I was reading the Bhagavad Gita when news poured in of the astonishing events in Delhi, the triumph of AAP over the mighty BJP.
Coincidentally, I was reading the same book, a few months ago when I heard another astonishing news, the triumph of BJP over the mighty Congress.
As I watched the celebration in both cases, and the glee over the other’s defeat, I remembered verses from the book.
Chapter 16, Verse 14: I paraphrase: I have killed this foe... I shall slay others too... I am sovereign, enjoyment is mine… I am prosperous, mighty and happy.
Illustration / Devdutt Pattanaik
With these words, Krishna describes the deluded, those who have no faith in the larger design of the universe, full of forces beyond human control, those who believe that they alone are responsible for their successes, and failures.
Chapter 3, Verse 27: Nature does all the work, but the ignorant take credit for it.
I wondered whether those dancing at the defeat of the Congress in the national elections, or those dancing at the defeat of BJP in the local Delhi elections, were aware of these lines that describes human folly. Did they believe – as they rode the wave of voter’s love – that they had whipped it up?
The tragedy of India today is that Hindutva forces respect the Gita, chant verses from it before each meal, and are willing to make it the national book, but don’t seem to be actually reading it. And at the same time liberal forces (AAP?) are perhaps terrified of being seen reading the Gita, unless they are hearing Sufi music in the background, lest they be seen as less secular. Maybe I am wrong, maybe both do study the Gita deeply, secretly, but there is very little proof of it in their behaviour, as they go about with unbelievable displays of arrogance and megalomania, and deny this when the media points to it.
I am no political analyst but it seems to me, in a great measure, the failure of the Congress led to the success of the BJP and the failure of the BJP led to success of AAP. The other’s failings enables the self’s victory. And the self imagines it is because of its strategy. A vacuum sucks the self in, but the self believes it is the force causing the movement.
So much like love. It is the other who draws us in. But we believe it is we who have the charm. Arrogance and megalomania can never sustain love. The other is fickle, like voters in a democracy. They will uplift you, invest in you, submit to you, but you have to perform. This is no marriage. There is no wedlock to entrap and abuse. The other is not helpless. The other can walk away, if you fail. The other is no fool. Don’t try to manipulate the other with advertising bling and media blitz. The other is also generous.
The other can forgive, if you show signs of reform. Just work on yourself and learn to satisfy the other (it takes practice and patience). In this new democracy, you have to give in order to get. Gita calls this ‘yagna’.
The author writes and lectures on relevance of mythology in modern times, and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
The views expressed in this column are the individual’s and don’t represent those of the paper.