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ISSN: 2278 – 2168

Milestone Education Review


(The Journal of Ideas on Educational & Social
Transformation)
Year 09, No.01 (April, 2018)

Chief-Editor:
Desh Raj Sirswal

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Milestone Education Review (2278-2168)

Milestone Education Review (The Journal of Ideas on Educational & Social


Transformation) is an online peer-reviewed bi-annual journal of Milestone
Education Society (Regd.) Pehowa (Kurukshetra). For us education refers to any act
or experience that has a formative effect on the mind, character, or physical ability
of an individual. The role of education must be as an instrument of social change and
social transformation. Social transformation refers to large scale of social change as
in cultural reforms and transformations. The first occurs with the individual, the
second with the social system. This journal offers an opportunity to all academicians
including educationist, social-scientists, philosophers and social activities to share
their views. Each issue contains about 100 pages.

© Milestone Education Society (Regd.), Pehowa (Kurukshetra)

Chief-Editor: Dr. Desh Raj Sirswal, Assistant Professor (Philosophy), Smt.Aruna


Asaf Ali Govt. P.G.College, Kalka (Panchkula).

Guest-Editor: Mr. Devdas Saket, Research Scholar, Department of Philosophy,


Vikram University, Ujjain (M.P.).

Associate Editors: Dr. Merina Islam, Dr. Poonama Verma

Editorial Advisory Board:

Prof. K.K. Sharma (Former-Pro-Vice-Chancellor, NEHU, Shillong).

Prof. (Dr.) Sohan Raj Tater (Former Vice Chancellor, Singhania University, Rajasthan).

Dr. Dinesh Chahal (Department of Education, Central University of Haryana).

Dr. Manoj Kumar, (P.G. Department of Sociology, P.G.Govt. College for Girls, Sector-11, Chandigarh.)

Dr. Sudhir Baweja (University School of Open Learning,, Panjab University, Chandigarh).

Dr. K. Victor Babu (Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies, Andhra University,
Visakhapatnam).

Dr. Nidhi Verma (Department of Psychology, C.R.S. University, Jind (Haryana).

Dr. Jayadev Sahoo (Jr. Lecturer in Logic & Philosophy, GM Jr. College, Sambalpur, Odisha).

Declaration: The opinions expressed in the articles of this journal are those of the individual authors, and
not necessary of those of the Society or the Editor. Front page picture is downloaded from the Internet.

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In this issue………..

Title & Author Page No.

A Re – examination of the Śāstras in Dr. 04-18

Ambedkar‘s Way- Shubhra Jyoti Das

Dr. B.R. Ambedkar: A Modern Indian 19-31

Philosopher- Desh Raj Sirswal

Dialectical Materialism- Shikha Kumari 32-43

Role of Materialism in Economic 44-56

Development of India- Kiran Gupta

Position of Indian Materialism on World 57-68

Map- Nidhi Sharma

CONTRIBUTORS OF THIS ISSUE 69

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A Re – examination of the Śāstras in Dr. Ambedkar’s Way

Shubhra Jyoti Das

Abstract

Many of the scriptures present a great challenge to the reader, by stating almost

contradictory prescriptions together. It turns almost impossible to decipher meaning or

make sense of the texts. One such scripture is Manusmṛti. Many people have tried to

explain such situations in many ways. Some have resorted to symbolism and some to

poetics. Dr. Ambedkar, through his analysis of the Puruṣa Sukta, has pointed to the

polymorphous character of the texts. The paper attempts to employ the instrument

provided by Dr. Ambedkar in order to explain the contradictions present in Manu. It also

claims that neither of the two extreme views on the scriptures viz., 1. That the scriptures

are sanctified under śabda and so they are unquestionable and 2.That all these scriptures

are meaningless since they represent contradictory, is healthy. We need to develop a

more balanced view towards the ancient manuscripts and Dr. Ambedkar provides us the

clue as to how to get the best out of the scriptures.

Key Words: contradiction, comprehension, polymorphous, balance.

Introduction

Scriptures have been highly instrumental in building the fabric of Indian Social life. Since

religion and philosophy gets mixed in a virtually inseparable manner in the said context,

the most important source that we can refer to, as and when we try to understand the

genesis of any custom or practice, are the scriptures only. This has been further

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complicated, as they have been sanctified under the category of the śabda pramāna, in

Indian philosophy. Otherwise also, there are a variety of reasons why it is difficult to

make sense of these texts. Thus it turns indispensible to create a framework first, in order

to make sense of the texts, before one really gets into the reading of the manuscripts. Of

course, there are many dimensions of looking at them. Paul Tillich, for instance, argued

for a symbolic character of religious language1. This kind of awareness helps us to read

the scriptures better. Many more such dimensions could be added to get enhanced

comprehension. In order to highlight Dr. B.R. Ambedkar‘s contribution in this regard and

evaluate its utility, let us take the instance of Manusmṛti and find out at least one of the

problems it presents to its readers in general.

The case of the Manusmṛti

Though the chronology of the Manusmṛti, can be debated intensely and an exact date of

its composition seems unlikely to get located, it appears to have been one of the oldest

sources of laws in the domain of Hindu Religious life. The eighteen ‗Titles of Law‘ or

‗Grounds for Litigation‘ make up for more than one fifth of the work which deal

primarily with matters of the king, state and judicial procedure. There might be a gap

between this appearance and reality since to what extent was the ‗ought‘ of the

prescriptions were materialized is, as a matter of fact, an area of investigation. But the

cultural history of the śudras and women‘s conditions, particularly in Hindu religion,

definitely indicates its impacts.

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The bigoted face of the text, in the discourse of gender, gets unfolded in the fifth chapter

when it reads, ―By a girl, by a young women, or even by an aged one, nothing must be

done independently, even in her own house.‖2 This gets auxiliary push when the assertion

is put as, ―In childhood a female must be subject to her father, in youth to her husband,

when her lord is dead to her sons; a woman must never be independent.‖3 The biasness

seems to reach its culmination when the exposition comes as, ―Though destitute of virtue

or seeking pleasure (elsewhere), or devoid of good qualities, (yet) a husband must be

constantly worshipped as a god by a faithful wife.‖4 Further adding, ―At her pleasure, let

her emaciate her body by (living on) pure flowers, roots and fruit; but she must never

even mention the name of another man after her husband has died.‖5

This apart, many other verses present in the text, designated as the source of Hindu code

of Law, gives us a very dismal impression of the position of women in the religion. No

rational mind, be it male or female, can appreciate this view on woman; a view which is

based on prejudices about the nature and abilities of the set and places it in a position

which is humiliating vis – a – vis the other in the sphere. This kind of a passage can‘t

serve the purpose of acting as the soil for formulation of any sort of regulation.

But that is not the only face of the manuscript. There are verses like, ―Women must be

honoured and adorned by their fathers, brothers, husbands and brother – in – laws who

desire (their own) welfare‖6 and ― Where women are honoured, there the gods are

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pleased. But where they are not honoured, no sacred rite yields rewards‖7 This is

additionally substantiated by the affirmation like, ―Where the female relations live in

grief, the family soon wholly perishes, but that family where they are not unhappy ever

prospers,‖8 and ―The houses in which female relations, not being duly honoured,

pronounce a curse, perish completely, as if destroyed by magic‖9.

Therefore Manu prescribes, ―Hence men who seek (their own) welfare should always

honour women on holidays and festivals with gift of ornaments, cloths and (dainty)

food‖10 and coming close to the principle of equality declares, ―In that family where the

husband is pleased with his wife and the wife with her husband happiness will assuredly

be lasting.‖11 Now, how to understand and explain such apparent contradiction found in

the same text is definitely a challenge for a common reader. How can the same writer

prescribe both humiliation and veneration for the same set of people at the same time?

For this purpose we shall turn to Dr. Ambedkar‘s analysis of Puruṣa sukta and try to read

the implications.

Dr. Ambedkar’s analysis of Puruṣa Sukta

One such inconsistency was pointed out by Dr. Ambedkar as regards the position of

Puruṣa Sukta in the Ṛg Veda. This hymn talks about the theory of the creation of this

Universe and as such can be called a kind of cosmogony. According to him, this famous

sukta, which talks about the origin of the four castes, was a later addition to the text.

Some of the arguments that he presents, in favour of this position are as follows –

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The sukta reads,

1. Puruṣa has a thousand heads, a thousand eyes, a thousand feet. On every side

enveloping the earth he overpassed (it) by a space of ten fingers.

2. Puruṣa himself is this whole (universe), Whatever has been and whatever shall

be. He is the Lord of immortality, since (or when) by food he expands.

3. Such is his greatness, and Puruṣa is superior to this. All existences are a quarter

to him; and three-fourths of him are that which is immortal in the sky.

4. With three-quarters, Puruṣa mounted upwards. A quarter of him was again

produced here. He was then diffused everywhere over things which eat and things

which do not eat.

5. From him was born Virāj, and from Virāj, Puruṣa. When born, he extended

beyond the earth, both behind and before.

6. When the gods performed a sacrifice with Puruṣa as the oblation, the spring was

its butter, the summer its fuel, and the autumn its (accompanying) offering.

7. This victim, Puruṣa, born in the beginning, they immolated on the sacrificial

grass. With him the gods, the Sadhyas, and the ṛśis sacrificed.

8. From that universal sacrifice were provided curds and butter. It formed those

aerial (creatures) and animals both wild and tame.

9. From that universal sacrifice sprang the ṛk and sāman verses, the metres and the

yajus.

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10. From it sprang horses, and all animals with two rows of teeth; kine sprang from it;

from it goats and sheep.

11. When (the gods) divided Puruṣa, into how many parts did they cut him up? What

was his mouth? What arms (had he)? What (two objects) are said (to have been) his

thighs and feet?

12. The Brāhmana was his mouth, the Rājanya was made his arms; the being called

the Vaiṣya, he was his thighs; the śudra sprang from his feet.

13. The moon sprang from his soul (manas), the sun from the eye, Indra and Agni

from his mouth and Vāyu from his breath.

14. From his navel arose the air, from his head the sky, from his feet the earth, from

his ear the (four) quarters; in this manner (the gods) formed the worlds.

15. When the gods, performing sacrifices, bound Puruṣa as a victim, there were seven

sticks (stuck up) for it (around the fire), and thrice seven pieces of fuel were made.

16. With sacrifices the gods performed the sacrifice. These were the earliest rites.

These great powers have sought the sky, where are the former Sadhyas, gods."

A) According to Dr. Ambedkar, the cosmogony which began with the exposition of the

creation of animals like donkey, horse, goat etc. suddenly breaks into the origin of

the four castes in the eleventh and the twelfth verse, without even talking about the

creation of man. In doing so, it not only stands in contrast with the other

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cosmogonies present in other mythological text but also with the other parts of the

Ṛg Veda.

