The Need for Creative Leadership in India (March 1942)
Throughout the hoary ages of the past, India has played the most prominent part in shaping the spiritual history of humanity. She has been a home of Avatars, Prophets, Masters, Seers and Sages, whose contribution to the spiritual evolution of humanity has been unparalleled. The contribution of India to the solution of mundane problems has also been remarkable, since she has produced scientists, poets, philosophers, emperors, leaders and statesmen of the first order. In the past, India has attained eminence in spiritual as well as mundane spheres of life: and her place in the post-war New World of the Future is going to be unique.
The problems which India has to face today are, in some ways, more complicated than the problems which any other country is called upon to solve. Men of all races, creeds, cults and religions have found a home in India: and if this lack of uniformity in composition has presented some difficulties in arriving at solidarity and concerted action in the national life of India, it must in no way be looked upon as a pure handicap. The various streams of culture, which have poured into the life-history of India, have added to the wealth of her national personality; and they have not only created a suitable opportunity for arriving at a new cultural synthesis, but have necessitated its emergence. If handled with creative leadership, the presence of conflicting elements in Indian life can be utilized for bringing into existence a rich world-culture, which shall not only rejuvenate and harmonize Indian life, but will also give a new tone to the life of the whole world.
The process by which we arrive at the new world-culture cannot be purely mechanical. We can never have any vigorous world-culture by merely piling together certain isolated elements, selected from the present diversity of culture; that way, we shall only succeed in getting a patchwork of little vitality. A hodgepodge of collected ideas can never be a substitute for a direct and fresh perception of the Goal. The new world-culture will have to emerge from an integral vision of the Truth independent of existing traditions and not from the laborious process of selection and compilation of conserved values.
The new world-culture, which will emerge from integral vision, will, however, automatically bring about cultural synthesis. Since the vision that inspires the new world-culture will be comprehensive, it will not negate the values of diverse traditions, nor will it have merely patronizing tolerance for them. On the contrary, it shall express itself through active appreciation of the essentials of diverse religions and cultures. The vast vision of the Truth cannot be limited by any creed, dogma or sect; however, it helps men to transcend these limitations, not by blind and total denial of any value to the existing creeds, dogmas and sects, but by discovering, accentuating, unfolding and developing such facets of the Truth as might have been hidden in them.
Evolving a transcendent and synthetic culture, which will express the Infinite Truth, is one task before India. The other task, for which India is particularly qualified, is to help other nations in arriving at mutual understanding and harmony. This second task, again, requires creative leadership which will have an unclouded perception of the mission which India has to fulfill in relation to the destinies of the other nations of the world.
In her foreign policy, India must in no way be a party to color-prejudice and color-war. Black, yellow and white are differences of the skin; they are not differences within the soul itself. Through her past history, India has been a link between the East and the West, and the two have come closer to each other through her.
The third task before the creative leadership in India is to strive for political poise in spite of the difficult situation in which she is placed. India can never make her full contribution to the world unless she is free from political domination and the fear of foreign aggression or conquest. If she is to fulfill her mission in the sisterhood of nations, India must be free to shape her own national life and to determine her policy toward other nations. But insistence upon this fundamental need should not be allowed to disturb her political poise.
While leadership in India would be justified in striving for national freedom and self-determination, it must not allow itself to be vitiated by reactionary isolationism. In the same way, while discharging the clear duty of resisting foreign aggression, India should try to keep free from hate, malice or revenge.
Aggression must be met with resistance, and here it is unpractical to insist upon non-violence. Pure non-violence or incorruptible love can come spontaneously only where duality has been completely transcended in the realization of the last and the only Truth. And non-violence of the brave is possible only for advanced souls who have, through rigorous discipline, eradicated from their minds all forms of greed and hate. But so far as the masses are concerned, it is undesirable to ask them to stick to the external formula of non-violence, when it is their clear duty to resist aggression in self-defense or in the defense of other weak brothers. In the case of the unevolved masses, universal insistence upon non-violence can only lead to their being cowardly, irresponsible and inert.
True love is no game of the faint-hearted and the weak; it is born of strength and understanding. The ideal of non-violence, in the face of aggression, is impracticable for the masses: and it will have a tendency to be readily used as a subterfuge for servile acceptance of ignoble conditions and contemptible desertion of a clear duty. In its enthusiasm for the highest ideal, wise leadership can in no way afford to lose all sense of the relative and the practical. Human evolution proceeds by gradual stages from selfish violence to unselfish violence, and then from non-violence of the brave to the pure and incorruptible non-violence of Truth as Infinite Love.
All narrowness limits love. In India, as well as in every other part of the world, humanity is breaking itself into narrow groups based upon the superficial and ultimately false differences of caste, creed, race, nationality, religion or culture: and since these groups have been long accustomed to separative distrust and fear, they have indifference, contempt or hostility towards each other. All this is due to ignorance, prejudice and selfishness: and it can only be mended by fostering the spirit of mutuality which breaks through artificial isolationism, and which derives its strength from the sense of the inviolable unity of life as a whole.
Creative leadership (which has so much scope in the soil of India) will have to recognize and emphasize the fact that all men are already united with each other not only by their co-partnership in the Great Divine Plan for Earth, but also by virtue of their all being equally the expression of One Life. No line of action can be really helpful or fruitful unless it is in entire harmony with this deep Truth.
The future of humanity is in the hands of those who have this vision.
This message regarding “Leadership in India” was later printed in the Meher Baba Journal, August issue, 1942.
Lord Meher, American ed., Bhau Kalchuri, Vol. 8, pp. 2783 – 2786.