Thus the overall description suggests that the social, political and philosophical thinking of modern India has been shaped under the stress of different forces and contains several currents of thoughts. They cannot be assessed as a consistent or systematic whole. The reason for this non-integration may be found in the mutual incompatibility of the Western influence and the Indian culture. India would have been completely westernized like Japan if she had accepted Western culture without a second thought. But fortunately she has tried to Indianise what she got from the West. This has been the chief aim and purpose of the Indian Renaissance Movement which is yet to see its end-point.
Till this day Western impact has not been uprooted from India, though Britishers have left the nation since more than three decades. Nor Indian renaissance has come to its saturation. In its process, even now, the renaissance is effected by Western thought, but certainly not uncritically. The process of “Manana” and “Nidhidhyasana” has saved Indian culture to get its position in the peak. The task of reconstructing a new India, which ought to retain what is of value in the ancient culture and absorb what the new scientific and technical knowledge has to give is still going on. No better job can be discharged to put the characteristics of the Indian renaissance in a nutshell than to quote Sri Aurobindo – its greatest exponent and interpreter. He writes:
“It is rather a process of a new creation in which the spiritual power of the Indian mind remains supreme, recovers its truths, accepts whatever it finds sound or true, useful or inevitable of the modern idea or form but so transmutes and Indianises it, so absorbs and transforms it that its foreign character disappears and it becomes another harmonious element in the characteristic working of the ancient goddess, the Sakti of India, mastering and taking possession of the modern influence no longer possessed or overcome by it. (Sri Aurobindo, The Renaissance in India. Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Pondicherry. pp. 21-22.)
Since the renaissance has exerted a great deal of impact on the proceedings of Indian National Movement playing a notable role in shaping its political, philosophical and social thinking, it can very well be inferred that the later must have been greatly shaped and moulded by its central feature, namely spirituality. In its most representative and leading thinkers like Lokamanya Tilak, Tagore and Sri Aurobindo and Mahatma Gandhi, social, philosophical and political thinking stands at the edge of religion.
If the distinctive feature of the ancient Greek political thought was its ethics and that of the Roman thought legal approach and if German political thought is immensely influenced by its metaphysical trend, in modern Indian thinkers philosophy, politics and religion have been closely knitted very successfully. Gandhiji dazzles as the best illustration in its favour. He made it as the mission of his life to interact religion and politics.
Age of the Indian Renaissance - Kevat Shah
"Renaissance" was a word used to describe the scientific, artistic and cultural revolution which changed Europe from 14th to 17th centuries. Similar changes have been seen in numerous civilizations before and after. The most striking of these other Renaissances were the Age of Renaissance in Athens during the time of Socrates and Plato, as well as the Age of the American Renaissance, which began in the 17th century and still seems to be continuing today.
During these Renaissances, many new ideologies were introduced. These ideologies changed the way people thought and acted. For example, after the death of Socrates, people of Athens became less afraid to think independently, as evident from the writings of Plato. Likewise, in 14th century Europe, thinkers like Leonardo Da Vinci and Michealangelo challenged the popular belief system through novel innovations and artistic ideas. This allowed men like Gallileo, Newton and Copernicus to believe in what they thought was true. The same can be said about the Founding Fathers of America, the men who lead the American Renaissance. Benjamin Franklin refused to believe the widely accepted "facts" about lightning, allowing him to understand electricity. Therefore, we can safely assume that "thinking outside the box" and believing in your own ideas are an integral part of being a "Renaissance Man".
Another interesting fact to note is that all the Ages of Renaissance were preceded by a long dark age. In ancient Athens, a long war with Sparta preceded the coming of Socrates. The European Renaissance was also preceded by the "Dark Ages" full of war, famine and the black plague (10th - 13th centuries). The American Renassiance was preceded by 200 years of colonization of a wild land, as well as wars with the England, Spain and France and Native Americans. While the years preceding the Renaissance seem to be full of misery and seem to lack of stability, the years at the beginning of each Renaissance seem to be peaceful when compared to the years preceding them. In Athens, war against Sparta had come to a standstill and a period of peace had begun. In 14th century Europe, nations had begun unifying themselves as feudalism came to an end, ushering in an era of relative peace. In 17th century America, Americans had finally organized themselves into a nation allowing them to fight all other forces against them, which again, led to an era of relative peace.
Therefore, it follows that there are 2 things neccesary for an Age of Renaissance to begin. First, there need to independent thinkers not afraid to speak their mind. Second, and Age of Renaissance is almost always an era of peace preceded by an age of darkness.
For the last 1000 years, India has been torn by war. Of these, the last 400 years under Mughal and British Empires have been the darkest days India has seen. However, since gaining independence, India has become a relatively safer and more peaceful place. There is a movement in India towards education. Having a good education is considered the most important thing needed for success. As more and more Indians become educated, there will be more Indians, such as myself, who are not afraid to think of novel ideas or to speak their mind.
An age of darkness followed by an age of enlightement, along with the presence of independent fearless thinkers is what defines a Renaissance. According to that definition, a new age is just beginning in the history of India: The Age of the Indian Renaissance.