Sunday, December 27, 2009

Public Peace

Public Peace
Dr Sivananda Murty[i]



The term ‘Public Peace’ itself means that there is no living creature who does not need peace - not only the human being but also birds on the tree would like to have peace. They don’t like to be disturbed. They would like to live with their young ones in their humble nests in peace. Peace is the very need of every living creature. Peace, whether cultural or spiritual, is the very substratum and a basic need for progress. That is why; the ancient Rishis sought peace in the forest for spiritual advancement, which we call Tapas. The peace that they enjoyed has given us the fruits of their knowledge, the revelations, the Vedas and all the culture born out of that Vedic knowledge. This is the land in which that peace was enjoyed by every living being at one time. But, we have come a long way in the last, may be, a hundred centuries. This is not fiction, it is history. India has never believed in fiction except as a matter of change, for the fun of it, for the enjoyment of it. Consider the example of Puranas. In spite of the mythical stories, the Puranas are our Scriptures. They are the store house of our culture and our history. If India had won its independence from a foreign rule, did it really mean that we had gone to the roots of our culture? Did we win back our ancient land to ourselves? Even after the Partition which was a sacrifice on the part of the Hindu population, an unavoidable political happening and a painful separation of a part from our own Motherland, are we enjoying peace and prosperity? That is the basic question confronting us today.

Our travel in public whether it be by train, or by air, is fraught with fears and dangers. We are not sure that we are safe. Every respectable citizen is subjected to a thorough examination at the airports and is asked not to take offence for that. He is told that it is being done in his own interest. If I have to fly from Madras to Hyderabad, I have to go through so much of physical examination and all my belongings are opened for scrutiny. There could be a single terrorist out of one lakh passengers. But, he is able to command the conditions of one lakh passengers. But he is able to command the conditions of one lakh citizens. We are not able to help ourselves. Yes , if there is one scorpion , that has been seen and that has escaped our notice in the house the entire house has to be searched for that scorpion. We have no peace in the house till the scorpion is found or permanently not found for sure.

We are passing through times in which our own culture is threatened, criticized, insulted attacked intellectually, emotionally, culturally, politically and physically. This is a situation in which we have landed ourselves sixty years after Independence . If sixty years is supposed to be a mature time for anyone to become wise, whether India or Republic of India has attained the wisdom that is expected of it is doubtful.

Ours is an ancient Culture which has survived many onslaughts, both from within, and without, even long before the Christ was born and centuries after he was born. Now we are passing through the third millennium of Christianity. We have had a thousand years of subjection by a sort of superior physical force but not a superior spiritual force. That has been the misfortune of this Country. If there is a clash between good culture and a bad culture and if the latter survives and the former succumbs and if that has been a weakness and we have been subjected to this suffering on account of our Culture, then what should we do? Should we think of showing great values of spirituality and humanism? Should we put up a fight against it? Then, what happens to the cherished values of our morals and spirituality? These are all very important questions that are mind boggling, giving us no rest, putting us through sleepless nights. We are at cross roads today.

Having put up with a thousand years of violence, subjection, insult, destruction and exploitation, we hoped that we would have some peace and prosperity after the political independence. Peace is the basic condition in which some prosperity we can be hoped for. But, did we realize our hopes?

The political rulers tell us of all the progress we have made over their Five Year Plans, may be Ten or Fifteen; they go on with these plans. There is much, too much money in this country today. India did not have so much money at any time before, nor did it have so much poverty and problems at any time before. How come such a situation arises? What should we do about it?

I am not going to give a meticulous reply to all these questions, but, I share my feelings and views with you. We are all sharing the sorrows of the country without ever being responsible for anything. That is the situation in which all of us are placed today.

