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A Wake Up Call

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“When Politics becomes lifeless, the triple Veda sinks, all the dharmas (i.e., the bases of civilization) (howsoever) developed, completely decay. When traditional State –Ethics are departed from, all the bases of the divisions of individual life are shattered.”[1]

There is something extremely disconcerting about Bhishma’s warning to Yudhisthira in which he says, “When our current cycle of time nears its end, the people of the country shall be reduced to the selling of food, the Brahmans to the selling of the Vedas, and women to the selling of their bodies… an all consuming fire shall burn all around. The travellers who seek shall not receive even food, water or shelter; and refused from all sides, they shall be seen lying all around on the roads.”

Doesn’t this vision seem familiar? In any event it is not hard to imagine and that is what makes such a prophecy terrifying. If it has truly reached a point where it’s begun to take shape, no longer nebulous and hypothetical, then it is time for us to wake up. And if we are already awake, then it is time for us to rise. And if we have already risen, then it time for us to act.

And this action will only be the beginning. For, even though India had enough foresight in the past to make up for all this lost time in the middle, she has now become habituated to moving ahead inch by inch instead of taking lengthy strides as was her nature. Her Politics today need serious re-thinking and re-planning. To be labelled as the largest democracy is enough to inflate our hearts with pride, but little do we realise that only few are aware of what it means and the different connotation it has in the Indian context.  For us, it is something less synthetic and more in keeping with the thought that is so unique and peculiar to India alone.

“Her (India’s) mission is to point back humanity to the true source of human liberty, human equality and human brotherhood. When man is free in spirit all other freedom is at his command… When he is liberated from delusion, he perceives the divine equality of the world which fulfils itself through love and justice, and this perception transfuses itself into the law of government and society. When he has perceived this divine equality, he is brother to the whole world, and in whatever position he is placed he serves all men as his brothers by the law of love, by the law of justice. When this perception becomes the basis of religion, of philosophy, of social speculation and political aspiration, then will liberty, equality and fraternity take place in the structure of society and the satyayuga returns. This is the Asiatic rendering of democracy which India must rediscover for herself before she can give it to the world.”  

Undoubtedly, our westernised and equally synthetic education is to blame for this lack of understanding, leaving only a miniscule minority that has comprehended the exalted goals of the past and seen through the shortsighted vision of the present.

Unfortunately, they have as yet not attempted or succeeded even if they have, in changing the dominating thought process.

The same goes for a large number of the politicians for as long as ignorance keeps the masses shrouded it would only serve them well, ensure the weight of their piggy banks and give them that sense of false superiority as well as an imaginary cause to fight. In fact for a stereotype of this profession it could be said that the politician “… does not represent the soul of a people or its aspirations. What he does usually represent is all the average pettiness, selfishness, egoism, self-deception that is about him and these he represents well enough as well as a great deal of mental incompetence and moral conventionality, timidity and pretence. Great issues often come to him for decision, but he does not deal with them greatly; high words and noble ideas are on his lips, but they become rapidly the claptrap of a party.”

The parties which are essentially a sign of a live and conscious democracy, have today become a joke and a poor one at that. Each is concerned only with the motive of bringing down the other irrespective of the good that it may be hoping to do. Cutting each other’s throat and tenure, maligning the good along with the bad, our politicians it would seem are left with not much time in hand to spend on the upliftment of the country. The diversity in opinion of the individual parties can only be healthy so long as the ultimate motive is common – in our case, the motive can only be in the protection and the progress of the people of India, of the Mother and her Children. “Only one party is inexcusable, inadmissible, not to be parleyed with, the party which is against freedom, the party which seeks to perpetuate national slavery.”

The ones who are still astute and persevering are quickly brought down so as to merge with the general body and not stand apart… that is what we have become… average, ordinary, no different, a mass.

But if we want, we can fish ourselves out of this situation as well. The oars are ours to take. The aims are ours to achieve. It has all been told to us, all been ingrained in us, and we have in us the strength of that indomitable past… a few centuries of a dark sun cannot stop us from being what we essentially are or believing in what we hold as true.

They say when Yudhisthira ruled “…the world indeed had become like the heavens. Happiness on earth was in fact, even greater than in the heavens.”

Let us no longer depend on the politicians nor the next man. Instead, encompass them as well in our vision and teach them as well along with our children. Let us make a heaven of our lives once again. Let us give the gods something to be jealous of, to be proud of.

All we need in this hour of need is to recall the true essence of Politics, the significance of the Motherland, the value and role of Patriotism; even if we can’t shout into the skies the jubilant echoes of Bande Maatram, we must feel within our hearts, the glow and passion of its words, its essence. We have to go back to the Past when Politics and Spirituality shared a common purpose, moved towards a common goal, not estranged from each other. When that link is firmly established, it will give to us the true Politics and the true Religion.

India has a mission and a purpose just as every human soul has its mission and a purpose. If we can stand up for ourselves, do our bit, the rest will follow. But first, it is we, each for himself, that must without further delay, take the first step into the Future.

O India, land of light and spiritual knowledge!
Wake up to your true mission in the world,
show the way to union and harmony.[2]

References:

(All quotes in italics are by Sri Aurobindo)
1. Udyog Parva
2. The Mother, Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Pondicherry