of curing the patient, 
he proposes to kill him. He would not rescue 



modern civilisation from the paralysing grip of 
capitalism ; he would wipe out civilisation itself. 

Let us suppose that Europe responded to the 
call of Gandhism. What would be the result of 
that exemplary repentance on the part of the 
sinner ? Machines would be replaced by the spin- 
ning wheel ; consequently, production would be 
reduced so as to eliminate automatically the pro- 
blem of distribution. The standard of living 
would go down to the level of simplicity. In 
plain language, Gandhi would lead the world back 
to the Middle-Ages. But what is the guarantee 
that society would remain stationary in that idea- 
lised state? Then, if "return to simplicity" is the 
highest ideal, where are we going to draw the line? 
Why should society stop at mediaeval barbarism? 
Why should it not go all the way back to primi- 
tive savagery ? Hand industry and the holy wheel 
are not the token of primitive simplicity. Man 
had lived a far simpler life before he reached the 
stage at which he wore woven garments and used 
other manufactured articles. If simplicity is the 
ideal of human nature, then the march back must 
not stop until mankind has reverted to the stage 
in which its requirements are the most minimum. 
That is to say, the ideal human being is the savagp 
living on the tree, clothed in his nakedness and 
subsisting on roots and fruits. 

To avoid being driven to this ridiculous posi- 



tion, Gandhi qualifies the ideal of simplicity by 
the phrase " proper proportions ". But it does not 
help to draw the line arbitrarily. What are the 
proper proportions of simplicity ? Who is going 
to decide what is the standard of simplicity ? If 
you permit mankind to progress from primitive 
savagery to mediaeval barbarism, by what logic are 
you going to prohibit further progress towards 
modern civilisation ? Once you admit that it is 
not immoral nor sinful for mankind to progress, 
you have no reason to set a limit to that process. 
India's message to the world is so fallacious because 
the vision of the Indian spiritualist is limited by 
the social background of his culture. For historical 
reasons, Indian society lingered in the twilight of 
medievalism. That unfortunate state of social 
stagnation came to be idealised. Indian spiritua- 
lists want to impose their false ideal upon the 
world which has had the opportunity of realising 
higher ideals and of visualising still higher ones. 
They want to remake the world on the image of 
the backwardness of Indian society. 

But to those people who fought their way out 
of mediaeval darkness to attain the higher stage 
of modern civilisation, the ideal held out by the 
Indian spiritualists has no appeal. Having out- 
grown it themselves, they cannot look upon medi- 
aeval society as the normal state of human exis- 
tence. Their vision is not circumscribed by the 



material and cultural backwardness of the medi- 
aeval society. It has been widened by modern civi- 
lisation. Therefore, dissatisfaction with the con- 
ditions of life in the capitalist society impels them 
to look ahead to strive to go farther, bursting the 
bounds of capitalism. They don't look backwards. 
They are precluded from doing so by their own 
experience. Experience has taught them that a 
dynamic society, a human community healthily 
breeding the germs of progress in its own organism, 
in course of time outgrov/s mediaeval conditions to 
enter the stage of modern civilisation. If they went 
back, that would be only to repeat the experience. 
That would be only to postpone the solution of the 
problems raised by modern civilisation. Their task 
is to solve those problems, not to run away from 
them, only to be back again in the same position. 

The proposal for a return to hand industry 
obviously is based upon ignorance of the history of 
modern civilisation. The modern machine industry 
has grown directly out of the background of the 
mediaeval handicrafts. Man has always used tools 
to gain his livelihood. The ability to use some sort 
of a tool in addition to his own bodily organs 
differentiates man from his animal ancestors. To 
use tools, therefore, is a normal human function, 
and the progressive improvement of the tool with 
which he earns his subsistence is the indicator of 
the cultural advance of man. When man learns 



the use of metal, he reaches a cultural level much 
higher than that of his predecessor of the stone 
age. Would the Gandhists or any other prophet 
of neo-mediaevalism dispute this elementary law 
of human evolution ? If the metal-using man is 
culturally more advanced than the savage with the 
stone-flint, the man of the machine age must be 
proportionately superior to the artisan of the 
Middle-Ages. Machine is but the most highly 
developed tool. It is a part of normal human 
existence, just as much as the tools of hand indus- 
try. You cannot advise mankind to discard the 
machine without declaring by implication, if not 
in so many words, that the use of tools is incom- 
patible with humanness. Because, then you would 
be identifying humanness with animalness ; for, 
the use of tools is the line of demarcation between 
animal and man. 

Again, to avoid taking up this fantastic posi- 
tion, an arbitrary line is drawn. It is permissible 
to use tools up to a certain fixed level of develop- 
ment. But thus far and no farther. The advance 
from the tak}i to the charf(ha takes place within 
the bounds of normal humanness. But the road 
from the charfya to the spinning Jenny is the road 
to perdition. The journey on that road corrupts 
the humanity in man, makes an abominable mate- 
rialist of him, his spirit is overwhelmed by the flesh! 
This absurd theory of culture has regard neither 



for logic nor for the very elementary principles of 

The advocates of this theory maintain that 
modern machine makes a slave of man; a return to 
hand industry would restore man to his individual 
freedom. Another illusion! The function of the 
tool is to help man earn his subsistence with the 
minimum of effort and time. In modern industry, 
man can earn a living in return for eight hours 
work a day. The amount of daily labour could be 
easily reduced by half. On the contrary, in handi- 
crafts, man must work twelve hours or more to get 
the same result. And if a limit is set to the deve- 
lopment of tools, he will have no prospect of ever 
getting out of the drudgery. To attend to one or 
several fly-shuttles for eight hours a day in a modern 
factory turns a man into the slave of the machine ; 
but plying the spinning wheel for twelve hours, he 
becomes a free man, able to soar high spiritually 1 
The change in his mode of occupation would place 
him on a higher cultural level, although it would 
lower the standard of his material existence! But 
that exactly is the desired result. Freed from 
materialistic temptations, back to simplicity, man 
would recover his humanness. A remarkable 
theory of culture the more man labours, the less 
he eats, the higher is his moral worth ! 

Distressed capitalism, however, is not likely to 
take the advice of Gandhi, and retire into medi- 



aeval wilderness to practise banaprastha in thfese 
years of its decay. With all the neo-mysticism 
and rationalist religion preached by its philoso- 
phers, capitalism does not appear to be the least 
disposed to don the gairic of bairagya, and regu- 
late its conduct by the venerable dictum plain 
living and high thinking. But it enthusiastically 
applauds the preaching of the dictum to the masses. 
It would welcome the propagation of the Gandhist 
doctrine of simplicity and proper proportions. That 
is why the spiritualist message of India, delivered 
by Gandhi, finds some response in the West. Those 
who welcome it find in it a possible means to arrest 
the imminent collapse of capitalism. Spiritualism 
and vulgar materialism have been inseparable allies 
throughout the ages. To-day they do not stand in 
any different relation. Gandhi condemns the West 
for living a life which is too materialistic. But the 
spiritualist advice given by him means that the 
masses should so modify their mode of living as 
would suit the purpose of capitalism in decay. They 
should return to simplicity and observe self-con- 
trol the basic principles of Sanatan Dharma. 

Gandhi returned from his last visit to Europe 
with the impression as if the masses of people there 
were rolling in degenerating luxury. He must 
think that every European is a millionaire. Other- 
wise, how could he make the statement quoted 
above ? How could he imagine that Europe as a 



whble was living an artificial life which was too 
materialistic ? How could he assert that the entire 
European people was dominated by carnal desires? 
Evidently, the divine doctor has no knowledge of 
the disease he wishes to cure by magic. When he 
visited Europe and gained his remarkable impres- 
sion, there were millions of unemployed workers, 
who were living an ideally simple life. Their life 
was artificial not in the sense meant by Gandhi ; 
it was artificial because it was burdened with the 
want of the most minimum necessities in the midst 
of an abundance. Others, also to be counted in 
millions, though fortunate to the extent of being 
employed, were hardly any better off. Their wages 
had been forced down to the level of a mere sub- 
sistence. Since then the conditions have grown 
worse. Capitalism in decay has reduced the bulk 
of the western people to such an intolerably miser- 
able condition of life as makes a cataclysmic up- 
heaval almost inevitable, unless some way was found 
to make the masses be reconciled to their condi- 
tion. Idealisation of simplicity might serve the 
purpose. If the masses could be persuaded to feel 
ennobled in the degradation of their poverty, if 
the illusion of a spiritual life could make them bear 
the mortification of the flesh with a pious resig- 
nation, then the imminent social revolution might 
be headed off. Thus, it is as a possible prop for 
the decayed capitalist society that the spiritualist 



message finds a response in the West. 

The plea that India's message is meant for the 
western capitalists also would not be convincing. 
For them, it would be an advice to commit suicide, 
and no sane person could believe that such an 
advice would ever be accepted, safe by the insane. 
If the desire was to reform capitalism, some prac- 
tical proposal to that effect should be made parallel 
to the moral sermons addressed to the masses. 
Gandhi deplores over-production and lack of the 
means of distribution. Why does he not advise the 
capitalists to give away their goods to those who 
are in need instead of sermonising the latter to 
practise moderation ? But he is more concerned 
with their souls than with the physical well-being 
of the masses. And as long as anybody disregards 
their physical well-being and advises them to prac- 
tise mortification of the flesh, he only serves the 
interests of those who grow rich out of the poverty 
of the masses. 

The false cry of over-production is raised in the 
interest of capitalism. Gandhi repeats the cry like 
a parrot. That may be explained by his ignorance 
of economics. But there is a logic in his blunder- 
ing condemnation of the imaginary evil of over- 
production. Restricted production of goods fits in 
with his moralising social philosophy. In his opi- 
nion, the more goods are produced, the wider be- 
comes the scope of enjoyment, and in consequence 



the greater is the corruption of human nature. 
Gandhi's social philosophy is thus opposed to an 
economy of abundance, and backs up the economy 
of scarcity which suits the interests of capitalism 
in decay. The economy of abundance, that is in- 
creased consumption to keep pace with production, 
has become a social necessity in consequence of 
technological advance. But it tends to burst the 
bounds of capitalism. Therefore, to-day the more 
conservative section of capitalists take up the para- 
doxical position of advocating the mediaeval eco- 
nomy of scarcity. They advocate restricted pro- 
duction, and Gandhism is caught with a strange 
bed-fellow. But it is not an accidental encounter. 
It results logically. The spiritualist doctrine of 
self-control, simple living, voluntary poverty, fits 
in with the requirements of unsocial capitalism. 




THE spiritualist revivalism, mystic extrava- 
gances and religious atavism in the recent and con- 
temporary intellectual life of the West are inter- 
preted as indications of repentance on the part of 
the sinner, and have a galvanising effect on our 
prejudices in India. A necessary condition for the 
Renaissance of India, that is to say, for India's 
coming into the inheritance of the blessings of 
modern civilisation, is the liberation of the objec- 
tively progressive forces from this prejudice. The 
idle vanity of the would-be saviour of a repenting 
materialist world turns our vision to the imaginary 
Golden Age of India's past, which is supposed to 
hold the cure for all the evils of modern civilisa- 
tion. Looking backwards in the foolish zeal of a 
self-arrogated mission, we ironically forget our 
journey forward and, as a blind-folded herd, go 
round and round in the vicious circle of our ideo- 
logical confusion. 

