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Swimming Against the Current
|by Aneeta Chakrabarty|
Tara was the mistress of a crooked cop, yet in contrast to all the morality toting preachers, she took the witness stand and spilled the beans against the thugs who were holding the town to ransom with their nefarious network of drugs and prostitution. Putlibhai was an illiterate, abused housewife, viciously attacked by her husband during his drunken bouts. However, in contrast to her superior, educated sisters, Publibhai organized the women of the village and burnt down the liquor shops that had destroyed their homes. Vivek was denounced as a failure because he did not have a degree in Engineering or Medicine, yet unlike his better situated colleagues, he adopted 7 orphans and gave them much needed care and attention. And Shera, labeled a drunkard, rescued children forced into bonded labor.
Today, India needs thousands of crusaders with such blazing courage. Eighty percent of her population does not need redemption from sin, but from hunger and oppression. Also, they do not need lengthy lectures on “Moksha” or “the nature of reality,” but desperately need clean streets, pure water, food and shelter. They do not need slavish conformists staying in their own lane, but daring reformers who light a candle among darkening tempests, and such things are possible only when the soul is charged with its potent fuel, courage.
Unfortunately, India does not honor or value this sword arm of justice called courage. It does not develop a regard for the unconventional man who rocks the smug boat of apathy, or for the iron man who can stand tall. These qualities are too glaring, too uncomfortable too strong for the peace chanting, timid society that can compromise on anything from losing territory to all kinds of injustice in the name of an elusive, all encompassing trek to an escapist Nirvana. Yet, the genius for compromise can last only as long as the unraveling social fabric is stitched back and held together by the threads of hope. And hope comes not from compromise but from the lamps lit by valor.
Civilizations have perished and crumbled at the stroke of a barbarian, not because they lacked education, or affluence or skills, but because they had lost the courage to see and cure the diseased teeth and decaying bones of the body called Society. Indian civilization has been enslaved again and again because the spiritual transmitters, Gita geniuses and other assorted “keepers of the flame,” have failed to motivate men and women to deeds of valor.
Nothing in India will change, unless the people change. If Indian society has to flourish and be free in both body and spirit, then the Gita must be translated into action by involvement and activism, instead of aloofness and apathy. The temples should inspire, guide and unite Indians of all castes, emphasize values versus rituals, and involvement versus escapism. From its inspirational environs should arise men of steel and compassion who can ensure justice and equality.
In the eternal war of the ages, Gods have routinely destroyed demons and established justice on earth. They were warriors, armed and mighty with a fierce courage that did not hesitate to punish when necessary and reward when required. Unless the temples teach this neglected aspect of Hinduism, the spirit of God would not be in temples but far away from them in the embodied souls of courage such as Sheras and Putlibhais. As Swamy Vivekananda has said,
The Gita “specialist” may talk a long time on many aspects of the Royal knowledge delivered by the Lord of the Universe such as meditation, Universal soul, discrimination between nature and soul, atma, paramatma, renunciation, mukti, etc. However, if he avoids stressing on courage and justice, he is not preaching the Gita delivered on the battlefield to fight injustice, but the Gita of a self-seeking society that uses scripture to look the other way.
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11/08/2011 04:22 AM
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