Sometimes things look so logical and rational. Yet, one can find oneself in dire straits at the end of the road. This is like the mirage on a hot sunny day. One who thinks there is water at the end of the road chases it only to find that his thirst has grown with no water to be found. It is a failure to understand the laws of nature at work. It is not punishment meted out by the Lord. It is the effect when we find ignorance (Thamasam) as the dominant connector.
We see this irrationality all around us.
We believe in God, but fail to understand that God is a pointer or reference for an ideal to seek. We become so committed to the God and His worship that we fail to see the needy – God’s children -suffering in poverty and disease in our neighborhood.
We study, learn and talk about “living in the moment”. Yet in our conversations we fail to see the emotional response we generate in the person listening to our statements. We persist on our arguments and point of view without any consideration for the emotional anguish we are creating – unknowingly and unintentionally of course – in the listener.
But all these irrationality in our daily life pale in comparison when I heard and then read recently about “How A Hindu Apocalyptic Worldview Influences Steve Bannon” . The article is written by Akhilesh Pillalamarri
It is disappointing to note that the author somehow confirms that the views of Steve Bannon are corroborated in BG as noted in his byline: “The apocalyptic worldview found in the Bhagavad Gita, a Hindu epic, is very similar to President Trump’s chief advisor’s”.
One needs to be careful when reading such essays. Otherwise the irrationality and superficial views might become part of the common base of knowledge. This will be like the belief system that promotes chasing after the mirage looking for water.
Let us review the few verses quoted in this article and offer some views to disabuse any apocalyptic interpretation of the same.
It is better to engage in one’s own duties (Dharma), even though one may perform it imperfectly, than to accept another’s duty and perform it well. One who performs activities that arise as part of natural order and according to one’s nature (svabhāva-niyataḿ karma kurvan ) is not affected by their negative effects. 18. 47.
Much of the BG is devoted to clarifying what is dharma (right vs. wrong). It is an outcome of objective analysis of any situation. Chapter 14 offers an analytical approach for objectivity. Chapter 12 describes the evidences of an objective person. This chapter also states that such objective person as some one near and dear to Lord Krishna.
An objective person has neither friends nor enemies. He/she looks at the world – and indeed the Universe – as one (Thath Thwam Asi); like a drop of water as part of a larger body of water. For such an objective person no one is superior or inferior; no one to be excluded or included; he/she exists without barriers – or walls – like a breeze that spreads fragrance for all to enjoy without even being aware of it. For him/her there are no extremes of views like alt. right or alt. left.
Leaving aside all of the above and simply to choose an arbitrary set of views and values and then proclaim that is my “Dharma” and I must pursue them at all cost, while including some and excluding others – even to their irrational ends and outcomes – may not be the true understanding and use of the scripture.
Whenever and wherever a decline of right vs. wrong and a predominance of the wrong prevails. At those times I manifest Myself personally. 4.7.
Scriptures like any literary writings should be understood and interpreted for their content and the context. When someone reads “Darling, you are my heavenly rose”, the reader understands the depth of affection and emotional bondage expressed here. Instead to believe that woman is a rose to be plucked apart like petals is irrationality.
Bhagawath Geetha is an universal description of the law of order. It is not to be constrained only for human interactions and activities. In BG and elsewhere in the Hindu scriptures the Lord (God) is described akin to Brahman. While there are many interpretations of Brahman, the frequent definition is: “That which has no properties, It exists as the enabler of all others that can be perceived; That which is eternal and changeless”. A more specific definition of Brahman is “That which enables water to wet, wind to move things, fire to burn objects”, etc.
If one takes both the above definitions one can see that Brahman stands for Laws of Nature and the God (Lord) is a representation of Laws of Nature.
Whenever the laws of nature are violated, I (the God, Brahman or Laws of nature), will prevail. Water will not stand still – unconstrained – at higher elevations. It will flow downwards. Greater the obstruction larger the fury of such water like the breaking of a dam, or avalanche in a ski slope or pouring rain in a storm, etc.
The violation of the economic laws of nature in a Democracy have their consequences too. Democratic Capitalism replaced by crony capitalism, failure to recognize the dignity of human labor and inability of political parties to reach compromises are violations of the laws of natural order in any democratic society.
One can argue on who is responsible or not. But laws of Democratic capitalism are not Democratic, Republican or Independent (who side with one or the other)! Constant and sustained violations of the laws of Democratic Capitalism will have and do have consequences. The fury of these negative forces and the resulting economic inequality – like an avalanche – show up in a true Democratic society. Indeed that is what happened in the last US election.
Breaking of the dam is the end result not the cause. The cracks in the dam and the poor quality of the Dam, its construction and/or maintenance are the real causes. Trump voters – like the dam that broke down – are merely evidences of the failure of the economic laws and the social compact that have been violated over the past five decades.
The many who are unprepared and caught in a storm suffer the fury of laws of nature. The society unprepared for the furies of economic laws and failure of the Democratic norms and their violations suffers.
To assume the manifestation of the Laws of Nature at work as the role and purpose of any individual and hence to further assume he/she is the agent of God for the moment is irrationality at its worst.
Lord Krishna said: I am the “time” the terrible destroyer of all beings in all the world, engaged to destroy all beings in the world; of those heroic soldiers presently situated in the opposing army, even without you none will be spared 11.32
Therefore arise for the battle, O Arjuna. You will gain fame by conquering the enemy and enjoy a flourishing kingdom. All these warriors have been slain already by Me due to previous design; you are merely the instrument. 11.33
Above verses again clarify that the Laws of Nature (God) is at work constantly. Their effect and impact are far larger than the role of any one person or individual. Everyone has a duty to perform and he/she should pursue the same. Glory to those who pursue their duty.
The above does not make it a clarion call to any individual like Steve Bannon. Instead it is a call to action for anyone and everyone who understands the basic laws of nature in Democratic Capitalism and the fury that happens if these laws are constantly violated.
Crony capitalism, inaction through discord between political parties, growing anxiety due to economic disparity have resulted in the current election outcome. The effect might be like the destruction after a storm, Tsunami, hurricane or avalanche. But it also requires not one or few but the entire community – the nation as a whole – to roll up their sleeves and engage in reconstruction activities.
The multitudes of people showing up in the town halls and expressing their views and bending the views of politicians dumb and deaf to the plight of their constituents may indeed be heeding to the above verses of BG and its call to action?