I remember a talk by Shri Pandurang Shastri Athavale, in which he was simultaneously joking and lamenting the weak and selfish way that many people who should know better conduct their lives. One comment that really struck me is as follows:
People sometimes ask me “When will Kali Yuga end?” I tell them “How can it possibly end when there are people like you in the world?”
This may seem harsh, and the comment has to be weighed in context, but the message is simply that we need to take responsibility if we want the state of our society, country and planet to improve. We need to strive to live a principled, dharmic, balanced and energetic life (within our own capability). The responsibility is ours, not some saviour’s. It is not acceptable for us to spend our entire time and energy pursuing our own narrow interests and pleasures and still sit around hoping that things will get better. It doesn’t work like that.
To illustrate this, it is striking to observe that Lord Krishna didn’t come and magically solve the Pandavas problems for them; the responsibility was put on the Pandavas to strive, and indeed face the consequences of their own actions if they erred. Krishna’s role was just as a guide and motivator.
Then taking the example of Rama, he did indeed vanquish the oppressors. But look at the family he was born into. They had been striving hard and suffering for generations to create a perfect society and also embody their own principles rather than just pay lip service to them. Only in such an environment where great efforts had been made for generations would a saviour be born to finish off the work.
I could make many more examples, but the message is simple and the same – you don’t have a right to expect others to change things for the better. You should be doing something yourself.
What does this have to do with Narendra Modi ???
I really don’t know if Modi will become the Prime Minister of India. There are certainly formidable forces stacked against him. But we do indeed have reason to believe that if he did come to power (and indeed he is a determined man, so he does have a chance) he would make some real changes for the better to the direction of India – unlike Vajpayee who I feel wasted a historical opportunity.
Narendra Modi is a yogi. He is also fast to act and decisive. He has a much stronger will and encapsulates a much higher level of personal discipline and inner strength than his peers. He is in his own way progressive; not being stuck in the methods and issues of the past (like his former friend, Togadia) but is looking to the future and is in tune with the aspirations of young India. He learns and develops and is clearly open to new ideas and wisdom.
He is far from perfect; any astute observer can note mistakes he has made. Yet for a person more interested in what India is going to be like in 2022 than what happened in Amdavad in 2002, he embodies hope.
However I see too many people pin all their hope on Modi, and seem to be waiting for him to come to power and clean up all the mess. That’s not how it works. We should be using whatever capacity we have within us to ourselves change India (with or without Modi). Remember, even if Modi were Vishnu himself, it wouldn’t absolve us of the responsibility to strive. And we can’t pin all the hopes and anxieties of Hindu civilisation on one man. We need to ensure that regardless of whether Modi succeeds, we personally use some of our own efforts and talents to do our part to cleanse the problems in our own society, raise awareness of issues we face (or better still formulate solutions) and ensure a bright, vibrant future for Hindu civilisation.