The West has lost the truth. We have lost the Great Sense, the meaning of our evolution, of why so much suffering, why dying, why getting born, why this earth, who are we, what is the soul, what is reincarnation, where is the ultimate truth about the universe… But India has kept this truth. India has preserved it through seven millennium of pitfalls, of genocides and attempts at throttling her santanam dharma.
And this will be India’s gift to this planet during the next century: to restore to the world its true sense. to recharge humanity with the real meaning and spirit of life. India will become the spiritual leader of the world, as India’s Great Sage, Sri Aurobindo, had predicted nearly a century ago :
“It is this religion that I am raising-up before the world, it is this that I have perfected and developed through the Rishis, saints, and Avatars, and now it is going forth to do my work among the nations. I am raising forth this nation to send forth my word…When therefore it is said that India shall rise, it is the Santana Dharma that shall rise, it is the Santana Dharma that shall be great. When it is said that India shall expand and extend herself, it is the Santana Dharma that shall expand and extend itself over the world. It is for the Dharma and by the Dharma that India exists”. (India’s Rebirth. p. 46 -Uttara speech)
And one is tempted to shout in the ears of all those westernised Indians of today, the eternal mantra: “Rise up, O India of the Vedic ages. Thou livest in the hearts of all thy people. Rise up O Westernised “secular” India, because thou art also the true India. Realise in your hearts the genius of the country which is yours. Stop comparing it to a civilisation, which is crumbling and cease equating it with parameters that are not hers. Wake up to the greatness of thy country. Not only the past greatness, which thou seekest to repossess in its music or in its temples, but the greatness that IS, there, waiting to be grasped again, waiting to be brought down concretely. Rise up O India, to the greatness that IS in you. Rise up O true India”.
Ah, we are coming back again full circle to the wonder that WAS India, the India of the Vedas and the Upanishad, which A.L. Basham, the best-selling author of “The Wonder That Was India”, criticised as being militant and politically disunited. But the truth was that they were united in their diversity, that it was much more democratic and allowed much more freeplay and freedom, individually and collectively, than the India of today allows. Let us again reread history, let us look at India, not through the Western prism, but with the ancient wisdom that She has bestowed upon us.
For indeed, this is one of the most amazing paradoxes of today’s world: here you have a country, India, which rates today as one of the poorest on this planet, which is disregarded by most Western nations (and many of its own people), as irrelevant, backward, too bureaucratic – and lately, as a hotbed of Hindu fundamentalism. Yet, India holds the key to the world’s future. For India is the only nation which still preserves in the darkness of Her Himalayan caves, on the luminous ghats of Benares, in the hearts of her countless yogis, or even in the minds of her ordinary folk, the key to the planetary evolution, its future and its hope. This knowledge which once roamed the shores of the world from Egypt to China, is today lost everywhere. Europe has now entered a turbulent Age; it will take a long time before it unites in spite of the near uniformity of its races and religions. The West, in its thirst for materialism, does not know anymore where it stands and has lost this precious knowledge, which India still holds, alone in the world.
The 21st century then, will be the era of the East; this is where the sun is going to rise again, after centuries of decadence and submission to Western colonialism; this is where the focus of the world is going to shift. And as when India used to shine and send forth Her Dharma all over the Orient: Japan, Thailand, China, Burma, or Cambodia and influence their civilisations and religions for centuries to come, once more She will emit Her light and radiate, Queen among nations: “India of the ages is not dead nor has She spoken Her last creative word; She lives and has still something to do for Herself and the human peoples. And that which She must seek now to awake, is not an anglicised oriental people, docile pupil of the West and doomed to repeat the cycle of the Occident’s success and failure, but still the ancient immemorial Shakti recovering Her deepest self, lifting Her head higher towards the supreme source of light and strength and turning to discover the complete meaning and vaster form of Her Dharma. (Sri Aurobindo).
But for that India has to succeed in her attempt to liberalise her economy, it has to learn to decentralise the heavy hand of its Government in Delhi, it has to rewrite its Constitution, which it adapted blindly from the British, it has to re-indianise her education methods, reform her political system, which has made a mockery of democracy… In one word, She has to become a superpower on par with any western nation. Then, when She will have the respect and the attention of the West, can Her message of spirituality and the ancient wisdom of santanam dharma, once again shine forth and bring down a New World to this beleaguered planet, which is on the brink of self-destruction.
* The author is the editor in Chief of La Revue de l’Inde, Paris-based magazine devoted to India and the correspondent in South Asia for Marianne, the largest selling French political magazine.