Thursday, April 3, 2014

Sarvodaya, Swaraj, and Swadeshi

_Spiritual Compass: The Three Qualities of Life_ by Satish Kumar (Green Books, 2007 ISBN 1903998891, 9781903998892):

"While the freedom struggle was in progress, Gandhi was working on ideas for a new social order for post-colonial India. He believed that there would be no point in getting rid of the British without getting rid of the centralised, exploitative and violent system of governance and the economics of greed that they pursued. Gandhi designed a new trinity to achieve his vision of a new non-violent social order. He called it Sarvodaya, Swaraj and Swadeshi.

"The first of the trinity was Sarvodaya, the 'upliftment of all'. "All rise' - not a few, as in capitalism, not even the greatest good of the greatest number as in socialism, but each and every one should be taken care of. That is Sarvodaya... Sarvodaya includes the care of the Earth - of animals, forests, rivers and land. Gandhi's vision is better encapsulated in the concept of biocracy rather than democracy.

"The second aspect of the Gandhian trinity is Swaraj, 'self-government'. Swaraj works to bring about a social transformation through small-scale, decentralised, self-organised and self-directed participatory structures of governance. It also implies self-transformation, self-discipline and self-restraint. Thus Swaraj is a moral, ethical, ecological and spiritual concept and therefore a sattvic [healthy] method of governance. The third part of the trinity is Swadeshi, 'local economy'. Gandhi opposed mass production, favouring production by the masses. Work for him was as much a spritual necessity as an economic one. So he insisted on the principle that every member of society should be engaged in manual work. Manufacturing in small workshops and adherence to arts and crafts feeds the body as well as the soul, he said. He believed that long-distance transportation of goods, competitive trading and relentless economic growth are rajasic [passionate], verging towards tamasic [destructive], because they destroy the fabric of human communities. Within the context of Sarvodaya, Swaraj and Swadeshi, taking care of each other and caring for the Earth, constantly and regularly, development emerges through seva [service] and is sattvic development.

"The English translation of seva as service does not convey the depth of its meaning. For example, one can be paid for a service but seva is offered as a gift. Seva implies devotion and a long-term commitment. It is good in itself, irrespective of results, outcomes and achievements. The person performing seva does not try to change the world but to serve the world. When one wishes to change others, there is a certain amount of rajasic hubris involved. When we want to change the world, we know what is good for the world and we want to shape it to our image and to our ends.

"The person engaged in serving the world accepts his or her limitations and offers himself or herself for the wellbeing of the other, believing that the other is none other than I, and I am none other than the other. There is no duality, nor separation between the one serving and the one served. Both exist in a web of relationships and both are seeking spiritual fulfilment as well as material and physical wellbeing. It was this spirit which inspired many thousands of Gandhian workers to commit themselves to sattvic development through service."

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