Exploitation and Pseudo-Culture
At the very outset let me state that many theories have been propounded on this earth. Some of them survived for some time and then gradually passed out of existence; others emerged like meteors, exhibiting their dazzling radiance for a very short time, and then vanished into darkness. The mere existence of a theory is not the essential point; what is important is whether the theory promoted the welfare of all, the spiritual well-being of all – otherwise its advent on this earth was quite useless. Such useless theories are not even worth mentioning.
Any theory will contain the seed of well-being if its firm foundation is sama-samája tattva. It may survive for a very long period – even for eternity – if it cherishes the ideal of forever promoting the welfare of all. This is the essential point.
I have already said several times, and I repeat, that while moving towards the inner world, human beings have to maintain equilibrium and equipoise in the external world. If some declare that Brahma satyaḿ jaganmithyá [“Only Supreme Consciousness is real and the world is false”], they will not be able to do anything in this “false” world. They are simply deceiving themselves – it is a sign of hypocrisy. An honest person should never resort to hypocrisy in any sphere of life; under no circumstances must he or she compromise with any unjust theory. This is the rule; this is correct. Propriety dictates this.
So you who want to be real human beings, must continue your sádhaná [spiritual practice] in your inner life and strive ceaselessly for God-realization, and with equal effort you must see to it that no irrational, undesirable or detrimental theory is propagated in the external world, which can harmfully influence the human mind. You must be ever-vigilant in this regard. That is why I told you to be vocal against all sorts of injustice. Otherwise your goal will not be achieved.
In the objective world, human beings have their religious, cultural, political and economic lives, and so on. Who can deny these? Whoever denies them must be an impostor; he or she is distorting the truth. Such people can never do any good either for themselves or for their world. They always suffer from the disease of dualism (that is, there is no correspondence between their inner minds and their outer expressions). This psychology of duality within a single personality creates a very serious psychic disease which will ultimately destroy them. Sama-samája tattva or Neohumanism will liberate people from this disease of dualism, so they will be able to do good to themselves and to others also according to their abilities; for everyone is endowed with some degree of ability.
In this world we find different varieties of group sentiment and socio-sentiment. For example, a small group may be composed of only a very few people, which we call a family. There are still larger groups, such as castes, communities,(1) tribes and nationalities; and behind all those groups the same mental weakness, the same psychic disease, is operating. As a consequence of this disease, people confine themselves within a particular group, and due to this confinement, they suffer from different types of complexes. Sometimes they praise and applaud each other, saying, “How fine this gentleman speaks! How nicely he acts!” Actually this applause comes from those who share the same psychic complex.
Within a gang of thieves, one of them says appreciatively, “Oh! The sleight-of-hand of such-and-such other thief is marvellous – he has made a fool of me!” Here one pickpocket is praising another, because they belong to the same group. But one who does not belong to that gang of pickpockets will never appreciate it.
In actuality, it so happens that a person belonging to a group whose boundaries are larger will always disparage and denounce a group whose boundaries are smaller. The person who is concerned only with his own family and nothing else, merely goes to the office, strolls home and reads the newspaper. Those who have formed a group on the basis of caste – the organizers of the “All-India Such-and-Such Association” – what will they do? They will criticize that person, saying, “He is concerned only with his family.” Again, those who are involved with a slightly larger community – the “All-India Such-and-Such Society” – will say about them, “Pooh! They are concerned only with their caste! Is this proper?” But those whose minds are still more expanded, what will they do? They will say, “Pooh! These communities, these castes – they are contrary to nationalism. If we concern ourselves with caste, community, etc., it will weaken the foundation of our nation. They are enemies of the state – they cause harm to society by spreading communalism and other narrow ideas!” They forget that they are all suffering from the same disease – the only difference is, one’s circle is slightly larger than the other’s.
They may indeed be quite conscious of the fact that they are all suffering from the same disease, but still they propagate these sorts of idea because they are motivated by selfish interest. Thus those who confine themselves within any specific circle, regardless of its circumference, all come within the scope of socio-sentiment.
Where there is no such limitation or confinement, where socio-sentiment is transcended, I call this “general humanism”, but this is not something noble to gloat over either.
Now, in socio-sentiment, it happens that a certain group exploits another, and that exploited group in turn exploits a third. In Hindu society you will notice that there are many divisions of caste, high and low. You will hear many people saying lightly, “It is the Brahmans who are responsible for all this!” But the same person who holds the Brahmans responsible, will refuse to touch the people of a caste slightly lower than his or her own, so as not to pollute oneself by their contact. Still others hold two or three castes responsible, but they themselves also refuse to touch lower-caste people. A person of the low Tentule Bagdi caste says, “Dule Bagdi caste people are lower than me – so I will not touch them!” But the same Tentule Bagdi caste person complains, “We are ruined by the Brahmans!” In fact these are all expressions of the mental disease I referred to. One who is confined within a certain circle condemns other groups. You should never hold any particular caste or community responsible for the ruin of the society – this is completely false. You yourself are responsible for it.