Now, very often we come across certain terms like violence, terrorism. Violence or lawlessness which have become the part of a Country’s life anywhere. So long as the violence can be tackled by the government in place, It is the responsibility of the Government. They have their Police; they have their Courts, prosecuting and investigating agencies and all the rest of them. But, if the violence exceeds its limits and becomes a problem too difficult to tackle for the government in place, we will call it Terrorism. Violence caused on account of the clashes between two sections of public for any other causes can always be tackled. But today, Violence rising to the level of Terrorism has come to stay. It appears that Terrorism is not confined to India alone. It is global today. Even if, all the governments all over the world come together, it is doubtful whether they can tackle this Terrorism. The most difficult part of this Terrorism is, it has a faith behind it. Terrorism and Violence have become a creed and not the subject of a few criminals. The terrorists are not criminals, they have a creed. They are not professional criminals. They have a faith behind their activity. That is exactly the problem of the mankind today, not merely of India .

India has been subjected to this kind of violence from the invaders which it has survived. Invaders came and settled down to rule this country. We have survived all those centuries. We are safe today. But physical safety without a sense of mental security is no life at all. They are not the kind of circumstances in which we can think of our Spirituality and Fine Arts. These are the subjects in which there can be progress only when we bring peace all over. If your private life is not threatened , if your culture is not threatened , if your nation is not threatened, there can be progress, because Hindu India has a lot more of subjects to pay their attention to, if there is peace. It is not just progress of industry or social welfare. It has a Spirituality, it has a rich Culture and a repertoire of Fine Arts in which we can find the solution to the sufferings of mankind. But do we have that peaceful atmosphere and peaceful times around to be able to pursue our valuable subjects? Yet it is surprising to know, we still have books being published on Advaita, Vaishnavism, Saiva Siddantha, Bhakthi Siddantha, Bhagawatha or new commentaries on Bhagawat Gita. These things go on. Why is it?

Is that our strength of survival or are we ignoring realities around confining ourselves to the subjects of our liking? Is the threat that the country is facing to be tolerated or worried about? These are the basic questions confronting us today. We cannot afford to ignore what is happening around? This is the time to wake up and think deeply of this kind of Terrorism that we are suffering from. The public peace is disturbed. Yes, enmity between two parties or two persons is understandable as it is part of life. Each would like to destroy the other and in the process either both perish or one survives. But the kind of Violence we face today has a philosophy behind it. Philosophies cannot be hanged by arguments. Violence can be met either with violence or only with tolerance by accepting it. But, we are facing intolerance. The basic question is should we tolerate intolerance? Should we just submit to it and go to the temple to pray for our security and safety? We are regularly praying to the gods in temples. We are going through the shanthi kriya, the Vedic rituals for peace and safety. Suppose, I don’t believe in God, don’t I have a place to go? If I am a nasthik am I not entitled to peace? So, ultimately, a stage has come where our peace or our security lies in the hands of God, not in the man. The ideal society is that in which security of a citizen is guaranteed by Government itself, by the society itself. That is not to be today. Anything can happen to anybody anywhere , be it an Airport, Marriage Hall, Railway Station or Public place or a Traffic junction. Now what is your attitude to this? In fact, all of us are very much disturbed by the kind of attitude shown to these crimes against humanity itself. The attitude is sometimes incomprehensible, un-justifiable, and un-supportable.

The Government has one attitude to that, the Hindu has another attitude, the Muslim has yet another attitude and the Christian has his own attitude. The philosopher has his own attitude. The intolerant section of any other religion has its own attitude, but we are not having a unified, unilateral and an all convincing all round acceptance in our attitude to this Crime. That is why if this violence is receiving different kinds of criticism -- acceptance, non acceptance, condemnation, or support. As long as this state of affairs continues, the criminal activity is secure. That goes on. A time has come now for every citizen, every section of public to come together to tackle this.

Hinduism starts with Humanism. Humanism can be defined in simple words. If I am a human being, I must find my own image in another human being. That is Humanism. The other man is just like me. In him, I can see my own image, my aspirations, my desire for security, my love to live in him. If I find my own image in another human being, it is impossible to hate him or attack him. I can criticize anybody when we do not agree on a issue, but there cannot be any hatred. That is the kind of Humanism that the Hinduism has taught us. For example, right from my childhood, my mother was my first guru, my father was second guru and then, there were many teachers. Though I was taught by many teachers, I had only one Guru who initiated me into something. But, all of them consistently taught me to be humanist first. My household is not an exclusive one. It is one among the millions of households in India. Any father or any guru or any teacher has to teach Humanism. If there is any argument against this Humanism, or human values, then such argument cannot be valid because it has already left out Humanism as a respectable concept. It has crossed the limits of tolerance of Humanism. In other words, Humanism is not tolerated. Absolute Humanism is put to criticism, attacked and that is taken as a sign of weakness.

