How labour and God shaped the world
As I went late to school in life, perhaps after eight years I was born, in mid 1960 (my school record birth day is 5 October, 1952), for quite some time I was with cattle and agrarian operations in my early juvenile days even after going to school in my village. Throughout the day I used to go with my father for shepherding or go to the agrarian fields with my mother. I used to observe what people spoke about their pains and pleasures in life. When there were heavy rains threatening the life of humans and cattle or when there was drought which delayed the planting of rice or jawar that also threatened their survival, they would speak in spiritual philosophical terms.
Whether it were shepherds in the meadows or farming men and women in the fields would say ‘God decides about everything, we depend only on God now ” (In Telugu language Annitiki Devude Dikku), generally looking upwards into the sky. They would never mention any name for God. God was God for them. God and human hope were deeply entangled with philosophical speculation.
I used to look up into the sky to find out that God, and wanted to see how God looks. Though God lies up there in the skies was the message that I got from all working people no image could be seen there. Neither image nor words to listen from God would come from the sky. The only sounds that were heard from the sky were that of thunder ( Urumu) in the rainy season. And also sudden sharp thunder light (merupu) would come and disappear. Otherwise what were normally seen everyday in the sky were Sun, Moon and Stars. I used to wonder, where was God in the sky; what was God’s message? No clarity in my mind. If you ask somebody there would not come any proper reply– “God is God” they would say.
I was also surprised when people say that everything–good, bad–depends on God, why work so hard? Why not depend on God for food and water? Of course, for a long time I did not understand the role of air in human life because it is not a material like food and water. But among the grown up people, though they were not educated and read any books, there was the idea of an invisible shapeless God deep in their psyche. But at the same time they also knew that without working by deploying their own physical labour food, water and other material resources do not come. Thus God and labour are so closely intertwined that they would think that they cannot survive without either of them. That relationship was established at a deeper philosophical level.
Here I am talking about the Indian masses, who are generally believed to worship multi-idols, the world over. Actually that is not their foundational spiritual belief. Productive labour of the historical masses and divine labour of creational God have deep historical psychological relationship. Idol worship is an aberration and a negative spiritual ideology that a group of superstitious forces like Brahmins constructed as a spiritual culture now called Hindu culture. However, all forms of idol worship will disappear in an historical progressive process. Labouring masses will respect only the creational God, but not destructional idol gods anywhere in the world.
Higher level of the economy of people will sustain only when the idea of God’s creation labour and people’s productive labour synchronize. The idle, but more organized religious groups like the Brahminic priests or lazy monks and Jesuits who do not engage with the theology of labour did cause enormous economic hardships to the productive masses historically.
They forced people to build temples, Viharas, and Masjids without linking them to the education of production knowledge and expanding knowledge of linguistics and science education. They all hung around the pure idea of heaven, Moksha or so called sorrow free life (like Buddhism). Only Christian churches combined literary education with an idea of sin free life. But they too did not focus much on God’s creation labour and human production labour and their inter connectivity.
In my view no human by birth is a sinner. Even in later life the productive forces (like Dalits and Shudras of India or the working classes of other countries) are not sinners. Those who eat without producing anything are sinners. Those who treat production as pollution but eat the labour power of producers are the gravest sinners in the world. Reforming such sinners is a major task of the universal spiritual systems.
At a philosophical level the ancient food production forces appeal, if not pray in a structured manner, to the abstract God, without thinking about any image of God in routine life. Indian life is full of evidence of such non-idol God worship. There is no name to that God. At the same time they strongly believe that their labour is as important as God is. This is a classical idea that work and God make their life holistic and realistic. It is a universal philosophical notion. This combination of working on the land and praying to God is universal. The idea of worshipping shapeless and formless ‘One God’ among educated and illiterate masses got strengthened after Jesus got crucified and later resurrected, in many parts of the world. But all civilization builders much earlier than that were aware of the idea of God in the same mode that Jesus propagated in tandem with labour as life.
As I said earlier the Harappan, Jericho, Athenian civilization builders even before the Bible as a spiritual book written around the idea of creational God knew the idea of abstract One God and they seriously trusted their labour power was received from the power of creational God.
This notion strongly exists even among the tribal masses the world over. The tribal idea of worshipping nature is not akin to idol worshipping. It is a continuation of the Harappan or pre-Harappan Indians, Mesepotomian and pre-Mesopotonian Middle Eastern people and Athenian and pre-Athenian Europeans. From tribalism to the post capitalist development of the world the human consciousness is shaped by God who is a crationist and human who is a by product of that creational process, has no shape and other name, but just God, as the illiterate working masses in the productive agrarian fields or the shepherds who were developing the animal economy believed.
In a textual mode only in the Bible Cain and Abel the first children of Adam and Eve, perhaps as twins (though Cain was said to to be the first born), started both agriculture and animal aconommy simultaneously. However, the history of evolutionary economics shows that domestication of animals was done much earlier than domestication of grain and fruit plants. That could be the reason, perhaps, for God preferring animal food to grain food (what is now known as pure vegetarianism) when offered by Cain and Abel. However, it is not very certain which started first and which later because Adam and Eve the first humans were known as only fruit eaters.
The present world is shaped with a philosophical inbuilt structural human consciousness that creational God and productive human labour need to be engaged with. The role of idol gods, worshiped by some humans for a long time has not given any constructive ideas to humanity for survival and well being, except fear and superstition. However, the world is likely to overcome idol worship sooner or later as it has no spiritual philosophical basis.
Kancha Ilaiah Shepherd is a socio-spiritual reformer and author in a caste ridden India. His books Why I am Not a Hindu, Post-Hindu India, Buffalo Nationalism, The Shudras–Vision For a New Path, Untouchable God, God As Political Philosopher–Buddha’s Challenge to Brahminism are meant to carry on the reform