Category Archives: PROUT

Prout for Parivartan (Change)

By Ac. Kalyaneshvarananda Avt.

Prout (Progressive Utilization Theory) is a socio-economico-political theory propounded by Shri Prabhat Ranjan Sarkar, also known as Shrii Shrii Anandamurtijii (as Dharma Guru). Dharma Guru entering the area of Socio-economic affairs was something unprecedented, more so because He included this theory as part of His basic Dharmic text, (known as Ananda Sutram) thus making it part of Dharma. By including Prout as part of His Dharmic treatise, Shrii Shrii Anandamurtijii clearly made an emphatic statement: Without Prout, Ananda Marga ideology is incomplete and at the same time Proutists cannot cross the boundaries of Dharma.

Guaranteed Minimum Requirements

These two statements explain the basis of His theory Prout, which advocates solutions to socio-economic issues. The first and foremost solution Prout advocates is a constitutional guarantee to every human being that he or she gets sufficient purchasing power to avail basic necessities of life (food, clothing, shelter, education and medical care). This guarantee will allow one and all to pursue their spiritual goal. Without Dharma or spirituality, human life is worse than that of an animal.

Professor Debnarayan Sarkar (former Professor of Presidency University, Kolkata), an economist of repute, says that by this single provision, Shri P.R. Sarkar has brought a revolution in both physical and psychic spheres. Every human being – both rich and poor- is worried about -what will happen to him or his family tomorrow. This provision in Prout allows every citizen to go to court if he or she is not getting minimum requirements. He need not worry for tomorrow or ever after. This is a great psychological relief! It is difficult to imagine today – what far reaching changes it will bring to human society. Most of the tensions or stress every human being is going through will be effectively nullified by this single provision of Shri P.R. Sarkar. 

Maximum Utilization and Rational Distribution

But it is not the only thing that Prout advocates. It also advocates maximum utilization and rational distribution. The utilization theory as Prout has been named, focuses on maximum utilization of all the resources. The resources provided to humanity by nature are definitely abundant, but they are not infinite. If greed of human being is ignited further as is being done in capitalism today, the resources will dry up sooner than one can imagine and all the comforts and facilities science and technology has offered to human beings will be a thing of the past. Use and throw systems have to be replaced use and reuse system, reuse to the maximum. The callous attitude that grows out of arrogance and show of the wealth is going to result in a catastrophe. So Shri P.R. Sarkar rightly advocates maximum utilization of natural and human resources, so that Prkrti will get sufficient time and space to regenerate the resources for our future generations. 

Maximum utilization is associated with rational distribution of the resources. How every individual will get his or her due -first the minimum requirements and then additional emoluments in accordance to the value added services he or she is providing to society and also considering his or her special needs for providing those rare services. All this depends on the economic status of that particular socio-economic zone. But principle will remain the same -provide minimum requirements to all through purchasing power and then provide additional emoluments for their quality services. This is based on a novel principle that is natural to our world. In Ananda Sutram the author says: Vaecitryaḿ prákrtadharmah samánaḿ na bhaviśyati. It means everything that exists is different; it is natural that they are not equal and as such equal distribution is unnatural and unjustified, it is against the needs of the people and against the natural laws. It has to be rational distribution. Requirements of a labour and an artist or that of a doctor cannot be the same. A person living in cold climate and one in warm country – their requirements also differ. Requirements change according to time, space and person and so rational distribution is the only right approach.

Increasing Minimum Standard of Living

The minimum standard of living should always keep on increasing, because that is the indication of vitality of society, thus says Shri P.R. Sarkar. This is another dimension of Prout which makes it a living ideology. If minimum requirements are kept stagnant at a particular level, this will never satisfy a person – whatever standard of living he or she has been affording to live. So to keep on increasing the standard is vital and for that production of that socio-economic unit should also keep on increasing. 

No accumulation without permission

The propounder of Prout tried to remove the need for accumulation by an individual. But it is not always possible that Proutist system would respond immediately to emergency needs of a person or a family and so some accumulation of wealth has to be allowed. But it is long time experience that greed of human being may not stop at a particular point and if allowed one will keep on accumulating wealth for his or his family's requirements. This will certainly affect availability of essential requirements of others. So although accumulation is allowed, it cannot be unlimited and so the collective body of Sadvipras will decide how much a person or a family can accumulate without affecting others. This will keep on changing according to availability of the requirements.

Change in Method of Utilization    

One very important aspect which makes Prout an ever-living theory is its 5th principle. It says the method of utilization will vary according to time, space and person and this change should be of progressive nature. The advancement in science and technology will always invite better utilization of human and natural resources and so method of utilization has to change and this change should be forward looking, progressive.

Further reading: Human Society Is One and Indivisible – 2

PROUT’s Vision of True Human Society

By Taraka 

Across the face of this planet we find the greatest humanitarian crisis since the Second World War. 125 million people are in need of aid due to famine, wars and other crimes against humanity. We are seeing societies being torn apart by various forms of hatred, discrimination and violence based on narrow sentiments. And the crisis is a planetary crisis in that we are currently undergoing the 6th greatest extinction of plant and animal species in the history of this planet and for the first time this is an unnatural crisis caused by the omnicidal culture of today’s capitalist societies. In fact, when we start to examine the various so-called societies on this planet we begin to realize that in fact we have not even begun to create a genuine society worthy of the dignity of the ardent hopes, anguished expectations of suffering humanity. Never before has this predicament and mission been revealed with more sublime clarity and urgency than by the Preceptor of PROUT, Shrii Prabhat Ranjan Sarkar,

“The entire humankind of the universe constitutes one singular people. All humanity is bound together; those who are apt to remain oblivious of this very simple truth, those who are prone to distort it, are the deadliest enemies of humanity. Today people should identify these foes very well and build up a healthy human society, totally ignoring all obstacles and difficulties.
It must be borne in mind that so long as a magnificent, healthy and universalistic human society is not well established, humanity’s entire culture, and civilization, its sacrifice, service and spiritual endeavour, shall not carry any worth whatsoever.” (1 January 1973, Ananda Vanii)

Before we go further we should understand that for Shrii Sarkar there have been only two personalities in human history who have laid the foundations for a true society. The first was Lord Shiva whom Shrii Sarkar revealed was a historical personality who lived 7500 years ago. In an age of conflict due to Aryan invasions and narrow clan division, Lord Shiva laid the foundations of human society. He did this firstly by creating the first families. Prior to this, men and women led hedonistic lives and children were the victims. By spiritual, mental, verbal and physical persuasion and force Shiva created the first true marriages based on the foundation of service of husband and wife to each other based on Tantra yoga which enabled them to realise Consciousness in their family members. In the tradition of Tantra women were actually given more status and control than men. The second way Lord Shiva created a new society was by propagating the ideal of sama-samaja tattva (Principle of Social Equality). As Shrii Sarkar explains,

“So Shiva held one ideal before them: ‘Remember, you are all the loving children of the Supreme Father, You are entitled to live in this world as the sons and daughters of one and the same Cosmic Father. And I am always ready to help you to establish yourselves in your right to cosmic inheritance and a truly ideological life.’” (Discourse 2, Namah Shiváya Shántáya)

He not only propagated this, He also established this by firstly uniting the indigenous Indians (adi bharatiiyas) to fight Aryan imperialism but then also building peace amongst the various racial groups and setting the example by marrying one woman from each of the major racial groups (Parvati (Aryan), Kali (Dravidian) and Ganga (Oriental)).  Lord Shiva went further and created the first cosmopolitan city in the world based on Sama-Samaja in Varanasi. In this city all clans, all races lived together as one family before the Aryan conquest of Varanasi several centuries later. The third way Lord Shiva created a new society is by creating human civilization. In countless dimensions of civilization such music, arts, yoga, health, architecture, literature Shiva and Parvati created the forgotten foundations of human society.
      The second personality who laid the foundations of a genuine human society was Lord Krsna. We shall not dwell at length on His manifold contributions as many of them generally are known to us today. We should mention however that Shrii Sarkar has mentioned that one of the cardinal contributions of Lord Krsna to human society is to arouse social consciousness. People then, like today never seriously thought how they were living together as a society. By traveling across India, Lord Krsna aroused the spirit of the Indian people to question their small society in which they lived and to question the various dogmas that were causing divisions in the society. Even as a small boy Lord Krsna convinced His community to stop worshipping Indra, the main Vedic god. He further in the Gita stated that Arjuna should not blindly accept the scriptures but should only accept the sentient, rational portions of the Vedas and above all should seek to transcend the Vedas. The second thing that Shrii Sarkar revealed is that Lord Krsna did not want to unite India into Mahabharata simply for the sake of crude nationalism but rather as a mission of service. As Shrii Sarkar stated

“The guiding factor behind the creation of the Mahábhárata was Dharma – the creation of a great human society in which there would be peace, happiness, fraternity and no poverty. In that period, it was the rule that the country was held responsible if a person died of starvation. Not merely this, if there was an early death, if a child of five or so died, people regarded it as a flaw in the ruling structure.” (“Planning for the Mahávishva”, Discourses on the Mahábhárata)

Finally we can note that Shrii Sarkar revealed that buried underneath Purana Qila in Delhi is the Pratiika (spiritual symbol of Lord Krsna) upon which Lord Krsna made King Yuddhisthira, the first king of united India, take an oath that he would care for every single one of his people like his own children and rule according to the tenets of Dharma.

Understanding Samaja

Samánam ejati ityarthe samájah. The verb “ejati” means “to move with a particular purpose”. So when inspired by a common ideology different individuals move towards the common goal and become active for its achievement, this can be called a society. This genuine society starts with the family. As Shrii Sarkar explains

“In a family, where each individual gives importance to the comforts and well-being of the other members, however physically or intellectually underdeveloped they may be, we see a society in miniature. There are many families in the world where every member is concerned about the welfare of the others, despite differences in their physical or intellectual capacity. This is an ideal family. This should also be the ideal form of society, although this is extremely rare today.” (“The Responsibility of Society”, Prout in a Nutshell Part 21)

This is why Shrii Sarkar describes the entire universe as the Cosmic joint-family. This vision is not a matter of utopian sentiment but rather arises from the spiritual stance attained by Tantra yoga which creates a revolution in one’s outlook and state of Consciousness. We should note that by ideology mentioned above, we do not mean a rigid set of ideas such as in the case of communism or a series of abstract intellectual ideas. Ideology involves the assimilation of spiritual experiences of harmony and divine oneness (bhava) into one’s thinking, behaving and socializing. The ideal of the Cosmic family is found in cultures all over this world. This ideal Shrii Sarkar names as Ananda Parivara. In the Taittiriya Upanishad, the radical rsi Bhrgu revealed that everything has emerged from, exists at present in and will merge into Ananda or limitless happiness, or Bliss. This bliss was revealed in the gana-cakra (circle of Tantric disciples) of Lord Shiva and the rasaliila (circle of devotees) of Lord Krsna. Hence this entire creation is the common, Cosmic Inheritance of everyone. This is known as the principle of Cosmic Inheritance. The corollary to this is that no individual has the right to hoard this cosmic property, thereby depriving, starving and otherwise harming the other members of our Cosmic Family

The second metaphor by which Shrii Sarkar reveals the essence of that of a genuine society is that of a pilgrimage. Now as a Dharma Guru, Shrii Sarkar rejected pilgrimage as a social superstition. Herein, He primarily refers to the pilgrimage of devotees who are not absorbed in superstitious beliefs of being relieved of their sins by visiting holy places but rather who are moving singing devotional songs pouring out their love to their Beloved Lord. Shrii Sarkar describes this as follows,

“What is society like? It is like a group of people going on a pilgrimage. Try to imagine the scene! Suppose one of the pilgrims is struck down by cholera. Will the rest of them continue on their way, leaving the sick man behind? No, that would be inconceivable for them. Rather, they will break their journey for a day or two, and cure him of his disease. If he is still too weak to walk they will carry him on their shoulders. If some people run short of food, others share what they have with them. Together they share their possessions, and together they march ahead, singing in unison. In their eagerness to move ahead with others they forget their trifling differences which might have led to angry exchanges and court cases in their families, even down to three generations. It is because of the petitions of the complainant in a land dispute that some people go so far as to spend ten or twenty times more than the piece of land is worth. The essence of cooperation resulting from this collective movement aims at expanding a person’s mind by striking down the barriers of meanness. I repeat that a true society is like such a group of pilgrims who attain a deep psychic affinity while travelling together which helps them solve all the problems in their individual and social lives.” (“The Spirit of Society”, A Few Problems Solved Part 6)

Three Dimensions of a True Society

As per Shrii Sarkar, “The superiority or excellence of the social structure, culture or civilization of a community of people is derived from the degree of pramá which that community attains in its individual and collective life.” (“Pramá-1”, A Few Problems Solved Part 8) Prama means dynamic equipoise, equilibrium and harmony. This concept emerges out of Shrii Sarkar’s new revelation of Tantric cosmology rooted in it. One of the key hallmarks of the present planetary crisis is the breakdown of social, ecological, cultural and intellectual systems revealing their innate distortions and lack of inner balance and harmony. This is why Shrii Sarkar states,

“If we analyse the history of different [communities of people of] the world, we notice that despite their tremendous physical, psychic and spiritual potentialities, they did not utilize the opportunity they had to establish pramá in individual and collective life. This was due to their defective ideas and practices and their faulty social and economic systems. They were not able to strengthen human society by developing different branches of knowledge, by evolving culture and civilization, or by bringing about intellectual and spiritual advancement. In the absence of pramá, they could not make the fullest possible contribution to human society by developing different branches of human knowledge, uplifting the standard of culture and civilization, and raising the level of intellect and intuition.” (Ibid.)

This is a vast science having countless applications and dimensions. Let us very briefly consider the three primary dimensions of prama.
 
1)      Pramá Saḿvrddhi: This involves prama or balanced dynamic development reaching great progress (without any inequality) in the material world while maintaining harmony and equilibrium with the psychic and spiritual realms. To achieve this in each of the countless arenas such as agriculture, industry, medicine, athletics and discover how the matrix of forces underlying them evolve from a triad of primary forces. By restoring balance to each of these forces, increasing their dynamism and intensifying their harmony with related forces in the psychic and spiritual realm prama samvrddhi is established. This also involves restoring and developing ecological balance. Four factors that need to be considered in this regard are i) The physical demand at present and the physical demand in the foreseeable future; ii) the physical supply at present and the physical supply in the foreseeable future; iii) the maximum utilization of land; iv) The Five Fundamental Principles of PROUT as they apply to the physical stratum.

2)      Pramá Rddhi: This involves when there is maximal progress (without any discrimination or animosity) in the psychic realm (comprising the various presently known as well as unknown domains of intellectuality, sentimentality and intuition. As we have seen earlier this entails discovering the matrix of idée-forces (thought energies) and the primary triad of forces underlying various intellectual fields and underlying the realms of sentimentality and intuition. Restoring balance to each of these realms is much more difficult as human beings identify themselves far too much with various physical sensations, thoughts and emotions. As a result it becomes difficult for people to maintain rationality which requires transcending these low states of Consciousness so that one can understand them, control them and sublimate them. Hence maintain psychic balance in one’s inner ecology (of countless thoughts, feelings, sentiments, intuitions) involves yoga or the elevation of mind and merger into Pure Consciousness. It furthermore entails the balanced, dynamic blossoming of all the various levels of the mind or kosas including a) crude, desiring mind, b) subtle, rational mind, c) supramental mind, d) subliminal mind and e) subtle causal mind. We should note that while these may be somewhat developed in the individual mind they are quite primitively developed or not at all developed in the collective mind. This is why crowd psychology often becomes mob psychology. Hence to prevent various exploiters from using the media to create a mob psychology we need to develop the higher levels of the collective mind in a balanced manner. Furthermore, there are various levels of higher Consciousness which need to be developed in a balanced way. We should note that for Shrii Sarkar those magnanimous psychic propensities, ideals, actions and patterns of behaviour that establish one in psychic prama or prama rddhi are the principles of morality. Morality for Shrii Sarkar is in fact this state of psychic harmony.  This equilibrium that is dynamically evolving towards merger of the mind in Pure Consciousness expresses itself diversely in different natural and social environments. To develop this Prama Rddhi one requires i) spirituo-psychic urge this is essentially an urge of love that Supreme Beloved who is one’s innermost Self. As Shrii Sarkar explains,

“What is that spirituo-psychic urge or spirituo-psychic propulsion? It is: I love my Lord, I love Him. My love knows no barriers, and in the field of activity I will be ready to do anything and everything for Him. I will recognize no obstacles, I will not care for anyone’s blame or censure. The chariot of my victory will move undaunted, smashing all hindrance.” (“Physical Propulsion, Psychic Propensities and Spiritual Attainment”, Neohumanism in a Nutshell Part 2)

Next is required, ii) psycho-spiritual action or actional progress. This progress involves firstly the withdrawal of psychic energy and attention from various propensities, thoughts, sentiments and intuitions. Secondly it involves the focusing of all that energy upon that Supreme Self, that Supreme Consciousness in the core of one’s “I-feeing” or one’s existence. The result is as Shrii Sarkar explains,

“In this state of pramá rddhi, the ectoplasmic stuff of the mind gets powdered down. It develops not only in mass and volume, but moves forward towards the pinnacled intellect (agryábuddhi), while maintaining psychic adjustment, in order to attain sharp penetration of the mind.” (“Prama-1”)

Thus to conclude, it is by developing one’s spirituality, that one develops psychic balance and harmony. Finally we should note that as per Shrii Sarkar the cardinal human values such as Ahimsa and Satya that illumine and energize social progress evolve from this effort to develop higher psychic faculties related to the spiritual realm. The most important aspect of Prama Rddhi is to create unity in this psycho-sentimental realm by inspire humanity with cardinal human values.

3)      Pramá Siddhi: This psycho-spiritual dynamic balance results in the merger of the mind into pure Consciousness. This process is the path towards prama-siddhi. We have seen earlier that as the mental stuff of the mind is powdered down it become sublimated into Consciousness. This is the practical result of meditation that is too subtle and complex a topic to be discussed at this time. It is important that rejecting the spiritual capitalism of many yogis of the past, Shrii Sarkar states that this Prama Siddhi is not done out of self interest but for the promotion of the interests of all. By attaining this state one will be able to take the psychic burdens of others upon oneself and one will become a medium for divine energies to function in the struggle to establish a society based on righteousness (Dharma-rajya).