Even a cursory glance at the cultural back- 
ground of modern Europe will convince all but the 
hopeless fanatics that it would not be necessary 



for western civilisation to wait for the medicineman 
from India, were its malady really curable by the 
magic elixir of spiritualism. Europe could find 
plenty of that drug in the dusty cellars of its own 
past. As a matter of historical fact, the roots of 
all the exuberant spiritualist growth on the decay- 
ing body of the bourgeois society can all be traced 
to the subsoil of Christianity and of the pagan 
speculative thought and religious views that went 
into the making of the ideology of the western 

Once it is seen that India has little to offer 
even in the field which is supposed to be her 
speciality, the crusading spirit of the forces objec- 
tively making for her Renaissance will be dampened 
and they will begin to act according to the good 
old dictum : Doctor, heal thyself. What young 
India needs is the conviction of Hu Shih, the 
greatest Chinese philosopher living, who is called 
the father of the Chinese Renaissance, and the 
courage with which he expressed his conviction : 
" China has nothing worth preserving. If she has 
anything, it will preserve itself. You foreigners, 
who tell China that she has something worth pre- 
serving, are doing her a disservice, for you are only 
adding to our pride. We must make a clean sweep, 
and adopt western culture and outlook." Young 
India may also be referred to the address of 
Sir C. V. Raman at the Convocation of the Bombay 



University in 1932,* which contained a message 
immensely more valuable than the reactionary con- 
fusion and lyrical futility of all those who are woe- 
fully misleading India by the nose, away from the 
road of progress. The deplorable intellectual stag- 
nation of young India is evidenced by the singular 
fact that an epoch-making message of one of the 
greatest living Indians goes practically unnoticed, 
while petty platitudes and reactionary rigmaroles 
pronounced by demagogues, charlatans and muddle- 
heads are applauded as the acme of wisdom. 

But there are a few Indians who raise their 
voice of reason and wisdom from time to time. 
Speaking at the Ravenshaw College at Cuttack in 
January 1934, Dr. R. P. Paranjpye, Vice-Chanceller 
of the Lucknow University, for example, said : 
" Our old literature, philosophy and civilisation in 
general serve for serious study and appreciation, but 
we find many directions in which we have lost a 
real hold over the kernel of that civilisation and are 
often clinging to its mere shell. There is an 
aggressive kind of nationalism which considers 
everything worthy of retention simply because it 
is old. But the present state of our country is 
mainly due to our not having moved with the time, 
not having learned from the progress made by 
other nations. Some of the greatest evils from 
which the world is suffering at the present moment 

See Vol. I, "Philosophical Revolution." 



are due to this intense feeling of aggressive 
nationalism and racialism as exemplified in the 

case of Germany and Italy." 

* * * * 

To visualise others in their greatness, measured 
by the standards of spiritualism, should cure the 
vanity of Indians, and enable them to look at the 
world with a reasonable desire to learn from others, 
and approach their own problems with a sense of 
realism. The doctrine of the spiritual superiority 
of Indian culture disregards the history of Europe 
from the downfall of the Greco-Roman antiquity 
to the sixteenth century of the Christian era, 
when rationalism and scientific knowledge began 
to dispel the depressing darkness of the Middle- 
Ages and claimed predominance over human 
thought. The life and culture of the European 
peoples throughout that long period were intensely 
spiritualistic, completely dominated by priests, lay 
or professional those purveyors of spiritual power 
as against the temporal. It was strikingly possessed 
of all the features which are fondly believed by 
the Hindus to be their proud heritage the special 
genius of their race. For more than a thousand 
years, since the conclusion of the period of 
Alexandrian learning, faith completely dominated 
the European mind ; revealed knowledge com- 
pletely eclipsed reason. The materialist philosophy 
of ancient Greece had been eclipsed by the meta- 



physics and moral philosophy of the Athenian era ; 
this, in its turn, having laid down the philosophical 
foundation of Christian theology, was itself eclipsed 
by the new religion. 

An acquaintance with the European history 
of that long period shows that the religious form 
of thought is not the special genius of any chosen 
people, but is associated with certain forms of 
social relations irrespective of the geographical 
location of peoples living under such relations. As 
a matter of fact, at a certain stage of his intellec- 
tual development, man can think only in terms of 
religion, and can express his striving for progress 
only in terms of a moralising mysticism. In those 
conditions, religion, mysticism, metaphysical specu- 
lation, become a social necessity. Every people in 
such a stage of social evolution must necessarily 
think in religious, mystic, metaphysical terms. 
The contents of their thought are identical ; its 
basic forms are analogous ; difference of geogra- 
phical environment may create only superficial 
peculiarities. As long as ignorance prevents man 
from being conscious of the endless potentialities 
inherent in his own being, man must seek the 
support of a super-natural power in the hope of 
rising above his limitations and overcoming the 
obstacles to his aspirations. In proportion as the 
knowledge of nature and of his own self as a part 
of nature dissipates his ignorance, man gains con- 



fidence in himself. Spiritualism ceases to be an 
intellectual necessity. But it subsists as a prejudice. 
While stubbornly resisting new forms of thought, 
while combatting the co-ordination of the ever 
increasing varieties of empirically acquired 
knowledge, into a rationalist and scientific philo- 
sophy, spiritualism becomes a powerful ally of re- 
action as against the human urge for freedom and 
progress. It provides the moral sanction to the 
vulgarest forms of materialism in practice. 

In Europe, spiritualism attained such a socially 
reactionary and ideologically enslaving significance 
already in the early Middle-Ages after Christianity 
had played out its revolutionary role in the history 
of civilisation and established itself as the power- 
ful Catholic Church, had transformed itself into an 
ally of feudal barbarism. The following character- 
isation of the Middle-Ages by an orthodox historian 
shows antiquated spiritualism in its true colour. 
"Ferocious and sensual, that age worshipped 
humanity and asceticism ; there has never been a 
purer ideal of love nor a grosser profligacy of life." 
(Bryce, The Holy Roman Empire). 

In the history of India, the Buddhist revolu- 
tion draws the dividing line between the period 
when the religious form of thought was a neces- 
sary intellectual phenomenon, served a positive 
social purpose, and the period in which spiritualism 
became an instrument of reaction, a bulwark 



against higher civilisation. The growth of rational 
and quasi materialist systems of thought (Vaishe- 
shik, Sankhya, Nayaya, etc.), which went into the 
revolutionary philosophy of Buddhism, indicated 
that the older form of religious thought as con- 
tained in the Upanishads had outlived their social 
utility. Their continuation as the predominating 
ideology meant a dark period of intellectual re- 
action, to which Bryce's characterisation of the 
European Middle-Ages is equally applicable. A 
critical historian would find post-Buddhist India 
(including the period of Buddhist decline and 
degeneration) just as full of incongruous contradic- 
tions as the Middle-Ages in Europe. A 
study of the history of India, not with 
the preconceived notion of vindicating her 
past greatness, as an apology for the present 
shame, not with the purpose of rewriting 
it to prove a thesis, but in quest of historical truth, 
will discover ample material showing that the 
spiritualist extravagances of Mahajana Buddhism 
as well as of triumphant Hinduism, as finally re- 
established by Sankaracharya were closely asso- 
ciated with the vulgarest material practices of life. 
When the patriarchal, feudal and priestly ruling 
classes revelled in corruption, sensualism, luxury 
and barbarian chivalry, sanctimonious religiosity, 
moralising mysticism and spiritualist philosophical 
doctrines were the characteristic features of the 



prevailing ideology. The history of the European 
Middle-Ages might serve as a mirror to many who 
lack the courage of directly facing the ugly realities 
of India's past, and inspire them to cast a critical 
look at their own idealised background. Then, 
the fascinating rainbow of imagination will dis- 
appear, many bubbles of beautiful dreams will 
burst, freeing young India from cherished illusions, 
clearing its vision of the mist of preconceived 
notions, enabling it finally to look boldly ahead and 
march with determination on the road of progress, 
casting off the shackles of the past and the unneces- 
sary ballasts of hoary tradition. 

With a superficial knowledge of the subject 
(often without that), the average Hindu intellec- 
tual regards Christianity with a lofty contempt. 
He finds the Biblical doctrines to be crude and 
childish in comparison with the subtlety and what 
he considers to be deepness of his ancestral faith. 
He is amused, for example, by the doctrine of crea- 
tion as contained in the Genesis, forgetful or 
ignorant of the fact that the Vedic cosmology, 
not to mention the ludicrous Pauranic tales, 
appear no less fantastic in the light of knowledge 
subsequently acquired by mankind. According to 
the Upanishads, the creation takes place in the 
following manner : In the beginning, there was 
the One, which wished to be many, and the world 
with all animate and inanimate things came into 



existence ; when the time of creation comes, the 
absolute, unmoved, immaterial state of the Supreme 
Being is disturbed by the generation of conscious- 
ness (AhamJ(ar) ; the desire of the One to be many 
causes the disruption of the unitary primal state, 
and there appear in succession space (Afyish), air, 
heat, water and earth. 

This doctrine of creation has of late been in- 
terpreted and rationalised so as to make it appear 
as anticipating the most modern scientific theories. 
The old popular saying that what is not mentioned 
in the Vedas does not exist, has come to be a 
serious article of Hindu faith. It is claimed that 
the Hindu scriptures contain the maximum of 
human knowledge. Modern science and philoso- 
phy have nothing to say about what was not 
known to the inspired Rishis. But this practice 
of pouring new wine in old bottles is simply ridi- 
culous, because the scientific view of things knows 
no sudden beginning of the world. It dispenses 
with the primitive notion of creation. There is no 
difference whatever between those who believe 
that God said " Let there be light, etc., and there 
was light, etc.," and those who believe that in the 
beginning there was One who became many simply 
because he wished to do so. In any case, the point 
of departure in either case is a super-natural will, 
which conjures up the ; Universe out of nothing. 
This magical power, again, can only be assumed. 



It can never be known, its existence cannot be 
proved, since in that case it would cease to be 
what it is imagined to be. Then, the Hindu Scrip- 
tures contain other doctrines of creation still more 
incredible. For instance, the God creates the 
Prajapati and the Prajapati creates the original 
specimen of the Various human and animal species 
as if he were a skilled potter. Further, there is 
the doctrine of the four castes issuing forth from 
the different parts of the Brahma's body. 

Prima facie, Christianity as well as the other 
great monotheistic religion, namely, Islam, possesses 
a rather simple conception of God. The 
conception of a personal God is naturally 
simpler than the conception of God as a pure 
conception. This was the case in older reli- 
gions which evolved, in a long process, a sort of 
mystic, monotheistic cult out of the background 
of the natural religion (Polytheism), which was 
not discarded but retained as the concrete form of 
the mystic cult, limited only to the higher priest- 
hood. Hinduism belongs to this category, together 
with the religious systems of ancient Egypt and 
Babylon. The difference, however, does not alter 
the fact that all religions visualise original creation 
as something coming out of nothing. The best 
defence of this absurd notion common to all reli- 
gions was put up by Christianity, which boldly set 
up the dogma out of nothing arises omnipotence 



as against the old Greek rationalist dictum out 
of nothing comes nothing. 

No religion is really born in a particular 
moment of time, revealed to a particular prophet. 
The doctrines and dogmas of any religion crystal- 
lise themselves in a process, over a whole period 
of time, determined by the social conditions of the 
given period. In certain stages of human evolu- 
tion, religion, in some form or other, is a social 
necessity, and as all other social phenomena, it is 
changeable and transitory. No religion is based 
upon any eternal, immutable and absolute truths. 
The basis of all religions being the material con- 
ditions of life, not only are their forms bound to 
change from time to time, but religion itself, that 
is, faith in some super-natural agency, becomes use- 
less when the spiritual development of man attains 
a sufficiently high level. The advance of positive 
knowledge, as distinct from speculative thought 
and the socalled revealed wisdom, enables man to 
depend on himself. If is no longer necessary for 
him to seek some super-human support. 

