If our civilisation has to survive and thrive, we must awaken the Kshatriya within us. There is no other way.
Pritam Choudhury is from Agartala, Tripura. He studied electrical engineering at IIT Roorkee, after which, he graduated in Computer Science from the University of Cambridge. Currently, he is pursuing doctoral studies in programming languages at the University of Pennsylvania. He is deeply interested in Dharmic studies and exploring the wisdom of ancient India.
Time and again, Bharat has fallen to foreign invaders. The devastations that accompanied the invasions are too dark to come to terms with. Mostly, we remain wilfully blind to these memories because we haven’t yet gathered the courage to look at them. But this does not spare us from their effects. Hiding in the cultural unconscious, they fuel our fears, our shame, our anger, our jealousy. We rationalise them, we justify them, we hide them but we are unable to look at them straight in the eye. The evil lurking in those memories is still potent enough to unleash chaos in our present lives. So we generally ignore them, a tale of the past that our ancestors had to go through but as long as we are alright, why should we care?
Such an attitude makes our lives very superficial because it is on the shoulders of our ancestors that we stand upright. Once we ignore them and their pains and sorrows, we are left with hardly any solid ground to put our feet on. Thereafter, we try to somehow balance ourselves on the currents of time and destiny. Bitterness of the being and resentment, therefore, becomes our companion. What else can we expect? We forgot them by whose sacrifices we stand here. We, then, are just random beings, accidents of nature. Such random beings can be done away with at little or no cost. Because we failed them, we have become meaningless and in some sense, non-existent, even while being physically existent.
But I can empathise with our current condition. The pure evil that our ancestors had to go through can horrify the bravest of the hearts. When I read the stories of the massacres, the inhuman tortures, the brutal killings, even in the safe confines of a university, I feel terrified. It is not a stray incident or a few incidents by some evil-minded people. It is an organised genocide and humiliation of the Dharmic spirit; its scale and timeline unprecedented in the history of the human civilisation. And the sad thing is that it still thrives, in various guises, almost in all areas of the Indic life.
But is there a way out? Can the wounds of a millennium heal? Can the cumulative pain of thirty or so generations find solace? Can we put together our broken memories and stand up again? I believe we can. But for this, we need courage. The courage to look at our history, the courage to look at the evil right in its eye, the courage to shoulder the pain of our ancestors. We need to awaken the Kshatriya in us, asleep and dormant for ages. The Kshatriya, who shall willingly carry the burden of our ancestors, who shall stand up for Dharma, who can look at the enemy and not flinch.
What is the thing that makes a Kshatriya unique? A Kshatriya understands Dharma, as such, he becomes a rule-maker rather than just being a rule-follower. The rules he makes are synchronous with the universal rules and as such, they lead to universal well-being. And he enforces those rules to ensure well-being. His rules bring forth rewards and punishments for the common masses. They in turn view the rewards as desirable and the punishments as undesirable and as such, tune their life to maximise rewards and minimise punishments. This synchronises the societal life with Dharma. But being the rule-maker, the Kshatriya himself is untouched by rewards and punishments. He has crafted these rewards and punishments to synchronise the society with Dharma and as such, he is not enticed by them. Thus a true Raja is not just a Raja but also a Rishi, a Rajarshi.
If our civilisation has to survive and thrive, we must awaken the Kshatriya in us. There is no other way. Because it became dormant, we were invaded, plundered and devastated. Even today, we fail to stand strong on our feet with the conviction of Dharma. We must realize that our high spiritual ideals will be nothing but some gibberish utterances if we don’t have the muscles to defend them. Our lofty principles won't be worth anything if we can’t invoke fear in the hearts of our enemies. We have made the mistake of being passive several times in the past, let us not repeat it again. The great Nalanda, with all its eternal philosophies, could not survive in the face of the barbaric marauders. So thinking that our argumentative prowess or our high principles or our great ethics or the goodness of our hearts can save us is nothing more than a childish fantasy.
So how do we awaken the Kshatriya in us? The first step towards that is, speaking the truth, to the best of our ability. Compromising the truth is the first sign of weakness and future downfall. When we compromise on truth, we concede a part of our self to the enemy. This compromise, when continued over time, erodes us of self-conviction and vitality. Then, our will-force becomes dim and we can't stand up to challenges on our own. As such, we are easily conquered. Further, truth also brings forth the force of character. Once we start speaking the truth, our words carry weight because we do as we say and we say what we do. Then, people can trust us and as such, in time, they shall look at us for advice and guidance. Therefore, instead of being a burden to society, we start leading a small part of it.
The next thing that we can do is doing our duties in right earnest. Doing what we need to do and doing it in the right way, without fear or favour, can lead us to a more meaningful life. Not being swayed by the latest fads, we should engage in work that gives us dignity, purpose and is an expression of our selves. Such an approach to work revitalises our being and gives us inner strength.
Once the spirit of Kshatriya rises in us, we shall see the world in a new light. Instead of being at the mercy of the currents of time and destiny, we can write our own story. We can pay our homage to our valiant ancestors who kept the light of Dharma shining upon us. We can defend Dharma and face the enemy straight in the eye. It's time we realise that the world is not for the cowards, but for the brave, and the brave alone. Let us rise like the warriors of yore. Let us never forget: वीर भोग्य वसुंधरा ||