Six Essential Elements for a Genuine Society

Shrii Sarkar reveals that the very existence of society is dependent upon three factors: Asti, Bhati and Anandam. Asti refers to the fundamental factors to exist in the world today such as food, water, clothing, housing, medical care and education. Obviously as society develops more items need to be considered as basic to existence such as the right to information and communication and of course for basic civil liberties. Anandam refers to that ecstatic stance of spiritual oneness mentioned earlier. Bhati signifies holistic or comprehensive development and comprises six crucial factors Let us briefly examine them.
 
1)      Social Outlook: In every so-called society in history and even today we find a lack of a genuine social outlook that as we have seen above cherishes and cares for every member of society as a child of immortality (amrta putrasya). As Shrii Sarkar states, “The inculcation of the spiritual outlook will not strengthen the boundaries between nations but will lead to the establishment of a universal state, a global nation, with a common thread of unity and aspiration. That nation will be known as the human nation.” (“Human Society Is One and Indivisible – 2”, A Few Problems Solved Part 2)

2)      Socio-economic Theory: Now in most societies there is no socio-economic theory guiding society and that is why there is so much poverty, exploitation and degradation of humanity. Today most of the so-called liberal democracies do not even admit that their society is based on legalized looting and mafiadom called capitalism. In fact capitalism as a theory evolved far later than capitalism as a social reality primarily as a propaganda exercise and not as a system by which society is guided. Communism has a very clear socio-economic theory but the theory is brilliant at critiquing capitalism and woefully void when it comes to articulating just exactly how a communist economy should function. The result has seen in the chaos and famines of various communist regimes and in the ensuing crimes against humanity that followed. What is required is a clear socio-economic systems that serves as the foundation for the unbarred development of humanity in the material, psychic and spiritual realms. Some basic elements of a genuine socio-economic theory are i) decentralized planning: so that the local people control their economy rather than being slaves to bureaucrats or to capitalist or corporate exploiters and where the entire economic production, distribution and trade is geared towards the holistic development of that local society ; ii) a balanced economy where thirty to forty percent of the people should depend directly on agriculture, and about twenty percent on agro-industries, twenty percent on agrico-industries, ten percent on general trade and commerce, and ten percent on intellectual or white collar jobs iii) a cooperative commonwealth where the entire economy is governed by networks of various forms of cooperatives and iv) socio-cultural ecoregions based on the following criteria: a) same economic problems; b) uniform economic potentialities; c) ethnic similarities; d) the common sentimental legacy of the people; and e) similar geographical features. As per Shrii Sarkar creating unity in the socio-economic realm is the foundation for a progressive society. This means removing all social disparities like casteism and racism and removing all pernicious economic inequalities such as the fact that certain regions of India like Chattisgarh, Vidarbha, Orissa and Bihar suffer severe poverty, neglect and exploitation.

3)      Spiritual ideology: As we have seen a spiritual ideology (samaja adarsha) is at the heart of a true society. Thus far in history, we have seen religions and not genuine spiritual ideologies. In general there are four kinds of spiritual philosophies: i) matter-centred: many religions are centred around continuing material enjoyment after death in heaven. Communism believes in a similar heaven in the future when the socialist state withers away and communist utopia arrives. Thousands have died for these greed-based fantasies; ii) dogma-centred: traditional religions are based on irrational, outdated but rigid beliefs that lead to discrimination and violence. Crores and crores have suffered and are suffering today because of these dogmas; iii) self-centred: capitalist religions are centred around selfish pleasure for even yoga and bhakti is pursued as a kind of selfish pleasure heedless of suffering in the society; and iv) God-centred: in which one’s direct experience of union with Supreme Consciousness moves outwards in the form of philosophical and social expressions of divine love and union. So, a genuine ideology must be a Cosmic ideology and not bound by dogmas related to a particular place, race or time in history. This involves explaining the origin and culmination of the evolution of the Cosmos from Consciousness to matter and thereafter evolution towards merger in pure Consciousness. The one Cosmic Ideology will have to be realised and disseminated; that one Supreme Father, the Cosmic Entity, is the goal of all living beings. This spiritual sentiment will keep humanity united for all time to come. It will form the entire planetary world and even the universe into a nation. No other theory can save the human race.

4)      Scripture: Thus far we have seen scriptures that only propagated superstition. In addition, the Aryan scriptures have propagated violence and discrimination towards outsider social groups and to those who refuse to accept these scriptures. A genuine scripture is that which helps one’s spiritual practice and inspires and aids one to attain merger of one’s mind in the supreme state of Pure Consciousness. One example of a genuine scripture is the Guru Granth Sahib which only consists of devotional songs with noble social and spiritual ideals. However society today requires scriptures or systems of realization in every sphere of life. In particular the main types of scripture are i) social scriptures that provide practices, ideals and collective events that create social unity;  ii) philosophical scriptures that enable one to manifest one’s spiritual experiences in countless dimensions of human knowledge so as to enable the creation of a universal, benevolent, culturally prosperous and just society based on social equality; iii) Dharmic scriptures: or rational scriptures that aid one in practically moving beyond lower states of mind and merging in Pure Consciousness or one’s true self and endow one with sublime righteousness (Dharma)

5)      Preceptor: This English word comes from the Latin prefix “prae” meaning “before” combined with the verb “capere” meaning “to grasp, take, catch, undertake, hold, comprehend, be large enough for.” So a preceptor is someone to is able to grasp the absolute Truth and who is an entity large enough to grasp the inifinite dimension of Truth and who can bring it before the disciples so they can experience it as a living reality and not as an abstract philosophy. As we know the Sanskrit word is Guru or someone who removes one’s inner darkness and empowers one to remove it from the society. Now a social teacher is called a samaja guru but here we are referring to a Mahasamaja Guru. This is a profound subject about which, even after decades of meditation one only gets glimpses. In essence the criteria of a true Preceptor is that i) in the spiritual world, he alone can be a guru who by innate spiritual power can lift downtrodden humanity to a high spiritual level, who can illumine humanity with spiritual effulgence; ii) one must have profound knowledge of existing scriptures about spiritual practice and devotion and also the capacity to reveal new scriptures iii) spiritual power to reward and punish disciples to bring them onto the path of liberation iv) profound knowledge of human psychology to enlighten and guide humanity v) to guide humanity comprehensively a preceptor must be able to enlighten humanity in all dimensions of intellectual knowledge and hence must know all languages; vi) to liberate humanity a preceptor must be able to guide humanity in all dimension of material knowledge such as agriculture, economics, law, politics, physical, biology, chemistry, cosmology, etc..

Pseudo-Societies Based on Group Psychology

The above society is based on service psychology – upon the desire to love, blossom and liberate every single created being in this universe. Where such a psychology or social outlook is weak due to lack of one or more of the above aforesaid qualities, then one develops a group psychology. As Shrii Sarkar forthrightly remarks,

“As long on this earth as group mentality or collective mentality – a collective mentality behind which operates a sentimentality based on innumerable superstitions – persists in a noticeable form, it is bound to cloud the otherwise clear human intellect – unless a rationalistic mentality awakens in humans. In the absence of rationalistic mentality, human beings are bound to harm other groups, and even subgroups of their own groups.” (“Living Beings and Their Mentality”, The Liberation of Intellect: Neohumanism)

Shrii Sarkar states that all these sentiments arise from the propensity of moha or blind attachment. This in yoga is considered to be one of one’s ripus or true enemies. This propensity in the new science of biopsychology (revealed by Shrii Sarkar) is associated with the Manipura Cakra or igneous plexus in the navel region. Based on this and other ripus (physical desire, anger, greed, vanity and jealousy) various forms of socio-psychological bondages arise in the society known as pashas (jugupsa [hypocrisy, backbiting], fear, shame, hatred, doubt, cultural superiority complex, family superiority complex and vanity). This is why social liberation involves not merely physical and psychic revolution but also requires a psycho-spiritual revolution in the form of yoga. The primary sentiments around which group psychology is formed is
 
1)      Geo-sentiment: Irrational, selfish love for a particular land which leads to the exploitation and abuse of other people in other lands. Furthermore in order to maintain control over the land it requires the partial or full enslavement of one’s fellow residents of that land. This sentiment is by nature a form of himsa or violence. Nationalism resulted in two world wars in the last century and national imperialism is plunged us deeper into another world war at present. Narrower sentiments like provincialism have been causing civil wars since the dawn of social groups. Still narrower sentiments, such as the desire to seize small plots of land, has led to legal and martial battles  and stained the beautiful soil of this planet with the blood of the innocent since the dawn of humanity on this planet. Shrii Sarkar clearly states that such nationalism or any other geo-sentiment is the number one enemy that prevents one from developing bhakti or mystical love and hence from developing genuine social spirit.

2)      Socio-sentiment: Irrational, selfish love for a particular social group. This can be sentiment for one’s particular family or clan which is the basis of aristocracy which has brought misery to so many. Then there is sentiment for one particular social group or caste or varna. Millions have suffered and died from this social vice – especially since the demise of Buddhism. The entire structure of economic exploitation in South Asia is based on casteism and hence as Shrii Sarkar said, fighting casteism is a fundamental part of PROUT. Then there is tribalism which still plagues countries like Afghanistan, India and African nations and leaves them ripe for capitalist exploitation and genocide. Then there is racism which was largely vanquished in the 20th century but has now returned with a vengeance in the current global ideological vacuum. In reality the entire global economic and social order is based on racism in that white nations face less brutal exploitation than darker nations. A most virulent form of socio-sentiment today is cultural imperialism. Capitalist culture is a crude caricature of Anglo-american and Japanese culture that is used to create debasing imitation cultures in other places such as Bollywood culture. The aim is to use pornography, self-centred lifestyles to divide and alienate individuals so as to prevent them from resisting economic exploitation and to make them insecure and susceptible to media advertising of their products. In addition various social divisions such as caste and religion are made the basis of a new culture of hatriotism. The aim once again being the blinding of the public to capitalist economic exploitation by involving them in vicious cycles of fear, hatred and violence.
Finally the most pernicious form of socio-sentiment is obsession with a particular religion which led to the partition of India in the past and which threatens its future. Based on various environmental conditions various social practices and doctrines evolve. When these rituals and doctrines start being treated as divine, then they become dogmas or psycho-physical diseases. A collection of dogmas is an “ism” and a collections of “isms” is a religion. Shrii Sarkar spent more time combating the pernicious influence of dogma than any other social vice including capitalist exploitation. The main weapons of such religions are the propagation of stories, myths and parables to create superiority, inferiority and fear complexes. Since such religions are innately unnatural, any small shock in the realm of politics, economics or the intellectual realm can disturb them severely and thus they tend to lash out in hatred and violence. Religions thus create a global cycle of hatred as each religion adopts the culture of himsa from the religions it fights. Religions are based on i) sentiments that create these complexes through scriptures, priests and religious communities; ii) ritualistic observances based on these sentiments that provide a false sense of pseudo-spiritual satisfaction and enable priests to extract money; iii) dogmatic traditions that enable priests to isolate the community from the rest of humanity.

3)      Pseudo-Humanism: This is the culmination of socio-sentiment. Where an international world order is created but there is no expansion and liberation of the human heart from selfishness and inner vices, humanism becomes a form of hypocrisy. Just like communists used to preach equality and keep stores with high-class goods for themselves, so also internationalists are full of pious expressions of humanity and global society but create as we see today the greatest level of violence seen in human history. As Shrii Sarkar clearly states, “So as long as there are bondages of nationhood…the tendency to exploit individuals or the collectivity will continue to exist.” (“Pseudo-Humanism”, The Liberation of Intellect: Neohumanism)

This new era of extreme violence is especially seen in our current ecocide of plants, animals as well as in our destruction of rivers, the air and of the Earth in general. This is based on the ideology of speciesism or that the human species is superior to all other species and hence has the right to use, abuse and kill other species. Arising from human hubris rooted in dogmas in most religions, human beings have been exploiting animals and plants and the planet far more than human beings. In fact human slavery evolved after patterned itself upon the human enslavement of animals. This is a vast topic in PROUT philosophy but we shall simply note that every created being has an existential value that supersedes any utility value it may have for human beings. Secondly it is important to note that violence and exploitation of animals and plants will eventually lead to violence towards other human beings. Many cruel dictators and warmongers began their careers with torturing animals or with starting fires.

Overcoming Narrow Sentiments

Shrii Sarkar calls for geo-sentiment to be fought by i) intensive study of history, social psychology, economics and other fields so as to expose the lies and crimes of geo-sentiment and also to be able to synthesize the diverse social trends and create empathy, harmony, solidarity and unity; ii) to develop a rationalistic mentality and develop it in others as well and then to awaken one’s conscience and awaken it in others as well. Shrii Sarkar describes five forms of conscience or viveka. They are:
 
a) Nityanitya viveka or discrimination between what is permanent (nitya) and what is impermanent (anitya). The only permanent Entity is Paramatma or the Cosmic Nucleus or Supreme Self (Subjectivity). When we do not keep this as mere philosophy, when we make it the basis of our psychic and physical and social life then we are practicing Nityanitya Viveka. Otherwise we may “Believe” in Nityanitya Viveka but we are living in materialism or the pursuit of transient pleasures (anitya) or in other words we are religious and not spiritual. This discrimination requires meditation to liberate oneself from one’s propensities, mental complexes and crude states of Consciousness. Only then will that permanent, eternal Entity become a reality in day-to-day life. Shrii Sarkar aims to make this no longer an individual realization of renunciate yogis but to make it a collective realization of a spiritually awakened humanity.

b) Dvaetádvaeta viveka: Through this form of discriminating conscience one realizes that the permanent, eternal entity cannot be more than one. Hence all form of duality of self and others that lead to self-centredness and exploitation or forms of plurality that lead one to be prejudiced against various people, places or things that arise from a crude state of Consciousness. Then, we realise that all our so-called enemies from Pakistan or elsewhere and all the things we supposedly hate are nothing but ourselves and we realize that we ourselves are nothing but the limitless bliss of Pure Consciousness. This can no longer remain a philosophy or brief samadhi but must be made the foundation of a Neohumanistic society otherwise the very existence of humanity on this planet is imperiled. As Shrii Sarkar states:
“This eternal human entity alone is Brahma [Consciousness]. In order to attain this power, meanness must be shunned, because this is the sádhaná for the Infinite. Feelings of differentiation are a great impediment. The feelings that a particular person is a Muslim, another a Hindu, yet another a Brahman and the fourth a Vaeshya come from mean thoughts. When every living being is a manifestation of Brahma, how can you know yourself, without shedding these differentiating feelings? No one is high and no one is low. Of course, according to one’s virtues and vices one is happy, one is miserable, one is rich, someone is poor, one is a fool and another is erudite, but all human beings. Differentiating feelings are the principal obstacles in the path of sádhaná and an elevated position cannot be attained without annihilating them.” (“The Form of Sádhaná”, Subháśita Saḿgraha Part 1)

c) Átmánátma viveka: This is the realisation that our identity is not our family, our country, our race, our life-history. Our identity is nought but that infinite Consciousness who is our true self. When this realisation becomes more and more strong one is able to discriminate and act with conscience and avoid running after temporary pleasures. It is the greed, anger and frustrated desire for these pleasures that are the primary obstacles to forming a true society. Above all this form of conscience will enable one to also to resist and overcome violent sentiments of religious nationalism. It is this form of conscience that humanity requires most on the collective level.

d) Paiṋcakośa viveka: This follows from the previous forms of discrimination. Normally our minds are guided by crude states of consciousness associated with one of the mind’s layers or kosas. Our aim is to blossom forth all the innate potentialities of each layer of mind and to harmonise and merge them all in the stance of Pure Consciousness. Those who can do this on the collective level are known as Preceptors.

e) Mahávákya viveka: enables one to realise that the realizations gained by the other four forms of conscience are not enough to liberate ourselves or liberate humanity. We must develop intense forms of spiritual love which alone can solve all the problems facing humanity. A mother may be ignorant but if her child has any medical, educational problem she will learn all she needs to do in order to care for our child. Similarly when on the collective level we start loving every person in our town, region, country and planet more and more we will do what needs to be done in order to end the endless suffering in the world today. The way in which one develops this love is by Pránipátena (surrender of all one’s being unto the Supreme Self), pariprashnena (proper questioning that aids this surrender), sevayá (indirect external service and direct internal service to that Supreme Beloved in order to express this surrender).
 
Socio-sentiment is fought by i) sama-samaja tattva or the Principle of Social Equality. This is the foundation for any genuine social programme. As Shrii Sarkar beautifully explains,

“A firm foundation will have to be created which will support humanity to face all these conflicts. What is that firm foundation? It is the realization that all the creatures which have come to live in this world, do not want to leave it – they all want to survive. Thus we must grant them their right to remain in this world, their right to survive. We must forever fulfil their needs so that they will not have to leave this world prematurely. We must make arrangements for the food, clothes, education, shelter and medical treatment of each and every individual, so that all can live in this world as long as possible and become assets to the earth. We must provide them with the inexhaustible resources for their forward movement towards their spiritual goal. This very mentality is known as sama-samája tattva. All the expressions of human life will have to be based on this sama-samája tattva.” (“Living Beings and Their Mentality”)

Shrii Sarkar states that if intellectuals and spiritualists compromise with social inequalities and injustice, they and their societies are bound to fail to establish prama in their societies. In fact, it is this betrayal of basic humanity on the part of intellectuals and spiritualists that is the primary cause of social downfall. And it is the uncompromisingly firm rejection of these kinds of hypocrisy that is the primary path to social elevation. As seen earlier, the spirit of sama-samaja is to advance in the psychic and spiritual realms so as to bring about the welfare of everyone and furthermore to advance collective as part of one flow of affection and give-and-take. What is important is to reject any dogmas such as materialism and superstions. Every culture, no matter how undeveloped or maldeveloped has expressed the ideal of Sama-samaja at one time or another. Hence all these traditions need to be rescued from neglect and revived so that diverse forms of social unity thrive. At the same time those traditions that violate or attack sama-samaja must be combated in a universal way. As Shrii Sarkar states,

“Any narrow ‘ism’ may be transformed into universalism and accepted by all only when all physical barriers, psychic hindrances and spiritual impediments have been removed from the periphery of that ‘ism’.” (“Religious Dogma”, Prout in a Nutshell Part 21)

What this means for example is to take a negative sentiment like Chinese nationalism and to recreate it based on social equality of all beings and based on loving the Supreme in all aspects of the land, culture, collective psychology and spirituality of China. In this way, the diversity of human civilizations will only enhance the unity. This work is part of socio transformation and cultural renaissance that is a hallmark of PROUT’s socio-economic movements for bioregional economic sovereignity (swaraj). Social animosity arises often when a local language is undeveloped and disrespected. This is why such PROUT movements also demand that the local language be used in schools, in government administration and the media. Furthermore PROUT movements create cultural movements to develop local pride and self-respect in their cultural and social heritage. In this way social equality can be established at the grassroots level. From the time of Lord Shiva to the present day, the foremost task of humanity has been to establish sama-samaja in every place upon the face of the Earth.
      The second way to defeat socio-sentiment is proto-psycho-spirituality. Thus this is the primary state of psycho-spirituality. What is psycho-spirituality? It is simply means bháva or a spiritual experience where the mind attains a state of ecstasy when harmonizing with Pure Consciousness. So most people are starting with a primitive form of bháva and gradually it becomes more subtle, intense and expansive. So we realise that it this pursuit of mystical communion and union that is the way to fight socio-sentiments like religious, racial and caste sentiments. For when people constantly ideate upon Pure Consciousness their minds become all pervasive and hence they only think for the collective welfare and never of harming others. Thus it is by constant spiritual mediation and spiritual ideation in daily life that one can fight negative sentiments in the society. Shrii Sarkar explains how this takes place saying,

“When a person is guided by it to think in a particular way, and sees that one’s own benevolent mode of thinking is not reflected in other people’s activities, then that person can easily realize their true nature. So those who practise this proto-psycho-spirituality can easily recognize those demons in human framework. Then, after recognizing them, it is their duty to expose them to others also, to make people understand that they are repeatedly harming human society. It is not enough for one to personally unmask them; one must open the eyes of others also. Only in this way can the well-being of the world be promoted.” (“An Ideology for a New Generation”, The Liberation of Intellect: Neohumanism)

The more one progresses the more power one has to fight social sentiments and the culmination of this progress bestows infinite power to accomplish this. As Shrii Sarkar reveals,

“This circum-rotarian universe is controlled by one Centre both collectively and on a unitary basis. Thus each and every grain of dust, each and every blade of grass – all are being equally controlled by that Supreme Hub. Now, if, by some means, an individual can make his or her individual psycho-spiritual hub coincide with that circum-rotarian spiritual Hub, then that individual will feel oneness with every grain of dust, with every blade of grass – that will be his or her psychology. This very realization will make one’s life-force throb throughout the entire universe. By means of this proto-psycho-spirituality one can fight against all sorts of socio-sentiments. The human chameleons who use socio-sentiments or geo-sentiments, can also be easily detected in the light of proto-psycho-spirituality.” (Ibid.)

