M. N. Roy Jawaharlal Nehru

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The author is grateful to the following publishers for quoting very small sentences (no sentence exceeding more than 50 words in any case) here and there from their books . George Allen & Unwin, Ltd., London, for Laski's Liberty in the Modern State (New Edition), Seker & Warburg, London, for Khrushchev : The Road to Power by George Paloczi Horvath ; George G. Harrap & Co., Ltd., London for A History of Politi­cal Theoiy by George H. Sabine ; The English Universities Press, Ltd. London, for C. L. Wayper's Political Thought; The Macmillan Co., New York, for Dunning's Works, The Revolution in Tibet by Frank Moraes ; Society by Page & Maclver, Political Obligation by T. H. Green, and other minor books ; Oxford University Press, for Political Thought in England by Laski, The Modern State by R. M. Maclver ; and Thornton Butterworth, Ltd., London, for Political Thought in England by E. Barker.

The author is also grateful to the following Presses and Publishers in India for their generous permission to quote from his own writings published in their Journals and Magazines ; Calcutta University Press, for Calcutta Review ; Triveni Publishers, for Triveni; Prabasi Press Ltd., for The Modern Review ; and the Radical Humanist Publication, for The Radical Humanist.



I. Sri Krishna

2 Bhishma

  1. Manu

  2. Brihaspati

  3. Suk-aeharya

  4. Kautiiya

  5. Raja Rami.rjhan Roy

  6. Swami Vivekananda

9. Bal Gangadhar Tilak
10. Sri Aurobindo Ghosh

II. M.K.Gandhi

12 M. N. Roy

  1. Jawaharlal Nehru

  2. Acharya Vinoba Bhave

  3. Jayaprakash Narayan

  4. Ram Manohar Lohia

  5. Sun Yat-Sen

  6. Mao Tse-Tung

  7. Swami Dayananda Saraswati

  1. Subhash Chandra Bose

  2. Gopabandhu Das

  3. Madhusudan Das

23 Mahadev Govind Ranade

  1. Gopal Krishna Gokhale

  2. Dr. B. R. Ambedkar


1. Plato 2 Aristotle

3. St. Thomas Aquinas

4, Niccolo Machiavelli


Chapter Page

  1. Jean Bodin 259

  2. Thomas Hobbes 266

  3. John Locke 280

  4. Montesquieu 297

  5. Jean-Jacques Rousseau 307

  1. Edmund Burke 322

  2. Thomas Paine 334

  3. Thomas Jefferson 345

  4. Jeremy Bentham 358

  5. George W. F. Hegel 371

  6. John Stuart Mill 386

  7. Henry David Thoreau 402

  8. Karl Marx 410

  9. V.I.Lenin 424

  10. Leo Tolstoy 435

  11. Thomas Hill Green 445

  12. Friednch Nietzsche 456

  13. Georges Sorel 465

  14. Graham Wallas 474

  15. John Dewey 483

  16. Bertrand Russell 494

  17. G.D.H. Cole 507

  18. Harold J. Laski 516

  19. N. S. Khrushchev 526

  20. Saint Augustine 538


Sri Krishna


Aurobindo Ghosh




M. K. Gandhi




M. N. Roy




Jawaharlal Nehru




A chary a Vinoba Bhave




Jayaprakash Narayan


Raja Rammohan Roy


Ram Manohar Lohia


Swami Vivekananda


Sun Yat-Sen


Bal Gangadhar Tilak


Mao Tse-Tung


Krishna : The Historical Character and the,Avatar

From ancient times India has held strongly a belief in the reality of the Avatar, the descent into form, the revelation of the God-head in humanity. In the West this belief has never really stamped itself upon the mind, for it has been presented through exoteric Christianity as a theological dogma without any roots in the reason and general consciousness and attitude towards life. But in India it has grown up and persisted as a logical outcome of the Vedantic view of life and taken firm root in the consciousness of the race. All ex­perience, according to Vedantic philosophy, is a manifestation of God because He is the only existence and nothing can be except as either a real figuring or else a figment of that one Reality. Therefore, every conscious being is in part or in some way a descent of the Infinite into the apparent finiteness of name and form. But it is a veiled manifestation and there is a gradation between the Supreme Being of the Divine and the consciousness shrouded partly or wholly by ignor­ance of self in the finite. When the Divine Consciousness or Power assumes the human form and chooses the human mode of action out of its eternal Self-Knowledge, when the Unknown knows Itself and acts in the frame of mental being and the appearance of birth, that is the height of the conditioned manifestation ; it is the full and cons­cious descent of the God-head, it is the Avatar— an incarnate God.

