August 15 is celebrated as India’s Independence Day. In this article, Sadhguru looks at the fundamental nature of the land, culture and people of the subcontinent, and the ethos that underlies everything.
Sadhguru: For thousands of years, though we have been multiple political entities within the Indian subcontinent, we were always recognized as one nation, within this land and in the rest of the known world. This is because of a unique cultural and spiritual ethos. Nations are made and held together on the basis of race, religion, language or ethnicity. We are a colorful combination of all this and more. Sameness is the formula of nation building, but Bharat stands in defiance of this mediocrity. This culture is the most complex and colorful culture on the planet. The way people look, their language, their food, their way of dressing, and their music and dance – everything changes every fifty or hundred kilometers in this country.
Even today, we have not lost the original cultural and spiritual thread that kept this very diverse population together for thousands of years. After being under some kind of invasion for over 1100 years, this is the only massive population which has kept its original roots alive – not in an archival way but in a living way. There has been a certain basic ethos and a sense of awareness and wisdom to this mass of people, which is very hard to find anywhere else. You may find it in individual people, but a large mass of people having a certain unconscious awareness of many aspects of life is not present anywhere else in the world.
A Phenomenon Unknown Anywhere Else
Every aspect of this nation and the making of this nation has been unique in identity and process. Even when we managed to send the British away, it happened in a unique way – thanks to Mahatma Gandhi. The well-entrenched administration of the imperialist power was removed without armed revolution or battle.
In addition, just before this nation’s independence in 1947, the British went through the throes of World War II, which was a tremendous hit to their own existence and culture. During this time, as well as earlier on in World War I, hundreds of thousands of Indian soldiers fought alongside the British. At the same time, we were fighting for our own nation’s freedom in a peaceful manner on the streets. This is a phenomenon unknown anywhere else – that you could protest against your enemy at home, but at the same time, fight alongside him elsewhere. We’re crazy, but it is this madness that makes us unique. We always held what is right above our own wellbeing. Everyone in the world thought this was crazy but no one knew how to deal with it.
This is true even today. This is a nation where a large population will give up everything a person normally aspires for – all pleasures of life, all comforts, all rights – to simply live in pursuit of what is ultimately right. It is because of this spiritual ethos that even our independence struggle had a unique streak, which many others tried to emulate later on in many parts of the world.
A Wild Life!
This conundrum that we call as “India” today is a very organic and conscious mess. Everything seems to be wrong, yet everything manages to happen! We are not a manicured garden. We are like a forest. It is because of this organic nature of our existence that invaders, who came in waves through the last millennium, did not know how to deal with us. They could not figure out what they could destroy in us to destroy our identity, because it is not any one thing; it is too complex. This complexity is the most fantastic thing humanity has created, because it breeds a completely different dimension of humanity. It is just that we have to master it to produce results.
With all its apparent disorganization, this culture used to be very organized deep down. It functioned very systematically. Even today, the nation has not broken down completely, simply because of that deep in-built cultural organization. With all the surface disharmony, there is something deeper which is holding things together. I don't believe it is the government or the law or the infrastructure. Somewhere, there is something in people which still keeps things rolling. We know how to create a very organized chaos. That is what this country is.
People who think in a structured manner cannot understand the possibility of the chaos. One who is the product of a manicured garden would think the forest is chaotic. A garden needs constant tending. If you do not tend to it for a few months, it’s gone. But a forest has been there for millions of years, and it will continue to be there. This is the strength of complexity that one nurtures around them. If you get frustrated with complexity, you will try to simplify it. If you simplify it, you will produce simpletons who need a laboratory atmosphere to live. Today, we have produced societies and human beings like this – if they breathe, they will die. They need to breathe from a cylinder, not from the atmosphere. This is an extreme result of over-structuring human existence.
I am not trying to eulogize a whole lot of mess this country needs to clean up. The beauty of our culture is that it is disorganized, but if you do not find harmony in the disorganization, then a disharmonious mind, a disharmonious body, and a disharmonious social situation takes away all possibilities from a human being. But there is a fundamental structure that should never be destroyed, which is so complex and seems chaotic, unless you have a different way of looking at it.
The spiritual paths in this culture lived totally disorganized because they did not want anything to be suppressed. Right now, we do not have enough space in the country to be too disorganized. If you want to be totally disorganized, if it was just one person per square kilometer, you could act crazy. But when there are this many people, how you keep every step matters. With the kind of population and spaces available around us, I think a little more organization would make life much more saner than what it is right now, because if you allow too much life to happen, things will collapse.
Maintaining the Right Balance
As a country and as a people, this nation is living too far below its potential. Wherever I travel, whatever kinds of groups of people I meet, including top-level scientists, academics and students at very prestigious universities, and various other kinds of people, I always find that the groups I meet in this nation are far sharper and smarter than most people anywhere else in the world. However, though the level of intelligence is high, their ability to use it seems to be very low because of a disorganized attitude and situation. So, it is important to just maintain that balance, allowing enough freedom for life to happen freely, but still be organized enough so that you do not waste the fundamental human potential within yourself.
Today, the rest of the world is looking towards this nation as the greatest economic possibility on the planet. I hope we won’t disappoint them. How effectively we fulfill this expectation from the rest of the world depends on all of us, how we shape up and what we do to enjoy the mess we have created, but also to make the mess work. In many ways, we are at a crossroads. But we have always been at a crossroads. It is not new. We don’t believe in taking a highway. We believe in taking all the roads. If ten of us go to a crossroads, if there are ten possibilities, each one of us takes our own path. That may look like we are not going anywhere, but that is not true.
A few years ago, there was a campaign by the Confederation of Indian Industry at the World Economic Forum called “India Everywhere.” That’s how it is: India everywhere! It’s not in one place, in one principle or ideology. It’s simply everywhere because it’s like nature. This cannot be crafted in a short period of time. It is because we have had a few thousand years of existence that such a complex, organic mess has happened. It is a mess only for those who look at it with a simplistic mindset. Otherwise, it is a tremendous possibility. Whether we will leave it as a mess, or transform it into a tremendous possibility is the question.
Editor’s Note: 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! Download Bha-ra-ta.