Freedom – Hindu and Western Perceptions
Source :NewsBharati   Date :07-Jun-2018


At the outset let me indicate what I mean by Hindu and western nomenclatures here. The meaning of Hindu is very clear. The Hindu is related to all those who call themselves and others also refer to them as Hindus, mainly residing in India and also elsewhere in the world and yet proclaim themselves proudly as Hindus indicating thereby their connectivity with the Hindu ethos originated in Ved-Upanishadic period. By the term western it is meant as those who are Europeans, Americans and Canadians in the west and, Australians, New Zealanders in the east and all those who have and are trying to copy the western ethos after getting independence from their European masters. These two are distinctly different ethos and therefore their perceptions about most of the social phenomena are quite different. Obviously their perceptions of freedom also differ very much.

The Indian constitution is a copy of different parts from western nation’s constitutions. It guarantees seven different freedoms like freedom to speech, to write, to associate, to religion, to settle anywhere, to carry out any profession and so on. This was all written and codified in the constitution to forget, knowingly or unknowingly, the freedoms perceived in the Hindu ethos since times immemorial. The constitution writers either did not know the Hindu ethos or did not want to be seen as pro-Hindu in any way while preparing the constitution. It was considered to be regressive and that they wanted to pose as modern and therefore secular as in the west.

Notwithstanding all that freedom in modern times it is often talked about with reference to political and economic activities, and, free media mainly. In totalitarian countries like the communist regimes, who do not hesitate from proclaiming themselves as democracies, these two freedoms are not usually available since these two activities therein are fully state controlled. Freedom is also related to religion and spiritualism related activities. Even this is curtailed under totalitarian communist regimes. China is its typical example with respect to their Zin Jiang province where Islam is the main religion and is increasingly being controlled by the state. Lately some western nations are trying to restrict some public behavior of Muslims to minimize terrorism at large. Freedom was not allowed by the Catholic Church in the medieval times in Europe. It finally led to evolve secular democratic ethos for the state and was completely separated from the church, almost in two distinct compartments. The same was adopted in the Indian constitution on getting independence. But it was all done by not appreciating the basic difference between dharma and religion. The Muslims practically do not believe in freedom. They are supposed to follow the dictates of Koran, coving entire life, written some thirteen hundred years ago. Here the emphasis is more on comparing the perceptions of freedom of Hindus and westerners.

Historical

The westerners are proud of freedom, almost unlimited, that they enjoy presently, as individually as well as socially. Since Hindu perceptions of freedom could not be properly put forth, because of it being slave of first Muslim rulers and then of English for a total of almost a thousand years, resulting in mostly forgetting the true Hindu ethos, freedom in the modern form came to be realized as a gift of western nations without understanding the perceptions of Hindus about freedom, as distinct from the west.

It is true that the western perception of ‘freedom’ slowly got evolved first in England. The ‘Magna-Carta’ of twelth century is tomtomed as the gift of England to the mankind that finally resulted in freedom to all. But it must be understood that that freedom was demanded by only the elite of England, for their material pleasures, and that it was not for common masses. It may be remembered that until 1918 CE women in England did not have right to vote in spite of Magna Carta and its subsequent evolution into modern freedom.

In reality freedom as a value and as a faith, if at all, got evolved out of two main historical events wherein lot of human blood was shed. The first is the declaration of political freedom by the United States of America, earlier a colony of England, towards the end of eighteenth century and, was finally obtained through all-out war with England, their prior motherland. It is known as war of independence in USA. It was fought for getting freedom to all those then residing in USA from the English rule. On getting freed they declared that USA shall be built as a republic based on agreed constitution, to grant freedom to all citizens as a value par excellence. It is the first republic built on general adult suffrage.

The other event that occurred soon after the war of independence is the French revolution wherein the royalty in France was replaced by democratically elected government based on adult franchise and the new constitution founded on the value-trio as, liberty, equality and fraternity. In a way therefore it is not England but USA that paved the way to the rule by democratic government elected on adult franchise guaranteeing freedom. The written constitution with freedom as the foundation thus dominated the governments of nation-states that were formed in Europe after American independence.

