P.R. Sarkar's Theory of Cycles

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Jan Krikke:

"Some 12,000 years ago, hunter-gatherers turned to farming, initially wild varieties of crops like peas, lentils and barley and herded wild animals like goats and wild oxen. Agriculture led to the first settlements, town, and cities. The emergence of large, structured communities organically led to a “division of labor,” a requirement in the development of larger social structures.

As these larger social structures emerged, Indian sages concluded that the development of societies evolved around activities that can be classified into four distinct types. Some people became administrators or religious teachers, some became soldiers providing protection, some became merchants and sold food produced by farmers and merchandise produced by craftsmen, and some became workers, employed by merchants, farmers, or craftsmen.

The sages identified them as such, in four generic types: workers, warrior, spiritual (thinking) types, and merchants. Remarkably, the sages used this generic classification as the basis for a prophecy that resembles the prophecies we also find in monotheistic religions: the Promised land in the Bible, the Ingathering in the Talmud, and the return of the Mahdi (the “divinely guided one”) in the Quran.

The Indian sages predicted that humanity as a whole goes through four cycles during which the four generic types take turns in “ruling the world,” that is to say, periods or cycles during which one of the four types is predominant in society. The spiritual cycle is followed by the warrior cycle, the merchant cycle, the worker cycle, after which the cycle starts again.

Like their contemporaries elsewhere in the world, the Indian sages were mythologizers and conceived of the cycle in astronomical terms. They spoke of Kalpa and Yuga lasting last hundreds of thousands and even over a million years. Sarkar argued that humanity is now in the Merchant cycle, which he equated with capitalism and which required a response to get humanity to the next cycle.

Sarkar appears to have been the first modern Indian philosopher to argue that the four types identified by the ancient sages have modern relevance and can be acted upon. Sarkar developed a socioeconomic and political theory called PROUT (Progressive Utilization Theory) that combines socialism and spirituality based on collaboration and decentralization. It addresses the shortcomings of both capitalism and communism. Showing its Tantric (pre-vedic) inspiration, PROUT encompasses the whole of the individual and collective existence for all beings, including physical, educational, mental, cultural, and spiritual."

(Source: draft of Jan Krikke's article: "REPAIRING THE FUTURE: P.R. SARKAR AND LAWRENCE TAUB")


The Spiritual types as developed by P.R. Sarkar

Formulation by Hayward and Voros in the context of the Sarkar Game:

Group 1, Workers

You want safety, security, and reasonable comforts. You want inspiration and faith to alleviate suffering and the fear of death. You usually leave complicated political and economic decisions to leaders you trust. When inspired, you loyally follow leaders of the other classes. But if your needs are not met, you can disrupt, create chaos or even bring the system down.

Group 2, Warriors (soldiers, policemen, etc.)

Your physical strength and courage are your greatest assets. You embrace challenge and struggle. You value honor, discipline, and self-sacrifice. Your will, patience and hard work are your strengths. You protect society from danger and chaos, by enforcing order. Sports and martial arts are your hobbies. You obey and expect others to obey authority and follow orders, no matter what.

Group 3, Intellectuals (thinking, seeking, contemplative types)

Your developed mind is your greatest asset. The search for truth, removing errors and confusion, is your purpose. Some of you have knowledge of science, while others have knowledge of spiritual reality. You protect everyone by making rules and laws and ordering the warriors to enforce them. You debate hard so that the best ideas win. You create enlightenment. You lead others by establishing your religion, your science or your political system as the Truth.

Group 4, Entrepreneurs (merchants)

You excel in administration and organization. Efficient and effective, you manage large numbers of people to produce new products and accomplish difficult tasks. Through wealth and power, you can help everyone. You reward loyal service with higher salaries. Efficiency is very important.

In Sarkar’s model, the order of the cycles differs from the original cycle mentioned in the Vedas. Sarkar starts with the worker cycle, the Vedas with the spiritual cycle. The four generic types are not fixed in any one person. A merchant can also display worker or warrior characteristics. Most people have features of two or more generic types, but one type usually predominates in each individual. For Sarkar, the order is evolutionary. Each typology can be progressive and deeply regressive, chaining humans to the past.

(Source: draft of Jan Krikke's article: "REPAIRING THE FUTURE: P.R. SARKAR AND LAWRENCE TAUB")

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