The ancient materialist philosophy of Greece 
indicated the way to the spiritual liberation of man. 
But it was limited to a small class of people ; its 
general acceptance was impossible under the 
material conditions of the time. Nevertheless, it 
shook the foundation of the established faith in 
the anthropomorphic gods of natural religipn. 



Moral codes based upon the old faith lost their 
meaning in consequence of the disruption of its 
foundation ; society was thrown into a state of 
spiritual chaos. A new religion became a historic 
necessity. The philosophical foundation of the 
new religion was laid by the rise of individualism 
a product of the dissolution of the old social 
relations. Its doctrines and dogmas gradually 
crystallised as the sanction for new moral codes 
and social relations. 

A change in the material conditions of life 
brings about a corresponding readjustment of ideal 
standards. The disruption of an established set 
of social relations shakes the foundation of the 
traditional form of faith. Man's relation to the 
God or gods, as the case may be, is determined by 
the relation amongst men themselves. Natural 
religion, as for example of the Vedas, or of the 
Greek mythology deification of the diverse pheno- 
mena of nature as objects of worship originally 
was the religion of decentralised tribal society. 
Monotheism the belief in one God rose as the 
ideological reflex of the striving for the political 
organisation of society under a centralised State. 
The worship of a glittering gallaxy of gods, all 
equally powerful idealised super-human beings, 
was the spiritual expression of man living in the 
conditions of primitive democracy. The concep- 
tion of a Super-God became a spiritual .necessity 



when monarchist States began to rise out of the 
ruins of tribal republics. An over-lord in Heaven 
is postulated as the moral sanction for the over- 
lordship on earth. 

The development of the religion of a parti- 
cular group of human beings, from polytheism to 
monotheism, is influenced by the intensity of the 
social crisis which promotes it. There may be a 
complete break with the old form of religion and 
worship, the new monotheistic faith operating as 
a mighty lever to unhinge the decayed social 
structure ; or the conception of one God may 
grow gradually out of the background of poly- 
theism, not to repudiate it, but to stabilise its 
decayed structure as an agency of compromise 
between the old and the new. The first process 
heralds a social revolution : The old priesthood 
is driven from the position of traditional power 
and privileges ; spiritual leadership is assumed by 
laymen, often hailing from the lower strata of 
society. The second process takes place in the 
conditions of a social stagnation, being the 
ideological reflex of a perennial social crisis. The 
old social order decays, but not to the extent of 
throwing the multitude in a state of complete des- 
pair ; therefore the urge for revolt is weak and 
halting. Nevertheless, the miseries of life in the 
midst of the conditions of social dissolution, and 
the ineffectiveness of the appeal to the ancestral 



gods for redress, weaken the traditional faith ; the 
power and position of the priesthood are shaken, 
though not openly challenged. The ministership 
of discredited gods having become a social function 
of doubtful and diminishing importance, the 
priestly class looks for a new authority for its supre- 
macy. That is found in the claimed ability to 
commune with some inscrutable cosmic force to 
which even the gods are subordinated, and the 
knowledge of whose mystic ways is beyond the 
reach of all mortals ; only the priesthood, by virtue 
of heredity and the practice of esoteric rites, is 
specially equipped for the divine role. 

The vicissitudes of life are no longer ascribed 
to the old familiar deities, who could be propitiated 
by rituals and sacrifices. They are now explained 
as the realisation of the inscrutable cosmic purpose 
which operates through the mortal human beings. 
Thus, man is made responsible for his sorrows and 
sufferings. The spiritual revolt generated by the 
chaotic conditions of the dissolution of tribal society 
is nipped in the bud. The alluring but chimerical 
vista of a state of eternal peace and blissfulness is 
opened up before the victims of social chaos to 
divert their restless minds from the torments and 
incertitudes of life. The illusion of possessing an 
immortal soul persuades man to look upon the 
realities of his mortal existence as illusion. 

This second type of monotheism establishes it- 



self as the ideology of a social reaction. The 
subtlety of its form is no evidence for its spiritual 
superiority. It is evolved by the priesthood the 
only class in the given type of society possessing 
sufficient leisure to develop the capacity of specu- 
lation and abstract thought ; and this capacity is 
no evidence of spiritual or intellectual superiority. 
It is the product of freedom from manual labour. 
When the notion is evolved by the priesthood, the 
Supreme Being necessarily appears as an abstract 
conception. Otherwise, it could not remain an 
esoteric cult, a mystic knowledge, a monopoly of 
the priestly elite. 

This process of involved religious development 
from the polytheistic faith to a mystic cult took 
place in ancient India, also in Egypt and Assyria. 
The Vedantic monotheism the evolution of which 
is to be traced in the tales of the Upanishads was 
a creation of the Brahmans, and became a force 
for the stabilisation of society under sacerdotal 
supremacy. It did not replace the Vedic natural 
religion, which had partially lost its hold on the 
people under the conditions of the decay of the 
tribal social order. It did not appear as a revolt 
against the established rites and rituals. The priest- 
hood could not advocate the abolition of a form 
of faith and worship which had placed it at the 
head of the society. Therefore, the speculation 
about the First Cause of things the conception 



of a self-operating cosmic force could not become 
the philosophical background of a popular mono- 
theistic faith like Christianity or Islam. It grew 
as a mystic cult, confined to the priestly class, and 
consequently reinforced the theocratic structure of 
society Whatever the priesthood had lost in 
prestige as the ministers of the anthropomorphic 
gods, was more than compensated by the divine 
authority derived from the claim to have insight 
into the mysteries of the Universe. The specula- 
tive conception of a super-natural cosmic force did 
not depose the discredited gods of natural religion. 
On the contrary, the doctrine of an inscrutable 
divine will rehabilitated their impaired position. 
Their palpable failure to perform their functions, 
in consideration of the offerings and sacrifices of 
man, was explained by the law of \arma. It incon- 
sistently made man responsible for his own 
miseries, in a world believed to be subject to a 
divine will which knew no law but its own whim, 
and which could never be comprehended by the 
human mind. The curious combination of the 
doctrine of free will, as implied in the law of \arma, 
with that of absolute divine dispensation, kept man 
tied to the rites and rituals of the old faith, while 
jjt taught hijn not to expect any reward for hip 
acts of virtue. 

An airy structure of a mystical monotheistic 
cult was thus reared upon the foundation of a 


decayed natural religion, which was preserved, oil 
the authority of the new cult, as the faith suitable 
for the vulgar multitude. It became a new weapon 
in the hands of the sacerdotal rulers of society. It 
fortified the shaken position of the anthropo- 
morphic deities by placing them in a Pantheon the 
inner mysteries of which were accessible only to 
the privileged Brahmans. 

Christian monotheism triumphed as the ideo- 
logy of a whole period of human progress, because 
it rose out of a background of complete social 
dissolution, advocating the establishment of new 
social relations to be governed by revealed spiritual 
standards. Being the creation largely of the 
oppressed multitude, as the ideological expression 
of their striving for the betterment of social con- 
ditions, this type of monotheistic faith is based 
upon the simple conception of a personal God a 
conception accessible to the ordinary man's mind. 
It is a democratic faith, which, by establishing a 
direct personal relation between the meanest 
devotee and the august ruler of the Universe, tears 
down the established social structure. By dispens- 
ing with the old rites and rituals, which postulate 
a class of intermediary between God and the ordi- 
nary worshipper, the priesthood is dislodged from 
the leadership of society. It is a social revolution. 

Christianity originally was a standard of revolt 
6f the misses against injustice and oppression. But 



the oppressed multitude of that time was so placed 
socially as not to be able to feel in themselves the 
power to overthrow the established order of oppres- 
sion and injustice, and built in its place a new 
one of brotherhood and equality. Therefore, the 
spirit of revolt was necessarily expressed in a reli- 
gious form. The new social order was to be crea- 
ted, not by the efforts of man, but by the dispen- 
sation of an almighty God, visualised as the personi- 
fication of justice, who would punish the rich evil- 
doers and reward the virtuous poor. The idea of 
a Supreme Being was born of the necessity to alter 
the conditions of the social existence of man. 
Therefore, God could not be a mere conception only 
to be contemplated. He had to be visualised in a 
concrete form. He had to be endowed with all the 
attributes of man, only in infinitely greater propor- 
tions, so that nothing could be impossible for him 
to do. 

The personal God of Christianity, as well as 
of the other two strictly monotheistic religions, 
namely, Judaism and Islam, was the creation of the 
dynamic force of social revolt and progress ; where- 
as the Hindu conception of the Supreme Being as a 
state without any attribute is the outcome of the 
desire to maintain the social status quo by dis- 
couraging all struggle for the improvement of the 
conditions of life. 

The Christian idea of personal God was of 



Jewish origin, so also was the belief in the coming 
of the Messiah. On the other hand, the giddy 
theological structure raised eventually on the 
simple notion of a God of Justice and his 
Messiah was rooted in the metaphysical digression 
of Greek philosophy. The fighting social-revolu- 
tionary character of early Christianity was also of 
the Jewish tradition, born of the struggle of an 
oppressed people for freedom. The so-called 
Christian spirit of resignation and meekness, a spirit 
unknown to original Christianity, was of Greek 
(Stoic) heritage, generated in the conditions of 
social dissolution. The root of that spirit could be 
traced in the Sophist philosophy of individualism, 
which represented a democratic protest against the 
destruction of the freedom of the City Republics 
by the aristocratic confederation led by Sparta. 

According to the social position and cultural 
level of the class of people who set forth basic 
dogmas and doctrines of any particular religion, 
these may have a simple or subtle form and termi- 
nology. A learned, sophisticated, priestly caste 
can naturally dress up the absurdity in mystic 
speculative form ; when a religion is the creation 
of the common people, the new faith is stated 
simply and directly, making no compromise with 
the old which it seeks to abolish. But in any case, 
the impossibility of creation out of nothing can 
ever be performed only by magic. The subtlety 



or simplicity of the performance of the magical 
feat is of secondary importance. Faith, the essence 
of religion, is necessarily based upon magic and 
miracle which, in course of time, may shroud their 
native naivete in an intriguing veil of mysticism, 
or buttress the weakness of their foundation by 
the stout bulwark of a complicated theology. 

The simplicity of the Christian faith as stated 
in the Bible, however, had, on the one hand, a 
background of the profound speculative thought 
of Plato, Aristotle and the Stoics ; while, on the 
other hand, it was subsequently embellished with 
the most intricate theological doctrines. While the 
Biblical stories are not more primitive and incre- 
dible than the Vedic lores or the tales of the 
Upanishads, or again the fantastic legends of 
Hindu mythology, the philosophical foundation of 
the Christian faith is more profound and its theo- 
logical super-structure more subtle than com- 
monly known or conceded by the spiritualist 
snobbishness of the Hindu intellectuals. 

The western civilisation, being even to-day 
largely dominated by the moral principles and 
'spiritual standards of Christianity, cannot be 
-charged of materialism, in the philosophical sense. 
'Europe has been all along, and even to-day is, true 
to its Christian faith, just as much as India has 
'abided by the spiritual principles of Hinduism. 
The spiritual principles in either case being essen- 



tially identical, there is absolutely no reason to 
assume that they degenerated in one place, whereas 
in the other they retained their pristine purity. In 
both the cases, they degenerated necessarily, having 
outlived their historical usefulness. In the case of 
Europe, a new mode of thought developed to dis- 
pute the authority of spiritualist dogmas and to 
replace them as the determining factor of human 
life and progress. The new revolutionary philosophy 
steadily gained ground as the embodiment of all 
the positive outcome of the preceding forms of 
culture. In that prolonged struggle, antiquated 
spiritualism was forced to cast off, one after another, 
the deceptive trappings of philosophical forms, 
rationalist terminology and pseudo-scientific pro- 

In India, religious ideology retained its domi- 
nation of culture even after its historical usefulness 
had been exhausted. Not subjected to the criti- 
cism born of scientific knowledge, in India, spiri- 
tualism was not exposed in all its absurdities, nor 
was it forced to rationalise its forms (as modern 
idealist philosophy), in order to adapt itself to 
changing social conditions, destroying itself in the 
process. Consequently, it appeared to retain its 
pristine purity as the special genius of Indian cul- 
ture. The domination of religious ideology was 
the result of a prolonged period of social stagnation. 