It must also be understood that freedom as a value in the west got evolved more for earning material wealth, even at the detriment of the society at large. It got evolved further as a human value of high order only gradually. Even now it can’t be said that it is seen as human value par excellence. The freedom seekers in the western world wanted to be free from state control in all their earthly activities. That is how they founded their societies on written constitution and elected governments to apparently indicate equality for all and freedom in most respects. But freedom was not their faith from within as a value worth striving under any circumstances. It was at best for their people and not for humans at large elsewhere. Hence in spite of such declaration of freedom their behavior was essentially exploitative depending upon individual’s ability to exploit the weaker ones, individuals or societies. The weaker ones, whether in terms of physical strength, intelligence, organizational abilities, skills, heritage and the like, were exploited to the extent possible, particularly during the industrial revolution and to a large extent even now, using individual freedom but following the rule of ‘might (in whatever form) is right’. Where was freedom of the weaker humans upheld then? It thus gave rise to the reactionary Marxian Utopian philosophy that was heavily loaded in favour of those whose freedom was to be safeguarded. When USSR was established by Lenin it was founded on the basis of freedom only. But it had to be per force transformed into dictatorship of the state that finally snatched freedom of all except the rulers. It only indicates that freedom of majority was snatched to establish the hegemony of the stronger ones in the name of doing good to the weaker ones. The slogan of freedom was thus used to befool the masses. No wonder it was thrown out later. The China was initially the same, in fact a copy of the USSSR. But having realized the importance of freedom in economic development they opened up their economy for everyone to help it grow. Alvin Toffler advised them to do so and they did and it proved to be extremely beneficial to China. But they have yet to realize that as in economics political freedom can also prove to be beneficial. Their mass killing of freedom fighters in the Tiananmen square indicates their desire to suppress political freedom at all costs.

The Hindus, in spite of their great social ethos, did not have any constitution to control and regulate social life until one was adopted, in the form of a copy of the west, after independence from the English. But the social life of Hindus was based and controlled essentially on individual freedom only but unlike in the west. It was based on dharma (not religion) perceptions. Are these two perceptions then essentially based on the same principles? No, these perceptions are quite different and their emphasis is on widely different fundamental perceptions of individuals and their societies. The dharma perception is far too different from the western value-trio of liberty, equality and fraternity. In terms of its operative part, dharma is at a higher level than the value-trio, provided one understands it properly and lives accordingly. But it requires a different social set-up. Dharma essentially defines the interrelationships of humans towards good of society. There is no term to define such relationship in the west. That is why it is used as such here to define social good at the cost of individual selfishness.

In a way western perception of freedom was thoroughly used for exploitation of the weaker ones in the society or elsewhere in the world. Dharma never exploited the weaker ones. In fact it was to prevent their exploitation. That is also why the westerners exploited the rest of the world, to the extent possible, enslaved them if possible, and even exterminated the very weaker ones, disregarding their natural freedom even to live. Hence the western perception of freedom was and still is totally for selfish ends. The western nations, by and large, are advanced in science and technology and therefore are materially rich. To maintain this hegemony, to remain rich, these nations exploit the rest of the nations, to the extent possible, by denying them their due freedom even now when there are no more colonies of Europe left anywhere in the world. Yet freedom to organize own societies was and is being denied to many societies in the world in various ways like controlling their economies through World bank, International Monetary Fund and the like. The control also includes imposing governments on such masses under the garb of democracy. Surprisingly, the supreme exponent of freedom, the USA, is in the vanguard in this crusade albeit along with trumpeting their proclaimed desire for freedom for all at the same time. A dichotomy indeed!

It is simply because freedom was not and is not their life-value per se. It might have been, if at all, largely for their social/national subjects only. It was and is more either a slogan or outwardly a commercial policy only. The Hindu perception of freedom is far different from that of the west. It is not a policy at all. It is a matter of faith as a life-value. It is essentially related to human personality and psychology. The Hindu ethos emphasizes that one should sacrifice to any extent including life to uphold this value. The example of King Harishchandra can be cited as an illustration. But there are many more such instances in their history. Freedom is pleaded and truly offered by the Hindus only, but based on Hindu ethos. In fact freedom is offered by Hindus not just only to the entire human race, individually as well as socially, but for the entire existence to exist. They are more conscious for preservation of bio-diversity and to minimize environmental degradation. How it is so? Let us see it now.

