Monthly Archives: December 2015

Discretion is the Better Part of Valour

discretion

Many of you have either asked offline or may have been quietly reading and wondering: “Why all the Reprints?”. You probably believe we should simply jump in and enjoy learning and discussing our vast civilizational heritage and culture. What is the need for a site that collects, curates,and builds on the civilizational heritage of Bharat to first focus on some of the bad habits Bharatiyas have developed over the years?

The reality is, anyone even remotely acquainted with strategy knows that one must first know oneself. This means not only understanding culture or even strengths, but in doing a dispassionate situational analysis and understanding key weaknesses and impediments. The reality is that while many of our people are highly knowledgeable, they remain terribly and incorrigibly stupid—despite IQ-based claims to the opposite (couched in pseudo-intellectual arrogance). We have documented these behaviours (and their drivers) at length: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. Nevertheless, the key takeaway is lack of judgment and discretion.

Prudence (prasamiksha) and discretion (suneeti) go hand in hand as they mandate cautiousness in approach and care not only in planning, but also in implementation. That is the importance of the Shakespearean saying “discretion is the better part of valour”. Bharatavarsha may have had a rough millennium, but it was not due to a dearth of valour or courage or manliness or even knowledge. In fact, rather than a dearth of these things, there was an oversupply. Instead, the issue was a lack of judgment (vichara) and discretion.

discretion3

Discretion also means separating the necessary from the ancillary or distinguishing the critical from non-critical. “Is the purpose of me talking to jump and dump my thoughts or to filter them so as to communicate only what is relevant or required?”. “Am I promoting something because I find it pleasing though it undercuts my cause, or because it is pleasing but is also in harmony with my cause?”, “Am I retweeting this because I am Pavlov’s dog trained to respond to short term stimuli and emotions, or is this valid and useful information that should be disseminated to my 1 follower?”. In short, discretion necessitates prioritisation over rash action and rash courage.

Discretion means not only rejection of perennial hyperbole or hyperbolic outburst, but also means having tact. It means understanding how to diplomatically communicate ideas or opposing views, without poisoning the discourse. This is utterly lacking today in Indians, who suffer from the best friend-worst enemy complex. Able to only conceive of the world in false dichotomies, false gestures to placate mummy-approved egos become more important than advancing common interests and the common agendas (they, however, have personal agendas aplenty). “You disagree with me on 5%? You are my enemy”. “You honour me though you plot our destruction? I will teach you my secret”. This means our “argumentative indians” (this should not be a badge of pride) will even give away their plans to the enemy, going so far as to educate him due to desire for flattery or desire to “look schmart”. Enemies from the British on have been all too happy to do this.

Since our argumentative morons will predictably and childishly contest this, here is the Dictionary definition…for kids.

discretion2

Prudence, discretion, and judgment are all essential to good generalship. In fact, that is precisely what an historian of note had to say. No less than R.C. Majumdar, the grand doyen of modern itihaasa, himself wrote the following:

We have also contemporary records of defeats inflicted upon Muslim army by the Hindus, proving thereby that the former could not claim any inherent superiority in military skill and discipline”[1,313] “In spite of the stubborn bravery of the Indian soldiers, the day was lost on account of bad generalship.” [1,309]

That is why we differentiate between adhyatmika and laukika vidya, and mere valour vs  astute generalship. Kings do not only implement what they are told from the dharmashastra, they have to evaluate the kshetra and adapt to the kaala accordingly. That is why strategy is the realm of the Kshatriya. It is not mere Rajniti advancing ends 1 move at a time, but thinks multiple moves ahead and evaluates the effect on the state and system. Kshatriya dharma distinguishes between strategem and strategy. One is a mere tactic in war & politics and the other is essential to the conduct of long term statecraft.

As such, generalship not in war, but in politics, and even culture is what is lacking today. After all, if culture is the new politics, should cultural revival not be led by those who are politically and strategically savvy? In a previous article we wrote how Scipio Africanus was once insulted for allegedly not being brave enough to fight the enemy immediately. He responded condescendingly, saying “my mother gave birth to a general not a soldier”. A soldier is trained only how to fight and take orders. But an officer or a general is trained to also know when to fight and where to fight and even with what to fight. That is the importance of discretion, which promotes “good policy”.

It teaches us not only to be discrete, but also in being practical enough to know whether you should say or discuss something at a point in time or in a particular manner. In fact, a recent episode among a certain site read by a section of Indians is illustrative of this fact. See how quickly assorted sepoys picked up on this political catastrophe with cultural significance? They used the arguments and undisciplined navel-gazing of our own idiots…against us.

Many of you may have heard the calumny of how beef consumption was allegedly extolled by our Vedic predecessors. This canard has been disproven time and time again (1, 2, 3, 4, 5). But in true Goebbelsian fashion, dharmaphobes continue to propound it as well as the “Aryan Invasion Theory”. So just when the tide began shifting, what did our too clever by half, half wits do?—they produced a piece of dubious scholarship to propound exactly that—all under the name of “intellectual inquiry” and philognosis—precisely what Rajiv Malhotra warned against.

When well-meaning Dharmikas began to question this, they were met with a sally of derisive remarks about intelligence, and sly attempts at caste bigotry, etc. But this band of ahankari-shikhandis forgets that Knowledge is not Intelligence. Intelligence is not Wisdom. And Knowledge is not Wisdom. Wisdom, better known as Buddhi, is more important than the other two precisely because protecting oneself and society is not merely about what you know or how quickly you learned it or how loudly you shout or how bravely you fight. It is about how wisely you conduct your struggle.

The Pandavas were outmatched by the Kauravas not merely in numbers, but even by power and knowledge. One Arjuna was tasked with facing off against not only a better armed rival (Karna), but also against his more Knowledgeable Guru (Drona), and his more powerful Grandsire (Bhishma). Against such an astonishing assortment of warriors, what was it that enabled Dhananjaya to achieve vijaya? The son of Ghatotkacha, Barbarika, himself credited the wisdom, strategy, and generalship of Krishna.

It was not an alleged IQ of 8 billion or knowledge of the entire corpus of the Dharmasastra or the adharmik rantings of a pseudo Acharya, but the wisdom of Krishna and his prudent strategy, confirmed through practice, that defeated opposing chess players such as Shakuni, Drona, and Kripa and permitted the Pandavas to prevail.

But make that point today, and the immediate response of this bigoted bunch is “what is your caste? What is your gotra? What is your iq?” and “I’m to busy too have time for ‘blitzkrieg’”. It is precisely this breed of slimeball that Annamacharya, the great Brahmana saint of Andhra, intellectually opposed. He was sickened by their perversion of Sruti and Smriti, disgusted by their disdain for women and women’s education, and appalled at their casteism that prevented lower castes from entering temples. The descendants of this ilk are amongst us today. Sure they may wrap themselves in saffron or the tricolour in general. Yeah, they may occasionally suffer the participation of a “panchama” here and there as their “token friend”, or even making dubious pretense to forcibly ending endogamy and caste-by-birth, but make no mistake, their agenda is monopoly and adharmic paparchy even at the cost of civilizational defeat. After all, anything to protect ahankar.

They lack wisdom, so they educate the enemy and give them talking points. They lack humility, so they or their underlings make vain boasts about their community’s accomplishments. They lack decency, so they preach “dharma” while pursuing private lives of perversion. And they lack imagination and real intelligence—strategic intelligence—so they appropriate the ideas of others (or even wholesale articles) and make pretense to originality and divine inspiration.

Some brainless “too clever by half” chankian dharmikas pride themselves on “chankian” maneuvres of financing a worse enemy to harm the lesser enemy. Learning nothing from Indira Gandhi’s Bhindranwale experience, they display “tactical brilliance” in petty politicking but strategic stupidity. What’s more, with zero emotional discipline, they are forever seeking to be the biggest gyaani of them all and pointlessly compete with others, creating a cacophony. No matter what his caste, his first inclination is to create a competitive offering and dissipitate collective strength.

What they forget is that the smartest is not he who knows the most, but he who applies what he knows the best. What they forget is that there is a time for cooperation as well to form a coherent voice that speaks and works methodically. This is what happens when we have people who don’t know the difference between tactics, operations, strategy, and grand strategy, but insist on being the leading armchair chanakya. This is what happens when we have generations of people who do not know how to balance Rajdharma and Rajniti. Either they become doorkeepers of conscience who are purely idealists, unwilling to ever compromise, or they are hypocrites who nakedly pursue personal interest while paying lip service to high ideals. Like Harvey Dent, they are forever carrying the load of cognitive dissonance. Therefore, between the idealist and the opportunist (of which we have far too many) is the pragmatist.

The Pragmatist

Vishvaksena Janardhana
Vishvaksena Janardhana

Dhrishtadyumna may have been the nominal senapati, but the true commander-in-chief on the Kurukshetra was Krishna. Though he sought the defence of dharma and the essence of tradition, he relied not on tradition to fight the war but pragmatism. Like the idealist, the true pragmatist pursues common objectives and the common good, but he (or she) has the common sense to know when to adjust, accommodate, or adapt. Unlike the opportunist (who is simultaneously a tyrant and a coward), he invests time in building common institutions, rather than jumping ship when a more career-advancing deal comes along. He understands how to devise and improvise tactics, strategies, and grand strategies beyond his own agenda and for combined victory. Above all, he values prudence and discretion as the handmaidens of victory. It is easy to give gyaan from a distance, harder to lead the army in the field.

Even the non-Senapati Chanakya did not only look at immediate political exigency but weighed it against long term ramification. That is the difference between a petty village politicians and a strategic statesman. It is not that the statesman doesn’t know rajniti, but that he weighs his personal political need against national/civilizational consequence. The petty politician sacrifices the national cause for personal political need, even going over to the enemy in order to wreak vengeance on the king who punished him… even if punishment was deserved.

As Rajiv Malhotra warned time and again, this band of overt fools (or covert sepoys) lends credence to a vast array of neo-colonial good cops who mistranslate and misportray our literature. By legitimising the shatrus of dharma and their arguments, they undo the very cause for which they pretend to care. This is because for them, Dharma is merely a label. It is a “company” that gives them present employ. But of course, if things begin to look grim—they can always do some horse-trading and switch sides, na? It is this same mentality that led to sepoys seeking employment with the East India Company. After all, it is just a “company” na?

That is why despite our exhortation to learn and take inspiration from the Sastras (the term classical here refers to our Saastric/Saastriya standard), we strongly and repeatedly advise against cookie cutter implementation of them.