The fact about the existence of Sri Krishna both a* the historical character and the Avatar was well established by the first century B. c. through various religious legends and Puranas. It is now firmly believed that the historical Krishna existed in the age of the-Mahabharata. We meet the name first in the Chhandogya Upanishad where all we can gather about him is that he was well-known in spiritual tradition as a knower of the Brahman, so well-known indeed in his personality and the circumstances of his Kfe that it was suffi­cient to refer to him by the nar e of his mother as Krishna—the son of Devaki. In the same Upanishad we find a mentioning of king Dhritarashtra, son of Vichitravirya, and since tradition associated the two together so closely that both of them become leading personages in the action of the Mahabharata, we may fairly conclude that they were actually contemporaries and that the epic is to a great extent dealing with historical characters and in the war of Kurukshetra with a historical occurrence imprinted firmly on the memory of the race.

We know too that Krishna and Arjuna were the objects of religious worship in the pre-Christian centuries ; and there is some reason to suppose that they were so in connection with a religious and philoso­phical tradition from which the Gita may have gathered many of its elements and even the foundation of its synthesis of knowledge, devo­tion and works, and perhaps also that the human Krishna was the founder, restorer or at least one of the early teachers of Bhagavata school. In the Mahabharata Krishna is represented both as the Purushottama (the Avatar) and the historical character or figure. In the Harivansha also there is an account of the life of Krishna, very evidently full of legends which perhaps formed the basis of the Puranic accounts.

Thus the historicity of the existence of Sri Krishna has been established by the various legends or stories regarding his early life contained in the Puranas, Upanishads and religious scriptures. But what matters to us is his eternal incarnation of the Divine and his unsurpassable role as the greatest teacher and leader of men, and not the historicity of his human form. Even among the Avatars (incarna­tions) Sri Krishna's position or personality and his role in the human form in this universe was unique.

Sri Krishna's Personality and Sole

To many Sri Krishna appears like a dream, dreamt by cowherds and milkmaids, a dream in which they all beheld the beauty of the beloved's face, pure and fair beyond compare, and listened to the wondrous music of his flute, sounding in the streets and forests of Gokul and Vrindavan (places in Uttar Pradesh), pouring benedictions alike on men and women and children, on the birds that peeped from the tree-tops, on the cows that looked at him with meek and gentle eyes, on flowers and trees, on streams and the dark waves of the Yamuna river. This facet of his life may be important for his devotees, but what matter to us or the world are his role as the savi­our of mankind and his great 'Message of Action'.

Among the saviours of mankind there is an exemplary trait which is common to all. Their life embodies the message which they bring to mankind. Their precept is primarily through their personal life. What they practise in varying situations counts for everything. Their conduct is the core of their teaching. There is a belief that Sri Krishna's case does not come under this rule. The sponsors of this view contend that humanity will do well to emulate Sri Rama and Sri Krishna in two different ways. Imitate the life of the former, but imbibe the instructions of the latter ; dare not imitate the actions of Sri Krishna. This, in short, is their contention. But this idea is born of an imperfect understanding. Some incarnations of God were obliged to wipe off thousands of wicked people from the face of the earth. But this was an extraordinary deed under extraordinary'circum-starces. Extraordinary actions are not uncommon even with ordinary