Freedom is not something that is given by someone. It has to be acquired as fundamental quality of life and sustained through proper enculturation. It is the sole original in-born right that belongs to every human. It is basically freedom of mind. It involves responsibility and should lead to full expression of human personality as designed by the nature. It is related to personal ego and disciplined personality. In fact the idea of freedom originates mainly from ones ego. It cannot be imposed on anyone because it is the result of social forces like culture, social institutions, social discipline and peace. It inherently is based on behavioural restraint that should lead to peaceful and disciplined society. This is taken care of in the Hindu ethos to the extent not taken care of by any other society or culture in the world.

But along with, Hindus taught that an individual’s freedom may be sacrificed for the good of the family; the freedom of family may be sacrificed for the good of the town or area; the freedom of town/area may be sacrificed for the good of the region and the freedom of region may be sacrificed for safeguarding human values or humanity as a whole. Such is the philosophical foundation of freedom of Hindus vis-à-vis social welfare, at large.

Genesis of freedom in Hindu ethos

Entire Hindu ethos has been originated from one single belief based on the discovery that the supreme Omni-potent and omniscient spirit in the form of Brahman pervades not only the human beings but entire animate and inanimate existence. It led to work out the ways and means for the human beings to be happy in every circumstance, to the extent possible. Freedom needs to be interpreted in terms of human happiness only, individually or socially or now for the whole human race.

Hindus believe that salvation is the supreme freedom from the bondage of birth-cycles. The whole theory of salvation of Hindus is based on the single belief in Brahman. It also led to evolve that humans must be happy at the individual as well as at the social level in an integral manner and perpetually, if possible. Therefore it worked out the ideal ways and means that humans must follow to lead happy individual as well as social life, to the extent possible, and that too for all. It finally led to evolve the Vedanta philosophy and outlook of life. The Vedanta philosophy is essentially based on freedom of body, mind, intellect and soul, the entire human personality. There is no such perception of freedom in the west. The principles of Vedanta philosophy are enumerated below in nutshell to highlight the perception of freedom of Hindus.

The Hindus believed earlier and still believe that every individual must try to seek the ultimate truth and should not believe and accept truth realized by anyone else, no matter howsoever great the revealer may be. This clearly distinguishes Hindus from Muslims and Christians. Hence full freedom must be given to everyone to realize the truth on one’s own. Everyone therefore should try to find truth on one’s own albeit with the help of the learned ones or the gurus. It is like the modern scientists who try to know the truth in one’s own area of interests albeit with the help of the knowledgeable ones. In this process truth may be revealed in different ways to different persons. Full freedom to everyone at the individual basis is thus needed, and was and is given, to reveal one’s own findings and also honour the findings of others liberally from the bottom of their hearts. This is the level of freedom that was guaranteed by Hindus to all in the heydays of Vedanta philosophy.

It believes that human being has to return again to the Brahman from where he/she has come. This is the supreme aim of a Hindu undertake this reverse journey. Since everyone is a unique personality, as now has been accepted by science, the ways of achieving the reverse goal may be different and perhaps characteristically different to every individual. Hence all these paths must be recognized as equally true to reach Brahman. Everyone must therefore honour and appreciate freedom to all to seek one’s own path of salvation. Contrast this with the teachings of Christianity (largely west) and Islam to follow the truth revealed by their Prophets once and for all time. It was indeed the fact of life then and can be seen even now in such cases. The above belief evolved one basic principle that ‘truth is one and wise men say it differently’ and Hindu rishis encultured the people to accept it whole heartedly in every walk of life, not limited to only the field of spirituality. Considering that everyone is the manifestation of the same Brahman necessary freedom was allowed towards that end. It has entered into Hindu genes and can be seen and felt even in the present dilapidated Hindu social structure. That is how individual freedom came to be regarded as a life-value like many other values to be believed from the bottom of the heart unlike in the west.

