Once a writer remarked at a meeting that the individual has no existence without society just as a fish finds it impossible to exist without water. In my speech which preceded the speech delivered by this writer, I had characterized the individual as a reality and society as something useful. He was supporting the view that lays stress upon the reality of society and had made the above remark only in that context. Despite my having thought over it for a long period, I do not yet feel convinced to change my opinion.
The thought that the existence of society is useful has made gradual progress. As only the social environment is conducive to the growth of an individual and his acts, the latter connot be interpreted in isolation from society. Society cannot come into existence without individuals. In reality the individual and society are interwoven by the thread of mutual dependence.
Once a blind man was going to a village. Having reached the turning point of the street, he asked a man about the path that led to the village. The man who was asked about the way was lame. He told him that he too was bound for the same village. The blind man asked for his company but the latter expressed his inability to walk. The former thought over it for a while and had him on his shoulders. Guided by the lame man, the blind man trudged on till he reached his destination.
Legs cannot see nor can eyes walk. One possessed what the other lacked and the two helped each other. Their joint venture enabled both, the blind man as well as the lame man, to reach the destination. Having regard for one another’s need is what we call sociality or nationality.
Once it so happened that all the limbs in the body of man-hands, legs and the tongue joined hands to rebel against the stomach. Their complaint was that while they all worked day and night, the stomach did nothing and passed its time idly. They all decided on the path of non-cooperation with it and stopped performing their duties forth- with. The stomach tried its utmost to persuade them to refrain from taking recourse to such an extreme course and said, “You may do without my services but I cannot do without your services.” But as they were all firm in their decision, they paid no heed to its entreaties. One day passed, hands and legs began to grow feeble and the taste of the tongue had undergone a change. Two days passed, the legs began to totter. On the third day every limb in the body had grown languid for want of strength. All of them gathered together. Then the mind said, “I had already told you that it would not be possible for us to survive without the help of the stomach. The stomach needs hands and legs to work for it while in return they need the stomach to supply energy to them. In other words due consideration for mutual needs is sociality or nationality.
There is an old story. Subhum Chakraverti (a universal monarch whose dominion extends as far as the seas) ruled the earth. It is said that his chariot was borne by sixteen thousand angels. Once when he was passing over the sea, one of the angles supporting the chariot thought, “What difference will it make if I do not lend my support to the chariot. The rest of the angels who number fifteen thousand nine hundred ninety-nine will still be there to prop it up.” The second and the third also thought like wise. It so happened that almost all of them were carried away by the same wave of thought. They withdrew their support just at the same time and the chariot with the universal monarch in it fell into the raging sea.
The chariot of the nation is also driven by all the people of the nation. If one man can think of doing things independently why cannot the other follow his example? And if all the citizens start behaving individualistically, the chariot of the nation is doomed to be destroyed. If the nation is destroyed, its citizens are destined to perish just as fish die without water. Hence the need of a nation for citizens.
A straw becomes rubbish if it is alone and changes into a broom when put together with other straws. Then it is used to maintain cleanliness. One thread breaks up instantaneously while its strength increases when it is woven together with other threads. Every thread of cloth and every straw of a broom is interdependent, hence it results in the increases of their strength. A man may be independent in so far as things concern him exclusively but he can remain so no more if his area is enlarged. Agricultural produce needs persons to consume it and consumers need it to full their bellies.
A man cannot be dishonest towards a thing which is needed by the people directly. He is likely to become dishonest towards those things which a man experiences indirectly but its ultimate result will not be good for him.
If there is bad smell in one part of the nation, it will spread everywhere rapidly. How can the shoulders escape the evil effect of the bad smell emitted by the legs? Our good lies in protecting the limbs of the nation against any such possibility. It is possible only when we realise that the good of one man depend upon the good of the other man. The destiny of every individual is closely related to the destiny of the nation. One who attempts to erase the lines of its destiny is, in fact, erasing the lines of his own destiny consciously or unconsciously.