B) Further, in addition to Puruṣa Sukta, there are other places where the text talks about

the genesis of the universe. For instance, Rig Veda, i.96.2 reads, ―By the first nivid,

by the wisdom of Ᾱyu, he (Agni) created these children of men; by his gleaming light

the earth and the waters, the gods sustained Agni the giver of the riches.‖ This

portion talks about the creation of man. Dr. Ambedkar raises the question as to what

is the reason behind this part‘s not raising the issue of four classes. Whereas, since by

the time of the Ṛg Veda the society had already been differentiated into classes, this

was a more appropriate place to mention the same.

C) There is another passage in the Ṛg Veda, the 72nd hymn of the tenth maṇdala, which

gives one more cosmogony. It goes like –

1. Let us proclaim with a clear voice of the generation of the gods (the divine

company), who, when their praises are recited, look (favourably on the worshipper)

in this latter age.

2. Brahmanaspati filled these (generations of the gods) with breath as a blacksmith

(his bellows); in the first age of the gods the existent was born of the non-existent.

3. In the first age of the gods the existent was born of the non-existent; after that the

quarters (of the horizon) were born, and after them the upward-growing (trees).

4. The earth was born from the upward growing (tree), the quarters were born from

the earth; Daksha was born from Aditi and afterwards Aditi from Daksha.

5. Aditi, who was thy daughter, Daksha, was born; after her, the gods were born,

adorable, freed from the bonds of death.

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6. When, gods, you abode in this pool well-arranged, then a pungent dust went forth

from you as if you were dancing.

7. When, gods, you Filled the worlds (with your radiance) as clouds (fill the earth

with rain) then you brought fourth the sun hidden in the ocean.

8. Eight sons (there were) of Aditi who were born from her body; she approached

the gods with seven, she sent forth Mārtanda on high.

9. With seven sons Aditi went to a former generation, but she bore Mārtanda for the

birth and death (of human beings).

Dr. Ambedkar claims that the two cosmogonies are fundamentally different in the

sense that the former describes Purusa as the genesis of everything whereas the later

expounds it ex nihilo. Thus he asks – why should the same text give two different

theories of creation?

A) Refereeing to Ṛg Veda 1.80.6, which reads, ―Prayers and hymns were formerly

congregated in that Indra, in the ceremony which Atharvan, father Manu, and

Dadhyanch celebrated‖; and adding 1.114.2 which goes like, ―Whatever prosperity

or succour father Manu obtained by sacrifice, may we gain all that under thy

guidance, Rudra‖, Ambedkar goes onto ask – though it is clear from the passages

that Aryan man accepted Manu as the father, why does Purusa sukta not mention

Manu at all in the cosmogony? According to him, the composers of sukta must be

aware of the fact that Manu is called virāj and virāj is adhi purusa.

B) In the verse 1.113.6, Ṛg Veda reads, ―That some may go in pursuit of power, some in

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pursuit of fame, some in pursuit of wealth, some in pursuit of work, Uṣas has

awakened people so that each may go in pursuit of his special and different way of

earning his livelihood.‖ Dr. Ambedkar points that the verse is clear enough to

indicate that vedic people were advanced enough to realize the necessity of division

of labour. Therefore Puruṣa sukta‘s stance of transforming division of labour to

‗division of workers‘ goes beyond the conceptual framework of the Ṛg Veda.

C) Five tribes have been accepted as the genesis of the Indo – Aryan nation in the Ṛg

Veda. Verse 6.2.4 reads, ―Agni, whom, abounding in oblations, the five tribes,

bringing offerings, honour with prostrations, as if he were a man‖. According to Dr.

Ambedkar there are differences about the names of the tribes. Nirukta of Yakśa,

gives the names as – Gandharvas, Devas, Pitṛs, Rākṣasas and Asuras.

Anupamanvaya refers to the four varṇas and the niśādas. But the question that he

raises is – Why does Puruṣa sukta not refer to these five tribes while telling the

genesis of the world.

In this way Dr. Ambedkar gives a series of arguments12 to prove that Puruṣa sukta was a

later addition to the Ṛg Veda. This gives us an indication of the polymorphous character

of the Ṛg Veda. If we take this as a potentiality, undoubtedly, the same possibility can be

applied as an apparatus understand all other scriptures at least of Hinduism.

Re examination of Manusmṛti

We can now apply the same tool to have a relook at the Manusmṛti. In addition to

portions already discussed, which represent the virtual opposite poles of the

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controversial text, there are parts in the text which goes like – It is the nature of women

to seduce men in this world; for that reason the wise are never unguarded in the company

of females, and – Women, true to their class character, are capable of leading astray men

in this world, not only a fool but even a learned and wise man. Both become slaves of

desire. They thereby call for a careful scrutiny.

This projection of feminine icon, as the source of distraction, thus may not necessarily be

signifier of an exclusionary outlook. The prescribed self – control from illicit indulgence,

abundantly present in entire domain of Indian cultural narratives, prompts the exerting

mind to formulate the terminologies containing the elements of the ‗other‘. The abstract,

as a matter of fact related to the substratum, in the process of articulation, acquires the

concrete rudiments of the non-self, which gets opened to a narrow interpretation.

Overlooking this facet would limit the hermeneutic possibilities.

The limitation of language, in this case, emerges to plays a vital role. The verbalization

achieved, from either of the side, is bound to have almost the same fallacy. This needs to

be decoded going beyond the symbols used by the author and shedding the baggage of

history, culture and confinements of Biology that these terminologies may carry along

with. A failure to do the same would result in the kind of perplexity which we come

across while rendering the meaning of the texts like Manu. Looking from the standpoint

of the ‗other‘ than the subject at stake, we come across such communication which can at

best be called symbols, borrowing from Paul Tillich, which participates in life, at least, of

the author. And therefore the instruction comes from Manu as, ―A Brāhman in order to

preserve his energy and intellect, must not look at women who applies collyrium to her

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eyes, one who is massaging her bare body or one who is delivering a child.‖13 with

preceding instruction like – Wise people should avoid sitting along with one‘s mother,

daughter or sister. Since carnal desire is always strong, it can lead to temptation.

In the ninth chapter we find, ―The husband, after conception by his wife, becomes an

embryo and is born again of her; for that is the wifehood of a wife (gaya). That he is born

(gayate) again by her.‖14 This comes closer to the Upaniṣadic recommendation for a male

to go beyond the carnal and transcend the earthly to enter the province of the non –

material after exploring procreativity. The conjugal life, not seen as a mere mode of

carnal pleasure in the Upaniṣadic framework, gets mirrored here.

The same chapter seems unwilling to deprive a female of her motherhood, inferably with

an impotent husband, when it says, ―On failure of the issue (by her husband) a woman

who has been authorized, may obtain (in the) proper (manner prescribed), the desired

offspring by (co habitation with) a brother – in – law or (with some other) sapinda (of the

husband).‖15 And adds that in accordance with established law, the sister-in-law must be

clad in white garments; with pure intent her brother-in-law will cohabitate with her until

she conceives. Here the text describes the wife of the elder brother as Guru to his younger

brother. This layer of protection seems to get extended to a widow, in a roundabout way,

when the text directs, ―He (who is) appointed to (cohabit with) the widow shall approach

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her at night, anointed with clarified butter and silent, (and) beget one son, by no means a

second.‖16

There are prescriptions of various kinds regarding the rules of marriage and issues related

to women. The text reads, ―Drinking (spirituous liquor), associating with wicked people,

separation from the husband, rambling abroad, sleeping (at unseasonable hours) and

dwelling in other men‘s houses, are the six causes of the ruin of women.‖17 And one has

been advised not to marry someone who does not enjoy respect in the society or does not

possess a defect – free body. If the dvijas i.e. the twice – born are advised not to go for an

inter – caste marriage, there are passages which also read like – in case a man from a

lower caste has conjugal terms with a woman from a higher caste, the person in question

is to be awarded the death sentence. And if a person satisfies his carnal desire with

women of his own caste, he should be asked to pay compensation to the women‘s faith.

These attempts to retain the superstructure of the society, given the context of the text,

though need not necessarily be extrapolated to the province of evil, points to the

degradation in the paradigm of jurisprudence. One of the major reasons for this

hypothesis is that we do not know at which exact point in time degeneration of the varṇa

– system, in the referred analysis, started getting distorted to a birth based caste – system.

Thus the ‗single – author‘ thesis, based on the prearranged structure of the text can, by

and large, been rejected.

15
Sir William Jones assigned Manusmṛiti to a period of 1250 BC. Karl Schlegel assigned it

to 1000 BC.18 In present form, some scholars have estimated to be anywhere between 200

BC and 200 AD whereas some have dated it to 5th century BC19. In his book Revolution

and Counter-Revolution in India, Dr. B. R. Ambedkar asserted that Manusmṛiti was

written by a person named Bhṛgu during the times of Pushyamitra of Sangha in

connection with social pressures caused by the rise of Buddhism. (Debates on Vedic and

Non – Vedic Origin).

Conclusion

From the above analysis we can conveniently draw at least one point – most of the

scriptures bear polymorphous character. It is very important not to declare them sacred

and unquestionable under the category of śabda pramāna. We have to be careful of the

other extreme as well. Scriptures are not merely poetic pieces of fictitious imagination.

They may contain useful and relevant inputs as well. Therefore a complete rejection

might deprive us of some ancient wisdom. Dr. Ambedkar‘s exposition gives us a

hermeneutic tool to understand many of the inner inconsistencies present in the texts and

appreciate the fact that these might not be products of a single mind and many things

might have been added and subtracted from these so called sacred texts. Modern Indians

suffer from the fallacy of one of these extreme kinds. Those who respect the scriptures

fall into pure dogmatism and those who do not culminate in pure condemnation. We need

to be careful while dealing with these manuscripts and Dr. Ambedkar certainly acts as a

luminary for all of us in this regard. His public immolation of Manusmṛiti might have

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been the need of the hour, but today we need to develop a more balanced approach in the

light of what he has left for us through his writings.

Notes and references

1
Jhon Hick, Philosophy of Religion (New Delhi: Prentice Hall of India, 2003), p85

2
―Manuṣmriti, (Tr. G. Buhler)‖, 5/ 147, p 33 accessed March 03 2018 http:

//www.sanskritdocument.org/ documents/ manusmriti.

3
Ibid., 5/148, p33

4
Ibid., 5/154, p34

5
Ibid., 5/ 157, p34

6
Ibid., 3/55, p 14

7
Ibid., 3/ 56, p 14

8
Ibid., 3/ 57, p14

9
Ibid., 3/58, p 14

10
Ibid., 3/ 59,p 14

11
Ibid., 3/ 60,p 14

12
Readers may refer to the chapter named ‗The riddle of the shudras‘ in the book Who

were the shudras in order to get the details of the other (sociological etc.) arguments Dr.

