Five coordinates of Hind Swaraj
(At the Lonawala Hind Swaraj Conclave, 6th to 10th June 2013 Moderator Niru Vora requested Ven Samdhong Rinpoche to respond to the presentations on the first day and enlighten them by explaining how he looks at Hind Swaraj.)
Ven. Rinpoche in his touching humility said he himself is exploring the path, and can’t say whether he has found it. The process has to be a collective one; through collective reason, understanding and experience. The smallness of Hind Swaraj is deceptive. It is vast in its sweep and unfathomable in its depth. He has been studying it for past twenty five years and finds newer insight every time he reads it or refers to it for answers.
Ven. Rinpoche explained what he thinks as five main points, the five coordinates of Hind Swaraj:
- What is Swaraj? Gandhiji has defined Swaraj with respect to social, political, economic, mental and spiritual domains, from personal to national scale.
- Rejection of modern civilization and modernity, including its science and technology.
- Courage to speak up the truth, something which is absent today. Modernity has so gripped us that a lot of Gandhians too took to ‘development’ out of fear of social and political isolation if they decried development. One often heard, “…because we have to live in today’s time”. Ven. Rinpoche queried, “Why do we HAVE to live, if we cannot protect or struggle to protect the values of life?” Gandhiji had no such fears, he would stand alone and isolated rather than giving in to an idea he does not believe in. Thus Non-violence and Satyagraha form inseparable parts of Hind Swaraj.
- Education: Though the chapter on education is comparatively small, in it lies the essence of Gandhiji’s entire works and thought.
All the above four have to be taken together in order to be able to grasp the meaning of a problem: its nature, form and method of resolution. One-track approach would not work, which people generally employ by succumbing to the pressures of the immediate.
- There is a fifth coordinate. Gandhiji has strongly commented on the parliamentary form of democracy. It invites serious attention. People falsely believe and hope that it will deliver. There is no way other than radical transformation of our political ideas and system of governance. The magnitude of violence involved and immorality involved in running the present system cannot be acceptable on any account if we cherish a moral society and truly a democratic polity.
With brief explanation on the fundamental defects of multi-party parliamentary democracy Ven. Rinpoche wondered if Gandhi had become too difficult and unbearable for the political class, for Gandhi demands selflessness, abdication of selfishness.
Each of these five points was independently discussed over the next three days. After each session we would have Ven Rinpoche clarify on emerging issues and participants would have free flowing discussion on these reflections. Each session raised several questions and issues such as:
- What is our position on modern civilization, modernity in the light of HS’s position of absolute rejection?
- Is everything modern bad and everything traditional good?
- What is tradition — parampara?
- The problem of infatuation with modern science even among believers in HS
- The dialectical conflict model of progress and growth, process of change through the conflict of opposing forces
- Loss of common national idiom and cultural and mental distancing of the educated ‘modernized’ classes from the masses and vise a versa; the politics knowledge, science and technology
- Loss of self-esteem and self-identity and confidence in our people; loss sense of belonging to our people among the political classes and the economically powerful
- Loss of courage to speak up against the popular
- Should we allow structures to define our functions?
- What is the meaning in and purpose of living if values of life cannot be protected
- Globalization as latest aggression of the evil. Localization as an answer.