Basic Hindu perception

It was also perceived by the Hindus that every human being lives and enjoys life at four different but integral levels of existence. These are the material and the spiritual and, as individual and as a society, now humanity, as well. Everybody must be made happy, to the extent possible, at all these four levels of his/her existence. The western concept of individual freedom does not regard this truth that Hindus realized long ago. The Hindus evolved their social structure accordingly. It did develop some aberrations is beside the point here. The westerners emphasize individual freedom far more than necessary and it is tilted towards exploiting the weaker ones, at the detriment of the society. The last three hundred years of their history can readily prove the point; and not that they have changed from that mental state yet.

The Hindus long ago realized that the entire animate world has inherent individual selfish interests to sustain one’s own body and at times that of own flock in proper shape to live happy life. Humans being far more evolved and therefore intelligent realized this truth far ahead of other live species. They also realized that freedom is needed to realize salvation. This realization is at its utmost in the Hindus than any other social group of humans. But this realization has been accompanied by ego in every individual life form that motivates everyone to seek material pleasures to the maximum possible extent. This ego is highest in human beings and tends to guide them in achieving material pleasures disregarding the pleasures of others. It is bound to lead to clash of interests amongst individual humans when living as a society. Humans are the only specie who can change the material world to suit individual pleasures. Hence it was realized by the Hindus that the desire for material pleasure may damage the nature beyond repair. It may as well lead to clashes amongst individuals and loss of peace and harmony in the society. Hindus therefore discovered two different ways to overcome it while allowing enough freedom to individual to pursue own interests.

In one, it suggested to expand one’s own ego slowly such that one feels as if he/she is not an individual but his family itself. Then on further expansion is supposed to lead to feel that one is not just individual and family but the society as well. Still further the ego should expand to feel that an individual, his family and all those related to him as if they are nature themselves. It is bound to contain individual selfishness and tend to sacrifice for others as well as for nature. In a way it will allow freedom to all others to enjoy life while maintaining disciplined and peaceful society and harmonious nature around. It therefore meant that individual freedom is not unlimited but it is more for the well-being of the society and the nature at large, allowing everyone to enjoy adequate freedom. It was based on the assumption that if society and nature are complimentary to human existence then individual freedom shall be automatically guaranteed. It did decrease the exploitation of nature for human pleasure, unlike by the westerners, by curtailing individual freedom in the interests of society and nature. It was to distribute freedom to all in a more socialistic manner unlike the present day distribution of freedom in the western world. It was unique approach of Hindus based on Vedanta philosophy. The formula was to expand one’s ego from individual to family to society to nature. If one follows this path properly, as was encultured, it was assured that one is bound to get salvation. It was expressed in the form of a formula for every human to expand from vyashti (individual) to samasthi (society) to shrishti (nature) such that it will result in achieving permeshti (salvation) in the end. The true Hindus therefore perceive freedom not in absolute terms, in any unlimited way, as in the west, to exploit nature and others, but conditioned for social and natural good of all without exception. It emphasizes that individual freedom shall be guaranteed within the limits of social good and not to the stronger ones in any respect, in preference.

The other was thus to minimize clash of individual interests to obtain peaceful and disciplined society while providing required sustenance and individual freedom. The social interests, including particularly those of the weaker ones, dominated the Hindu perception as a priority. Hence the second design for ensuring freedom to all was based on a very unique perception. The Hindus accordingly invented a new term called ‘dharma’. It means collective or social/national and natural good. The Hindus encultured the masses to imbibe the spirit of dharma in all their activities related to others. The evolution of dharmashastra for common masses obscured the grand philosophical vision, almost forever. It was because salvation dominated their lives unnecessarily. But this is beside the point. Hence in Hindu perception freedom was to be used for service to others and for the well-being of the society and not solely for self-aggrandizement. Here again individual freedom to even the weaker ones amongst the Hindus was ensured in the form of welfare of the society. That is how when Hindus went in nearby countries they did not exploit the societies there, they did not establish their colonies there, least of all, they did not exterminate people over there like the westerners did. They taught them the dharma concept to evolve peaceful and disciplined society while allowing equitable distribution of material wealth to all, to the extent possible. It is all because Hindus believe in human freedom as a life-value and not as a policy to be altered, for selfish interests, when necessary. On the contrary the westerners established own colonies all over the weaker societies, exploited them to the fullest extent for self-welfare. They were not ashamed to exterminate some of the very weak stone-age societies.

