July 04, 2017

India: When Sanyasis rule a modern, welfare state | Kancha Ilaiah Shepherd

National Herald, 3 July 2017

A file photo of RSS volunteers during Pad Sanchalan (route march) at Beniyabag Ground on March 26, 2017 in Varanasi, India

Adarsh Gupta/Hindustan Times via Getty Images

A file photo of RSS volunteers during Pad Sanchalan (route march) at Beniyabag Ground on March 26, 2017 in Varanasi, India
A network of unmarried men, but not women, is how the RSS is viewed, a brotherhood of semi-sanyasis with no responsibility to the family. Can they run a modern, welfare state?

Yogi Adityanath, a Sanyasi, becoming the Chief Minister of the most populated state of India-Uttar Pradesh- is culmination of the process of Hindu Sanyasis and Sanchalaks(Pracharaks) becoming rulers in India.

Narendra Modi, himself is a Sanchalak (Pracharak), with an abandoned wife, with no life experiences of Samsaram (family) all his life.

The Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Khatter is also a Sanchalak (Pracharak). More than that the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh is a network of semi- sanyasis with a hierarchical structure of unmarried men (not women). It is always headed by an unmarried, semi-sanyasi called Sarsangchalak. The members of this organisation are not known for looking after their families, including their parents. Family welfare is not in their ideological domain.

Though this Brahminic organisation lives and works for promotion of Hindu religion in Indian society, it ordains its members to remain unmarried and live a life of Semi-Sanyasihood. They are supposed to be pure vegetarians. After the 2014 elections, both the Centre and several states are under the hegemonic control of the Sanyasi or semi-sanyasi and social forces that are nurtured and trained by them.

The fundamental question is, can Sanyasis run a democratic state that needs to improve the living conditions of the family-centered civil society?

The modern democratic state is meant for institutionalising and advancing the welfare of human material conditions here in this life. Any religion, on the other hand, basically is meant to organise people for the attainment of moksha in the other world, the heaven. When democracy was emerging from the womb of monarchy, political thinkers separated the state from religion because the state had to improve the life of people, here on this earth, whereas the religion focused only around the attainment of moksha.

Therefore, even in practice, the control of religious clergy on the state was gradually abolished by the European thought and constitutionalism . The framers of the Indian Constitution in the 1940s were very clear about following that particular form of democratic state in India.

The concept of Sanyasi or Yogi or Sanchalak in Indian agrarian productive masses has one meaning and the Hindu, Brahminic anti-productive religious understanding has another meaning.

Sanyasi among the agrarian productive masses means those who are lazy, who do not involve in productive and procreative (with a married family) activities.

A Sanyasi is seen as anti-thesis of Samsari. A Samsari with a family, with productive working culture, is seen as great and a Sanyasi , who only roams around without any familial, socio-economic responsibilities, is seen as a useless person. The Samsari’s domain is of man and woman and children , whereas the Sanyasi domain is only of man—himself all the time looking towards skies.

The notion of Sanyas (Sanyasihood) is Brahminic which had its origins in the Varnashrama Dharma. It meant that every Brahmin, Baniya, Kshatriya after the age of sixty should leave the family and take to Sanyas.

The Dalit-Bahujan society (including that of the tribal society) did not believe in that principle. For them, work is worship. Though the notion of God /Goddess exists among them, they have only occasional engagement with them. The Brahminic Sanyasi, on the other hand, would think constantly about God/Goddess and for him the society and the state should be in the service of the God/Goddess. Yogi Adityanath is a Kshatriya sanyasi without even entering into family life. How does he understand the welfare of the families’ economic advancement?

The Hindu Sanyasi or the Christian Saint or the Buddhist Monk or the Muslim Mullah (though married with children) are generally understood to be unfit to run a welfare state because their focus is not around economic development but around attainment of moksha.

The RSS is trying to assign the role of running a welfare materialist state to those whose concern was/is and possibly will be around metaphysical divinity.

Is Narendra Modi a semi-Sanyasi like other RSS workers, or is he a Machiavelli who pretends to believe in religion but actually does not believe in it? Even in the Hindu tradition, there is no evidence of pure Sanyasi like Yogi Adityanath becoming a monarchical ruler. There were some Kshatriya rulers who claimed to be Raja Yogis but they did not remain unmarried and lived in the temples (like Adityanath does) or in the forests. When the mythological Vishwamitra tried to combine both these functions the Brahmin-rishis themselves opposed him.
Sanyasi-i-sation of the state

In the nationalist times, Swami Ramanand Tirta was a Congress leader in Telangana but never was a ruler. Agnivesh, another Sanyasi, tried his hand in politics and failed.

Sanyasi-isation of the state, given the historical nature of the sanyasihood that it was more concerned about the other world, vegetarianism, is likely to be dewelfarised. They will push the state more and more into the other world serving. Their Gau-Rakshan, not Gopalan, is also part of that. They are never cattle growers.

The Hindu mythological rulers like Rama and Krishna were not Sanyasis. In recorded history, no Sanyasi ruled any big state, even as a monarch. Rama and Krishna were Samsaris with one wife or more than one wife like Krishna.

The real kings were mostly polygamous. Rama ruled the Ayodhya kingdom and Krishna ruled Dwarka. When their ideal rulers themselves were Samsaris, why Sanyasi institution became ideal for the RSS? May be in the context of the married politicians becoming corrupt, the Sanyasi politicians got some legitimacy. But there is a danger to democracy itself with Sanaysis becoming rulers, elected or otherwise.

The democratic state is not like Ayodhya monarchical state nor like Dwarka. Those states had no role of welfare development. All monarchical states were war-mongering and exploitative. The RSS, structurally a semi-sanyasi organisation, by putting either full sanyasis like Adityanath, or semi-sanyasis like Modi and Khattar, will only lead to dismantling the democratic state.

Narendra Modi seems to be a Machiavellian, who pretends to believe in religion, but he actually is a hardcore, non-Sanyasi politician, who lives a fully worldly life in all aspects. Unlike Kautilya, Machiavelli said that a hardcore modern ruler of a modern state should be a combination of a lion and a fox. Modi is exactly that. But Yogi will definitely dismantle the democratic institutions as his understanding of this world is limited. Sanyasization of the democratic state has huge problems. India must be prepared for that.

(The author is Director, Centre for the Study of Social Exclusion and Inclusive Policy, Maulana Azad National Urdu University, Hyderabad)