Random thoughts on the Independence Day

Today, on the day of Independence, one thought kept coming to me. Why is it that we have so much evil around? It appears there is no clear or convincing answer to this. A similar question was put to Ramakrishna Paramahansa in a slightly different way – Why did God create evil to coexist with good. Ramakrishna  paramahamsa is believed to have said: “To thicken the plot”! Or to make it interesting and mysterious. I am not sure whether he really said this or it was attributed to him. Basically there are no answers to such questions. A more relevant question would be what should we be doing to combat evil. I was having a friendly chat with a close friend of mine. In this piece I  will try to summarize our conversation:

My friend: Our scriptures do not seem to offer clear answers to this. We are invariably told there will be divine intervention when there are excesses committed beyond a point.

I said: I think it is a partial view of our scriptures

My friend: Well, if there is no divine intervention, Karma theory always comes in handy to explain away everything.  As a solace to the victims, we are told that the evil doer will reap the effects of his bad karma when the time is ripe. Amazingly, though, our scriptures are completely silent on whether or not  one should take the evil doer head on.

Surprised, I asked : Can you elaborate on this?

My friend: Consider, for instance, the following Upanishadic Shanti Mantra:

Om Bhadram Karnnebhih Shrnnuyaama Devaah |
Bhadram Pashyema-Akssabhir-Yajatraah |
Sthirair-Anggais-Tussttuvaagasas-Tanuubhih |
Vyashema Devahitam Yad-Aayuh |

It is an invocation seeking His blessings to make sure that we should hear or see only auspicious things. This echoes the proverbial principle depicted by three mystic apes in ancient Japan(or is it China?)  – SEE NO EVIL – HEAR NO EVIL – SPEAK NO EVIL – DO NO EVIL!  While one may entertain such wishful or fanciful thinking, how is it practically possible in today’s world which is full of violence, crime and corruption. We are bound to see or hear evil. Our scriptures do NOT tell us what we should do if we see or hear evil. Are we expected to close our eyes and ears and turn the other way?

I asked naively: Are you sure that is what our scriptures preach?

My friend: Yes, of course. Our scriptures are a prescription for inaction. No wonder, we are ill-equipped to handle such issues in a morally convincing way. Even if someone ventures to do something in retaliation, a sage advice given to him is –  KEEP AWAY FROM UNRULY ELEMENTS – (or  DUSHATANA KANDA DOORA VELANGU in Tamil) .

I told my friend: You are completely wrong in your reading of our scriptures. Look at what Bhagavadgita says. In the middle of a battle field when Arjuna faced an emotional crisis similar to the one that all of us are facing today, the Lord exhorts him to act. Gita is emphatic about the need to act, especially in times of crisis.

I continued: We justify our inaction quoting scriptures out of context. It is basically our fear, insecurity and above all selfishness which is the cause of our inaction. The middle class has made most of the gains during our great economic recovery in the past 2 decades and now they cannot afford to lose all they have gained painstakingly in the name of taking bold and adventurous steps.

My friend said: What do you mean, we are all selfish? Aren’t we patriotic? We are straightforward in our dealings. We pay our taxes. We even pay donations to NGOs. We talk against the corrupt establishments. We analyze issues threadbare. We write about them. What else can be done?

I said:  What will you do if your house is on fire, for instance? You will act instantly to douse the fire, right? You will not waste time analyzing questions like how it happened, who was responsible for it and so on and so forth. Most of our debates are focussed on criticizing the corrupt system and bad governance. There is hardly any debate about what the educated middle class ought to do collectively to take on the corrupt system. Let us face it. The root cause of our inaction is plain selfishness – nothing more, nothing less. How nicely we mask this and glorify it as patriotism?

PS: In case you are curious to know who this funny friend of mine is, he is none other than my  MIND, which is forever justifying inaction in different ways. Sometimes I wonder whether it is my friend or an enemy! Great are the guys who win this battle with their petty and selfish minds.

Published in: on August 15, 2013 at 4:25 pm  Comments (1)  
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One CommentLeave a comment

  1. Well written Sir !! While on this please read my post – An “I” Day ode !!! http://wp.me/p1dZc2-gN
    Feedback most welcome !!!

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