PROUT stands for the PROgressive Utilisation Theory. In Sanskrit, it is known as Pragatishiila Upayoga-Tattva. The basic PROUT ideas were first given in the Hindi book Áj ki Samasyáy (Problems of the Day) in 1958. Later Shrii Sarkar gave a series of English discourses primarily on Tantra cosmology and psychology later collected in a book named Idea and Ideology. The final discourse entitled “Cosmic Brotherhood” for the first time mentioned the name “PROUT” and gave the five Fundamental Principles of PROUT.
The Sanskrit word for Progress is pragati. It is defined thus
Prakrśt́a gati ityartha pragati.
[That which moves speedily towards Prakrśt́a – transcendent excellence or greatness or Brahma – is called pragati.]
The English word “progress” comes from the Latin prefix pro meaning “forward” and the verb gradi meaning “to step, walk.”
Generally, progress is defined as increasingly sophisticated technology and urban lifestyles. Shrii Sarkar has revealed that in actual fact there is no real progress in the material world. Every technology has hidden dangers that are only revealed later. Modern lifestyle with many amenities often leads to a decline in physical health. Mobiles lead to cancer, depression, weakened will power and family alienation. Various medicines have harmful side-effects.
The reason Shrii Sarkar states this is not to encourage renunciation of the world but rather to bring about a change in orientation in developing technologies and new medicine. From the very start one should look for the potential dangers and take precautions to lessen their impact. Physical progress is defined by Shrii Sarkar as Káma or the fulfilment of endless physical desires. The comprehensive physical progress where one develops new objects while researching and trying to minimize their side-effects is known as Madhya Káma.
One reason for this negative regress for every material progress is that material life gives rise to two states of mind Sukha (happiness) and Dukha (sadness). Sukha is defined as
Anukúlavedaniiyaḿ sukham. (Ananda Sútram II.1)
[A congenial mental feeling (the relaxation of the nerves) is called happiness.]
Dukha is defined as
[An uncongenial mental feeling (tension or striking on the nerves) is called happiness.]
However Shrii Sarkar notes there can be said to be a form of “relative” progress. In the world once physical habits and customs develop people do not want to leave them, even if they have become harmful or useless in the present context. Similarly various institutions, various elites want to perpetuate themselves forever and this often goes against the interests of the majority of humanity. This happens again and again not just in general history but in the history of each generation. So then, progress lies in the eradication of old, exploitative structures (including structures of power) and the construction of new, dynamic structures. And when these new structures become ossified, irrelevant to the present and exploitative, then they also need to be effaced and again new structures need to be created.
In the psychic realm – in the realm of thoughts, sentiments, intuitions – many feel there is progress. However in reality, as Shrii Sarkar explains, there is no real psychic progress. Every idea has an antithesis and thus different intellectual viewpoints often seem to move in cycles of popularity and unpopularity as per the changing social conditions.
Those who are developed psychically – either intellectually or when it comes to deeply-felt sentiments – often are found to be mentally unstable. Often intellectuals will worry and lose sleep over trivial matters and are many times easily disturbed. However, by contrast, many uneducated people are living in a state of mental ease and peace despite various hardships. Everyone knows how artists and writers are very often unstable. This is why when some writers come in contact with the so-called “unartistic” and “unlettered” they long for such a state of mind. Furthermore in history there are times when there are many great scholars or artists who are remembered in history and there are later times where there are no great scholars or artists as they cannot create anything original but merely work in traditional lines. The scholars of Sanskrit in different time periods of Indian history were more brilliant and original than those of today.
Above all, the more one knows, the more one realizes how much one does not know. A youth going to a university and seeing the many departments and seeing the various specialities in each subject will feel overwhelmed at the vast amount of knowledge he/she is ignorant of. This is not just something that happens to youth. Socrates was proclaimed as the wisest man as he alone realized he truly did not have authentic knowledge about anything. The great scientist Issac Newton also expressed this saying:
“I do not know what I may appear to the world, but to myself I seem to have been only like a boy playing on the seashore, and diverting myself in now and then finding a smoother pebble or a prettier shell than ordinary, whilst the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me.”Memoirs of the Life, Writings, and Discoveries of Sir Isaac Newton (1855) by Sir David Brewster (Volume II. Ch. 27)
In the psychic sphere, the congenial feeling that leads to happiness is not produced by the nerves but rather by increasing “food” [pabula] for thought. A professor will be happy with a new library full of books he has not read and will be unhappy with a library that does not have anything new.
Similarly, people want to listen to new songs, see new art and if they have no access to the latest songs or latest websites they become restless.
However, in the psychic realm there are two other categories of feelings. The first is Avedaniiyaḿ in which the nerve cells become immobile (due to disease for fatigue) or are forcibly stopped due to negative ideas and feelings. For example, those ascetics or nihilists who refuse to admit the existence of the material world and try to live in the world of ideas or even the spiritual realm often enter into this mental state which is misconstrued as a spiritual state.
The second is Nirapekśavedaniiyaḿ this is the absence of pain and pleasure due to suppression of the mind. This is a temporary state. This state happens to those ascetics who have not learnt true yoga and hence try to suppress their desires and the movement of their mind.
