The Ideal of the Karmayogin

ANATION is building in India today before the eyes of

the world so swiftly, so palpably that all can watch the

process and those who have sympathy and intuition distinguish

the forces at work, the materials in use, the lines of

the divine architecture. This nation is not a new race raw from

the workshop of Nature or created by modern circumstances.

One of the oldest races and greatest civilisations on this earth,

the most indomitable in vitality, the most fecund in greatness,

the deepest in life, the most wonderful in potentiality, after

taking into itself numerous sources of strength from foreign

strains of blood and other types of human civilisation, is now

seeking to lift itself for good into an organised national unity.

Formerly a congeries of kindred nations with a single life and

a single culture, always by the law of this essential oneness

tending to unity, always by its excess of fecundity engendering

fresh diversities and divisions, it has never yet been able

to overcome permanently the almost insuperable obstacles to

the organisation of a continent. The time has now come when

those obstacles can be overcome. The attempt which our race

has been making throughout its long history, it will now make

under entirely new circumstances. A keen observer would predict

its success because the only important obstacles have been

or are in the process of being removed. But we go farther and

believe that it is sure to succeed because the freedom, unity and

greatness of India have now become necessary to the world.

This is the faith in which the Karmayogin puts its hand to

the work and will persist in it, refusing to be discouraged by

difficulties however immense and apparently insuperable. We

believe that God is with us and in that faith we shall conquer.

We believe that humanity needs us and it is the love

and service of humanity, of our country, of the race, of our

religion that will purify our heart and inspire our action in the


The task we set before ourselves is not mechanical but moral

and spiritual. We aim not at the alteration of a form of government

but at the building up of a nation. Of that task politics

is a part, but only a part. We shall devote ourselves not to

politics alone, nor to social questions alone, nor to theology or

philosophy or literature or science by themselves, but we include

all these in one entity which we believe to be all-important,

the dharma, the national religion which we also believe to be

universal. There is a mighty law of life, a great principle of

human evolution, a body of spiritual knowledge and experience

of which India has always been destined to be guardian, exemplar

and missionary. This is the sanatana dharma, the eternal

religion. Under the stress of alien impacts she has largely lost

hold not of the structure of that dharma, but of its living reality.

For the religion of India is nothing if it is not lived. It has to be

applied not only to life, but to the whole of life; its spirit has

to enter into and mould our society, our politics, our literature,

our science, our individual character, affections and aspirations.

To understand the heart of this dharma, to experience it as a

truth, to feel the high emotions to which it rises and to express

and execute it in life is what we understand by Karmayoga. We

believe that it is to make the yoga the ideal of human life that

India rises today; by the yoga she will get the strength to realise

her freedom, unity and greatness, by the yoga she will keep the

strength to preserve it. It is a spiritual revolution we foresee and

the material is only its shadow and reflex.

The European sets great store by machinery. He seeks to

renovate humanity by schemes of society and systems of government;

he hopes to bring about the millennium by an act of

Parliament. Machinery is of great importance, but only as a

working means for the spirit within, the force behind. The nineteenth

century in India aspired to political emancipation, social

renovation, religious vision and rebirth, but it failed because

it adopted Western motives and methods, ignored the spirit,

history and destiny of our race and thought that by taking over

European education, European machinery, European organisation

and equipment we should reproduce in ourselves European

prosperity, energy and progress. We of the twentieth century

reject the aims, ideals and methods of the Anglicised nineteenth

precisely because we accept its experience. We refuse to make

an idol of the present; we look before and after, backward to the

mighty history of our race, forward to the grandiose destiny for

which that history has prepared it.

We do not believe that our political salvation can be attained

by enlargement of Councils, introduction of the elective principle,

colonial self-government or any other formula of European

politics. We do not deny the use of some of these things as

instruments, as weapons in a political struggle, but we deny

their sufficiency whether as instruments or ideals and look beyond

to an end which they do not serve except in a trifling

degree. They might be sufficient if it were our ultimate destiny

to be an outlying province of the British Empire or a dependent

adjunct of European civilisation. That is a future which

we do not think it worth making any sacrifice to accomplish.

We believe on the other hand that India is destined to work

out her own independent life and civilisation, to stand in the

forefront of the world and solve the political, social, economical

and moral problems which Europe has failed to solve, yet the

pursuit of whose solution and the feverish passage in that pursuit

from experiment to experiment, from failure to failure she calls

her progress. Our means must be as great as our ends and the

strength to discover and use the means so as to attain the end

can only be found by seeking the eternal source of strength in


We do not believe that by changing the machinery so as to

make our society the ape of Europe we shall effect social renovation.

