Chapter 16: Atheism, Theism and Reality
In my view, India’s philosophy has failed to follow the honest course of development of its counterpart in the West. If Socrates says something, he says it on his own authority; he does not try to prop himself up by the weight of his predecessors. Similarly, if Kant and Wittgenstein say something, they do so on their own; they don’t claim the authority of Socrates or anyone else. Western philosophy is much more honest than ours. And it is out of this honest way of thinking that science was born in the West. Science is the child of that honesty. In fact, science cannot come out of dishonest thinking; it is impossible. India could not create science because we have been victims of a deep-rooted intellectual dishonesty; here it is difficult to decide who says what. Everybody is quoting scriptures, everybody is citing authorities; everybody is mimicking the voice of everybody else.
Arvind’s excessive dependence on the Vedas comes from his inferiority complex. It does not reflect his profundity; it only says he is not certain if what he says is true, so he is seeking authoritative support for his shaky ideas.
And the mind of India has been deeply influenced by the Vedas, the Upanishads and the Gita. India’s mind has been heavily conditioned by Mahavira and Buddha. The Indian mind is a prisoner of tradition; we accept anyone who says something on the authority of the Vedas or the Dhammapada. We don’t care about scrutinizing him independently and finding out if what he says is genuine. We blindly accept anything and everything that is said under the cover of the Vedas.
But the question is: Why take cover behind the Vedas? Does truth need a cover? If I find some truth I will say it in plain words. And I will also say that if the Vedas see it the same way as I see, they are right, and if they don’t, they are wrong. My perception of truth is self-evident; it is enough unto itself. I am not going to be right or wrong on the authority of the Vedas. For me, the Vedas have to be right or wrong on my authority.
If someone comes and tells me that what I say is different from what Mahavira says, I will tell him Mahavira is wrong. I cannot even be certain whether or not Mahavira really said it, but I am very certain about what I am saying. Even if the whole world says the way I see it is wrong, I will say that the whole world is wrong - just because I see it differently. I can be a witness to my own perception, I cannot be a witness to the perception of others.
But it is a very simple and convenient way of putting oneself in the right place. If you encounter truth directly, on your own, and say it exactly as you see it, history will take thousands of years to judge if you have found something real. But if you take cover behind the Vedas, you receive cheap and immediate recognition. Because you say the same thing the Vedas say, you become right on the authority of the most ancient of scriptures. It is a very simple trick and a very dirty trick at that.
I would like to explain it with the help of a story.