people. Today we do witness pious individuals walking on fire unscathed. Occasionally an individual is found to bear the weight of an elephant on his body. But it is not necessary that every man should be endowed with such unusual powers. In these extraordinary human beings, endowed with exceptional powers, there may be many other rare qualities which we may emulate with profit. Now the question is what particular aspect of Sri Krishna's character defies imitation. Generally a puerile moralist holds that Sri Krishna's relationship with innumerable Gopis stands on an exclusive footing, and that no mortal dare copy it. In other words, he maintains that actions of this kind are sanctionable in a Divine Being like Sri Krishna but not in ordinary mortals like us. But this position of the pseudo-moralist arises from an imperfect understanding. There is not in this episode any trace of taint which the moralist would have us behold. Sri Krishna, the enchanter of the Gopis, had just seen nine autumns when he had concluded his sports with the milk-maids of Vrindavan. Is it ever possible for a boy of eight or nine to have any kind of con­jugal relationship with thousands of women ? And it must be noted that those milk-maids proved themselves faithful to the core to their husbands. Those Gopis were inviting the entire lot in the township to go and join them in their mirth with the divine lad. Carnality demands exclusiveness as its characteristic. The communion of the Gopis with Krishna is just the opposite of it.

And Sri Krishna is adored as Hrishikesa. The meaning of this appellation is that he is the Lord of the senses. We, ordinary mortals, are slaves of the senses, whereas this Divine Being had com­plete sway over them. As long as one is body-bound an is prone to body-consciousness one cannot hope to taste supreme beatitude. This was the lesson that the boy Krishna had taught the Gopis. The goal of human' life is to transcend body-consciousness. AH through his earthly career Sri Krishna was delivering this message, poised in divinity. His victorious encounters with the wicked demons were extraordinary. In the midst of tnese deeds of valour he was ever established in his Supreme Self. More through living than by precept he was delivering the message of poise to the poiseless humanity.

In those days, wicked and sensuous rulers were styled as Asuras. It became imperative for Sri Krishna to do away with several of them. Every time he put an end to one of them, he had perforce to give protection to a large number of women captives who were under the clutches of that villain. The deliverer of the innocent was in duty bound to give protection to thousands of the forlorn among the fair sex. His harem was thus swelling in number. He became their husband in the sense that he weaned them from moral depravity. The humanitarian task that the present-day governments do in regard to the reclamation of abducted women gives us a glimpse into the humanitarian work that the Lord Hrishikesa had to do in those days. All living beings are, according to religious concept, viewed as



brides and the Lord as the only Bridegroom capable of espousing and guiding them. Sri Krishna literally demonstrated this position during his earthly sojourn.

The Lesson of the Bhagavad Gita

The life of Lord Krishna is the grand source out of which the Gita has emerged. The life that Sri Krishna lived is the most sublime embodiment of Vedantic principles. The greatest contribution that an incarnation of God makes to the world is his life and career. He is necessarily a man with a message to the world- His deeds and exploits, even more than his utterances, deliver that message in un­mistakable terms. Through the force of his character he exerts an abiding influence on those who come in contact with him. His demeanour under varying circumstances teaches humanity more eloquently than his declamation, if any.

Thus the figure of Sri Krishna becomes the symbol of the divine dealings with humanity. Through our egoism and ignorance we are moved, thinking that we are the doers of the work, vaunting ourselves as the real causes of the result, and that which moves us we see only occasionally as some vague or even some human and earthly fountain of knowledge, aspiration, force," some Principle or Light or Power which we acknowledge and adore without knowing what it is until the occasion arises that forces us to stand arrested before the veil. And the action in which this divine figure moves is the whole wide action of man in life, not merely the inner life, but all this obscure course of the world which we can judge only by the twilight of the human reason as it opens up dimly before our uncertain advance into the little span in front. This is the distinguishing feature of the Gita that it is the culmination of such an action which gives rise to its teaching and assigns that prominence to the gospel of works which it enunciates with an emphasis and force we do not find in other Indian scriptures. Not only in the Gita, but in other passages of the Mahabharata, we meet with Krishna declaring emphatically the neces­sity of action, but it is here that he reveals its secret and the divinity behind our works.