Gowalkar’s warning

The second RSS-chief MS alias Guruji Golwalkar is on record to have stressed that the well-being of the society should never get obscured even for a moment while pursuing individual needs in whatever form, on the principle of individual freedom. This vision of Golwalkar has been described by one Jyotirmaya Sharma as the frightening vision because it curtails individual freedom to do whatever one likes. It is published in the book form by Penguin, India. Then why not allow more carbon in the atmosphere for own personal interests? Then why bother about environment getting damaged in many different ways? Let individuals spoil it to the extent of enjoying personal freedom. Will it lead to peaceful and disciplined human race as a whole? World-wide efforts are currently going on to curtail the green-house gases in all possible ways. The prime exponent of individual freedom, the USA, is opposing this to safeguard their own interests. What havoc individual freedom beyond some limit can cause to all may be clear from this instance. The reality is that the frightening vision of Sharma is not Golwalkar’s emphasis on social good over personal freedom but, exploitation of the weaker ones by the stronger ones on any account and it is going on unabatedly all over the world. Who will teach them that they are not to exploit the weaker ones? Why should then listen to such advices by curtailing their own freedom?

Social existence

It must be realized that no one lives in this world as an individual. If one wants to live like that he/she must go to forest and live in seclusion. We humans, while living individual lives, live collectively as well as a society and now as humanity as a whole, to a large extent. Our sustenance entirely depends on the ‘give and take’ that each one of us undertakes with so many others to sustain all happily. In this exchange our individual freedom is bound to clash with similar freedom of others while pursuing own selfish interests. How to limit the tensions? In this situation the dharma concept of Hindus alone can be helpful in establishing peaceful and disciplined humanity. It will only allow individual freedom to follow one’s own way but only to the extent not detrimental to others. What Golwalkar emphasized needs to be seriously pondered by disregarding individual freedom in its extreme as proposed by Sharma.

The term dharma of Hindus vis-à-vis individual freedom needs to be appreciated. Dharma is nothing specific but to be understood as equalizing the freedom to all, irrespective of one’s strength in whatever form. The weaker ones have thus a great hope to live happily under true dharma rule. It has nothing to do with religion which is purely a personal affair to be acted upon in isolation or at best as a family. If it is to be socially observed then it must take the shape of social enjoyment only. The more everyone behaves as per dharma the more possible it will be to establish peaceful and disciplined society to facilitate progress of everyone, to the extent possible. In that case exploitation of others, on any account, shall be the minimum. Dharma is not codified in any way. It is an open system. The dharma of Hindus alone decides the interrelationships between humans. It means duties of one to the other in whatever be the relationships. Truly the learned ones who have good of the society at heart, more than their own selfish interests, shall be the guide to understand what dharma suggests in relation to any subject of social interests. Everybody must be made happy, to the extent possible, at all the physical levels of everybody’s existence. The proportion of each one of these may depend on individual personality. The western perception does not take such a holistic view of an individual as suggested in the Hindu ethos. It emphasizes individual freedom disregarding often the social welfare and that has created lot of problems in India and elsewhere in the world.

It is often seen that freedom is increasingly being misused by some sections of the media in acting in personal interests that is in a way detrimental to the individuals and the society at large. According to Jyotirmaya Sharma it is not at all frightening vision. They are enjoying personal freedom to its limit. But is it good for the society? How to curtail the misuse? It is often suggested that they should themselves control it. It is possible only if they have the social good at heart. What will motivate them to act in social interests? There is nothing else than dharma concept of Hindus emphasizing good of society over individual good.

