It is a good thing that I’ve taken up this Hindu Capitalism project. It is not only taking me back to my roots (which is not necessarily a good thing – let's see what comes out of it!) but providing me with dramatically opposing evidence to what is commonly known.
Like all things (e.g. the "received" view), critical questioning is leading to new answers.
The views about India held by Marx, Weber, and western "economic historians" such as Rondo Cameron were really wrong. Even Gregory Clark in his recent A Farewell to Alms shows shocking ignorance about India [yet his UC Davis website says that he specialises in Indian economic history].
But Indians should know better. Particularly those who have been writing about so-called "Vedic socialism".
I am now of the view that advocates of “Vedic socialism” are seriously misguided. They were trying to "fit" the Vedas into the mould of socialism popularised by Nehru. Everyone wanted to be a socialist. It was a fashion. So they distorted Hinduism to "fit" socialism.
Not just Arthashastra (which is based on the Hindu way of thinking) but the Vedas seem to be very clear about an intrinsic capitalist framework.
I was browsing through a recent (2003) article by M.V. Nadkarni and something caught my eye.
Rg Veda emphasises equality of all human beings. It goes to the extent of saying, which sounds quite modern: 'No one is superior, none inferior. All are brothers marching forward to prosperity.Reference: The Sanskrit original is 'Ajyestliaso akanishthaso ete sambhrataro vahaduhu saubhagaya' (Rg Veda V 60.5). Translation and original from K T Pandurangi (1999, second edn) — Indian Thought on Human Values, Bangalore: Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, p 3. [Btw, I agree with the translation. It uses a key word that is common in Hindi even today: Saubhaghya. That represents prosperity in the most general sense.]Source: Nadkarni’s article: "Is Caste System Intrinsic to Hinduism? Demolishing a Myth", Economic and Political Weekly, Vol. 38, No. 45 (Nov. 8-14, 2003), pp. 4783-4793.
This demonstrates religious approval of equality and wealth. And confirms the theoretical foundations of Hindu capitalism.
Whether such foundations were realized in practice is a different issue. One thing is clear: there is NO evidence that Hinduism was a) other-worldly or b) glorified the state (collective) at the expense of the individual.
Hinduism and socialism (or "other-worldliness") are poles apart.
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