If it is true that the decaying materialist civi- 



lisation of the West is appealing to India to come 
to its aid with the panacea of spiritualism, which 
she has preserved in pristine purity at the cost of 
several centuries of social progress, let those who 
thrive on the prostrate and putrid body of Indian 
society be proud of this disgraceful mission. The 
impending Renaissance of India, however, will take 
place, not under the leadership of the "great men" 
who, consciously or unconsciously, champion re- 
action, but in spite of their moralising mysticism 
and stale spiritualist dogmas. The Renaissance of 
India will take place under the banner of a revolu- 
tionary philosophy. Those who will not be able to 
rise above the spiritualist prejudice, will be thrown 
into oblivion by the inexorable logic of historical 
development, however great they may appear to 

be to-day. 

* * * * 

The religious thought of western civilisation, 
in the earlier days, might have been to some ex- 
tent influenced by India, as it was also by the earlier 
culture of other eastern peoples such as the 
Egyptians, Jews, Assyrians, Persians and finally the 
Arabs. It is precisely for this reason that the 
modern civilisation, which developed in Europe, is 
the common heritage of the entire mankind, it 
having incorporated the positive outcome of all pre- 
vious cultures. Whatever historical usefulness those 
earlier modes and forms of thought still possessed 



for the progress of mankind further ahead (their 
respective world missions) went into the making of 
the initial stages of the modern civilisation. In 
the person of their common child, Christianity, 
they were eventually liquidated by the modern 
scientific thought. 

The structure of the Christian religion was 
raised upon three imposing pillars: the monotheis- 
tic morality of the Hebrews, Hellenic speculative 
thought, particularly Platonic and Stoic, and ori- 
ental pantheistic mysticism. In the earlier stages, 
the basic factor was the Jewish ethical doctrines 
and the unitary conception of God. The Gospel 
and the Biblical texts are based mainly upon the 
Hebrew tradition. 

Meant for the common people, the Biblical 
texts were couched in a popular idiom ; the ideas, 
often expressed quaintly, are nevertheless spiritua- 
listic and possess a high tone of morality. While 
reading the biblical texts, one historical fact should 
be borne in mind. The Gospels were originally 
preached with the purpose of a revolutionary agi- 
tation to incite the lower strata of society in a 
revolt against the Roman ruling classes. To serve 
their purpose, they had to be couched in the popu- 
lar language and bear forms of expression which 
appealed to popular imagination. The original 
preachers of the Christian Gospel themselves be- 
longed to the lower starta, and as such were of 



little education, some most probably illiterate. 
Viewed in the light of the historical facts, the 
merits of the Biblical texts appear toweringly high. 
The founders of Christianity two thousand years 
ago preached Gandhism, which aspires to save the 
world to-day. The difference is that, at that time, 
their moral doctrines had a revolutionary signifi- 
cance, whereas to-day they are dull platitudes posi- 
tively harmful as the ideological bulwark of re- 

The Hebrew Prophets were the forerunners of 
Christianity as a revolutionary movement. They 
all thundered against the rich, lived the life of 
recluses, preached renunciation, praised poverty and 
heralded the advent of an Avatar to save the world. 
Their doctrine of the Messiah was exactly the same 
as the Avatarbad of the Gita. Amos, for example, 
cried in indignation: "They know not to do right 
who store up violence and robbery." The revolu- 
tionary significance of this moral outburst is not to 
be found in Gandhism the patent medicine of 
Hindu culture for all maladies. The Hebrew Pro- 
phets did not condemn violence perse. They con- 
demned violence because it was the means for 
oppressing the poor. They categorically declared 
that to do right to practise moral principles like 
goodness, justice, etc. was not in the nature of the 
upper classes, because the latter maintained them- 
selves in power and luxury by "violence and 



robbery". The spiritual culture of ancient India, 
on the contrary, was based frankly upon the doc- 
trine that worldly power, pomp and greatness were 
of divine ordinance; "all worldly bibhutis are the 
bibhuti of God" (Gita). As a matter of fact, the 
division of society into castes, the form which the 
system of exploitation assumed in by-gone days, 
was declared to be the creation of God (Gita). 
The moral principles of Gandhism, that is, of the 
"spiritualist" Hindu culture, seek to persuade the 
poor, oppressed and exploited to be reconciled to 
their lot. That is the practical implication of the 
Gandhist doctrine of "suffering, sacrifice, love and 
voluntary poverty". 

Amos also preached : "Seek good and not evil. 
Hate the evil and love the good." And Amos was 
not a solitary voice, but one of a whole succession 
of Hebrew Prophets, who preached equally exalted 
moral concepts which all went into the making of 
the new religion of Christianity. And the latter, 
in its turn, even to-day yields a powerful influence 
on the western society. If Christianity shook off 
its original revolutionary character in proportion as 
it was taken under protection by the upper classes, 
and in course of time underwent a metamorphosis 
in form as well as in essence, the Hindu religion 
and philosophy have been equally affected by his- 
tory. They can no more claim to have defended 
their primitive purity^ against the powerful impact 



of time than Christianity. The one as well as the 
other has long ago outlived its historical usefulness. 
Neither of them, therefore, can be of any value for 
the future progress of mankind. 

The social and moral principles of Christianity 
are formulated in the Sermon on the Mount and 
the Revelation of St. John. In one instance, the 
truth came to the suffering earth from the Supreme 
Being through the intermediary of his incarnation; 
and in the other, it was revealed through a devotee. 
The Ten Commandments equally were reflections 
of the "divine truth", because they were also "re- 
vealed". The Sermon on the Mount teaches : 
"Blessed are the poor. Blessed are the meek. 
Blessed are the persecuted. Blessed are the pure in 
heart. Resist not evil. Love thy enemies. Be ye 
perfect as your Father in Heaven. Lay not up 
treasures upon earth. You cannot serve God and 
Mammon." One must be more than a blind fanatic 
to claim that Hindu culture was ever actuated by 
any higher ideal of morality, sacrifice, suffering, re- 
nunciation and belief in the life after. Why should 
the western world pine for the stale platitudes of 
Gandhism when any modest Christian clergyman 
can utter equally highsounding moral precepts with 
no inferior spiritual authority ? 

If Christianity could not save the accursed 
West, Gandhism obviously stands no greater 
chance. If the moralising mysticism of Christi- 



anity could not spiritualise the vulgar materialism 
of the barbarous Middle-Ages as well as of the 
capitalist modern civilisation, similar doctrines 
preached by Gandhi can logically be no more effec- 
tive for the purpose. If Christian piety and other 
worldliness could not keep European society away 
from the "corrupting" influence of scientific 
knowledge, the " spiritual " message of India 
cannot do the impossible. If Christianity, with its 
subtle theology and its really imposing superstruc- 
ture of an idealist philosophy, failed in the historic 
fight against the progressive spiritual liberation 
of man, no more glorious a fate awaits Hinduism, 
with its Vedanta philosophy interpreted however 
ecclectically by the prophets of India's spiritual 
mission to mean anything, including the very 
latest theories of science, even those of the future. 
As a matter of fact, the defeat of Christianity and 
the debacle of western idealist philosophy histori- 
cally signify the failure of spiritualism as a world 
force. The western idealist philosophy, in its pan- 
theistic culmination (Spinoza and Hegel), does not 
leave anything for the Vedanta to add. Having 
attained its climax, it was liquidated by its own 
internal logic, all its positive elements being ab- 
sorbed by the philosophy of materialism. Therefore, 
ancient Hindu culture has already contributed its 
quota to the common heritage of humanity the 
philosophy of a new civilisation. What is 



pompously paraded now as "India's message to the 
world" is a dry shell discarded by history. To 
rattle this dead skeleton, disregarding the fact that 
the soul lives as an inseparable part of the collective 
creation of the entire human history, ,indicates 
the inability to appreciate the real value of the 
culture of ancient India. The noisy defenders of 
India's culture are singularly incapable of appre- 
ciating their charge, and consequently insult it by 
their reactionary glorification of it. 

The exclamation : "What does it profit a man 
if he gains the whole world and he loses his own 
soul" contains the gist of the Christian Gospel. 
The salvation of the soul is not only the highest 
ideal, but the only concern of life. A religion 
based on such a principle is not to be dismissed 
as crude and childish. On this showing, it 
measures itself up equally, if indeed not favour- 
ably, with the Sanatan Dharma, in its purest form. 
Christianity is the only religion which has been 
subjected to a critical examination from all sides. 
Its history has been diligently investigated, and 
freed from legends and falsifications. Its doc- 
trines have been critically analysed to give out 
their social meaning. The outcome of such an all- 
round criticism is historical truth "Christianity 
distinguishes itself from other religions in that no 
other religion gives so much importance to the 
salvation of mankind. Salvation is not earthly 



temporal happiness or well-being. The Christian 
holds that earthly happiness draws man away 
from God, whereas misfortune, suffering leads man 
back to God." (Feuerbach, The Essence of Chris- 

The profoundest critic of Christianity, Feur- 
bach, cannot be suspected of exaggeration. Besides, 
he revealed the social causes of this distinguishing 
feature of Christianity. It was not the mysterious 
result of the special genius of any individual or race. 
It was the outcome of certain specific social condi- 
tions which would produce analogous effects where- 
ever they obtained. Should any indignant Indian 
patriot maintain that the statement betrays 
Feurbach's ignorance of Hinduism, we need not 
enter into an argument, but simply retort that, 
granted the charge of ignorance, theoretically, 
Feurbach's statement remains unshaken. If Hindu- 
ism or Buddhism for that matter, possessed the dis- 
tinguishing features equally or even to a greater ex- 
tent, that would not prove any special genius or 
racial superiority. It would simply prove that the 
social conditions which placed the distinguishing 
mark on Christianity obtained also in India, per- 
haps in an acuter form. 

An intense aversion to the enjoyments of life, 
and consequently renunciation of everything earthly 
was the highest Christian virtue. This was carried 
to the extent of an utter disregard even for the bare 



necessities of life. Such a state of mind was the 
result of the conviction that spiritual existence was 
the real existence, which was obscured by the mate- 
rial being of man. To rise above the bondage of 
material being was, therefore, the condition for the 
return to the consciousness of spiritual reality the 
highest ideal of life. 

"The ascetic" Christians, as distinguished from 
the "vulgar" renounced all the pleasures of life and 
duties of society. They practised chastity no 
marriage was allowed. Natural inclinations of the 
body as well as of the mind were condemned as 
vice. Thousands and thousands ascetics fled from 
a profane and degenerate world to perpetual soli- 
tude or religious society. They resigned the use 
and the property of their temporal possessions. 
They soon acquired the respect of the world 
which they despised. And the loudest appalause 
was bestowed upon their divine philosophy which 
surpassed, without the aid of science or reason, 
the laborious virtues of the Greek schools." 
(Gibbon, The Decline and Fall of the Roman 

Christianity inherited this negative attitude 
towards worldly life from the Hebrew Prophets as 
well as for/n the Cynic and Stoic philosophers of 
Greece. The Jewish Prophets, who heralded the 
advent of the Messiah, were all ascetics. They 
shunned the world as futile and transitory ; con- 



demned its vices and allurements. Christianity was 
immediately preceded by a numerous Jewish sect, 
the Essenians, which adopted the creed of renun- 
ciation and asceticism. Those virtuous fore-runners 
of Christianity preached the doctrines of goodness, 
godliness and righteousness. Their guiding prin- 
ciples were love of God, of virtue and humanity. 

