Why Hind Swaraj
(*Written as an Introduction to Hind Swaraj Conclave of selected Hind-Swarajists with Ven Samdhong Rinpoche in Lonawala, June 6-10, 2013)
Within the realm of modern civilization, modernity, we cannot understand, much less resolve, the phenomena of injustice, exploitation of the weak by the powerful, growing inequality and poverty, environmental and ecological disasters, growth of mental, physical and structural violence, and spiritual bankruptcy and violence of the materially wealthy. Similarly, Most of the religions which have such terms and expressions as ‘kalayug’, ‘Mammon-worship’, ‘repression’, ‘satanic’ or ‘satan’s handy-work’ identifying fall of man from being normal human– have failed to update their understanding and teachings in the context of apparently new, modern forms of spiritual, mental, and moral degradation, pseudo-religiosity and anti-religiosity, and violence unleashed by modern civilization. In the name of religion, faith rules the reason; polluted socio-religious customs and practice masquerade as traditions (parampara)
In invocation of the term ‘swaraj’, Gandhiji gave us a term, a vision through which we can understand the comprehensive nature of all these phenomena and resolve these problems which, being the necessary creation of modernity, are insurmountable within the realm of modernity. Gandhiji updated spiritual, intellectual and political teachings, through spiritual insight into socio-political economic, educational, intellectual and moral affairs.
There was a time when the advocates of modern civilization, who ridiculed Gandhiji’s ideas as utopian. Rejecting Gandhi they claimed that correctives will take care of modern civilization’s defects that according to them were magnified out of proportion by Mahatma Gandhi in Hind Swaraj. According to them Mahatma Gandhi made mountain of a mole-hill in the matter of these defects.
Time has proved Gandhi right and modern correctives and their advocates wrong.
In the interregnum between final phase of Indian freedom struggle and the time when enthusiasm of nation building was checked by the show of authoritarian tendency within governing classes, almost coinciding with anti-development awareness, Hind Swaraj was forgotten. Even Gandhians had shelved it, No known Gandhian universities, research establishments or foundations taught it seriously much less as the main text. Not even one Gandhian institution has had any programme for re-visiting Hind Swaraj until Swarajpeeth, sometime in the mid-nineties, decided to take up Hind Swaraj and found Rev Prof Samdhong Rinpoche as the only one among the entire intellectual lot of India holding fast to Hind Swaraj as a matter of absolute faith. Swarajpeeth, since then, works under his guidance and inspiration.
Rejection and ambiguity on the question of Swaraj as defining term of our national ideal has landed us in such a situation of intellectual and moral bankruptcy that problems on every front have compounded rather than moving towards resolution, because there is no super-concept within which every problem could be understood; a super-categorical term to which other concepts and categories can be subordinated. Swaraj is the only such term within the meaning of which meanings of all other phenomena, concepts and categories can be understood. Within this context it is only on a firm principled position on sawaraj that we can build a theory, a science of a just and peaceful society, swaraj; a system in which freedom and justice are two sides of the same coin, in the realization of one the other is realized too.
In 2009 Swaraj Peeth brought together more than 110 swarajists leaders engaged in experiments in nonviolence from 17 countries. Out of this an informal network called Global Gandhian Movement for Swaraj was born with the inspiration of Ven Samdhong Rinpoche and supreme leadership of which was accepted by H H the Dalai Lama.
In the course of this continuous search and building a loose, informal network of Swarajist, a Hind Swaraj Conclave was organized in Lonavala, Maharashtra, for four days in June 2013.