When one’s life force becomes part of every place, every language, every community on this planet, this is the start of attaining Cosmic humanity or one’s ultimate destiny as a human being. This is why the sentiments of a common spiritual heritage and a common spiritual goal are the only sentiments which can bind people together permanently. This is how unity is created in the spirituo-sentimental sphere. As Shrii Sarkar states,

“By inculcating universal sentiments, socio-economic unity and fraternity will be based on a strong fundament. People will think in terms of cosmic paternity and universal fraternity. My firm conviction that we have all come from the same Entity and we will all merge in the same Entity will generate a unique unifying sentiment. All people will feel united by the ties of universal love and friendship, which will ultimately pave the way for a universal society.” (“How to Unite Human Society”, Prout in a Nutshell Part 21)

Pseudo-Humanist sentiment is fought through the dynamic unfolding of devotion or bhakti or spirituality. This happens in 3 stages: Devotion as Yoga (Cult), Devotion as Principle/Essence and Devotion as a Mission.
 
Devotion as Yoga: This is essentially the same path as proto-psycho-spirituality but in this stage, devotion arises out of intensive yogic meditation. This meditation shows us how to remove the defects of the psychic world and also the external world, and enable us to move towards the spiritual world without any delay. This movement towards the spiritual goal will also help us to establish ourselves in the psychic and physical worlds, so we will be able to render greater service to the people.
      Those who become adept in this bhakti yoga are known as samaja gurus or preceptors of the society. In this regard Shrii Sarkar states that these actual preceptors are our teachers and in fact it is our primary teachers who first socialize us and teach us how to move together, how to empathise with others and how to serve others who are the most worthy of our reverence. As per Shrii Sarkar, such “teachers must possess such qualities as personal integrity, strength of character, righteousness, a feeling for social service, unselfishness, an inspiring personality and leadership ability.” (“Education”, Human Society Part 1) Shrii Sarkar stresses that they must not abandon their students when the year ends but must devote themselves to their welfare for the rest of their lives. Furthermore by their wisdom gained by years of service and by their love arising from their yoga they are to guide society. As Shrii Sarkar states,

“Samája gurus are those who lead the entire society by virtue of their extraordinary intelligence, deep wisdom, towering personality and leadership ability.” (Vraja Krśńa and Sáḿkhya Philosophy)

Devotion as Principle/Essence: As Shrii Sarkar states “Once a person is established in this proto-spiritualistic flow, what happens within his or her mind? Devotion as a cult is transformed into devotion as a principle. Only at this stage, when devotion becomes a principle, can one fight against socio-sentiment.” (“Bondages and Solutions”, The Liberation of Intellect: Neohumanism)
 
One may ask why can socio-sentiment only be defeated at this stage. Firstly, whereas devotion as yoga is a path of individual spiritual practice to transform the individual mind, devotion in principle is a collective spiritual practice to transform the collective mind. Through collective expressions of devotion (Hari Pari Mandala Goshtis) by small, selfless groups of people, powerful waves are created in the collective mind resulting in transformations in the collective social outlook and social life in general. Shrii Sarkar decribes this change saying,

“It will occur in the collective psychic mind, in the collective ectoplasm of all humanity. Then the global thought processes of humanity will take an entirely new turn, and that will also strengthen humanity’s collective spirit. Humanity as a whole will become converted into a powerful spiritual force, and in that stage, no pseudo-humanistic strategy will work. All other ástras [weapons] will become completely powerless before this Brahmástra [mightiest spiritual weapon]. (“Neohumanism Is the Ultimate Shelter”, The Liberation of Intellect: Neohumanism)

Thus here the entire humanity becomes a tremendous force for rationality, enlightenment, liberation and love. This process is fundamentally a spiritual one and hence beyond ordinary understanding. However we can describe it as be akin to how crystals are made into a liquid and then used to create a laser beam. The primary differences between the individual and collective mind and the Cosmic Mind is as the lower levels of mind and in fact at the higher levels they are essentially one reality. Thus when through the process of devotion these lower levels of mind are sublimated and transcended, then the individual minds become a unitary force through which the laser of enlightened love can cut through the bondages of various pernicious sentiments.
To accomplish this state of consciousness and to actually change the collective psychology is not the feat of an ordinary person. Rather it is the feat of devotional heroism (bhakti-viiratva) and is the start of the process of becoming a sadvipra or spiritual revolutionary. While some can launch a revolution in the external world, and few can launch a revolution in the intellectual or sentimental words, a sadvipra can launch a revolution in the psycho-spiritual or devotional realm as well.
 
Devotion as a Mission: This is the path of ultimate union of the devotee with the Supreme Self. As Shrii Sarkar explains,

“When the devotional depth will come, love, too, will be out-brimming with high sentiments – will be full and over-flowing. When love will reach its completeness – its saturation point, self-immolation will become easy and simple. In that state alone will come your final realization of the Supreme Consciousness. Where “I” is, “He” is not… where “He” is, “I” is not. Remember, devotion is the pre-requisite of Sádhaná. Maturity of devotion is love and maturity of love is He.” (“Desire and Detachment”, Subháśita Saḿgraha Part 3)

This state of ultimate union causes one to become the embodiment of the cosmic samkalpa to establish a genuine Neohumanistic society. As Shrii Sarkar eloquently explains,

“And when this surging Neohumanism overflows in all directions, making all things sweet and blissful, unifying individual life with collective life, and transforming this earth into a blissful heaven – that very state of supreme fulfilment is the state of spirituality as a mission. That is the highest state of attainment in human life, the source of all inspiration.” (“Bondages and Solutions”)

This stance is the culmination of being a sadvipra. However a sadvipra can merely be a part of this process and to create this process in society requires a far more extraordinary personality. As Shrii Sarkar explains,

“Those who help people adapt themselves to the changed situation, I have called “sadvipras”. But the one who actually initiates the major change is called a “mahasadvipra”. Sadvipras know how to lead people in perfect adjustment with the changed circumstances, and guide them along the right path.
So, the initiation of a revolutionary change is not the work of a sadvipra, but the work of a mahasadvipra. Mahasadvipra is the philosophical term; in the scriptures he is called “Táraka Brahma.” (“Sadvipra, Táraka Brahma, Sadáshiva and Shrii Krśńa”, Ánanda Vacanámrtam Part 8)

Taraka Brahma we shall simply note means Supreme Consciousness in the role as the Supreme Liberator of suffering souls, the Supreme Unifier of humanity vivisected into endless forms of groupism.

Social Psychology and the Sadvipra

To understand the sadvipra we have to understand Shrii Sarkar’s revelation of the dynamics of social development. This is indeed a vast subject of which we shall give only a simple outline here.   
      Firstly we have to understand how pseudo-societies evolve and furthermore what is history. History as per Shrii Sarkar is the history of the collective psychology of various societies. The average psychic momentum derived from the unit psychic momentum is the momentum of the collective psychology, whose manifestations are the new events on the pages of history. In ordinary life we see in schools and neighbourhoods various social groups rise to create a collective flow and then over time subside. Over time when these social groups do not die as a result of their shared history and shared environment they develop a collective psychology Shrii Sarkar reveals the components of this as follows:

“The essence of the parallel psychic waves of society is determined by the medium [average degree] of the following factors: 1) a common language; 2) similar manners and customs; 3) a similar mode of living; 4) similar traditions; 5) racial similarity; 6) religious similarity; 7) a common culture; and 8) a common objective or goal. Unfortunately, these factors are generally neglected at the time of building a social structure because they are not the causes of the collective psychology but the means through which the collective psychology flows. In actual fact a common sentiment, common psychic waves, form the essential vital force of a social structure. This is the reason we say that society is the expression of parallel psychic waves, and arises because of the mental tendency of moving in unison.
It is clear that society is supported by the immense collective power of many individuals. This is why the popular concept of society is that of a collection of individuals. But a mere aggregate of many individuals whose psychic waves move in different directions, that is, whose psychic waves are not parallel but divergent and distorted by dissension, cannot be called a society.” (“The Responsibility of Society”)

The speed of social progress will go on accelerating by clash and cohesion. This rate of progress depends upon how developed the collective ideology or philosophy is. As Shrii Sarkar states,

“Among the different schools of philosophy, the cruder the philosophy, the weaker the social cohesion. When people unite for a subtle motive, the philosophy becomes subtler and subtler, and the social ties become stronger. When this subtlety reaches absoluteness, it becomes permanent.”

By philosophy we do not necessarily mean a complex theory but sometime simply a set of values and goals assigned to living. In studying these various philosophies that arise in the individual mind, we see they arise from various goals. Based on one’s goals there are four basic psychologies in the individual and collective mind. The history of any society is naught but the evolution and corruption of each one of these psychologies. Firstly there arises the worker or shudra psychology which is dominated by physicality. Then there arises the warrior psychology which is dominated by the physic-psychic urge to control the physical world. Then there arises the priestly or intellectual psychology which is dominated by the psychic urge not just to control matter but also to control the minds of others. Due to the increasing crudity of the collective psychology there arises the psychic urge neither to control material objects nor to directly control other people’s minds but rather to control everything indirectly by controlling the flow of wealth. As per Shrii Sarkar this is followed by a Shudra Revolution, after which the military warrior class seizes control and the social cycle begins anew. We should note that these various collective psychologies arise out of mental colours. Shrii Sarkar explains this saying,

“I have already told you that the sentient principle is white. So the people in whose minds white vibrations are flowing we call Sattvaguńii or sentient (also known as vipra varńa or the colour of sages). The mutative principle is red. So those people whose minds are filled with red vibrations we call Rajoguńii or mutative. Due to the greater crudeness in the mutative principle, the Rajoguńii mind is more partial to crude activities than the sattvic one. Such mutative people are popularly considered to be of the Kśatriya Varńa or warrior temperament, possessing energy and valour. The sentient principle is cognitive, and the mutative principle is energetic. Vaeshya varńa, the temperament of the business class is concerned with activities much cruder than those of the Vipra and the Kśatriya. Here the Citta or the mental plate is dominated by yellow vibrations, which are created by the combined influence of the mutative and static principles.
      Those whose Citta is predominately influenced by the static principle, naturally possess a greater degree of inertness than others: they have neither the knowledge of the sentient persons nor the valour of the mutative ones nor the capacity for activating things of those dominated by the mutato-static principles. This static inertness or crudeness is black. Those whose minds are predominately black are popularly known as shúdras or the labour class.” (“Vibration, Form and Colour”, Subháśita Saḿgraha Part 3)

Each of these four stages of the collective psychology starts in a dynamic and partially balanced state. Over time this crude equipoise is lost. Shrii Sarkar describes the different stages of this process as follows,

“In the first phase there is balance in the lokatrikońa [worldly triangle of forces] of individuals, but in subsequent stages, due to the influence of time, space and person and the clash of propensities, the balance of lokatrikońa or pramátrikońa gets lost. This state of loss of balance in pramatrikońa or lokatrikońa is called “the stage of derangement”.
“If at this stage the lost pramá is re-established, well and good. If it is not re-established, the lokatrikońa degenerates and enters the stage of disruption. If people fail to counteract this trend of downward movement, the lokatrikońa further descends to the stage of degeneration.
“Human society today has reached the stage of degeneration and, as a result, is lost in the wilderness of economic bankruptcy, social unrest, cultural degeneration and religious superstition.” (Pramá-1)

In this final stage of degradation these four psychological types no longer carry any of the virtues of traditional warriors, capitalists etc. Hence they are termed as pseudo-ksatriya, pseudo-vipra and pseudo-vaeshya. This degradation is followed by the rise to power of the next psychological class. One way this happens is through evolution or gradual change brought about by force exerted by the social struggle of the emerging and exploited classes. The second way this happens is through revolution in which a more rapid change takes place due to tremendous force being applied against the ruling psychological class. This change is not always inevitable as often there are counter-revolutions or even counter-evolution in which the previous psychological class seizes back power. However, these reversals of the social cycle are temporary and are soon effaced in history.

Let us simply try to understand these four collective psychologies who together make up the social cycle that is the essence of human history.
       Firstly when the mind is dominated simply by the desire to for pleasure there arises the goal of Kama or ultimate physical desire such as seen in the dream of nearly every society of paradise as a land where one can enjoy endless pleasure. Such people are completely controlled by their crude physical environment and to materialistic thoughts and sentiments. Such minds tend to become static and hence lack will power and a developed mind. As a result they are controlled by their local environment. Such people are called Shudras or workers. By shudras we are not referring to the victims of the caste system in Indian history but rather to psychological personality types. Many of the so-called higher castes today have a shudra psychology. While talking about history it is easy to see the shudra qualities in today’s so-called advanced cities and advanced societies in the description of Shrii Sarkar:

“People had no sense of duty towards each other and no social order had evolved. People generally felt uneasy if they came too close to each other. In fact, the shúdra society of that time could not claim to be much better than the present-day society of monkeys or dogs.
Frankly stated, shúdras live only for physical enjoyment. They neither bother about ideology nor give any value to rationality. Of the three aspects of time – past, present and future – they think only about the present. They have neither the time nor the inclination to think about the past or the future. Religion, spirituality and a genuine social system have no significance for them. Whatever religion, spirituality or social order we observe in shúdra society results from an unholy alliance between their fearfulness and their self-interest.” (“The Kśatriya Age” Human Society Part 2)

Secondly when the mind starts becoming dominated by the desire to control and master one’s environment through one’s physical strength or physical craftsmanship or technical skill, then one becomes a warrior of ksattriya. In the beginning of history the main purpose of being such a warrior was simply to hoard and enjoy material pleasures. But gradually out of this crude desire arose the ideal of a society that was not simply a material paradise but rather society founded upon order and justice. In every society there was such a dream of a righteous warrior kingdom such as Camelot of King Arthur and the Dharmarajya of the Mahabharata. With Krsna the simple warrior’s ideal of Dharma as righteous conduct and creating a righteous social order, became a form of psycho-spiritual life in action. In various societies ideals of a spiritual warrior and spiritual warrior societies arose such as zen samurai warriors of Japan and the sufi javanmardi warriors of Iran. Still today we see societies dominated by this type of psychology such as in Afghanistan and African societies like the Zulu. Shrii Sarkar reveals the characteristics of such personalities and societies saying,

“Throughout both the ancient and modern history of the human race we observe that people with a kśatriya nature went to their deaths gladly, or thrust their necks into a noose, or bared their chests to bullets, or, rather than face the humiliation of total defeat, shot themselves in an attempt to escape probable indignities. People with a shúdra mentality do not come in the reckoning, but those with a kśatriya mentality, particularly those with an extremely kśatriya mentality, cannot stay out of the public eye. Willingly or unwillingly, they inevitably come into the limelight.” (“The Kśatriya Age”)

Thirdly when one wants to control the material world more and more with one’s intellect, one develops an aversion for physical labour oneself. As a result one starts to manipulate and control the minds of others to induce them to follow one’s orders. Thus one become a vipra or intellectual. From this exploitation the first priests were born. In order to manipulate the fears and give meaning to the spiritual inituitions of the masses, these vipras developed subtler different intellectual fields. Gradually as religions evolved as a means of justifying priestly control there arose the ideal of spiritual salvation. In every society this ideal is to be found. In India this was the ideal of moksa or merger with the supreme stance (nirguna) of spiritual development.
      Since vipras thrive on manipulation, deceit and diplomacy becomes their way of life. It is a sad fact that even today we see so many people with intellectual talent misuse and waste their potentialities in petty politics and groupism. In burning words Shrii Sarkar describes their nature today saying,

“In today’s world also, satanic vipras, the protected agents of the capitalist vaeshyas, have led and are continuing to lead millions of people along the path of death and destruction. Evil vipras are fanning the flames of the capitlists’ insatiable, demonic hunger. Neither the worker masses nor the warlike kśatriyas are responsible for the problem of the millions of refugees in different countries, for the heart-rending cries of the mothers, wives, sons and daughters of the soldiers who died on the battlefields, for the blazing flames of communal riots, for communalism itself, provincialism, nationalism and casteism. The responsibility lies with a small group of shrewd vipras who, out of petty self-interest, have instigated the shúdras and kśatriyas to commit heinous acts.” (“The Vipra Age”, Human Society Part 2)