Ambedkar places to prove his claim.

17
13
Ibid., 4/44, p 22

14
Ibid.,9/8 p57

15
Ibid.,9/59 p58

16
Ibid.,9/60 p58

17
Ibid.,9/13 p57

18
W. W. Hunter, The Indian Empire: Its People, History and Products. (London:

Routledge, 2001) p.114.

19
Encyclopedia of Antislavery and Abolition, edited by Peter P. Hinks, John R.

McKivigan, R. Owen Williams, (New York: Greenwood Publishing Group, 2007) p.136

Bibliography

1. Dr. B. R. Ambedkar, Who were the shudras? (Bombay :Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan,

2000)

2. Encyclopedia of Antislavery and Abolition, edited by Peter P. Hinks, John R.

McKivigan, R. Owen Williams, (NewYork: Greenwood Publishing Group.

3. Encyclopedia of Antislavery and Abolition, edited by Peter P. Hinks, John R.

McKivigan, R. Owen Williams, (New York: Greenwood Publishing Group, 2007)

4. Jhon Hick, Philosophy of Religion (New Delhi: Prentice Hall of India, 2003)

5. Manuṣmriti, Tr. G. Buhler, accessed March 03 2018 http:

//www.sanskritdocument.org/ documents/ manusmriti.

6. W. W. Hunter, The Indian Empire: Its People, History and Products. (London:

Routledge, 2001)

18
Dr. B.R. Ambedkar: A Modern Indian Philosopher

Desh Raj Sirswal

Abstract

Dr. B.R. Ambedkar is one of the names who advocated to change social order of the age-

old tradition of suppression and humiliation. He was an intellectual, scholar, statesman

and contributed greatly in the nation building. He led a number of movements to

emancipate the downtrodden masses and to secure human rights to millions of depressed

classes. He has left an indelible imprint through his immense contribution in framing the

modern Constitution of free India. He stands as a symbol of struggle for achieving the

Social Justice. We can assign several roles to this great personality due to his life full

dedication towards his mission of eradicating evils from Indian society. The social evils

of Indian society, also neglected this great personality even in intellectual sphere too. The

so-called intellectuals of India not honestly discussed his contribution to Indian

intellectual heritage, rather what they discussed, also smells their biases towards a Dalit

literate and underestimated his great personality. This paper will attempt to discuss

important facts about life and a short description of the literature written by Dr. B.R.

Ambedkar. This is followed by discussion his philosophy in the five major sections i.e.

Feminism and women empowerment, philosophy of education, ideas on social justice and

equality, philosophy of politics and economics and philosophy of religion.

Key words: Indian social system, social equality, philosophy of religion, women

empowerment, Indian education.

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Introduction:

Dr. B. R. Ambedkar is one of the most eminent intellectual figures of modern India. He

appeared on the Indian socio-political scene in early 1920s and remained in the forefront

of all social, economic, political and religious efforts for upliftment of the lowest stratum

of the Indian society known as untouchables, women and other backward classes. He was

a great scholar who made outstanding contributions as an economist, sociologist, legal

luminary, educationist, journalist, parliamentarian and above all, as a social reformer and

champion of human rights. The complete works of Dr. B.R. Ambedkar published by the

Government of Maharastra and it has taken about 25 years to complete this initiative in

21 Volumes with the name, ―Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar: Writing and Speeches‖ and

covers 14000 pages. These 21 Volumes includes books published by Dr. B.R. Ambedkar

himself and unpublished writings and speeches too. While composing of the editorial

board constituted in 1978 was enlarged or altered in the subsequent years but Shri Vasant

Moon, OSD, the primary editor of the series continued to do the job till his sad demise in

April, 2002. As such, the volume 1 to 16 have the imprint of Shri Moon‘s editorship. the

17th volume was published in 2003. There are four more volumes planned in this series.

Of these, Volume 18 (in Three Parts, Pages 1978) has already been published. It contains

the speeches of Dr. Ambedkar in Marathi, the language of Maharashtra. The 19th Volume

will also be in Marathi, and it will contain Dr. Ambedkar‘s Correspondence , the last

volume, 21 will show ‗Dr. Ambedkar in Photographs.‖1 In the words of Trilochan Sing,

―Above all, Dr. Ambedkar is a philosopher. Those who read his books cannot be failed to

be impressed with steadfastness with which he pursues truth; and only those who have

20
dispassionately read his books can frame true estimate of the greatness of the man‖. We

will observe some important thoughts of Dr. B.R. Ambedkar, based on his writings.

1. Feminism and Women Empowerment

As the First Law Minister of India, Dr. Ambedkar for the first time tried to defend the

women of India specially the weaker sections in the form of Hindu Code Bill on 11th

April 1947. The Bill has the provisions for several basic rights to women. It attempted to

establish monogamy as the only legal system and abolish different marriage systems

prevalent among the Hindus. Its main aim was to ferment the right to property and

adoption of women. It provided for restitution of conjugal rights and judicial separation.

It sought to unite the Hindu Code with progressive and modern thought. This Bill invited

strong opposition from the Hindu Orthodoxy in post independent India in 1948 when

Hindu Code Bill was introduced in Parliament and debated on the floor of the House.

Ambedkar tried his level best to defend the Bill by pointing out the drawbacks of Indian

Society and arguing that the ideals in the Bill are based on the constitutional principle of

equality, liberty and fraternity. However the Bill could not withstand the opposition of

Hindu orthodoxy. Their major argument was that the Bill will demolish the entire

structure and fabric of Hindu Society. Finally in 1951 PM J. L. Nehru dropped the Bill by

saying that there was too much opposition. On this issue the then Law Minister resigned

for the cause of the disadvantaged.2

Dr. B.R. Ambedkar believed that women should have equal position with that of men in

the society. He was influenced by the views of Gautam Buddha on women. According to

Buddha women are one of the seven Treasures and a thing of supreme value. Dr.

21
Ambedkar blamed man for giving woman a degraded position in the society. Hence he

fought for giving justice to women. As a member of Bombay Legislative Council, Dr.

Ambedkar fought for the 'Maternity Benefit Bill' to recognize the dignity of women. In

his speech which Dr. Ambedkar delivered in D.C. Women's college of Amaravati in

1942, he said that he measured the progress of the community by the degree of progress

women had achieved. He asked the women to maintain hygiene, to educate themselves

and their children, and to overcome inferiority complex.3

2. Philosophy of Education

According to Dr. Ambedkar, education is that which make men fearless, teach unity,

make understand their birth right and teach man to struggle and fight for their freedom.

Education is a revolution. If education can‘t serve these purposes, then such education is

a dead one and better it should be burnt or set to fire. According to Dr. Ambedkar that is

not education which does not make capable, don‘t teach equality and morality, but the

true education is that which safeguards the interests of the humanity and provides bread,

knowledge and feelings of equality in the society. Time education really creates life in

the society. In the philosophy of Baba Saheb the place of self-respect and human pride

was the greatest and most important. He, to develop the qualities of justice, through

education wanted equality, brotherhood, freedom and fearlessness. He was in favour of

making education able to provide employment. This education brings stability in the

society. Good behavior upon reason and reason gets its due place due to education,

experience and interview.4

22
The whole education system, particularly at the earliest stages of primary and secondary

schools, needs to be oriented to democratic ethos, to needs of social engineering through

peaceful parliamentary means, to living together with fellow feeling for each other and in

harmony and mutual tolerance, and to inculcating a sense of social responsibility and

patriotism. In order to establish real, concrete and practical democracy, there is a need to

democratic education. It means restructuring of the entire educational system in keeping

with the spirit of democracy. Unless the schools develop as democratic institutions, the

development of democratic minds among pupils is not possible. Tolerance, impartiality

and respect for truth should be adopted first by the teachers and the parents and

plasticised by them in the classrooms and at homes, if they are to be adopted by pupils as

values in their lives.5

3. Ideas on Social Justice and Equality

Dr. Bhim Rao Ambedkar‘s contribution in shaping the modern India is remarkable. He

showed the way to millions of the downtrodden to a life of self respect, dignity and

responsibility. He always stressed spreading education as the only hope among dalits for

their upliftment in the society. He emphasized education as a key instrument of liberation

from oppression from Hindu caste-patriarchy structures and was the capable of

establishing a new social order. His interpretations about the origins of castism and

untouchability are not only rational and logical but are grounded in grass-roots reality of

which he himself was an integral part. Fundamental Rights and Directive Principles of

23
State Policy enshrined in the Indian Constitution is one of the greatest contributions of

Dr. Ambedkar to India. The establishment of Dr. Ambedkar Chair (Constitutional Law)

in Columbia University from where he learnt his lessons of social equality, liberty and

democracy under the guidance of reputed scholar Professor Dewey is a great and real

tribute to messiah of downtrodden.6

After independence Dr. Ambedkar became the First Law Minister of nation. He was

appointed as Chairman of the Constitution Drafting Committee by the Assembly to write

India's new constitution. The text prepared by Ambedkar provided constitutional

guarantees and protection for a wide range of civil liberties for individual citizens

including freedom of religion, the abolition of untouchability and outlawing all forms of

discrimination. He had a real visionary towards the fundamental rights of Indian citizens

and upliftment of Dalits.7

Dr. B. R. Ambedkar left an indelible mark on Indian polity, society and economy with a

broad range of scholarly work and rigorous political activism. While much is known,

heard and written about his political, social and economic writings, there has been

relatively less of an attempt at understanding the philosophical underpinnings and

theoretical origins of his worldview. He was passionately critical of the Hindu caste

system which is the basis of social, cultural, economic and political subjugation of those

considered ―lower castes‖. In his struggle against caste based discrimination, Ambedkar

held that emancipation of Dalits in India was possible only through the three-pronged

approach of ―education, agitation and organization‖. His works are deeply embedded in a

secular and modern understanding of human society. Moreover, they are also imbued

24
with a strong sense of humanism and a belief in human dignity. His worldview was

formed by not only a scholarly interest but a personal experience of discrimination and

marginalization. The deep sense of injustice felt by him motivated Dr. Ambedkar to

challenge all oppressive institutions of society. The discourse of egalitarian Indian society

is part of the large mission propounded and practiced by Dr. Ambedkar in his efforts to

build Indian society imbued with the values of equality and social justice. Probably Dr.