Indian scenario

Let us recall the incident at Jawaharlal Nehru University at Delhi that occurred on 16th February 2016, wherein slogans were raised by the Omar Khalid and Kanhaiya Kumar gangue vowing to break India by praising terrorist Afzal Guru who was earlier hanged. The highly westernized and left intellectuals justified it as freedom of expression while the nationalists considered it as anti-national act. The westernized intellectuals justified it on the basis that such things are tolerated in the west as freedom of expression. The western countries are well organized societies and stabilized as nations. They have a proper and efficient judicial system to punish the guilty. Their overwhelming, perhaps more than ninety nine percent population, is nationalist and patriots. They need not take note of such isolated thing as, the possible damage such things can cause, is negligible. It is thus treated as an exception. But it is not the case in India. Our nationhood is yet to be properly consolidated. There are so many fissiparous groups trying to secede from India if they get a chance. The constitution will not be of any use to prevent such an eventuality. There are communist, minority groups and intellectuals who proclaim that India is an occupying power in Kashmir, Manipur, Nagaland and so on. There is a group in Tamil Nadu that does not even believe in one nation one people in India. What kind of havoc will be created by liberal anti-national expressions of freedom? Any one can imagine. Do we want to go back to the old disunited social state of affairs in India? What may constitute freedom of expression in the well-developed west may not be proper to integrate India in a short span of time. Hence there is no point in giving examples from the west to justify freedom expressing intention of breaking India. In fact it is tantamount to helping such divisive forces under the garb of freedom. No freedom can be granted that goes against the good of society in anyway.

External interference

In the name of freedom the western foreign powers as well as the Middle East Muslim nations donate lot of money to carry our proselytization activities of converting the Hindus into Christians and Muslims. The story is only one way because the Hindus do not believe in proselytization. Should we allow it under the garb of freedom of those who are out to break India by converting it into Muslim or Christian land? This financial help is also ill-utilised in mobilizing public opinion against developmental activities under the garb of environmental damage or any such outwardly sober activity. The Modi government has banned all such NGOs that did not give account of the foreign aid they so received. As usual the freedom-walas made a hue and cry but of no avail. This is how the freedom provided for individual and social/national development has been and is being misused. Should we continue to allow it? If one wants to know more details in this respect he/she is directed to read ‘Braking India’ written by Rajiv Malhotra. Hence social good must dominate over individual freedom.

Dichotomy

There is always dichotomy between individual freedom and social good. The demarcation between the two is rather hazy and varies from almost person to person. If one criticizes Mahatma Gandhi it is not considered as freedom of expression. It is insisted upon that he be treated as father of nation with due honour. It only means that even the exponents of unlimited individual freedom understand that there is a limit to freedom and that it should not be used to the detriment of the society/nation. Individual freedom should not be used to the detriment of feelings of others. This limit is flexible and varies from person to person and issue to issue. It is thus highly subjective. The Hindus have given some solid criteria to judge and differentiate individual freedom and social good in the form of dharma. But the modern intellectuals are scared to differentiate the individual freedom and social good by using dharma. There is no other way to do it. For them dharma is religion which is a closed, rigid and hegemonistic system whereas dharma is open and flexible that decides the interrelations between humans. If the aim is clear then it becomes easy to understand the limits of individual freedom. The excessive insistence on individual freedom tends to obfuscate this limit and creates problems for social good.

Every society has its own characteristics perceptions of freedom depending upon its organized state, it’s broadly unified aim, its educational system, commitment of the citizens to law and order and on the whole desire to live and prosper as a society/nation amongst the comity of nations. The society must therefore decide the demarcation between individual freedom and social good and not insist on unlimited individual freedom that is detrimental to society/nation.

Religious freedom

The above discussion is more related to socio-political area. What about religious freedom? Hindu ethos is the ideal perception of freedom with respect to religion. The Christianity and more so Islam do not give practically any religious freedom. They are fixed practices unalterable by any human now. On the contrary, the Hindu being no religion but a way of life allows maximum possible religious freedom by following any path to achieve salvation. That is how there are number of such modes of worship in the form of sampradayas in the Hindu parlance. Even an individual can follow his own mode as distinct from the others. Yet it is blamed as intolerant by the modern left intellectuals. The action of Hindus in this matter is often a reaction to the action of other religious individuals or groups in trying to harm the Hindus. For full religious freedom it is necessary that conversion needs to be banned except by proper procedure and open record. Here again freedom to preach needs further clarification and dos and don’ts to define its limits.

