Indian PM Narendra Modi is holding his #MainbhiChowkidar meetings around the country. The opposition – in a bid to belittle him – tries to mock him and keeps abusing him. However, the sentiment of every citizen and person of Indian origin as they feel the responsibility to care for Indian civilization is a deeply personal one. Even when no one looks at you, no one cares for what you do, you still do. You contribute to the strengthening of the foundations of the Indian civilization.
Chowkidar is not an occupation. It is not a certain kind of work. It is a commitment.
When one – anyone – decides to take guard for the security and well-being of another, one is saying that his own self is secondary. That is a big commitment. No money can buy it.
Taking guard for the safety of another is like devotion. You are then completely for the other. You remain no more.
In Indian civilizational ethos, two examples of the act of such guarding have been extolled. One was of Lakshman guarding his brother, Ram’s wife Sita and son of Parvati, latter known as Ganpati, guarding her and inviting the wrath of his father, Shiva.
When Lakshman lost Sita to Ravan who used a chimerical deer while masquerading as a monk to fool Lakshman – Lakshman’s anger and sorrow was tremendous. He was eventually instrumental in getting back Sita, but the whole episode demonstrated that even one who had conquered sleep and could not be defeated in strength by another human, could still be fooled by chimera and deception to make critical mistakes in his role of a chowkidar of someone so dear.
Ganesha was safeguarding his mother while she was in her room. When Shiva came back and wanted to enter, Ganesha (who was born of Parvati’s breath and had not seen Shiva) wouldn’t allow him to enter. It did not matter that Shiva was Parvati’s own husband and Ganesha’s father. He took him on and Shiva cut off his head. Shiva did face Parvati’s wrath though. But the one guarding was gone.
The two stories have lessons for those who choose to adopt the role and spirit of Chowkidars of Indian civilization. They are:
Commitment is larger than you: Ganesha showed that. As a kid, he stood no chance against Shiva, but his commitment and word was larger than himself. And that is what really mattered. Just as in devotion, the giving up of himself by the chowkidar or the one guarding – an idea or a person or a group – is complete. There is no you left anymore.
Even in face of overwhelming power, last man standing is a great barrier: Just as in Battle of Saragarhi, in Ganesha’s case too, it does not matter whether you are outclassed in power and strength or not. What matter is whether you can stand your ground or not.
Despite your commitment and powers, the unscrupulous can still fool you: No matter how strong and committed Lakshman was, Ravan won only because of his machinations and deception. And, this is an important lesson for those who are backing Modi and taking on the responsibility of being the chowkidar. Be awake surely but be extra cautious. Those who have no scruples can use your deepest fears to make you lower your guard and be vulnerable. Don’t allow that. No matter what.
Many times in the global history, the spiritual traditions and lineage have stood face to face in an existential battle. And lost. There is no balance or middle ground, if you will in these situations. Either the spiritual civilization wins or those who have plundered humanity with complete disregard will. They are relentless and ruthless. Lowering of guard is not an option.
“Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.” – CS Lewis
There was another chowkidar – Krishna. And nothing ever deceived him. Nothing ever beat him. When the time was for compassion, he had it. When it came to ruthless action, that is what he used. When it came for hitting the unscrupulous with their own weapon, he never batted an eyelid. When you are on a chess board, play by its rules. When you are on the soccer field, play per its rules.
Don’t play chess by the rules of soccer or vice versa.
So, if you have taken up the responsibility of being a chowkidar, learn the game. Learn how to guard what needs to be guarded. There is no glory in losing. Specially when the stakes are so high.