Times have changed, circumstances are different, and we must improvise and adapt. Even if we don’t agree with others on our side, we must be willing to hear them out and exchange ideas, not just for our own good, but for the common good. Therefore, rather than the literal letter of the sastras, the principles must be what we seek to revive. Individuals are welcome to continue to maintain their respective kulacharas, but a serious and modern approach is required to tackle the issues of the present time. Frameworks of old may either be outdated or obsolete altogether.

By all means, maintain your jati tradition—who is stopping you? Disagree with reservation?—fine. There are cases for both reform or rejection. But make it without poisoning the discourse with your idiotic stereotypes and superiority complexes.

What’s more, the sickening tendency to assume all intelligence, all valour, all entrepreneurialism, and all hardihood are separately and exclusively invested in four castes is rearing its head again. A Kshatriya who outsources thinking is not a king but a pawn and hired brawn. A Brahmana with no sense of courage & pragmatism is not an adviser but an unreflective cookie cutter. A Vaisya with no sense of common ideals is not a citizen but an opportunist. And a Sudra bereft intelligence is an automaton. When has dharma ever preached any of these things? Do not counterexamples in all these varnas exist today?

Learning, “philognosis”, and pretentious piffle is not what makes a Brahmana. This is what makes a Brahmana. Character makes a Brahmana. It is because some born Brahmins lack this quality today they are forever touting “aptitude this” and “genetic code” that. Fortunately, there are real Brahmanas like S. Gurumurthy, to publicly clarify this. It is not learning which makes the Brahmin, but rather his character and honesty from sattva guna which merits entrusting him with learning. That is why we must be wary of unreliable recensions let alone translations of scripture. It is why true adhikara lies with those not in the laukika sphere but with those living the traditional adhyatmika lifestyle in devalayas, mathas and agraharas, who are qualified to properly assert what is in the Vedas, not some schmuck in the West (or East) eager for material benefit.

It is not “aptitude” for learning that defined the “Brahmana”, but sattva guna, which is the proclivity for spiritual endeavours. It is not “aptitude” for arms or government that defined the “Kshatriya”, but rajas which is the inclination to strive and endure (preferably to protect dharmic society). It is not “aptitude” for physical work that defined the “Sudra” (of previous Yugas), but tamas, which is the desire to enjoy without seeking action. The correct explanation is not some made up archetype of “aptitudes” (which is nothing but stealth casteism), but spiritual qualities that defined previous eras, but which no longer apply by birth. There are many brilliant, spiritual, and martial/enterprising Sudras in the Kali Yuga. That is why Dharma is context sensitive. What applied in the previous Yugas, does not apply in the Kali. That is why we even have N.D.Tiwaris and Mani Shankar Aiyers today—brahmins by “birth or knowledge”, but not by spiritual inclination. Hence condescending language of the previous eras, must be rejected now as should kneejerk casteism to all 5 classes we have today. Therefore, it is acting in the interest of spiritual aims and the common dharma that defines us —not “caste” markers.

And yet today,when faced between “right” and “wrong”, we have people choosing Brahmin” (or Kshatriya, Vaisya, Sudra, Dalit, etc). Can any society revive itself on this basis, on the basis of individual, separate, and conflicting caste interest (even if done subtly)? Can any society without a proper sense of overarching unity, a proper sense of Justice, a proper sense of Dharma revive? Our problem today is that the exact voices that should be calling for wisdom are preening about knowledge or power. Rather than Philosophy, they obsess about Philognosis.

Until people of the same caste publicly, privately, and consistently chastise casteist behaviour by their own (as this gentleman advocated and led by example here), expect more of the same. It is not caste vs caste, but Dharma vs Adharma. Until Dharmic Brahmanas begin challenging and defeating Adharmic Brahmanas, until Dharmic Kshatriyas begin challenging and defeating Adharmic Kshatriyas (and so on), expect more of the same. Oh, and if you just sit on the sidelines waiting and watching to side with the winner…you have no right to expect anything at all.

durvasa
Durvasa punished for ahankar

The Brahmana cannot become Drona or Durvasa (story below). The Kshatriya cannot become Duryodhana or Jarasandha. The Vaisya cannot become Jagat Seth or Harshad Mehta, and so on. Even a Parashurama will be punished by God if pride drives him to tyranny. That is why it is ahankar that is the enemy of us all, and undid even Ravana. Therefore, it is not Durvasa, but the prideless manasaputra of Brahma, Maharishi Vasishta, who must be the model for those who aspire to that archetype.

Those who make pretense to being the elite must demonstrate the commensurate character. It is not privilege that creates right. It is duty that creates privilege. Abusing people for their caste (even when done subtly through coded language) is not a privilege of highness but a marker of lowness—of character. This is what Sri Annamacharya fought 500 years ago. Right now we have either stubborn people who will admit to no wrong doing, victims who are readying to leave our ranks or plot vengeance, or motivated outsiders giving “scholarly” discourses on equality (ignoring rampant inequality in their societies). The solution is to have sincere internal criticism so that we can reform where necessary, rather than having stubbornness and excessive traditionalism giving an opening to external criticism designed to destroy us. Whatever jati or varna we come from, it is OUR society. Who will defend it if not us?—all of us…working together.

As such, we comprehensively tackled the issue of stupidity because discretion and judgment are required even in understanding how to present and teach in the present time. Just as chalkboards are increasingly being replaced by computers in the classroom, so too must our approaches be updated to effectively click with modern youth.This must also be done not in a self-interested way, hiding past own-side wrong doing, but admitting wrong and correcting where necessary and in a manner understandable to all.

Therefore, in order to save our society, we must do some soul-searching and first make it a society worth saving. For that, one must not merely read and recite the classics, but understand and apply them and update them and lead by example. By understanding the importance of discretion, we put ourselves on the path to wisdom, and civilizational revival.

References:

  1. Majumdar,R.C.Ancient India. MLBD: Delhi.2003

On Dharma III: The Rules of the Game

Rulesofthegame

In times of great trial, it becomes difficult for individuals to accept or even comprehend great tragedies that may befall them, their loved ones, or their societies. Calamaties undoubtedly cause sensory overload leading to tragic hysteria and frantic calls for answers. Indeed, questions such as “what is the point of it all?”, “what is the meaning of all life?”, and “why do bad things happen to good people?” are frequently asked, occasionally even demanded, sometimes hatefully. But this despair and even anger are all understandable, particularly when people themselves have not been told why. So let us take these questions one by one:

First, “what is the point of it all?” For those individuals raised in the dharmic tradition, or more specifically, raised with proper dharmic culture and education, the answer is easy (though not always easily understood). The point of it all is that life is merely a lesser reality. When we play a video game or enter into a simulation, it is all an illusion, but feels very real, sometimes all too real. The bonds of attachment that bind us to others give birth to some of the most beautiful feelings and relationships in all of creation: Mother and Son, Father and Daughter. Husband and Wife. Friend and Friend.

When the sanctity of these relationships, especially the first two, are systematically and methodically degraded, what else can be expected but catastrophe?

When people do not take care of their health and live fast lives for fast times, what else can be expected but tragedy?

When people live for themselves or their own needs, and can’t think about others, what else can be expected but despondency? It is only when begin to put ourselves in the shoes of others that we begin to understand ethics. It is only when we consider the feeling of others, that we begin to understand Dharma. It is only when we begin to understand the need for a fair game, that we being to understand the rules of the game.

Whether it is team sports like water polo or MMORPG like World of Warcraft, the game is only fun when people play together and work together. The game is the most fun, for the most people, when people don’t cheat. It’s not that cheating on your partner can’t lead to personal physical pleasure, it’s that cheating on your partner will lead to pain for others..and in the end, pain for yourself. Gyaanis may ask, “if it is all maya, then who cares?”. But then if it is all maya, why do you gyaanis whine about pain? Accept pain the same way you should then accept pleasure…with equanimity and detachment (vairagya). The questions about what is and isn’t Maya often plague us, and even lead to questions about responsibility? After all, how could there be responsibility in illusion?

Second, the meaning or purpose of life. What is the meaning of life? It is to perfect ourselves, ethically, morally, dharmically. Life is indeed an illusion, a lesser reality, a video game, if you will, but it is one that, like a simulation, feels exceedingly real. When we gratify the senses, we feel pleasure. When we are pinched, we feel pain. When we lose or experience loss, we feel sadness or heartbreak.

Some may ask then, why is there such suffering this world? But the one they forget to ask is, why do people do so much wrong in this world? Just as traditional parents slap the incorrigible child who does something wrong (after repeated warnings), so too does God (or Nature, or the Universe, or whatever power in existence you believe in) punish us, when we incorrigibly commit wrong. “What wrong did I do?”, you may ask. But the question is also, “What right did you do?”. If you spend all day, 24×7, outraging about how bad things are and whining about how people don’t care, then proceed to retweet pictures of Marilyn Monroe from the 1960s, instead of looking for useful information to disseminate…what do you expect? What else can shake you out of your pathetic mentality of say one thing and do another? What else would happen when you betray your own common cause for personal gain, despite paying lip-service to dharma?

But why feel the pain? It’s because if we didn’t have skin in the game, if we didn’t have something to lose, how could it be determined who we really are? Anybody can be generous when they are rich…but what are they willing to sacrifice, or for whom are they willing to sacrifice when they are poor? Anyone can be your spouse when you have money. Will they be your spouse when you don’t? Anyone can love you when you have looks. Will they love when you haven’t? (we all grow old, so don’t kid yourselves, lotharios and beauty queens). It is because we have skin in the game, that our true nature is ultimately determined and proven. Do we just call it quits when we are knocked down, or do we get back up and finish the task we set out to accomplish.

Naturally, people also call for compassion (Karuna).  When there is excessive Karuna, we forget that the coach’s job is not to be our friend, and that the referee’s job is not to bend the rules for our benefit. That is why moha is decried. It is not because feelings don’t matter. It is not because love doesn’t matter. It is merely that Prema isn’t Moha. If your captain tells you to pass, but you’re too selfish and want to score the goal, what can you expect? If your coach tells you to stick to the playbook, but you want to follow your own inclination, what can you expect? If your referee warns you about playing by the rules, but you still engage in unsportsmanlike behaviour, what can you expect? Team tension, getting thrown out of the game, getting suspended for the year. So things are in the game of football & soccer, so it is in the game of life. If you can’t see beyond your own nose, don’t expect to be an all-star player (who sees several moves ahead through training and practice).

Third, “why do bad things happen to good people?”…and presumably its corollary “why do good things happen to bad people”. If crime didn’t pay, people would never do it. After all, criminals make money, sociopaths achieve agendas, and psychopaths feel pleasure. The point is not that crime never pays, it’s just that it pays upfront, but saddles with a crushing, multi-birth debt, sometimes with terrible interest payments. Relatively minor infractions also add up. Seemingly legal immoralities, also add up. As we have written before, it is not great evil that causes great evil, but lesser evils that add up creating the great evil. Societies that undergo great tragedies should not merely curse the stars.