This psychic progress is known as pará artha. This lies in the pursuit of meaning. Even those with wealth like Buddha and Mahavira become restless to find to find the meaning of life. Even a non-intellectual person who has material wealth can become restless because of the lack of meaning in their life. This can also lead to ritual superstition and anti-social behaviour such as alcoholism. Even when one finds meaning in some idea, some poem or some piece of art, after a while it no longer provides the same psychic joy and fulfilment as it first did and hence one seeks more and more objects of intellectual or sentimental enjoyment.
While there is then, no real progress in the psychic progress still there can be said to be a “relative” form of progress. In the psychic world especially there is great staticity. Once a religious or philosophical idea, sentiment or doctrine emerges, people cling to it and then force it on others. However dogma is not only found in religion. Capitalism or ‘market fundamentalism’ (the idea that the market is holy and must not be interfered with) has many dogmas. Communism or ‘economic fundamentalism’ (the idea that everything is based on economics and the rest of human civilization is superstructure) has even more dogmas.
People cling to dogmas not just out of nostalgia for the past, but because they fear to take the risk of venturing into new ideas and new sentiments. This is why those with new ideas, new art have been ridiculed and persecuted throughout history. These dogmas strangle the free flow of human thought and cripple social progress. Today we see medieval dogmas and negative sentiments from history re-emerging today. Shrii Sarkar has said that psychic inertia; psychic stagnancy – where the mind does not flow freely – is the 3rd Cause of sin (pápa). Hence he says it is the prime duty of Sadvipras or spiritual revolutionaries to liberate the collective human mind from dogmas and to liberate society from the rule of dogmatic exploiters. Theirs is a never-ending fight against the status-quo in the realms of thought, sentiment and intuition. The philosophy, the sentiment which is based on universalism (arising from meditation) as well as divine love (bhakti) alone can provide some meaningful peace to the mind and heart. Such philosophies and sentiments are known as Madhya Artha.
The spiritual realm lies beyond the mind. It is a realm of limitless happiness known as bliss.
Sukham-anantam-ánandam. (Ananda Sútram II.3)
Everyone searches for happiness and tries it in so many forms. After a while, there emerges a deep desire for limitless happiness. And one of the primary forms of happiness is being in the presence of greatness. People run after great mountains like the Himalayas, vast oceans like the Pacific and fly into the vast skies out of yearning for the infinite vastness or greatness. Similarly, people run after great athletes, singers, writers because they feel a sense of joy and awe in their presence even if they do not understand their music or literature. This is why it is said
Brhadeśańáprańidhánaḿ ca Dharmah. (Ananda Sútram II.3)
[To long for and run after the Great is Dharma.]
Dharma or the search and struggle for the sublime, for justice, etc. is born out of this search for the happiness one finds in the Vast, in the Great. This longing is only satiated in the spiritual realm where the ultimate greatness (Brahma) of Supreme Consciousness is attained. This is why it is said,
Tasminnupalabdhe paramá trśńánivrttih. (Ananda Sútram II.3)
[That (Brahma) having been attained, all thirst is permanently quenched.]
There is only one feeling in the spiritual realm – Áplutavedaniiyam. Pluta means “flood” and the prefix Á is a superlative. Hence the overwhelming realm in which the knowing (vedana) or awareness bursts beyond all limitations of feelings, thoughts or ego is the spiritual realm.
There are two primary forms of Áplutavedaniiyam. The first is Samsmrta Vedana. Smrta means “remembrance”, sam means “complete, perfect, proper, total”. So this is a complete, ultimate state of knowing (vedana) or awareness in which there is perpetual and complete remembrance of the Supreme (Brahma). This is known in the Upanishads as Dhruva smrti or firm, unwavering remembrance. This type of remembrance does not happen in the psychic realm dominated by the triad of bhakta (devotee), bhakti (devotion) and Bhagaván (the resplendent Lord, God). In Dhruva smrti or Samsmrta this triad dissolves into the oneness of bliss and love. This is the psycho-spiritual realm. While the psychic realm is not one of progress, there is progress in the psycho-spiritual realm. This progress consists in the increasing dissolving of the mind into the Consciousness at the core of the “I”-feeling.
The second form is Bhásottara Vedana or Bahuprajiṋána Vedana. Bhása means light, brightness, radiance and uttara means “highest”. Normally there is a seer (subject), there is the seen (object) and the act of seeing (relation). In the highest form of effulgence these three dissolve into a limitless flow of pure radiance. In yoga this is called cidákásha (the ether, space of Pure Consciousness) experienced in the Sahasrára Cakra (crown of the head). Prajiṋána is formed from pra meaning “proper, complete” combined with jiṋána meaning “cognition, knowledge. Thus Prajiṋána means the complete, ultimate state of knowledge. Normally in the psychic realm, there is a knower (subject), there is the known (object) and there is knowledge (relation between the two). In the highest form of cognition the dynamism of the expanding Consciousness bursts the bounds of these three leading to a pure, infinite flow of cognition. In Tantric philosophy this is known as náda and is also known as Cosmic Mahat – the realm of pure existential feeling (I exist) beyond all duality. This is a realm of absolute speed and hence it is beyond all forms of progress as there is no negative state that one has to transcend.