Muslim societies do not talk about freedom as the very concept is alien to Koran. Declared Islamic states do not allow religious freedom Muslims much less to others. In that they insist on following the Koran and Hadith only. In fact they do not allow freedom almost in any way. That is how they oppose the freedom of their women in any form. Because of this the comparison herein is made between Hindus and westerners only.

It may be worth remembering here the great historian of previous century Arnold Toynbee’s words in the form of the following quotation:

“The spirit of mutual goodwill, esteem and veritable love that is striking today amongst the adherents of all the religions is the traditional spirit of religions of the Indian family. This is one single of India’s gift to the world. No gift could be greater and none more timely in the atomic age.”

Is it worth copying or denigrating?

Economics

It is now clear to almost all that freedom in economic activities is a must to progress. Such market economy alone can bring out the creativity of so many in improving the material standard of living of even the masses. India unnecessarily copied the Russian model and curtailed freedom in this area. But the mistake was rectified finally in 1991 CE by throwing the socialism in the dustbin of history. But it is not yet fully open. Even China finally opened its economy and achieved progress to an unimaginable extent by becoming almost the world hub of production of goods. Our half-hearted effort needs further opening of the economy and freedom to carry out economic activities. But even in this area total unrestricted freedom may damage the social fabric and cause tensions unseen before. It is often that freedom is pleaded by those who have plenty of wealth and would like to accumulate more. It is not in social interests. It represents the western style freedom only. Again here also it will have to be noted that the demand for opening up of India’s economy is more from the western world to provide them opportunities for exploitation of the poor and ignorant Indian masses. There is no point in learning lessons of freedom from the west because it is based on selfish interests.

Freedom in overall life

Freedom to a broadly accepted level for the benefit of the entire society in each and every field of activity is always welcome. But selfishness often transcends these limits intelligently and creates unbalanced welfare of the society as a whole. It needs to be watched and corrected accordingly. It is not all that difficult but a long drawn out struggle, stretched over at least few generations of time, and many will have to be modern selfless rishis to rectify this imbalance.

Human rights and personal freedom

Human rights has become something very precious in the modern day world after War II. There are individuals and groups who claim to be champions of human rights. They do not bother how the personal freedom is being used, for betterment of humanity or for sectarian interests; for example the human rights of Rohingya Muslims. What is the guarantee of it not being used for terrorist activities? What is the guarantee that the human rights of separatists will not be used for anti-national activities, like pelting stones at the armed forces? Human rights of minorities are often seen uprooting the national/social spirit and its place is often taken by anti-national/social activities. They do not allow themselves to get assimilated in the main social stream of the nation. The typical example is of Jin Ziang province of China. But the human rights pleaders do not care about such fineness. They plead for human rights in totality with no bars to claim perhaps for themselves some honour. What is the use of human rights of minorities if it is used to disintegrate the nation? Hence all probable personal freedom must be used for social/national good only. The good of individual is included in the social good.

Reality

With more than fifty percent population not even getting two square meals a day who is after personal freedom in India and in third world? Do they understand what is meant by freedom? It appears to be the luxury of the haves to exploit the have-nots. Alternatively it is misused by the so-called leaders, in the name of have-nots, for personal selfish interests. With so much demand intelligently created by the manufacturers through advertisement, the average individual is only after material goods and nothing higher in life. Who is cultivating the virtues of individual freedom? With so much of Media busy after selfish interests by exploiting the masses, through fake, paid-up and twisted news items, in one or the other form, who is safeguarding individual freedom except of the elite ones? With so many of selfish and criminal element dominating in democratic political activities and misguiding the gullible masses in the third world countries who will look after the freedom of masses? Widespread corruption is the only outcome. Is freedom meant for it? This is true of the entire third world. What is the use of freedom to them? With so much of selfish interests dominating the educational sector who will enlighten the masses about the need of freedom? With so many in the sacred medical profession exploiting the ignorant masses, by scaring them about the imaginary diseases what is the use of freedom to doctors vis-à-vis the patients. With almost the entire government machinery endeavouring only for self-interests what is the use of personal freedom to them?

There are so many such anomalies as above in everybody’s life. The cultivation of dharma alone can rectify the situation. There appears no other solution. Call it dharma or by any other name it will have to be cultivated for the good of society and humanity at large.