Enlightened Reformation

The depth of the Indic civilization is awe inspiring when you consider that it has been around for many thousands of years. The Vedas were composed long before the start of the Common Era. The people of India can claim direct lineage to those who composed the Vedas and the Upanishads. The Rig Veda epitomizes in one of its invocations what I am concerned about: adoption of ideas.

Let noble thoughts come to us from all universe.

The puzzle therefore is why has modern day India been so insular and close-minded? (By modern day I mean the last few centuries, and not the period variously called ‘internet era’ or ‘post-industrial era’.) Other countries appear to have become enlightened in that regard.

(Talking of enlightenment, the most well-known enlightenment appears to have happened in India about 2500 years ago. The fall-out of that event radiated from India to other lands but vanished from ground zero almost without a trace. Fortunately, the echoes from far-off lands can now be heard in India. Given enough time, once again that enlightenment will be back home in India.)

Consider, for instance, the Meiji Restoration:

The Tokugawa bakufu came to an official end on November 9th, 1867 with the resignation of the 15th Tokugawa Shogun Tokugawa Yoshinobu and the “restoration” (Taisei Houkan) of imperial rule. The 15-year-old Mutsuhito succeeded his father, Emperor Komei, and the following year took the reign name Meiji (明治) or “enlightened rule,” and signed the Five Charter Oath.

What was the Five Charter Oath?

The Five charter oath (Gokajyo no Goseimon) was an outline of the main aims and the course of action to be followed by the new Meiji era government of Japan after the fall of the Tokugawa Shogunate in 1867 during the Meiji Restoration. The oath set a new path in Japanese history with an emphasis on modernization and the establishment of a new social structure.

I draw your attention to the fifth oath which read:

“Knowledge shall be sought throughout the world so as to strengthen the foundation of Imperial Rule.”

That, ladies and gentlemen, is what transformed Japan and made it strong enough to dream of world domination and to ultimately grow so economically powerful that the US was forced for the first time after the Second World War to do some very urgent soul-searching.

The successes of the Meiji Reformation can be traced ultimately to their thirst for knowledge and understanding from around the world. They used ‘noble thoughts’ from all universe to learn and then out-do what others had done. They adopted and adapted to the modern world — a world that they indeed helped create at least in part.

It is time for India to have a reformation of its own. It has to have enlightened rule if it is to survive. There is no other way.