Now, those who are courageous enough to speak out this truth in clear language – those who say, “Shatter this bondage of limitation!” – their path is called the path of revolution. And those who say, “Everything will be done gradually… why so much haste?” – their path is called the path of evolution. They can never accomplish any glorious task.
There are still others who say straightforwardly, “No, no, how can I contradict the way followed by my ancestors – my father, my grandfather?” They are reactionaries. They suffer from a mental disease. They are afraid to accept the new; they suffer from fear complex. They utter high-sounding phrases, but their hearts are filled with fear complexes. Not that they are terribly reprehensible. They say outwardly: “We are just doing the same as our ancestors did.” But their ancestors used to wear wooden sandals instead of shoes, and shawls instead of tailored shirts, eat guŕ [raw sugar] instead of refined sugar, and drink water from wells instead of from taps – do they follow this also?
I know a certain lady who never drinks tap water, because, according to her, “People of all castes work in the waterworks – how can I drink such water?” She drinks only pure Ganges water – as if that water were touched only by the holy Brahmans! Behind this reluctance to accept the new in place of the old lies a fear complex.
Motivated by socio-sentiment, one group harms and exploits another group in the social, economic, cultural and religious spheres.
Mental Complexes and Psychic Exploitation
Such groups perpetuate exploitation in the social sphere by injecting a fear complex in the minds of those whom they want to exploit. They infuse the feeling in their minds, “We are inferior, and they are superior.” As the inevitable result, the so-called low castes of India really consider themselves to be inferior, and this becomes an ingrained habit. Even if you catch hold of their hands and cordially invite them to sit on your cot, they refuse, because over the centuries they have developed such an inferior mentality. By creating fear complexes in others’ minds, such groups indirectly inject inferiority complexes in them and superiority complexes in themselves. This is how they widen the social gap, until the framework of society is broken. Thus a well-knit society can never develop.
When those with superiority complexes possess even the slightest degree of power, they fulfil their desires by injecting inferiority complexes in others. Forty-five or fifty years ago [in India], some special train compartments were reserved for those people who wore European dress, and those in Indian dress would be rejected. This is a clear instance of injecting an inferiority complex into people’s minds. What was the result? It merely paved the way for psychic exploitation, and based on this, all other kinds of exploitation could easily take place.
Some time ago, those who could not speak English were considered to be uneducated, and even now this is the case, even if the person is a scholar in Sanskrit. This is another result of injecting inferiority complexes.
The very purpose of injecting an inferiority complex is to exploit people on the psychic level, and this is exactly what happens in many spheres of social life. In some places you may notice some signboards written in a language not used by the local people. What is the purpose of putting up a signboard? It is just to give the local people certain information. If the letters are written in the language of the ruling exploiters and not in the language of the exploited – or if the local language is printed in small and humble letters underneath – what reaction will this create in the minds of the exploited? It is bound to generate an inferiority complex regarding their language and social position (the language of slaves is derogatorily called “vernacular” in English), and they will continue to suffer from this mental disease. Thus the ruling exploiters create indirect pressure on others’ minds so that their language maintains its high prestige and an inferior feeling arises in the minds of the people: “Ah! That is the language of the rulers!”
The moment an inferiority complex is created, the ruling class uses it to exploit them psychically; those who are motivated by socio-sentiment continue their social exploitation in this manner. They infuse the same inferiority complex in other spheres of life also; then psychic exploitation occurs as a matter of course.
Psychic exploitation is twofold. Sometimes it occurs only in the mental sphere, and sometimes partially in the mental sphere and partially in other spheres, such as economics, politics, culture or religion – in all spheres of life. That is why I said previously that socio-sentiment is much more harmful for society than geo-sentiment. What is socio-sentiment? People forget their own rights, and even forget that they are human beings, that they too have the right to live with dignity. Thus socio-sentiment is more harmful. Socio-sentiment perpetuates psychic exploitation by injecting inferiority complexes in others’ minds, and this psychic exploitation is the basis of other types of exploitation.
This happens in the economic sphere. One social group, guided by a particular type of social sentiment, exploits another group. First, the exploiters inject the idea in the minds of the exploited that the latter are degraded while the former are elevated – so they are entitled to greater rights, even to the right to exploit the inferior group. They are the first-class citizens, and the exploited second-class.
If you analyse the history of the world, you will find that whenever one group exploited another in the economic sphere, they first created psychic exploitation by infusing inferiority complexes in the minds of the exploited mass. You will find that in each case of economic exploitation, psychic exploitation was the foundation: if you go deep into the background, you will discover a continuous and cunning attempt to create inferiority complexes in the minds of the exploited.