The fault,dear Brutus, is not in our stars,but in ourselves

Did our society stray from its proper path? Did individuals break the rules of the game? Did our janata forget its Dharma? That is the purpose of Dharma. Dharma represents the Guidelines of the game, the Rules of the Game. Some may ask, “well, if life is just a game, why can’t I just play the game the way I want, do what (or whom) I want to do, love what or whom I want to love?” But if people, most people, or even all people don’t observe the rules what happens?—Big fish eats little fish, a.k.a Matsya Nyaya. Ravanas steal the wives of others, Duryodhanas take the kingdoms of others, and Shakunis ruin the lives of others. That is why Dharma exists. Now those are the easy examples, what of the lesser ones?

Blatant evil committed by evil people is obvious to identify. In fact, the reality is, however twisted the nature of the villain, he (or she…sorry ladies, gender equality applies here too) merely brings out our true nature or hidden desire. It’s when we come face to face with one that our true character is revealed. That is the difference between a Sita who remained faithful to her husband and the countless other married women who lusted after Ravana. That is the difference between a Bharata, who rejected his elder brother’s kingdom, and a Duryodhana who took it. And that is the difference between a Shakuni who burned for revenge for what was done to him, and a Charudatta who quietly accepted the vicissitudes of life with moral courage.

That is why blind ritualism is criticised, not because rituals don’t matter (they do), but because principles come before rituals. That is why it is character that makes a Brahmin, principles that make a Brahmin, morals that make a Brahmin, and not rituals/learning (which are merely an aid and an ornament). After all, what is the point of a chaturvedi who switches sides and helps the invader? That is why we revile traitors like Murari Rao and praise the martyr Priests of Somnath who fought, not just for the Temple, but for their principles.

If life is in fact a game, then sometimes people get pulled out of the game by the referee. And if the team itself isn’t observing the rules, the coach will bench many of them, and put in second-stringers. When the attitude of the wrongdoing but sanctimonious causes them to ask the enemy to attack his former king who punished him for the wrong he did…what else can wake such a population up?

It is often said that a fool is a fool, so what can be expected of him? But at least the fool responds to punishment and corrects himself, what do you do with a knave? That is why there is catastrophe (vyasana). Catastrophe gives wake up calls to societies who not only do not observe the rules of the game, not only don’t want to hear the rules of the game, but actively seeks to stymie or even harm those who remind them of the rules of the game.

Still others of course suffer due to the effects of their prarabdha karma (the karma they are destined to experience in this life due to past wrongs). True, it is horrible to lose a loved one. The very thought of a mother can bring a tear to the eye of the Indian son (much to the perennial annoyance of the Indian daughter-in-law), so what of the tragic loss of one? But the best balm in such terrible tragedies is to recognise that rather than feel depression for those who passed (especially quickly), it is better to take heart in the fact that they may not have to suffer evil days ahead. Indeed, for those of us who have ever seen a grandparent or an uncle suffer from rheumatism or cancer, the initial loss is usually balanced by recognising that their leaving this life brought an end to their suffering. They may be out of the game, but the love is still there. The familial love, Vatsalyam, remains. They may be out of the game but they are still cheering for us from the sidelines. Reunions will occur, not in this world, but the next.

For those of us who are still in the game, however, the job is not over. After a tough loss, team captains and assistant captains must be there for their teammates. If you haven’t suffered from injury, think of those who have. If you have suffered from injury, think of those who have suffered worse. Don’t give in to your inner demons. Don’t give up your destiny for perfection. If life is indeed a game, play it.

So after mourning for a respectable period of time, after honouring the life of our loved ones, after deciding to cherish their memory and remember the good times, after completing the proper rituals that confirm that Vatsalyam and bring the departed the familial comfort they in turn seek for us, we must pick ourselves up, and get back into the game.

Asato ma sat gamaya
Tamaso ma jyothir gamaya
Mrthyor ma Amrutham gamaya
Aum Shanthi, Shanthi, Shanthihi

May life lead us from the Unreal to the Real
From Darkness onto Light
From Death to Immortality
Aum Peace, Peace, Peace.

[Reprint Post] Prema is not Moha

The following Post was originally published at Andhra Cultural Portal on April 27, 2014


http://www.a108.net/uploads/gallery/album_42/gallery_1_42_1914401.jpg

We have received some offline questions (though comment questions are preferable since all can see) about why, if I think Prema/Bhakti is the highest of qualities, I have been so critical of Dhritarashtra and Gandhari. Some see a contradiction between my emphasising Dharma over parental attachment—but nothing could be further from the truth.

Our shastras discuss how the Arishadvargas (the 6 spiritual enemies) are to be defeated. These are Kama (lust), Krodha (wrath), Lobha (greed), Moha (attachment), Mada (pride), Matsarya (jealousy).

While Mada is the worst of these (because it is the enabler not only of Ambition but is the Arishadvarga that gives us permission to give in to the others—as Ravana famously showed), Moha is also exceedingly dangerous. This is because Dharmic and even Sattvic people can give into this one—after defeating the other 5.

Moha is attachment rooted in delusion. Moha comes from the mistaken thinking that this material world is permanent, our bodies permanent, and even our relationships permanent.

Moha leads to such foolhardy and overly sentimental actions as Bhishma’s Oath and Gandhari’s Vow.

Both of these actions were undoubtedly self-sacrificing and even noble, and could be seen as examples of Prema, but they were in actuality contrary to Dharma. This is because as crowned Yuvaraja of Hastinapura, Gangaputra Bhishma (literally meaning “Terrible Oath”) did not have the authority to put his love for his father above his duty for the Kuru Kingdom and his duty to continue the Dushyanta branch of the Chandravanshi lineage.

In fact, Devavratha (Bhishma’s original name) should have known that as he was the most qualified heir Shantanu could possibly hope to have, it would be wrong to deny such a future King to his prajas (subjects). After all, there was no guarantee that future sons of Shantanu would be so qualified or capable (as both Chitrangada and Vichitraveerya demonstrated). In fact, there was no guarantee that Shantanu would even have sons with Satyavati. Thus while Bhishma’s action was truly self-sacrificing and sentimental, it was not Dharmic, or for that matter, even selfless—as the he was unwilling to break his oath on account of his own reputation.

As the later incident with Dushasana and Draupadi showed, Bhishma’s own understanding of Dharma was imperfect. When Draupadi in disbelief asked why the noble Bhishma thought his oath to the throne came before protecting a woman, he is recorded to have said:

na dharmasaukshmyaat subhage vivektutm shaknomi te prasnam imam yatthaavat;
“I am unable to answer your question because Dharma is subtle”

(dharmasya tattvam nihitath guhaayaam)                                                                                                    “Dharma is subtle (sukshmam) because its essence is concealed in a dark cavern”

But he was wrong.

While dharma is sukshmam (in fact, it is ati-sukshmam), there is nevertheless a right and wrong answer in every scenario. It is the duty of each person not to conceal it and himself in a dark cavern, but to use the light of logic (nyaya) and justice (yuktata) to illuminate Dharma. As a kshatriya mandated to protect women and the weak, Bhishma’s dereliction of duty to Draupadi in fact was the true reason for his suffering on the Kurukshetra (just as Yudhisthira’s brief tour of Hell was not for the one lie but in actuality for ordering that his brothers to respect his foolish and unjust wagering of Draupadi). People may say that Bhishma had no choice because he was bound by his word, but there is always a choice.

Sri Krishna had in fact given his word to Duryodhana that he would not fight in the war. But the moment Krishna realised that Arjuna was not willing to take Bhishma’s life in battle due to moha, Krishna took up the wheel to strike Bhishma. This demonstrates that if dharma itself will ultimately be violated by the promise or oath, then the oath too must be dropped—not because it is easy, but because it is hard. While Gangaputra is often—and not unjustifiably—seen as an object of sympathy and pity for his life of suffering and self-abnegation, the sins against dharma include sins of omission as well as sins of commission. Bhishma’s sin of omission (failure as a kshatriya to protect a woman being dishonoured) resulted in his own suffering. His attachment was to his oath and reputation.

gandharidhritarashtra

Similarly, Gandhari was undoubtedly a devoted wife and loving mother, but her action in covering her own eyes as a testament of her loyalty to her husband, and willingness to share in his suffering, was foolishness. The duty of a wife is surely to be faithful and loving to her husband, but it is also to give him sight when he does not see properly.

Thus, Gandhari and Dhritarashtra are more than just stock characters with a particular affliction, but in fact metaphors for how Moha  can blind us to Dharma. Their attachment to their family members, especially their sons, was the cause for their repeated injustice to the Pandavas—which ultimately led to adharma. Thus both Bhishma and Gandhari represent the dangerous hyper-sentimentalism present in our stupid movies today.

Moha also leads to terrible Sin

Rather than conscious desire to do evil, it is thoughtlessness driven by animal urges or fears driven by attachment that most frequently cause us to commit injustice. Some can be small, moral infractions, and others, large and terrible. For all the Star Wars fans out there, it was fear of losing the love of his life that drove Anakin Skywalker to embrace the Sith and commit terrible acts on behalf of the Dark Side.

That is the importance of Achara and Dharma. It wasn’t Anakin’s conscious desire to commit evil or that he was seduced by it for pure personal gain; it was that he was willing to commit a terrible evil against society for the all too human, but still very selfish, personal end of saving the one he loved. He had failed to use Achara to bridle the horses of his emotions and senses, thereby causing his chariot to fall over, resulting in this unenviable fate–ultimately becoming the infamous Darth Vader.

In contrast, Obi-Wan (who was his mentor) says he will do what he must despite their friendship, in the name of justice. Kenobi’s grief is seen (at the end of the video) when he exclaims how Anakin was like a brother to him, and mourns how the latter’s turning to the Dark side led to this terrible result. More compellingly, Anakin’s wife herself specifically states that she cannot follow him on the wrong and horrendous path he’s chosen.

Thus, no matter how much she loved him, her love never became attachment over a person or object that privileged him/it over virtue. That is the value of Dharma. It is not to turn us into feelingless, loveless karma-robots, but rather to protect ourselves from an imbalanced attachment to one person/object that causes us to harm the rest of society. (By the way, before the all you fashionable types shake your heads at my linking Star Wars with Achara/Dharma, you should know that there is an established view that the kshatriya ideal was in fact the model for the Jedi so there!).

The 7 should defeat the 6

7 ideals of Dharma— Pavitrata (purity), Karuna (compassion), Saamyama (self-control ) Satya (truth), Tyaga (self-sacrifice), Yuktata (justice), and above of all Bhakti/Prema (Divine love)—must take precedence over and defeat the 6 arishadvargas—Kama (lust), Krodha (wrath), Lobha (greed), Moha (attachment), Mada (pride), & Matsarya (jealousy).

