“A youngster begins ploughing by himself at about the age of fourteen. The work is then pure poetry, an intoxicating pleasure for him, although he is barely strong enough to manage it. A few years later, that boyish enthusiasm has been exhausted, the job is familiar, the physical energy is overflowing, and far in excess of what is required for the work; and yet there is no more to do than what has been done day after day for several years. So the young man starts to spend the week dreaming about what he is going to do on Sunday. From that moment he is lost,” Simone Weil wrote in her book, ‘The Need for Roots.’
Generally, people are concerned with protection against violence, housing, clothing, heating, hygiene and medical attention in case of illness. These are the bare minimum existential requirements. Man requires, not rice or potatoes, but food; not wood or coal, but energy.
In the same way, for the needs of the soul, we must recognize the different, but equivalent, sorts of satisfaction which cater to the same requirements. It contains food, not only for the souls of the living, but also for the souls of beings yet unborn, which are to come into the world during the immediately succeeding centuries. It is a sense of security, and it happens within a community. A collectivity has its roots in the past.
It constitutes the sole agency for preserving the spiritual treasures accumulated by the dead, the sole transmitting agency by means of which the dead can speak to the living. Every human being needs to have multiple roots of social, cultural, ethical and spiritual nature. It is in these social conditions that the disease of uprootedness is most acute.
There are two factors which make uprooting, money and education. Money destroys human roots wherever it is able to penetrate, by turning desire for gain into the sole motive. There is something woefully wrong with the health of a social system, when a peasant tills the soil with the feeling that, if he is a peasant, it is because he wasn’t intelligent enough to become a schoolteacher.
A salaried person has better social recognition than a farmer. The effect of all this can only be to bring about the most intense uprootedness among peasants. Education uproots a student from the ancestral occupation and life. Science and technology are the biggest uprooting factors of life. Traditional agrarian youth are uprooted by education, making them live in multi-storeyed flats uprooted from soil and village. It amounts to uprootedness from the very grammar of life, it implies not only ways of life as culture but also as values and traditions.
A village or a community has its roots in the past. It constitutes the sole agency for preserving the spiritual treasures accumulated by the dead, the sole transmitting agency by means of which the dead can speak to the living, nourish their souls.
To a great extent the country is uprooted also by the invasion of foreign culture through the free market system and the market economy. Dr Manmohan Singh opened the country to the free market and it is the RSS and the BJP who are reaping the results. It catered to a great longing that was felt all over the country, both in urban and rural areas. A tree whose roots are almost entirely eaten away falls at the first blow. The blow was struck by Hindutva with the slogan Ghar-Vapsi, Ram Temple and cow protection. Nostalgic suffering calls for the restoration of lost memories, land and values. The uprootedness Germany felt in the second half of the 19th century took on an aggressive form in the Nazi party and made Hitler a Messiah. The sons-of-the-soil feeling created the acute division of society into We and the Others. Whoever is uprooted uproots others. Enemies are proclaimed and the agenda of marginalisation proceed, making second class citizens first, and then enemies. “Something of the socially labelled divine: an intoxicating mixture which carries with it every sort of license Devil disguised,” wrote Simon Weil.