Hinduism, to start with, believes in Humanism and then social welfare, one’s responsibility to the society, accountability to the Government and moral accountability to the inner voice within, which we call Conscience. Conscience is the voice of the Truth within. Even a criminal has Conscience. Remember, even a murderer has his Conscience, but his hatred has taken the better of his Conscience. It has over ruled it and he is indulging in a crime. This Conscience is the basic root of Humanism. Every human being has a right to live and every human being has to recognize the right of other human beings to live. This is the basic definition of true Conscience. Today it appears that this is pushed aside in favour of a religious fundamentalism or a political fundamentalism. Whatever it be, society is not safe. It is a problem of the entire humanity.

India has three forces that have come from outside --- the Muslims, the Christians and the Communists. Long ago, the Islam has come. It has not been absorbed into the society totally. The Muslims lived their own independent life with their own thought, religion and culture unaffected by the presence of majority of Hindus in India . In fact, they were allowed to rule and they ruled. I feel proud as a Hindu that Islam has been allowed to grow in the face of the virtue of my tolerance, and my acceptance . I feel proud about it. In fact, that way, morally speaking, I am the conqueror. I am not the conquered.

Similarly, the Christianity that has come from outside, has not only progressed but also tolerated and encouraged. We have no complaint about it. Today they are in a position to write articles and publish books insulting the Hindu faith. They are given so much of freedom. The question is, whether that freedom has been put to proper and respectable use in this country? Therefore, the problem. But who is to regulate and correct this? There should be an honest and responsible governance. What has been happening in this country after Independence is a biased and unprofessional governance. Government has the responsibility to give an equal treatment to all its citizens.

That is where the Constitution comes into the picture. It has come into existence with laudable views on human life. Even that Constitution has undergone many changes. It is no more the same Constitution that had come into existence in January 1950. That has been meddled with. If that secular Constitution had been in place today, I think, we would have been a little better than what we are today. It is not. It has drifted from its very basic and fundamental principles into a new slot always pleasing the stronger element or the violent element and trying to make friends with unfriendly elements --- who do not recognize this country as anything of some value, who have no respect for the traditions, religion and culture of this land, who claim to be a superior force and who would like to save us by conversion. With them, we are living in co-existence, not a peaceful co-existence, but an unhappy co-existence.

Way back, Lala Lajpat Rai had published a book, “Unhappy India” in reply to Lady Mayo’s “Mother India”. She went on insulting the Culture of this country , but there was a Lajpat Rai to give a reply to her. Do you have a Lajpat Rai today to give a proper reply to all the insults and the horrible ill treatment meted out to the majority community?. I think today is the time when Lajpat Rai should have been present here to give us another version of “Unhappy India”. There is a great need for it. He didn’t use any harsh words in his book. Another South Indian, Mr Ram Iyer (if my memory is correct) from Chennai, who was the Legislative Member at that time, gave a harsh reply in 1927 with his book “Father India”. He named his Book as “Father India ”. If you go through this kind of literature, we understand that our tolerance or acceptance of a foreign culture that has invaded this country has not yielded any good results. It has not rewarded us with any kind of a peaceful co-existence. It is a failure in public life. One might ask me what is it that you want us to do? Do you want us to be a violent race? I don’t want that.