Ambedkar is the first person that seriously thought about social equality and inclusive

Indian society as an essential feature for the emergence of a healthy nation-state and

democracy. But most of his intellectual peers focused on economic, political and spiritual

equality and ignored social inequalities. Due to this even after 68 years of independence

caste based discrimination is applauded in society. However, vision of Dr. Ambedkar has

been amplified through the discourse of egalitarian society based on the trinity of

principles -- equality, liberty and fraternity.8

4. Philosophy of Politics and Economics

According to Dr. B.R. Ambedkar, the Directive Principles of State Policy is a ‗novel

feature‘ of the Indian Constitution. They are enumerated in Part IV of the Constitution.

They can be classified into three broad categories- socialistic, Gandhian and liberal-

intellectual. The directive principles are meant for promoting the ideal of social and

economic democracy. They seek to establish a ‗welfare state‘ in India. However, unlike

the Fundamental Right, the directives are non- justiciable in nature, that is, they are not

enforceable by the courts for their violation. Yet, the Constitution itself declares that

25
‗these principles are fundamental in the governance of the country and it shall be the duty

of the state to apply these principles in making laws‘. Hence, they impose a moral

obligation on the state authorities for their application. But, the real force (sanction)

behind them is political, that is, public opinion.9 ―His ideas of Economic realism which

seek both realism and welfare prompted Prof. Amartya sen to say ―Ambedkar is my

father in Economics‖. Ambedkar clearly voices the cause of the underprivileged when he

talks about equality of opportunity to all. Should not the common man be the ultimate

beneficiary of what economics as a discipline aims to achieve. It is indeed paradoxical

that a thinker who tried to uphold the basic premise of the subject finds no mention

among economic thinkers. Our syllabus in economics refrains from mentioning him even

in the areas of Indian monetary economics, public Finance and towards land reforms

where he greatly contributed. He was beyond doubt a great theorists whose legacy as

Ramchandra Guha points out ―has been distorted to suit particular interests‖. It is indeed

the need of the hour that we start looking at this outstanding intellectual thinker of his

time as an economist , discuss his economic ideology and it‘s relevance in contemporary

times.”10 ―Whether it was politics, or law he stands out as a political economic thinker.

The aim equal opportunities to everyone, so that an equal and inclusive society is

established. He should be remembered as a policy maker who successfully incorporates

both social and economic phenomenon and brings it in the perception of policy

making.”11

26
5. Philosophy of Religion12

Dr. Ambedkar seeks Dhamma as a social order. He differentiated Religion and Dhamma

by the following lines:

 Religion, it is said, is personal and one must keep it to oneself. One must not let it

play its part in public life. Contrary to this, Dhamma is social. It is fundamentally

and essentially so.

 Dhamma is righteousness, which means right relations between man and man in

all spheres of life.

 One man if he is alone does not need Dhamma. But when there are two men

living in relation to each other they must find a place for Dhamma whether they

like it or not. Neither can escape it. In other words, Society cannot do without

Dhamma.

In his book The Buddha and his Dhamma, Ambedkar makes very strong assertions that

Buddhism alone can solve the problem of social and natural suffering. Dr.Ambedkar has

pointed out that Buddha‘s Dhamma was fundamentally different from that of Religion.

Dhamma is righteousness, which means right relation between man and man in all

spheres of life.13 An analysis of Ambedkar‘s thoughts on religion can be seen here, ―The

purpose of religion is to explain the world. While interpreting Buddha‘s Dhamma

Ambedkar viewed that it is different from the Vedic or the Brahminic philosophy of

Dharma. Dr.Ambedkar has explained Buddha‘s Dhamma as SadDhamma because it

breaks down barriers between man and man; it teaches that ‗worth‘ and not ‗birth‘ is the

measure of man; and Dhamma to be SadDhamma must promote equality between man

27
and man. Towards the end of his life Dr. Ambedkar also defended Buddhism against the

Marxism. In his work ―Buddha or Karl Marx‖, he regarded the Marxian philosophy as far

behind Buddha. Like Buddha and Marx, he also did not accept that God created the

Universe. Religion is necessary for the poor. Religion is necessary for the depressed

people. The poor man survives on hope. For Ambedkar, man could not live by bread

alone; he had mind which needed food for thought; and religion instilled hope in man and

always drove him to activity. He emphasized that mankind needed a religion of

humanity, and that he discovered in Buddha‘s Dhamma.‖14

Dr. Ambedkar sees a concern for human welfare (defined generally with reference to

non-violence and social equality) as a central teaching of Buddhism and associates such

welfare with rationality. For instance, Ambedkar explains his principles for

distinguishing between Buddhist Dhamma and dangerous Brahmnical views, ―Anything

therefore which is rational and logical, other things being equal, may be taken to be the

word of the Buddha…The Buddha never cared to enter into a discussion which was not

profitable for man‘s welfare cannot be accepted to be the word of the Buddha.‖15 This is

rightly said that ―The philosophy of Babasaheb gives guideline for the fighting for the

rights and development of all sections of the society. In order to have more effective

implementation of his thoughts, we need to look for some more types of the interpretation

of his thoughts, work and life.‖16 For this we need to emphaise on the concept of morality

as it the most important branch of philosophy and we can found the same in the thoughts

of Babasaheb.17

28
Conclusion:

We can say that Dr. B.R. Ambedkar‘s ideas; writings and outlook could well be

characterized as belonging to that trend of thought called Social Humanism. He

developed a socio-ethical philosophy and steadfastly stood for human dignity and

freedom, socio-economic justice, material prosperity and spiritual discipline. He showed

the enlightening path for Indian society via his ideals of freedom, equality and fraternity

and made India a democratic country. In his conception, democracy has an extraordinary

role, which he defined as ‗one person, one vote‘; and ‗one vote, one value‘. Indians,

especially, downtrodden people of India consider him as an immortal soul whose

memory will for ever guide the nation on the path of social justice, liberty and equality. It

can be said that the philosophy of Dr. B.R. Ambedkar is of great relevance to Indian

society even today in achieving social justice, removal of untouchability, establishing

equality and freedom and true democracy.

References:
1. D.C. Ahir (ed.) Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar Writings and Speeches (A Ready
Reference Manual of 17 Volumes, B.R. Publishing Corporation, Delhi, 2017,
p.xiv-xv.

2. Desh Raj Sirswal, ―Crime Against Dalits and Indigenous People as an


International Human Rights Issue‖ in Proceedings of National Seminar on Human
Rights of Marginalised Groups: Understanding and Rethinking Strategies,
complied by Dr. Manoj Kumar, Twentyfirst Century Publications, Patiala, 2016,
pp.214-225.

3. ibid.

29
4. Desh Raj Sirswal (Ed.) The Philosophy of Dalit Liberation, Centre for Studies in
Educational, Social and Cultural Development (CSESCD), Milestone Education
Society (Regd.), Pehowa (Kurukshetra), March 2014, pp.14-15.

5. B.C. Mahapatra & Ashok Kumar (2004). ―Ambedkar and His Philosophy
Towards Education‖ in Dalits in Third Millennium edited by B.C. Mahapatra,
Sarup & Sons, New Delhi, p.50.

6. Subhasg C.Kashyap (2002). Citizen and the Constitution, Publication Division,


Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Govt. of India, New Delhi, pp. 254,
256.

7. ibid.

8. Seminar Proposal Two-Day National Seminar on “Discrimination, Identity and


Philosophy of Dr. Ambedkar” 8th-9th April 2013, Dr. Ambedkar Studies Centre
(ASC) and Department of Sociology, Babasaheb Bhimrao Ambedkar University
(A Central University established in 1996) Lucknow.

9. Dr. Gobinda Chandra Sethi, ―Dr. B.R. Ambedkar‘s Mission to Uplift the
Downtrodden Through Social Justice: A Critical Analysis with reference to the
Constitution of India‖ in Proceedings of the One-Day Faculty Development
Programme on “Dr. B.R. Ambedkar, Indian Constitution and Indian Society,
Compiler: Dr. Desh Raj Sirswal, Centre for Positive Philosophy and
Interdisciplinary Studies (CPPIS), Pehowa (Kurukshetra),July 2016, p.103.

10. Vinita Rao, ―Dr. Bhim Rao Ambedkar : A Forgotten Economist‖ in Proceedings
of the One-Day Faculty Development Programme on “Dr. B.R. Ambedkar, Indian
Constitution and Indian Society”, p.103

11. ibid, p.102.


12. The below text of the paper cited from Special Issue on ―Philosophy of Dr. B.R.
Ambedkar‖ of Milestone Education Review, Year 07, No.01(April, 2016), pp.12-
15.
13. Omveddt, Gail, Ambedkar : Towards an Enlightened India, Location, 1794-1801,

30
Tuesday, Sept 29, 2015.
14. Chittranjan Mallik, Justice and Equality in Dr. B.R. Ambedkar‟s Vision of India
(Report of Thesis), Department of International Relations, Jadavpur University,
Kolkata, pp.10-12.
15. Anne M. Blackburn, ―Religion, Kinship and Buddhism: Ambedkar‘s Vision of a
Moral Community‖ in The Journal of the International Association of Buddhist
Studies, Volume 16, No.01, 1993, p.12.
16. H.G.Navale, ―Struggle for Morality: A Way of Looking at Dr. Babasaheb
Ambedkar‘s Vision of Dalit Upliftment‖ in Special Issue on ―Rethinking
Ambedkar in the Twenty- First Century‖ of Indian Philosophical Quarterly, Vol
42, No.1-4, January-December, 2015, p.236.
17. Some more work for reference of this paper are Desh Raj Sirswal, Dr. B.R.
Ambedkar: The Maker of Modern India, Centre for Positive Philosophy and
Interdisciplinary Studies (CPPIS), Pehowa (Kurukshetra), April 2016.

31
Dialectical Materialism

Shikha Kumari

Introduction

Dialectical Materialism is philosophical thought developed by Marx and is associated

with Marxian followers mainly Engles and Lenin. Dialectical Materialism as it reads

refers to two different concepts which are equally ambiguous and in need of clarification.

I would begin this paper by describing dialectic in section 1. Dialectic is method of

analyzing any phenomenon or problem as a concrete totality which is comprised of

complex system of intrinsic relations (each relation is referred as releta. these relata,

forming totality are different and identical, interdependent and opposing each other.),

these intrinsic relations are related to each other as a process, which is continuously

undergoing transformation (viewed in terms of negation, transcendence and inversion).

Therefore dialectic method involves understanding of four concepts: a) totality, b)

intrinsic relations c) process and d) relatedness. I will elaborate each of these concepts

and present the method of dialectical thinking

Section 2, deals with concept of materialism. Here I will explain materialism from three

perspectives: ontological, epistemological and methodological, and show that materialism

is not much concerned with explaining ontological questions. Materialism is also not

useful in epistemological context. Therefore, it is only methodological context where

materialism is helpful in explaining the analysis of society through the central role of

‗material‘ process of production.

