The real meaning of the word “renaissance” is reawakening. That is, humanity was sleeping, and now it must wake up from that cimmerian slumber and do something in all the spheres of life, in all the strata of existence.
There are three important strata in life: the physical stratum, the psychic stratum and the spiritual stratum. In the physical stratum, there are many strata: say, scientific achievement, social progress, political life, economic life, culture life. People often say that this twentieth century is the century of science. No, it is not the truth. Human life has been associated with science from the prehistoric era, from the very birth of humanity on this earth about one million years ago, and not only in this twentieth century. And as long as there will be a single human being, there will be an age of science.
Nowadays science means creating new weapons – strengthening the hands of warmongers; but the spirit of science should not be like this, and at the start, in the primordial phase of human life, it was not so. Yes, there is necessity of weapons – weapons not for strengthening the hands of warmongers, but for providing security for good ideas, good thoughts and good persons. Science should be just like art: science for service and beatitude. Art for service and beatitude, I said; and now I say, science is also for service and beatitude. Science should always be utilised for the proper progress of human society.
Then the social. In the social sphere there are several sub-strata, and the real spirit of social progress is to dispel all social disparities. Each and every member of the human society should enjoy equal rights as members of the same family, but there is disparity and it is the duty of the Renaissance movement to dispel the disparity and bring about equality, equilibrium and equipoise amongst human beings.
There are disparities, disparities of different types and different kinds. For instance, there are biological disparities existing in the society, which are being encouraged by certain selfish persons. The biological disparity between human and animal, between human and plant, between animal and plant – that disparity must not be there. Just as a human being wants to survive, a pigeon also wants to survive – similarly a cow also wants to survive, or a tree. Just as my life is dear to me, so the lives of created beings are also equally dear to them. It is the birthright of human beings to live in this world, and it is the birthright of the animal world and plant world also to remain on this earth. To recognize this right, and to get it recognized by the entire human society, the Renaissance movement will have to do something concrete.
Then there is disparity due to birth – disparity between people of higher caste and people of so-called lower caste. People of a particular country die of starvation, and people of another country die due to overeating due to voracity. It is a disparity – it is bad. It is a creation of selfish people, not of Parama Puruśa (Supreme Consciousness). The Renaissance movement will have to do something concrete in this respect also. All are equal, with equal glamour as human beings.
Now, difference of colour. Due to geographical conditions, due to historical facts, there are differences in colour. A particular human beings may be of white complexion, someone black, someone very black, someone yellow. It is not an innate difference, it is an external difference. Why should there be a special type of scripture based on these differences? No, there must not be any difference of colour, or any social disparity because of difference of colour.
Now, there is the sex difference. Females are debarred from many socio-political rights. You know, a few hundred years ago they had no voting rights in many countries of the world. Why? They are also human beings – they also have the same rights as men. Renaissance people will have to start a movement for social equality and fight against such inequality based on sexual difference. Are women like cattle, or sacks of cloth that people give as gifts at the time of marriage? Are they slaves to be sold to others? As long as women lacked courage or intellect, they tolerated these things – but what a great humiliation! To submit them to such indignities is far worse than to whip them publicly on the road. Are women simply like bundles of cloth to be sent to the washerman’s house? Women must not be suppressed, and there should not be domination of males in the society. Society should have a cooperative leadership, not a subordinated leadership; there should be a coordinated, cooperative leadership, leadership between males and females. Renaissance people will have to start a movement immediately to fight against all these disparities; otherwise if fifty percent of the population, that is the ladies, remain downtrodden, how can there be all-round progress of human society? So these are all the social duties, the social responsibilities of the Renaissance movement. Renaissance people will have to wage war on these disparities, these inequalities – they will have to be rooted out of the society.
In political life, a group of people exploit another group of people of the same country, or of some other country. There is political inequality. Still there is a sort of economic polarization, economic exploitation, and not only that, there are social and cultural disparities, and social and cultural exploitation also. Renaissance people will have to bring this fact to the notice of one and all: this disparity cannot be supported by good thinking, by right thinking people, and so we will not support it. Yes, in the political sphere, there should be the rule of moralist people, for immoralist people cannot lead the society: they cannot goad the people onto the path of righteousness. And this political life should also be based on universalism, without forgetting the fact that a particular area of the world has its own particular problems and its own particular conditions.
Economic life. In economic life there is extreme inequality and exploitation. Although colonialism no longer exists openly in the political and economic spheres, it persists indirectly, and this should not be tolerated. The Renaissance movement will have to do something in this respect. You should remember that in economic life, we will have to guarantee the minimum requirements to one and all. There cannot be any second thought, there cannot be any sort of adjustment as far as this point is concerned. The minimum purchasing requirement must be guaranteed to all. Today these fundamental essentialities are not being guaranteed. Rather, people are being guided by deceptive economic ideas like outdated Marxism, which has proved ineffective in practical life, and has not been successfully implemented in any corner of the world. Why do people still believe in such a theory, which has never been proved successful? The time has come for people to make a proper assessment whether they are being misguided or not.