This realm is the culmination of divine love in which the triad of premi (loving devotee), Priya (Beloved) and Prema (love) dissolve into an endless flow of matchless, ineffable love. And this state of union beyond all duality and ego is crucial nectar for the Sadvipra or spiritually rooted revolutionary. As Shrii Sarkar states:
“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.”(An Ideology for a New Generation, The Liberation of Intellect: Neohumanism)
One of the main mottos of PROUT is “maximum utilization and rational distribution”. But what is “utilization”. In economic thought there have been studies of economic utility. This school of thought originated however as a philosophy known as utilitarianism which has been associated with the British regime in India. PROUT is very different indeed in its vision of utilization.
The English word “utilization” originates from the word “use”. From the early 14th Century this word has meant “to take advantage of someone or something.” The word comes from the Latin word uti meaning “to make use of, profit by, take advantage of, enjoy, apply and consume”. Hence we can see the idea of exploitation is clearly evident in the roots of these words and it is unsurprising that this has been the dominant legacy of this concept in economic and moral philosophy.
The Sanskrit word that PROUT uses for the English word “utilization” is known as upayoga. Firstly the word yoga comes from two roots. Yuj means “to join, to add, to bring together, to harness.” The second root is Yuiṋj which means “to unite, to become one, to be successful.” The prefix upa means “near, proximate.” The word Yoga means “addition, union, prosperity, use, application, propriety, method, mantra, magical art, fixing the arrow on the bow (to be shot), zeal, diligence and care.” PROUT is based on the spiritual philosophy of Ananda Marga Yoga. Thus the goal of PROUT is union with the Supreme Self achieved by meditation. To create the economic and political environment in which this can thrive is the mission of PROUT. Upayoga then means coming close to this spiritual union. This is the real meaning of “utilization”. To utilize something does not mean to exploit it for one’s selfish pleasures but rather to utilize something to bring about the spiritual advancement of oneself and the rest of society. This is a special aspect of PROUT known as psycho-economy.
If we also examine the word “yoga” from the economic standpoint of “use, prosperity, application, remedy, property” we find then that this is the purest or most complete form of prosperity, application, remedy, etc. Upayoga means to come nearer and nearer to the complete or maximum use and application of an object. In Sanskrit the word “upayoga” means “ employment, use, application, utilization, acquisition, consumption, good conduct and propriety.” Here we can clearly see that genuine upayoga involves good conduct and propriety. This means that the use of an object must not violate morality and must not violate physical, psychic and spiritual symmetry or equipoise (pramá)
Utility and Utilitarianism
The concept of utility was first developed by medieval scholasticism (founded on the philosophy of St. Thomas Aquinas). First, in Valencia, Francisco Garcia in 1583 developed the idea of “subjective utility” meaning that the utility of an object varies from person to person, place to place and from one time period to another. In addition, utility varies as per the number of buyers and sellers, and their eagerness to buy and sell. It is utility, he believes, that should govern the value and price of an object. Later Luis de Molina of Salamanca (1535-1600) said that the price of an object is solely dependent on its utility. This utility did not arise from the object itself but instead from how useful people felt it to be and how much importance they gave it (A doctrine that would be further developed for President Jackson by Amos Kendall of Kentucky). Both of them lived during a time when Spain was plundering and murdering Central and South America. While they believed that economics should be governed by religious morality they had so sense of it being for the welfare of a community or of all communities irrespective of nationality.
In 1740 David Hume developed the primary philosophy that would underlie the British school of utilitarianism as well as the British economic view of utility. He used empirical philosophy which was based on the idea that all that exists are various physical sensations as had been said by John Locke. Based on this supposition, he analyzed what he felt were “abstract concepts” such as God, morality, natural (human) rights and the soul and tried to demonstrate that they were unprovable and hence merely arbitrary doctrines or superstition. He went further and demonstrated the same thing about scientific concepts like space, time, action, causation, etc.. Thus he claimed that the only thing we are aware of is our material sensations. We act to pursue pleasure and flee from pain in order to meet our selfish needs. There is no innate virtue or value of an object or person except in their utility for our selfish needs. It is no small coincidence that this doctrine of rudimental selfishness (átma-sukha tattva) developed at a time when the British capitalists were coming to power. Following Hume, Adam Smith developed the idea that human selfishness is natural for human beings (homo economicus) and actually benefits the market economy. Here we have the rudimental idea that utility of an object depends on its utility for capitalist exploiters.
The founder of the philosophy of utilitarianism was Jeremy Bentham. Building on Hume’s nihilistic and hedonistic doctrine of utility, he developed a philosophy for politicians in 1780. The decisions about the utility of an object or person was to be decided by them. Needless to say, at that time only the middle class had voting rights, the aristocrats were all powerful and the industrial capitalists were rising. Hence this practically meant it was the wealthy who would judge the utility of the people and the country’s resources. The new industrial capitalists wanted (along with Bentham) that the small shop owners get the right to vote so that with their votes power could be seized from the capitalists. He tried to develop a series of abstract formulae by which one could calculate how much an object could contribute to the greatest happiness of the greatest number of people. For Bentham the primary goal of government was security which in his view was attained by letting individuals pursue their selfish interests without obstruction so long as they do not violate the penal code. For Bentham it is the force of an individual that should rule society as this was the best way to utilize citizens. Needless to say, this doctrine laid the foundation and justification for the ruthless looting of capitalism, causing millions to live in misery around the world.