32
In Section 3, I will briefly describe the dialectical materialism developed by Marx.

Important to note here is what Marx means, when he uses the word ―material‖. This

paper shows that word ―material‖ is used by Marx in restricted sense, to those implicit in

common-sense language. Therefore it can be derived that Marx‘s dialectical materialism

is essentially useful in explaining the methodological context and more importantly

understanding the social development.

Section 4, will highlight the problems in Marxian dialectical materialism. Here we see

that even in methodological context, Marx dialectical materialism has some serious

limitations.

Keywords: Marx. Dialectic. Materialism. Ontological. Epistemological. Methodological.

1. Dialectic:

No idea or concept can be understood completely without the understanding of its

opposite (this is the inherent idea in dialectic thinking). Therefore to understand

dialectic we should understand what is opposite of dialectic. Opposite of dialectic

is the isolated consideration of things and consideration of them only in their

fixity. In other words, opposite of dialectic is mechanical, atomistic, and static

consideration of things and reality.20 Dialectic way of looking at things involve a

interrelated process approach in which different opposing and identical relations

are interacting with other and undergo continuous transformation, forming the

20
Saksena, S. K., ―Dialectical Materialism” published in Philosophy and Phenomenological Research,
Vol. 10 No. 4 (Jun, 1950), p. 542.

33
totality. Therefore dialectic analysis presupposes the four concepts of totality,

intrinsic relations, process and relatedness.

Totality is arrived by synthesis or unification of opposing forces (which

are assumed as opposites in dualistic notion) such as ―subject-object‖, ―body-

mind‖, ―worker-capitalist‖, ―and psychological-physiological‖ etc. Totality

negates all kinds of dualism and atomism. Dualism refers to all kinds of

bifurcation of world into sharply separated and extrinsically related entities or

events. Atomism on other hand is construction of complex system starting from

simple elements and building upward through ordering, categorizing and relating

these events. Here Totality differs from atomism because it is not simply sum of

parts. Rather totality in dialectic is form of thought concreteness which is arrived

at, using mode of presentation through mediation and some sort of reflexion

generated through mode of enquiry on empirical concreteness using abstraction.

Abstraction is process in which something is isolated from its context, so that it

can be investigated and studied empirically using observable facts. According to

Marx, this is referred as process of knowledge production through scientific

enquiry. To understand reality, it should be broken up into thinner ―abstracta‖ to

arrive at simple characteristics which can be exposed to mode of enquiry. Mode

of enquiry deals with what is immediately given (appearance or manifestations of

objects). Using mode of enquiry we form hypothesis about appearance which

would give comprehension or understanding of some aspect of reality and would

lead us to mode of presentation where through mediation we arrive at thought

concreteness or essence of the reality, referred as totality.

34
Notion of totality presupposes the existence of intrinsic relations called

releta which are different and identical, interdependent and opposing each other.

Here we see three important aspects of dialectic intrinsic relations. Firstly, relata

make up a whole or totality. Second, they are different i.e. each of them can be

identified as something specific. Third, they are interdependent in a contradictory

way. Contradiction can be in three senses: a) contradiction which is mutually

exclusive and exhaustive, b) contradiction which is mutually exclusive but not

exhaustive c) ―oppositeness‖ as complimentary. Fourth, relata are not interrelated

arbitrarily but in definite to each other as they have something in common.

Dialectics is concerned with processes. When we speak of processes we

essentially mean some sort of change in two senses. First, in the sense of

―movement in a time-space dimension.‖21 Second, in the sense of ―transformation

of the given‖.22 Movement in sense of transformation can be considered as

evolution of given into higher or more complex structure, which can be viewed as

negation and transcendence. Presumption of process is central to dialectic

thinking as through transcendence the structure of relata in relation change over

time to form inversion. Inversion in dialectical process can be understood as

reciprocal negation of negation. This is an outcome in which relata have shifted

their place and relation for example the subject becomes the object and object

become the subject, and the process is now conducted on a higher level of

historical development.

21
Israel, Joachim. The Language of Dialectics and the Dialectics of Language. P. 115
22
Ibid., P. 115

35
Finally, fourth presupposition in dialectical thinking is concept of

relatedness, where social world is visualized in a relational approach or in other

words as ―relations of relations.‖23 A relation of a relation is something which

goes on, which is changing and changed, transforming and transformed,

transcending and transcended. Dialectical way of looking at things is, therefore to

view them in their relatedness and in process of development and change.

With these presuppositions, we develop dialectical thinking using the

dialectical triads called ―thesis‖, ―antithesis: which is negation of thesis‖ and after

analyzing both thesis and antithesis we retain some good aspects of both to

develop some higher form of thesis called ―synthesis: which is the negation of

negation (―antithesis‖).24 Above explanation of dialectical thinking is

summarized in following figure 1.

23
, Ibid., p. 122
24
Popper, Karl R, ―What is Dialectic?‖ Published in Mind, New Series, Vol.49, No. 196 (Oct.1940), p.
403.

36
1. Materialism:

Once we have understood the dialectical method of reasoning, let us understand

what the word ―materialism‖ means. Word ―materialism‖ or ―materialistic‖ is

used in three different contexts: ontological context, epistemological context and

methodological context. We will briefly understand the notion of ―materialism‖ in

these contexts. In ontological context: materialism is based on the assumption that

reality consists of material, matter or stuff. But if accept this assumption question

arises is how are mental events or consciousness related to matter. A reply to this

question can be found in dialectic materialism, as analyzed by F. Engles (though

not by K. Marx) in terms of genetic materialism where he assumes that matter is

primary to mind. Furthermore, genetic materialism maintains that mind originates

out of matter, and that it is its highest and most elaborated stage. But in this case

we are presupposing dualism of mind and matter which is contradictory to any

dialectic thinking. Therefore, we see that Marxists are not much concerned about

materialism in ontological context.

In epistemological context: Marxian materialism describes the process of

knowledge production, where he tries to relate it to material process of

production, but he never tried to reduce the process of knowledge production to

material process of production. According to Marx reality should be grasped as

cognitizing and practical activity. He wanted to eliminate the distinction between

cognitive activity and material, object producing activity. Both are different but

interdependent aspects of a total activity and they are intrinsically related. He

further states this theory as mirroring of reality using praxis. Mirror thesis asserts

37
that knowledge of ―external‖ world is reflected in consciousness. In other words

the knowledge we have is a picture or mirror of ―objective reality‖ existing

independently and externally to the subject and furthermore, there is a parallelism

between reality and knowledge of reality. Here several objections can be raised

against mirroring theory. Firstly, this thesis presupposes the dualistic notion of

reality which is sharply separated from consciousness or knowledge. Therefore it

is contrary to dialectical reasoning. Secondly, it abolishes the role of subject.

Because a notion of mirror image cannot be reconciled with notion of actively

producing and transforming, and with reflexion. Thirdly, it has difficulties in

explaining the historically conditioned changes in our knowledge. For example

how can transition from Newtonian to Einstenian physics be explained, if the only

knowledge we can have of physical reality is that which is mirrored? Therefore

mirror thesis or Marxist position of materialism in epistemological context, is

logically and psychologically untenable.

Methodological Context: Methodological questions are concerned with the

ways the social world is different from physical world and how society is to be

studied. We find that it is methodological context in which materialism is most

effective in explaining societal development. We see that it more often in

analyzing society than in analyzing human nature, Marx talks about the word

―material‖. For example, He talks about ――material life‖, ―material production,‖

―material means of production‖, ―material requirements of human life‖, ―material

wealth‖, ―material powers of production‖ etc.‖25 In all these quotations ―material‖

is used in restricted sense of a usage concerning physical objects or that, which


25
Israel, Joachim, The Language of Dialectics and the Dialectics of Language, p. 43-49

38
can be transformed into physical objects i.e. material labor through which the

world was produced and changed.

Therefore I conclude this section by stating that the predominant way

Marx uses ―material‖ has little to do in ontological and epistemological context

but is primarily helpful in explaining social development in methodological

context.

2. Marx’s Dialectical Materialism:

I have covered dialectical method and materialism in above sections and while

explaining these I have stated Marxian thinking of dialectical materialism in

different contexts, while doing this, and keeping the scope of this paper limited to

dialectical materialism. I refrained myself from giving any other dialectical views

like those of Hegelian idealistic dialectical thinking. Therefore, in this section I

would briefly state central notion of dialectical materialism in methodological

context. According to Marx to all social analysis and dialectical materialism

reasoning begins with man, who is primarily an acting, and language using being,

involved in his daily activities, guided by intensions, desires, goals, inclinations

and purposes though all his actions form part of a social network with a history of

its own that is continuously changing. He distinguishes himself from other

animals in two ways: One way, in which he produces material for his subsistence

and in other way during this material production for subsistence, man indirectly,

produces his actual material life. He produces this ―actual material life‖ through

formation of social institutions which function as the framework for this

39
production process. Therefore in this process man not only produces societal

relations in accordance with his productive forces, but also the ―the ideas, the

categories, i.e. the abstract, cognitive expression, of exactly these societal

relations. These ―categories‖ are not eternal or transcendental, but related to

historically given conditions and therefore, themselves historically limited. Since

societal systems are undergoing change and transformation, the theories about

societies are consequently transformed. Furthermore, theories about social

systems cannot be formulated independently, and/or prior to, a certain

developmental level of society itself. The Marxian analysis of the capitalist

system in ―Capital‖ could not have been developed before the sufficient

development of capitalism itself. Marx explains the development of capitalism

and inversion of man subject –object relation using the concept of living labor and

dead or objectified labor as carried out by machines. As the productive forces

develop, the relation between living and objectified labor is interchanged in a way

such that objectified labor gains at the expense of living labor. Increased

productivity implies that more can be produced with less human labor power.

Societal wealth accumulation comes into being less and less through human

living labor, and more and more through the conditions created(previously) by

human labor. Objectified labor becomes more and more powerful. This process of

objectification is undergoing inversion. Workers as subject of this process,

become more and more dominated by the objectified conditions of work.

Therefore, they become reified, i.e. transformed into a thing, into labor power and

become object. Capital on the other hand, which starts as object of the process of

40
production becomes more and more powerful. From means of production it has

transformed into controlling and exploiting living labor and thus now becomes the

acting subject. Marx makes it clear that this process is ―natural‖. It is, in his

opinion the transition to creation of a free human society, in which man again

becomes subject of his own destiny.

3. Problems in Marxian Dialectical Materialism:

We see that dialectical materialism has little relevance in explaining the

ontological and epistemological problems. However even in methodological

context dialectical materialism has following problems:

Firstly, as Popper points out against Marx economism-emphasis on

economic background as being the ultimate basis of any sort of development-is

exaggerated. Social experience shows that under certain circumstances the

influence of ideas supported by propaganda can outweigh and supersede

economic forces. Also other point raised is that if metal development cannot be

understood without understanding economic background, it is also equivalently

true to say that economic development cannot be understood without

understanding the development of say for instance, of scientific or religious ideas.