Widow-remarriage, substitution of class for caste, adult

marriage, intermarriages, interdining and the other nostrums

of the social reformer are mechanical changes which, whatever

their merits or demerits, cannot by themselves save the soul of

the nation alive or stay the course of degradation and decline.

It is the spirit alone that saves, and only by becoming great and

free in heart can we become socially and politically great and


We do not believe that by multiplying new sects limited

within the narrower and inferior ideas of religion imported from

theWest or by creating organisations for the perpetuation of the

mere dress and body of Hinduism we can recover our spiritual

health, energy and greatness. The world moves through an indispensable

interregnum of free thought and materialism to a new

synthesis of religious thought and experience, a new religious

world-life free from intolerance, yet full of faith and fervour,

accepting all forms of religion because it has an unshakable

faith in the One. The religion which embraces Science and faith,

Theism, Christianity, Mahomedanism and Buddhism and yet is

none of these, is that to which the World-Spirit moves. In our

own, which is the most sceptical and the most believing of all,

the most sceptical because it has questioned and experimented

the most, the most believing because it has the deepest experience

and the most varied and positive spiritual knowledge,—

that wider Hinduism which is not a dogma or combination of

dogmas but a law of life, which is not a social framework but

the spirit of a past and future social evolution, which rejects

nothing but insists on testing and experiencing everything and

when tested and experienced turning it to the soul’s uses, in this

Hinduism we find the basis of the future world-religion. This

sanatana dharma has many scriptures, Veda, Vedanta, Gita,

Upanishad, Darshana, Purana, Tantra, nor could it reject the

Bible or the Koran; but its real, most authoritative scripture is in

the heart in which the Eternal has His dwelling. It is in our inner

spiritual experiences that we shall find the proof and source of

the world’s Scriptures, the law of knowledge, love and conduct,

the basis and inspiration of Karmayoga.

Our aim will therefore be to help in building up India for the

sake of humanity—this is the spirit of the Nationalism which

we profess and follow.We say to humanity, “The time has come

when you must take the great step and rise out of a material

existence into the higher, deeper and wider life towards which

humanity moves. The problems which have troubled mankind

can only be solved by conquering the kingdom within, not by

harnessing the forces of Nature to the service of comfort and

luxury, but by mastering the forces of the intellect and the spirit,

by vindicating the freedom of man within as well as without

and by conquering from within external Nature. For that work

the resurgence of Asia is necessary, therefore Asia rises. For that

work the freedom and greatness of India is essential, therefore

she claims her destined freedom and greatness, and it is to the

interest of all humanity, not excluding England, that she should

wholly establish her claim.”

We say to the nation, “It is God’s will that we should be

ourselves and not Europe. We have sought to regain life by

following the law of another being than our own. We must

return and seek the sources of life and strength within ourselves.

We must know our past and recover it for the purposes of our

future. Our business is to realise ourselves first and to mould

everything to the law of India’s eternal life and nature. It will

therefore be the object of the Karmayogin to read the heart of

our religion, our society, our philosophy, politics, literature, art,

jurisprudence, science, thought, everything that was and is ours,

so that we may be able to say to ourselves and our nation, ‘This

is our dharma.’ We shall review European civilisation entirely

from the standpoint of Indian thought and knowledge and seek

to throw off from us the dominating stamp of the Occident;

what we have to take from the West we shall take as Indians.

And the dharma once discovered we shall strive our utmost not

only to profess but to live, in our individual actions, in our social

life, in our political endeavours.”

We say to the individual and especially to the young who are

now arising to do India’s work, the world’s work, God’s work,

“You cannot cherish these ideals, still less can you fulfil them if

you subject your minds to European ideas or look at life from the

material standpoint. Materially you are nothing, spiritually you

are everything. It is only the Indian who can believe everything,

dare everything, sacrifice everything. First therefore become Indians.

Recover the patrimony of your forefathers. Recover the

Aryan thought, the Aryan discipline, the Aryan character, the

28 Karmayogin, 19 June 1909

Aryan life. Recover the Vedanta, the Gita, the Yoga. Recover

them not only in intellect or sentiment but in your lives. Live

them and you will be great and strong, mighty, invincible and

fearless. Neither life nor death will have any terrors for you.

Difficulty and impossibility will vanish from your vocabularies.

For it is in the spirit that strength is eternal and you must win

back the kingdom of yourselves, the inner Swaraj, before you can

win back your outer empire. There the Mother dwells and She

waits for worship that She may give strength. Believe in Her,

serve Her, lose your wills in Hers, your egoism in the greater

ego of the country, your separate selfishness in the service of

humanity. Recover the source of all strength in yourselves and

all else will be added to you, social soundness, intellectual preeminence,

political freedom, the mastery of human thought, the

hegemony of the world.”





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