Kama is cured through Pavitrata, Krodha is cured through Karuna, Lobha is cured through Saamyama, Mada is cured through Satya, Matsarya cured through Tyaga, and Moha is cured through Yuktata. Bhakti/Prema is what grants us God’s grace to ensure the rest of the 7 defeat the 6.

Some of you may ask, how is each cured by the other. I will tell you:

http://www.bhagavad-gita.us/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/gita-126.jpgPavitrata deconstructs Kama

because it forces us to think whether a particular act of pleasure is in fact saucha (or clean). Many of you have sophisticated imaginations (especially in this post-Lewinsky/Abhishek Manu “Sexvi” era of ours), so I needn’t go into detail, but suffice it to say, you all can figure out which acts would come under this label.

Therefore, the point is not that God wishes to deny us pleasure, but rather, to make us understand that there is a time, place, and most importantly—manner for which pleasure is to be enjoyed. Pavitrata is of course not only about understanding body parts, but also about relationships.

While kama with one’s lawfully wedded wife or husband is not only accepted, but also seen as a duty (as it reproduces species, nations, and lineages), the Sastras explicitly condemn pleasure that transgresses the nuptial or familial boundaries. Extra-marital and intra-familial relationships are therefore impure as well. Extensions of this also apply—and should be obvious. A man who gives himself (or a woman who gives herself) over to lust and surrenders to iccha (desire) without restraint, will soon find himself (or herself) feeding and rolling at the filthy trough of swine (literally and figuratively). Of course, we must not be hypocrites by engaging in bigotry and also recognise that we are all at different stages of spiritual evolution (and thus, if we cannot live up to the highest, should attempt the next highest, and so on).

As we ourselves have not always (at least in previous life times) always lived up to the ideals set by God, we must recognise that the same understanding and leeway be granted to others as well, within legal/ethical limits. Youth should be taught the difference between right and wrong, but also that wrong in others should not generate hate. After all, let ye without sin cast the first stone… An entire column can be written on this (and in fact will be), but we’ll leave it at that for now.

Karuna defeats Krodha

https://antaryamin.files.wordpress.com/2010/01/anger.jpg?w=239…because it forces us to think of the consequences of our anger and put ourselves in the shoes of others.

Anger and Hate are exceedingly dangerous because they can consume our personality and reduce us to sating our desire for vengeance at all costs. Compassion dissipates anger because it makes us realise that our predicament may actually be more bearable than someone else’s, thereby mollifying our indignation. This approach also drains our pride which is the fuel of anger.

We must give a margin of appreciation (5%–though not 50%!) to those around us, so that we understand that their actions may often be due to their own troubles. There is a difference between thoughtlessness and malice. Thus, karuna helps us reframe our perspective and not unyoke our wrath at the slightest provocation. A man who is ruled by krodha is a beast for he neither listens to logic nor well-intentioned appeal. It is for this reason that we are told “To err is human, but to forgive is divine”

Saamyama cures Lobha

5 senses must be steered to steady the chariot of life

because self-control gives us the power to resists the appeal of the indriyas (senses ).

It is for this reason that our ancient society encouraged ascetism (tapasya)—not because self-abnegation by itself is the path to God, but rather, because ascetism helps us blunt the power of the indriyas. If we fast or do without something on our terms—say skip a meal or do without TV for a day or give some wages to charity—then when we are going through an actual difficult period, the sense object will not be irresistible, as we have resisted it before from a position of strength.

In fact, ascetism is one of the four legs of Dharma (the other 3 being cleanliness, mercy, and truth), though it was bent at the end of the Satya yuga. While in our own Kali era, Dharma only stands on the leg of truth (and barely standing at that), all four legs, even ascetism, should be valued for how they help us better ourselves, especially when it comes to resisting greed.

Satya defeats Mada

SatyaVsMada

as it forces the individual blinded by delusional arrogance to face reality. Many if not most of us live in a realm of concocted conceit.

We mask ourselves to truth either because it is too unpalatable to face or because it would prevent us from achieving our own ill-conceived and unjust ambition.

We may desire something, a natural impulse in our material existence, but it is pride which gives us permission to seek it out. We may come up with umpteen excuses to justify our pursuit of a beautiful but very married woman (i.e. “we are both attractive and she too likes me, we are a better match anyways, so why not? I am a powerful man with powerful appetites”), but it is Satya which pops this bubble (“I have no right to covet my neighbour’s wife. If I injure someone today, they may seek to injure me tomorrow. Ultimate power is wielded by God, I am only the steward, so my fleeting power does not justify such appetites”). That is the power of Satya. Facing and wielding the truth helps us hammer down the wall of pride and vanity into oblivion.

Tyaga overthrows Matsarya

Bharata places Rama’s sandals on his head to demonstrate how he will only rule in Rama’s name and never covet Rama’s rightful throne

…since self-sacrifice allows us to accept, digest, and even be happy for the wealth, possessions, and advantages of another.

If we are willing to step aside for the gain of another, then we are willing to swallow our envy, which stews into jealousy (jealousy = envy + hate). The spirit of self-sacrifice stems from the noble calling of “all for one and one for all”. The four sons of Dasaratha exemplified this as their brotherly love and willingness to sacrifice for the others ensured that jealousy never subverted their unity–no matter what catastrophe came their way.

Because they were each willing to give up the throne, or even life, for the other, this noble sentiment ensured that the one who deserved the throne was the one who ultimately ascended it…neither of them ever claimed the right or possession of the other. This not only secured unity among them, but preserved and nurtured fraternal affection.

And Yuktata cures Moha

…due to the illuminating quality of justice.

Attachment causes us to only look at what will happen if we lose a person or an object. We only think of our personal sadness rather than the cost to the common good. But justice is concerned specifically with the common good, with rightful claims, with fair shares, and with the well-being of everyone. Thus, no matter how much one may be attached to a son, a wife, or a desire–justice will force us to put aside that attachment and do not what is merely in our own interest, but in the interest of all.

While the 7 may be the Astras against the 6, Atma vichara (self-reflection/introspection) and Viveka (distinguishment between right and wrong) are the respective bow and arrow that allow us to fire these 7 Divine weapons…and as always, God’s name is the empowering mantra we chant to wield the weapons properly.

Thus, true Bhakti & Prema are based not on the attachment to the individual relationship, but on recognition that we are all emanations of Parabrahman, and that our love, ultimately, should transcend fixation only on the ephemeral relationships of this life and extend to all living creatures for all time. That is true Prema.

So love, dear reader, love to all your heart’s content, for verily Satya is love. But also remember that true Prema is not, nor can ever be, Moha.

On Dharma II: Rta vs Rna

DharmaMandir

Of late it has become fashionable for some profit-minded pseudo-intellectuals to cite Rna or indebtedness as the motivation for dharma. This is incorrect. Because our very existence in this world is a test of character, our own selfish obligation is not meant to be the ultimate motivation for action. Rather it is to seek the good of society and the world itself, samaj kalyan and lok kalyan. It is a selfless motivation, not a selfish one. It is this obsession with Rna, with personal or selfish obligation, that continues to create small minds motivated by fruitive action. To them performance of personal yagna is the be all and end all of Vedic knowledge. This is incorrect. True yagna is as follows:

The yagna of the Brahmana is his puja&punaskara on behalf of society, the yagna of the Kshatriya is his protection of society, the yagna of the Vaisya is his honest wealth creation & charity for society, and the yagna of the Sudra is his work, service & craftsmanship on behalf of society. All these yagnas are not done for merit, power, money, livelihood, but ultimately, for true knowledge of reality (jnana). The vast majority of individuals may not realise this, but that is the true fruit of the yagna they are conducting. In action itself they begin to learn the nature of the world, ultimately preparing them for understanding the totality of reality. It is also for this reason that not only before our important rituals but also before any important work, such as teaching/learning, starting an important task, or even a work of art, we begin with a prayer.

puruso vaava yajnah, tasya yaani catur-vimsati varsaani, tat praatah-savanam, catur-vimsaty-aksaraa gaayatri, gaayatram praatah-savavam tad asya vasavo’nvaayattaah, praanaa vaava vasavah, ete heedam sarvam vaasayanti.” Chandogya Upanishad. ch.3,s.16, sl.1

“I.Verily, a person is a sacrifice[yagna]. His (first) twenty-four years are the morning libation is offered with a gaayatri hymn. With this (part of the sacrifice) the Vasus are connected. Verily, the vital breaths are the Vasus, for they cause every-thing here to endure”[1, 394]

It must be remembered that even if told so, many individuals do not feel obligation to their parents, let alone the universe, for whatever reason: tough life, selfish natures, etc. Such people do not voluntarily pay off personal financial debts, so what of the cosmic? That is the danger of having public performers and glorified translators, foreign and domestic, teach “dharma” without the requisite saadhana and shraddha. As such, if people are educated about Rta in terms of Rna, they will not see its value and will be misguided.    

If they are educated in terms of truth (Satya) and self interest (sva artha) over time their nihith svaartha (unrestrained selfishness)will disappear, becoming asvaartha and nishkama karma.

I maintain my parents today, so that my children may maintain me tomorrow. I respect the wives of others so that they may respect my wife. I help others in need, so that they may help me when I am in need. That is how a community, that is how a society is built & preserved. Thus, what begins in self-interest, eventually graduates to selflessness. The truly perfected being does all this out of Prema, love for fellow members of society, rather than self interest; nevertheless, proper Dharmic motivation under Rta and Satya is the starting ground for this, not Rna.

Therefore, protection of Rta is not premised on obligation to the Universe, which accords to us whatever fate. But rather, it is premised on a selfless desire to protect and preserve fellow members of creation. True, those who are not spiritually inclined may act out of self-interest, but that is the starting point. Nishkama karma is the end point to which all souls in whatever lifetime must graduate. That is what must engender dharma. Drona, Karna, and Kripa all cited Rna as the basis for their actions. All were on the wrong side of the Kurukshetra.

They believed their selfish salvation (whether material or spiritual) lay in clearing off that personal debt to Dhritarashtra and his sons, and only fools lionise these characters on the basis of sentiment rather than satya. That is the danger of focus on Rna, as personal Rna becomes easily conflated with universal Rna. This misinterpretation leads to wrong action and ultimate destruction of not only individuals, but also societies, and civilizations.