Secondly, dialectical Materialism faces the same problem as the any other

dialectical thinking has, is that of its conflict with absolutism. Here what I want to

emphasize is that only logical outcome of the principle of dialectic can be the

―relative truth‖ and the ―relative falsity‖ of the unity of opposites, and the

41
absolute truth of the Absolute can be achieved only within which the

contradictions are both possible as well as resolved.

Thirdly, a philosophy of the dialectic, no matter of what brand, must also

lead to the doctrine of the secondary reality or phenomenality of the dialectic of

the world process. In other words it should provide satisfactory solution to the

problem of ―change‖ and ―permanence‖, of ―being‖ and ―becoming‖, of

―identity‖ and ―difference‖. Marxist dialectic is just another halting attempt to

conceive of both being and becoming, of ‗identity and difference as somehow

identical.

4. Conclusion:

In this paper, I have tried to explain the dialectical method of thinking and there

after I have analyzed materialism in different context. Here we see that Marxian

dialectical materialism has very little to explain in ontological and

epistemological context. It helps us in understanding the societal development in

methodological context. But we see that even in its later attempt dialectical

materialism fails to explain the absolute truth of social development. It helps in

understanding some aspects of reality which states that man‘s material condition

is responsible to great extent in forming his mental and social endeavors, but

greater horizon of reality remain unexplained using this approach.

Bibliography

1. Israel, Joachim. The Language of Dialectics and the Dialectics of Language,

Harvester Press, 1979.

42
2. Popper, Karl R. ―What is Dialectic?‖ Published in Mind, New Series, Vol.49, No.

196 (Oct.1940), pp. 403-426.

3. Saksena, S. K. ―Dialectical Materialism‖ published in Philosophy and

Phenomenological Research, Vol. 10 No. 4 (Jun 1950), pp. 541-552.

43
Role of Materialism in Economic Development of India

Kiran Gupta

Introduction

Materialism is the name given to the metaphysical doctrine which holds the matter is the

only reality. Materialism in some form or other has always been present in India as

occasional references of it are found in the Vedas, the Buddhist literature, the Epics like

Ramayana and Mahabharata as well as in the later philosophical works.

Materialism is growing at global level. The developing countries being enthusiastic of the

western world are expected to experience the effect more severely (Ghadrian, 2010).

With the expansion of metropolitan settings and with the increase in per capita real

income, a developing country like India is facing sharp increase in demand for consumer

goods. It sets forth the remarkable rise in materialistic tendencies in Indian population. A

survey on ‗Global Attitudes on Materialism, Finances and Family‘ showed that India is

the second most materialistic country among certain Asia-Pacific Countries, after China.

According to the survey, 58% of respondents (working in the primary sector and

possessing merely a threshold level of education, income and connectivity) agreed that

they measure their success by the things they own. The survey report concluded that

people residing in the emerging economies like India are more likely to feel the pressure

of making money and reflecting materialistic tendencies as compared to developed

economies.

44
India‘s changing consumption patterns necessitates a study of materialism for

understanding its intensity and subsequently the buying patterns evolving on account of

it.

Materialism and Economic Growth

Economic growth is not just associated with reducing poverty. There is also clear

evidence for a positive link between economic growth and broader measures of human

development. Economic growth is not fundamentally aboutmaterialism. Nobel laureate

AmartyaSen has described economic growth as a crucial means for expanding the

substantive freedoms that people value. These freedoms are strongly associated with

improvements in general living standards, such as greater opportunities for people to

become healthier, eat better and live longer.

Growth generates virtuous circles of prosperity and opportunity. Strong growth and

employment opportunities improve incentives for families to invest in education by

sending their children to school. This may lead to the emergence of a strong and growing

group of entrepreneurs, which will generate pressure for improved governance. Strong

economic growth therefore advances human development, which, in turn, promotes

economic growth. Equally, weak economic growth implies vicious circles in which poor

human development contributes to economic decline, leading to further deterioration

inhuman development. For many countries, achieving the Millennium Development

Goals will require breaking out of vicious circles to enter virtuous circles.

The link between economic growth and human development operates through two

channels. First, there is the ‗macro‘ link whereby growth increases a country‘s tax base

45
and therefore makes it possible for the government to spend more on the key public

services of health and education.

The Concept of Materialism

Materialism has found its place in a large corpus of literature relating to consumer

behaviour, marketing, philosophy, psychology, anthropology, sociology etc. It was

established as a system to unravel the intentions of people in the world that perceive the

existent, corporal or material things as most important (Cornforth, 1956). In philosophy,

the term semi-materialist was used to delineate and comprehend the worldly activities.

The dialectical materialism as discussed by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels lends itself

as a precise concept for investigating the progress of humanity. Materialism has been a

philosophical connotation and has been described as a metaphysical concept in

philosophy. The notion of dialectical materialism proclaimed that conflict arises as a

result of material needs of people. The economic materialism was a simplified

elucidation that views people only through their materialistic personality, which cannot

be identified as belonging to historical materialism. The recent research in materialism

has related the concept of materialism as underpinning consumer culture

(Kasser&Kanner, 2004). As can be observed, the interpretation of materialism has

evolved through centuries around the yearning for the material.

Materialism has been considered as a vital means for understanding oneself through acts

of acquisition and possession of material goods (Dittmar, 1992). Intentions to purchase

goods and services are steered by the level of materialism. Our possessions reflect who

we are (Mick, 1996). Belk (1988) defines materialism as “the importance a consumer

attaches to worldly possessions”, while others have defined it as a means for ‗identity

46
fixers‘. Materialism is also described as desire for worldly possessions (Mukerji, 1993).

People who experience dispossession have more intensity for possessions and are more

materialistic. Literature has shown that people draw upon possession and acquisition of

material goods to counterbalance the deficiencies of their life. Materialism has been

considered as an act of one acquisition and possession of goods that are noticeable and

conspicuous. Materialistic people are also attached to specific brands strongly exhibiting

status by owning specific brands.(Prendergast and Wong, 2003).

Materialism is an intensified aspect of consumption which has obtained increased

concentration recently. The significance advantages and disadvantages of materialism

have also been mentioned in literature. One of the more general definitions of

materialism defines it as ‗giving importance to material things rather than spiritual

values‘. The supporters of positive notions of materialism say that it is one aspect of

human activity that gives importance to possessions for personal contentment and social

advancement. If each and every person acquired possessions for personal happiness, it

would create a happy society. With a growing concern for consumer society and resultant

environmental degradation, research has shown the importance of studying materialism

for a sustainable future. Literature on this issue has also provided results, confirming that

materialistic behaviour of parents influences the materialism of their children. (Srikant,

2013)

Materialism and Happiness

An increase in material wealth and goods in the country has had little to no effect on the

well-being and happiness of its citizens. TiborScitovsky called this a "joyless economy"

in which people endlessly pursue comforts to the detriments of pleasures.

47
Using two measures of subjective well-being, one study found that materialism was

negatively related to happiness, meaning that people who tended to be more materialistic

were also less happy. When people derive a lot of pleasure from buying things and

believe that acquiring material possessions are important life goals, they tend to have

lower life satisfaction scores. Materialism also positively correlates with more serious

psychological issues like depression, narcissism and paranoia.

However, the relationship between materialism and happiness is more complex. The

direction of the relationship can go both ways. Individual materialism can cause

diminished well-being or lower levels of well-being can cause people to be more

materialistic in an effort to get external gratification.

Instead, research shows that purchases made with the intention of acquiring life

experiences such as going on a family vacation make people happier than purchases

made to acquire material possessions such as a car. Even just thinking about experiential

purchases makes people happier than thinking about material ones.

Materialism in India

In India, the prevalence of materialism has been confirmed both by past research as well

as the more contemporary research literature (Chattopadhyaya&Gangopadhyaya, 1990).

The incidence of different nomenclatures of materialism in ancient Indian scriptures is

the evidence of different perception of the term materialism and its evolution overtime.

Brhaspati is considered an initiator of the ancient school of materialism (Bhattacharya,

2013) with inscriptions on materialism in BṛhaspatiSῡtra. The literature on materialism

has been split into two broad categories i.e. old materialism and new materialism.

48
Imprints of old materialism are apparent in Rigveda, Upnishads, PuraṇaKāśyapa,

AjitaKeśakambalin. In Indian literature new materialism has been denominated through

expressions Lokayata and Carvaka. The term Lokayata gives the idea of worldliness or

materialism and the term Carvaka has been related to consumption. Indians, who were

predominantly religious and who believed in philosophical idealism, which is opposed to

materialism, called materialistic people „nastik‟ and they have started following

philosophical materialism to express worldview and progress. (Del Toso, 2012)

The transforming relationship between culture and consumption in India (Jackson, 2004)

gets highlighted by the thirteen factors that have been identified by AlladiVenkatesh

(1994) in his study that includes changes in consumption patterns of middleclass Indians,

such as the shift from joint to nuclear families, a changing role of women in society, a

changing appeal of consumer goods sector etc. as ingredients of new culture of India.

With huge diversity within Indian culture, the western culture and language have found

their place there. At the same time India is living through materialism which is more

autonomous and self-contemplating, having no gauge for right and wrong. The Indian

culture is influenced by western culture (Gupta, 2011) but the fundamentals of Indian

culture have been preserved and they are not affected unconstructively (Rao, M. A., et al,

2013).

There has been both modernization and westernization in Indian culture. The gap in

Indian culture has been felt strongly as there is a departure in Indian culture from the

traditional one to a more contemporary one and the same has been bridged by the

dynamism of Indian culture itself. Deviations from traditional culture towards modern

ethos makes materialistic and consumer society a conflicting one and people might

49
attempt arbitration for such pressures. Materialism has great bearing on changing

lifestyles of people in India. The topic is worthy of entrenched study and development of

a tool to gauge such an influential aspect of human behaviour. It has also been recently

established that media has significant and influential effect on consumer behaviour and

this effect differs across different cultures. The influence of media is also a contribution

of western individualistic culture (Moschis et al., 2011). Such effect was also found to be

a significant determinant with Indian consumers (Mathur, et al, 2015). In spite of

conventional advocacy in Indian culture, materialism is an embryonic attribute of Indian

consumers and emerging aspect of Indian culture (Mishra et al., 2014). The surfacing of

materialism in India has been considered as a road distancing Indians from their

traditional culture thus making it all the more important to study this aspect of Indian

consumer behaviour in detail.

Indians are often stereotyped as deeply spiritual people who reject materialistic values.

