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At the Feet of The Mother



The three ideals, or ultimate aims of modern civilisation which were proclaimed at the time of the French revolution, are generally known in our language as the three principles of liberty, equality and amity. But what goes by the name of fraternity in the language of the West is not amity. Amity describes a state of mind. One who is a well-wisher of all beings and harms nobody, that benevolent person, free from violence and engaged in the well-being of all beings, is called ‘a friend’; amity is the state of his mind. Such a state of mind is an asset to the individual; it can direct his life and work, but it cannot possibly become the mainstay of a political and social organisation. The three principles of the French revolution are not ethical rules for guiding the life of an individual but three ties or bonds capable of remoulding the structure of society and country, a fundamental truth of Nature yearning to manifest itself in the external condition of society and country. Fraternity means brotherhood.

The French revolutionaries were very anxious to gain social and political liberty and equality, their eyes were not set so much on fraternity. Absence of fraternity is the cause of incompleteness of the French revolution. This extraordinary rising established political and social liberty in Europe; even political equality to some extent found a place in the political organisation and legislation of a few countries. But without fraternity, social equality is impossible. And because of the absence of fraternity Europe was deprived of social equality. The full development of these three basic principles is interdependent: fraternity is the basis of equality; without it equality cannot be established. Only brotherly feeling can bring about brotherhood. There is no brotherly feeling in Europe, equality and liberty are tainted there. That is why in Europe chaos and revolution is the order of the day. Proudly Europe calls this chaos and revolution progress and advancement.

Whatever brotherly feeling exists in Europe rests on the country: “We belong to one country, we have the same advantages and disadvantages, unity, safeguards, national freedom” — this knowledge is the cause of unity in Europe. There is another knowledge which stands against it: “we are all men, all men should be united, division between man and man is born of ignorance and is harmful; so let us give up nationalism and establish a unity of the human race”. A conflict is going on between these two contradictory truths, especially in France, that emotional country where the great ideal of liberty, equality and fraternity was first proclaimed. However, the fact is that these two truths and feelings are not contradictory. Nationalism is a truth, unity of the human race is also a truth and only the harmony of these two truths can bring the highest good of humanity; if our intelligence is incapable of finding that harmony and becomes attached to the conflict of principles which are not contradictory, then we must consider that intelligence a misguided rajasic intelligence.

Europe, disgusted with political and social liberty without any equality, is now racing towards Socialism. There are two parties, the Anarchists and the Socialists. The Anarchist says, “Political liberty is an illusion; to establish a machine of torture in the name of government, by influential men, for crushing individual liberty on the pretext of preserving political freedom, is a sign of this illusion; therefore, abolish all kinds of government and establish genuine freedom.” Who will protect liberty and equality in the absence of any government and prevent the powerful from torturing the weak? In answer to this objection the Anarchist says, “Expand education, spread complete knowledge and brotherly feeling; knowledge and brotherly feeling will protect liberty and equality. If an individual violates the brotherly feeling and brings suffering to others, he can be punished with death by anybody.” The Socialist does not say the same thing. He says, “Let the government remain, the government is useful. Let us establish society and the political structure on complete equality; when all the present defects of society and of the political organisation are rectified, the human race will be completely happy and free and full of brotherly feeling.” For this reason the Socialist wants to unite society; if there is no personal property but everything belongs to society — as with the property of a joint family belonging not to any individual but to the family which is the body, the individual being only a limb of that body — then division will disappear from society and it will become one.

The Anarchist makes the mistake of attempting to do away with the government before fraternity is established. It will be long before the brotherly feeling can come; meanwhile, abolition of the government will result in the supremacy of animal instincts on account of the extreme chaos and disorder ensuing. The king is the centre of society; formation of a government enables men to avoid animality. When complete fraternity is established then God instead of employing any earthly representative will himself rule the earth and sit on the throne in every one’s heart. The reign of the Saints of the Christians, our Satyayuga, will be established. Mankind has not progressed so far as to achieve this state soon, only a partial realisation is possible.

The Socialist errs in trying to establish fraternity on equality, instead of establishing equality on fraternity. It is possible to have fraternity without having equality; but equality without fraternity cannot last and it will be destroyed by dissension, quarrels and inordinate greed for power. First we must have complete fraternity and then only complete equality.

The brotherly feeling is an outward condition: if we all remain full of brotherly feeling, have one common property, one common good and one common effort, that is fraternity. The external condition is based on the inner state. Love for the brother infuses life into fraternity and makes it real. There must be a basis even for that brotherly love. We are children of one Mother, compatriots; this feeling can provide the basis for a kind of brotherly love; though this feeling becomes a basis of political unity, social unity cannot be achieved in this way. We have to go still deeper: just as we all have to overpass our own mothers in order to worship the Mother of our compatriots, in the same way we have to transcend and realise the Universal Mother. We have to transcend the partial Shakti in order to reach the Shakti in her completeness. But, just as in our adoration of Mother India, though we overpass our physical mother yet we do not forget her, in the same way, in our adoration of the Universal Mother we shall transcend Mother India and not forget her. She too is Kali, she too is the Mother.

Only religion provides a basis for fraternity. All the religions say, “We are one, division is born of ignorance and jealousy.” Love is the central teaching of all religions. Our religion also says, “We are all one, the dividing intellect is a sign of ignorance, the sage should look on all with an equal eye and perceive the one soul, one Narayan equally established in everyone.” Universal love comes from this equality full of devotion. But this knowledge which is the highest goal of humanity will spread everywhere only at the final stage of our journey; meanwhile we have to realise it partially within, and without, in the family, society, country, in every being. Man is always endeavouring to give an enduring form to fraternity by creating family, clan, society, country, and binding them firmly by laws and scriptures. Up till now that effort has failed. The basis exists and so does the form. But what is needed is some inexhaustible force which will preserve the life of fraternity, so that the basis remains unimpaired and the form becomes everlasting or is continually renewed. God has not yet manifested that Force. He has come down as Rama, Krishna, Chaitanya, Ramakrishna and is preparing to transform the selfish heart of man into a fit receptacle of love. How far is that day when He shall descend again and make this earth a paradise by spreading eternal love and bliss and implanting it in the heart of man!

(Dharma, No. 23, February, 1910)

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