Later in 1783, Daniel Bernoulli, a mathematician from Switzerland developed the principle of utility without much knowledge of economics. He believed that utility was a measurable quantity and could be expressed via a mathematical ratio based on the new calculus. He also said that the utility of an object is always inversely proportional to the amount of that type of object one already had in stock (a doctrine that would be later restated by John Craig, 1780-1850). In reality utility is not purely objective. The idea that utility is objective led to mathematical economics which so often is completely divorced from the reality of how economies work in real life as well as how economic empires affect these economies. The utility of an object also is not constant and hence cannot be expressed via an algebraic formula. Physical utility of an object for various tasks is not as important as its subjective utility for individuals and its subjective utility is not as important as its multidimensional utility for the local community. Later James Stanley Jevons (1835-1882) and Vilfredo Pareto (1848-1923) developed the mathematical analysis of economic utility.
Charles Lloyd (1774-1829) a professor of Oxford was a theologian who wrote on economics. He stated that “value” was a mental feeling arising from unsatisfied wants. Hence the value or utility of the object is not related to the nature and characteristics of the object itself. An object is useful for fulfilling the wants and desires of human beings. This vision of utility is dangerous not just for animals and plants but also for communities “foreign” to the elite capitalist countries.
In 1821, James Mill first developed the economics of utilitarianism. He was a follower of Bentham and the economist David Ricardo. Ricardo was a millionaire from the stock market, he created an influential school of economics. His main mission was to justify the rule of industrial capitalists and thus he showed how class conflict is essential for economic growth. He invented the doctrine of laissez faire to allow full freedom of the capitalists to exploit without government interference. Whereas traditional doctrine of laws was that society was an organic whole and hence the basic subsistence of the poor must be guaranteed. Ricardo’s laissez faire denied this doctrine of government duty to the poor. The Poor Laws were opposed by him due to their interference with the “liberty” of the capitalists and the sacrosanct dynamics of capitalist markets. Ricardo was a proprietor in the East India Company that ruled India. One follower of this doctrine was Nassau W. Senior who wrote the Poor Laws Bill that cut most assistance and subjected the poor to brutal treatment. It has been described as one the most cruel laws in the history of democratic nations. For Nassau also utility refers to different desires of different persons. Hence utility has no fixed financial or moral value but merely expresses the relation of objects to the pains and pleasures of people. Unsurprisingly the very basic religious idea that the wealth and legislation should provide for the subsistence of the poor was now fully buried.
James Mill popularized the ideas of Ricardo and developed Bentham’s utilitarianism into a developed philosophy. Mill wrote a history of British India while working for the East India Company. He said Indians had primitive and weak states of mind. He believed if uncivilized Asians would come under the rule of Europeans then they could learn from European arts, etiquette and institutions. In this way they could be civilized and humanity as a whole would benefit. Just as Indians had been civilized by the superior civilization of Muslim rule, so also, they would become civilized by British rule. For this the English needed to colonize India in large numbers. Indian intelligence, temperance, justice, and generosity developed under Muslim rule but not under the rule of countless rajas. He believed that colonies like India caused Britain to lose money but still out of noble desire to civilize these people, Britain should suffer the loss of ruling India. This entire imperialist doctrine was an application of Mill’s doctrine of utility. Here he discussed the utility of counties to the general progress of mankind. Thus India should be occupied by the British so as to utilize India for the welfare of mankind by civilizing it. Needless to say the textile trading empire and the industrial revolution of Britain was cemented with Indian blood. Mill himself was forced to condemn the violent greed of some British merchants and administrators.
The most famous of utilitarians was the son of Mill named John Stuart Mill. Through his father, he was able to work for the East India Company for 35 years. Stuart Mill bemoaned the fact that despite the nobility of British foreign policy other nations and the ungrateful Indians did not appreciate this and suspected the motives of the British. In line with the East India Company Mill believed that England. Mill strongly believed that since the people in colonies like India did not have British blood and ancestry, they could not be given the freedom to elect their own government. The rules of international law and morality imply that they should be observed by everyone. However, savages like Indians are unreliable when it comes to following the rules of law and their minds are incapable of this. Despotism then was the best course of government for savages (such as the North American Indians and the Indian people) just as it is for children. To civilize savages they need to be enslaved by force – this was the moral duty of the Europeans. While Stuart Mill believed in laisser faire for English capitalists it should not be practiced in India. Rather the British should strictly control every aspect of the Indian economy. Mill gave some support to the idea of British working people owning and controlling their own industries but not for the Indian people to control their own economy. Mill justified the war crimes committed by the British during the 1857 rebellion as being practically necessary
In his famous work on utilitarianism, Mill said, “Society should treat all equally well who have deserved equally well of it, that is, who have deserved equally well absolutely. This is the highest abstract standard of social and distributive justice; towards which all institutions, and the efforts of all virtuous citizens, should be made in the utmost degree to converge.” Needless to say, these pretty words did not apply to the poor of England since he believed that only the educated should have the right to vote although there was no government programme of public education in place. Similarly, the pretty words above do not apply to the relationship between Britain and her occupied colonies.