In contrast, Dharma is the expression of Rta, which originates in Satya. Satya is in fact Brahman, and the essence of Brahman is love, Prema. All the great saints recognise this. This difference is not a nitpick, but rather, an important distinguishment between what must and must not motivate us. Thus, preservation of Rta is not due to Rna. Rather preservation of Rta must be for its own sake, because it is the expression of Satya. It must be due to either the love of truth, or the love of order (as it ensures justice, yuktata), or from rational recognition of its benefits and general utility to society as a whole, rather than Rna, which benefits only individuals and causes adharma. The souls of individuals are bought with Rna (debt) as Duryodhana bought the soul of Karna with the kingdom of Anga. Krishna himself warned of this danger to Karna.

Debt is the path to and shield of tyranny. It is why ambitious ahankaris who crave not only kingdoms but undue recognition and monopoly forever trumpet the horn of Rna. Because they chase after the rightful position of others, they obsess over Rna, rather than cherish Rta and Satya. They may talk of the need for the truth to be told, but in actuality fear it, lest they be discovered for what they really are.

That is why Rta and Satya are more important than Rna, and why Dharma is not about Rna, it is, and always was, about Rta. While the two may seem to be related concepts, Rna is about personal debt, but Dharma, Saamaanya Dharma, is about the common good. Dharma doesn’t ask “what is my financial obligation here”, or “gurudakshina there”. It asks, what is the interest of society? Rnis start from the personal—obsessing about ritual and tradition above right and wrong—and then, if there is time, think about the rest of society. Rituals do matter, but those who understand Rta recognise that our duty, our svadharma, is determined by saamaanya dharma—and we must determine the best course of action based on society’s needs. Chennaites did precisely that in the recent flood.

What’s more, many confuse the existence of the Chaturvarna as representing the hermetical sealing off of society into different orders—preventing interaction. This is incorrect. While there are certain samskaras maintained at different times and places, society represents an organic whole. Ritual and tradition do matter, but they are not the be all or end all or the heart of Dharma. Rta and Satya are. Achara is the first Dharma, but not the most important Dharma (Rta and Satya are). Though it is true historically the coherence of society was maintained by establishing social orders performing various functions, this doesn’t mean cutting off social interaction completely. Individual kulacharas do not represent different religions. Rather they represent different duties within the same religion. Religion, or more correctly, dharma, creates order within society that is parallel to law, vyavahara. Because breakdowns in law and order occur from time to time, it is a strong moral culture, Sanskriti, and ethical dharma, that prevents matsya nyaya (big fish eats little fish), during such periods.

In our age, the Kali age, the age of disorder, guna is not always aligned with birth. Therefore, the spiritual characteristics, gunas, of individuals, matter more than caste birth (or alleged“aptitude”). It is ahankar that drives individuals to insult and oppress people for their caste, in the end, destroying both them and society. It is ambition and profit that causes individuals to obsess about Rna. Rta + Respect for others of all backgrounds is what must come first.

Ultimately, we preserve Dharma and Rta not because of obligation to the universe, or because we have a selfish debt to pay, but because preservation of Dharma and Rta benefits all of us collectively and protects us and society. This in turn makes civilized life possible for the individual and all mankind.

That is the end goal of Dharma and Rta…and Satya.

DharmaSabhyata

References:

  1. Radhakrishnan, Sarvepalli. The Principal Upanisads. London: Unwin Brothers.1968
  2. Subramaniam, Kamala. Mahabharata. Mumbai: Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan. 1965
*For silly Rnis who think Dharma is about Rna. Do real “tapas”: Read, read, read, read, read, read, read

[Reprint Post] Dharmic Development II

A version of this Post was published on Andhra Cultural Portal on July 9,2015


Vyasa Uvacha

In the wake of the current and expanding global financial crisis (we mean 2015, not 2008–so hard to keep track these days…), an opportunity to revisit our Series on Dharma & Economics : Dharmic Development, has presented itself. And so today we continue with the second part of this set of articles: Dharmic Development II.

Long time readers may recall the quote from Maharishi Veda Vyasa we mentioned. When we last explored this topic we touched on how the composer of the Mahabharata, and indeed, the mighty compiler of the Vedas themselves, in uncharacteristic frustration, said the following:

Oorddhva baahurviromyesha na kashchit shrnothi me
Dharmaath artthasha kaamascha kim na sevyati?
I raise my hands up and say “The way to wealth and love is through Dharma—why doesn’t anybody listen?!”

But in our age of utility maximization, financial engineering, polyamory, and “gender as a social construct“, is this really still the case? Doesn’t science and technology, with all its robot girlfriends, myriad “pleasure” toys, and endlessly genetic engineered foods hold the key to transforming our society and meeting every single, possible craving?

Part II in our series on Dharmic Development evaluates how Modernity & Technology cannot be expected to be the magic wand to fulfill all our desires. Rather, we must evaluate whether our desires and needs are fit to have in a civilised society based on the common good. That is the path to sustainable wealth and sincere love.

How is Dharma the way to Wealth & Love?

Our previous piece may have left the contrarian in many of you wondering “How do wealth and love come from Dharma”? Since we live in an era where “There are no permanent friends. No permanent enemies. Only permanent interests“, let us turn then to the sage who verily wrote the book on Hita (“interests’) Acharya Narayana, and his Hitopadesa (Lecture on Interests/Book of Prudent Counsel).

Dharmena heenaha pashubhih saamannaha
One without Dharma is like a beast. [1]

What is the meaning of this maxim? Simply put, it means one without Dharma (i.e. righteous ethics) is a slave to his impulses and conceits, and thus, behaves like an animal. This is a particularly illuminating line in our “wondrous” age of moral relativism. After all, the favorite words of our liberal progressives are “natural!”, “liberty!”, “liberation!”. However, what they conveniently ignore is that the natural world is replete with animal behaviours—such as eating one’s own young or mate (as spiders do)—that humans would find, and please pardon the pun, distasteful. In fact, this modern leftist utopia is doing precisely that, if not literally then figuratively. Through laws such as 498-A in India and “no fault divorce” in other countries, the modern spouse is being stripped clean, and devoured like an animal.

This applies to men as it does women, as males are increasingly finding no shame in fathering countless children without commitment, and frequently abandoning them or declaring bankruptcy. While it is true that powerful men in many societies famously father “bastards”, there was certainly stigma for a man of means not providing for them, and also for unceasing debauchery.

Sanatana dharma has always specified the importance of the Purusharthas, the four aims of human life. These are Dharma, Artha, Kama, Moksha (Righteousness, Wealth, Love/Pleasure, and Spiritual Liberation). It recognises that civilized life and its pleasures of wealth and love are only possible with responsible citizens guided by righteousness. This is because a society of greed, a society of selfishness, will always play a zero-sum game of winner take all.

Trickle Down Economics

Greed (Svaartha)

Greed is the root of sin. Truly, it is what breaks families, breaks societies, and breaks hearts. Our perpetual growth economists have no answer to the point that it would take 4 earths to have every person in the world consume like an American. How much sense can it possibly make for Indians (and other re-emerging economies) to ape its economic models and theories? In the 2000s, it appears far too many forgot that Oliver Stone’s 1987 classic Wall Street speech was meant to be a warning and not a mantra.

Greed doesn’t work. How could it ever possibly do so. This is greed:

From the School of Greed back to the Gurukul

Dharmena heenaha pashubhih saamannaha
One without Dharma is like a beast. [1]

The reality, as taught by Dharma, is that Man and Woman must behave better than beasts.

Pigs are not always overweight. Certainly hippos and elephant—even tigers outweigh them—but it is the ravenous and selfish greed of a pig that truly makes that English idiom true. The clip is too gory to show here, but anyone who has seen the movie Hannibal recalls the scene of pigs eating. Those of you with intestinal fortitude can look up the clip on youtube yourselves, to see what I mean.

In fact, that is the entire rationale behind reincarnation: Those who behave like beasts whence in human birth, are reborn as the animals they behaved like. When, according to our Dharmic Scriptures, it takes many lifetimes to return to human birth—should it not be used wisely, rather than reverting to the behaviour of beasts?

The point is not that anyone who has ever caved in to their desires, or even momentarily fallen to their passions, must be stigmatised for life. Rather, it means only that individuals should hold themselves to standards higher than they hold for society…or animals. While the baseline of behaviour is set by law—which determines what is criminal and not—individuals must ultimately aspire to higher standards of behaviour rather than racing to the bottom of degeneracy.

We are all flawed humans, and all of us have our weaknesses. However, weaknesses should not be the norm, but the exception. The individual slips and falls, but he or she is expected to get up, correct the behavior, and set himself/herself on the right path once more. Challenges in life may cause relapses, but it is the will and commitment to improve that ultimately defines who we are.

The Wolf of [Dalal] Street (pun intended)

The average B.Com or MBA graduate may look at Wall Street (and its Indian Imitation, appropriately named “Dalal”) as the embodiment of prosperity and happiness. To them, cities are the source of real wealth, “because…more?“. But is that the definition of wealth? The wolf or pig always wants more. Are these animals wealthy or merely hungry?

There is a wolf in every man, the question is whether he decides not to kill the wolf, but rather, tames it, so it becomes an Alsatian or another such domesticated breed.

It is this wolfishness in modern man that causes him to see women as objects. Many naïve young women think laws—even unfair laws—will protect them from such men. But wise women—and there are many such online to the good fortune of our society—know that the best means to ensure safety, dignity, and well-being for women is to raise men who value dharma. Bhagvan Ram was called Maryada Purushottam precisely because he respected women. He refused to disrespect Sita by taking a second wife. He refused to cave in to the advances of Surpanakha because he valued love above lust. And he only had Lakshmana punish Surpanakha when she threatened to kill and eat Sita (we should not be surprised if Surpanakha’s modern daughters would call this “patriarchal interference in a liberated woman’s right to cannibalism” aka “my choice: my pleasure may be your pain”…but that is another matter…).

Many men today are rightly distraught at unfair marriage laws. It is for this reason that strong women, dharmic women, become all the more important—not paleo-puritan, bachelor men. The wing of women is needed to balance the bird of society, not only to voice their support, but to also raise a generation of men who know that being strong and manly and being respectful of women are not mutual exclusive. A gentleman treats a woman well not based on what it says about her character, but what it says about his. True, he may not marry a call girl (or her socially acceptable college equivalent), but unlike the wolves of wall street, he also won’t view her as “easy meat” either. While baseline laws must exist to have a safe society for women…and men, law enforcement/good police training, but above all, dharmic education will be foundational to taming the wolves in all of us. It forces us to think of the consequences of our own actions and desires. After all, rather than supply creating its own demand, it is demand that creates supply.

