Sadhguru looks at the past, present and future of this nation, and explores why this culture matters to every human being on the planet. With images, graphics and Sadhguru’s inspiring words, here’s Bharat as you have never known it!
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Bharat – The Power of a Name
India is at a crossroads. Its past is slipping away faster than ever, and its future, with possibilities and challenges, is approaching at break-neck speed. Sadhguru looks at how India can offer a beautiful future for all of humanity, built on the foundations of its profound, consciously crafted culture.
Bharat: The Past
Bharat is a spiritual culture, but that does not mean people just sat with their eyes closed. These are not people who stayed home. They went across the world. If you look back, some of the oldest docks in the world were built in this land. Lothal in Gujarat – something like 5000 years old – was a port on the Sabarmati river, near the Arabian Sea, that could berth and service ships in any season. Their understanding of the tidal movement, the ocean, and the river was so fantastic, they built it in such a way that it never gathered silt.
A much older port, down in Tamil Nadu, is Poompuhar. The structure went down when the ocean level rose by many meters. The first navigation to any part of the world happened from here. There are records and legends of people reaching South America, and the exchange of cultures and people there. It is just that when invaders came in recent times, their essential goal was to obliterate history because people rise and fight only when there is pride about something.
Largely, most of Indian history that you read today was written by the British, and they made it in such a way that nothing is more than 6000 years old. So, all history was limited to that time span. But otherwise, India has been a land of enterprise going back far beyond that, with people trading beyond their own borders. Through the silk route, trade happened extensively to West Asia, though that term is no longer used today. Everyone calls it the Middle East. The westernmost part of Asia is what you today call Palestine, Lebanon, Israel and that region. There was very active trade with West Asia and the northern part of Africa.
If you go to Damascus in Syria, the city is almost gone, but some part of it remains intact. I wanted to go through the whole experience of what an Indian trader would have gone through at that time, so I visited the public baths there. There was this huge, muscular man with a towel around his waist who put me on a stainless steel table and gave me what was supposed to be a massage. We don’t know what kind of bones and muscles they had thousands of years ago, but 21st century bones feel like they are going to break. Then they pour boiling hot water over you, and a very rough kind of scrub is used to scrub you from head to toe. Once again, 21st century skin goes with the scrub and by the time you come out, everything is feeling loose. Then they give you some nice tea with some exotic herbs in it, and you are supposed to sit and relax and roll your eyeballs. For an Indian trader who must have just landed in Damascus after travelling 3600 kilometers through the desert and sold his goods, a bath must have been a really nice thing.
Till about 300 years ago, about twenty-five percent of the world’s economy was India. A major fraction of the international trade went through India. In 250 years, we were really robbed and became one of the poorest nations in the world. Today, there is a resurgence of enterprise in the country but there are many systemic problems, which they are trying to clean up now.
This is why we started the INSIGHT program a few years ago, which has sent waves across the business world in India. Most of the time today – in the process of managing a business or an industry – people are destroying themselves, and the situations of life around them. It is very distressing to see that all management education is about a hundred years old, and it all comes from that one Mr. Taylor (Frederick Winslow Taylor) who wrote all the fundamentals of management, and the same things are being taught by every top university in the world, even today, with small modifications.
This was a very a brutal way of doing business. It was okay for the East India Company, when they came to trade with a gun behind them, and if you don’t do their deal you are dead. This is a different kind of trading. Things have changed today in the world, and people have to understand that any transaction between people – whether it is the market place or marriage – is sustainable only if it is beneficial to both the people. If it is only beneficial to one person, it could sustain if you had put a gun to someone’s head, but that is not possible anymore. That sort of business is still being done a little bit, but gradually, as years go by, it will not work.
If we want a gentler and more compassionate economic process, it is not charity, but inclusiveness that is needed. If there is no sense of inclusiveness in individual human beings, there is no way that the systems they create, or actions they perform, will lead to inclusiveness. If individuals do not experience this inclusiveness, they end up creating very exclusive processes.
Spirituality does not mean going to the temple or breaking coconuts. It is about living here in an all-inclusive way and experiencing everything as a part of yourself. Knowing and experiencing life as life, not as individual personalities. One basic aspect of a spiritual process is that it makes one into an all-inclusive human being. At the same time, it will hugely equip the individual to be more efficient, more capable, more balanced and, in turn, more productive. This is good for business. This is good for the world.
This is of utmost importance now, as for the very first time in the history of humanity, we as a generation, have reached a place where we have all the necessary resources, capability and technology to address every human problem of nourishment, health, education, wellbeing – you name it. Only an inclusive consciousness is missing. The very basis of what we refer to as Bharat is this inclusiveness.
Bharat: The Present
Kiran Bedi: Sadhguru we have talked about the SWOT – the strength, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. Where do we begin? How do we start? Where do we all fall in place?
Sadhguru: I think a time has come where our identity has to be cultural because culture is inclusive. This is something we must understand. The greatness of this nation is in pursuit and accomplishment of spiritual dimensions. It is this spiritual thread which is holding the country together – this longing to know. If you hack it, then you cannot maintain the sovereignty of this country, believe me.
Kiran Bedi: Is it religion?
Sadhguru: It is not religion. What we call as “Bharat” predates all religion. In the yogic culture, Shiva is not seen as a God, he is the Adiyogi – the first yogi. When Adiyogi was asked by the seven sages, his first seven disciples who are celebrated today as the Saptarishis, “In how many ways can we attain,” he said, “If you use your physical body as a foundation, there are 112 ways of realizing the divine. But if you transcend the physical body, then there are as many doorways as there are atoms in the universe.” Do you call this a religion?