Today, everybody is eager to condemn an incident in Malegoan. It is indeed a small incident in comparison with all other terrorist incidents. The press is spending millions of words on that incident, giving it great importance as though it is an event in the history of this country. Is it not the part and parcel of Terrorism that is taking place in this country? Compared to all the rest of violence, is it not a minor incident? Does it reflect the culture, heart and mind of majority community as such? As a citizen I have to condemn that. There is a charged atmosphere and regular provocation. But when the Government is tackling these problems, it is apparently ignoring the provocation, giving undue importance to the reply to the provocation. Godhra was a terrible incident. No Country can afford to forget about it. It happened in day light. Some 58 people were killed, because they were Hindus. The reaction was violent and unbound. The Government could not control it. Yes, if somebody is insulted on the face, or his father and mother or his religion is insulted on his face, the immediate reaction is not going to be intellectual, but violent only.

Anybody can be provoked to violence. If you examine and quantify the literature on Godhra incident and post-Godhra incidents, it is ten against one. We have a sort of political leadership in this country who would like to artificially create a report from a judicial officer and try to justify the original crime and divert our attention saying that, it was only an accident. What should be our reaction towards a particular leader who was born in Hindu society? Should we ask him what happened to his conscience? That is exactly where knowing the truth and behaving in a different manner as though he has no conscience can be observed. That is falsehood. That is a crime against God. It is unpardonable. Well, there are in this world, man-made laws and God-made laws also. Man-made laws can be violated and they can be punished by another man. God -made laws cannot be ignored or insulted or transgressed. I am sure, that punishment can be got without a trial and a court and a prosecutor. There can be no defence lawyer before God. It is bound to happen any day. God-made law is a permanent law. These forces also claim to believe in God. But, are they following the God-made laws or the man-made laws? That is the basic question. Even then , as a Hindu if I had to search my Conscience to give an opinion about my own behavior, I cannot think of Manusmrithi or other Codes. I have to think of my Conscience, the voice of God within my Conscience. It tells me and accuses me saying, “you are wrong”. What is most important in human being is his Conscience. Therefore, we have to appeal to the Conscience in the human society today.

What is the solution for the present malady? There can be no solution! We can go on fighting the Terrorism through the agencies of the Police and the Army here and there, but it continues. We are not able to prevent a crime nor detect and prosecute a criminal so far successfully. So the Terrorism is more successful and more powerful than all governments in place. No one is able to tackle the terrorists. A time has come , when only a dialogue is perhaps the last resort between the Government with what little honest secularism and what little honest humanism is left in it and the religious fundamentalist groups with whatever real human values are left in them. They all should participate in the dialogue. The suffering Hindu population is another party. These three parties have to meet on the same stage and take up a long dialogue honestly. Instead of accusing, arguing is better.

The third force that has come to India from outside, apart from Islam and Christianity, is Communism, the leftist thinking. The membership in the leftist group is all subscribed and contributed by the Hindu society. You don’t find a Muslim communist or Christian communist. All Communists are largely Hindus, although, all Hindus are not Communists. That is a very serious situation in this country. They don’t have any regard for tradition nor any respect for religion of this Country.

Can this religion be ever destroyed totally? Can there be a century in which there is no Hinduism at all? Can there be a century in future wherein, only Communism is left to rule? Is it possible? Absolutely not. Hinduism is a forever phenomenon. Nobody can destroy it. Nobody can amend it. It does not need any improvement. It is highly improved state of thinking. Nobody needs to be reformed also. Basically speaking , what has to be reformed is an internal social reform, whether it is untouchability and things like that. These can always be corrected internally. We don’t need critics from outside. We don’t need teachings from other religions to reform. Enough reform has already been taking place in Hinduism. It is a permanent feature. If Hinduism did not have the power of survival, it should have died some 2000 years ago. Hinduism should have been wiped out when Buddha was born. Any new concept within or from without, has a limited life. Buddhism has again been diluted and absorbed into Hinduism. It does not exist as a separate concept, unless it is taken up as a political issue or political subject to deal with the Hindu masses. There can be a political Buddhist within the Hindu society and has his own his own grievance against Hindu society. But there is nothing, because for the simple reason that Buddhism is just a minor part of Hinduism. It is not an exclusive concept. It is not something like a new element. Ahimsa, vairagya, gnana, seeking the path of moksha, are the ancient thought. Nothing is new about them. What has been dismissed as irrelevant is ritualism in Vedic system and the caste system. But they are all physical aspects of it. The Spirituality has no amends. It does not need any kind of reform at all.