The basic doctrine of the Cynics was : "Enjoy- 
ment is unworthy of men ; there are higher and 
purer things for men to seek." They preached 
complete renunciation of earthly things, and sub- 
jugation of all sensual desires, which were de- 
clared to be the impediment to pure happiness. 
The founder of this school, Antithenes, cried 
passionately : "I would rather go mad than be a 
slave of the senses". The history of the world 
has scarcely seen any parallel to the Cynics in 
respect of the contempt for sensual enjoyment. 
The most famous representative of the school, 
Diogenes, held that the condition of pure life was 
annihilation of the Body ; the nearer one ap- 
proached that perfect mortification, the closer he 
was to the ideal of perfect virtue. The body was 
looked upon as something vile, filthy, degraded 
and degrading. 

The Stoics also despised worldly life, and lived 
with the hope of a mysterious better existence. 
According to their philosophy, the badge of a wise 
man was contempt for earthly fortune, pain and 




death. All the enjoyments of this world are empty 
and vain. Happiness is to be found not in enjoy- 
ment, but in virtue. The Stoics were equally in- 
different to the good as well as to the evil of this 
world. The preparation for the other life is more 
worthwhile than the well-being of this worldly 
existence. These doctrines were very widespread 
throughout the Roman Empire in the first cen- 
turies of the Christian era. They not only affected 
the masses, destitute and pauperised by the col- 
lapse of the antique social order. The spirit of 
renunciation disdain for this world penetrated 
even the upper classes. Intellectual leaders of the 
period like Sallust, Horace, Virgil, the Senecas, were 
all ardent Stoics. 

Inspired by those teachings and examples, the 
Christians went further than their pagan predeces- 
sors. "The votaries of divine philosophy aspired to 
initiate a purer and more perfect model. They trod 
in the footsteps of the Prophets who had retired to 
the desert, and they resorted to the devout and 
contemplative life." (Gibbon). The Christian 
world was swayed by this intense spirit of renun- 
ciation throughout the Middle-Ages. 

The Hindu cult of Sanyas does not go any 
further, and Varnashram Dharma lags far behind; 
for, according to the latter, man is to retire from 
the worldly life after having enjoyed it, only when 
his faculties of enjoyment were dulled. Christi- 



anity would make no compromise with the well- 
being of earthly life, and looked upon it as the deci- 
sive obstacle to the salvation of the soul. Christ, 
for example, exclaimed when a repentent rich man 
failed to comply with the injunction to give up 
his riches and take the beggar's bowl : " How 
hardly shall they that have riches enter into the 
Kingdom of God !" To say that " it is easier for a 
camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for 
a rich man to enter the Kingdom of God," is to 
hold that worldly well-being is utterly incom- 
patible with the ideals of a return to spiritual con- 
sciousness. So, if it were a question of curing the 
disease of vulgar materialism, the West could find 
the remedy in its own religion. It need not wait 
for the "message of the spiritual East ", particularly 
in view of the fact that the pretentious doctor 
has not been able to protect himself any better. 
Instead of listening to Gandhi's injunction to ply 
the holy wheel as the panacea of all its disorders, 
or receiving from the modern Swamis and per- 
ambulating prophets the watery portion of a 
hackneyed mysticism, the western ruling class could, 
if they would, with immensely greater benefit 
follow their own Prophet. For, Christ thundered: 
"Go now, ye rich men, to weep and howl for your 
miseries that shall come upon you. Your riches 
are corrupted and your garments are moth-eaten. 
Your gold and silver are cankered ; and the rest 



of them shall be witness against you. Ye have 
lived in pleasure on the earth, and been wanton. 
Ye have nourished your heart as in a day of 
slaughter ; you have denounced and killed the 
just." Vulgar materialism could not be denounced 
any more scathingly. 

St. John, the divine light having been revealed in 
him, predicted the destruction of Rome, the oppres- 
sor of mankind, for riches, power and vanity. He 
preached : " For all that is in the world, the lust 
of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride 
of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. 
And the world passeth away, and the best there- 
of ; but he that doeth the will of God abideth for 
ever." (Epistle). 

Evidently, the Christian West has no need to 
turn to a Gandhi for learning the quaint cult of 
voluntary poverty ; nor is the reactionary Utopia 
of teaching the rich to be noble and righteous of 
spiritualising the right of property a monopoly of 
India's special genius. 

Speaking in the Franciscan Study Circle 
during his last visit to London (September 1931), 
Gandhi said : "The justification for voluntary 
poverty is that wealth for all is impossible, but all 
can share in non-possession. And the less one 
possesses, the less one desires. Great national eco- 
nomic problems can be more easily solved if those 
who have wealth are willing to adopt voluntary 



poverty." Apart from the sinister social signifi- 
cance of the cult of voluntary poverty, it is like 
carrying coal to Newcastle. Gandhi's message was 
but a feeble echo of a doctrine preached from the 
very dawn of western civilisation. The founder 
of the Christian sect in the meeting of which 
Gandhi's message was delivered had gone down 
in history as the classical personification of the cult 
of poverty. Then, there are other great figures of 
the Christian Middle-Ages. St. Augustin, for 
example, held : "Private property is not an evil 
in itself, but evil lay in the passionate chase after 
riches, the accumulation of property, the elevation 
of material possession over truth, justice, wisdom, 
faith, love of God and man, or even placing pro- 
perty on the same level as the ideal values." St. 
Thomas Aquinas also taught : " It is incumbent 
upon the rich, according to the divine natural law, 
to give generous alms to the poor, for the super- 
fluity of one signifies the deficiency of the other." 

Finally, at the fountain-head of all these! cur- 
rents of Christian thought, are the teachings of 
Plato, who proclaimed : " The community which 
has neither poverty nor riches will always have 
the noblest privileges ; in it, there is no insult or 
injustice, nor are again any contentions or envy- 
ings. And therefore they are good, and also be- 
cause they are what is called the simple-minded." 
Again : "I can never assent to the doctrine that 



the rich man will be happy. A man who spends 
on noble objects and acquires wealth by just 
means only, can be hardly remarkable for riches, 
more than he could be very poor. The very rich 
are not good." Taking his cue from the master, 
Aristotle also held : "It is not possession, but the 
desire of mankind which requires to be equalised." 
# # * * 

Speculating about the "self-existing, necessary 
First Cause of the Universe", the genius of Plato 
had conceived of a unitary divine essence an im- 
personal God. But the problem how the diverse 
physical phenomena of nature could come out of 
the simple unity of the divine essence, puzzled and 
baffled him. How could a purely incorporeal be- 
ing execute the perfect scheme of the Universe? 
Of course, Plato had conceived the universal 
scheme as of ideas, which were models, or moulds 
for material things. The variety of ideal models 
could conceivably have a common origin the 
Universal Idea. Individual souls could lose them- 
selves in the Universals Soul. But even then the 
problem was not solved. How could the basic uni- 
tary being diversify itself without losing its sim- 
plicity and unity, that is, ceasing to be itself ? In 
order to be what it was conceived to be, the 
divine essence must be simple, immutable and 
eternal. The process of diversification would 
mean negation of the essential nature of its be- 



ing. On the other hand, individual ideal models 
could not be of divine spiritual nature unless they 
were actual diversifications of the Universal Idea 
the self-existing First Cause. Plato found a way 
out of the difficulty in the conception of the Triad. 
But the problem was not solved. It was simply 
evaded. Because, as Gibbon remarks, it was "a diffi- 
culty which must ever defy the possibilities of 
human mind." 

The Platonic doctrine of Triad constituted the 
philosophical foundation of the Trinity of Chris- 
tian theology. The rationalist tradition of the 
ancient Greek philosophy (Ionian and Doric 
schools) did not permit Plato to deny outright the 
material existence of nature. Nevertheless, an im- 
permissible dualism threatened to viciate his philo- 
sophy. He made it disappear in his speculative 
conception of an unbreakable connection between 
the divine essence and the phenomenal world. 
Thus, Platonic philosophy subsequently enabled 
Christian theology to dissolve the Jewish God into 
an impersonal, incorporeal being, without throwing 
away the Mosaic doctrine of creation, that is, with- 
out liquidating Christianity as a religion. The 
dualism of the Platonic speculation rationalised the 
absurdity of the creation out of nothing, without 
depriving the Christian God of his godliness- 
omnipotence and absolute freedom. Matter exists, 
but it cannot become anything tangible except by 



fitting into the ideal model. These models being 
diversifications of the Universal Divine Essence, 
nature cannot have an existence independent of 
that essence. Conceive the divine essence as a 
personal God, and the world is explained as his 
creation out of a substance that really does not 
exist unless the God is there to create the world. 
The pure spirituality of the divine essence is never 
contaminated by any contact with matter ; matter 
appears as the physical world by fitting itself into 
the mould of the Universal Idea. Thus, no desire 
to create is attributed to God ; but on the other 
hand, matter having no real being, except in the 
ideal mould, the divine essence remains the cause 
of the world. The God creates without being in 
any way affected or influenced by his creation. 
God is the cause of the material Universe ; but the 
root substance of this latter is not in God who is 
a purely spiritual being. 

The subtlety of the idea of the origin of things 
is thus not an Indian monopoly. Platonic specu- 
lations on this question were subtle to the extreme 
limit ; they were too subtle for the comprehen- 
sion of all but the e'lite prepared for the purpose. 
And those subtleties all went into the making of 
the Christian theology and the religious philo- 
sophy of mediaeval Europe. 

So very highly esoteric was the Platonic doc- 
trine of divinity that it remained confined to the 



innermost circle of the Academy a matter of 
profound contemplation, which elevated state of 
abstraction could be reached after thirty years of 
special preparation and training. The Christian 
conception of divinity as well as the mystic-meta- 
physical principles of western idealism are thus 
found to have originated in environments very 
similar to the ashrams of the Vedic Rishis that 
cradle of Hindu speculative thought. Brahmajnan 
was not attainable by anybody ; it was the object 
of earnest sadhana and rigorous tapashya. 

Having translated into Latin Plato's Timaeus, 
which contains his speculations about the Divine 
First Cause, Cicero confessed that he could never 
comprehend the doctrine, so bafflingly subtle was 
the concept of God of the Christian theology. 
The force of Cicero's confession is fully appreciated 
when it is recalled that not only he was one of the 
greatest intellects of the age, but as a Stoic he was 
predisposed towards the Christian conception of 
God Jewish monotheism mystified by Hellenic 
speculation. When the mind of man is to be di- 
verted from the realities of life, and focussed upon 
a divine postulate, whether in the East or in the 
West, the postulate must be placed behind thick 
veils of mystification, so as to hide its absur- 
dity The less comprehensible it is, the more fas- 
cinating it appears to be, and the more effectively 
does it perform its duty. 