The founder of this field is Michael Todaro. He has travelled around the world to Africa and Latin America and studied the problems of developing countries. He has created many detailed studies of economic development in these countries. In his textbook he has gathered a wealth of data, models and analyses of development in countries around the world. He has presented the latest mathematical theories on utility and utility maximization. The problem is that these theories do not deal with the subjective reality as we have seen. One good example is “care work” or the unpaid household labour of women. This work is most crucial for the survival and thriving of families and societies but it has been neglected since it is not readily quantifiable in statistical terms.
However, the most dangerous failure in Todaro’s development philosophy is the failure to deal with the reality of the World Bank’s structural adjustment programmes as a form of western exploitation of poorer countries. Through these adjustment programmes, a country’s government is forced to practice “austerity”. This means the people will lose all social aid and public services like medical care, food rations etc. Practically this means more and more people will suffer or die (many by suicide. However, this neglect and abuse of the local people are not enough for the capitalists. They make the local government sell off all the public industries and resources. Who buys up these resources – none other than western corporations. Since 2007 we have seen western capitalist cannibalize their own people. Greece – the original home of western civilization – is a good example. Corrupt Greek businessmen took steep loans from European financial institutions that they knew Greece could not pay. Those businessmen looted the money through endless forms of corruption. They were never brought to justice. Instead, austerity programmes were forced on Greece bringing mass suffering while German and other European companies bought up the resources of this poor country.
This is not the only lacuna in Todaro’s analysis. The practical reality of economics in the last 400 years has been the dominance of global empires owned by western countries such as UP (Holland), UK, USA and now China. These empires have practised economic and military imperialism and environmental destruction. This is the dominant influence on the development of most countries in the world. This is the elephant in the room missing in development theories.
Even more honest development theories, like that of Amartya Sen, that has critiqued the excesses of capitalism fail to deal with the fundamental fact that the increase of the socio-economic and cultural capabilities of the people of a country required that the economic imperialism of capitalist super-powers must be stopped. This will not happen without a revolution and the creation of a democratic world government. Until then, all millennium goals will remain an exercise in utopian dreaming.
PROUT Utility and Utilization
The principle of utilitarianism talks about the greatest happiness for the greatest number of people. In other words a humanistic concept of utilization is oriented towards the welfare of all human beings. The NeoHumanism that is the foundation of PROUT thinks of the welfare of all created beings – including animals, plants and even so-called inanimate objects. This is because the foundation of PROUT’s vision of the world is rooted in the experience of Pure Consciousness in meditation. This brings the realization that even the so-called material beings are divine by nature. Every amoeba and every cell has its own mind that science has not yet discovered. Furthermore the power of Tantra meditation can transform communities that are so-called backward (due to exploitation of so-called forward nations) into developed civilisations.
PROUT is founded upon the vision of Maharsi Bhrgu (in the Taitiriya Upanishad) that everything emerges from bliss (endless happiness), everything exists within this bliss (Ananda) and everything will merge in this bliss.
From this idea emerges the idea of Ananda Parivara (Blissful Cosmic Family) which is an expansion of the Vedic doctrine of Vasudhaeva Kutumbakam (“the world is verily one family”).
If the Cosmos is a divine family of all created beings then all have an equal right to the physical wealth of the universe which is limited. This wealth should be utilised for the social, physical, economic, cultural and spiritual development of everyone. This is PROUT’s founding principle of Cosmic Inheritance.
Hence those who violate this principle and hoard wealth and thus cause their brothers and sisters to suffer poverty that can lead to death are the enemies of the Cosmic Family and the betrayers of the Cosmic Father. Such people are the real atheists, kaffirs, heathen or mleechas. To wage war against these heathen capitalists to seize their stolen wealth is Dharma Yuddha (righteous, holy war).
Once this war is over, then localised economic swaraj will prevail across the planet wherein the local people will plan (with the help of experts) their own economic development. The local resources, agricultural products and the resulting industries will be produced to meet the multidimensional requirements and desires of the people, animals, plants, water bodies, etc.. of their block, district or region (samaja). This will be PROUTistic utilization – production and consumption of goods exist to fulfil the heart of the local people and not for profit. Hence over-production that results from a profit-based capitalist economy will not take place. Furthermore economic resources will also be used to foster the intellectual, cultural and spiritual treasures in the hearts of the local people. Thus PROUT’s motto is “Utilization for total Liberation.”
How this will happen has been described in the founding discourses of PROUT. However, all this will remain on paper unless the determination rises up in our hearts for the end of the utilization of humanity and our planet for the profit maximization exploiters.
Tattva and Theoria in Prout
The name of Prout is Pragatishiila Upayoga Tattva. Tattva is translated as “theory” in English. It is thought that PROUT is a “theory” like a scientific theory that explains reality or that Prout is a theory like a philosophical theory like Hegel, Marx, etc.