The Leftist thinking takes a refuge in the anti-Hindu forces trying to support them. Although, they are against the very concept of religion, they direct their criticism only against the Hindu religion and not against the others. They exercise their choice carefully and cleverly. Communism or the Bolshevism has brought about a Great Revolution in 1917. They fought an election to start with. Communism got only 25% votes and Lenin said “it is my country, I will rule. Any opposition I will not tolerate”. He started eliminating his own colleagues in the Revolution, in the following decades. At the very start of it, it has an inherent intolerance. It did not have a sense of justice. It took about 6 or 7 decades for it to fall apart. It is not a living force in its own land of its birth, but it tries to survive in India, because India is tolerant. There is no serious opposition to it.

The strange thing is that Islam or Christianity or Communism, these three systems have a constitutionally accepted fa├žade or a face. At the same time, another face, a criminal wing, a violent agency to support it forms a two-tier system existing in these forces. Hinduism has no branch of Terrorism. Hinduism does not tolerate even internal violence. If a man is violent against someone else, Hinduism is there to condemn it, because it has roots in Humanism. We don’t have an outfit in Hinduism to fight anti- Hindu forces or non Hindu forces. What everyone is trying to find or locate is this kind of non-existing outfit of Hinduism that promotes Terrorism. It is not there. They are trying to create it and show it to the world that ‘Hindus are violent’. This is a great damage to the respectability of Hinduism. Repeated propaganda can make it believable at least among some sections of people.

The world is looking at us, listening to us, reading our press - Indian press. The way some outsiders understand India is only through our newspapers , our journals , our writers, our intellectuals. All of them are giving a distorted picture of Hindu tolerance. Majority of Hindus are busy with their religion. They have their deeksha , whether Sastha deeksha in Kerala, Devi Deeksha in Andhra or things like that. They are too busy about these deekhsas. They have no time to read even a newspaper. When some political leader comes and exhorts them to rise in revolt, there can be an instant reaction then and there for a while. But even when a despotic rule was opposed, there was no indiscriminate violence among citizens.

For that matter, the Communists would very much love to call Shivaji a terrorist. They want it. They tried their hands at it and burnt their fingers in Maharashtra . Shivaji revolted against a despotic rule, which did not recognize the culture of the land as valid. He rose against it. Even when the British had to be thrown out, Gandhiji tried the means of peaceful resistance, satyagraha (self sacrifice). He preferred for satyagraha to face the bullet and die if necessary, rather than to attack. Even during those days there are some very important books published in Lahore, Kanpur and Lucknow and as a result a few sections of intolerant people killed some of the British or French families in violence. In reaction to that, Gandhiji went on fast unto death, until the peace was restored. That is the kind of peace even our political leaders have believed in, let alone religious leaders. Gandhiji was not a religious leader, but a religious Hindu in political leadership. That was his reply to a British oppression, repression and violence against the Indian society.

We are yet to find a Hindu outfit dedicated to Terrorism. All of us have to condemn even a stray incident of violence, if it has taken place. That is our Hindu conscience. We cannot support it. I think, now, we have come to a stage when things cannot be allowed to go on like that, because our next generation, our children and grand children have to live in peace. There is no point giving them a million dollars’ estate and ask them to enjoy. They can’t enjoy it unless the society is living in peace and our Culture is left in peace and is allowed to live in peace and security. We have to ensure peace during our own life time.

Well, in Hinduism, can you show one particular Swamiji who has exhorted the society to rise and revolt against anything ? Is there any learned Vedic brahmin who has contributed to the thought of Terrorism? . Did you find a purohit or a brahmin who is conducting Hindu rituals for the household or temples ever talk of fundamentalism? “Don’t tolerate this Muslim. Rise against them and kill them” Did we hear these words anywhere? Is it not the other religious preachers that are giving the kind of learning in the schools where, in their most impressionable years, boys and girls, are taught not to tolerate our religion?

