"To us all towns are one, all men our kin.
Life's good comes not from others' gift, nor ill
Man's pains and pains' relief are from within.
Thus have we seen in visions of the wise !."
 
- Tamil Poem in Purananuru, circa 500 B.C 

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Selected Writings by Nadesan Satyendra
- நடேசன் சத்தியேந்திரா

Man, the Ultimate Answer

Interview with Rita Sebastian 
Sri Lanka Sunday Times, 6 January 1980


There was no courtroom rhetoric. No judge or jury to impress. In the spacious book lined study I was the only witness to Nadesan Satyendra's 'inward looking' exercise, probing his own mind for a definition of the ideal society. It was a morning of questions and answers, the incisive lawyer's mind refusing to skim the surface or grapple with illusions. Only the hard cold facts dissected and analysed had some of the answers.

"Don't have an idealism that disillusions you" says Mr. Satyendra, "you are part of the whole and the whole is in you and from that understanding comes an inner strength." The strength which he attributes to Buddhism, yoga and meditation, the eastern consciousness that has withered away in some people. In the western world he sees an entirely different picture, a consumer society satiated by materialism constantly pushing outwards.

He doesn't see systems as the answer to a change in humans. On the contrary, it is the other way round, You can almost feel the strength in some humans, he says. Men like Indian philosopher Krishnamurthi. "If the world was filled with Krishnamurthis there would be no problems..."

"It is only when you give, can you command. Political leaders must give in order to take. And in that social framework one must understand oneself to understand society,"

It is the human being that counts in the final analysis. "Take Gandhi," he says'. "where did his power come from? It came from the conduct of a man whose word and deed coincided. That power when unleashed is unbelievable."

"They tell you that everybody is born equal, in only one way are we equal, and that is in a deeply religious sense. There is a divinity in each of us. Equality in any other sense is just a meaningless word. It is the jargon of the platform speaker for vote baiting." 

'The masses are the real power they tell you. How do you reconcile that concept with the organisational hierarchy, the distribution of power? What is the truth?"

He takes a bash at parliamentary democracy, "In India the dumb millions living below the poverty line are enjoying the luxury of parliamentary democracy too. What does it really mean to them?" He doesn't see it clothing their nakedness or filling hungry stomachs.

Mr. Satyendra is no idealist. It is the reality that absorbs him, and he is forever seeking the answers. Perhaps it was his subconscious rebelling against the euphoria of his own success that made him put aside his briefs for awhile, when in 1976 he went back to Cambridge where he decided that 'success' was not to be the motivating factor in his life.

He quotes from his favourite authors and from the latter day philosophers who have influenced his thinking. He doesn't discount Marx, the able and skilled social scientist. Neither does he scoff at Freud. He sees them in the larger framework of the structural changes in society. It was not what they said that mattered, it is what guided their lives that interested him.

The evolution of the nation state he considers an inevitable process in the scheme of things - the only concrete form in which national feelings could manifest itself. It has led, he says, to an uneven development across the world with each nation, at a particular stage in the evolutionary process, making geography an important part of the political structure.

"Not all the technology or the 'cross pollination' of cultural ideas can break down a man's ingrained nationalism, You have got to live in the reality of the political structure which is the nation state."

And then of course there is the organisation within the nation. But what are we organising for in the historical context? More and more people on the same earth with man having to draw from' the same land for food and for raw material for industry. "In the context of an increasing population there is a need for effective management of the national resources to maximise returns. What it really underlines is the need for management skills and the importance of merit. Man freed from land and freed from capital contributes his skill but it is difficult to motivate humans on that basis alone"

But who has the answers asks Mr. Satyendra, "Take the newspapers. Every headline is an area of conflict, And when you see the realities of the jungle you get cynical."

"But the ultimate answer is no doubt the human being himself. It is he who fosters the idealism. It is he who fashions it by his own actions. We can't help finding the outside from within ourselves. If you are not sure, don't move. Wait. There is a need for man to check out his own thinking with his acts. The force he then generates is irresistible."

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