Fourthly, when one no longer wants the trouble of manipulating people materially, when one simply wants to enjoy controlling the flow of wealth based on which developed societies depend, then this psychology is that of the capitalism. The higher ideals that a few capitalists held were to use money to alleviate the suffering in society by charity. This is the ideal of Artha. The practical reality however is that most capitalists became truly omnivorious in devouring the other members of human society. Only in capitalist society is it normal to see mass starvation, mass dispassion of lands, mass murder of those who resist. Shrii Sarkar reveals their heinous nature saying,

“If, after analysing the economic structure of society, I described capitalists from developed countries as polished devils, I would find it extremely difficult to find a suitable term for their counterparts in underdeveloped countries. Such capitalists are not satisfied with just sucking people’s blood, they often devour their flesh and bones as well; then they beat drums made from the skins of their victims as they deliver religious and philosophical discourses, build temples and construct lodgings for pilgrims, and undertake various other activities. They criticize materialism and try to retard its progress not because they object to it philosophically or psychologically, but because in a materialistic system there is every possibility that their vested interests would be adversely affected. Although they support spirituality, they are not motivated by spiritual sentiments. The fake spirituality they preach actually injects impotency into society. In their endeavours they are assisted by like-minded exploiters who trade in religion. There is an unhealthy collusion between capitalists and those who trade in religion to try to prevent human beings from forcefully asserting their rights.” (“Various Occupations”, Human Society Part 1)

One hallmark of capitalist society is that they destroy all nobler values of the warriors, intellectuals and priests. The entire society is reduced to the pursuit of selfish animal pleasures. The primitive psychology is fostered by the most advanced technology that not only degrades the youth but isolates them from each other and from their natural destiny to lead society onto a new path. Those warriors and intellectuals who are reduced to crude workers due to poverty and who rather than surrendering themselves are resentful, angry or even outraged at their humiliation are called the vikshubdha shudras or the disgruntled workers. Eventually there is a worker revolution that overthrows the capitalists. However, the workers can never hold power. In both Russia and China we saw how the military class seized power from the revolutionary peasants by brutal massacres in a civil war. After this the social cycle begins anew. Shrii Sarkar reveals the desperation of humanity at this endless tragedy of human history saying,

“Society belongs to all, but its leadership will be in the hands of sadvipras. The responsibility for leading society cannot be left in the hands of the kśatriyas, because they will try to enforce kśatriya rule. They will exploit the non-kśatriyas and chew the bones and marrow of the weak. Nor can the responsibility for leading society be left in the hands of the vipras, because they will try to establish vipra rule. They will exploit the non-vipras and chew the bones and marrow of the non-intellectuals. Likewise, the responsibility for leading society cannot be left in the hands of the vaeshyas, because they will try to impose vaeshya rule. They will exploit the non-vaeshyas and chew the bones and marrow of the toiling mass. Shúdras cannot undertake the leadership of society. Hence the victory mark (tilak) of the successful shúdra revolution indeed embellishes the forehead of the kśatriyas.
“The responsibility for leading society can only be entrusted to the sadvipras because they are well established in Yama and Niyama – they are imbued with Cosmic ideation. The social cycle will surely rotate, and as a rule the dominance of the kśatriyas, vipras and vaeshyas will take place in succession. But if sadvipras control the nucleus of society, these social classes may attain some degree of prominence in social life, but they will never be able to become the absolute rulers.
Sadvipras will never have any rest. They will have to continue fighting tirelessly. This fight is the life of living beings. In the absence of this fight, the creation will cease to exist. Sadvipras are vipras, kśatriyas, vaeshyas and shúdras all in one, hence the leadership of the sadvipras will mean the victory of every social class.” (“Problems of the Day”, Prout in a Nutshell Part 3)

Sadvipra Age

Shrii Prabhat Ranjan Sarkar is the only spiritual personality in the history of the world who has advocated not just a temporary revolution but rather has called upon humanity to attain its new stage of evolution as a relentless fighter against injustice or a permanent worker for revolution in every sphere of life. In this regard Shrii Sarkar has called for a nuclear revolution or a revolution in every aspect of human life. This is the mission of the sadvipra.
      The sadvipra is someone who as we have seen has all of the qualities of the other psychological classes. This is because the sadvipra has transcended all the colours of crude psychology. As Shrii Sarkar has said,

"The attraction between one object and another is always chromatic, pertaining to rága or colour. The word rága is derived from the root rańj which means “dyeing”. Anurága means to dye one’s mind with the colour of that Infinite Entity. Nothing will result from dyeing one’s clothes with saffron colour only for show. Dye yourself within…
Dye your mind with His colour. Those who have not done so cannot attain Him, for this very coloration is Prema or Divine Love. The differences in colour are signs of distinction; without these differences there is identity.
All people have a particular attraction for one or another object or activity and as soon as they become attracted to an object, then their minds become coloured with the colour of that object. You can withdraw your mind from the colour of that object and dye yourself in His colour by offering Him the captivating colour of the object that has attracted you: this is the real Pratyáhára Yoga…
When this practice of offering your own colours – your own attachments, becomes natural and easy, you will then merge in Him. Then you will have no need for any colour, for you will become colourless – you will go beyond the reach of any colour." (“Vibration, Form and Colour”, Subháśita Saḿgraha Part 3)

Shrii Sarkar has said that this is the path of the Gopii. He has explained that a Gopii means someone who is alive only to give bliss to their Supreme Beloved. Furthermore Shrii Sarkar has stated that a Sadvipra will have to have the qualities of a Gopi in addition to the qualities of a spiritual warrior and that of an avadhuta or a realised person completely liberated from all inner and outer bondages.
      What is the sign of a sadvipra? Shrii Sarkar said that when a saintly person (sadhu) takes up arms against exploitation then they are to be considered as a sadvipra. Only those who are actually fighting exploitation can be considered sadvipras. Above all, someone who makes you and I into a sadvipra and whose fighting spirit arousing the sadvipra within us all, giving us the courage to dare to dream to bring an end to seemingly omnipotent global capitalism – only they are the sadvipras. They have the mission to make every single human being on this planet into a spiritual revolutionary.

Conclusion

So we must conclude by saying that Shrii Prabhat Ranjan Sarkar was not satisfied with revealing the nature of a genuine society. He also gave the vision and mission of those revolutionaries who could establish it and bring to an end the pseudo-societies of today who are destroying our planet.
      Shrii Sarkar did not stop there, he gave the radiant vision of a Cosmic Society and a Cosmic Humanity. He said in words that astound those who ponder them,

“So in this phase of introversial movement, when crude physicality is being transmuted into psychic, we can expect that the day is sure to come when the whole world will move from the subtle psychic realm and cross the threshold of the still more subtle spiritual world. And that day when the entire living world – dashing through a transitory phase of psychic – will become spiritual will not be in the distant future.” (“Biological Transformation Associated with Psychic Metamorphosis and Vice Versa”, Yoga Psychology)

And so with this vision before our eyes, we call out to everyone of you and to everyone on this planet in the words of one of the songs of Shrii Sarkar radiant with the delight of universal love.
 
639 (02/07/1983) D
ÁLOR EI JÁTRÁPATHE SABÁR 
ÁJ NIMANTRAŃA 
ÁMI, ÁHVÁN KARI TÁI 
MAHÁ JÁGATIK DOLÁY DULIYÁ 
DHARÁ HOLO SUNDAR 
KONO BHEDÁBHED ÁJI NÁI 
ÁMI, ÁHVÁN KARI TÁI 

ESO REŚÁ REŚI BHULI SABE MILE BOLI 
EKI MORÁ EK THÁKIBO GO 
EKI MANIHÁRE BENDHECHI HRIDAY 
EKI RÁGE GÁN GAIBO GO 
UNCU NICU NÁI SÁDÁ KALO NÁI 
VISHVE SABÁI BHÁI BHÁI 
MORÁ, VISHVE SABÁI BHÁI BHÁI 
ÁMI, ÁHVÁN KARI TÁI 

EKER DUHKHA SABÁR DUHKHA 
EKER ÁKUTI SABÁR ÁKUTI 
EKERI DOLÁY DULICHE VAKŚA 
AMIYA SÁGARE EKI GIITI 
BHARE BHÁLOBÁSÁ JÁGÁIÁ ÁSHÁ 
PHOT́ÁIÁ BHÁŚÁ SUMUKHE CÁI 
DIYE MITRA ARÁTI SABÁKÁRE PRIITI 
GEYE KŚAMÁ GIITI EGIYE JÁI 
ÁMI, ÁHVÁN KARI TÁI 

I send out my call 
to invite all 
onto a journey, 
traversing a path of effulgence! 
The earth, 
swinging in the great universal cradle, 
has beautified itself. 
Today, no discrimination persists. 

Come all, forgetting rivalry! 
Let us jointly announce 
that we are one 
and that we will remain one. 
All hearts are threaded 
in the same garland of gems. 
Let us all sing our song 
in the same tune! 
There is neither 
high nor low, 
black nor white, 
for, in this world, 
we are all brothers,
we are all brothers. 

The pain and earnestness of one, 
is pain and earnestness to all. 
Within the ocean of nectar, 
all hearts oscillate 
in the same swing 
and sing a single song. 
Remaining filled with love, 
arousing hope in others, 
speaking in the same tone, 
let us look ahead! 
Extending love 
to both friend and foe, 
singing the song of pardoning, 
let us move forward! 

Prout, a Guarantee Against Totalitarianism

Prout does not see individuals as economic — commercial, financial, etc. — equals. Neither does it view the collective as a goal in itself but generates a happy blending between individual and collective interests.

By Trond Øverland

Prout is a new socio-economic theory that takes into account the spiritual reality of our personal lives and the world we live in. Our essential potential, spirituality, is infinite, and this reality gets reflected in our ongoing psycho-spiritual development. For it to take firm shape in the mundane world, Prout states that our physical development and mundane dynamics should support our inner subtle individual and collective development, rather than favouring one out of hundred in the economic sphere leaving 99% behind in abject poverty and deprivation.

"Why physical restrictions but absolute freedom in psychic and spiritual spheres? The short answer is that physical life is restricted by nature."

As a socio-economic model Prout allows for continued progress of all individually and collectively. At the core of Prout's dynamics is maximum utilization and rational distribution of physical wealth, and unrestricted freedom in life's mental and spiritual spheres. 

Why restrictions in physical life and unrestricted liberty in the psychic and spiritual spheres? The short answer to this question is that physical life is restricted by nature. The mental and spiritual on the other hand are not bound by such limitations; there is an infinite supply of mental and spiritual realities. This circumstance has innumerable implications in social and economic life, and Prout is the first theory to address those.

The propounder of Prout, Shrii Prabhat Rainjan Sarkar, offered in 1959:

“In this socio-economic set-up humanity is at full liberty in the spiritual and mental spheres. This is possible because the spiritual and psychic entities for which people can aspire are themselves unlimited and the extent of possession in this sphere does not hamper the progress of others in their quests. But supply in the physical sphere is limited and hence any effort for disproportionate or unrestricted acquisition of physical objects has every possibility of creating a vast majority of have nots, thus hampering the spiritual, mental and physical growth of the larger majority. So while dealing with the problem of liberty in physical sphere, it must not be allowed to cross a limit where it is instrumental in hampering the development of the complete personality of humanity – and at the same time must not be so drastically curtailed that the spiritual, mental and physical growth of human beings is hampered. 1

Again he said in 1960:

"Every individual possesses two invaluable and extraordinary potentialities: psychic and spiritual. The collective body cannot issue dictates concerning these two potentialities – its jurisdiction is limited to physical wealth only. In the physical sphere if individuals do not violate the interests of the collective body, both society and the individual will avoid difficulties and enjoy a state of well-being. For this reason the individual right to go against the interests of the collective has been withdrawn. But in the psychic and spiritual spheres, every individual has complete freedom to advance and progress. 2

Two practical examples

Human longings are infinite and never stop expressing themselves. If these longings are not permitted to be expressed in subtler and still subtler ways they will express themselves in cruder and still cruder ways. This is what takes place in cases of suppression, repression and oppression.

"Politically speaking, such an approach would open a number of very large cans of worms — morally, ethically, socially, culturally, pedagogically, etc."

For instance, any attempt at suppressing the curiosity and playful energy of young students who express a desire to know more about explosives will not be constructive. Such an approach would, politically speaking open numerous very large cans of worms — morally, ethically, socially, culturally, pedagogically, and others. Sharp questions would be asked, such as:

  • What type of mental and spiritual wealth should various people, or all of us, not have access to, and who would be trusted with taking such decisions?
  • Do we want to live in a society where it is taken as granted that someone else control our minds by limiting our access to mental and spiritual spheres?
  • Who can guarantee that limited access to mental and spiritual wealth in the end will not produce a fascist society where somebody at the top controls what and what not the majority have access to on a permanent basis?

Instead of limiting those young students, it would be pertinent on part of their teachers to channelize the pupils' youthful energy and expand and enhance their inquisitive consciousness to include broader, deeper and higher values, such as considering the damaging effect of explosives; whether they would have proper control over practical experiments; whether they would be in danger of harming themselves or any other sentient living being or part of the creation; compassion for all; the proper place of explosives in science and productive enterprise; etc.

Beyond this tableu, civilization dictates that there are very many possible things one ought not to present or propagate to anyone. Human imagination and analytical capacity is a double-edged sword and it is better to learn how to use it right early in life. This does not mean that one should bar people from participating in subtler wealth. It means that one should choose one's subjects wisely and first and foremost share what is actually useful and really progressive.

By educating students properly teachers would not be called upon to enforce any principle of limiting access to subtler wealth. Instead they need to make the students realise the grandeur of more expanded subtler wealth.

Take another and perhaps subtler example: All are not fit to be immediately initiated into higher forms of meditation. The reason for it is that a sudden onset or burst of much inner subtle energy may be harmful for the unprepared nervous system, the person's ordinary and relatively limited consciousness, etc. If an eager student first of all wants to learn the most advanced lessons of meditation, and even expresses reluctance to practice basic stuff first, then it would be the duty of the seasoned teacher to check whether this person is really interested in developing him/herself in the true sense of the term, or just want to achieve something less savoury or even something that could harm him/her in the long run. Not only should novices first of all have a rudimentary understanding of the need to live a moral life and the underlying meaning of basic ethics. Their bodies and minds also need to be prepared for the influx of higher energies. In some cases such preparation may be completed within a relatively short time, whereas others may require years of basic meditation and focussing on regular daily practices, lifestyle, simplicity of being, lofty thinking, spiritual outlook, etc., before being imparted more advanced teachings.

Again, such a situation does not pose the question of barring people from higher meditation but of preparing them for it by continuously aiding them in expanding their subtler potentialities and abilities. In a word, this is about synthetical outlook, as opposed to a mostly analytical approach to life's challenges and mysteries.

This synthetical approach derives from and abides by PROUT’s principles of maximum utilization (3rd fundamental principle), proper adjustment (4th principle), as well as “the method of utilization should vary in accordance with changes in … person, and the utilisation should be of a progressive nature” (5th principle). Guiding people properly along the path of all-round development has nothing to do with limiting their access to subtler wealth but preparing them properly and making their entry into it wider and more open by the minute.

Freeing ourselves of limiting factors

By opening up the psychic and spiritual spheres to all, dogmas will lose their foothold in various areas of human society. With their limiting constrictions dogmas bind humanity in numerous systems of disparity, such as casteism and other systems of social stratification, economic classes, racism, etc. These limitations on humanity are squarely analytical by nature. They separate one from another and leave them divided to an ever-increasing degree. Prout is fundamentally opposed to dogmas and by nature eliminates them by way of synthesizing humanity in ever-increasing mental and spiritual freedom.

"Prout does not view the collective as a goal in itself. It also does not favour particular individuals or market forces. Instead, Prout is a happy blending between individual and collective interests."

Prout does not favour individuals or the collective at the cost of the other. It does not see individuals as economic — commercial, financial, etc. — equals. Neither does it view the collective as a goal in itself. Instead, in the physical sphere Prout generates a happy blending between individual and collective interests. It allows for extraordinarily productive and smart individuals to make their way and earn more, while seeing to it that no one lags behind in any sphere.

In order to realize such individual and collective happiness and flow, accumulation of physical wealth needs to be well regulated. There should be ceilings on salaries, bank balances, market shares, etc. Otherwise, the accumulation and riches of certain individuals become the misfortune of many others. This is one of the reasons why Prout favours cooperatives as the ideal mode of human industrial and productive activities.

In the mental and spiritual spheres, Prout goes for a free-for- all. Unrestricted mental and spiritual freedom will empower the cooperative and other sectors of the Prout economy with the subtle force of neo-humanist cooperation and coordination. Because of this tremendous force the outcome and advancement of Prout will far surpass that of one-sided competitive capitalism.

Prout deems that individual and collective movement towards spiritual realization is real progress. Because even psychic resources — although in infinite supply — are relative in scope, just as physical resources are. Only spiritual essence is infinite and absolute in scope, and therefore only spirituality is able to fulfil the infinite thirst and longing of human beings.

Hence, Sarkar announced that the Progressive Utilization Theory is "for the good and happiness of all." 

It should be noted that full freedom in the subtler spheres of life is the only way to realise Prout's leadership ideals, the rule of sadvipras; of the morally and spiritually enlightened. Any attempt to limit people's freedom in the subtler spheres would tend towards the totalitarian, in the same way as capitalism's call for unlimited physical freedom in the end would produce its own variety of dictatorship and even fascism.

Prout, by establishing a firm neo-humanist leadership that guarantees fair regulation in the physical world and full mental and spiritual freedom, is the only guarantee against such totalitarianism.

"Society will have to encourage the individual search for absolute freedom because the psychic and spiritual realms are unlimited, and possession in these spheres does not hinder the progress of others. But unrestricted freedom to acquire wealth in the physical sphere has every possibility of permitting a few people to roll in luxury while hampering the all-round growth of the majority, because physical resources are limited. Individual liberty in the physical sphere must not be allowed to hamper the development of the complete human personality, and at the same time it must not be so drastically curtailed that the all-round growth of society is impeded." 4
– Shrii Prabhat Rainjan Sarkar, 1979

Sources

1 "The Cosmic Brotherhood", Shrii Prabhat Rainjan Sarkar, Idea and Ideology, Ananda Marga Publications.

2 "Social Defects in Gandhism", Shrii Prabhat Rainjan Sarkar, PROUT in a Nutshell Part 5, Ananda Marga Publications.

3 Ananda Sutram 5:17, Shrii Shrii Anandamurti. Ananda Marga Publications, 1962. 

4 "Socio-Economic Groupifications", Shrii Prabhat Rainjan Sarkar, A Few Problems Solved Part 9. Also published in Prout in a Nutshell Part 13, and in Proutist Economics. All by Ananda Marga Publications.