Economic and Political Exploitation
Economic exploitation is perpetrated in two ways: one of the two is psycho-economic exploitation, as I have said, and the other is politico-economic exploitation. Where psycho-economic exploitation is combined with politico-economic exploitation, it becomes doubly dangerous.
In the past, most countries of the world were victims of politico-economic exploitation – and many are even today. In order to save humanity from economic exploitation (whether politico-economic or psycho-economic), you must raise the people’s consciousness, otherwise they will never be able to successfully resist psycho-economic or politico-economic exploitation.
In India, the masses were inspired to fight for independence without arousing their consciousness. As a consequence, India ultimately attained political independence, no doubt, but the people have not attained politico-economic independence as yet. Even today, they are victims of psycho-economic and politico-economic exploitation.
Now let us see how this psycho-political or political exploitation works.
Motivated by socio-sentiment, one social group tries to forcibly dominate another group, with the intention that “We will utilize the exploited group or their land” – here the group is more important than the land – “as a source of raw materials. The finished products will be manufactured within our area, and then we will utilize the exploited country as the market for our goods.”
What can the financially-handicapped groups do in this situation? They are forced to enslave themselves to the powerful countries or groups because of their fear complex born of their impotence or poverty. And what is the outcome of such slavery?
In the next phase, the exploited painfully find themselves reduced to the position of suppliers of raw materials and purchasers of finished products. They are economically ruined. Such things happen as a result of both psycho-economic exploitation and politico-economic exploitation. Intelligent people should analyse this carefully.
When this exploitation is perpetrated by the application of brute force, it is politico-economic exploitation; but when it is done not through brute force but through the application of cunning intellectual strategy, it is primarily psycho-economic exploitation.
Now, whatever may be the nature of this psycho-economic or politico-economic exploitation, its inevitable outcome is that the [[exploiters]] not only exploit the people directly or indirectly, but also govern them. This makes the exploitation easier for the rulers.
Vocal Revolutionaries and Reformists
What about those who do not rule but exploit indirectly? They purchase the rulers with their wealth. And what is the result? – the ruling classes do their utmost to please those by whom they were bought, win elections with their money, and outwardly speak against the social, economic and political exploitations. But in fact they support these things. I have branded these people as “vocal revolutionaries”. They deliver long lectures against exploitation, but they do the opposite in practice.
I have already said that the reformists are somewhat better than those vocal revolutionaries. The reformists say, “Let us go slowly on the path of reform.” But actually they intend that the process of exploitation should continue without interruption. There were many reformists in the world, but in reality they did not want the welfare of the society; they only wanted to perpetuate the process of exploitation by bringing about some patchwork improvements.
You may have observed many people in the world who delivered long lectures against caste discrimination and untouchability, saying, “No, all are equal. I will take food touched by any caste. If you give me filtered water in a clean glass I will not hesitate to swallow it – just watch me drink!” And the audience applauded, “Very good! Very good!” These people are called reformists; but their inner intention was to maintain the caste system. Had they really wanted to remove caste discrimination, they would have declared, “The cause of this untouchability is the caste system. Because of the caste system, discriminations have emerged between high and low, touchable and untouchable, one caste and another. So let us first of all break the bondage of caste!”(2) If they had had the courage to proclaim this directly, they would have become revolutionaries. But they lacked such boldness, and thus they did enormous harm to humanity by delaying revolution.
The reformists of any age are not the real well-wishers of society. Rather they seek to preserve the defects of society by any means. They are motivated either by a fear complex or by a despicable cunning. And when awareness finally dawns on those who were so long exploited in the politico-economic field, the reformists lose their prestige, and also their popular support.
Those who have been exploiting directly on the politico-economic or the psycho-economic levels, and indirectly supporting other exploiters, are bound to ultimately lose their popular support, because when the people’s eyes are opened, no tricks or stratagems can succeed. At that time, the exploiters cannot move even one step forward without the help of their bureaucracy, and, goaded by this bureaucracy, they continue their activities. They can no longer face the awakened masses; they cannot act independently. Thus in this process, the bureaucracy is gradually transformed into a kind of oligarchy, and this abominable oligarchy oppresses society like a heavy load. This is indeed a ruinous and unendurable position for society.
To liberate society from this unbearable situation, consciousness will have to be aroused among the people; their eyes will have to be opened by knowledge. Let them understand the what’s, the why’s and the where’s. Thus study is essential, very essential.
