Yoga is often defined as karmasu kaushalam, which is attaining maximum level of proficiency in all our actions. Yoga restrains the flickering of mind stuff. Obviously, people with an integral approach, having a disciplined body, focused mind and sharp intellect all in harmony would be highly creative, innovative, psychologically balanced, eco-friendly and ethical in their socio-economic conduct. Such a high quality human persona, imbued with ethical and moral values, would be a powerful driving force for both spiritual and material development of a society rooted firmly in the concept of “world as a family”.
Such a society would be inherently secular, democratic, inclusive, harmonious, non-violent, value based and egalitarian. For it, diversity is not a matter of merely tolerance or acceptance, but of respect and celebration as the very life of nature. Any socio-political institution and techno-economic system based on these fundamentals would not allow unsustainable consumption of natural resources (renewable or non renewable) and irreparable degradation of environment. A holistic society, therefore, demands a new world-order quite different from the one practised by the globalised world.
Globalisation based on the fragmentary world-view also attempts to integrate societies through the concept of “world as one market”. In the process of economic integration, the communities generally tend to maintain their separate identities. The recent experience regarding the widespread global, economic and cultural turbulence amply testifies that the sense of oneness has not yet taken any deep roots. This sense of fragmentation results in a conflict between economic integration and existing political and cultural diversity. In the present world scenario, the concept of “world as one market” has turned out to be divisive, exclusivist, fragmentary and has not helped in resolving any of the conflicts. There is no manifestation of a global consciousness, which makes one to experience oneness and unity. On the other hand, widespread terrorism and religious fundamentalism are posing serious challenges to the very existence of cultural diversities. The market forces, instead of harmonising the conflicts, have further deepened the faultlines. The cult of violence is spreading fast, which is opposed to the very concept of oneness. All this has created a world totally out of balance. Restoration of the balance in this planet is a big challenge, which has to be addressed urgently.
In my opinion, the statement of the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon on International Yoga Day that “we should do this (Yoga) before every negotiation so that we can work with a calm mind”, indicates that a dialogue has already set in. It can be argued that if international negotiations could be held on the basis of the holistic tenets viz. “world is a family” and “unity in diversity”, alongwith a calm mind, perhaps the UN would be able to use its time for good purpose. If such and other practices of holistic behaviour are pursued, possibly a new culture of conducting world affairs might evolve in the future. There is increasing awareness that the present imbalance is the outcome of the inability of the existing socio-economic institutions and the political structures to deal with the current impasse. According to Fritjof Capra, this inability is derived from the inadequacy of the concepts and values of an outdated model of universe and the belief that unlimited growth is possible through technology. Capra argues that, “during recent decades all of these assumptions have been found severely limited and in need of radical revision”. He further elaborates, “And at the same time, researches at the leading edge of science, various social movements, and numerous alternative networks are developing a new vision of reality that will form the basis of our future technologies, economic systems and social institutions.” The need for a new paradigm is quite evident.
This society would be inherently secular, democratic, inclusive, harmonious, non-violent, value based and egalitarian. Any socio-political institution based on these fundamentals would not allow unsustainable consumption of resources.
India now has an opportunity to emphasise the parallelism between the holistic vision of yoga and the thinking of the modern physicist in their description of the phenomena. Once these similarities are recognised, it will be easy to discuss the implications of their engagement. Two important questions naturally arise: one, should scientists give up all their efforts and the technological advancements and start practising yoga, or should the followers of yoga abandon their holism, and two, can there be a mutual understanding between the two leading to a synthesis? The answer to the first question is: that yoga does not need science and technology the way these are being pursued today and the scientist does not need the methods and practices of yoga and for the second — humankind needs both.
In this backdrop, India should have invited enlightened public opinion to debate as to how a harmonious and dynamic interplay between the two will impact the existing socio-economic, technological and political structures. Instead, the debate veered round the narrow lanes of political and communal rhetoric, which, unfortunately, does not reflect the sense of unity and oneness of a yogic mind.
Such a transformation can only take place through a cultural revolution in the real sense, which may give a new direction to the march of civilisation, provided we are ready to get out of the centuries old, outdated reductionist worldview of reality. Such a revolution means the joining of science and spirituality, atom and ahimsa in a creative synthesis, whereby mankind will attain a new level of purposefulness, prosperity, peace and harmony. Possibly this integration might lead towards the restoration of balance in a totally out of balance planet. Maybe, as a result, the present “ego”-centric world order gets transformed to an “eco”-centric, egalitarian, non-violent and inclusive paradigm. India now has a golden opportunity to initiate a meaningful discourse as to how such a creative synthesis can be achieved.
How the new paradigm can create an experience of unity and oneness. It is India’s burden to play a central role in creating a materially happy and spiritually evolved balanced planet living in peace and harmony.
Dr Murli Manohar Joshi is a BJP MP and former Union minister. This is the concluding part of a three-part article on yoga and globalisation