Then comes one of the important points: cultural life. What is culture? Culture is the collection of different expressions of human life. The culture of the entire human race is one, but there are different local expressions. This difference in local expressions does not mean that people of different corners of the earth have different cultures – culture is the same, but the expressions vary.
Education is a part of cultural life. Education should be free, and education must be based on universalism. While imparting education you should also remember that there are certain local conditions, local problems and local requirements; so while formulating the educational structure, we should do everything remembering this fundamental fact.
So you see, the scope of the Renaissance movement is vast, and you will have to start your work from this very moment: it brooks no delay.
There are the different types of inequalities prevailing in the physical world. In the psychic world also there are so many ailments, and Renaissance people will have to wage war against these inequalities and man-made differences. There must be progress in the psychic realm, in the psychic arena. In the psychic arena, the progress should be unbarred and unaffected. There are so many ailments in the psychic sphere. You see, in the psycho-physical sphere, many people are guided by – rather goaded by – dogmas. Dogmas have taken root in the human mind. People cannot get rid of these false ideas because they have been injected into their minds since childhood. As a result, one human society is divided into different nations, and one nation is divided into different religions; religions also have different castes, and caste also have different sub-castes – what kind of situation is this? We have only learned how to divide and subdivide humanity, and we never learned how to unite the people. This is all due to the defective teachings of dogmas.
Some people think that the particular group of people to which they belong are the blessed beings of Parama Puruśa, and others are cursed beings. This is a very bad type of dogma opportunists have introduced all this. Renaissance people will have to fight against these dogmas, and carry on the struggle endlessly. For that, they may have to confront numerous obstacles, censure and humiliation, but they will have to move on undaunted and unaffected. Dogmas are psycho-physical diseases.
Then there are physico-psychic ailments. Some people argue that animals have been created by Parama Puruśa for our food. I knew a certain person who used to say that if people do not eat goats’ meat, the world would become populated only by goats. And others said that if people don’t eat chickens, there would not be even a single inch of space on this earth – it would be filled with chickens! Now my point is, even though human beings do not eat vultures, is there a crowd of vultures in the world? How foolish such people are! People don’t eat earthworms – has there been an uncontrollable growth of earthworms on earth? Only out of excessive greed, people eat chickens and goats and are simply searching for logic to support their actions and cover up their weakness. This sort of cunning will not do. In the mobility of the psychic world, there are certain defective thoughts prevailing – that we humans are destined to rule this earth, and the creatures are destined to be ruled by us. You will have to fight against this type of psychology with the help of your strong weapon. What is that weapon? Neohumanism. All have the equal right to live here: this universe is for all. It is not the patrimony of human beings only. This is also the duty of Renaissance people.
Then there is the progress in the pure psychic level. In the pure psychic level, defective thoughts prevail in human society, and as a result, an individual or a group of people often try to suppress or oppress others. Due to this type of defective psychology, a vast section of the populace suffers from psychic depression. The Renaissance movement will have to be active against this sort of exploitation, and it will have to save human society from the clutches of these defective philosophies. These ailments should be removed and dispelled from the minds of human beings.
There may be another disease, another psychic ailment, and that is in the psycho-spiritual stratum. In the psycho-spiritual stratum, the movement is a pinnacled one; that is, all ideas coincide in a particular point, and that point moves towards the Supreme Entity. But the movement is certainly a synthetic one, not analytic. However, if the movement is extroversial, the path naturally becomes an analytic one, and that is dangerous. In the name of psycho-spiritual approach, in the false name of religion, disparities are created in the human society, differences are created between human beings. In the name of religion so many sanguinary battles were fought in the past, and even now people belonging to one religious group cannot rely on other groups, or pay credence to other groups. Thus one should remember that only the pinnacled Entity, the apexed Entity is our Saviour – the only goal of our life. This is the panacea for all psychic ailments.
And the third stratum is the spiritual stratum. In this stratum the natural path is to convert everything into spirituality. This conversion should be in the realm of learning, in the realm of language, in the realm of studies, in the realm of solidarity. That is, in every arena of our spiritual life, this conversion should take place – the conversion of your entire existence, the parts and portions of your existence, into spirituality. But due to defective philosophy, defective guidance, people forget this fact, and they convert spirit into mind and mind into matter. That is, they take the path of negative Pratisaiṋcara [devolution], and that is detrimental to the cause of human progress.
Renaissance people will have to raise their voices against this, and they will have to do it now – they will have to do it immediately. And I also desire that you all should move on the path of Renaissance, which is fully supported by rationality, from today – from this very moment. Let victory be yours.
1 Renaissance in All the Strata of Life, January 2, 1986, Calcutta; Electronic Edition of the Works of P.R. Sarkar, version 7; Published in A Few Problems Solved Part 7