Besides this, there is the domineering influence of religion on the human mind. You know that religions are based on dogmas. The propagators of religion never cared to preach Bhágavata dharma – the universally applicable human dharma free from all narrowness – rather they always feared and avoided it. What have they preached instead? They have always declared, “I am not speaking with my own voice, I am speaking with the voice of heaven. I am the messenger of God. Don’t take these words to be mine – they are the message of God, and so you will have to accept them. You must not question whether they are right or wrong; to question is a sin. If you question, your tongue will fall off!” They have tightened the noose of dogma around the people, so that they fear to take a single step over the line, thinking, “How terrible! If I do so I will be burnt in hellfire for eternity!”
Thus those who sought to confine different groups within the bondage of dogma in the aforesaid ways are the so-called religious leaders or gurus; they have done enormous harm to the human society. The various religious groups have fought many bloody battles, because their dogmas were totally contradictory; if one group turned to pray towards the north, the other turned towards the south. Their leaders, meanwhile, fulfilled their own petty, selfish interests, saying, “These are God’s commands.”
In this way one group has tried to capture another group to be its arena of exploitation. As in the socio-economico-political field, so in the religious field. They have tried to create satellite groups. For instance, an affluent group tries to utilize a less-developed group as its satellite group. That is, they want to obtain their raw materials and force them to buy the finished products, which they produce in their own factories. It occurs just this way in the religious field also. And, being supported by the money of those who want to create satellites, the propagators of religious faiths idle away their days. Most of these propagators of religion are not even aware of the fact that they are helping the exploiters create satellite groups; but some are doing it consciously.
You must awaken those religious people who are not aware of what they are doing, and make them aware. Let the ideals of Neohumanism reach their ears and be implanted in the core of their hearts. With their liberated intellects they will throw all their illusions into the dustbin.
But those who are deliberately propagating dogmas as the agents of injustice, will become furious and violent when they hear the propagation of truth. Let them so become – let them fill their cup of sins to the brim. Their destruction is inevitable – their annihilation is the inexorable decree of fate.
So in the sphere of religion also, if you look carefully, you will see that behind those who have been knowingly or unknowingly operating the machinery of exploitation, there are certain wealthy parties. Those parties want to create their satellites. In every sphere of life you will find such wealthy people in the background.
Cultural Exploitation through Pseudo-Culture
Now, there is another aspect: culture. As you know, the subtler and sweeter expressions of human life are generally termed “culture.” Suppose someone offers you food: you may eat without washing your hands and feet, or you may eat after washing thoroughly. The refined manner of eating in a hygienic way is called the “culture of eating”, while those activities expressing the subtler and sweeter aspects of life are called “culture” in a general sense.
Human culture is one, though there are some local variations in its expression. But a particular group which is motivated by socio-sentiment to exploit others, tries to destroy the local cultural expressions of other groups. It forcibly imposes its language, dress and ideas on other groups, and thus paves the way for exploitation by paralysing those people psychologically. This is how people guided by socio-sentiment perpetuate exploitation in cultural life.
This is occurring throughout the world. Is it not your noble duty to save these simple and persecuted people from exploitation? Certainly it is. Those of you who did not understand this before, now do understand it clearly; or you will come to understand it later from others. Human beings must be saved. Why should innocent people be forced to live like sacrificial lambs? This must not be tolerated.
Suppose a particular group has a high standard of arts (theatre, cinema, etc.), but the number of rich people in that group is comparatively few. The culture of another group, on the other hand, is very undeveloped, but among them there is a greater number of wealthy people. Now, the latter group wants to maintain its exploitation over the group that has a more developed cultural heritage, because one way that psycho-economic exploitation can paralyse people in the psychic sphere is cultural exploitation – to impose vulgar cinemas and dramas upon those good people.
As you know, the mind has a natural tendency to degrade itself; it flows more easily downwards than upwards. So if some people, by virtue of their wealth, impose vulgar cinemas and dramas on others, this will break the latters’ spines and they will become paralysed. And those paralysed, spineless people will thenceforth never be able to stand unitedly against cultural or any other kind of exploitation. They will never be able to do so, because mentally they will be completely dead – their capacity to raise their heads in protest will have been crushed forever. How can they raise their heads again?
This exploitation in the cultural sphere is accomplished by the propagation of pseudo-culture. Every honest, virtuous, rational person must fight against this pseudo-culture, and inspire others to do the same. If this is not done, the future of humanity will be sealed. It is proper for human beings to struggle for political freedom, for social emancipation; but if their cultural backbone is broken, then all their struggles will end in nothing – like offering ghee into a fire that has died out.
If one’s spine is shattered, it is impossible to hold one’s head erect. Can those whose necks and backs are crushed under the weight of pseudo-culture, be expected to hold their heads high in any sphere of life? Hence it is the bounden duty of every rational person to save innocent people from pseudo-culture.
(1) “Community” and “communal” as used throughout this book generally refer to religious communities. –Trans.
(2) It is the very concept of caste that is defective. Any talk of abolishing inter-caste injustices will remain hollow until that defective concept is eliminated. See also pp. 83-84. –Trans.