Many of you may now be wondering “wait, I thought we were discussing economists“. Well, the previous passage is relevant because of what one of the world’s most celebrated comparative economists had to say:

In the command of those appetites of the body consists that virtue which is properly called temperance. To restrain them within those bounds, which regard to health and fortune prescribes, is the part of prudence. But to confine them within those limits, which grace, which propriety, which delicacy, and modesty, require, is the office of temperance. [2, 28]

Rather than money being the root of all happiness, even the poster boy of capitalism–Adam Smith–recognised that virtue and temperance were the basis for a flourishing society. In his Wealth of Nations, Smith excoriated the British East India Company for its animal greed and ravenous oppression of once prosperous Bengal.

Why is this relevant? Because even the foremost capitalist of history recognised that one should not kill the goose that lays the golden egg.

Goose that Laid the Golden Egg

Our wiki-pontificating, HBO-watching younger generation may consider themselves too fashionable and “educated” to bother with the wisdom of childhood parables, but even the most over-credentialed rube at least remembers the story of the goose that laid the golden egg. The Panchatantra and Hitopadesa may be fictional tales, but as the title of the latter indicates, they are meant to educate people (especially princes of that era–and this one) on niti. The genius of these works was not in using cuddly animals to explain timeless wisdom, but to go so far as to provide deep insight into the tools and nature of statecraft itself. Adarsh Liberals may be easily put off by the Sanskrit language of the originals and the pre-Medieval origin of them, but they would do well to remember that their beloved Persians and Arabs also translated and appreciated these stories for their wisdom.

Wealth is good. But responsible use of it is better. The Bengal that laid the golden egg was reduced to a wasteland, with a capital city that became synonymous with human suffering. [3]

Our Kudlow and Cramer cultists may demur, dismissively braying “Vell, that was colonialism and monopoly, not real capitalism!!!”. After each crash and each financial crisis, recession or depression (1929, 1933, 1973, 1980, 1987, 1997 (East Asia), 2000, 2008, and now 2015?) like an indoctrinated fundamentalist “Vell, that was not real capitalism. Vee’ll get it right next time”. Interestingly enough, this is the refrain of the very socialists and communists they hate.

Our Kudlow and Cramer Cultists may squawk “DHIS ISS SOSHALISM!” in response to Dharma, but look what the poster boy of capitalism himself wrote:

“Where the necessary assistance is reciprocally afforded from love, from gratitude, from friendship, and esteem, the society flourishes and is happy” Adam Smith TMS. [2,85]

Reciprocal duties are the essence of virtue, the essence of Dharma. Indeed, that is the key difference between Dharma and Socialism. Dharma emphasizes duties of and to families and communities, while socialism emphasises rights of the atomised and isolated individual. Dharma exhorts the individual to do his or her duty as well as the government to do its duty. Under socialism, only the government has a duty to preserve the rights of the individual to the welfare state, to atomised citizens, to centralised bureaucracy. While dharma emphasizes a federal or even confederational approach to government and society, socialism (and its ultimate goal of communism) seek to onerously concentrate power at the national level. The final goal, in fact, is to even destroy national borders for a world wide proletariat governed by an unaccountable bureau. So no, dear recalcitrant moron, Dharmic Development is not “Dharmic Socialism”, it is Dharmanomics–its own standalone concept that seeks to be neither socialism nor capitalism, and critiques both.

Here are some of the differences:

Marginal Productivity of Teamwork

Capitalism lionizes competition. Socialism implies communisation. Dharma, emphasises teamwork. It asserts that we are not merely our own ego, nor are we personality-less, socialist drones. We are all fellow-travelers on the journey of life, and recognise that by working for family, community, state, and national interest, we work for our own interest. By improving ourselves morally, by giving to charity generously, and by sacrificing for the civilizational cause selflessly, we become better as a people and as a society.

Sva-Artha & Desh Hita rather than Nihith Svaartha & Desh Sarvanasha

Both capitalism and socialism emphasize selfishness, in their own unique ways. Capitalism accomplishes this with its winner-take-all, buccaneer corporate raider approach to selective “growth”. Everything, even knowledge is commoditised. Teachers teach to their salary rather than teaching to the truth. Socialism achieves this by creating in each individual an expectation for cradle-to-grave care/entitlements beyond all economic capacity and public welfare. The early retired old live off the over-worked, under-paid, and unrelated young. Creativity and local government are stifled.

In contrast, Dharmic Development draws upon dharma to train teachers who don’t alter their instruction for money, and value learning for its own sake, rather than for riches (compare our ancient Gurukuls and Universities to modern For-Profit Colleges that leave massive student loan burdens). True, individuals, workers, merchants, kings, and teachers naturally have sva artha (self-interest in mind), but one who practices dharma pursues self-interest in balance with family, community, and national interest.

Taking the unjustly gained throne of Ayodhya would have been in Bharata’s interest, but he knew it wasn’t in family, community, and national interest, and returned it to its rightful heir, Bhagvan Ram. That is what Dharma, Dharmanomics, and Dharmic Development represent: rejection of nihith svaartha ( unrestrained selfishness) for Sva-Artha (enlightened self-interest) and pursuit of the Purusharthas in balance with community and national interest. It means not buying the products of national competitors, because their slave-labour makes it a few rupees cheaper.

Above all, Dharmic Development rejects plunder. Plunder of natural resources, plunder of human life and dignity, and plunder of our heritage.

Ironically enough, the reader might be flummoxed to realize that Bastiat’s  critique above was actually centered on socialists, but he too acknowledged the rich man’s plunder [5]. As one can see today, capitalists and socialists are two sides of the same coin, only a different “moral” code: one for the bureaucrat and the other for the banker.

Whether it was the British East India Company or Bain Capital (or Bureaucrats  de EU) plunder by men in suits is still plunder. They take the treasuries of prosperous lands or companies, pay themselves massive/unjustifiable dividends, engage in actions emphasising short-term gains (opium crops/outsourcing to China) rather than long term national interest, and leave citizens and employees out to hang. In the end, shareholder benefit is worshiped–but who is the shareholder?

The operative point is that the same myopic perspective of individual corporate interest, without respecting community or national interest, results not only in the destruction of once healthy companies, or prosperous middle classes, but even entire nations.

Greece is exhibit A here. The bailout money that the dishonest continue to point to as emblematic of Greece’s “dissipation” mainly goes toward paying off Greece’s international loans, rather than making its way into the economy. The ancient European country may indeed have an underfunded welfare state, but if the so-called free-market capitalists don’t take steps to promote manufacturing and agriculture growth, how can this small nation be expected to grow itself out of debt? This point is all the more valid in the wake of economic crises in comparatively more responsible Spain and more dynamic Ireland. It is easy to repeat media talking points like a parrot when the game is rigged in favour of the “German Export Machine”.

1 minute analysers may tout more FDI favourable “rahforms!” in all the vague, misunderstood myopia they represent. But is FDI the solution–let alone the only solution– for everything? If foreign investors merely want to turn Greece into a tourist trap where everything–even national territory like the famous Greek Isles—are for sale, is this in the national interest of that country? What about manufacturing? What about agriculture? What about local entrepreneurship?

Agriculture

Another critical area in which Dharmic Development differs from Capitalism and Socialism is in the approach to agriculture.

Food economy is the building block of not only wealth but civilization itself. But as we’ve touched on previously, export-oriented economies such as South Korea, are now purchasing agricultural land in poor, malnourished African countries. The same capitalists who spoke on how Africa is “under-polluted” naturally support this under there free-market fundamentalism.

Our hyper-modernists also tout the stock market as the solution for upliftment of impoverished farmers, with reduced options due to these financial “rahforms!”. But look at what is transpiring before our eyes in China:

At a different broker’s office in Beijing, Liang Shuang said he had invested $100,000 into the market and lost at least third of his investment. He said: “The stock market is like a casino. But in a real casino you know the rules of the game.”

In the rural village of Nanliu two hours drive outside of Xian, villagers huddled around a mini stock exchange center watching their portfolios shrink with much dismay.

Farmer Liu Jianguo said, “I have lost confidence in the market. I’m waiting desperately to see if my stocks will return to the level where I bought them. It looks as though the government has done quite a lot but the impact is limited.”

These trends are now expanding to the rest of Asia, all this in the midst of the European Crisis involving Greece. Is this the model of food insecurity and economic instability people in India want for themselves?

Agriculture has its own needs, its own requirements, and its own dharma. Successful farming models are not based on pure crop specialisations or fashionable cash crops. The farmer must plan and adapt to drought and flood. India has a long tradition of constructing tanks for the collection of rain and floodwater, but we reject these traditional models to be “modern”. “Agriculture as market! Agriculture as business! Agriculture as trade!” (When the comment provides more valuable insight than the article).

Failed models are being imported in alternating fashion. First socialism and now capitalism. Our salvation, however, lies not with the fashionable or failed, but in taking inspiration from the traditional to adapt it to present conditions.

“Surprisingly, the marginal and small farmers are no less efficient than large farms, but more productive. They cultivate 46 per cent of the farm land in the country but produce 52 percent of grains, 70 per cent of vegetables, 55 per cent of fruits and 69 per cent of milk.” [6]

Rather than cash crops, single crops, or prestige crops, it is traditional crops that are proving more sustainable and more healthy for ourselves and for society.

Some of you may be wondering “arey, vee are advanced. Vee have the capitalism and the soshalism and the english, vy do vee need the rural and the farming?!! Be progressive!! Be productive!! But read what an actual, rooted scholar (versus foreign credentialed, foreign parrot) has to say:

The world realised late, very late, that economics of scale does not apply to agriculture. In the 1920s, Russian economist Alexander Chayanov was the first to find that small and family farming was more economic than large ones. For telling this truth and insisting that family farms were neither socialist nor capitalist, he was first tortured by Lenin and later killed by Stalin.” [6]

When farming and rural life are made difficult first by socialism and finished by capitalism, how can farmers prosper? A society operates on many levels, not just one. Neither complete urbanisation nor complete rural life are advisable. What’s more, science-tards have been shopping around their green revolutions heavily premised on chemical fertilisers and pesticides. While it is true that temporary productivity gains may be seen in the short term, the long term result is soil degradation and dustbowl. Incidentally, the Oklahoma dustbowl was one of the contributors to the Great Depression.

But hey, what can we “caste, curry, cows” types know right? Ok, here’s what Adam Smith wrote about agriculture.

“According to the natural course of things, therefore, the greater part of the capital of every growing society, is, first directed to agriculture, afterwards to manufactures, and last of all to foreign commerce. This order of things is so very natural, that in every society that had any territory, it has always, I believe, been in some degree observed. [3, 55]

In fact, here’s how America originally became wealthy, per the Wealth of Nations:

It has been the principal cause of the rapid progress of our American colonies towards wealth and greatness, that almost their whole capitals have hitherto been employed in agriculture. [3, 366]

And rather than over-emphasising foreign trade (which he supports), he emphasises the opposite:

The great commerce of every civilized society is that carried on between the inhabitants of the town and those of the country. [3,376]

As such, it is obvious that neither complete urbanisation of Indian society nor communisation of farming (a la Stalin and Mao) are desirable. The traditional structures of family, village, state, and nation all have their place, just as Smith saw the relationship between the countryside, town, and city. Rather than a second “Green Revolution”, India needs a traditional agricultural revival.