The Regulation of Wealth

By Trond Overland

This short article discusses the need for regulating the amassing of any type of wealth: physical, psychic and spiritual. PROUT proposes to place a limit on the accumulation of physical wealth, whereas a regulation of psychic and spiritual wealth requires no ceiling but instead a vigorous cultivation of a sense of proper direction.

Regulation of physical wealth

For the last 20-30 years, the wealth of the world’s billionaires has grown three times faster (between 6 to 7 per cent allowing for inflation) than the rest of the economy (about 2 per cent), the French economist and author of the controversial book Capitalism in the Twenty-First Century, Thomas Pikkety has found. If capital acquisition continues at the same pace, the billionaires will own all capital by 2050, he concludes. Pikkety calls for a 5% to 10% annual tax on all assets – stocks, bonds, real estate, natural resources, art, yachts, etc. – owned by individuals with a net worth of a least $1 billion.

Pikkety would possibly be willing to discuss PROUT’s fundamental principle of regulation of wealth accumulation. Still, PROUT goes much further than most reformers of capitalism when it comes to making improperly accumulated physical wealth available for general utilization. The first principle of the PROUT socio-economic theory states that no individual should be allowed to accumulate any physical wealth without the permission or approval of the collective.

In a 1986 discourse, on the transformation of psychic wealth into psycho-spiritual wealth, Shrii Prabhat Rainjan Sarkar offers a brief explanation of this fundamental principle of PROUT: “Those dominated by hungry psychic urges and who run after material gains do not hesitate to exploit others mercilessly. Exploitation starts when one violates the principle of aparigraha and accumulates more physical wealth than one actually needs for survival and progress in the world. The exploiters forget the basic truth that this material world is very limited, whereas psychic pabula is propelled by an unlimited urge. When unlimited pabula are let loose in the limited material world, exploitation starts. A few become rich and others become poor. In such a condition millions die without food, live without shelter, work without education, suffer without medicine and move without proper clothing. The society then splits into two distinct groups – haves and have-nots.”*

In other words, PROUT establishes first of all that someone’s physical capital formation should not be allowed to hinder the opportunity of others to have a decent standard of living. On the contrary, the entire world with all its potentialities is the common property of all, in the same way as inherited wealth is the common property of all the inheritors. In this case, all living beings are the sons and daughters of the Cosmic Father who has created everything, and all of us are entitled to utilize the resources and potentialities that lie within both the world and ourselves.

“A person accumulating physical wealth without the permission of the collective body is certainly going against the interests of the collective body. This principle states that individual liberty should not go against the interests of the collective body. This may involve certain restrictions on individual liberty, but since the minimum requirements of life and special amenities will be guaranteed, this should not cause any difficulties to the people.” Shrii P.R. Sarkar, Talks on PROUT (1961)

When it comes to the management of agricultural land, PROUT proposes a particular policy of regulation. In Talks on PROUT Shrii P.R. Sarkar advises: “One pertinent question is whether both a ceiling on landed property and a ceiling on bank balances have to be imposed. It goes without saying that both methods have to be adopted, but the latter should precede the former. This will bring immediate cash to the government to help establish new industries on the one hand, and it will check the growth of capitalism on the other. By enforcing land ceilings no direct benefit can be expected to accrue to the nation because the available arable land will not be increased, nor will production be increased, since it is not the function of the government to cultivate land. Such an approach would wound the public sentiment and the public would think that the state had replaced the big landowners. In the face of food shortages it is not advisable to change land policies immediately.”

In short, the general land policy of PROUT is to support the gradual evolution of cooperative management.**

Regulation of psychic wealth

Suppressing people’s access to psychic wealth has been a main tool of oppressive regimes. Today we see it clearly in the form of Internet censorship of China’s peculiar communist-capitalist regime, as well as in Islamic states where people are banned from dressing as they wish, voicing their sentiments, etc.

PROUT is diametrically opposed to any stifling of intellectual and spiritual pursuits. At the same time, PROUT recognizes the need for regulating the formation of subtle forms of wealth too. Such regulations should not, however, take the form of limitation of accumulation of psychic wealth but of purposeful, meaningful, proper direction.

The third fundamental principle of PROUT states that there should be maximum utilization of all physical, metaphysical and spiritual potentialities of individuals as well as of entire human society.

“This principle stresses the integrated development of all human capacities, including the often-neglected psychic, creative and spiritual. Individuals in the society should have the fullest scope for development of their various talents without fear of suppression or oppression; rather such expression should be socially encouraged. Such an approach should naturally apply to all, without regard to sex, race, caste or any other sort of categorization. The developed talents, skills and knowledge should not then be hoarded or used for any form of exploitation, but rather be made the collective property of the society that has nurtured them.” Jayanta Kumar, New Aspects of Prout (1987)

Here we would do well to remember that the human beings themselves constitute the greatest potential. If no proper development takes place internally, there will be no proper external development either. Constant efforts should therefore be made to harness human potential, and not to hurt or damage it.

Let us take a few practical examples, the first one being that of the presence of paedophilia on the Internet. The Internet is an enormous source of knowledge, a powerful business market place, and a wonderful treasure chest of entertainment for billions all over the world. Meanwhile, paedophilia and other perverted activities are also spreading fast on the same Internet. Pedophilia is a bio-psychological disease and not a human right, just like any other serious mental diseases. The right of a gravely mentally ill person is to get well and not to act out their fantasies, and in too many cases to transfer his or her disease to innocent victims. Thus, in the interest of children, as well as of the diseased persons, pedophilia activity on the Internet has been criminalized the world over. When perpetrators of pedophilia are properly cured, they can progress and the world of children becomes a better safer place. It is a tragedy that such cures are seldom found in today’s world. Hence, the well-being of everyone lies in firmly limiting the scope of pedophiles, and constructive efforts made to aid them in reorienting themselves and building their future in a sound bio-psychological way.

The regulation of the accumulation of psychic wealth implies, in other words, a positive orientation from the crude towards the subtle, by transforming psycho-physical urges into pure psychic and psycho-spiritual endeavours.

Take another subtler example: A group of Class 7 students begged their chemistry teacher to do a project on making explosives. What was the teacher’s response? As intellectual wealth should be free for all, did he go along with the naughty students demands? This wise teacher honoured the principle of not limiting the expansion of the students’ psychic wealth, and he did so by directing his students properly. Instead of teaching those excited youngsters how to make explosives, the teacher chose first of all to enlighten them on the character of the great Swedish chemist and scientist Alfred Nobel, who invented dynamite and numerous types of armaments. Mr Nobel was a genius who also happened to make a lot of money by manufacturing arms and explosives. Later on in life, after giving due thought to the need for higher human development, Nobel decided to place his vast earnings in the Nobel Prize Foundation that continues to this day to honour persons all over the world who do something extraordinary in the areas of peace, chemistry, physics, medicine, economics and literature.

The young chemistry students were duly impressed by their wise teacher’s story about the lofty thinking of a master chemist, and decided to leave explosives for now and instead go back to basic chemistry as well as the cultivation of a newfound interest in great human achievements.

The capacity and maturity of students has to be taken into account at all stages of instruction and teaching. Another example, to teach reading and writing by standard methods to persons with significant dyslexia problems will not do, as such students require an appropriate learning methodology and special tools in order to develop their language skills.

One must always pay attention so that one does not lead people astray or waste their time in useless and even potentially dangerous learning. To initiate a novice in advanced and sophisticated techniques of meditation may not only be useless but even harmful. In all areas of life we need to crawl before we can walk. However, this basic fact of life does not mean that future opportunities are thereby closed to us. The subtler spheres of existence always welcome the able aspirants to avail themselves of the endless opportunities that they provide.

Regulation of spiritual wealth

There are two main keys to regulating spiritual wealth: keeping inspired and doing maximum selfless service.

It is said that the spiritual path is beset with obstacles. It is so because every step on this path presents a challenge to deep-seated animalistic tendencies in us: the legacy of our evolutionary past. Whenever we strive to take a significant step forward on our life’s journey, the instinctual nature in both others and ourselves raises its primitive head in a stubborn effort to hold us all back. Hence, the path towards sublime spirituality is the path of sublime individual and collective struggle.

The foremost device for regulating spiritual wealth is therefore inspiration. To remain highly motivated and stimulated towards true greatness is the key to spiritual advancement. Without such boundless inspiration it would be next to impossible to uplift and evolve the animalistic mind towards the sublime stages and final emancipation. Hence, inspiring others and ourselves is crucial to evolving practical spirituality.

The second device for regulating spiritual wealth is selfless service. Amassing spiritual energy results in the build-up of vast amounts of various forms of positive energies. All of it has to be spent for the well-being of all in order for selflessness to take hold and manifest fully in the practitioner. Otherwise, two dangerous developments may occur: egoistic attachment to subtle spiritual energies and their powers, and increasingly suppressed unresolved worldly urges. The Isa Upanishad (verse 12) states:

Andhaḿ tamah pravishanti ye vidya mupásate
Tato bhuyáiva te tamo ya u vidyáyáḿratáh.

The essential meaning of this verse is: Those who keep acting only in the world drift towards darkness, due to their increasing attachments to the results of their actions; and on the other hand, those who worship the spirit only depart into even deeper darkness, due to the resulting split between their spiritual state and the remaining worldly urges in them.

Who should genuine spiritual practitioners serve? They should unreservedly serve both their spiritual goal as well as all of its manifestations. It means that one’s spiritual practice should be a service to the Supreme, and besides that one has to fully engage oneself in the service of all those in need in the world – plants, animals, human beings – who are all but the expression of that same spiritual entity.

PROUT establishes the ageless wisdom of spiritual approach and all-round adjustment in the physical realm, while keeping in harmony with the needs in the psychic and spiritual realms. It is a service-oriented socio-economic theory that paves the way for balanced solutions to all physical, psychic and spiritual troubles. By properly regulating the utilizations of all potentialities, people will be able to advance much further on the path of human evolution and reach still higher stages of attainments in all spheres.

In conclusion, the accumulation of physical wealth, due to its scarcity, needs to be restricted, while the accumulation of psychic and spiritual wealth only needs to be properly directed.

Footnotes

* “The Transformation of Psychic Pabula into Psycho-spiritual Pabulum.” A Few Problems Solved – Part 8. The Electronic Edition of the Works of P.R. Sarkar, Ver. 7.5, Ananda Marga Publications 2009.
** See http://proutglobe.org/prout/socio-economics/economics/economic-democracy/cooperatives/ for material on PROUT’s cooperative models, agricultural and others.

The Politics of Understanding PROUT

Epistemological Approaches to Social Analysis

By Sohail Inayatullah, PhD
Introduction: Since the inception of the Progressive Utilization Theory (PROUT) by P.R. Sarkar in the late 1950s, there have been numerous efforts to come to terms with the various implications and applications, and structures and meanings of this theory. The purpose of this essay is to comment on these commentaries and to surface in the context of PROUTist texts the problem of inquiry. How, for example, does one constitute the real, what categories of thought does one use, and furthermore in what ways is one’s method of inquiry related to or constitutive of the object of inquiry as well as to the discourses (texts, practices, the social construction of what-is) that frame one’s method. Thus, this is a discussion of various epistemological approaches.1

The Applied Approach

There are numerous ways to approach the problem of understanding how one goes about understanding the texts of Sarkar. The first and most obvious approach one is used by Batra, Anderson and others.2 This is the method of taking the categories of PROUT, for example, the PROUT socio-historical category of varna, as given and then applying them to various historical events. What emerges is a revisionist history; a history reinterpreted to fit Sarkar’s cyclical-dialectical view of history and its component categories of worker, warrior, intellectual and acquisitor. For example, in the context of Western history, the Roman Empire now becomes the apex of the Warrior Era, the rise of Christianity becomes the beginning of the Intellectual Era, and the industrial revolution the beginning of the era of the Acquisitors, and the worker-led socialist revolutions of the twentieth century, the beginnings of the next cyclical era of Warriors. This approach is useful in bringing new readings to history and allowing certain structures to emerge that may have been lost by a particular discursive practice, for example, the rationalist-capitalist discourse which privileges a dynastic linear model of history at the expense of structural mythic discourses or the Marxist model of history that privileges economic explanations at the expense of martial, ideological and spiritual interpretations.

The problem with the application-oriented approach is that it does not problematize these categories themselves. How these particular categories came to be important is unattempted, nor is the worldview that these categories privilege inquired into. Thus, the categories themselves are treated as given. One might, for example, ask are these new categories of thought heuristics (typologies that help explain ideas), ideal types (mental often apriori categories), or inductive empirical categories (derived from the natural world).

Moreover, in applying a theory of history to history itself, one intrinsically selects those events and trends, those patterns that fit into one’s preunderstandings. This obviously raises various issues as to the study of history itself; is there one history, or are there alternative histories that are created or repressed, that is, is history dependent on the subject, on interpretation and, if so, how so? Furthermore it can be argued that one’s notion of history is constitutive of one’s theory; that history does not exist independently to one’s linguistic structures. Viewed from this perspective, one’s theory, preunderstandings are complicit in the dominant discourse of the present, thus making any objective history fundamentally problematic. If this is the case, then a serious attempt at uncovering the politics of one’s historical categories, one’s theory of history, is imperative so as to understand how one is structuring history, to understanding what is being epistemologically gained and lost. Without this inquiry, one’s preunderstandings remain unproblematic and thus uncovered within various power configurations.

The Empirical Approach

The second approach, an extension of the applied, is the empirical approach. Here the world is divided into theory and data, with language simply describing the real world, not being constitutive of it. The question then becomes to determine operational, that is, measurable, definitions of Sarkar’s theory. For example, what are the indicators of each social era? How does one know empirically when one is in a particular era? Insofar as Sarkar asserts that those of the intellect and martial psychological wave are reduced to the proletariat, in the era of acquisitors; from the empirical perspective, the question then arises how do we define this category, what are valid indicators for this theoretical construct and how to find reliable and precise data that measure the above? Finally, to prove the hypothesis correct, alternative explanations must be disproved, and the results must be repeated by different studies.

To take another example, Sarkar writes that collectivities are unified either when they have a common enemy (an anti-sentiment) or a universal common vision (an ideology). From the empirical perspective, the project would then be to define collectivities (nations or empires) and then devise valid statistical measurements of unity and separation and finally to operationalize the notion of common enemy and common good into real world measurable indices. The problems with this approach are many. It makes an artificial distinction between what is being talked about and the language one uses to talk about it, forgetting that one’s empirical categories, operationalizations exist in various discursive practices–definitions of what constitutes the real that give significance to one’s results. It thus assumes that there exists an extra-linguistic reality that can be objectively talked about. Also problematic is the assertion that one’s real world indicator is conceptually related to one’s hypothesis, not to mention the problem of gathering reliable data itself, in terms of the categorization, the collection and the reporting of data itself. It also reduces the significance of a theoretical formulation to that of a instrumentalist and rationalist perspective, forgetting the role of the researcher, the interpreter. The empirical approach also does not problematize the theory itself–except in terms of proving or disproving hypotheses–nor does it compare the theory with other theories, except at the level of data analysis. More significantly, the theory as deeper myth (as a story that gives meaning to basic questions as to the nature of what is) is denied; the theory as action (in terms of creating a different world) is denied; as is the theory as vision (as part of a larger project to critique the present, to develop an alternative cosmology) is also denied. However, once we see the empirical perspective as a language, a discourse, then instead of statements that are only meaningful in the context of empiricism, we gain insight into how a theory might be translated (operationalized in the language of the empirical approach), thus, for example, allowing for a discussion on indicators of each particular era without reducing the various hypotheses to mere measurable indicators. Moreover, given that Sarkar redefines development to include the significance of animals and plants, that is, an economics as if all living things mattered, certainly then, for example, in any discussion of indicators of development the impact of economic growth on animal and plant life would no longer be an externality; rather, it would be central to the economic equation.

The Comparative Approach

The third approach is the comparative approach. In this perspective, instead of applying PROUT to history or to the future, or searching for measurable indicators, we treat PROUT as a social movement and compare it with other social movements such as the Green/Environmental movement. We could also treat PROUT as a political philosophy and compare it with other political philosophies such as Liberalism, Conservatism or treat it as a cosmology and compare it with, for example, Islam or Buddhism.

We can structure the comparison along various categories such as ontology, epistemology, polity, economy, nature, technology, center-periphery relationships, and time.

This approach is useful in that a taxonomy of PROUT is developed and we can better understand PROUT as it now stands in the context of other powerful traditions. But there exists a significant problem with this approach. This approach is ahistorical. We are simply comparing one philosophy with another at a particular place in time. In addition, there exists the problem of units of analysis, in that, PROUT is in some ways a cosmology, in other ways a development model, as well as a social movement. Thus, what one compares PROUT with becomes increasingly problematic. Moreover, this approach does not reveal the structure of the categories chosen; for example, the categories one chooses for comparison are also an integral part of a cosmology, of a discourse. The categories economy and polity have only been distinct recently and the separation of the categories nature and technology only are sensible in Occidental models of thought. Thus the categories one chooses are in themselves problematic insofar as they are often part of the structure of a particular discourse, so much so that one may end up with a taxonomy which effectively simply compares not two cosmologies with each other, but the given cosmologies with the silent cosmology that the categories chosen are themselves embedded in–in this case, the epistemology of modernity.

However, significantly, commonalities and differences can be illustrative in leading to understandings of PROUT outside of its own discursive representations and in the case of constituting PROUT as a social movement, useful in attempting to create strategic alliances in the reconstruction project.

The Translational Approach

The fourth approach is the translation approach. Here one takes the language of PROUT, the categories of PROUT themselves and attempts to translate them into an alternative tradition. For example, PROUT speaks of itself in terms of sixteen principles developed and articulated in the form of sutras with accompanying commentaries and constituted in the discursive practices of the Indian philosophical tradition. We can, however, group them in different ways. The categories I have used–borrowed from the Western social science tradition–in various efforts include3: theory of consciousness (ontology, creation-evolution theory, mind-body problems, layers of the mind), development model (concept of progress, theory of value), theory of history (social cycles, dialectics), development ethics (neo-humanism, economics as if all living beings mattered), and strategy (regional, linguistic social movements).

Alternatively, we can also group PROUT into three frames; critique, eschatology, and strategy. Sarkar’s writing implicitly and explicitly critiques the present global system and the values that underlie this system, and at the same time they provide a blueprint and a vision for an alternative vision, a sense of what could be. Finally, Sarkar provides a strategy of how to go from here to there.