Our research suggests that this stereotype no longer reflects reality. For instance, almost

half of India's urban population had adopted a "work hard and get rich" ethodsby 1996;

another 9% had Indians are more motivated than ever by personal ambition and a desire

for material success, and they put in the hours it takes to achieve those goals. A recent

Gallup poll of more than 30 countries showed that, with an average workweek of50

hours, India ranks among the hardest working nations globally.

Review of Literature

Marsha Richins and Scott Dawson (1992) described materialism as a value, defined by

three dimensions, i.e. Acquisition Centrality, Acquisition as a pursuit of Happiness,

Possession defined Success. They considered materialism to be the state in which a

50
person values materialistic things. Acquisition centrality crops up when people place

value on possessions and their acquisition as the focal point of their lives. Acquisition as

the pursuit of happiness puts forward that acquisition is carried out for contentment or

complacency.

Possession defined success signifies the inclination to evaluate one‘s and other people‘s

accomplishments with regard to the quality of material goods one possesses. Material

goods are source of their happiness, sign of their success and other people‘s success and

acquiring material goods is the most important goal of their life.

Atay and Sirgy (2009) have discussed materialism through three dimensions, including:

happiness, success and distinctiveness. Material goods bring pleasure (happiness) to the

materialistic person and possession of material goods shows how much success one has

achieved in life. Possession of material goods brings person in the spotlight and

accentuates their presence among other people (distinctiveness).

Dung Trinh and Phau (2012) depicted materialism through four dimensions, including:

material success, material happiness, material essentiality and material distinctiveness.

They added the essentiality dimension and emphasized measuring the extent to which

material goods indicate accomplishments, bring happiness, are indispensable and bring

distinctiveness. The following table gives the summary of the existing materialism scales.

Oxford English Reference Dictionary (1995) defined materialism as „the devotion to

material needs and desires and opposite to the spiritual matters‟. Indian perceptions of

materialism and spiritualism are not conflicting and there is a general belief that they can

be balanced. India has been experiencing the increasing consumer and economic power

51
and is emerging as a consumer economy. The study of materialism in India is important

due to the fact that it has to face many challenges related to tackling the social evils like

dowry which have been associated with acquisition of material possessions

Ger and Belk (1996), in their cross-cultural study, investigated materialism in various

developed and developing countries revealing that India is one of the less materialistic

countries among them. Ashok Gopal and Rajesh Srinivasan, (2006), in their study in

India shows that, with growing materialism, people have diverted their savings and other

priority spending towards possession of material goods. It showed that people between

the age of 15 to 55 and ranging from small towns to metropolitans are increasingly

reflecting such tendencies. India has recently been going through the cultural or social

changes, and, thus, is expected to display the higher levels of materialism (Ghosh, 2012).

Rationale of the Study

The cross-cultural study revealed that social change brings about prominent increase in

materialistic tendencies. A recent study in India has identified patterns of socioeconomic

changes happening in India. The socio-cultural changes happening in India have

intensified the level of materialism and the new generation in India is showing the signs

of an increased level of materialism. Previous literature has defined materialism as a

money related issue, and it has also seen materialism from a customer‘s perspective.

Some authors, however considered social issues related to materialism, but so far there

are no studies dealing with the Indian context. Today, there is a clear need for reducing

the overwhelming materialist inclination of Indian people. However, so far there has been

no endeavour in this direction. The present study, however, has made an effort in that

direction by intervening into the existing scales of materialism and by bringing out the

52
scale that captures the essence that is more attuned with the temperament of Indian

population.

Conclusion

Youth in India does not consider possession of material goods as a taboo - instead, they

admit its significance, express their individuality by acquiring it and draw great deal of

satisfaction from material goods. The study will facilitate the marketers in measuring the

extent of materialism in the context similar to India and draw inferences pertaining to

buying behaviour of the population. It will also provide valuable insight for policy

makers in designing policies to leverage the increasing materialism in the country.

Researchers may use the findings to undertake research in a different context with the

variables not covered in this study.

References:

 Bhattacharya, R. (2013). Development of materialism in India: the Pre-Cārvākas


and the Cārvākas. EserciziFilosofici, 8, 1-12.

 Chattopadhyaya, D., Gangopadhyaya, M. (1990). Cārvāka/Lokāyata: an


anthology of source materials and some recent studies. New Delhi: Indian

Council of Philosophical Research.

 Cornforth, M. C. (1956). Dialectical Materialism: Historical Materialism (Vol.


2). London: Lawrence &Wishart.

53
 Del Toso, K. (2012). TebhyaśCaitanyam: Il ―Sé‖ Secondo Il

MaterialismoIndiano. In Cislaghi, A., Del Toso, K. (Eds.), IntrecciFilosofici -

PensareilSé a Oriente e a Occidente, Milano/Udine: Mimesis, Milano-Udine,

135-153.

 Dittmar, H. (1992). The social psychology of material possessions: To have is to


be. Hemel Hempstead: Harvester Wheatsheaf.

 Ger, G., Belk, R. W. (1996). Cross-cultural differences in materialism. Journal of


Economic Psychology, 17 (1), 55-77.

 Ghadrian, A. M. (2010), Materialism: Moral and Social Consequences. Oxford:


George Ronald.

 Gupta, N. (2011). Globalization does lead to change in consumer behavior: An


empirical evidence of impact of globalization on changing materialistic values in

Indian consumers and its after-effects. Asia Pacific Journal of Marketing and

Logistics, 23 (3), 251-269

 Jackson, P. (2004). Local consumption cultures in a globalizing world.


Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers, 29 (2), 165-178.

54
 Kasser, T. E., Kanner, A. D. (2004). Psychology and consumer culture: The
struggle for a good life in a materialistic world. Washington: American

Psychological Association.

 Mathur, A., Barak, B., Lee, K. S., Zhang, Y. (2015). The Influence of Media
Exposure on Materialism, Fashion Innovativeness and Cognitive Age: A Multi-

Country Study. In Robinson, L. (Ed), Proceedings of the 2008 Academy of

Marketing Science (AMS) Annual Conference. Cham: Springer International

Publishing.

 Mick, D. G. (1996). Are studies of dark side variables confounded by socially


desirable responding? The case of materialism. Journal of Consumer Research,

23 (2), 106-119.

 Mishra, J. K., Tatzel, M., Arun, B. K., Abidi, N. (2014). Money attitudes as
predictors of materialism and compulsive buying, and gender demographics, in

the ‗new India‘. International Journal of Indian Culture and Business

Management, 9 (3), 301-315.

 Moschis, G., SimOng, F., Mathur, A., Yamashita, T., Benmoyal-Bouzaglo, S.


(2011). Family and television influences on materialism: A cross-cultural life-

course approach. Journal of Asia Business Studies, 5 (2), 124-144.

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 Mukerji, C. (1983). From graven images: Patterns of modern materialism. New
York: Columbia University Press.

 Prendergast, G., Wong, C. (2003). Parental influence on the purchase of luxury


brands of infant apparel: An exploratory study in Hong Kong. Journal of

Consumer Marketing, 20 (2), 157-169.

 Rao, M. A., Berry, R., Gonsalves, A., Hastak, Y., Shah, M., Roeser, R. W. (2013).
Globalization and the identity remix among urban adolescents in India. Journal of

Research on Adolescence, 23 (1), 9-24.

 Richins, M. L., Dawson, S. (1992). A Consumer Values Orientation for


Materialism and Its Measurement: Scale Development and Validation. Journal of

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 Srikant (2013). Materialism: The construct, measures, antecedents, and


consequences. Academy of Marketing Studies Journal, 3 (2), 78-110.

56
Position of Indian Materialism on World Map

Nidhi Sharma

Introduction

Materialism is the generic name of a variety of doctrines that deny the existence of non-

material substances. Materialism may be either a metaphysical or a methodological

concept. In its most coherent and radical form, it is a type of monism, the metaphysical

position stating that there is only one principle—matter and its properties—in terms of

which all reality is to be explained.

Materialism is a monistic ontology that holds that all that can truly be said to exist is

matter; that fundamentally, everything is material and all phenomena are the result of

material interactions. As a monist ontology, materialism is different from ontological

theories based on dualism (two kinds of substance), or pluralism (several kinds of

substance). In terms of singular explanations of the phenomenal reality, materialism

stands in sharp contrast to idealism, which is also a monistic ontology that holds that the

only thing that can be said to truly exist is idea, or immaterial substance. It also differs

from dual-aspect monism which suggests there is one reality with two different aspects.

Materialists, thus, deny the existence of God or a spiritual world.

Science uses a working assumption, sometimes known as methodological naturalism, that

observable events in nature are to be explained only by natural causes without assuming

the existence or non-existence of the supernatural. Materialists have often been

determinists, holding to the claim that, "There is a cause for every event," although that

view is not required in order to be a materialist.

57
Materialism flows from the idea that only that which can be perceived exists. What is not

perceivable, then, does not exist. In that sense it is a very subjective perspective which

does not give weight to the testimony of others. This is why materialists do not accept the

testimony of people who have had an out of body experience at face value. Because

sense-perception is the only acceptable form of knowledge, matter becomes the only

reality. Any other experience that does not fit with this is generally dismissed as

impossible or some ad hoc materialist explanation is given. Inference from analogy is

also rejected.

The definition of "matter" in modern philosophical materialism extends to all

scientifically observable entities, such as energy, forces, and the curvature of space. In

this sense, one might speak of the "material world."

Materialism has frequently been understood to designate an entire scientific, rationalistic

worldview, particularly by religious thinkers opposed to it, who regard it as a spiritually

empty religion. Marxism also uses materialism to refer to the scientific worldview. It

emphasizes a "materialist conception of history," which is not concerned with

metaphysics, but centers on the empirical world of actual human activity (practice,

including labor) and the institutions created, reproduced, or destroyed by that activity (as

is the case with historical materialism, or materialist conception of history).

Thought and consciousness are functions of matter secreted by the brain in the same way

as the liver secretes bile.

Materialism is sometimes allied with the methodological principle of reductionism,

according to which the objects or phenomena individuated at one level of description, if

58
they are genuine, must be explicable in terms of the objects or phenomena at some other

level of description—typically, a more general level than the reduced one. Non-reductive

materialism explicitly rejects this notion, however, taking the material constitution of all

particulars to be consistent with the existence of real objects, properties, or phenomena

not explicable in the terms canonically used for the basic material constituents. Jerry

Fodor influentially argued this view, according to which empirical laws and explanations

in "special sciences" such as psychology or geology are invisible from the perspective of,

say, basic physics. A vigorous literature has grown up around the relation between these

views. Because all that exists is matter, pleasure and pain are central facts of life. So an

unqualified hedonism has often been the ethical ideal of materialists. Virtue is an illusion

and enjoyment is the only reality.

