Integral humanism (India)

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Integral humanism is a set of concepts developed by Deendayal Upadhyaya and adopted by the Jana Sangh in 1965 as its official doctrine.[1] It contains visions organized around two themes: morality in politics and swadeshi, and small-scale industrialization in economies, all Gandhian in their general thematic but distinctly Hindu nationalist. These notions revolve around the basic themes of harmony, primacy of cultural-national values, and discipline. According to Upadhyaya, the primary concern in India must be to develop an indigenous economic model that puts the human being at center stage.[2] It is also the official philosophy of the Bharatiya Janata Party.[3][4]

It is opposed to both western capitalist individualism and Marxist socialism, though welcoming to western science.[5] It seeks a middle ground between capitalism and socialism, evaluating both systems on their respective merits, while being critical of their excesses and alienness.[6]

foundation in advaita[edit]

Upadhyaya claimed that Integral Humanism followed the tradition of advaita developed by Adi Sankara. Non-dualism represented the unifying principle of every object in the universe, and of which humankind was a part. This, claimed Upadhyaya, was the essence and contribution of Indian culture.[7]

Four objectives of humankind[edit]

Humankind, according to Upadhyaya, had four hierarchically organized attributes of body, mind, intellect and soul which corresponded to four universal objectives, kama (desire or satisfaction), artha (wealth), dharma (moral duties) and moksha (total liberation or 'salvation'). While none could be ignored, dharma is the 'basic', and moksha the 'ultimate' objective of humankind and society. He claimed that the problem with both capitalist and socialist ideologies is that they only consider the needs of body and mind, and were hence based on the materialist objectives of desire and wealth. Upadhyaya rejected social systems in which individualism 'reigned supreme'. He also rejected communism in which individualism was 'crushed' as part of a 'large heartless machine'. Society, according to Upadhyaya, rather than arising from a social contract between individuals, was fully born at its inception itself as a natural living organism with a definitive 'national soul' or 'ethos' and its needs of the social organism paralleled those of the individual.[8]

Similarity to Gandhi's vision of future India[edit]

Integral humanism is almost an exact paraphrase of Gandhi's vision of a future India. Both seek a distinctive path for India, both reject the materialism of socialism and capitalism alike, both reject the individualism of modern society in favor of a holistic, varna-dharma based community, both insist upon an infusion of religious and moral values in politics, and both seek a culturally authentic mode of modernization that preserves Hindu values.[9]

Contrast with Nehruvian economic policies[edit]

Upadhyaya rejects Nehruvian economic policies and industrialization on the grounds that they were borrowed uncritically from the West, in disregard of the cultural and spiritual heritage of the country. There is a need, according to Upadhyaya, to strike a balance between the Indian and Western thinking in view of the dynamic nature of the society and the cultural heritage of the country. The Nehruvian model of economic development, emphasizing the increase of material wealth through rapid industrialization, promoted consumerism in Indian society. Not only has this ideology of development created social disparities and regional imbalances in economic growth, but it has failed to alleviate poverty in the country. The philosophy of Integral Humanism, like Gandhism, opposes unbridled consumerism, since such an ideology is alien to Indian culture. This traditional culture stresses putting restraints on one's desires and advocates contentment rather than ruthless pursuit of material wealth.[10]

Gandhi's Integral Humanism[edit]

According to Geeta S. Mehta, Gandhi's integral humanism is indicated by his enumerated seven social sins: (1) politics without principles; (2) wealth without work; (3) commerce without morality; (4) knowledge without character; (5) pleasure without conscience; (6) science without morality; and (7) worship without sacrifice.[11]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Hansen 1999, p. 84.
  2. ^ Hansen 1999, p. 85.
  3. ^ Koertge 2005, p. 229.
  4. ^ Marty 1993, p. 418.
  5. ^ Gosling 2001, p. 124.
  6. ^ treault 2004, p. 122.
  7. ^ Bhatt 2001, p. 154-155.
  8. ^ Bhatt 2001, p. 155.
  9. ^ Nanda 2003, p. 217.
  10. ^ Malik 1994, p. 16.
  11. ^ Mehta, Geeta S. "The Integral Humanism of Mahatma". Retrieved 13 July 2014. 



  • Gosling, David (2001). Religion and ecology in India and southeast Asia. London New York: Routledge. ISBN 0415240301. 
  • Hansen, Thomas (1999). The saffron wave : democracy and Hindu nationalism in modern India. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. ISBN 0691006717. 
  • Bhatt, Chetan (2001). Hindu nationalism origins, ideologies, and modern myths. Oxford New York: Berg. ISBN 1859733433. 
  • Nanda, Meera (2003). Prophets facing backward postmodern critiques of science and Hindu nationalism in India. New Brunswick, N.J: Rutgers University Press. ISBN 0813533570. 
  • Malik, Yogendra (1994). Hindu nationalists in India : the rise of the Bharatiya Janata Party. Boulder: Westview Press. ISBN 0813388104. 
  • treault, Mary (2004). Gods, guns, and globalization : religious radicalism and international political economy. Boulder, Colo: Lynne Rienner Publishers. ISBN 1-58826-253-7. 
  • Marty, Martin (1993). Fundamentalisms and the state : remaking polities, economies, and militance. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. ISBN 978-0-226-50884-9. 
  • Koertge, Noretta (2005). Scientific values and civic virtues. Oxford New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-517224-9. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Two Extracts from Integral Humanism from Jaffrelot, Christophe (2007). Hindu nationalism a reader (in Czech). Princeton, N.J: Princeton University Press. ISBN 0-691-13097-3. 

External links[edit]