The problem with this approach is that any attempt to translate involves not just a problem of syntax, but a problem of discursive practices, that is, a problem of the deeper values and structures embedded in various ways of thinking, or “languaging,” such that a translation may miss not only the entire structure of a perspective but critical categories as well. Thus, in a translation, meanings are regrouped and then re-understood not in the context of the original text but in the context, in the world, of the translation. However, by virtue of it being a translation, there is a useful strategic value in that the information is available to other linguistic communities thus allowing the translated text to become part of the terrain of these communities. In addition, through a hermeneutic theoretical move, one might discover various meanings by comparing the original with the translation.

The empirical approach is similar to this, however, the translation (in the empiricist perspective) is seen as a vertical effort between the theory world of ideas and the real world of data, while the above approach is a horizontal approach between various theoretical constructs.

The Framing Approach

The fifth approach is that of framing Sarkar’s work through the perspective of a variety of disciplines. For example, one may frame it in the language of systems theory. Systems thinking breaks down the whole into a system of interlocking dependent parts, such that the flows of information between sub-systems are noticeable. Changes in a sub-system lead often to changes in the entire system. It is a powerful method to study complexity and interrelatedness. One could then reinterpret various elements of Sarkar’s work as inputs (spiritual inspiration) outputs (social transformation) outcomes (outputs that feedback to inputs, struggle). One can then look at the various relationships between the sub-systems (the spiritual, the organizational, the political) and determine their contribution to the system and the overall goal of the system–in Sarkar’s language, that of spiritual realization and social change. This goal can then be disaggregated into subgoals, that of one nation becoming PROUTist, or social welfare projects completed.

Alternatively, one could frame Sarkar’s PROUT in the language of futures studies. PROUT then becomes an alternative image of the future competing for legitimacy against the dominant vision of the future, modernity, and along with other images, the socialist democratic vision, the environmental vision, the Islamic vision, or the global socialist vision. PROUT, then, is reconstituted as an alternative possible future. Of course, from the perspective of a PROUTist worker, PROUT is not an alternative vision, it is perhaps the vision of the future, or at least, the most probable vision of what is to be. Moreover, from the perspective of the futures field, PROUT is defined as a forecasting methodology, as a way of predicting the society of tomorrow.

While this approach is quite useful, the failings are obvious. Any discipline one might use has its own biases; each discipline privileges a certain discourse. For example, systems theory simply organizes in a rationalist and functionalist fashion the components of the system, it does not allow for alternative designs or interpretations, for example, those possible through a dialectical framework, or a mythic symbolic one. Moreover, systems theory is a metaphor that makes certain assumptions as to what is considered the natural state of things (the notion that every system naturally move to a state of equilibrium, for example). As a metaphor it exaggerates and hides; certain meanings are accentuated, others are silenced.

The futures approach, too, is problematic. For one it is ahistorical. Secondly, critical is the problem of constituting the future in two seemingly discrete categories: preferred and probable. The probable future is determined by a variety of forecasting technologies such as dialectics, statistics, cycles of history, or expert opinion and is phrased apolitically, that is, the role of subjectivity, in terms of which forecasting methodology is chosen, or the role of epistemology, one’s theory of knowledge, is seen as given. However, once we politicize the category of probable future and argue that is it is often a result of problem selection, or methodology selection, or moreover, one’s discursive practices (one’s ideology, at a simple level), then the problematic nature of the distinction between probable and preferred becomes apparent. Even when the most probable solution is seen as a dystopia, this creation functions as a warning system, a way of articulating what might happen if one’s preferred future does not result, or if the present continues, then as an objectively gotten probable future.

Finally, by focusing on PROUT as a predictive social theory, in so far as Sarkar contends that the social cycle is a law of nature in much the same way as numerous writers have located Marxist theory, then the legitimacy of the entirety of the theory falls or rises based on its social forecasting utility; its interpretative value, its critical value, its value as praxis are denied.

However, the futures approach provides new meanings and allows different discourses to speak, thus potentially shedding light on that which is to be interpreted. Moreover, by framing it in the category of thought of “alternative future” it is somewhat legitimized as an actual possibility of a future society, rather then fiction. Thus, its theoretical framework and its policy prescriptions are seen as potentially relevant in the various academic, governmental, and international development dialogs.

The Phenomenological Approach

The sixth approach is to look at the way Sarkar, himself, constitutes his world. We begin here with the phenomenological perspective; we are concerned with gaining insight into the text on the terms of the text. Instead of seeking to test the text or translate the text, or to refit the text to a “prepackaged” methodology, we examine how PROUT sees itself. What categories and structures does Sarkar use? For example, Sarkar develops a six point theory of successful societal development–spiritual ideology, spiritual practice, preceptor, spiritual texts, socio-economic theory, and social outlook. With these categories, we can locate PROUT as well as other systems or movements. Also illustrative is Sarkar’s typology of the failure of theories. For him, the first category is that of hypocrite’s theory, or those developed to serve the interest of a particular class or interest, that is “to dupe the people,”4 The second is the range of theories that exist without any basis in the real, with the day to day suffering of the physical world or the possibilities of the spiritual world, that is, they speak solely in the world of mentalities.

The third is the range of theories that result from a particular culture or environment, but are however universalized and thus fail because of their generalization. For Sarkar, the Marxist effort can be thus categorized.

The fourth are those constructs that fail to develop because of implementation problems: political, bureaucratic or individual.

This approach is highly useful in that we see how PROUT creates itself, we see its structure in its terms, we see how PROUT sees the world and we learn from it about the way we construct our world. Thus, instead of interpreting PROUT, we now engage in the process of rethinking our own selves, our own world. We uncover ourselves. This process reduces the distances between author, text, and audience and a multi-layered dialog is created. However, this approach does not problematize PROUT itself. It does not allow for comparison between different cosmologies, that is, while this model obviously critiques communism for being weak on spiritual practice, we do not find out how communism locates PROUT in its hierarchy of successful movements or theories. In addition, it is ahistorical in that we do not see the historical context of the various constructs of PROUT.

The challenge then becomes to see Prout categories of the world as not goals of an ideal society but in fact as lenses to constitute the world. Thus instead of using current categories of polity and economy to understand Prout, the task is to use Sarkar’s categories of neo-humanism and varna, for example, to make sense of what the world is and can be. Prout then becomes not just a vision of an ideal society but an analytic tool in which to dissect the current world. This means instead of acceding to traditional political analysis and thus borrowing neo-realistic (conventional political science analysis) liberal frames which privilege the nation-state, the task is to use Prout categories such as varna, prama, neo-humanism and the layers of the mind to better understand, and thus create a world with enhanced fidelity to Prout theory.

The Postmodern/Poststucturalist Approach

The seventh approach is that of the postmodern/poststructuralist. Here we examine the various structures within Sarkar’s cosmology; that is, the linguistic discourses, the way that it is constructed, the monuments of language and power in front of us. From this perspective, the goal is to examine the text of Sarkar and see what discourses or linguistic worldviews he is privileging; what epistemologies and discourses he is seeking to encourage, and what ways of thinking as constituted in various discourses he is attempting to make problematic, to critique. Thus, instead of dialog, we are seeking to distance ourselves from a typical, that is, mundane, discussion on the varieties of what Sarkar really means in a certain text.

With this perspective, we gain insight into the structure of Sarkar’s writing. For example, Sarkar is clearly attempting to make the present less concrete by developing a dialectical-cyclical theory of history. In addition, he is politicizing the future by not positing an end to politics, that is, a state when all class struggle is over, yet he embraces structure by arguing that there does exist a cyclical law of social change. Sarkar is also privileging the spiritual location and creation of identities and structures by positing that the end all of existence is spiritual realization.

The critical question in this perspective is not what is real, as with the comparative approach, but how is it real? How is Sarkar’s cosmology constituted? What are the values embedded in it? Given that language structures are complicit with the domains of power, we are then not surprised that Sarkar’s work is largely critical of the present and critical of the way we normally constitute our histories of the present. For him, history is the history of elites. The stories of the courage of the suppressed have been silenced, the victories that are told are those of the already powerful: the wealthy, the royal, and the keepers of the word, the various priests of knowledge.

He is thus critical of the reality of poverty and the poverty of our theories of reality. We can thus better understand how, Sarkar, for example, attempts to relocate the self away from our common understandings, that is, the self as related to status, income, body to a self located in spiritual consciousness eternally distanced from ego, time and space and at the same time a self located in all other selves, thus allowing for a discourse that enables compassion and activism.

For Sarkar, then, the reconstitution of spirituality becomes a defense against modernity and a purposeful effort to unite in the world with all other living beings, and thus as an effort to transform the withdrawn self of antiquity and the segmented self of modernity.

The examples above are only illustrative of the type of inquiry that one enters within the post-structuralist approach. This is not to say that we should abandon the other approaches. They too are important in gaining understandings of PROUT.

However, this approach is more enabling in that we better understand the social construction of PROUT and then create an epistemological space that results in richer interpretations of PROUT. For example, simply testing PROUT’s theory of history on various civilizations in the pursuit of an objective history forgets that one has a pre-understanding, and that this understanding is part of a politics–that objectivity is problematic, with subjectivity complicit in present domains of power.

Moreover, the post-structuralist approach is complimentary with other approaches such as the futures or the comparative by providing a larger structure for critical inquiry. For example, if we were to describe the culture, the political-economy or the historical place of a particular collectivity like the Philippines, we can create different levels of responses. The first is to revise Filipino history in terms of Sarkar’s eras, to see how the present has come to be within the language of PROUT; and at a different level of analysis, we can deconstruct this revision, that is, the notion of cycles, and we can discover how such a discursive practice results in various commitments to history, to the present, and to notions of a good society. In much the same way, the question how do the writings of Sarkar compare with the writings of great Islamic scholars, for example, Iqbal, can lead to various types of analysis. One can compare how they see themselves, how their writings deal with the problem of the present dominant system of modernity, that is, at their effort to develop counter hegemonic discourses and, at another level, we can see how they are constituted by present discourses, and how they have come to be. Thus, the various approaches are not exclusive.

The strength of the postmodern/poststructuralist inquiry is in focusing on how power is constituted in the real. Knowledge is thus seen not as neutrally derived but as central to the political negotiation of reality. Sarkar, of course, already attempts this when he argues that the type of knowledge interests one has are largely dependent on the larger power relations, on the particular cycle in history one might be in.

In terms of PROUT writers, Charles Paprocki5 has attempted this type of analysis when he argues that epistemology is related to the type of society one is in, capitalist or socialist, for example. Of course, these efforts have remained inarticulate to the significance of language structures in concealing power relations. Moreover, the post-modern approach has not been used to understand the texts of Sarkar itself, that is to deconstruct PROUT as well.

However, as with all approaches, this perspective too is problematic when taken alone. Continuous undoing of categories can lead to a paralysis of research and action, where no inquiry does not move forward because all is suspect, or because a worldview of postmodern nihilism takes over, wherein reality is seen as so malleable that the idea of a good society, of reducing oppression, cease to be possible.

Beyond Discourse

As important as asking what is after discourse, is – given the above privileging of discourse, of the argument that the world is created through language, and that in this imposition, power remains hidden and elusive – the prediscursive, the realm outside of language. Here we stand in a hermeneutic and phenomenological stance in that we are interpreting Sarkar’s work, attempting to engage in a dialog between PROUT and post-structuralism. For Sarkar, discursive analysis privileges the intellect, and reduces the spiritual, the transcendental to the relative, to a mere discourse. Sarkar, himself, argues for a spiritual knowledge interest; one that delegitimizes rationalistic qua modernity modes of knowing as well as intellectual qua mental ways of knowing. Sarkar would thus agree that the discursive approach is a critically important perspective and that language does create the world. This is why he and other mystics such as those of the Zen Buddhist tradition emphasize ways of knowing other than the intellect. For Sarkar, therefore, the post-structuralist effort is an activity contained within the arena of mind, the task then becomes to transcend mind through activities such as meditation, or through koans. Here the practitioner is forced out of mind; the self then no longer is constituted in ego, but in itself, in unmediated, inexpressible consciousness. The subject-object duality does not exist, rather there is a state of the unity of consciousness. In his words:

That which comes within the orbit of mind is but a relative truth, not an eternal truth and so it will come and go. Scriptures (texts) and mythologies are but stacks of bricks, they are only arranged in layers, carrying no significance or intrinsic value. So how can they describe the Transcendental Entity which is beyond the scope of the mental faculty. How then can this intuitional perspective be interpreted, which is beyond the compass of body, words and mind? Here both the teacher and disciple are helpless, because the subject, which is beyond the domain of any academic discourse and discussion, is simply inexplicable and inexpressible. Whatever said and discussed comes within the ambit of the mind and so it is a relative truth–true today and false tomorrow. That is why, the teacher becomes mute when he is asked to explain transcendental knowledge (the Buddha remained silent when asked if the Transcendental entity existed and equally silent when asked if it did not exist) and consequently the disciple, too, becomes deaf. So … in order to explain this profound mystery, there is no other alternative than to emulate the symbolic exchange of views between a deaf and a dumb person.

6 The transcendental, then, is the realm of the prediscursive, a space that cannot be talked of, or listened too, for such an effort would evoke the discourses of the present, past, and future, that is, the discourses that transpire because of mind.
The counter response from the post-structuralist position is that the distinction being made is an ontological one, in terms of what is real. Discursive analysis constitutes itself by asking how has a particular practice become real, how has the view of a transcendental self emerged and what are its commitments. Thus, the purpose is not to engage in an ontological debate as to the nature of ultimate truth, but to seek to uncover the politics of ontology. By constituting the real as a discourse, we gain distance from past and present and future and thus see the real as human creation and thus contentious, that is, available for negotiation. It is because of the recognition of the primacy of discourse, and the effort to avoid this location, that both teacher and student remain in silence and thereby in a non-discursive space.

However, as to the nature of Being, the responses of course would vary. Different writers might argue that intrinsically, what is, is from the first to the last, within and without, meaningless, and thus all knowing efforts are projects of imposition, of the knower. The prediscursive is not the realm of the spiritual, but the realm of other possible discourses, ways of constructing what is. Alternatively, one might argue that one simply cannot know the ontological status of what is.

From Sarkar’s view, too, ultimately one can say nothing about the ultimate nature of being, except that any effort to say anything would be embedded in mind, in language and structure (time, place and subject), in relativity. The problem of the relationship between the absolute and the relative then becomes the key and unresolvable, by mind, issue. For once we define this nature (of Being), then, we, for the post-structuralist, simply create new categories, hierarchies, that is, models of existence, or what is commonly called philosophy. This is unavoidable since after the silence and the muteness, we (the teacher and student) still must return to discourse and recreate the world once again. We enter a discursive space; a space embedded in meaning, in language, in historical identity.

The task for Sarkar then becomes of privileging a spiritual discourse as for him one’s theoretical formulations become better in that they are created from a non-discursive space that is intuitional; intellect is placed within a larger epistemological framework. For Sarkar the nature of Being itself cannot be answered, since “the tongue cannot taste itself.” However, through action commitments, spiritual practices, more of the real can be accessible to the spiritual aspirant.

Upon expression then the discourse of the present, past, and future, of power then emerges, for in agreement with the post-structuralist, Sarkar asserts that once one speaks then one immediately constitutes oneself in mind, and thus in a particular power structure, in a discursive practice. For the post-structuralist committed to inquiry and analysis, certainly, the how of that constitution then becomes the critical and interesting question.

What this means for PROUTist inquiry is that even as PROUT makes truth-claims about the nature of the ideal social and political system, these claims must be bracketed in the knowledge episteme in which they were uttered. They should be understood and applied in their various contexts. This does not mean they are not “true” but rather that a complex mode of analysis must be used to understand PROUT and to articulate PROUT policy. Sarkar hints at this when he asserts that the real is time, place and person dependent.

Conclusion

In conclusion, I have tried to show that there are different approaches to understanding a particular subject, a text, and that this effort of understanding is problematic. When we treat texts as unproblematic we affirm various discourses and our efforts remain bounded by these particular discourses at the expense of other discourses. Through attempts at inquiry, we can hopefully better see the problematic nature of our knowing efforts and thus engage in more enabling understandings of understanding.

The seven modes of inquiry articulated: applied, empirical, comparative, translation, framing, phenomenological and postmodern/poststructural, must be seen within a complex framework. It is thus important to note the context of one’s research, one’s epistemological biases, and be able to move in and out of various research perspectives, allowing each to inform the other, not becoming caught in hegemonic knowledge frame, remaining like PROUT itself comprehensive and complex.

Notes

1. A version of this essay appears in Sohail Inayatullah, Situating Sarkar. Brisbane and Ananda Nagar, Gurukul Press, 1999. This essay is inspired by a series of conversations with Michael Shapiro as well as from a reading of his various works. See, for example, Political Language and Understanding, New Haven, Yale University Press, 1981 and The Politics of Representation. Wisconsin, University of Wisconsin Press, 1988.
2. See Ravi Batra, The Downfall of Capitalism and Communism. London, Macmillan Press, 1978 and Tim Anderson, The Liberation of Class. Calcutta, Proutist Universal Publications, 1985.
3. See Sohail Inayatullah, “The Futures of Cultures: Present Images, Past Visions, and Future Hopes,” in Eleonora Masini, James Dator, and Sharon Rodgers, eds. The Futures of Development. Beijing, China, UNESCO, 1991 and “PROUT in the Context of Alternative Futures,” Cosmic Society (October, 1988).
4. P. R. Sarkar, A Few Problems Solved Vol. 6. Trans. Acarya Vijayananda Avadhuta and Acarya Anandamitra Avadhutika. Calcutta, Ananda Marga Publications, 1988, 17.
5. See Charles Paprocki, “On PROUTist Methodology,” (unpublished paper, 1981).
6. P. R. Sarkar, Subhasita Samgraha. Anandanagar, Ananda Marga Publications, 1975, 114-115.

Copyright The author 2012

PROUT and Workers Security

By Trond Overland
(February 2012) – Apple boss Tim Cook said this month that his company, the world’s biggest by market value (nearly $100bn) in cash and investments, had grown by nearly two-thirds in a year and that this is “more than we need to run a company”.

His statement came at a time when Apple has reacted to growing criticism over alleged abuses of workers at its suppliers by asking an independent group, the Fair Labor Association (FLA), to conduct audits of several of its contractors’ factories in China.

In 2010 there was a spate of suicides, prompting Foxconn, a main Apple supplier in China which employs some one million people, to install nets around the edges of some buildings to prevent people jumping off the roof, The Guardian reported.

