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.

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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

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