Kiran Bedi: No
Sadhguru: Religion means you believe “This is it.” And unfortunately, a lot of religious teachings do not believe in nationhood. They do not believe in the fundamental existence of a nation. This is not about going with somebody or for somebody. First of all, we must decide – are we a nation? If we are, the idea of nation should be burnt into everyone’s head.
Kiran Bedi: Where do we begin?
Sadhguru: Schooling, of course.
Kiran Bedi: With the teachers who have no general knowledge?
Sadhguru: You can train them in a summer.
Kiran Bedi: Who trains them?
Sadhguru: This is what needs determination in the leadership. I must tell you this. This is a fantastic thing. Someone gifted me a 1920s US government poster many years ago. In the 1920s, in the United States of America, a whole lot of Italians were moving to the United States. They spoke their own language, they ate their own food, they were among themselves and would not mix with the so-called American culture, because they thought their culture was richer. So the US government did something amazing, which I am sure a whole lot of intellectuals today will brand as fascist, though they are all queuing up to go to the United States. The US government made posters: for Germans, one kind of poster, for Italians, one kind of poster, for Jewish people, another kind of poster. Within the kitchen of every home, this poster was supposed to be fixed. It had instructions as to how a housewife should serve an American breakfast every day in the morning, how she should be dressed, how the table should be set, what should be for breakfast, lunch and dinner. You can eat Italian but the breakfast should be American. This may sound fascist…
Kiran Bedi: Yes
Sadhguru: …but it is with this that they integrated different communities. The government looked into even something so small as what you are eating for breakfast, because they are interested in making a nation.
I was amazed to see that someone went into such elaborateness of putting people together. If you had left them like that they would all be separate nations within a nation, fighting each other. Whatever said and done, America is such a melting pot, but one nation.
The idea of a nation has still not sunk into people’s minds and hearts in this country. We have not done anything focused to build this. Sometime ago, I was speaking to some students, and a fourteen-year-old boy told me he wanted to enter the government’s most corrupt department so that he can make good money! He doesn’t even think it’s wrong, he thinks that’s the way to make your life. This is a country where sixty-five years ago, during the freedom struggle, people threw their lives on the street. In just one generation, a high school boy says he wants to enter the most corrupt government department. This is a disgrace and a huge drop in our integrity level. People think, “Why bother about these things, I’ll take care of myself.” That’s not how life works. Unless our society and country are doing well, we won’t do well, no matter how capable we are individually.
It has become like this today because we have not taken care of certain things. Keeping India as one nation is going to be a big challenge when economic prosperity happens, because we have still not knitted the country as one. When people are poor they will somehow stick together, but once affluence comes, divisions will invariably happen if we do not develop a certain integration of the nation through a cultural ethos.
Bharat: The Future
JRD Tata, whose family built the basic foundations for Indian industry, was once asked if he wanted India to become an economic superpower. He replied, “I do not want India to be an economic superpower. I want India to be a happy country.” So I do not want India to be a great power. I do not want any country to be a great power. Rather than being a great power, I want every country to be a powerhouse of wellbeing for everyone who lives there.
This aspiration that you want your nation to be a superpower is very silly and childish, and has caused immense damage to the planet. Today, there is a whole argument in the world that without nuclear weapons, there will be no peace, which is unfortunately true right now. Me holding a gun to your head, you holding a gun to my head, and both of us did not shoot – this is not peace, this is madness. Right now, this is how we are trying to achieve peace on the planet. And someday, somebody will shoot, isn’t it? If they get a little sleepy and squeeze the trigger, the whole world will explode. It need not necessarily happen out of intent, it can just happen.
In the 1960s, the United States and the USSR, because of a phenomenal amount of suspicion about each other, believed that the other was going to use nuclear weapons against them and came so close to using their own nuclear weapons. If you read the classified information that they are releasing today, their thought process looks like it was that of a total bunch of lunatics. How close they brought the world to absolute destruction, just because of this madness in their heads, is incredible! Sometimes it was just minutes away before they would have fired off nuclear weapons; it came that close a few times.
So, this whole aspiration to become a superpower should go. No nation should aspire to be a superpower. Every nation should aspire for their wellbeing. For wellbeing, resources and other things are a little scarce, so there will be some competition. We will pull and push, it is okay. That will happen among human beings, but for that you do not have to pull out your gun, somebody else need not have a bigger gun and become a superpower.
I want India to be a country of wellbeing, where our standards of wellbeing are different from just a vulgar sense of wealth and conquest. Conquest and robbery are not two different things. If it is done by an individual, it is called burglary. If it is done by a gang, it is called dacoity. If it is done by a nation, it is called conquest or regime change.
So it is not necessary for any nation to aspire to be a superpower. It is necessary that all nations aspire for the wellbeing of their people; that is all that matters. Our aspiration should be to become a sensible, gentle nation, which is for wellbeing for itself and, as far as possible, wellbeing for everyone in the world. India should aspire to make every nation meditative, isn’t it?
If we handle the situation smartly, we can be a tremendous power. Power does not mean, “Will we have the biggest army in the world?” Power means everyone looks at you for guidance in the world. If they want to live well, they look at you for guidance – this is power.
People always looked east when they thought of living well. This culture has always had this power, but the culture has fallen. But one must understand, this happens to all cultures. There will be peaks and there will be downtrends. If we as a generation have any sense, we have to pull it up. It does not happen free of cost, everyone has to work for it. Only then it will happen.
It is not far away, we just need to work for it. With the spiritual legacy of this land, with the spiritual processes that are available to us today, it is definitely a possibility. If we dedicate ourselves to making this happen around us, we will see something tremendous and dramatic happening on the planet in our own lifetime.
I am sure the coming generation will see a much better India than we have seen. Every individual, whatever sphere of life he is in, whatever responsibility he holds, whatever influence he has, has to stand up and make that happen in his area. The governments cannot do this, some other leader cannot do it. Every human being has to do it!