Subsequently a public letter that claims to be from two former workers at a plant that makes iPhone touchscreens surfaced, begging Apple to improve working conditions in factories. The workers claim to have been poisoned by toxins in a factory in Suzhou, China, while assembling touchscreens for Apple’s iPhone. The letter specifies that the workers have suffered neurological damage as a result of using a chemical cleaner called N-hexane, The Telegraph reports.

In January 2012 it was reported that Microsoft is investigating reports of a mass suicide threat taking place at one of its Chinese plant over a pay dispute with Foxconn, the plants owner. Foxconn produces electronics for both Microsoft and Apple. The dispute took place at its Wuhan factory (photo) which produces Xbox consoles for Microsoft.

Apple is not the only modern technological giant which has failed miserably to treat its workers well. In January 2012 it transpired that workers at the Microsoft-contracted KYE factory in Dongguan City, Guangdon toil away 12 hours a day and earn 43 cents an hour. “We are like prisoners,” one KYE worker told according to the Digital Journal. “It seems like we live only to work. We do not work to live. We do not live a life, only work.”

In September last year it became known that Amazon, the online book store, hires hourly-paid workers to wrap up the merchandise it sells and these workers are forced to work in dreadful conditions in Pennsylvania, USA.

It was reported that Amazon had arranged to have paramedics parked in ambulances outside their colossal warehouse ready to treat any workers who were dehydrated or suffering from other forms of heat stress.

TIME Magazine reported that employees were escorted off the premises on a regular basis if they could not keep up their productivity at a certain level in the 45C heat. “Such sights encouraged some workers to conceal pain and push through injury lest they get fired as well,” the local Morning Call newspaper reported.

Capitalism’s unwillingness to safeguard basic worker welfare is not exactly breaking news. More than 150 years ago, Karl Marx watched in horror as corpses of children were brought out and cremated in cauldrons outside factories walls. In 1867, in Das Kapital, Marx wrote:

“In some branches of the wool industry in England the employment of children has during recent years been considerably diminished, and in some cases has been entirely abolished. Why? Because the Factory Acts made two sets of children necessary, one working six hours, the other four, or each working five hours. But the parents refused to sell the ‘half-timers’ cheaper than the ‘full-timers’. Hence the substitution of machinery for the ‘half-timers’.”

Still, many will find it hard to believe that the darlings of Wall Street and the tech-savvy among us violate basic human rights and workers’ rights in this manner. Indeed, it is not hard to see a line linking the scenes of the days of Marx to the present.

Neither Marxism nor capitalism have been able to guarantee workers’ security. Marx’ equality principle cared first and foremost about the State and destroyed all socio-economic and human dynamics. Today’s China may perhaps be called a case of  revised state capitalism, straddled as it is between market capitalism and political communism, as reported by Mark McDonald on the New York Times. The capitalist system is always under mounting pressure to increase its profits. It cannot and will never care about workers primarily.

The solution lies in evolving a consumption-motivated economy with a predominant cooperative sector. The fundamental spirit of that system should be that every citizen has a fundamental value — an existential value — that supercedes the output value of individual participants.

PROUT founder P.R. Sarkar wrote:

“Capitalism will never support decentralization, because capitalist production exists to maximize profits. Centralization means industry for profit, while decentralization means industry for consumption. PROUT’s approach, which will be supported by all rational people, is production for consumption. PROUT’s maxim is, “Production for consumption, not production for profiteering.”

The output value — the social value — should come into play and count only when the basic necessities are secured for everybody. The surplus wealth should be distributed among meritorious people according to the degree of their merit after the basic necessities are distributed to all on the basis of work, according to the second fundamental principle of PROUT.

PROUT cooperatives within a decentralized, balanced economic framework present the way forward for those who want to safeguard the welfare and prosperity of workers.

Sources

Das Kapital Vol 1, K. Marx, 1867.
Decentralized Economy 2, P.R. Sarkar

Copyright The author 2012

Occupy Wall Street and Future Options

By Prof. Dhanjoo N. Ghista

First published in Gurukula Network, November 2011, Issue 33

occupyThis article is offered in support of the people occupying the financial districts in many cities, to voice their repressed unmet needs and their disillusionment with the corporatized capitalist democratic system. Let us remind ourselves that this land does not belong to corporations and political parties. Rather, in the words of our ancestors in the US, This land is your land, this land is my land, From California to the New York island, From the red wood forest to the gulf stream waters, This land was made for you and me.

The Current crisis of Governance and Economy

Today, we are facing intensive economic crisis, with massive unemployment and the inability of countries to look after the basic living needs (let alone social and economic security) of their citizens. The reason is that we have never had genuine democracy, and instead governance by political parties (supported by capitalist corporations) who have their own agendas which have little to do with public welfare.

It is the obligation of the government to fulfill the basic living needs of the people. These needs include equitable access to education and healthcare. Take the United States, for example. Not everyone has access to healthcare and a means of livelihood; a big percentage of the population has no access to healthcare, because they cannot afford privatized health insurance governmental policy under pressure from these insurance companies.

Not only that, but capitalist political parties also give free rein to capitalism minded institutions (banks, pharmaceutical companies, insurance companies) that are solely for profiteering at the expense of the people. Why have banks been allowed to be enterprising, to dupe clients to buy house mortgages that they could not afford, and to also be allowed to gamble with their clients’ savings?

Another aspect of corporate capitalism is to make money at any cost, and this is why so many weapons-making corporations profit by wars, at the expense of the people of the war-torn countries. It is the general opinion that the war crisis has been caused by pressure from these weapons making and distributing corporations.

Now in the US, the big manufacturing corporations have shifted their manufacturing to South-East Asian countries (like China), to take advantage of the cheap labor. Thus, US exports have dwindled. Also, big corporations manage to pay very little income tax, and this is yet another reason for the US being in debt.

How can we expect democracy to provide stable governance and stable economy? Political system and economy are inter-linked, and this is why it is more appropriate to use the term political economy since economy by itself has no basis. So, the current economic crisis is verily a crisis of political economy.

In corporate capitalist economy, the financial elite and the elite corporations constitute a separate class who control the government and their policies, for their own profiteering. They are responsible for all these maneuverings.

When some of these capitalistic financial systems started to fail (due to their corrupt practices) and fold, they had the political clout to be bailed out; their managers could hence continue to have exorbitant salaries and bonuses at the expense of their employees. The actions of the U.S. government and the European Union government in 2009, to bail out the culprit corporations, are testimonies to how the political elite allowed the financial elite to manage the system to its benefit. This created a massive political problem, which was hushed up by the governmental bail-outs in the US and European Union’s nations. This bail-out saved these financial systems from the public opinion that the financial elite had violated all principles of fiduciary, social and moral responsibility in seeking their own personal gain at the expense of society as a whole.

So now in the last year or so, this has created a massive political and social crisis, which is truly a systemic crisis, compared to which the crisis of the financial institutions can be regarded to be trivial. The question now in people’s minds is why was the political system not capable of fixing the crisis and holding the perpetrators responsible for it? Alternatively, if the financial crisis did involve criminality on the part of the elite corporations, how could the political system not have created laws to render such actions criminal?

There is hence now a crisis of confidence in the financial system and a crisis of confidence in the political system, which is why people are protesting around Wall Street, the symbol of the capitalist democratic system.

Solution for the Governance and Economy Crisis

The Occupy Wall Street movement symbolizes the pent up frustration of the people who could no longer endure and sustain the unfair socio-economic-political policies and injustices meted out by the political parties acting in cohorts with their sponsors the capitalist corporations solely interested in profiteering with not an iota of humanism. This ongoing suppression of peoples’ rights to fair living is due to the political parties regimes and the unfair linkages between the political and economic elites. So then what is the solution?

The Official Declaration of the Occupation of Wall Street on October 5, 2011

There are two domains of solution: 1. Economic solution, and 2. Political or Governance solution.

Economic Solution based on PROUT

By way of an economic solution, let us enunciate some of the tenets of a new Cooperative Economics model, based on the socio-economic and political philosophy called PROUT (Progressive Utilization Theory), propounded by the sage Prabhat R. Sarkar (Refs 1, 2 and 3).

  1. The first tenet is the common patrimony of the natural resources of this planet. This, for instance, means that private companies should not be allowed to patent plants with medicinal value.
  2. The second tenet is that the minimal necessities of living need to be guaranteed through 100% employment and minimal wage.
  3. The third tenet is that the productivity of commodities needs to be proportional to the demand, so that prices can be kept stable; this will help augment purchasing capacity and standard-of-living.
  4. As a fourth tenet, it is advocated that all businesses be cooperatively structured and managed, so that all employees who contribute to revenue generation also share the profits. In cooperatively managed corporations, everyone is allocated corporations’ shares, and the employees’ contributions in the corporations’ performance are recognized and the profits are shared among them. Hence, properly managed cooperatives need to replace these capitalist corporations, in which (i) the employees have a low status below the managers and the administrative officers, and (ii) only the managers and administrators share the profits and reward themselves by bonuses.
  5. The fifth tenet is that the socio-economic system should have a moral and spiritual base, so as to foster the spirit of collective welfare.

This equitable economic model can be termed as Cooperative (or Collective) Economics, as opposed to Corporate Capitalism (or Free-reigning Market Capitalism), in which: (1) self-interested groups and individuals maximize their own welfare (in a free-market environment) at the expense of the general public; (2) bank agents unscrupulously induce people to buy homes that are above their means for mortgage payments; (3) bank heads resort to enterprise banking by investing in company stocks, while risking the bank clients’ monies; (4) corporation heads have ridiculously disproportionately huge salaries compared to other employees. In fact one of the main causes of today’s economy debacle is this unchecked capital-grabbing by self-interested groups and individuals. It is hence advocated that a PROUT economic system of cooperative economics replace the corporate (or free-market) capitalism system.

Governance Solution based on Economic Democracy

The foremost charter for the governance of a state is (i) how to increase the standard of living of its citizens through its economic system and structure, and (ii) how to enable everyone to participate in the governance system and in the constitution of the policies. Economic and political centralization in the state (in communism) or among the super-rich and capitalist corporations is not conducive to the fulfillment of this governance charter.

In this regard, the Decentralized Economy (of PROUT), coupled with people’s participation in the governance, will provide economic prosperity, social security and fulfilling living to the people. People’s living problems include employment, adequate purchasing capacity, equitable healthcare delivery system, education and social security. If these living problems are solved, then people can also devote themselves to the development of their psychic and spiritual potentialities, which will further contribute to a progressive society.

So then, the principles of Decentralized economy (Ref 1) are: as follows.

  • The first principle is that in a socio-economic unit, the natural and material resources required for industrial development should be controlled by the local people.
  • The second principle is that production should be based on consumption needs, so that the supply meets with the demand. There should not be over production for profiteering purpose, by creating artificial demand through clever advertising.
  • Thirdly, as mentioned earlier in the economic model, both production and distribution should be organized through cooperatively managed corporations.
  • The fourth principle is that there should be emphasis on improving and utilizing the skills and expertise of the local people. Hence, local people should be given the first opportunity for employment in the local economic enterprises.
  • The fifth principle is that development of indigenous industries and business enterprises should be encouraged in the development of the community and region. Hence, locally produced commodities should be primarily used by the community people, to enable them to improve the standards of their agricultural and industrial products. In other words, regionalization should precede globalization
  • The sixth principle is that multi-faceted rural development should be undertaken, so as to enable people of all professions to practice their professions, and have fulfilling employment in their rural communities. Rural development, through agro-industrial and hi-tech industrial development, will prevent urban congestion and unemployment. In this regard, it is recommended that rural universities be set up, with the charter of social transformation and agro-industrial development. In the US, this Go-Rural movement will motivate rural migration of production industries, and turn around the phenomenon of the so-called multi-national corporations taking their production abroad to take advantage of cheaper labor and thereby cause unemployment at home.
  • This decentralized economy constitutes the basis of a model civilian democratic system (to replace the exploitative capitalist corporate pseudo-democratic system), in the form of Economic Democracy, propounded by the sage Prabhat R. Sarkar (Refs 1, 2, 3).

Economic Democracy

In the book Socio-Economic Democracy and World Government (Ref 2), a governance solution is offered, in the form of a neo civilian democratic system (CDPS) based on cooperative economics. The Economic Democracy system (ECDS) implies democracy based on equitable distribution of economic assets through PROUT. This ECDS first of all requires a grass roots mind set and psychology change from ‘capitalism for personal wealth making’ to a more ‘spiritual psychology of collective welfare promotion’. This mind-set change in society needs to be promoted through education, from primary to secondary to tertiary education. Then in such a transformed spiritual society, our Economic Democracy will be (i) based on the above delineated six tenets of PROUT and the six principles of decentralized economy, and (ii) implemented at the grass-roots level, in the what can be termed as functionally sustainable communities (FSCs) , as defined and designed in Refs 2 and 4.

This Civilian Democratic Political System (CDPS) would be structured such that the local governments and legislatures would be composed of elected members of the people-centered professional associations, such as the lawyers’association, farmers’ association, doctors’ association, teachers’ association. These associations would elect their most socially oriented competent members to serve on the legislature and government, thereby ensuring that the government policies address people’s needs and welfare. These associations should verily represent the people and their needs, and the most competent members of these associations would serve on the government, thereby ensuring people’s welfare based policies. Thus this Civilian Democratic Political system would not need and involve political parties, and would represent people’s (or civilian) democracy. We will thereby have democracy sans political parties.

This Economic Democratic governance system and its Cooperative Economic system (PROUT) need to be first established at the grassroots level, in the form of sustainable communities with the theme of all for one and one for all. So then, what constitutes a sustainable community?

Functionally Sustainable Communities

A functionally sustainable community (FSC) is defined to comprise of several cities with a large rural hinterland, together providing economic sustainability to the community. In the developing and emerging countries, sustainable development for cities and towns would be concerned with developing adequate standards of living, based on the provision of community services and environmental quality, maintenance of trade linkages with their rural hinterland, and measures of social justice. On the other hand, sustainable development in the rural hinterland would have to deal with the means of generating revenue (by supplying their produces to the cities and other neighboring FSCs), so as to support their community services (such as healthcare, public transport, education, water supply, sanitation, electrical power) and sustain small businesses (Ref 4).

In rural areas, there also needs to be professional opportunities and adequate level of education to service industries, so as to avoid migration to cities. The problems that FSC(s) need to address are: (i) Economic: financial capacity to afford community services, low affordability to pay for community services because of poverty, and encouragement to the private sector by way of facilitating their operations (export and import, etc); (ii) Social: growth of slums in cities because of rural-to-urban migration, poor public transport, provision of safe drinking water, low level of entertainment facilities (like parks) to enhance the quality-of-life, and exploitation of migrant labor from rural areas.

The solutions for these urban-rural compounding problems are: (i) determination of appropriate size of FSC(s), such that there is adequate rural hinterland size to cater to the needs of cities and thereby gather revenue for their own sustainability; (ii) adroit distribution of population in the rural areas, comprising of the revenue generating sector (about 40%), community service sector (about 40%), and small business and financial (cooperative banking) sector (about 20%), such that the revenue brought into the rural townships by the revenue-generating sector is adequate to afford community services and sustain the small-business sector; (iii) adequate industrial development and a competent services sector in cities, so as to provide adequate community services and quality-of-life to the city dwellers; (iv) civilian economic democracy, such that community sectors’ representatives in the Legislature have responsibility to cater to the needs of their respective sectors.

This civilian Economic Democratic system along with the PROUT Cooperative Economic system. will provide to the people socio-economic security and a fulfilling life, which they have not known before. This conjoint Civilian Socio-Economic-Political Democratic System can, in years to come, become adopted by nations, to replace the present-day Political Party Democracy or Corporate Democracy.

As we part company, we would indeed be echoing the benevolence of the supreme neohumanist Prabhat R. Sarkar, that everyone live in harmony and peace; everyone can have unbarred opportunity for all-round development and for contributing to mutual welfare. No one be neglected and threatened, be left starving and without shelter, be left ill and uncared-for, be tormented and made dysfunctional. All can move together in unison, to the pinnacle of human existence and cosmic desideratum. This article is dedicated to usher in such a neo-humanistic global order and era!

References:

1. Sarkar, P.R. (1992). Proutist Economics: Discourses on Economic Liberation. Ananda Marga Publications, Tiljala, Calcutta 700039, India.
2. Ghista, D.N. (2004). Socio-economic Democracy and the World Government: Collective Capitalism, Depovertisation, Human Rights, Template for Sustainable Peace. World Scientific Publishing Co, Singapore 596224.
3. Dhanjoo N. Ghista (2011), Civilian Democratic Political-Economic System, for Liberated Countries with all systems of Government, Gurukula Network, Issue 32, May 2011.
4. Ghista, D.N and Sanyal, S (2007), Sustainable Development of Developing countries: A Holistic Socio-Economic-Political Approach, Journal of Environmental, Cultural, Economic and Social Sustainability, Vol 3 (1).

Copyright The author 2012 [anti-both]  Articles by the author on PROUT Globe

A Brief Introduction to the Progressive Utilization Theory (PROUT)

An outline of P.R. Sarkar’s alternative and progressive economic system

Dada Vedaprajinananda
During the 20th Century, Marxism and capitalism were the contending economic theories and the world was almost engulfed by a Third World War due to this struggle. But, the collapse of the Soviet Union and the other communist bloc governments laid the way for the triumph of capitalism. Today, however, half of the world’s population lives on two dollars a day or less, and the developed countries are in an economic recession that is reminiscent of the Great Depression of the 1930s. Once again, people are asking, “Is there an alternative to capitalism?”

In 1959, PR Sarkar, an Indian philosopher, answered this question when he presented the Progressive Utilization Theory (known by the acronym, PROUT). PROUT is an economic theory that addresses the defects of both capitalism and Marxism and offers the promise of a new economic order in which the world’s resources will be distributed in an equitable and rational fashion.

We can understand PROUT by looking at six essential features of this new socio-economic system:

1. Spirituality

Both capitalism and Marxism are materialist philosophies with a worldview that gives little (in the case of capitalism) or no importance to spirituality. PROUT on the other hand, is founded on a spiritual outlook. According to Sarkar, the material world is but an expression of consciousness and humans are stewards rather than ultimate owners of any physical wealth. The goal of society is to provide a base from which humans can expand their full mental, physical and spiritual possibilities. This spiritual basis of PROUT has important implications for the management of physical resources, for the development of human resources and for the establishment of proper government.

