India is the only country in the world that was ruled by Muslims for nearly 1,000 years and yet never become a Muslim country. A probable answer lies in the higher quality of Indian spiritual thought, writes Anil Rajvanshi for South Asia Monitor
There is a beautiful story in Panchatantra. In a huge well lived two groups of frogs who were always fighting for territory and resources. The king of one group who was clever decided to befriend a cobra and get him into the well so that it could finish off the other group. The cobra came into the well and one by one started eating the frogs of the other group.
The king was very happy with this development and felt that his aim of controlling the well and its resources was achieved. However, soon the cobra ate all the frogs of the other group and turned his attention to the king’s group.
The cobra told the frog king that he needs food to survive and so is helpless. Despite the king’s pleas and entreaties, the cobra started eating the king’s subjects and family members one by one and ultimately ate the king himself!
There is a general tendency in people, especially those in power, to appeal to the baser instincts of people and take the help of negative and evil forces to achieve their goals, little realizing that these forces are nobody’s friends and have their own agenda. They destroy everything in their wake including their creator and cannot be controlled once unleashed. It is therefore best to keep away from them and they should not be played with.
Nature also destroys the negative tendencies but in a very evolutionary and positive manner. The progress or evolution of species takes place by branching. Hence, whichever branch gets into a dynamic equilibrium with the surroundings survives, grows and prospers. The other branch, which could not get into equilibrium with the surrounding forces, simply dies off and with it that branch of the species. Thus nature evolves by making the other branch irrelevant.
This is a great lesson for all of us. If we want to show somebody down, then the best way to do it is to rise higher than that person and make him/her irrelevant. In this process, the whole system gets lifted. This process is far superior to the one in which the person is brought down using negative forces whereby the whole system loses.
This has been taught in all the great religions of the world and is the basis of the victory of non-violence and higher thought. However to rise up requires great courage, conviction, faith in oneself and internal security.
This is what Gandhiji did all his life. He fought against the unjust system nonviolently and always gave a solution. This helped in resolving the issues amicably. Too often people simply fight without any solution thereby creating conflicts, chaos and general violence.
Also, one of the weapons that Gandhiji employed in fighting the unjust system was that he took everybody with him. He realized that to fight a long battle against a mighty British Empire, the whole country had to be united so that each person became an important soldier irrespective of his caste, creed or religion.
This is an important lesson for the present leadership and for the present times. We should not fight against each other but need to fight the battle against poverty and unemployment so that the economy is improved, and we become a strong nation. That can only happen when we take everybody with us and not divide the nation based on caste or religion. As they say united, we succeed and divided we fail.
We should also realize that all of us are the product of this great country. We have been born in this country and most of us will live, work and die in this country. Thus it is in our interest to work together in a united way to make this country great.
In order for this to happen we need to create conditions whereby everyone is offered same opportunities of education and employment so that people, especially the youth, can progress based on their capabilities rather on their caste, creed or religion.
World over enough examples exist to show that poverty and ignorance create conditions which can be exploited for violence and terrorist activity. An empty mind is a devil’s workshop. Thus, most of the times leaders thrive on ignorant people because uneducated and unemployed youth can be easily controlled by the venom of violent and terrorist ideas.
Thus, it is necessary that we provide work and employment to the youth so that they can get on the task of nation-building. India has enough resources to do so. What is needed is the will of the leaders to get away from divisive politics. This will help improve the general environment and bring in confidence in youth to work for the greater good.
How can one make negative or evil forces irrelevant? Patanjali in his Yoga Sutras recommends that one should show indifference to these forces. By ignoring and being indifferent to them and by acting positively we can make the system evolve so that these forces become irrelevant and die their natural death.
History also shows that India followed this recipe in the past. For example, India is the only country in the world that was ruled by Muslims for nearly 1,000 years and yet never become a Muslim country. A probable answer lies in the higher quality of Indian spiritual thought. Though physically beaten by the external rulers they could not conquer the hearts and minds of Indians.
Another reason could be that religion was a very personal matter for most Indians. They had a personal god based upon India’s ancient tradition and were not interested in surrendering it to the messenger of God. They therefore simply ignored these rulers!
Yet we have not learnt anything from our history and have forgotten our great philosophical thought and are degenerating into practicing a jingoistic, ritual-based, militant religion. We almost seem to be becoming like the Taliban.
In order to reverse this trend we need to educate our children in schools about the great Indian ideas and the history of tolerance, higher philosophical thought and the lives of our great thought leaders like Buddha, Ashoka, Adi Shankaracharya, Kabir and Gandhiji. It is the solemn duty of all of us, who care for this country and are attached to the story of India, to educate and teach the youngsters about these issues.
Human beings have a tremendous propensity to humiliate other humans. We seem to get pleasure in bringing others down and in seeing them in misery. This tendency could be traced to the evolutionary process whereby to gain control over resources it was necessary to remove the competition; humiliation and pulling down others was a part of this process.
However, by becoming spiritual we can reduce our greed and become sustainable and in the process could become better human beings. This will reduce our need to control others and create conditions to fight for the resources. India and the world can therefore become a much better place to live if we become positive and rise above others to pull the whole system up.
(The writer, an IIT and US-educated engineer, and a 2022 Padma Shri award winner, is Director, Nimbkar Agricultural Research Institute, Phaltan, Maharashtra. Views are personal. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)