The Mahabharata, as well as the Hitopadesha, both depict how secular liberal societies fail to address the challenge of intransigent and invasive dogmas.
Are we living in Ekachakrapura? Mahabharatha is an inexhaustible source of knowledge, long before Carl Jung, Vyasa had mapped not only personality archetypes but also social architectures. And there is a perfect analogy of how secular liberal societies are dealing with the intransigence of Islam, the story briefly.
Pandavas in their Agnyatha Vasa, arrive at village and stay at the home of a poor Brahmin family, one day they overhear lamentations and learn that one member of the family is to be sacrificed to Bakasura, who has been threatening the country with wanton violence. The ruler of the country unable to handle him, makes a deal, that every family in the country, will on regular basis sacrifice a member, who will present themselves with cartloads of food and drinks; the Asura can consume it all, kill and eat the person as well as the cattle. And then will not attack anyone else in the place. And this has been going on, then Kunti intervenes and sends Bhima instead of the host’s son and Bhima puts an end to the Asura. That place was Ekachakrapura.
Islam is the Bakasura, and our Ekachakrapuras are the liberal societies, unable to handle Islam’s constant jihad against others, which keep making one-sided deals with Islam – losing territory, the citizenry, institutions, freedom of speech and movement, public space — regularly. And lives in constant denial of it. So much so that if anyone tries to counter the narrative, they are accused of disturbing the ‘communal harmony’ and suppressed.
- Don’t teach unpleasant truths about Islamic history, they will be offended and become terrorists.
- Don’t object to special laws and provisions for them, beyond the religious sphere, they will be offended and become terrorists.
- Don’t depict them in a critical manner in any media and never depict their prophet in any manner, they will be offended and become terrorists.
- Don’t pray to your gods or live your life according to your heritage, around them, they will be offended and become terrorists.
- Don’t question their treatment of women, apostates or atheists, they will be offended and become terrorists.
- Don’t equate they offending your sentiments with you offending theirs. Be secular, you can’t have any cultural religious sentiments even though all religions are equal.
- Don’t prevent or even protest, them smuggling cattle or running illegal butchery, and be silent when they cut the tongues of Sadhus opposing their butchery.
- Don’t mention the name of their community when gruesome crimes are committed by them but feel guilty of religiously motivated genocide, even if some random mishap befalls them.
On and on, the relentless narrative of the secular liberals goes.
Islam is based on an intransigent dogma, which requires constant conflict against the others. Even if some Muslims don’t live to the full extent of the dogma and live in accommodation, this constant pandering to the violence of the dogma encourages the worst among them and in them, to attain dominance.
“The main hurdle in introducing reforms in the Muslim community are the liberal Hindus ‘who are more Muslim than Muslim themselves’ “- Hamid Dalwai
This is not peace and amity, but just pusillanimity. Sriguru. Rohit Arya of the Arya Yoga Sangha brings a yogic perspective to the story.
Ekachakra — Existence at the level of one chakra, the lowest chakra of mooladhara, of only survival without effort to ascend to greater plans of existence. A vehicle which runs on one wheel, will not get far.
In Mahabharatham the country itself is called — Vetrakiya, ‘filled with reeds’, implying ‘men of straw’, men of no substance or spine. And our media, academia and public intellectuals are indeed people of such reed and straw, their arguments invariably strawman arguments.
For example, they will prophesy doom and gloom against an extremist Hinduism, which has no precedent in history or support in the Shastras as the strawman. While conveniently deflecting attention from the real and present danger of Islamic intransigence which is based on the doctrine, evident all through history and active even today.
As to the rulers, Mahabharatha’s description is apt,
‘Ignorant of the science of government, and possessed of little intelligence, adopts not with care any measure by which these territories may be rendered safe for all time to come.’
But it is not just the rulers or specific people in society, all of us are responsible because we yield to the intransigence in many ways at different levels, and go silent without protesting even via the available methods. When Bakasura invades many aspects of public life, we will ignore it to the best of our efforts, and blame anyone who tries to alert us to the danger.
Ascribed to Winston Churchill, is this quote ‘An appeaser is a one, who keeps feeding a crocodile, hoping it will eat him last’. He could have described the Secular Liberals of today’s societies. If we keep yielding on these small invasions, remember history, and know that it will end up only in losing huge parts of territory, sacred places, millions of lives and cultural space. And one day it will come knocking on our own doors.
To paraphrase Martin Niemoller’s famous lament,
First they came for the Baluch and Bengal, I did not speak out, for I was not Baluchi or Bengali, then they took Punjab and Sindh, then Kashmir, and Kerala; They took separate laws, separate courts, separate education, separate banks, I did not speak up, for it did not affect me, personally; They took daughters and sisters, forced them to convert, I did not speak, for it was not my sister and daughter; They respected no borders, no boundaries – international or in public spaces, I did not care, for my house was safe; Then they came for me – and there was no one to left to speak for me.