Shrii Sarkar however explains Tattva saying
“The word tattva means “the bháva [essence or existence] of the essential root entity hidden within every entity”. Tattvadraśt́á means “one who sees tattva through supreme knowledge”.(Kavi, Shabda Cayaniká Part 3)
“What is tattva? Tat means “that”, in neuter gender. By adding the suffix tva the abstract noun is formed. For example bitter + ness = bitterness – an abstract noun. Or in Bengali, manda + tva = mandatva (badness), an abstract noun. Likewise, tat + tva = tattva. Dharmasysa tattvam means “the essence of dharma.””(The Secret of Dharma Lies Hidden in the Mind)
“tattvabhávát: tat + tva. Tat means That; that is, Nirakśara Brahma [utterly immutable, transcendental Consciousness]. Ideating on That only, that item only, that Entity only, is Tattvabhávát.”(Liberation from Viśńumáyá)
In Sanskrit, Tattva is used for the different levels of reality in creation with Nirguna Brahma being Parama Tattva. In Indian philosophies, there are different Tattva or fundamental levels of Consciousness. Shrii Sarkar explains in the book Idea and Ideology:
“During enumeration práńendriya does not come within the category of indriyas, not only because its site or controlling point is different from that of other indriyas, but for another reason as well. The ten indriyas function only to perceive tattvas, but práńendriya, being the collective name of the ten váyus (and váyu being a bhútatattva and a fundamental factor formed due to crudification of ether), comes under the category of tattvas. Indriyas, therefore, are the activators and perceivers of the bhútatattvas, and práńendriya is more or less a correlated activity of ten analysed sub-factors of váyutattva [aerial factor].”(Mind, Práńendriya and Vrtti)
Thus tattvas are different realities experienced in different states of Consciousness. This is what PROUT is – not a “theory” or intellecutal explanation or hypothesis – but rather a fundamental Cosmic Reality.
As Baba said in the first quote Tattva is understood by sages through meditation. One word for philosophy in Sanskrit is “Tattva-jinana”. This can be thought to be in-depth knowledge of a theory. However Shrii Sarkar defines it as:
“When a past perception is recreated in the mind with the help of memory, it is called tattva-jiṋána. Tattvajiṋána can be of various types. In the process of meditation, the crude mind merges into the subtle mind, and the subtle mind loses its identity in the causal mind. When the newly awakened subtle and crude minds return to their active states, they perceive things in a completely different way. This new set of perceptions is also called tattva jiṋána or siddha jiṋána. In fact tattva jiṋána is also a type of action, though it is not included in avadhána [hyper-awareness].”(The Science of Action)
So philosophy or Tattva-jinana is the psychic understanding and assimilation of spiritual experiences just like Shrii Sarkar says ideology (adarsha) is. However, ideology includes establishing this realisation in one’s behaviour and social life. This also reveals how we have to understand PROUT as a Tattva – by meditating upon it, getting realisation by the Grace of the Supreme and then living that realisation.
Let us look at the original meaning of the English word “theory”
“The Greek theoria (θεωρία), from which the English word ‘theory’ (and “theatre”) is derived, meant ‘contemplation, speculation, a looking at, things looked at’, from theorein (θεωρεῖν) ‘to consider, speculate, look at’, from theoros (θεωρός) ‘spectator’, from thea (θέα) ‘a view’ + horan (ὁρᾶν) ‘to see’. It expressed the state of being a spectator. Both Greek θεωρία and Latin contemplatio primarily meant looking at things, whether with the eyes or with the mind…
For Plato, what the contemplative (theoros) contemplates (theorei) are the Forms, the realities underlying the individual appearances, and one who contemplates these atemporal and aspatial realities is enriched with a perspective on ordinary things superior to that of ordinary people.
In the Enneads of Plotinus, a founder of Neo-Platonism, everything is contemplation (theoria) and everything is derived from contemplation. The first hypostasis, the One, is contemplation (by the nous, or second hypostasis) in that “it turns to itself in the simplest regard, implying no complexity or need”; this reflecting back on itself emanated (not created) the second hypostasis, Intellect (in Greek Νοῦς, Nous), Plotinus describes as “living contemplation”, being “self-reflective and contemplative activity par excellence”, and the third hypostatic level has theoria. Knowledge of The One is achieved through experience of its power, an experience that is contemplation (theoria) of the source of all things…
The Christian saint Gregory of Nyssa describes “contemplation” as a “loving contemplation”…
In Eastern Orthodox Christianity, Theosis or unity with God is obtained by engaging in contemplative prayer, the first stage of theoria, which results from the cultivation of watchfulness (Gk: nepsis). In theoria, one comes to see or “behold” God or “uncreated light,” a grace which is “uncreated.” (Source: Wikipedia)
We see here that the original meaning of the word Theoria is very akin to the Indian tradition of Tattva as being part of spiritual meditation. Tattvas are meditated on just like Plato’s Forms, although Plato rarely delved into the psycho-spiritual realm due to his Pythagorean dogma of dualism. Plotinus’ teacher studied in India or some say was perhaps an Indian. His vision of the Supreme Stance as Consciousness contemplating itself is a traditional doctrine of India. He created Theoria as a spiritual meditation. The Greek orthodox monks added devotion to this and of course plenty of dogma. Jewish, Christian and Sufi traditions of contemplation were all significantly introduced by the Neoplatonic tradition of Plotinus.