If a socio-political section of Hindu society has taken up the issue, they are being criticized by the bulk of the Hindu society itself. They are called fundamentalists. BJP is called fundamentalist. RSS is called fundamentalist. I have seen RSS. I know them. Thousands of them have gone to serve the poor people through Vanvasi Kalyan etc. Vishwa Hindu Parishat is only protesting. They did not attack anybody. Even a protest, is it in-tolerance? Should we tackle them on the same basis as you tackle the SIMI? What has the Government done? Several state assemblies have passed a resolution and framed a stringent law against Terrorism and sent it for President’s approval. Is it not gathering dust in Central Secretariat? What is the intention of Government of India, this Government or previous Government, or future Government? What is their intention in rejecting these laws? Is it not the opinion of the public? When assembly passes and frames a law, whose voice is it? Is it majoritarianism? Is it Hindu fundamentalism? Even to tackle Terrorism, the state governments are not given enough power under the Law when they know there is enough provocation.

They are trying to malign the Hindu society. These are the forces (Leftist and Minority) that are supporting the so called secular Government. Our governments depend upon these forces. They are more than happy to be supported by these other groups, leftist groups, or the minority groups. They are not concerned about the feelings of majority community. If so, can we call it peoples’ Government? Is the Government not just political? Are we protesting enough against unprofessional Governance? So, this kind of tolerance will not or cannot go on forever. It is high time that all thinking citizens come together and save honest secularism in Government. Let the minorities come forward. Let there be a dialogue. Let us ask the minority community, “If you don’t want me to call Terrorism as Islamic Terrorism what else is it? Kindly let me know how should I call it ? What is the name you want me to give it?”

There is a Communist hierarchy. They have a terrorist outfit, Maoists or Naxalites. In the open, the Communist party can be elected into power, They are ruling in two states but they are active supporters of this Maoism or Naxalism. They don’t condemn them. When a Naxalite or a Moist is killed, they talk of human rights. They don’t recognize the human rights of victims. It disturbs peace and tranquility of the society. So, we have to look at the kind of moral and physical violence not in a limited perspective. It is a wide canvas. We have to call the people to face them. We have to enter into a dialogue with all these forces. Let the Terrorists and the Islamic fundamentalists, the Muslim religious and political leaders, the Hindu religious and political leaders, the Christian missionaries and Christian leaders in politics, the representative of Pope and the journalists supporting these different interests meet on one platform. They should be compelled to speak. Commit them to a particular ultimate policy. That is Democracy. That is the spirit of our original Constitution. We have to build up public opinion on these issues.

I don’t find any other solution, except retaliation with violence. That does not lead us anywhere. The Hindu, the Muslim, the Christian, all of them are Indians. They have a right to live in this Country in peace, in progress, pursue any profession, build up their properties, estates and fight in the public for their rights. The law is not against them. The bulk of the society is not against them. Then what is their grievance? Let them spell out “This is where we are hurt”. Let the Muslims say, Let the Christian say, Let the Naxalite say. Naxalite thinks that entire religion has to be wiped out. What is their method? Bullet. Why is that the Government not able to tackle this? It lacks will power. They want friendship and partnership with them. The time has come to take up a serious dialogue with all these forces.

I am prepared to accept any condemnation of the Hindu fundamentalism with concrete evidence. I don’t believe that Hindus can afford to be fundamentalists and yet be Hindus. Hinduism is bound to tolerate any school of thought, which is why; this Country has allowed itself to be partitioned. If Hinduism was an intolerant religion, the bulk of society would have risen in revolt against the partition of this Country. Partition would not have taken place. Any amount of violence would have been met with violence. People tolerated it under the leadership of tolerant super human beings like Gandhi, Nehru. Great men! What happened to this Country after all the sacrifice? What is the limit? Politicians come to us once in 3 or 4 or 5 years to seek our vote. Can’t we, the public, put a question to their face? “What is your solution to the problem? Are you a minority? Are you a majority? Are you a Hindu or a Christian first? Are you a Congress leader? Are you a Hindu leader? What is your solution to the problem? Speak out. Commit yourself. If you want my vote, speak out. I want to know your mind. I want to know you.”

