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The Basic Principle Of Common Man

Updated: January 30, 2010 10:57 am

The drop and the ocean have been related since ancient times. Likewise, the body and the universe have been deemed to be related in Philosophy. In simple language we can use the terms man and the world. The latter is a totality comprising not only man but also other beings and material objects.

Every man is related to the world. In order to understand a single individual the whole world will have to be understood and vice versa. They are so internally related and interactive that one cannot be interpreted without the other. Even if an atom is to be understood, the whole world will have to be understood. Mahavira said, “He who knows one, knows all and he who knows all, knows every one.” No one can be known without knowing all. Externally, all appear separate, but internally all are interrelated. I have a piece of cloth in my hand. Even though very small, it is related to the whole world. Space is associated with it, which is related to another part and that to the third and so on. It is a whole series. A quiver in this piece of cloth creates vibrations in the whole world.

If we interpret man for our own convenience, for making right individuals and the right world, for making conduct and behaviour right, it implies the development of individual consciousness. If we interpret the world, it will imply the development of group or collective consciousness. Every man’s consciousness needs two dimensions. Anuvrat is the principle of the development of individual consciousness. Fraud and deceit prevail and many problems arise where group consciousness is sought to be developed without first developing individual consciousness.

Political ideologues tried to develop socialism and communism. The motive was not bad; in fact it was sublime and compassionate. But one thing was forgotten. They tried to develop collective or group consciousness and forgot to look after individual consciousness. As a result, the noble aim sought was defeated, purity was lost, fraudulence and deceit went on flourishing and the rot spread to the whole society.

Development of individual consciousness is vitally important. Anuvrat’s code of conduct is a code to develop individual consciousness. It is said that anuvrat does not address itself to the development of group or social consciousness. Particularly people in western countries keep telling that while they are working for the good of society, we are doing it for the good of individuals. They wonder how the entire world can improve in a finite period of time if attention is directed to individuals. According to them, individuals would reform in one stroke once social consciousness is developed. It is a nice thought but impossible to translate into reality. Social consciousness will not awaken without being based on the purity of individual consciousness.

Let us recall the well-known story of a ruler who ordered that each individual subject had to drop a jug full of milk in the town’s empty pond that night so that the pond could be full of milk by next morning. The ruler visited the site in the morning and found the pond full of water. The reason was that each man had thought that after all his one jug of water would make no visible difference to the filling of the pond by milk. The result was that the pond got filled with water instead of milk.

The lesson to be drawn is that the level of thinking depends upon the level of individual consciousness.

Emperor Subhoga was going over the sea in his aerial chariot, which was being carried by 16,000 gods. One of the gods thought that when there were so many others carrying the chariot, nothing would happen if he opted out. Then one by one other gods also thought the same and as a result of that collective thinking all the 16,000 gods withdrew their support to the aerial chariot and it fell into the sea.

The making of a good man and of a good world cannot be conceived until collective consciousness gets the basic support of individual consciousness. The basic principle of anuvrat has been to make individual consciousness so pure that the edifice of social consciousness may be erected on its basis. For any mansion to be big and strong there has to be a strong foundation. Anuvrat is the basic support on which a pure social consciousness can be developed.

No society can function that does not have a tradition of nonviolence. If we glance at social history we find that society was formed only on the basis of nonviolence. Primitive man who lived in the jungle was uncultured. He lived in isolation. But once man came out of the jungle and began forming groups in villages or small towns, he had to enter into a social contract. It was based on reciprocity. No one shall trouble anyone else. All shall live together, cooperate with one another and shall not harm one another. Society was formed on the basis of the above contract.

(As told to Lalit Garg)

By Acharya Mahaprajna

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