In this way, we can understand PROUT not simplistically as a modern theory or collection of concepts, principles and objectives but rather as a form of spiritual practice. We should also note that the same Wikipedia article says,
“Several scholars have demonstrated similarities between the Greek idea of theoria and the Indian idea of darśana (darshana), including Ian Rutherford and Gregory Grieve.” (Ibid.)
So Prout is a form of Darshana – a form of witnessing, experiencing and loving the Supreme. Darshana not only means contact (usually physical) with the Lord. It also is the word for philosophy in Indian languages and Shrii Sarkar also uses this term for philosophy.
So we can study PROUT as an intellectual theory as per traditional materialistic scholarship but that is not at the heart of what PROUT is all about. As Shrii Sarkar says,
“The approach of PROUT is subjective approach through objective adjustment. This presupposes a connecting link between intuition and intellect. This connecting link or touching point is called “Bodhi Jiṋána”. With the help of Bodhi Jiṋána, intuitional knowledge can be utilized for solving mundane problems. Thus PROUT is a Bodhi Jiṋána.”(Talks on PROUT)
And Prout itself was born out of this kind of vision or Darshana as Shrii Sarkar says,
“Now when I started Ananda Marga, I wanted all humanity to stand upon the strict code of cardinal principles, human values, and spirituality; and when I saw everything internally I came to the decision that there are so many loopholes in human society. Human beings came here about ten lakhs of years ago, but they have not yet been able to form a well-knit social order. We require a strong social order. That’s why I had to create another branch of philosophy, known as “PROUT”, through which we are to remodel the social order so that nobody is compelled to do anything, nobody is compelled to resort to immorality, for want of food or clothes or other necessaries of life.”(Lord Buddha’s Cardinal Principles)
The Five Fundamental Principles of PROUT
5-12. Samájádeshena viná dhanasaiṋcayah akartavyah.
[No individual should be allowed to accumulate any physical wealth without the clear permission or approval of the collective body.]
Purport: The universe is the collective property of all. All people have usufructuary rights but no one has the right to misuse this collective property. If a person acquires and accumulates excessive wealth, he or she directly curtails the happiness and convenience of others in society. Such behaviour is flagrantly antisocial. Therefore, no one should be allowed to accumulate wealth without the permission of society.
5-13. Sthúlasúkśmakárańeśu caramopayogah prakartavyah
[There should be maximum utilization and rational distribution of all mundane, supramundane and spiritual potentialities of the universe.]
Purport: The wealth and resources available in the crude, subtle and causal worlds should be developed for the welfare of all. All resources hidden in the quinquelemental world – solid, liquid, luminous, aerial and ethereal – should be fully utilized, and the endeavour to do this will ensure the maximum development of the universe. People will have to earnestly explore land, sea and space to discover, extract and process the raw materials needed for their requirements.
There should be rational distribution of the accumulated wealth of humanity. In other words, all people must be guaranteed the minimum requirements. In addition, the requirements of meritorious people, and in certain cases those with special needs, will also have to be kept in mind.
5-14. Vyaśt́isamaśt́isháriiramánasádhyátmikasambhávanáyáḿ Caramo’payogashca.
[There should be maximum utilization of the physical, metaphysical and spiritual potentialities of unit and collective bodies of human society.]
Purport: Society must ensure the maximum development of the collective body, collective mind and collective spirit. One must not forget that collective welfare lies in individuals and individual welfare lies in collectivity. Without ensuring individual comforts through the proper provision of food, light, air, accommodation and medical treatment, the welfare of the collective body can never be achieved. One will have to promote individual welfare motivated by the spirit of promoting collective welfare.
The development of the collective mind is impossible without developing proper social awareness, encouraging the spirit of social service and awakening knowledge in every individual. So, inspired with the thought of the welfare of the collective mind, one has to promote the well-being of the individual mind.
The absence of spiritual morality and spirituality in individuals will break the backbone of the collectivity. So for the sake of collective welfare one will have to awaken spirituality in individuals. The mere presence of a handful of strong and brave people, a small number of scholars or a few spiritualists does not indicate the progress of the entire society. The potential for infinite physical, mental and spiritual development is inherent in every human being. This potentiality has to be harnessed and brought to fruition.
5-15. Sthúlasúkśma kárańo’payogáh susantulitáh vidheyáh.
[There should be a proper adjustment amongst these physical, metaphysical, mundane, supramundane and spiritual utilizations.]
Purport: While promoting individual and collective welfare, there should be proper adjustment among the physical, mental and spiritual spheres and the crude, subtle and causal worlds. For instance, society has the responsibility to meet the minimum requirements of every individual, but if it arranges food and builds a house for everyone under the impetus of this responsibility, individual initiative is retarded. People will gradually become lethargic. Therefore, society has to make arrangements so that people, in exchange for their labour according to their capacity, can earn the money they require to purchase the minimum requirements. In order to raise the level of the minimum requirements of people, the best policy is to increase their purchasing capacity.
‘Proper adjustment’ also means that while taking service from a person who is physically, mentally and spiritually developed, society should follow a balanced policy. Society will take physical, intellectual or spiritual service from a person depending upon which of these capacities is conspicuously developed in that person. From those who are sufficiently physically and intellectually developed, society will follow a balanced policy and accordingly take more intellectual service and less physical service, because intellectual power is comparatively subtle and rare. From those who are physically, mentally and spiritually developed, society will take maximum spiritual service, less intellectual service and still less physical service.
