Different Strokes|Jan 14, 2009 9:41 AM| by:

Sage Advice

In the Shanti Parva of the Mahabharata, the wise grandsire Bhishma gives a last lesson in administration and polity to the new ruler, Yudhishtra:

“If the king did not exercise the duty of protection, the strong would forcibly appropriate the possessions of the weak, and if the latter refused to surrender them with ease, their very lives would be taken….Ruin would overtake everything if the king did not exercise the duty of protection.”

Ancient Bharata may have morphed into Modern India but what Bhishma uttered millennia ago, holds true just as much in present times. The ‘king’ is today a body of men voted and put into their respective thrones by the people of the nation. What transpires on this soil is then the responsibility of the government in power and should it fail to deliver its promises, or refuse to progress along with the rest of the world, or offer inadequate protection to its citizens, the ‘king’ then would be liable for rebuke and compelled to step aside to make way for someone more competent before leading the nation to utter ruin.

Having said that, there is perhaps one more way of looking at the words of Bhishma. What if there is a King that resides within each one of us who always fulfils His duty? Then do we not also have a duty towards our inner King? Is it not imperative that we fulfil promises made towards our own progress, that we not only invoke His presence and surrender ourselves to His rule, but also, offer ourselves as instruments to do His work, to protect His land, to defend His kingdom. And when we can do this within us, we will see if reflected in the world around us.

We grieve for the mindless terror that has struck India in the last year. Both the inner and outer causes baffle us and any words expressed feel inadequate. And there is nothing that can make us say with conviction that this is the end of a nightmare. But with all our handicaps, we do know that what takes place does so with a deeper meaning than what meets the eye. What we realize is that despite our helplessness, we do have something that no amount of terror can extinguish—faith. Our trust in the Divine is our only weapon that can match the wrath and ruthlessness of those whose aim is to deprive us of that very faith. And in the end, it is not only the body of men who can or will protect us, but also the King who is within each one us, who rises to the occasion and strikes down the forces of darkness that threaten to deprive us of our share of Light.

This is the beginning of a new year. It is a moment that comes with hope and the prospect of new growth. Let us cherish that hope and concede that although their may be a king who rules this land there is only one King to whom we owe our allegiance—it is to that King that we at Next Future say, “Let Thy will be done”.