Entrepreneurship

If agriculture is the backbone of the economy, entrepreneurship is its blood.

Dr. Kanagasabapathi is a professor of finance (and former Director of the Tamil Nadu Institute of Urban Studies, Coimbatore). He did his thesis on the stock market. His expertise is in financial capitalism. However, he notes it’s seen as too risky in India. 1.2% invested in stock markets only.42:00. “[T]hey consider the security of the family, the welfare of the children, being more important than higher return”. “There is a failure in the educated circles that there is not investment taking place”—“This is absolutely not correct”.

India has 85 million entrepreneurs, which is the highest among major countries at 17.9% of population. It is 12.3% in the US, and 10.5% in the UK. He asks, “how do the successful Nadars of Tamil Nadu finance? They were not mbas or professors. They evolved mahamai system to generate funds. This system helped them to grow economically. Today they are one of the powerful community in India “. Here are the stats for their Tamil Nadu Mercantile Bank: Capital 28 lakh capital, 1200 crore reserves. 185 crore profit. 48:00

We do not need experts from outside to tell us how to generate funds

Cost of capital is less, making cost of production less, making sales price less. Capital is borrowed below market rates from family and friends (some times zero interest) making selling price less. As a result, society drives business not government (as in socialism) or corporate fat cats (capitalism). This is because individual, family and community savings, rather than taxes (socialism) or debt/strange equity (capitalism) becomes the source of investment.

53 percent of Indians are self-employed; America, 7%. 52:00. Social capital, therefore, is the actual reason for business success in India. It is the ability to move and work with others.”Faith, goodwill, values, norms, etc.” 1:08

The culture of this country, the foundations of this country…all play a huge role in deciding the economic functioning (as stated in the above video). But the breakdown of the family is not something that concerns our free market, techno-utopians.

Unlike socialists and communists, however, Dharmanomics and Dharmic Development celebrate the role of entrepreneurs. But unlike capitalists, they are aware that entrepreneurs too have a responsibility, entrepreneurs too, have a dharma.

Dharma of Entrepreneurs

Many of our bipolar types assume because I have been so critical of free market fundamentalism, that I am anti-wealth. Nothing can be further from the truth.

But as I’ve written before, there is a difference between being pro-market and pro-wealth creation . There is a difference between big business and small and medium sized enterprises. There is a difference between a corporate fat cat and the up-from-the-boot straps entrepreneur.

I have a world of respect for people who start their own businesses. In fact, the vast majority of job creation is driven by SME’s (70% of jobs in India come from SMEs [Kanagasabapathi], and 50-70% in the US, with 65% of new jobs created [10]). But why do wall street walruses (and their never-will-be wannabes) get the credit as “the job creators”, when it rightly belongs to the mom and pop store or the local garage or the brand new computer manufacturer? What’s more, small, home-based business alone need not be the only Dharmic form of entrepreneurial organisation. Ancient and Medieval India famously had various guilds in place of modern corporations. These were known as sreni [12].

There is a difference between hard assets and monopoly money. That is the reason why we have stressed community (and even family) finance over venture capital. One of the great examples of the disaster of the corporatisation of investment was the tragic case of SKS Microfinance. Ostensibly it began as a well-meaning venture to help impoverished families. Trouble began when foreign institutional finance barged in and began demanding impossibly high returns from the founding managers. Even the Nobel Prize-Winning head of  Grameen Bank, which was a microfinance pioneer, said that local community finance must be the driver. SKS became a cautionary tale in the issues associated with FDI.

Some may argue that all big business started out as small business. True, but the moment they go public, the moment they lose their community roots, the moment they stop caring what happens to their countries, that is the moment the character of their venture changes. That is why neither socialism (which stifles entrepreneurship) nor capitalism (which perverts entrepreneurship into monopoly) fit the bill.

Entrepreneurs too have a Dharma. Without it, industry and commerce takes place without thought to the consequences and a sense of responsibility to the commons, to public/shared goods.

And therein lies the ponzi scheme of the socialist vs capitalist binary. We see how “family has been nationalised and government has been privatised” [S.Gurumurthy]. In having two diametrical opposed camps fight each other, we see the worst of both worlds.

In 1965, the divorce rate in America was very small. Today, 55 per cent of the first marriages end up in divorce there. As much [as] 67 per cent of the second marriages end up in divorce. If someone marries for a third time, 73 per cent of such cases end up in divorce. Nearly 51 per cent of the families are led by single parents. That is the result of the hyper-individualism practiced over the father, mother, family, neighbourhood and society. You produce a shameless society” [7]

For innovation to happen, community consciousness and collaboration is key.

The Alternative

Our neo-colonised, neo-liberals may not see it, but the West has already recognised the intellectual cul-de-sacs that both capitalism and socialism represent. The West is already seeing the need for a third way, and is beginning to trial balloon the label “holism”.  A genuine alternative, however, is required–not a mere mix of capitalism and socialism (any serious student of economic history knows there was never a pure laissez faire economy (Victorian Britain with its child labour is considered the closest)). Rather than always playing catch up, isn’t it time to lead? Rather than merely following their way, is it not time to show the way?

Newly-minted Neo-liberal nitwits act as though history and classical Indic economics has nothing to teach us. But why do Westerners still study their classics (whether Plato, Aristotle, Thucydides, or Livy), albeit, at declining rates? It is because there is such a thing as time-tested wisdom. Rather than having lemmings leap after the next “NEW ECONOMY” every 10-15 years, only to have a bubble and crash, it is far better to have people soberly understand economics and the root of wealth itself.

Dharmic Development is driven by culture. Not a culture of handouts (like socialism) and not a culture of cutthroat monopolists (like capitalism), but a culture of responsibility, a culture of duty. What do our beloved libertarians have to say about this? Let the market take care of itself? Is this the path to real wealth?

The Origin of Wealth

A question that has plagued many a society, and in our era of certified debt obligations and dubiously-tranched derivatives, it has become increasingly difficult to define. Is wealth a digitised number on an LCD screen, a piece of fibrous inked paper with a fiat symbol and number, or a certificate from a mercantile exchange? Is the root of wealth found in the arbitrage of currency traders or the casino gambling volatility of day traders? Or is it merely pieces of rare metal? Since according to Adarsh Liberals, wisdom can only come from the West, here is what one famous Westerner had to say:

Labour, therefore, is the real measure of the exchangeable value of all commodities…The real price of everything, what every thing really costs to the man who want to acquire it, is the toil and trouble of acquiring it. [3, 47]

So who wrote this, any guesses? Karl Marx? Friedrich Engels? Perhaps Nobel Prize Winning “quasi-socialist” Paul Krugman? Nope. You would be wrong all three times. This is a verbatim citation, again, of none other than Mr. Adam Smith, and that too, not even from his Theory of Moral Sentiments but from his celebrated An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations.

His views on agriculture:

Food not only constitutes the principal part of the riches of the world, but it is the abundance of food which gives the principal part of their value to many other sorts of riches. [3, 192]

Time and again, our Ayn Rand and Kudlow and Cramer cultists presume that only they have read economics texts and understand economics. What is quite apparent, is that they don’t even have a basic comprehension of it. The word capitalism never appears in the Wealth of Nations. While Smith was  indeed a proponent of the Free market, he also notes its limits, mentions market failures, and speaks out against the joint-stock exchange firm–would these Friedmanites do the same? Moreover, the word capitalism itself only privileges one factor of production: Capital. There are in fact four factors of production: Land, Labour, Capital, and Entrepreneurship. A complete economic philosophy stresses the importance of all of them, rather than merely privileging one. But our Kudlow Kool-Aid drinkers continue stupidly and self-assuredly tout capitalism as the cure for all evils and the heart of progress.

What is “progress”? Even a path off a cliff is also progress…followed by steep fall. Objectives must first be spelled out for progress to follow. What is the society we are working towards? Vague words like “equality. reform. libertarian. gender-neutral” are bandied about like visiting NIRs and newly acquired sports team affiliations. But what do these mean and what society are we working towards? This must be spelled out clearly rather than having the West work towards something ambiguous (whether economically, politically, or sexually) and have NIRs and Adarsh Liberals ape them like suited simulacra.

Not everything new is good. Sometimes, the old way is the correct way. And Greed is not good. Greed for more and more of what is resource-intensive strains scarce resources. In fact, therein lies the irony of New Economy/Brave New World/Free Market Technologists: Economics is the social science of understanding how to allocate scarce resources. The Fundamental laws do not change, so where’s your Web 2.0 & 3.0, now? What of the new, new economy?

The commonly held belief is that with hard work and a good education, a young person in America can get a good job. But despite falling unemployment, college grads age 22 to 27 are stuck in low-paying jobs that don’t even require a college degree. [14]

In 2008, a shock of high magnitude came, from which the West has not recovered yet, but Asia survived. That is because Asia follows market economy, but has not transformed society into a market.” [7 ]

Modern Slavery

Readers may have read the quote from America’s Great Emancipator, Abraham Lincoln, and think that slavery is a thing of the past in the West. What historical illiterates forget is that the British ended slavery of Africans in the Global West only to capitalise on the indentured labour of Indians in the Global South. It is why today, Indians can be found in Guyana, South Africa, Mauritius, and Fiji. And now, rather than debt taking Indians elsewhere, it is coming to India.

What’s more, slavery in the West, of the West has also metastasised into new forms: the New Jim Crow, crushing student loan and mortgage debt, and credit card debt have blurred the lines between free man and indentured wage slave. As mentioned above, even prisons have become privately run. Our Adarsh Liberals may soon even exhort the merits of private armies all in the name of “rahforms!”, “efficiency!”, “cost-benefit!”. But this is what happens when you rote-memorise economic ideology without properly studying political history, political economy, and moral philosophy. The Roman Republic too also evolved (devolved?) from citizen-soldiers to private armies, with the net result being Julius Caesar. Perhaps our “mimic men” may soon tout the efficiency of a dictator in perpetuum.

This is the danger of turning society into a market. Every thing is for sale. Even human well-being. And human freedom. Such are the wages of not only capitalism, but socialism as well. Or a mix of both.

Everything for sale…even your privacy!

