Dharma or Jati - We cannot have both.
India is the fountainhead of civilization, the land of Dharma, of Sri and Krishna, Buddha and Mahavira, Farid and Nanak. How did this great nation of ours go astray? Why did thousands of years of slavery, poverty, and hunger afflict us like a curse? There are many to point fingers at if that is our wish - to find faults and please our guilty selves? Yet doing so will not absolve us of our own weaknesses.
We chose skin over the soul. Although our sages and scriptures exalt the latter; although the Gita finds only the latter to be our true nature; although Kabir declares one supreme Rama to be seated in all of us. Yet, who has listened? The greatest nectar of wisdom, the greatest declaration that is possible - aham brahmāsmi tat twam asi - has reverberated this land for eons. Yet, who has listened? We chose skin over the soul, ritual over knowledge, and opened the doors of our own peril.
Other nations are barbaric to the foreigner. Yet as a nation they stand as one. We on the other hand have chosen to be barbaric to our own. We have continued to participate, tolerate, and propagate a society where a person’s worth has been determined by artificial and sophisticated divisions at birth. By the colour of their skin, or the lineage of their bodies. The soul has been left aside, sambhāv towards all beings has been perverted, and we have chosen to be attached to the skin, the flesh, the body, the kin, the tribe. We have turned into apologetics of a social system that gives primacy to jāta, and we carry the relics of this tormenting system in our very names and identity.
Where is the nation? Where is the solidarity? We are the nation of many warring communities in a constant state of strife, full of communal preferences. We have ignored the being, the soul, the parabrahma, the boddhi chitta, and degraded ourselves into warring tribes, fighting out of fear, ego, greed, and fury. This fury has only generated chaos and broken our bones. What shall be the strength of such a nation whose bones are crushed with a thousand cracks? How can it stand? How can it fight? How can it defend itself? How can it prosper? Isn’t slavery and a state of being dominated our natural destiny, unless we change our course?
There is no dearth of enemies beyond our borders. And the threat is urgent. Yet how can we fight when our house remains divided? When there exists no end to apology for our tribal traditions. We have to choose. We can be slaves who follow our archaic tribal traditions, or masters who invent new ones. When the Gita calls even the Vedas to be a pond, in front of the vast ever-present knowledge, why then are we so attached to the archaic? When ours is the nation blessed by rebels like the Buddha, why do our feet get so feeble in restarting again? Yes, we must walk with Radha and Krishna, Kali and Shiva, Buddha and Mahavira, Shakaracharya and Kabir, Mira and Nanak. Yes, we must hold the Vedas and the Dhammapada, Gita, and Gurbani to be dear to us. Yet, we must have no hesitation in forfeiting those systems of oppression which pollute our greatest spiritual heritage of equanimity and maitri, block us from recognizing the dignity in all beings and misdirect us to exploit and degrade others in pursuit of our ego and greed. Let us show no mercy towards oppressive customs and beliefs that have poisoned Dharma in this nation and have stripped the human being of their dignity, treating them as a mound of flesh. The discriminatory tribal mind, that we have cultivated and practiced against our own brothers and sisters, is our greatest weakness. In such a world of no solidarity, there will be no freedom or equality, and there will be no strength. So before fighting our enemies beyond the borders, let us first slay those enemies in our hearts and minds, that make us not see the dignity in our fellow beings, and that divide the world into warring and secluded tribes.
Our nation is a great refuge of Dharma. How rich are we, how lucky that we sing the poetry of the Sufis and the bhaktas in one breath. How lucky that we extol Rama and Allah interchangeably. How blessed that we are the land of refuge for the Jews, the Syriacs, the Parsees, and the Tibetans. Which culture is so rich that the whole world has come to her? Everyone has desired to be her child. This is the land of Dharma, but a land where its own children have betrayed her with hypocrisy. Where the gulf between preaching and practice has been large. Where the same priest who speaks of God in all, refuses to share a meal with those of other jātis and faiths. We must end this hypocrisy and once and for all make a choice. What do we choose - Dharma or Jāti? We cannot have both. There is no seer, no Buddha who does not see divine in all beings and does not call that, and that alone as Dharma.
Today, although we have been freed of foreign tyrants, we have elected new tyrants above us. And does that come as a surprise? In the divided polity as ours, fragmented into castes and religions, lacking in solidarity, we have created chaos. Incapable of taming our own discriminating minds, we have chosen to be tamed by new masters. Masters who have let go of all pretence of Raj Dharma. Who are openly corrupt and partial. Who care not of the poor, or the prosecuted. Who sell fear and hate, and who are indifferent to human dignity if it comes in the way of political gains. One day one pretender is in power, and another day another. They play the musical chair of power, while people suffer in their self-created chaos. We are seeking masters who shall tame us, instead of becoming our own masters who tame the afflictions of our minds. We are trembling with fear, salivating in greed, and burning in hate and anger, all because we have chosen to unsee dignity - dignity within us, the eternal shining light that the sages and the Bodhisattvas speak of, and the same dignity that burns in others just as bright.
In the name of Allah and Rama, many egos have been polished, many Shaitans and Raavanas have been worshipped, many political careers have been made, many heads have been severed, many rivers of blood have been spilled. Yet only a few have worshiped Allah and Rama. Only a few have surrendered their fear and ego. Only a few have found humanity to be their only tribe, only a few have seen the divine’s light in all beings.
Let such wisdom grow manifold.
Let us all, children of this great nation of Dharma, realize this light.
Let us all through knowledge overcome our divisions.
Let us all through solidarity find strength.
Let us all through strength rebuild this great nation of light.
Let us all with this great light illuminate all the beings of the world.
Personal blog. Views expressed are my own, expressed in personal capacity.