How many of you were shy of wearing the tilak after a puja or bhai dooj in the morning and go to school when we were growing up? Being a person who was in any way religious was supposed to be regressive. That was the narrative that was set for us.
Left and Nehru ensured that being Hindu was the worst sort of identity that a person could have. In fact, every ritual, every action, and every puja was questioned. Not by outsiders but by the Uncles, the self-important cousins.
Bhakti is the highest way to be for anyone. It is a state where one dissolves oneself and merges with another being. It does not matter what is the object of Bhakti, which deity you are devoted to. The very act of dissolution is enough to make you reach the highest state of being, effortlessly. Krishna has called it the highest way to exist. Yet, look at how this amazing way of life that was only recognized in India as a mechanism to flower, has been turned into an expletive these days.
Forget the leftists and the Congress-waalas, I have found that even Hindus who want to abuse a Guru and his disciple, call the latter “Andha Bhakt“. Little realizing that a Bhakt who evaluates is an artist at deception. Devotion either is there or not there. There are no percentages.
This is the state that we are in, in terms of Dharmic mindset. In terms of how we value our heritage. Even those of us who purport to be Hinduism bleeding-hearts.
The counter-narrative has been ingrained in us so deeply that we have no qualms in abusing a Guru, Bhakti, rituals, and even Dharma.
It did not happen suddenly
This is not a coincidence. It has not happened in a day. Over the years, the rituals denouncing Uncles, the chiding Aunts, the evasive cousins during Pujas, has left an indelible mark on us. We have ingrained those ways and logic and simply tried to push our religious mind to the forefront, only to find our deep thought brandishing those very arguments against ourselves and Dharma.
Even the shloka spouting Hindus interpret every verse of Upanishad with the indelible imprint of the same indoctrination that we had in the decades gone by.
You see, Hindus have been rendered Dharma challenged!
But more importantly, we have become victims of our own deeds. What the enemy – left and Nehruvian machinations – set in motion is now a self-propelling machine. It is being now driven by us.
We are our enemy.
That is the power of narrative and indoctrination when it is done in a powerful manner.
Tide turned, but indoctrination is deep
At Drishtikone, we share our predictions for India, Pakistan and US every year. And, I remember how at the end of 2008, when I was writing the predictions, it just came to me that the way things are, Narendra Modi – who was Villain #1 in India and vilified by so many and US was not even giving him visa – would be the Prime Minister very soon. So, while every logic of mine said that Modi should be the next PM, I was perturbed at how can, in the face of such overwhelming negative views, he ever reach a stage where he can even say “I want to run for Prime Minister”. It would not be acceptable.
So “should I put my neck out?” I thought. Yes, was the answer, even though at that time it did not make any sense. So I wrote in the Annual Predictions for 2009:
I see one major leader emerging in India in the medium term – Narendra Modi. I know he doesn’t even seem like a possibility but he will be a Prime Minister within the next 5 years. The situation on the ground and the attacks on India will make him a certainty.
When the time came the narrative changed, the mood altered, and history reversed its course to give Modi an unprecedented majority!
That victory was not just due to Modi or his staff and BJP workers but many in the social media and in blogosphere who went out to take a stand and voice a counter-narrative to the popular narrative that was the staple of Nehruvian era.
That mindset, which we were all afraid to fight back at, or even stand up against, was being dismantled in front of our eyes. And, we all, were the architect of this new era of iconoclasm.
From – “Can Modi run?” to the voicing of “Congress-mukt Bharat” – was a long journey in the consciousness of India. We take it lightly, but just a generation before us, it was an unthinkable feat.
That is the power of voice.
Voice, when expressed can alter the Universe. It creates ripples. Ripples bring new allies. New voices. New alignments. These alignments take on a new power, a new strength. And soon, a new group forms and a new narrative emerges.
What was once a lone voice, becomes a nation full of chorus. Sometimes narratives are set by conniving weaklings (like Nehru). Sometimes narratives are set by the many articulations of inner voices that create a symphony of a new melody. Saffron on the Indian horizon was that melody.
Social Media warriors – what do they offer?
Many chide those on social media trying to push through a certain tweet or a facebook message or write a blog that very few may read. But they are all creating a ripple in the Universe. When the story of today will be written by the generations after us, they may not know who spent hours fighting the battles of narratives on twitter or doing research selflessly to write books that set the nation on fire with new concepts like Breaking India or Urban Naxals.
What they will see is the culmination of that transformation in the nation’s psyche.
Hours of toil would have shaped a different world.
A world where a kid is no longer ashamed to keep his tilak on the morning of Bhai dooj and proudly walk into his top public school in Mumbai or Delhi. Where an 8th grade girl will know why she folds her hands to Ganpati or to Krishna. No Uncles would come to mock an Aunty who is having a kirtan in her house.
Social media or collective activism may not seem like the most likely progenitor of that confident era, but the voice of everyone would have created a chorus that would shape the coming Indian civilization.
When Adi Shankara went around Bharat debating with anyone he found off the path of Dharma, he was not trying to show-off his vanity and intellect. While defeating his opponents, he was changing the narrative. He was taking a shot at the very soul and conscience of this nation. He had a voice. A voice that was backed by irrefutable intellect and solid awareness. He chose to articulate and take on the anti-Dharmic forces of his time. If the narrative of ordinary people could be likened to a twitter, he was the most effective challenger in that era of Societal media.
He challenged and contributed to a different way to be.
And, despite the odds against Dharma and Hinduism, it all survived. Wounded, contaminated and injured, but survived. And, that was enough. It created beings like Sri Ramana Maharishi, Shri Ramakrishna, Swami Vivekananda, Shankaracharya, Sadhguru. This journey would not have been possible if one man would not have opened his mouth.
Narratives shape Civilizations
Voicing your convictions creates ripples. Ripples create a melody. The melody of fearless voices shape and change narratives. Narratives shape Civilizations.
India’s Civilization has a threat. Because our voices have been dumbed for decades, indeed centuries now. We have been made ashamed of even saying what we are. Even articulating which seemed obvious to us. If another person from West did not acknowledge us of being human, we had become such that we could argue very effectively as to how sub-human we were. Even the acknowledgement of our humanity had been outsourced!
Such has been our crippled mentality.
This is changing. And chutzpah is the masala that will spice this curry. That way of daring to speak up.
Social media could not have come at a more opportune time for the Dharmic future. Our power to change narrative and set it on the right track has increased manifold. What took Adi Shankaracharya his entire lifetime, we have the tools to achieve in a month. That is a great power.
So, friends, irrespective of what the world may say, how the world may denounce “keyboard activism”, we should remember that our voice has a power. We may not realize it now (or ever). But it will create a ripple on the fabric of the Universal Consciousness. That is enough.
What we say or do will contribute to the furthering and shaping of our collective Dharmic Civilization of the future.
So don’t hunker down. Speak up. And, set the narrative for our collective Civilization! Tathastu!