We can’t go on forever like this and leave our future generations to their fate. It is high time that an intellectual and cognizable dialogue should take place. One may think that by God’s grace he is safe and his family is safe. It is not ture. We have to assert ourselves because we are not promoters of violence. We have a right to condemn hatred against our heritage. We have to exercise our right.

I know, I have no ready solution. But I believe a time has come, with a powerful dialogue with all the concerned parties and schools of thought, there can emerge a kind of agreement. Even if there is an agreement to disagree, it is peace to some extent. We are in need of it. I pray the God in whom I believe, to give us wisdom, to be able to tackle this conflicting situation in this Country and ensure peace for future. Americans have done a laudable thing. They have voted for a change. An African-American was never hoping to get anywhere near the White House. Today, he is in it. It is a great thing. Change is part of life. Such a change ought to come, has to come to this Country also.

We have to live together. Neither the Christian, nor the Muslim, nor the Hindu can be wished away. We have to live together. That is inevitable. We have to live in peace. So I think, meaningful long drawn dialogue on more than one forum is the need of the hour. Subham


[i] Sadguru Sivanada Murty, ‘Anandavan’, Bheemunipatnam, Vishakha Dist, Andhra Pradesh, (531 163). INDIA
E-mail: ksivanandamurty@gmaiLcom, Blog : Satguru Sivananda Murtyji (ksivanandamurty@blogspot.com)
The present article on ‘Public Peace’ is an edited version of His keynote address delivered at a ‘Conference on Public Peace’ organized by the Sarvani Vignyana Vedika Trust at Infosys Hall, Chennai (400017) on 13-11-2008 .

Role of a Citizen

Role of Citizen towards the Nation
Dr Sivananda Murty
“Anandavanam”
Bheemunipatnam

A citizen in a country is a member of his family as well as a member of the society. In the former capacity he plays the role of the son of his father and later in life the role of father of his sons. What he inherits as property from his father he may bequeath to his son. This varies in degrees increasing or decreasing. Other than this material transfer he has a cultural heritage including his religion, language, beliefs and customs to be transmitted to his progeny. He plays the role of a link in a long chain, but in this case this chain is a mere small family. A home is a unit of the nation and a family is a unit of the society. Thus, he is a link in the long chain of a perpetual society. Now a society can undergo changes as a nation in its religion through reforms or by foreign invasions. In all these matters citizen should realize that his lifetime is not a short time phenomenon or a matter of no consequence like the flow of current in a wire. A cut in it stops the transmission, similarly a citizen who did not realize his existence as a transmitting link in the long chain of a tradition or culture would commit the unpardonable mistake of breaking up of an age old valuable message of the past on to the next generation. A citizen has therefore a serious responsibility which should not be evaded in favour of a materialistic stupid existence which is of no consequence at all.

Coming to Hinduism, with its most valuable human values, social culture, spiritual beliefs and religious observances is too precious to be ignored. A Hindu citizen without adequate understanding and wisdom may commit the mistake of mistaking it and commit the sin of eschewing and discontinuing it much to the loss of his own progeny. Hinduism has a valid reply to any criticism and answer to any doubt about it. Today’s Hindu society has forgotten the value of tradition under the influence of half-baked criticism or under the influence of mushrooming new schools of thought many of which are not quite sound in their understanding of ancient religion. But it may be a different thing with the much needed reforms brought about by great men of wisdom who have not attempted to replace the same rather than cleansing it or updating it to suit the changing times. That it has been a golden rule in the Hindu India that one should not discontinue the tradition under any influence, but approach the wise and the learned in case of doubt.
What applies to religious traditions equally applies to the way of life, the culture, the language, the food, the dress etc., all of which belonging to the Hindu India have survived over many millennia. By the lack of understanding of these values a citizen loses his own identity both national and religious if he breaks the tradition and drifts into a different culture with no understanding about it. Keeping of traditions makes one a patriot faithful to his country. Patriotism is the highest value in human life. A Nation’s loss of a citizen may be small, but a citizen’s loss of a nationality is a loss of everything and is irretrievable.