To fill up the unbridgeable gulf between the 
material Universe and. its spiritual First Cause, 
Plato conceived the divine essence as subject to 
threefold manifestation the First Cause, the 
Logos (or reason) and the Universal Soul. The 
Platonic Triad is closer to the Hindu trimurti in 
that it conceived the three entities as three Gods, 
united in the mysterious source of their common 
generation the divine essence. The Logos, which 
eventually became the Son of the Christian Trinity, 
corresponds to the Hiranyagarva or Uhu/ar of 
Hindu theology. He has a mysterious sort of spi- 
ritual corporeality, so that he can create and govern 
the Universe. Not to come too close to matter, 
the Logos presumably creates the ideal or spiritual 
models, which in their totality constitute the Uni- 
versal Soul. The ordinary mind cannot see how 
the fatal gulf between spirit and matter is bridged 
by this mystic and mythical hierarchy. Precisely 
for this reason, Platonic theology remained an eso- 
teric cult confined to the elite of the Academy. 
The gulf can be ignored only by faith, which wafts 
one across it. But the magic could not be per- 
formed in the rationalist atmosphere of Athens. 
On the fall of Greece, the seat of Hellenic learn- 
ing moved across the Mediterranean to Alexandria. 
There, Platonic theology came into contact with 
Gnosticism, that colourful product of oriental mys- 
tic cults. The Jewish philosopher Philo elaborated 



the basic doctrines of Christian theology out of 
the mystic speculations of Plato. He lived a hun- 
dred years before Jesus. Logos assumed a human 
form so as to perform the functions incompatible 
with the nature and attributes of the spiritual be- 
ing of the First Cause ; and to convince man of 
the reality of its being, the Logos was made to 
appear visibly on earth as the Son of God. It was 
not an echo of the Hindu avatarbad formulated in 
the Gita, which was composed four hundred 
years later. 

# * # # 

The existence of God cannot be established 
until and unless faith replaces reason ; primitive 
cosmology is based upon speculative deductions 
from a postulate, instead of inductions from the 
observations of nature. Contrary to current belief, 
the primitive man's mind knows no teleology. 
Magic represents the primitive conception of causa- 
lity. In the process of the intellectual develop- 
ment of man, it precedes animism which is the 
lowest stage of spiritualism. The idea of soul and 
of super-natural forces develops at a much later 
period. This sequence in the process of the evolu- 
tion of human thought has been established by 
extensive researches and observations of the cus- 
toms and habits of savage races. The fact, in short, 
is that man is rather a rational than a believing 
being. Therefore, no religion can be firmly estab- 



lished as the prevalent form of ideology of a given 
period except on the strength of an imposture. A 
prophet or a divinely inspired apostle can alone 
bear convincing testimony to the existence of a 
super-natural power which transcends the law of 
causality, and thereby induce man to abandon his 
native allegiance to reason in favour of faith. 

The mystical theology of Plato, originally in- 
comprehensible because of its precarious attach- 
ment to rationalism, nevertheless prepared the way 
for the imposture. St. John post factum proved 
the divinity of the legendary person of 'Christ 
with the help of Platonic theology as expounded 
by Philo. With the early Christians, Jesus was the 
Messiah heralded by the Jewish Prophets. But 
the frankly revolutionary significance of the mora- 
lising mysticism of the early Christians was repul- 
sive to the orthodox Jews. They would not re- 
cognise the divinity of a rebel sentenced to death 
for inciting the poor against the rich, the oppressed 
against the oppressor. Disov/ned by his own peo- 
ple, for whom he had sacrificed his life, the repu- 
diated Messiah had to find adherents among the 

Social chaos had created among the masses of 
the Hellenic world a predisposition for receiving 
a Saviour. But with them the crude dogma of 
the Hebrew Prophets would not carry conviction. 
So, the Jewish doctrine of Messiah was rationalised 



with the help of Platonic theology ; and the 
Messiah took up the Greek epithet of Christ 
"the Saviour". The basic dogma of Christian 
revelation formulated by the apostle John is that 
Jesus was the incarnation of the Logos who is 
always with God, being himself God, in essence, 
who makes all things and from whom all things 
are made. Thus, the Christian doctrine of Trinity 
was reared upon the mystic theology of Plato. 
Rationalist anxiety to visualise a unity of being 
had compelled Plato to identify matter with spirit, 
although the same scruple did not permit him to 
deny the existence of matter out-right. That 
paradox contained the germ of pantheism which 
passed on to fructify in Christian theology, and 
made it hardly distinguishable from the Hindu 
theology of the Upanishads and Vedanta. Finally, 
the pantheist element inherent in it overwhelmed 
the conditional dualism, that is, the religious sub- 
stance of Christian theology, and pulled down its 
imposing structure. 

Pantheism, which is supposed to be the spe- 
cial feature of Indian philosophy, is the negation 
of religion, being materialism standing on its head. 
So long as it remains in that paradoxical posture, 
everything naturally appears to it as upside down. 
As soon as it is placed in a normal position, it 
ceases to be itself. The highest consummation of 
pantheism is its self-destruction. That is the long 



belated fate awaiting Vedantism. Its dream of 
world mission will be realised in its self -consumma- 

The eagerness to penetrate the mystery of the 
Plat9nic Triad gave birth to a vast body of specu- 
lative thought, characterised by dogmatism as well 
as by extreme subtlety. The doctrine of Logos 
assumed, the baffling problem of creation dis- 
appeared. Christianity was freed from the biblical 
cosmology inherited from the Jews, which was too 
naive and irrational to be accepted in the sophisti- 
cated rationalist atmosphere of the Hellenic world. 
The personal God of Israel became an impersonal 
deity an imaginary object of endless speculation. 
But the problem re-appeared in a new form. What 
is the relation between the impersonal First Prin- 
ciple and the Logos ? Were the two identical ? 
That could not be admitted, because then either 
the Logos could not be the creator and the gov- 
ernor of the world, or the impersonality of the 
First Principle would be affected. Were they 
then different ? That also could not be assumed, 
for in that case the Logos would be deprived of 
divinity. These questions regarding the nature of 
the Supreme Being and the mode of its operation 
opened up a fertile field of speculation. The 
result was a system of mystic theology in no way 



inferior to its Indian prototype either in form or 
in content. 

The extreme abstractness of the object of that 
speculation is evidenced by the candid confession 
of the great Athanasius. "Whenever he forced 
his understanding to meditate upon the divinity of 
the Logos, the toilsome and unavailing efforts re- 
coiled on themselves ; that the more he thought, 
the less he comprehended, and the more he wrote, 
the less capable was he of explaining his thought. 
In every stage we are compelled to feel and ac- 
knowledge the immeasurable disproportion be- 
tween the size of the object and the capacity of 
human mind." (Gibbon). Obviously, at the time 
of Athanasius, three-hundred years after its birth, 
Christianity was far far away from the simple, 
purely religious, ideas preached to the fishing folk 
of Judea. It had outgrown its concern for worldly 
things, and was soaring higher and higher in 
search of a purely spiritual existence. It had given 
up its original mission of establishing the kingdom 
of Heaven on earth, of establishing new human 
relations to be governed by spiritual standards. It 
had dissolved the Kingdom of Heaven into an im- 
material abstraction. Turning back upon its ori- 
ginal revolutionary mission, which was essentially 
mundane, it had flown up to the high altitude of 
pure spiritualism, and had thus qualified itself to 



be established as the State Religion of the Roman 

The metaphysical speculations of Plato had 
been adulterated with oriental mysticism before it 
went into the making of Christian theology. 
The mysterious doctrine of the Logos had not 
found much favour in the rationalist atmosphere 
of Athens, even in the days of its intellectual de- 
cline. After the fall of Athens, the centre of 
Hellenic culture and learning moved across the Le- 
vant to Alexandria. There, the divine doctrines 
of Plato thrived luxuriantly in the new atmosphere 
charged with oriental mysticism. 

In the century preceding the rise of Christi- 
anity, a mystic cult called Gnosticism spread far 
and wide throughout the Levantine countries. 
It was also pantheistic. It conceived God as the 
root cause of everything which pervades the phe- 
nomenal world. The divine root cause was the 
source of light which shone in the world as Good- 
ness and Love. The farther the rays of that divine 
light went from the source, the less became their 
brightness and purity. This process was divided 
into stages which were called aeons. The more 
distant aeons were less divine and more hylic 
(material). From these grew the phenomenal 
world. In other words, matter exists from the 
beginning of time as the antithesis of spirit. The 
material world is not created by God directly. 



The creative will demiurgus appears in the outer 
aeons. Thus, the world is created not directly by 
God, but by a subsidiary force emanating from the 
divine root cause which pervades everything. The 
creative will is a spiritual force, but it becomes less 
godly in proportion to the distance that separates 
it from its pure origin. Consequently, in the 
world there is brightness as well as darkness, good 
as well as evil. The opposing forces are perpetual. 
The object of life is to make brightness dispel dark- 
ness, to have the good in man triumph over the 
evil. Pure brightness and goodness are identical 
with God. They are inherent in everybody. The 
realisation of the God in man is the object of life. 

The birthplace of Gnosticism was the cradle 
of the antique civilisations. The collapse of the 
splendourous and mighty empires of Egypt, 
Assyria, Babylon, Persia, created an atmosphere 
charged with despair and pessimism. Mysticism 
grew as the ideological reflex of that insurmountable 
social crisis. The natural desire to escape the mise- 
ries of life, lived by the great masses of people in 
the dismal conditions of a social chaos, makes man 
come more under the temptation of a higher level 
of existence, above the insurmountable difficulties 
of this world. A glittering hallucination consoles 
man in the midst of the sordid realities of life. 
Worldly happiness having become impossible and 
unattainable, the striving for it is given up. The 



attainment of a better life which will be unaffect- 
ed by earthly cares and worries becomes the new 
ideal But the earthly life is still there to be lived. 
The hallucination of the eternal bliss of the spiri- 
tual existence does not turn the sordid realities 
into nothingness. They are now regarded with 
indifference, as necessary evils which must be lived 
through preparatory to attainment of the emanci- 
pation from them. 

In such an atmosphere, philosophy forgets its 
native function the quest for the knowledge of 
nature. It becomes indifferent to realities, and 
wanders into the imaginary region of extra-physi- 
cal existence. Fantasy runs wild. Specious doc- 
trines are preached about the mysteries of the spi- 
ritual being. Subtle theories about the nature of 
the mysterious force are spun out of imagination. 
But eventually, a difficult problem has to be faced. 
How could the philosopher convince his disciples 
of the reality of the spiritual existence. How could 
he prove that his views about it are correct ? By 
its very nature, as described by its apostles, by the 
admission of those who testify to its reality, the 
spiritual being is beyond the reach of senses ; it is 
not to be conceived by human mind. How is it 
then to be proved that the whole thing is not a 
mere figment of imagination ? The way out of 
the dilemma is found in the doctrine of reveala- 
tion. The solution, however, is a swindle. It is 



held that none can return from the realm of the 
pure spirit. Yet, the experience of prophets and 
seers is advanced as the testimony to the reality 
of the spiritual being. The spiritual being, estab- 
lished by such obviously questionable method, 
necessarily requires an impenetrable veil of mystery. 
To know the unknowable, to experience the im- 
perccptable, to realise the unrcalisable that is the 
greatest mystery. That supreme magic is per- 
formed through mysticism. 

The Gnostics held that the forces of evil could 
be over-come. Spirit and matter, light and dark- 
ness, good and evil, exist and struggle eternally. 
In course of the struggle, the spirit is over-shadow- 
ed by its antithesis matter, darkness, evil and 
this latter, appears to be a sovereign force. There- 
fore, in order to return to the purity of the spi- 
ritual being, one must flee from the earthly things, 
and seek refuge in renunciation and asceticism. 
This pessimistic and defeatist view of life grew out 
of the spiritual confusion produced by the collapse 
of the antique culture. 

Analogous ideas are created by similar social 
conditions. The decay of the antique society of 
the Vedic age produced a cultural crisis also in 
India, out of which grew the pessimistic view of 
life, which is proudly proclaimed as the spiritual 
genius of India. But history teaches us that this 
specific form of thought, determined by the con- 



ditions of a severe social crisis, is not an Indian 
monopoly. As a matter of fact, it marks the 
exhaustion of a flourishing era which did not ger- 
minate in its decayed organism the incentive for 
a further progress. 

