Integral humanism is a doctrine developed by Deendayal Upadhyaya and adopted by the Jana Sangh in 1965 as its official doctrine. It is also the official philosophy of the Bharatiya Janata Party. It aims to appeal to broad sections of Indian society by presenting an indigenous economic model that puts the human being at centre stage.
According to Upadhyaya, the primary concern in India must be to develop an indigenous economic model that puts the human being at center stage.
It is opposed to both western capitalist individualism and Marxist socialism, though welcoming to western science. It seeks a middle ground between capitalism and socialism, evaluating both systems on their respective merits, while being critical of their excesses and alienness.
Humankind, according to Upadhyaya, had four hierarchically organized attributes of body, mind, intellect and soul which corresponded to four universal objectives, kama (desire or satisfaction), artha (wealth), dharma (moral duties) and moksha (total liberation or ’salvation‘). While none could be ignored, dharma is the ‚basic‘, and moksha the ‚ultimate‘ objective of humankind and society. He claimed that the problem with both capitalist and socialist ideologies is that they only consider the needs of body and mind, and were hence based on the materialist objectives of desire and wealth.
Upadhyaya rejected social systems in which individualism ‚reigned supreme‘. He also rejected communism in which individualism was ‚crushed‘ as part of a ‚large heartless machine‘. Society, according to Upadhyaya, rather than arising from a social contract between individuals, was fully born at its inception itself as a natural living organism with a definitive ’national soul‘ or ‚ethos‘ and its needs of the social organism paralleled those of the individual.
Upadhyaya claimed that Integral Humanism followed the tradition of advaita developed by Adi Sankara. Non-dualism represented the unifying principle of every object in the universe, and of which humankind was a part. This, claimed Upadhyaya, was the essence and contribution of Indian culture.
Integral humanism is almost an exact paraphrase of Gandhi’s vision of a future India. Both seek a distinctive path for India, both reject the materialism of socialism and capitalism alike, both reject the individualism of modern society in favor of a holistic, varna-dharma based community, both insist upon an infusion of religious and moral values in politics, and both seek a culturally authentic mode of modernization that preserves Hindu values.
Integral humanism contains visions organized around two themes: morality in politics and swadeshi, and small-scale industrialization in economies, all Gandhian in their general thematic but distinctly Hindu nationalist. These notions revolve around the basic themes of harmony, primacy of cultural-national values, and discipline.
Upadhyaya rejects Nehruvian economic policies and industrialization on the grounds that they were borrowed uncritically from the West, in disregard of the cultural and spiritual heritage of the country. There is a need, according to Upadhyaya, to strike a balance between the Indian and Western thinking in view of the dynamic nature of the society and the cultural heritage of the country. The Nehruvian model of economic development, emphasizing the increase of material wealth through rapid industrialization, promoted consumerism in Indian society. Not only has this ideology of development created social disparities and regional imbalances in economic growth, but it has failed to alleviate poverty in the country. The philosophy of Integral Humanism, like Gandhism, opposes unbridled consumerism, since such an ideology is alien to Indian culture. This traditional culture stresses putting restraints on one’s desires and advocates contentment rather than ruthless pursuit of material wealth.