Volume 11 - Issue 01
January 2013
Other Articles

'Like' us on Facebook Follow us: facebook twitter vimeo youtube
Font Size
Posted on : Jan 30, 2013


Prof. G. Venkataraman


listen now audio download pdf download

part 03



part 01 of occasional musings by prof. g. venkataraman part 02 of occasional musings by prof. g. venkataraman part 03 of occasional musings by prof. g. venkataraman part 04 of occasional musings by prof. g. venkataraman

Failing to speak out in defence of Dharma is also Adharma

Now there are people who feel that one must speak only about positive things, which automatically rules out any reference to the urgent but at the same time ugly, gruesome and even dangerous problems. I take a different view. Yes, one must undoubtedly be positive and also strongly advocate positive values as opposed to negative tendencies. That said it is equally important to be acutely aware of things that are wrong so that they may be set right. On this, I believe I am on strong ground because Swami Himself has compared Bhishma with Vibhishana and described how the latter was far better. Though belonging to the Rakshasa (demonic) clan, Vibhishana boldly spoke out against adharma (unrighteousness) when there was a need to. By contrast, not only the venerable and learned Bhishma but also other gurus like Kripacharya and Dronacharya chose to remain silent when grave atrocities were being committed in public in the royal court of the Kauravas.

Swami said that failing to speak out in defence of Dharma must be considered a crime. One commentator put it neatly and in today’s context. He said: “When highly vocal fringe groups with outrageous if not extremist views are allowed to wield a huge megaphone while all of us either acquiesce or just remain silent, then one of two things could happen. Either the fringe group would simply race away to wield total power or a counter fringe on the opposite side would appear. In one case, there would be unilateral domination while in the other there would be extreme polarisation, with the silent majority caught in a crunch. Clearly, both are bad options.”

One does not have to look beyond today’s papers and TV to find many examples. And this has gone on throughout history. That is why in India, the Puranas constantly held out examples of a just society and gave it the name Rama Rajya, which simply meant a society where Truth and Righteousness holds way. The Western world has its counterpart in Utopia but I doubt if Utopian society laid as much stress on Sathya and Dharma as Rama Rajya did. Today for the Kali Yuga, we need a version 2.0 of Rama Rajya which is what Swami laid out for us – Prema Rajya, if I may call it that.

To help us understand how important as well as effective Prema Rajya can be, let me for a moment make a brief reference to a recent event namely, the horrifying and blood curdling incident in which a young man, presumably mentally deranged, shot his way into a school in the small and picturesque town named Newtown in the state of Connecticut in America, mowed down 20 children and six teachers, all within a few minutes, with a fast firing semi-automatic weapon. He then killed himself. By the way, before coming to the school, he killed his mother.

I shall not go into the gory details but instead comment briefly on why gun violence in America outstrips that in all other countries. There is of course a valid historical reason for the famous Second Amendment to the US Constitution that allows citizens to bear arms. Not many are aware that after defeating the British army, the former colonies of Britain in what is now America did not immediately come together on day one to form one country. They continued for a while as independent and sovereign states while wise elders deliberated intensely about whether they should unite and if so, in what manner. When they finally chose to, one of the things they decided was not to have a standing army! This may sound unbelievable in today’s context, but back then there was a serious distrust in armies since they could side with a king and make him a dictator. Then arose a question. Suppose these newly created United States were to be attacked by a foreign enemy? What then? It was then decided that citizens, especially those who had fought in the recent war of liberation ought to have the right to possess their arms so that they could instantly come together to fight the invader. And let us not forget that Britain did try to recapture the lost colonies; indeed they even managed to burn down the White House, to which President Obama made a humorous reference recently, while welcoming the PM David Cameron of UK.


What I am driving at is that a historical constitutional amendment with a definite political objective was, in due course, surreptitiously used by gun manufacturers to create a very powerful lobby, powerful both in political and financial terms. So strong has the clout of this lobby become that it has managed to lock the mental attitudes of most people to the era of the Wild West so to speak. While I can say chapter and verse on this subject, I shall not; instead, I shall just call attention to an obvious statistics to which Fareed Zakaria of CNN drew pointed and emphatic attention.

Fareed’s point was simple and he made it by comparing two countries, America with a population of about 300 million and Japan with a population of about 120 million. Thanks to the deliberate manipulation of the gun laws in America, there are presently about 280 million guns, which makes it roughly 90 guns for every 100 people. In Japan the corresponding figure is 0.6 guns for every 100 people because of very strict gun laws. That is the difference tight regulation makes. Thus, last year while there were over 10,000 gun related homicides in America, in Japan the number was exactly zero.

Many others have commented on this striking difference and here is what one writer says (I apologize I did not take care to note down the citations but that omission is easily taken care of by going to the Google):

In 2008, the U.S. had over 12,000 firearm-related homicides. All of Japan experienced only 11, fewer than were killed at the Aurora (in the state of Colorado) shooting alone. And that was a big year: 2006 saw an astounding 2, and when that number jumped to 22 in 2007, it became a national scandal. By comparison, also in 2008, 587 Americans were killed just by guns that had discharged accidentally.

The Avatar's message is the remedy to fix all the mess

What it all means is that with sheer discipline, even the impossible becomes possible. Just imagine how much more can be achieved if through discipline and morality we are able to gain the Grace of God! With so many problems facing humanity, can we say there are no solutions, when Swami has laid them out so clearly? The sad fact is that we do not have either the time and/or the inclination to bother about solutions since those problems are not directly affecting us as individuals.

Incidentally, let me at this point emphatically stress that it is not my intention to paint one country black and the other lily white. In fact, if I turn the gaze on India we have a zillion things to be ashamed of and even hang ourselves as the saying goes. My point is entirely different which is that if we have to face adharma in today’s world – and who can deny that is not our job – then we have no option but to take Bhagawan Baba’s teachings very seriously. And so, let me revert to Swami and His teachings by going back all the way to what He said as Krishna to Arjuna, about when and why God appears as an Avatar. Here is a translation of that famous declaration in the Gita:

This declaration is oft-quoted and well known. However, as Swami has stressed several times Avatars come mainly to teach a message. Indeed Krishna Himself says that He comes again and again because the Knowledge He imparts disappears with the passage of time. It is when humans ignore the Knowledge of the Atma or Atma Vidya/Atma Jnana as it is sometimes referred to, that the practice of Dharma also steeply declines.

In other words, Avatars come to remind as well as retrain us to put Dharma back on the pedestal to which it belongs. The Avatar does not come as a repair-man to fix the problems we have created. As the saying goes, he who breaks the vase must fix it. It is us humans who have in various ways including sheer indifference who have allowed adharma to gain ascendency; it is therefore our collective responsibility to set things right. I am mentioning all this because although the Bhagavad Gita is well known, not many are aware that it is all about doing one’s duty.



counter for wordpress