‘Kafkaesque’, which describes a nightmarish situation which most people can somehow relate to, although strongly surreal. With an ethereal, “evil”, power floating just beyond the senses. Comes from the works of Franz Kafka, and refers to the style with which he wrote his books
Here is a new word coined:
‘Kafirkaesque’, is the application of that word to this narrative. In this case, the evil is Islamic invasive intransigence and the victims of that evil are called ‘Kafirs’ by Islam. The Kafirs can relate to the nightmarish situation from a long history of violence but are unable to grasp it, thanks to a culture of Ekachakrapura, where the secular liberal narcotic keeps them as straw men, clueless to grasp or subdue the evil.
We have to shake off this narcotic and wake up to find the Bhima in us and put an end to this pusillanimity. Bakasura’s violence should be tamed, and Islam made to engage on common terms with others. That is achieved only by refusing the narcotic of secularism and asserting our own strength.
And then there is Mandavishya, the snake that takes frogs for a ride.
There was an old snake named Mandavishya, who lived near a mountain.
Due to his old age, he was unable to prey on frogs. He thought, “I am too old to hunt for food. I will not be able to live long without food, and it is only going to make me weaker to hunt as well. I have to think of something”.
Suddenly, an idea struck him. As planned, he went to a nearby pond which was full of frogs, and relaxed on its bank without any intention to hunt. He behaved as though he had nothing to do with the frogs.
At first the frogs ran away, but as he was not hunting the frogs gathered some courage and approached him. One of them asked, “O Snake! Why do you not hunt, as is your behaviour?”
The snake replied casually, “I have no desire for food, as I am unfortunate. I’ll explain to you. Last night, when I was wandering about in search of frogs, I bit a Brahmin’s son in frustration of not finding any prey. The Brahmin cursed me. He said, ‘From now onwards, you shall be able to do nothing but serve frogs. You will have to live off what frogs offer to you!’ And so, I lie here, to serve any frogs who wants my services. I can give a ride on my back to any frog who wishes for a ride”
When the news reached the king of frogs, he visited the snake along with his ministers. On being assured by the snake that he means no harm, the king decided to take a ride on the snake’s back. The snake rode him around the pond, and the king was very entertained. Even the ministers and other snakes took turns to ride the snake, and they were very entertained, too.
The snake, too, proved himself a good entertainer by exhibiting various styles of crawling. The frogs, especially the king of frogs, were delighted. The frogs jumped and hopped all the way.
The next morning the snake pretended to be weak and crawled slowly on purpose. The king of frogs, on the other hand, was excited to start the morning with a ride on the snake’s back. He observed the snake’s behaviour and enquired.
The snake replied, “I am too weak to crawl. I have not eaten for so long, and must eat something to be strong to give you a ride.”
The king of frogs thought for a while, consulted his ministers, and decided that they must serve the snake one frog a day to keep him strong. This was what the snake had planned for. He praised his kindness, and gave him and the other frogs a ride on his back.
From then onwards, the snake gave ride to the frogs, and got to eat one frog every day. In a short time, he regained strength. On the other hand, the king of frogs was too excited to realize the frogs were rapidly decreasing in numbers and there were only a handful of them that remained.
The frog king was so completely taken in by the snake’s talk that he did not understand his real motive.
One day, a big black snake arrived at the bank of the pond. He was very surprised to see the excited frogs hopping in joy, and riding on the snake’s back.
The black snake enquired, “O friend! Why are you carrying frogs on your back? They are our food!”
The old snake explained everything to the black snake. He continued, “I have discovered many different tastes after eating many different frogs here. I have this easy way of life, and enjoying it here.”
Over time, the snake had eaten even the larger frogs, and started eating the ministers and the king’s relatives. Finally, one day, he ate the king also and thus, the entire frogs in the pond perished.
Mandavishya is not aggressive like Bakasura, it appears gentle, noble and even weak. It offers to turn tricks for the frogs, participates in their activities, so much so that the frogs start to think the snake, as a part of their own family. The snake’s style is indeed different.
What Islam seeks to achieve through aggression and violence, Christianity achieves by corruption and confidence tricks. Inculturation, cultural appropriation, dominance verging on a monopoly over education and healthcare, all abetted and allowed by the ruling class of the frogs — the secular state. Yet the frogs frolic in taking rides with the snake, croak Carnatic music with it and what not.
Bakasura and Mandavishya, both have to be dealt with in different ways. Bakasura needs an assertion of strength, of political, legal, physical and organizational strength. Mandavishya needs an assertion of identity, cultural uniqueness, inoculation against infection etc. Today’s dharma is to live with them both, yet strive not to fall to their wiles and warfare. But first is to awake from the stupor of secularism.
Image Credit: Nicola Fioravanti