As far as social welfare is concerned, those endowed with spiritual power can render the greatest service, followed by those endowed with intellectual power. Those having physical power, though not negligible, cannot do anything by themselves. Whatever they do, they do under the instructions of those endowed with intellectual and spiritual power. Hence the responsibility of controlling the society should not be in the hands of those who are endowed only with physical power, or in the hands of those endowed only with courage, or in the hands of those who are developed only intellectually, or in the hands of those with worldly knowledge alone. Social control will have to be in the hands of those who are spiritually elevated, intelligent and brave all at the same time.
5-16. Deshakálapátraeh upayogáh parivarttante te upayogáh pragatishiiláh bhaveyuh.
[The method of utilization should vary in accordance with changes in time, space and person, and the utilization should be of progressive nature.]
Purport: The proper use of any object changes according to changes in time, space and person. Those who cannot understand this simple principle want to cling to the skeletons of the past, and as a result they are rejected by living society. Sentiments based on narrow nationalism, regionalism, ancestral pride, etc., tend to keep people away from this fundamental principle, so they cannot unreservedly accept it as a simple truth. Consequently, after doing indescribable damage to their country, their fellow citizens and themselves, they are compelled to slink away to the backstage.
The method of utilization of every object changes according to time, space and person. This has got to be accepted, and after recognizing this fact, people will have to progressively utilize every object and every idea. For instance, the energy which a powerful person utilizes to operate a huge hammer should be utilized through scientific research to operate more than one hammer at a time, instead of wasting the energy to operate just one hammer. In other words, scientific research, guided by progressive ideas, should extract more and more service from the same human potential. It is not a sign of progress to use outdated technology in an age of developed science.
Society will have to bravely confront different types of obstacles, large or small, that are likely to arise due to the use of various resources and materials created by progressive ideas and developed technology. Through struggle, society will have to move forward towards victory along the path of all-round fulfilment in life.
Other Economic Principles of PROUT
Later Shrii Sarkar translated these principles into Sanskrit sútras (aphorisms) and added still further economic principles. These are as follows:
5-8. Vaecitryaḿ prákrtadharmah samánaḿ na bhaviśyati.
[Diversity, not identity, is the law of nature.]
Purport: Diversity, not identity, is the innate characteristic of the Supreme Operative Principle. No two objects in the universe are identical, nor two bodies, two minds, two molecules or two atoms. This diversity is the inherent tendency of the Supreme Operative Principle.
Those who want to make everything equal are sure to fail because they are going against the innate characteristic of the Supreme Operative Principle. All things are equal only in the unmanifest state of the Supreme Operative Principle. Those who think of making all things equal inevitably think of the destruction of everything.
5-9. Yugasya sarvanimnaprayojanaḿ sarveśáḿ vidheyam.
[The minimum requirements of an age should be guaranteed to all.]
Purport: Hararme pitá Gaorii mátá svadeshah bhuvanatrayam. That is, “Supreme Consciousness is my father, the Supreme Operative Principle is my mother, and the three worlds are my homeland.” The entire wealth of the universe is the common patrimony of all, though no two things in the universe are absolutely equal. So the minimum requirements of life should be made available to everybody. In other words, food, clothing, medical treatment, housing and education must be provided to all. The minimum requirements of human beings, however, change according to the change in ages. For instance, for conveyance the minimum requirement may be a bicycle in one age and an aeroplane in another age. The minimum requirements must be provided for all people according to the age in which they live.
5-10. Atiriktaḿ pradátavyaḿ guńánupátena.
[The surplus wealth should be distributed among meritorious people according to the degree of their merit.]
Purport: After meeting the minimum requirements of all in any age, the surplus wealth will have to be distributed among meritorious people according to the degree of their merit. In an age when a bicycle is the minimum requirement for common people, a motor vehicle is necessary for a physician. In recognition of people’s merit, and to provide the meritorious with greater opportunities to serve the society, they have to be provided with motor vehicles. The dictum “Serve according to your capacity and earn according to your necessity” sounds pleasing, but will yield no results in the hard soil of the earth.(1)
5-11. Sarvanimnamánavardhanaḿ samájajiivalakśańam.
[Increasing the minimum standard of living of the people is the indication of the vitality of society.]
Purport: Meritorious people should receive more than the amount of minimum requirements allocated to people in general, and there should be ceaseless efforts to raise the minimum standard of living. For instance, today common people need bicycles whereas meritorious people need motor vehicles, but a proper effort should be made to provide common people with motor vehicles. After everybody has been provided with a motor vehicle, it may be necessary to provide each meritorious person with an aeroplane. After providing every meritorious person with an aeroplane, efforts should also be made to provide every common person with an aeroplane, raising the minimum standard of living. In this way efforts to raise the minimum standard of living will have to go on endlessly, and on this endeavour will depend the mundane development and prosperity of human beings.
Pragatishiila upayogatattvamidaḿ sarvajanahitárthaḿ sarvajanasukhárthaḿ pracáritam.
[This is the Progressive Utilization Theory, propounded for the happiness and all-round welfare of all.]