The symbolic companionship of Arjuna and Krishna, the human and the Divine Soul, is expressed elsewhere in Indian thought, in the heavenward journey of Indra and Kutsa seated in one chariot, in the figure of the two birds upon one tree in the Upanishad, in the twin figures of Nara and Narayana, the seers who do tapasya together for the knowledge. But in all three it is the idea of divine knowledge in which, as the Gita says, all action culminates that is in view ; here it is instead the action which leads to that knowledge and in which the Divine Knower figures Himself. Arjuna and Krishna stand together not as seers in the peaceful hermitage of meditation, but as fighter and holder of the reins in the clamorous field, in the midst of the hurtling shafts, in the chariot of battle. The teacher of the Gita is



therefore not only the God in man who unveils Himself in the world of knowledge, but the God in man who moves our whole world of action, by and for whom all our humanity exists and struggles and labours, towards whom all human life travels and progresses. He is the secret Master of works and sacrifices and the Friend of the human peoples.

Sri Krishna sets an example in regard to the attitude one should assume towards one's earthly career. Long before he commenced his teens, his sprightly sports at Vrindavan had all been completed. He viewed this world as a huge playground. Life here is a delightful game. One ought to be a willing and gay participant in this play. Sri Krishna's boyish and innocent indulgences are indications of this attitude. One is expected to enter into life in the spirit in which a sportsman enters into bis game. To such a person this earth is a mansion of mirth. But to him who plays his part with reluctance or disgust, this earthly career is a painful burden. This is all the more necessary for a king who is burdened with a duty of serving his kingdom and his subjects. A just king has no likes or dislikes ; his only moral responsibility is to serve his people and kingdom with a sense of dedication. He should always be ready to make all kinds of sacrifices at all stages of life as the situation from time to time demands. This is the message of the boy Krishna of Vrindavan.

In the later part of his life, he became the Kurukshetra Krishna. Then he threw light of another hue on life. Mundane existence is a veritable warfare. Nothing here on this earth is achieved without a fight. He who has not learnt to wage the war of life does not inherit anything here or hereafter. In order to secure a post or a job, a workman exhibits his talents and dexterity. That is an engagement of another pattern in the battle for existence. Building of empires and strengthening them are the outcome of various kinds of warfare. Statecraft itself is a strategy in war. This is what comes out of the political philosophy of Machiavelli when he discusses the duties of a successful king in his Prince. If a man has taken a forward step in any field, it means he has successfully fought for it. Sri Krishna has himself demonstrated how to face baffling situations in life. His earthly career viewed from this angle is an endless warfare. His practice and precept go to corroborate this viewpoint. Bhagavad Gita teaches one to equip oneself for the battle of life. Without self-preparation the warfare called life cannot be waged successfully. A battle-field like the Kurukshetra was therefore chosen as the proper pulpit for delivering this message.

There may be persons who object to the study of the Gita. They hold that the dialogue between Sri Krishna and Arjuna was intended to drag the latter somehow into the carnage. Arguments had to be invented in order to justify that nefarious act. And Sri Krishna proved himself an adept in the art of making a virtue of needless killing. What ensued was a wholesale massacre. Without



compunction Arjuna did away with his grandsire as well as with his preceptor. Killing is undoubtedly a heinous sin resorted to by wicked people. Religion is quite against it. Just as darkness does not co-exist with light, religion is incompatible with bloodshed. Those who are pious and intent on practising the tenets of religion should scrupulously eshchew pseudo-religious books which advocate des­truction. In this manner charges are found levelled against the Bhagavad Gita.

But the Gita does not stop half-way. It goes to the very core of this issue. It proclaims that the panorama of Nature is an inter­minable battle-field. Creation, preservation and destruction are the three phases of ceaseless activity going on in Nature. These may be termed as the triple purpose of cosmos. Birth into a new body is putting an end to the old wcrn-out body. The interval between a creation and a destruction is called preservation. Even as the sides of a triangle are interdependent these triple activities are interrelated. If, of these, destruction or death is truly understood the other two become self-evident.