When we will adopt the spiritual worldview envisioned by Sarkar, then our relationship with the environment will change. Similarly, when we regard other human beings as manifestations of that one Consciousness then our relationships with each other will change. Finally, when such a spiritual worldview permeates our whole society, we will get the kind of service-minded and selfless government that is currently lacking in the world today.

2. A “Floor and a Ceiling”

Welfare economists have always emphasised that the minimum necessities of life should be provided for everyone in a properly structured society. Efforts to make a minimum wage or to provide various kinds of welfare systems to help impoverished people are all part of this concern.

P.R. Sarkar agreed with some aspects of welfare economics and stated that the minimum necessities of life should be guaranteed to all members of society. He, however, recognised that if the society would just give people a check at the end of the month, with their required income, then this would only encourage laziness. According to Sarkar, the best arrangement is that society should provide people with the purchasing power to procure the minimum necessities of life in exchange for their labour in a job. Full employment providing everyone with the proper amount of purchasing power thus provides the “floor” of the economic system. No one should be allowed to “live in the basement”.

Where PROUT breaks new ground is in its attention to the “ceiling” of the economic system. The poverty of many is tied to the affluence and over-accumulation of a few, and if we really want to bring about a harmonious society we need to think about putting limits on the amount of physical wealth that a person can accumulate. In the first principle of PROUT, it is stated that “no individual should be allowed to accumulate any physical wealth without the clear permission and approval of the collective body of society”.

This concept is sure to evoke howls of protest from the super-rich, the very rich and even middle class people who aspire to wealth. The classic argument of the wealthy people is that by their effort, wealth is created and this wealth will trickle down to the rest of the society. The apologists of laissez faire capitalism have been very successful in convincing people that this is the truth, but the starving, sick and homeless people of the world have been waiting for a long time for the wealth to trickle down, and it does not seem to be happening.

Sooner or later, we will come to our senses and realise that the over-accumulation of wealth in the hands of a few is not in the best of interest of society as a whole and this principle of PROUT, curbing excessive accumulation, is sure to be put into practice around the world.

3. Economic Democracy

In the past century, a great deal was said about making the “world safe for democracy”. But, the “democracy” that was talked about was political democracy. In many of the impoverished countries of the world, the same ones where people struggle with $2.00 per day, the people have the right to vote but they do not have any say in their economic life. Similarly, even in developed countries a person can vote to decide who will be the next president, but he or she usually has no vote in deciding economic matters that are very close to home, like keeping a job.

According to PROUT theory, society should be organised in a manner that will empower as many people as possible. One of the best ways to do this is reorganise the ownership and operation of economic enterprises. Under capitalism, the primary business form is the corporation. The owners of the shares of a corporation have all the votes and decide how the enterprise will be run. Those who work in the enterprise have little or no say in the vital economic decisions that will affect their lives.

The PROUT system would establish the co-operative as the most important business form. Most enterprises, except the very large key industries and very small businesses, would be organised as co-operatives. Those who work in the enterprise will be the owners and will elect management and will vote in elections governing the running of the enterprise.

In a PROUTist economy, the very small enterprises with a few employees and dealing in non essential goods would be privately owned and operated, and the medium enterprises would be owned and operated as co-operatives. Large-scale key industries (energy, communication, transportation, etc.) would be publicly managed either by local governments or by special public bodies (in unitary political systems). This three-tiered system of private, cooperative and publicly run enterprises would provide the base for economic democracy.

4. Economic Reorganisation

(Decentralised Economy, Balanced Economy and Regional Economic Self Sufficiency)

If we want to bring about the economic well being of all of the people, then we must also make sure that some geographic areas are not depressed while other areas are thriving. The best way to bring about economic development and prosperity for everyone is to decentralise the economy, develop all sectors of the economy and to strive for regional economic self-sufficiency.

One of the biggest reasons for economic imbalance within any particular country is the modern trend of urbanisation. Usually most manufacturing and many other services serving the manufacturing sector are situated in cities. The metropolitan areas thrive, and people in the countryside are either unemployed or work in low-wage or subsistence agriculture.

The best way to reverse this situation is to place some industries, and supporting services and industries in rural areas. In this way, excessive congestion of urban areas will be avoided and strong regional centres will provide employment and services to previously neglected rural areas.

Economic decentralisation should also be coupled with balancing the various sectors of the economy: industry, agriculture and services. In some countries, more than 75% of the people work in agriculture and a small minority in industry and services. Underdeveloped countries with poor economies are usually structured in this way. In industrialised countries a huge majority of the population work in industry or in services, and very few people are engaged in agriculture.

P.R. Sarkar said that a more ideal set-up would have 20% of the population in agriculture, 20% in agro industries (producing goods using agricultural produce), 20% in agrico-industries (supplying machinery and tools for agriculture) and the rest of population in industry and services.

A society with this kind of economic balance would be better able to achieve economic self-sufficiency. Currently “globalisation” is the buzz-word of the era, and economic self-sufficiency is not in vogue. But, is it really healthy for any country to neglect its agricultural sector and rely on imported food? Similarly, should some countries remain with little or no industry and rely on far-away countries for all their finished products?

Generally, countries which depend solely on agriculture or which export raw materials like wood and minerals remain poor while heavily industrialised countries thrive. This is not good for the non-industrialised areas, but it is also not healthy for the developed countries as well. In times of war or in time of any disruption to transportation, their vital food supplies will be in danger.

On top of this, in a world where climate-warming and ecological difficulty have become major problems, does it continue to make sense to rely on centres of supply (for either raw or finished products) that are halfway around the world?

PROUT recommends that countries in a particular geographic region come together and form economic zones that have balanced, decentralised and self-sufficient economies. Such an arrangement would be ecologically advantageous, provide for economic security in times of war or unforeseen disruptions of transportation, and most importantly would ensure that no particular country or region will remain in poverty while others thrive.

5. Moral Leadership

The various plans for a better organisation of the economy and for economic democracy are good in theory, but the problem of materialising these noble ideas depends on the quality of the human beings in our society. If elected and appointed, corrupt officials will prevent the implementation of policies designed to bring about social and economic welfare. For example, the social equality preached by the Marxists was belied by the reality of corrupt government officials living in luxury while the masses remained in poverty.

The only way out of present economic and political problems is to elevate the moral standard of our society. If people are properly educated, conscious of their social and economic responsibilities and moral, then democracy can thrive and moral leadership will come to the fore. The hope of the future will rest on the shoulders of men and women who will enter public office with the spirit of service and sacrifice rather than for the selfish purpose of lining their own pockets or enhancing their prestige.

A proper spiritual outlook coupled with an educational system that is free from political interference and focused on the all-around development of human beings is the best way to bring forth leaders who are moral and work for the good of society.

6. Global Governance

Against the backdrop of the universe, the earth is a small planet and human beings have to learn how to live together in harmony on this small planet. The best way to minimise the possibilities of war and to safeguard the rights of all people is to establish a global government. Previous attempts in the 20th Century in this direction, namely the League of Nations and the United Nations, have not been adequate and it is time to move onto a better level of global coordination.

In his book, Problems of the Day, P.R. Sarkar laid out a concept of world government that should be achievable in the near future. He advocated the establishment of a bi-chambered world government. One chamber, the lower house, would have representation based on population and the other chamber, the upper house, would provide equal representation for all nations. The upper house will not be able to pass a law unless it has first been passed by the lower chamber, but the upper house will also have the right to reject bills passed by the lower chamber.

Sarkar envisioned a stage-wise movement towards world government. In the first phase, the world body would only be able to frame laws and administration would be in the hands of governments of the individual countries. In a later stage, the world government would also have administrative authority and a world militia at its disposal. In the past, world government was considered a utopian dream, but in the near future, it will become a necessity.

These are the core economic and political ideas that form the backbone of the Progressive Utilisation Theory. In the years ahead, they are sure to be the pillar of efforts to solve the thorniest problems that confront humanity today.

Copyright The author 2011

Why the PROUT Philosophy Has Been Created

P.R. Sarkar
It is not proper that one person will snatch away the morsels of food from the mouths of others. So there has been a need to introduce a system where all human beings would distribute the entire wealth among the collective body in a collective way. Unfortunately, no great person ever did this in the past, nor did even the advent of the Supreme Liberator do it. It was not done, therefore the problems and difficulties in collective life have continued. Because of these shortcomings, human life is full of pain and misery.

Now the time has come when this has got to stop. How can we allow such a thing to continue? When human beings are predominantly intellectual beings, why will such a major lacuna be allowed to perpetuate itself for days and months on end, for years and centuries together? Such a thing must not be allowed to continue. Yet the strange thing is that this lacuna in the physical sphere, and the consequent disparity, is the noumenal cause of all phenomenal troubles. Due to this noumenal cause, peace in the psychic sphere is being disturbed again and again.

With this end in view, with the sole purpose of removing physical misery and affliction, and keeping in view the higher goals of human life, the PROUT philosophy has been formulated. There was no alternative but to propagate the PROUT philosophy. Had it not been done, maybe human sorrows and sufferings would have been perpetrated for centuries together. Mean opportunists would have continued their exploitation, taking advantage of the simplicity or intellectual deficiency of the innocent and credulous masses. This exploitation has been perpetrated mainly in three ways: oppression, suppression and exploitation. I have not mentioned repression, because repression is inseparably associated with exploitation.

Now, the point is that the entire population of the world has got to be saved from oppression, suppression and exploitation — by any means, fair or foul. What will then be the result? Human suffering in the physical sphere will be overcome. Of course there has never been lack of adjustment in the spiritual sphere, nor will there ever be. Human beings can rest content in this regard. Only in the psychic sphere will they have to acquire power. And for what? People will have to acquire psychic power in order to overcome the psychic affliction which is the result of past reactive momenta. That is to say, with the establishment of PROUT, the problems in the physical sphere and in the spiritual sphere will have been solved. And what about the psychic sphere? Of course the requital of unserved reactive momentum (sam’ska’ras, karma) will surely affect the mind, but it is also a fact that human beings will acquire enough strength to overcome the psychic afflictions.

Bearing this in mind, you should build a new human society at the earliest possible moment. Regarding those who are likely to create obstacles in your path — let them do so. You should remember that those who are the actual pioneers, the real vanguard of the society, are always a microscopic minority, but it is they who are destined to be victorious. Those who once opposed, or are now opposing or will oppose in the future, will in the future admit: “Yes, we are now driving our vehicle safely and comfortably along the very path which that vanguard once opened by clearing the jungle.” This means that those who cleared the obstacles in the beginning will later be recognized as pioneers. The funny thing is this, that people do not give recognition at the time it is due. This is the natural law. And at the same time you should also remember this simple truth: that in a jungle the number of tigers and lions is always few; the jackals far outnumber them. Yet in the jungle the tigers and lions reign supreme, not the jackals. The jackals are sure to howl, that is their nature; but the tigers and lions will not be frightened.

From A’nanda Vacana’mrtam – Part 6
Copyright Ananda Marga Publications 2011

What is PROUT?

By Dada Maheshvarananda
Director of the Prout Research Institute of Venezuela.
Presentation at the First Global Prout Conference in Caracas, Venezuela, “Building a Solidarity Economy based on Ethics and Ecology”, 7 to 9 July 2011. Download Powerpoint

“Another world is possible!” This invites the question, “What kind of world we want?” Responses in all countries are invariably the same: A world without wars, without hunger and poverty, with human rights, democracy, environmental protection, in other words, peace and justice on earth!

Prout is the acronym for the Progressive Utilization Theory, a new socio-economic model based on self-reliance of each region, cooperatives, environmental balance and universal spiritual values.

Prout was founded by Prabhat Ranjan Sarkar (1921-1990), Indian philosopher, author of over 400 books, composer and spiritual teacher. He was also a political prisoner for seven years due to Prout’s stand against exploitation. I have never met anyone who had so much unconditional love for all. He inspired me to dedicate my life in service to all living beings, which is the meaning of my monk’s orange uniform.

Dr. Noam Chomsky said, “Prout’s cooperative model, based on sharing the planet’s resources for the welfare of everyone, deserves our serious consideration.”

Prout is not a rigid mold to be imposed on any society. It is a holistic approach of dynamic principles, which can be appropriately applied by citizens and leaders to help their region or country to prosper and become self-sufficient in an ecologically sustainable way.

Prout’s model is very complete. Let me explain a little about:

  1. Prout’s economy
  2. The social message of Prout
  3. The ecological and spiritual message of Prout
  4. Some Prout projects in Venezuela
  5. Prout’s message for Venezuela and for you

1. Prout’s economy

According to neoliberal economics, as taught in most universities, economic inequality does not matter, because if the national economy is growing, everyone will benefit.

However the reality is very different. The film is “The Economy.” Some are very happy because their experience is wonderful. But the economy does not benefit everyone!

Global capitalism is based on profit, selfishness and greed. The tragic result is that half the population lives, suffers and dies in poverty. A poverty that is completely unnecessary, because there is enough food and wealth on the planet for everyone.

Prout’s solution to economic inequality is based on the obvious truth that the world’s physical resources are limited. If individuals accumulate too much, there will not be enough for everyone. Each country must decide the maximum salaries, wealth and land, and promote the maximum utilization and rational distribution of all natural resources.

The right to life is fundamental. Guarantee the minimum needs of food, clothing, housing, education and medical care.

As the psychologist Abraham Maslow said, people whose physical needs and safety are guaranteed, can more easily develop altruism and the highest potential.

The right to decent work is also a fundamental human right, and the minimum wage should be sufficient to purchase basic needs.

Prout proposes to organize the economy into three levels. The first level is small private enterprises.

The second level is cooperatives: industry, agriculture, consumers, banks and services, which are “the businesses of the future.”

For cooperatives to succeed, they need: honest leaders, a good business plan, strict management, and the wholehearted support of the community. The government should provide: more training and regular inspections.

The third level is large-scale strategic industries that require very high investments and are difficult to decentralize, should operate as public companies, and should never be privatized.

Prout’s economic democracy is a dynamic economy of the people, by the people and for the people. One goal of Prout is to make each region self-reliant. This means food sovereignty.

2. The social message of Prout

The most common factor amongst criminals is the tendency to lie. Strangely, this same defect is common among some lawyers, directors of multinational companies, accountants, advertisers and politicians. Throughout history, powerful classes have created moral rules and laws to maintain their power. For example, the idea that men are spiritually superior to women. What nonsense!

Here is a list of cardinal human values that Prout proposes should be taught in all schools and in the whole society: honesty, courage, mercy, humility, self-control, compassion. Protect the weak, to overcome selfishness, expose lies. What do you think? Are these the types of values we want our children to follow?

The world needs leaders with moral strength, spiritual insight and courage to fight against injustice and exploitation. Anyone can become an ideal leader setting a personal example of honesty, discipline, spirit of sacrifice and devotion to the welfare of humanity.

When the founder of Prout, Prabhat Ranjan Sarkar, visited Venezuela in 1979, he said some words that are a source of inspiration for me.: “Venezuela needs good spiritual political leaders. If Venezuela could produce spiritual political leaders, it would not only be the leader of Latin America, but also the leader of the planet. Venezuela is a blessed country.”

For Prout, community is “a group of people that move together as a family toward a common goal.” In Venezuela the word Cayapa means cooperation and solidarity of the community.

3. The ecological and spiritual message of Prout

Prout has an ecological and spiritual perspective that is lacking in many economic philosophies, but is still present in traditional societies. Indigenous spirituality invariably revolves around nature and the connection to all forms of life. Indigenous peoples did not believe that the land belonged to them, but that they belonged to the land.

I would like to clarify the major differences between dogma and spirituality. Fundamentalism is closed minded, blind obedience and instils fear. Dogmas divide people into believers and non-believers, “us” against “them.” In contrast, the mystical quest for the truth is open-minded, asks questions and promotes love. Spirituality sees everyone as a human family, and is universal.

Prout’s spiritual perspective recognizes that all humans have a thirst for peace and happiness. We need to journey inside to find true peace and happiness, to find the connection, meaning and purpose of life, which is self-realization and service to humanity.

Meditation: In the struggle for peace and justice in the world, we must not neglect our own inner peace. Meditation is an ancient spiritual practice. The benefits include: overcoming insomnia, depression and mental complexes, increasing memory, concentration, self-control, willpower, self-esteem and tolerance, to develop peace of mind, wisdom, compassion and unconditional love. Are any of you interested in any of these benefits?

Meditation is one of the most beautiful and inspirational techniques you can learn.

4. Some Prout projects in Venezuela

In 2007 we formed the Prout Research Institute of Venezuela, an independent educational foundation, not for profit, with the goal to raise consciousness, support cooperatives and promote a balanced economy. We strive to transform lives and strengthen communities for the welfare of all, through research, education and outreach.

The Prout house is a three-story home and our headquarters in El Marques, Caracas. The Institute uses it without owning it. We have training courses on “Venezuelan Reality and Tools to Change the World.” We offer classes in yoga and meditation for personal development.

An example of Prout in practice is Centro Madre in San Jose of Barlovento, Miranda state. This community project was founded 11 years ago by Didi Ananda Sadhana.

The board of directors encourages self-sufficiency through education, sustainable agriculture, integrated development and ethical leadership.

Centro Madre is located on three and a half hectares of land. Three times they received an evaluation of excellence from the CIARA government institute of agriculture, as a national model for small-scale sustainable agriculture.

The reading program lends books to families in the community to read together, and creates programs in schools.

Neo-Humanist Education is fundamental to Prout. Neohumanism means the practice of love for all creation including plants, animals and inanimate world.

In Las Acacias, Caracas is the Neo-Humanist Preschool, started seven years ago by Didi Ananda Amegha.

5. Prout’s message for Venezuela

  • Be self-reliant in food and medicines through sustainable agriculture, cooperatives and agricultural industries.
  • Strengthen cooperatives with more training, accounting and inspections to increase employment.
  • Oil sales are only a temporary source of income to be used for education, job training and programs to alleviate poverty.
  • Balance the economy.
  • Fight aggressively and tirelessly against corruption.

What you can do

  • Learn more about Prout: read, take courses.
  • Understand the relationship between the social and the personal: be the change you want to see.
  • Share the vision with others: the more people that share the goal, the more power we have to achieve it.
  • Volunteer: help to create the world we want.
  • Being green: reduce, reuse, recycle, grow food, because you can make a difference, you can contribute to a better world.
  • Learn and practice meditation to seek peace.

Finally, I would like to share that this international conference was organized entirely by the efforts of 28 volunteers and the participation of 30 speakers who have devoted their time, energy and talent without any monetary compensation because they believe in the importance of the solidarity economy, ethics and ecology. And to all of you I express my deep gratitude for participating in this initiative that inspires us to build a better world. Thank you very much.

Copyright The author 2011