Plato's theology, promiscuously mixed with 
the pantheistic doctrine of the Gnostics, produced 
the extravagant and extremely colourful cult of 
neo-Platonism which was incorporated in Chris- 
tian theology. The Platonic doctrine of Logos was 
too abstract to lend itself directly to the belief in 
a divine incarnation. Yet, without this contri- 
vance of spiritual swindle, no tangible connection 
could be established between the absolute First 
Cause and the phenomenal world. The fatal gulf 
was eventually bridged by the neo-Platonists. 
About a hundred years before the obscure rebel 
leader of Judea died on the cross, to be immorta- 
lised as the incarnation of God, the Alexandrian 
philosopher Philo had transformed the metaphy- 
sical category of Logos into the Son of God, who 
descends upon this mortal earth in a finite human 
form to perform deeds which cannot be attributed 
to the spiritual Universal Cause. This avaiarbad, 
expounded by the founder of neo-Platonism, was 
the central pivot of Christian theology. The 
basic doctrine of the philosophy of Gita runs 
through the entire fabric of Christian mysticism, 
theology and religious philosophy. Until the six- 



teenth century, that spiritualist doctrine com- 
pletely dominated all the currents of western 

A few quotations from Philo and his followers 
will show the striking similarity between the basic 
ideas of Christian mysticism and the Hindu spiri- 
tualist philosophy. 

" If human knowledge is an illusion, we must 
seek for truth in some higher sphere. The senses 
may deceive ; reason may be powerless ; but there 
is still another faculty in man there is Faith. 
Real knowledge is the gift of God, its name is 
faith ; its origin is the goodness of God." (Philo). 

The father of Christian mysticism, which 
differs so very little from Hindu philosophy, was in- 
tellectually honest. He had the courage to think 
out his thoughts to their logical conclusion. He 
did not resort to the subterfuge of inventing a half- 
way house between knowledge and faith. He saw 
quite clearly that, as soon as sense perceptions 
were rejected, all effort to explain the world must 
be abandoned. Mysticism is predicated on the in- 
explicability of the world. The inability to explain 
the world or the refusal to be guided by sense per- 
ceptions, as the reflex of objective truth, necessarily 
leads to the notion of a mysterious cause of things. 
Mysticism thus is inseperable from faith ; and the 
faith in a mystic Supreme Being, no matter in 
whatever form it is conceived, is the decisive check 



upon a rationalist investigation into the causes of 
natural phenomena. Mysticism, therefore, is an 
enemy of science as well as of philosophy in the 
strict sense. 

Philo's mysticism was so pure that it openly 
declared its identity with faith. His conception 
of God was just the same as the Hindu idea of 
Brahma. But his spiritualism was purer. He did 
not tinker with the pure immateriality of the 
Supreme Being by the illogical, irreverent and 
quasi-spiritualist view that human mind can com- 
prehend it otherwise than in faith. There was 
nothing mystic in the logic of Philo's mysticism. 
"God is incomprehensible ; his existence may be 
known, but his nature can never be comprehended. 
The nature of God is incomprehensible because he 
is one, simple, perfect, immutable, without any 
attribute, But to know this about God is not to 
know in what his perfection consists. We can 
never penetrate the mystery of his existence ; we 
can only believe." 

An admirably straight-forward statement of 
the mystic view of things. But it does not satisfy 
the incorrigible sceptic who would ask : If sense 
knowledge is deceptive, if reason cannot be relied 
upon, how can we accept as the final standard 
a God whose existence is assumed in faith, and 
whose nature must always remain beyond compre- 
hension ? 



Plotinus, a disciple of Philo, boldly took the 
hurdle. He met the Sceptics' objection by eman- 
cipating . mysticism from all logical scruples. Like 
a typical Hindu sage, the Christian mystic 
declared : The God can be perceived in ecstasy, 
that is, through the complete forgetfulness of the 
individual existence." The vain effort >to place 
faith on a foundation of reality raises delusion to 
the dignity of truth. Perception presupposes a 
consciousness which perceives. "The complete 
forgetfulness of the individual existence" means, 
if it means anything, the disappearance of indivi- 
dual consciousness. That may be the state of ecs- 
tasy. But whatever it may be, perception is not 
possible in that state. The "experience" in that 
sublime state of beatitude is a delusion. Mysti- 
cism must fall back upon this contrivance of self- 
deception or downright charlatanery in order to do 
the impossible. The magic that mysticism claims 
to perform is graphically described by Plotinus : 

" I am a finite being ; but how can I compre- 
hend the Infinite ? As soon as I do so, I am in- 
finite myself ; that is to say, I am no longer myself, 
no longer that finite being having a consciousness 
of its own. If I attain to a knowledge of the In- 
finite, it is not by my reason which is finite. The 
Finite, as finite, can never know the Infinite. To 
attempt to know the Infinite through reason is' 
futile ; it can be known only by immediate pre- 



scnce ecstasy. In ecstasy, the soul becomes loosen- 
ed from its material prison, separated from indi- 
vidual consciousness, and becomes absorbed in the 
Infinite Intelligence, from which it emanates. In 
ecstasy, it contemplates real existence, it identifies 
itself with that which it contemplates." (Lewis, 
History oj Philosophy). 

The Finite, naturally, can never know the In- 
finite. Yet, it does know, and that is the magic 
of mysticism. Knowledge presupposes a knowing 
subject. But disappearance of the knowing sub- 
ject is the condition for the knowledge of the In- 
finite. How can there be knowledge without a 
knower ? But such petty questions do not dis- 
turb the spiritual calm of the mystic. He ex- 
periences God from "immediate presence." In 
ecstasy, he contemplates God. So, even in that 
state, duality is not abolished. Consequently, the 
impassable gulf between the Finite and the Infinite 
is still there. But we are told that in ecstasy the 
soul is absorbed in the Infinite Intelligence, the 
contemplator identified with the contemplated. 
This contradictory description of the state of ecs- 
tasy does not improve the situation. If persistence 
of duality makes knowledge impossible, owing to 
the unbridgeable gulf between the Finite and the 
Infinite, the disappearance of the subject makes 
knowledge equally out of question. Thus, ecstasy 
is exposed to a mere figment of imagination. 



Each would-be seer can choose his desert accord- 
ing to his taste. The phantoms seen in delirium 
may be real for the diseased. But they have no 
reality for the normal. Even for the diseased, 
they must disappear as soon as they regain their 
senses. Besides, ecstasy being an imaginary state, 
or a product of nervous disorder, visions seen in 
that state are mere illusions. 

The existence of the unknowable, incompre- 
hensible, is proved by transferring faith from God 
to the godly man. God exists on the testimony 
of dreamers or charlatans. The reliability of this 
palpably incredible testimony is to be taken for 
granted. God is no longer the object of faith. 
The mystic takes his place. Mysticism thus liqui- 
dates religion. Yet, it is the logical outcome of 
the religious mode of thought. 

Christian mysticism, as expounded by Plotinus, 
fully coincides with the orthodox schools of Hindu 
philosophy. The absurdities and internal contradic- 
tions are common to both. The similarity is fur- 
ther proved by the following quotation : 

" God in his absolute state is neither existence, 
nor thought, neither moved nor mutable ; he is 
the simple unity. Although dialectics raise us 
to some conviction of the existence of God, we 
cannot speak of his nature otherwise than nega- 
tively. We are forced to admit his existence. To 
say that he is superior to existence and thought, is 



not to define him. It is only to distinguish him 
from what he is not. What he is, we cannot know. 
It would be ridiculous to endeavour to comprehend 

Christianity also believes in atmadarshan as 
the only way to true knowledge. It also rejects 
scientific knowledge as imperfect and unreliable. 
It also places introspective speculation above em- 
pirical investigation or rationalist thought as the 
key to truth. Another neo-Platonist prophet 
preached : 

"Know thyself that you may know from 
which source you are derived. Know the divinity 
that is within you so that you may know the 
divine one of which your soul is but a ray. Know 
your own mind and you will have the key to all 
knowledge. The science that descends into the 
soul from above is more perfect than any science 
obtained by investigation ; that which is excited 
in us by other men is far less perfect. The science 
which descends from above fills the soul with the 
influence of the Higher Cause. (Proclus). 

Until three-hundred years ago, western philo- 
sophy grew under the shadow of this spiritualist 
tradition. Even to-day Christianity is a living 
force with the large mass of the western people. 
The modern idealist philosophy is a mere rationali- 
sation of Christian spiritualism. Contemporary 
mystcism, thriving in the atmosphere of a cultural 



crisis, is also inspired by Christian traditions. But 
the western world of to-day is entirely different 
from what it was when Christianity rose out of 
the ruins of the ancient society. Powerful forces 
are in operation to overcome the present social 
crisis. Science has destroyed the foundation of 
mysticism. Therefore, contemporary mysticism in 
Europe appears to be an exotic phenomenon in the 
midst of a rationalist world. But it is not a mes- 
sage from the East ; its roots are struck deep in 
the history of the western culture. 

The high-brow Hindu intellectual sneers at 
the Christian conception of a personal God, 
although the poly-pantheistic hotch-potch of his 
own religion gives him little reason to do so. The 
idea of a personal God is the very essence of reli- 
gion, and monotheism is the highest form of reli- 
gion. The doctrine of creation out of nothing is 
an essential element of religious thought. It is set 
forth in the Bible in the most logical as well as 
orthodox form. The fullest play is given to the 
notion of omnipotence. There is no attempt to 
allow reason to tamper with it. The very notion 
being absurd, its absurdity must be manifest in its 
practical expression, unless its pristine purity was 
adulterated ; and then, the faithful would be so 
much less religious because of the imperfectness 
of their faith in the basic dogma of religion. 

Miracle-mongering is another feature of 



Christianity which is usually laughed at by the 
advocates of a " scientific religion ", and Hinduism 
is dogmatically claimed to be the only religion 
which possesses that distinction. If this claim had 
any basis of historical reality, then the distinction 
would mean the extinction of Hinduism as a reli- 
gion. Because, science and faith are mutually exclu- 
sive, and there can be no religion without a faith. 
The fantastic claim, however, is utterly unfounded, 
advanced by irreligious spiritualists that queer 
breed of modern intellectuals who pompously deride 
scientific knowledge while possessing no faith, who 
hover blindly in the twilight of the borderland of 
darkness and light. 

Miracle-mongering is the practical expression 
of the faith in God, in God as God the Almighty. 
Since the world is the creation of an almighty 
power, not bound by the laws of nature, anything 
can happen anywhere. This belief is the breath 
of religion. Untrammelled by the zeal of re- 
writing history to fit it into preconceived notions, 
anybody could see that every Hindu even to-day 
believes in miracles. Otherwise, the face of Mother 
India would have been unrecognisably changed 
long ago. 

The stories of the Ramayana and Mahabharata 
are full of miracles. The epic heroes are miracles 
personified. Not only do the Hindu masses impli- 
citly believe in these stories, it being sinful to doubt 



their truthfulness ; even the modern intellectual 
ardently defends the theory of an ancient glory on 
the evidence of "historical facts" contained in 
the epics. The miraculous actions and movements 
of the epic heroes are pointed out as indisputable 
evidence in support of the utterly unhistorical con- 
tention that several thousand years ago India 
reached a level of scientific and technological deve- 
lopment, not yet attained by the modern civilisa- 
tion. In the utter absence of social conditions 
which are requisite for any advance in that direc- 
tion, the supposed, rather imagined, scientific and 
technological attainments would be possible only 
as a miracle. The faith in the super-natural powers 
of the Yogi is a faith in miracles. There are few 
even among the modern educated Indians who 
would not look upon the usual feats of any ordi- 
nary magician as evidence invalidating scientific 
theories ; who would not find the hand of God in 
any natural phenomenon which cannot be as yet 
explained. As regards the masses of the Hindu, 
population, even to-day their faith in miracles is as 
implicit as it was with the Christians hundreds 
of years ago. For example, overtaken by an epi- 
demic, the vast bulk of the rural population would 
much rather seek relief in some sort of religious 
ceremony than rely upon the curative value of 
medicine and other hygienic agencies. The super- 
natural power of Sadhus and Sanyasis is a matter 



of general belief. Gandhi's phenomenal popularity 
among the masses is .only to a very small extent 
due to an awakening of political consciousness. It 
is mostly due to a widespread belief in his power 
to do what ordinary mortals cannot, that is to say, 
in his power to do miracles. The belief in miracles 
is the result of a lack of self-confidence. Had the 
modern Indians been less addicted to the faith in 
miracles than the earlier mediaeval Christians, they 
should have shown greater ability to change their 
dismal position. 