It has to be admitted that Nature is an extensive slaughter-house. Relentlessly she wipes out the unwanted ones. The Bhagavad Gita recognizes this hard fact and assumes the position of the science of destruction. While one depends on Nature for subsistence, killing can no more be avoided than heat while residing in the Sun. Having gained entrance into this arena, the Gita exhorts, "Do the job that is incumbent on you as a religious act." All attempt to avoid death or destruction is futile. A weakling has no place here or hereafter. In the great cosmic plan of action play your part as a hero. Wake up to the reality of this world. Fight the battles of life. Fear nothing. Do not falter in your duty. At the same time, be not a slave to duty either. Perform your duty for its own sake. To a knowing one, duty such as welfare is as sacred as a worship in a sanctuary. This being the message of the Gita it has to be accepted as a gospel of carnage as much as a gospel of preservation of social solidarity. In this world of mutual destruction, practise the science of destruction as religiously as the science of mutual help. He alone is able to save the world who has learnt to slay the wicked in a spirit of worship. A successful king must follow this principle if he wants to build up and maintain his kingdom. In unmistakable terms the Gita exhorts both a king and an ordinary man to sanctify slaugh­ter into a holy act.

War and destruction are not only a universal principle of our life here in its purely material aspects, but also of our mental and moral existence. It is self-evident that in the actual life of man— intellectual, social, political, moral—we can make no real step forward without a struggle, a battle between what exists and lives and what seeks to exist and live and between all that stands behind either. The whole human history bears witness to the inexorable vitality and



persistent prevalence of this principle in the world. It is natural that we should attempt to palliate, to lay stress on other aspects. Strife and destruction are not all ; there is the saving principle of associa­tion and mutual help as well as the force of dissociation and mutual strife ; a power of love no less than a power of egoistic self-assertion ; an impulse to sacrifice ourselves for others as well as the impulse to sacrifice others to ourselves. Association has been worked not oniy for mutual help, but at the same time for defence and aggression, to strengthen us against all that attacks or resists in the struggle for life. Association itself has been a servant of war, egoism and the self-assertion of life against life. Love itself has been constantly a power of death. Especially the love of good and the love of God, as embraced by the human ego, have been responsible for much strife, slaughter and destruction. Self-sacrifice is great and noble, but at its highest it is an acknowledgement of the law of life by death and becomes an offering on the altar of some Power that demands a victim in order that the work desired may be done.

Sri Krishna is a shakti (force) in history and his message, conveyed to the world through the Gita, is a message of ceaseless action. The very opening word of the Gita is dharmakshetra. Life is a kshetra, a field of ditarma—a battle-field ! The call of the Gita is a call to the battle-field. Soldiers of the spirit are you ! You must conquer your inner desires and chaos, your inner contradictions. To live is to fight for the ideal. History is a battle-field of ideas.

The Message of Sri Krishna

Sri Krishna's message to the mind is that ali life is indeed a mani­festation of the Universal Power in the individual, a derivation from the self, a ray from the Divine. The vital and material man must accept for his government a religious and social and ideal diianna by which, while satisfying desire and interest under right restrictions, he can train and subdue his lower personality and scrupulously attune it to a higher law, both of the personal and the communal life.

Sri Krishna taught a doctrine of creative life. Act ! Work ! Serve ! Be not in molia ! Be detached ! Take sorrow and joy in­differently ! Seek not virtue for her gifts : rind the reward of doing right in right—not the 'fruit' that comes from deeds. Seek no gain in doing right and so break the bonds of karma. It was with this spirit that Lokamanya Tilak served India without aspiring for any reward for himself. He fought heroically as do the gods—not for a moment thinking of 'fruits of action".

Sri Krishna also gave a message of devotion, the service of love, to the people of this world, both through his own life and through his teachings. He says to Arjuna : "Renounce creeds and take refuge in Me !" Unhappy are so many : they fight, alas ! in the name of cults and creeds. "Come unto Me !" saith Krishna. This



may be interpreted to mean : "Come unto Love !" Work, but charge it with love ! In every act, kindle the light of love ! Our Assemblies can do little. A change of heart is needed. Our Leagues and Security Councils are insecure and ineffective. A "Fellowship of Nations" is needed.

To the world Sri Krishna gave the message of love and peace. He asked the mundane peoples of the world not to fight for cults and creeds and to respect every religion. His message is : "Every path comes to Me ! Religion is immaterial to Me ! So is the cult and creed ! Devotion or bhakti is supreme to Me !" If we under­stand his message and carry it the world over, we can then solve all of our political and social problems.

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