Sunday, October 26, 2008

Where is our Obama?

Through Krishna, the protagonist, Maharshi Veda Vyasa has this brilliant saying in the BhagavadGita :

"यदा यदा ही धर्मस्य ग्लानिर्भावती भारता। अभ्युथ्थानाम अधर्मस्य तदात्मानं सृजाम्यहम। परित्रनाय साधुनाम विनाशायाचा दुष्कृताम धर्मं सम्स्थापानार्थाया संभवामि युगे युगे।"

"Whenever righteousness is on the decline, O Bharata, and Adharma is on the rise, then I will incarnate, to protect the innocent, punish the evil doers and establish dharma, I will incarnate in every yuga"

If you look at the BhagavadGita as the allegory it was meant to be, what the poet is saying is that societies produce great men and women at times of distress, great men and women who fight lawlessness, injustice, and ignorance, and attempt to establish an order of righteousness. Think about it - the darkest period in Indian history, that of occupation by the British produced some of our greatest heroes. Interestingly too, each one perished as soon as his ordained job on the planet was done. The Mahatma was killed after India got independence. Sardar Patel died soon after integrating the princely states. And you could say that Nehru passed away only after laying a firm foundation of democracy and secularism in India (although I myself may not agree with that). My favourite columnist, Rajeev Srinivasan once wrote about precisely the same issue, although with a slightly religious bent here.

No, I have not become a religious person overnight. I still don't think that a God re-incarnated, or that the Mahatma and Sardar Patel were destined to do what they did (I used those words in rhetorical flourish). I do believe though that societies that survive for long, produce from within themselves, heroes on a regular basis - heroes who challenge the status quo, who inspire millions to fight against the injustice of the day, and who change the history of the society irrevocably.

Every lasting society has seen such people. Heroes like Washington, Adams, and Jefferson guided the country through its creation. Lincoln, JFK, and Lyndon Johnson came in to bring equality. And today, Barack Obama has become the harbinger of promised change after eight years of 'Bush-raj'.
At a time when the very existence of India is under theat, when those principles that put Indian citizenship above considerations of language, religion, caste and region are under severe stress, where, I ask, is our Obama? Where is the Sardar who can fight the 'Raj' of the Thackeray clan? Where is the Nehru, or the Shastri who'll inspire the people to put the nation before themselves? Or the JP who will put the law above petty considerations of religious vote banks?

Little men, huge and fragile egos, a sound-bite ridden media and an uninterested educated class. The perfect recipe to kill the Indian experiment with democracy.


Karthik Kambatla said...

I do not agree with your point that they perish immediately after their accomplishing their goal. It is not like Mahatma Gandhi would have stopped doing public service had he not died - he wouldn't have gone to some resort and have fun.

They keep on doing their service and when they perish, it just seems that they have done what they set out for.

Gops said...

Karthik, I didn't mean to say that Gandhiji would've given up on his struggle and led a 'restful' life after India got independence. In fact, his presence in Naokhali calming the rioteers, when the rest of the Congress party was celebrating independence is proof of that fact. I just meant to say that in the Hindu myth, every avatar of Vishnu came with a purpose, completed it, and left the earth. I was rhetorically saying that Gandhiji's purpose was India's independence, and Sardar Patel's was India's integration, as though they were avatars who'd descended just for that purpose.

Not that I mean it literally, mind you. I don't think any of them are Gods - they are great human beings who rose when the society needed them.

Vikram said...

Someone I know very closely has a very different interpretation for what Krishna said (Yadaa Yaddahi...).

According to him, the proclamation is a big scam. Lets see why... For all his evil, no-do-gooder characterization, Duryodhana was supposed to be a very good ruler and his kingdom really prospered under his rule.
Post the kurukshetra war, Krishna was killed by a wayward arrow, Arjuna could not defend his kingdom's women and cattle to paltry robbers, Yudhisthira hardly ruled and decided to go to heaven!
It doesn't end there - Parikshit, who succeeded the throne, was known to be a bad king and performed the legendary 'sarpa yaaga'. And soon after, Kaliyuga set in :-)

So, where are the innocents being protected, evil doers being punished and dharma being established?

Gops said...

Very nice interpretation. And factual too! :)