Naysayers may posit that this is what the “educated” “elite” in our society believe to be in our interests, ergo it must ipso facto be intelligent and well-intentioned. But can a so-called elite that prides itself in educating its best and brightest in “phoreign” be really rooted in the national interest? Can a so-called elite that laughs at scientifically verified and historically confirmed Indic accomplishments, truly be Indic? By propping up dying colonial-financed foreign institutions in return for plum jobs in MNCs, are they really incentivised to pursue national interest?

Perhaps all of this simply underscores how the time has come for a new elite. A rooted elite. A Dharmic elite.

A New Elite

RamayanReturn
Ram Raj requires Bharatas & Lakshmanas as Lieutenants

Ram Raj was not built in a day. Nevertheless, it remains a perennial and even millennial aspiration throughout India. But such a selfless elite, such duty-bound/self-sacrificing leaders who verily gave us the definition of Tyagi, require more than 1 giant personality. Whether Maharaja or Mukhya Mantri, such a leader requires secondary leadership to back him up (as Bharata did for Rama) and loyal lieutenants who rejected ambition for service to the leader (like Lakshmana), and more importantly, his cause (Dharma). But where are such lieutenants today? Every nitwit with some basis for ahankar (birth, gotra, education, money) sees himself as the saviour and will tear down any putative rival with a viciousness he doesn’t even show to national enemies. That is why Dharma is needed, as it rejects ambition in favor of duty and aspiration. Duty must come before self-interest–then and then only is the national/civilizational cause served. Ask yourself “is there someone better qualified?”–if so, politely step aside, and if you have it in you, help (that is, after all, what a true leader would do).

Our modernism zombies may laugh instinctively that any elite in any time could be politically (let alone morally) superior to their own. But in an era when selfishness and greed itself have become virtues, perhaps the time has indeed come to review aspects of Aristocracy that indeed made them aristos (or the best) as opposed to the current crop of kakistos. Perhaps there is indeed a way to imbibe the self-sacrificing and rootedness of the old elite in our democratic framework without restoring monarchy’s dictatorial worst. To do that, we must first understand what the purpose of an elite really is.

Real men don’t follow poodles, they follow patriots

And therein lies the problem. When an elite looks upon its own people, its own flesh and blood, the sons of the soil, in disdain and contempt, how can they possibly represent common interests? If you pride yourself in doing poodle tricks, if you fight for scraps from the tables of foreigners, if you mimic their ways instead of reviving (and improving) your own, are you fit to lead?

Whether such an elite, that feels more in common with its own sons of the soil, will ultimately be drawn from them, is an open question. However remarkable the accomplishment, a single “chaiwallah” cannot change a degenerate delhi durbar or lutyens ordo . It is the system itself that must either revive or be replaced. If farming and labour, the very sources of societal wealth, are not treated with respect, then perhaps it is indeed time for a new elite.

Ancient elites, whatever their faults, were close to the land. Great Kings and Emperors– our real Kings and Emperors–would hold sabhas in the countryside periodically, and would even symbolically plough the land. Unlike the current crop of kakistocrats, for them it was not a mere publicity stunt, but as aristocrats, their duty, their Rajdharma.

Irrespective of whether there is a new elite on the horizon, we must begin to not merely learn and adapt ganimi kava where appropriate, but take inspiration from within as well–like another great son of Bharat once did. Rather than birth, family connection, school, and “IQ”, it is Guna, Competence, Character, and Courage that must define our leadership. The great kshatriyas and true brahmanas of yore may have left behind far too few competent heirs (though some are still around), but their gunas and ideals live on to inspire the nara and naari of this era… of whatever Bharatiya background

InspiredShivaji
Chhatrapati Sivaji was from 4th varna,but proved a greater Kshatriya than blue-bloods of his era

Conclusion

Over the course of this essay, we have described the differences among Dharmic Development, Socialism,and Capitalism. Socialism is having your cake & eating it too. Capitalism is having your cake & eating someone else’s.

Naysayers may counter that capitalists are merely having and eating their own cake. If so, please explain all the 0 capital gains tax advocates, all the flat tax fanatics, and all the starve-the-government radicals. They benefit from necessary public spending (defence, infrastructure), but do everything to avoid paying proportionally (if at all) into it. What they are really asking for is not to eat their own cake, but for Big Fish to Eat Little Fish (matsya nyaya). For those mental slaves of libertarianism, please remember the national highway system in the US was a public project—not a private one…and so was the internet. Those who hate government, cannot possibly advise it, let alone lead it or comprehend the nature of its duties to citizenry: raksha, palana, yogakshema.

Mental slaves steeped in binary thinking may counter, “vell, you are a socialist!”. But we have spoken out against socialism repeatedly as well. Encouraging generation upon generation to live on the public dole not only destroys productivity and work ethic, but also destroys citizenship. Government dependence, excessive centralization, statism, over-emphasis of urbanisation, all sound good on paper, but are exceedingly corrosive to individual responsibility and liberty. This isn’t to deny the importance of economies of scale and urban technology clusters as needed for defence and health, but it doesn’t mean 100 smart cities either.

All elements have their position in any polity, not just the individual and government. The intermediate levels of family, community, and state/province all provide additional layers of cohesiveness to society, so that if one level becomes weak, the other can act as a buffer and take the weight. If government goes bankrupt, how will the individual survive? Family, community, and state all have their respective roles.

Capitalism accomplishes the same not by encouraging over-dependence on government, but by encouraging over-consumption by the individual. This leads to social atomisation from the other end. Greed and selfishness become virtues, and everything, even human life and dignity, is put on sale. Instead of crushing people under the unsustainable weight of bloated government, society is encouraged to eat itself out by making temperance unfashionable.

But facts don’t matter for binary-bitten ideologues. If we don’t represent socialism, they don’t have any talking points and insist we don’t know economics and they do…just cause! Rather than behaving like poseurs casting aspersions on the intellectual capacity of others, they should evolve and mature from the mental state of the juveniles they mimic.

Take a deep breath. Recognise that you’re not the only one who studies economics. And use logic to understand and critique others—rather than exploding in a petard of boorish and bombastic buffoonery. Have the humility to listen and learn.

To bring things full circle: Greece did spend beyond its means—true—but who enabled it? Germany’s overcapacity had to be absorbed (one of the dangers of supply-side economics “i.e. supply creates its own demand”), and so Greece was given overgenerous financing and encouraged to consume beyond its means. In the process, Germany benefited through increased exports and market share abroad and increased employment and prosperity at home. Had individual Greeks been encouraged to locally manufacture—rather than depend merely on tourism like so many brothel madams—they could have consumed locally manufactured goods. True, not everything can be manufactured locally (especially if you are a small country)—but essential items and products should be provided for at home. Of course, there is nothing more essential than agriculture. That is why in the West, food miles have become a trend, but India is going in the opposite direction. Locally grown produce not only reduces transportation costs, but encourages healthier food that is less dependent on chemical preservatives to maintain and prevent natural rot. The absence of this can be seen in the health crisis in the United States—which is now increasingly plaguing India. Obesity, diabetes, early baldness, hormonal imbalance—all are symptoms of artificial food that is being tampered with and over-medication which has been tinkered with.

The over-confident, but under-read may proclaim that even Gregor Mendel engaged in genetic engineering—but this is moronic. There is a world of difference between cross breeding via a natural process and interfering in the process itself at the genetic level. By respecting nature, we protect ourselves from unintended consequences. After all, there is a world of difference between putting a horse and donkey in the same room and encouraging them to breed, and creating from genetic scratch, a whole new animal. Science-tards should also be mindful that the net result of a horse and donkey is a mule—incidentally, a sterile animal, aka genetic dead end.

So before getting caught up in the faddish “rationalism” of the brave new world of “surrendering to science and technology!”—actually be rational and use your brain to think about the consequences. Science is not the solution to everything—how could it be? Science gave us the internet, but also gave us Hiroshima. Science surely has its place—to help us understand the material world so that we can better our material living. But what does it have to do with spiritual living and harmony? Science axiomatically cannot provide us with a way of life or a moral code by which to live. That is the place of philosophy: be it secular humanism or Dharma. Rather than prematurely signing up for a Star Trek future, they should try to preserve their It’s a Wonderful Life present—assuming they even can.

Ultimately, all this is emblematic of Western man and increasingly Global man (davos man?) and his juvenile need to dominate his fellow man and conquer nature. But nature is no more meant to be conquered than women are meant to subjugated. After all, can nature not hit back and wipe out civilization itself, like Draupadi annihilated the Kauravas through Bhima? When her wrath is upon you, to whom then will you turn for succour citing the Dharma and decency you previously ignored?—The God in “scientific” atheism you  previously rejected?

References:

  1. Hitopadesa.https://archive.org/stream/firstbookofhitop00ml/firstbookofhitop00ml_djvu.txt
  2. Smith, Adam. The Theory of Moral Sentiments.Liberty Fund. 1982
  3. Smith, Adam. An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations. Vol I. Liberty Fund. 1981
  4. http://www.thehindubusinessline.com/opinion/economics-of-bahuka-and-greenspan/article2598383.ece
  5. http://bastiat.org/en/the_law.html
  6. http://linkis.com/newindianexpress.com/zx9Ue
  7. http://www.newindianexpress.com/states/kerala/Irreverence-the-Hallmark-of-Modern-Economic-System/2015/04/05/article2748029.ece
  8. http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/greed-and-debt-the-true-story-of-mitt-romney-and-bain-capital-20120829#ixzz27QU1UKe6
  9. http://www.economist.com/node/21536871
  10. http://www.forbes.com/sites/jasonnazar/2013/09/09/16-surprising-statistics-about-small-businesses/
  11. http://www.politifact.com/virginia/statements/2011/dec/30/eric-cantor/cantor-says-small-businesses-create-70-percent-us-/
  12. http://www.infinityfoundation.com/mandala/h_es/h_es_shah_m_sreni_frameset.htm
  13. http://kanagasabapathi.blogspot.com/2015/04/rebuilding-india-14.html
  14. http://www.cnn.com/2015/03/18/opinions/wheeler-silicon-valley-jobs/index.html
  15. http://linkis.com/m.timesofindia.com/w/kzNbk
  16. http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/politics/2015/01/the_upper_middle_class_is_ruining_all_that_is_great_about_america.html
  17. https://twitter.com/jai_amma/status/578913520198103040
  18. http://articles.economictimes.indiatimes.com/2015-02-19/news/59304961_1_80-projects-finance-minister-crore/2
  19. http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/delhi/Woman-has-no-claim-on-in-laws-property-SC/articleshow/46569335.cms
  20. http://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/mumbai/resumption-of-mining-dredges-up-fears-in-sindhudurg/article7068521.ece?ref=sliderNews
  21. http://indianexpress.com/article/opinion/columns/drug-drag/99/