Materialism in India with Historical Perspective:

In India, the prevalence of materialism has been confirmed both by past research as well

as the more contemporary research literature (Chattopadhyaya & Gangopadhyaya, 1990;

Frauwallner, 1997; Bhattacharya, 2009). The incidence of different nomenclatures of

materialism in ancient Indian scriptures is the evidence of different perception of the term

materialism and its evolution overtime. Brhaspati is considered an initiator of the ancient

school of materialism (Bhattacharya, 2009/2011; 2013) with inscriptions on materialism

in Bṛhaspati Sῡtra. The literature on materialism has been split into two broad categories

i.e. old materialism and new materialism (Marx & Engels, 1957; Engels, 1940). Imprints

of old materialism are apparent in Rigveda, Upnishads, Puraṇa Kāśyapa, Ajita

Keśakambalin. In Indian literature new materialism has been denominated through

expressions Lokayata and Carvaka. The term Lokayata gives the idea of worldliness or

59
materialism and the term Carvaka has been related to consumption (Bhattacharya,

2009/2011). Indians, who were predominantly religious and who believed in

philosophical idealism, which is opposed to materialism, called materialistic people

„nastik‟ and they have started following philosophical materialism to express worldview

and progress.

The transforming relationship between culture and consumption in India (Jackson, 2004;

Mankekar, 2002) gets highlighted by the thirteen factors that have been identified by

Alladi Venkatesh (1994) in his study that includes changes in consumption patterns of

middleclass Indians, such as the shift from joint to nuclear families, a changing role of

women in society, a changing appeal of consumer goods sector etc. as ingredients of new

culture of India. With huge diversity within Indian culture, the western culture and

language have found their place there. At the same time India is living through

materialism which is more autonomous and self-contemplating, having no gauge for right

and wrong (Appadurai, 1988). The Indian culture is influenced by western culture

(Gupta, 2011; Vajpeyi, 1982; Srinivas, 1966) but the fundamentals of Indian culture have

been preserved and they are not affected unconstructively (Rao, M. A., et al, 2013;

Singer, l989). It can be said that a significant shift has happened in Indian culture after

globalization (Eckhardt & Mahi, 2012).

There has been both modernization and westernization in Indian culture. The gap in

Indian culture has been felt strongly as there is a departure in Indian culture from the

traditional one to a more contemporary one and the same has been bridged by the

dynamism of Indian culture itself (Rao, M. A., et al, 2013; Alladi Venkatesh, 1994).

Deviations from traditional culture towards modern ethos makes materialistic and

60
consumer society a conflicting one and people might attempt arbitration for such

pressures (Eckhardt & Mahi, 2012). Materialism has great bearing on changing lifestyles

of people in India. The topic is worthy of entrenched study and development of a tool to

gauge such an influential aspect of human behaviour. It has also been recently established

that media has significant and influential effect on consumer behaviour and this effect

differs across different cultures. The influence of media is also a contribution of western

individualistic culture (Moschis et al., 2011). Such effect was also found to be a

significant determinant with Indian consumers (Mathur, et al, 2015). In spite of

conventional advocacy in Indian culture (Gupta, 2011), materialism is an embryonic

attribute of Indian consumers and emerging aspect of Indian culture (Mishra et al., 2014).

The surfacing of materialism in India has been considered as a road distancing Indians

from their traditional culture (Chaudhuri and Haldar‘s, 2005; Gupta, 2012) thus making it

all the more important to study this aspect of Indian consumer behaviour in detail.

Position of Indian Materialism at Global Level

Materialism is growing at global level. The developing countries being enthusiastic of the

western world are expected to experience the effect more severely (Ghadrian, 2010).

With the expansion of metropolitan settings and with the increase in per capita real

income, a developing country like India is facing sharp increase in demand for consumer

goods. It sets forth the remarkable rise in materialistic tendencies in Indian population. A

survey on ‗Global Attitudes on Materialism, Finances and Family‘showed that India is

the second most materialistic country among certain Asia-Pacific Countries, after China.

According to the survey, 58% of respondents (working in the primary sector and

possessing merely a threshold level of education, income and connectivity) agreed that

61
they measure their success by the things they own. The survey report concluded that

people residing in the emerging economies like India are more likely to feel the pressure

of making money and reflecting materialistic tendencies as compared to developed

economies.

India‘s changing consumption patterns necessitates a study of materialism for

understanding its intensity and subsequently the buying patterns evolving on account of

it. Though there are many tools for measuring materialism, all of them have been

developed in western settings. The present study attempts to develop a tool to measure

the materialism in Indian youth in the context of its changing culture and philosophy of

living.

Review of Literature

While the concept of materialism has been widely studied, there has not yet been

agreement on an absolute definition of the term. Early research conducted by Ward and

Wackman (1971) suggested that materialism was the r esult of individuals viewing

material goods and money as a path to personal happiness and social progress.

Belk (1984) refined the definition of materialism to ―...reflect the importance a consumer

attaches to worldly possessions. At the highest levels of materialism, such possessions

assume a central place in a person‘s life and are believed to provide the great est sources

of satisfaction and dissatisfaction in life...‖ He suggested that the traits of possessiven

ess, non-generosity and envy could be used in consumer research and that non-generosity

and envy may well lead to dissatisfaction with one‘s life. Later, Belk combined the three

62
afore mentioned individual subscales into one overall materialism scale and reported, as

hypothesized, a negative relationship between materialism and happiness (Belk, 1984).

Richins and Dawson (1992) conceptualized materialism as a value that could be divided

into three subsets made up of centrality (ones possessions play a central role in life),

happiness (possessions are l inked to ones well-being and satisfaction with life) and

success (the degree to which one believes that the more possessions one has the more

successful they are). It was concluded that while materialistic individuals are more likely

to be dissatisfied with their circumstances than with the mselves, they are likely to keep

their wealth and are not likely to share money or possessions with charitable

organizations or even with individuals with which they have relatively close ties (family

and friends). While a great deal of research has been conducted on materialism, there is

not total agreement in how this concept or value affects consumers.

Burroughs and Rindfleisch (2002) note that finding a sense of well being through the

accumulation of material things seems to be a ―futile quest.‖ However, while they do

report that many materialism studies have concluded that individuals who are very

materialistic tend to be less satisfied with their life and face greater psychological risks

there may be intervening factors.

La Barbera and Gurhan (1997) where they found that while Belk‘s (1984) non-

generosity and envy dimensions were negatively related to well being in respondents who

reported being ―born again‖ Christians, the same dimensions were found to be unrelated

to those respondents indicating they were not ―born again‖ Christians.

63
Belk (1996), in their cross-cultural study, investigated materialism in various developed

and developing countries revealing that India is one of the less materialistic countries

among them.

Ghosh (2012) in his study in India shows that, with growing materialism, people have

diverted their savings and other priority spending towards possession of material goods.

It showed that people between the age of 15 to 55 and ranging from small towns to

metropolitans are increasingly reflecting such tendencies. India has recently been going

through the cultural or social changes, and, thus, is expected to display the higher levels

of materialism.

Marsha Richins and Scott Dawson (2012) measured materialism as a value, defined by

three dimensions, i.e. Acquisition Centrality, Acquisition as a pursuit of Happiness,

Possession defined Success. They considered materialism to be the state in which a

person values materialistic things. Acquisition centrality crops up when people place

value on possessions and their acquisition as the focal point of their lives. Acquisition as

the pursuit of happiness puts forward that acquisition is carried out for contentment or

complacency.

Possession defined success signifies the inclination to evaluate one‘s and other people‘s

accomplishments with regard to the quality of material goods one possesses. Material

goods are source of their happiness, sign of their success and other people‘s success and

acquiring material goods is the most important goal of their life.

Dung Trinh and Phau (2012) measured materialism through four dimensions, including:

material success, material happiness, material essentiality and material distinctiveness.

64
They added the essentiality dimension and emphasized measuring the extent to which

material goods indicate accomplishments, bring happiness, are indispensable and bring

distinctiveness. The following table gives the summary of the existing materialism scales.

Sirgy (2014) have measured materialism through three dimensions, including: happiness,

success and distinctiveness. Material goods bring pleasure (happiness) to the materialistic

person and possession of material goods shows how much success one has achieved in

life. Possession of material goods brings person in the spotlight and accentuates their

presence among other people (distinctiveness).

Rindfleisch (2016) concluded that these findings might indicate that one‘s beliefs and

values may be influencers of materialistic needs. While no one disputes the influences of

materialism, there does seem to be a need to better understand its influence on consumer

purchasing patterns. This is particularly true for international or cross-cultural studies. If

values may be an intervening factor in materialism, it would seem reasonable to assume

that cultures that hold differing values may be affected by the concept of materialism in

differing ways.

Conclusion

Materialistic pursuits pose a barrier to the ―good life.‖ The more people aspire to

materialistic goals, the less satisfied they are with life, and the more at risk they are for

developing psychological disorders. Using two measures of subjective well-being, one

study found that materialism was negatively related to happiness, meaning that people

who tended to be more materialistic were also less happy. When people derive a lot of

pleasure from buying things and believe that acquiring material possessions are important

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life goals, they tend to have lower life satisfaction scores. Materialism also positively

correlates with more serious psychological issues like depression, narcissism and

paranoia.

However, the relationship between materialism and happiness is more complex. The

direction of the relationship can go both ways. Individual materialism can cause

diminished well-being or lower levels of well-being can cause people to be more

materialistic in an effort to get external gratification. An increase in material wealth and

goods in the country has had little to no effect on the well-being and happiness of its

citizens. There has been both modernization and westernization in Indian culture. The

gap in Indian culture has been felt strongly as there is a departure in Indian culture from

the traditional one to a more contemporary one and the same has been bridged by the

dynamism of Indian culture itself. Materialism has great bearing on changing lifestyles of

people in India. materialism is an embryonic attribute of Indian consumers and emerging

aspect of Indian culture (Mishra et al., 2014). The surfacing of materialism in India has

been considered as a road distancing Indians from their traditional culture.

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CONTRIBUTORS OF THIS ISSUE

 Dr. Shubhra Jyoti Das, Assistant Professor,Department of Philosophy

and Comparative Religion,Visva Bharati, Santiniketan,West Bengal.

 Dr. Desh Raj Sirswal, Assistant Professor (Philosophy), Smt. Aruna

Asaf Ali Govt. P.G.College, Kalka (Haryana).

 Dr. Shikha Kumari , Ph.D. in Philosophy, Jawaharlal Nehru

University, New Delhi.

 Ms. Kiran Gupta, Assistant Professor (Economics), P.G.Govt. College

for Girls, Sector-11, Chandigarh.

 Dr. Nidhi Sharma, Assistant Professor (French), P.G.Govt. College

for Girls, Sector-11, Chandigarh.

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