Hinduism loves markets – socialism and central authorities are sacrilege

CULTURE / Friday, December 27th, 2019

By Harsh Vora on Aryatva

Capitalism is about the individual. It recognizes the fact that a group is comprised of individuals who are anything but similar in nature. All policies must therefore be built by keeping individual rights in mind.

Since everyone of us is fundamentally different, capitalism allows us to act in accordance with our likes, dislikes, attitudes, beliefs, disbelief(s), tastes, and preferences. Bans or “fatwas” have no place in capitalism.

In this sense, capitalism is equivalent to freedom – freedom of an individual to pursue his own interest rather than conforming to the group as a whole. Please don’t get me wrong. Group is important, but only to the extent that it allows us to reach our desired end. Most companies, for example, are realizing the fact that individuals in a team only perform their best when they are provided autonomy and independence. The more control a superior wields on his subordinates, the less productivity he yields from them. Innovation only happens in a free, decentralized environment.

Does that mean we should be completely free, even free to harm others? A key principle of capitalism is accountability. No freedom is possible without it. We all are accountable for our actions. Freedom cannot be protected if criminals are allowed to roam free. They must be incarcerated and brought to justice.

Also, please note that capitalism ≠ crony capitalism. Crony capitalism (also referred to as corporatism) is the evil nexus between government and big businesses. Capitalism, on the other hand, ensures healthy competition. It makes sure even small businesses are given equal opportunities to compete through tax breaks, privatization, few regulations, enforcement of property rights, economic freedom, etc. so big businesses don’t thrive on political favors.

Hinduism, too, is about the individual. Like capitalism, it recognizes the fact that each of us is in a different phase of life and spiritual development and hence cannot be confined to a prescribed set of “commandments” which must be applied collectively. This individual freedom to pursue our own path depending on our personal suitability is one reason why we presently have so many sects, each interpreting Vedas according to their founder’s personal experience of Vedic knowledge. In other words, individual freedom has allowed Hinduism to become a bubbling cauldron of world-class philosophical ideas.

Vedas are the central books of wisdom in Hinduism. All existing sects today owe their basis to these books. And yet, they contain general principles (not strict rules or even history) for living a noble life. Most importantly, Vedas grant us the freedom to accept or reject their claims. Each of us is free to experiment. Free to question. Free to dissent in a dignified way. One one hand, we have had several theistic saints while on the other hand, we have also had the Hindu atheist Charvaka and also Buddha, the man who severely questioned (in a dignified manner) established contemporary interpretations of Vedic knowledge. It is this freedom that has allowed Hinduism to retain its robustness. And it is this freedom that we must protect.

Anyone who has even remotely studied Hinduism knows that we do not have a strict hierarchical system as found in most Abrahamic religions. Hinduism is antithetical to authority. It is antithetical to centralization. It acknowledges the fact that each individual soul is a repository of knowledge and power. And hence, all power in the hands of a few select individuals is to be abhorred.

Hinduism is based on merit. Through acquiring right knowledge and realisation, we must become rishis ourselves. We need not blindly follow anyone. As Vivekananda said, “You must not merely learn what the Rishis taught. Those Rishis are gone, and their opinions are also gone with them. You must be Rishis yourselves.”

In summary, elements such as individual liberty, decentralization, merit-based system and so forth are fundamental to Hindu philosophy which makes it perfectly compatible with capitalism. Socialism, on the other hand, is sacrilege. It represses individual potential and creates an unending cycle of poverty now seen in India and hence totally opposed to Hindu philosophy.

We would love to hear your thoughts on this