If one did not stand firmly and unconditionally 
by the belief that God created the world somehow, 
by virtue of his omnipotence, out of nothing, with- 
out any material substance ; if one did not impli- 
citly believe, as the corollary to this faith, in the 
almightiness of God, in all sorts of magic and 
miracles ; then, there would arise inevitably the 
fatal question : How did God create the world ? 
SL question which at once transcends the bound- 
ary of religion and leads sooner or later, directly 
or indirectly, to naturalism, atheism and material- 
ism, that is, to real philosophy. 

Provoked by the germs of doubt imbedded in 
the mystical speculation of the Upanishads, the 
earlier systems of Indian philosophy (Vaisheshik, 
Sankhya and Nyaya) tired to answer the dangerous 
question, though without having raised it expli- 
citly. The result was Buddhist atheism, for the 



suppression of which disruptive doctrine all the 
heavy artillery of Vedic Fundamentalism had to 
be brought into action. Sankaracharya himself 
found that his interpretation of the Vedanta 
Sutras could not serve the purpose of combatting 
Buddhism and the semi-materialist systems of phi- 
losophy that had gone into its making, except by 
contradicting itself by the postulation of a perso- 
nal God. Otherwise, even the hallucination of 
the world could not be explained within the limits 
of religious thought. Indeed, the pantheism of 
Vendanta itself, carried to its logical conclusion, 
leads to materialism, as any system of absolute 
idealism must. Sankaracharya evaded that logical 
consequence of his system by the inglorious return 
to the anthropomorphic concept of God, the retreat 
being covered by a mass of sophistry and hopeless 
confusion all serving the one purpose of self- 

Christianity also headed towards the slippery 
path of idealist philosophy as soon as it left the 
strictly religious ground to wander into theology. 
But to begin with, it was a phenomenon of pure 
spiritualism, owing to its uncompromising concep- 
tion of a personal God and firm attachment to the 
virgin faith associated with such a pure religious 

The personal God is the real God, because all 
the super-natural and unnatural attributes attribu- 



ted to the Supreme Being by spiritualism can be 
logically associated only with the anthropomorphic 
concept. The Supreme Being is supposed to be 
beyond all limitations. In order to fit into the 
role allotted to him by his creators (God is the 
creation of the religious man), the Supreme Being 
must be unconditionally free. The creation of the 
physical Universe out of no available material is 
the highest conception of freedom, and omni- 
potence is born of unlimited freedom. The two 
concepts can never be separated without losing 
force ; and they can assume the appearance of 
reality only in a personal God. Super-natural 
powers and attributes must remain empty concep- 
tions, unrealities, so long as they are not conceived 
as the powers and attributes of a subject. That is 
to say, spiritual (super-natural) categories become 
conceivable only when they arc associated with a 
personal God. One possessed of the extremely un- 
bounded freedom of creating endless things out of 
no given substance is really above, beyond and un- 
circumvented by the material being. He is the 
real spiritual existence par excellence. Creation 
out of nothing is an act by which the creator 
is not bound, because there is no causal con- 
nection between the two. The personal God 
does not create out of necessity. He docs 
it out of sheer whim or arbitrariness the 
corollary to his omnipotence. The freedom of his 



will is altogether unbounded. Since he creates, not 
out of necessity, but out of a sweet will, he may 
or may not create. He is not bound to create. 
Thus, he is absolutely free of any material exis- 
tence an absolutely pure spiritual being. The 
personal God of strictly monotheistic religions, 
like Christianity and Islam, therefore, is not a 
sign of childishness, crudity, spiritual inferiority ; 
on the contrary, the concept represents the highest 
pitch of religious thought. The absurdity is not 
hidden behind subtle doctrines, nor made to 
appear plausible in a mirage of mysticism, but 
boldly and faithfully carried to its logical climax. 
A religion should be measured by religious 
standards. Spiritualism must be judged by the 
pureness of its spirituality. A body of religious 
thought which can attain the point of culmination, 
indicated by itself, without ceasing to be strictty 
religious, that is, without deviating from the 
straight path of faith, is spiritualism of the purest 
water. So long as religion can stand frankly as 
itself, on its own merit, without being ashamed 
of its absurdity, without finding the necessity of 
hiding its naked beauty of barbarism, in illfitting 
draperies of deception, so long it should be consi- 
dered as performing a useful social function. 
After that, it can stand only as an artificial struc- 
ture obstructing the further spiritual progress of 



contradictions. The religious conception of God 
as a super-natural being contradicts reason. On 
the other hand, a God conceived logically as the 
Universal Spirit, a synthetic God, so to say, is no 
God. For, by its very nature, such a God is the 
creation of human reason. 

The Hindu pantheist doctrine of emanation 
or evolution, which claims spiritual superiority to 
the strictly religious doctrine of creation, either 
identifies the Supreme Being with his absolute 
attributes, or denudes him of all attributes. But in 
any case, it divests him of omnipotence and un- 
bounded freedom. Because, the doctrine of emana- 
tion robs God of the prerogative to create at will. 
This doctrine does not allow God the freedom to 
create or not to create, as he pleases. At this ruin- 
ous price of his absolute power, and unbounded 
freedom, God is cleansed of the human blemish 
of desire to create ; but the doctrine that places 
him in this light of doubtful advantage, hopelessly 
compromises his pure spirituality. 

According to this damaging doctrine, creation 
does not take place in consequence of a desire on 
the part of God ; it makes emanation of the pheno- 
menal world a process inherent in the Supreme 
Being. The Supreme Being is thus eternally and 
inseparably associated with matter. Indeed, matter 
is inherent in its very being. And the insistence 
on the pure spirituality of the Supreme Being com- 



pels the admission that parallel to it, there exists 
eternally a non-spiritual substance, in a germinal 

If the Supreme Being is guaranteed against any 
directive, controlling or intiative function in con- 
nection with the evolution and involution of the 
material substance, then the doctrine of creation 
comes back surreptitiously. The difference is that 
the stature of God is reduced at least by half ; for, 
he may still have the freedom to create or not to 
create, but he can create only with the material 
which exists independent of, at any rate, parallel 
to, himself. Then, actually, he does not possess 
the freedom. He must create ; otherwise, the pro- 
cess inherent in the eternally existing material 
substance would go on, and the function of the 
Supreme Being would become obsolete. 

To evade this catastrophe, pantheism does not 
admit the parallel existence of matter. It is iden- 
tified with the spirit. But the pantheist doctrine 
of emanation destroys the spirituality of the uni- 
tary primal existence. Since the material world 
grows out of it, it must contain matter in embryo. 
So, either the problem of dualism comes back to 
make of God an useless fixture, or the unity can 
be preserved only as a material unity. Even the 
most fantastic extravagance of pantheism the 
Mayavad does not guarantee the pure spiritua- 
lity of the Supreme Being. For, the doctrine of 



emanation implies determinism. To unfold itself 
in the form of the phenomenal world, be it real 
or a hallucination, is inherent in the Supreme 
Being. That is to say, its movements are determin- 
ed by laws ; they are laws of the Supreme Being, 
but laws just the same. There is no freedom in a 
strictly law-governed system. And existence sub- 
jected to determinism is conditioned ; therefore, it 
cannot be spiritual. 

Then, there still remains the most elementary 
difficulty. Existence means extension in space. 
That which is limited by the material concept of 
space cannot be spiritual, which, to be itself, must 
transcend the limitations of space, time and cau- 
sality. In the attempt of theology and religious 
philosophy to free religion of its native irration- 
ality, to camouflage the primitive doctrine of crea- 
tion out of nothing, God is shorn of his unbounded 
freedom, of his arbitrary will, completely unres- 
ricted by anything else existing outside himself, 
and is placed in the disgraceful position of sub- 
ordination, if not directly of matter, but in any 
case, of the law of determinism which obliges him 
to bring forth the physical phenomenon of the 
Universe, which again, obeying the imperious laws 
of determinism, go their own way, disregarding 
the v/ill of the Supreme Being. 

To blow up God into nothingness is atheism, 
even if this iconoclastic process take place as a 



higher form of spiritualism. To debase spirit to 
the level of matter by subordinating it to deter- 
minism, is the height of irreligiousity, is the nega- 
tion of spiritualism, although this devastating pro- 
cess of self -consummation takes place as an attack 
upon materialism. But this development is a neces- 
sary process. Religion necessarily leads to theo- 
logy the futile speculative attempt to describe 
the nature of God. Theology is futile speculation, 
because it can never perform the task it sets to it- 
self. As soon as the human mind can describe 
him, God ceases to be God. Therefore, the histori- 
cal function of theology is to destroy religion as 
religion. Having destroyed its own origin, theology 
destroys itself. Consistently developed, theology 
culminates into pantheism. Vcdantic pantheism 
is the logical consequence of the theism of the 
Upanishads. In the pantheistic form, theology 
consumes itself, because consistent pantheism leads 
to atheism. 

Thus goes on the endless process of ideologi- 
cal development. It is not possible to fix any one 
point in this process as its climax, and stop it 
there. Christian spiritualism, having reached the 
pantheistic stage, consumed itself in the philosophy 
of Spinoza and Hegel which, in its turn, found 
its logical development in the modern materialist 
philosophy. (A similar liquidation of the Vcdantic 
pantheism would be the real contribution of India 



to world cultured Owing to historical reasons, 
Indian thought failed to advance further. A long 
period of social stagnation, which followed the 
unfortunate defeat of the Buddhist revolution, 
arrested the development of Hindu pantheism into 
its logical conclusion. One misfortune bred 
another in succession, and Indian thought re- 
mained in a state of stagnation. But the world 
went ahead. As soon as the prolonged social stag- 
nation will be broken, Indian thought will go 
rapidly ahead from the point at which it stopped 
temporarily, and catch up with the progress made 
by others. European thought remained entangled 
in mystic, pantheistic spiritualism for more than a 
thousand years since the revolutionary role of early 
Christianity had been played out. Finally, it came 
out of the vicious circle. It has been India's fate 
to linger much longer in the twilight of decayed 
spiritualism. She also must come out of that 'dark- 
ness if she desires to join the progressive march of 
mankind* /The world does not need her message 
of mystic, pantheistic spiritualism A The western 
civilisation has had the experience or that bliss, and 
has finally produced something superior. India 
herself should be able to learn the true message of 
her ancient culture. The correct evaluation of her 
mystic-pantheist philosophy is to discern, the germ 
of materialism embedded in it. In order to draw 
practical inspkation from her old ; culture, India 



must learn to appreciate its positive outcome, which 
amounts to the liquidation of the religious mode 
of thought and an incentive for the acquisition of 
scientific knowledge. The highest appreciation of 
the ancient culture of India would be to find out 
how it could help us out of the vicious circle of 
decayed spiritualism, and indicate the way to real 
spiritual freedom offered by the materialist