For a virile national life

Strength is Virtue, Weakness is Sin

Whatever the external conditions, it is the weak who suffer. No amount of external adjustment or juxtapositions will be able to save a nation if it is inherently weak. To remain weak is the most heinous sin in this world, as that would destroy oneself and also incite feelings of violence in others. Our forefathers have said that physical survival is part of the highest religion and for physical survival strength is the only basis. It is said of Vishwamitra that once during an acute famine he did not get any food for days together. One day he saw the rotting leg of a dead dog lying in a Chandala’s house. Vishwamitra snatched it and got ready to eat it by first making an offering to God. The Chandala exclaimed, “Oh, sage, how is it you are eating a dog’s leg?” Vishwamitra replied, “Yes I must first live and be strong enough in order to do penance and good deeds in the world.”

But the thinking in our country during the last few decades has been one of looking down upon strength as something sinful and reprehensible. A wrong interpretation of ‘non-violence’ has deprived the national mind of the power of discrimination. We have begun to look upon strength as ‘violence’ and to glorify our weakness.

Once a Sadhu said, ” A person sufficiently strong to do himsa, but not doing so out of restraint, discretion and compassion can alone be said to be practising ahimsa. Suppose a strong man is going in a road and somebody knocks against him. If the strong man says with compassion, “All right, my dear fellow, I excuse you for the wrong you have done me”, then we say that the strong man has practised non-violence. For, though he is capable of giving him a blow and smashing his skull, he has restrained himself. Suppose, a thin, lean man – just a mosquito! – is going and somebody pulls his ears and the ‘mosquito’ trembling form head to foot says, “Sir, I excuse you”, who will believe him? Who will say that he is practising non-violence? He is like a man who, unable to check the dacoits plundering his house, loudly proclaims vasudhaiva kutumbakam (the entire world is my home)! People will only say that he is a coward and hypocrite, that he dare not to do anything and is only hiding his cowardice behind big platitudes. The atmosphere of our country today is charged with such misconceptions and platitudes of self-deception. A dense cloud of dust is raised in the form of high-sounding words like ‘peace’ and ‘non-violence’ with an assumed air of moral authority only to cover up our imbecility.

Non-Violence of the Imbecile

It is because of such perverse notions that we have been losing all-round. We find our frontiers shrinking. No one is in a mood to protect the integrity and honour of the motherland. Every national insult is covered up under the mast of ‘peace’. All these we gulp down saying that we are devotees of ‘peace’! It is said in the Mahabharata that a person who goes on swallowing insults is neither a male nor a female.

एतावानेव पुरुषो यदमर्षी यदक्षमी ।
क्षमावान् निरमर्षश्च नैव स्त्री न पुनः पुमान् ।।

(He alone is a man who does not brook or forgive insults. One who remains cold and tolerant in the face of insults is neither a male not a female.)


The Great Examples

Our philosophy tells us that man should be humble only when he is capable of humbling others. When can one be forgiving? Only when one becomes powerful enough to strike down those who insult him. When should one serve others? Only when he becomes worthy of commanding the willing service of the entire world.

We see this ideal in Sri Krishna who preached ahimsa in Gita, after annihilating the many evil demons one after another right form his childhood. It was he who slew Kamsa, reinstated Ugarasena on the throne but himself remained as the sentinel at the court entrance, welcoming the royal guests. It was again he who took upon himself the menial service of removing the leaves after meals in the great Rajasuya Yaga of Yudhishthira, where he was the person honoured with Agrapooja! Such is the message of our philosophy.

And again in the Mahabharata Sri Krishna, on the battle-field of Kurukshetra, invoked manliness in Arjuna with the call:

क्लैब्यं मा स्म गमः पार्थ ।

(Yield not to imbecility, O Partha!)

Not only the message of the Gita, but the context in which it was delivered, the preceptor who gave it out, and the pupil, are all cast in a heroic setting. Sri Krishna, the preceptor, was accepted on all hands as the supreme hero of that Yuga. Arjuna, the pupil, too was a warrior par excellence, only next to Sri Krishna. And Bhagvad – Gita, the greatest treasure-house of spiritual knowledge, is the dialogue on the battlefield between these two great heroes of those times.

This only highlights the fact of human life that the establishment of righteousness and virtues in this world of conflicts is not possible without the quality of fearlessness and heroism. Of course, Arjuna was not a coward. But having seen his own elders and preceptors ranged against him, he was riddled with doubts about the rectitude of his course of action. He did not want to run away from the battlefield. On the contrary, keeping aside his arms, he wanted to die at hands of his adversaries, in a spirit of resignation.

यदि मामप्रतीकारमशस्त्रं शस्त्रपाणयः ।
धार्तराष्ट्रा रणे हन्युस्तन्मे क्षेमतरं भवेत् ।।

(Far better would it be for me if sons of Dhritarashtra, weapons in hand, should slay me in the battle, while I remain in non-retaliating and unarmed.)

The same confusion appears to have gripped the hearts of our leaders today. Words like ‘non-retaliation’, ‘peace’ etc., are being shouted form housetops. Of course, there is a vast difference between the mental conditions of the two. Arjuna was a hero to the very core; while the protestations of high-flown words like ‘non-retaliation’ etc., that we hear today are put up as a smoke-screen to cover up our imbecility.

The Right Philosophy

Of course, we should not indulge in unprovoked violence. At the same time, we should also not allow others to do violence to us. Allowing violence to be done to oneself is also violence and therefore adharma. Once a great Jain Sadhu explaining the significance of ahimsa said, “If you are faced with a brute force bent upon destroying you and you do nothing to protect yourself in the name of ahimsa, then you will have only encouraged the evil power to indulge in violence. You thus become an abettor in the crime and an abettor is as much guilty of the crime as the actual perpetrator.” He added, “Intention, and not the physical act, is the only criterion to decide whether the act is in the nature of himsa or ahimsa.”

The teaching of the really great ones have always guided us correctly in all such matters. Even a most compassionate saint like Tukaram defined compassion as:

दया तिचे नांव भूतांचें पालन आणिक निर्दलन कंटकांचें ।

(Compassion is protection of all living beings and destruction of the wicked elements).


There is an instance in the life of Buddha, significant in this connection.
The commander-in chief of a particular kingdom came to him to receive deeksha and become his disciple. Buddha asked him as to what had prompted him to become a bhiksu. To that, the commander replied, “Enemies have invaded our territory. I am now required to lead our forces against them. But that will lead to violence and bloodshed on both sides. I felt that it would be sinful act. I therefore decided to relinquish the military responsibility and have come over here to follow your path of peace and non-violence.” Buddha counseled him: “Merely because you have come away, the enemies are not going to give up their aggression. They are bound to indulge in killing and ravaging. If you forsake your duty of protecting the innocents under your charge, the sin of all that violence will visit upon your head. Protection of the good and righteous is verily a duty enjoined by Dharma. No sin will attach to you while doing this duty. So, go back and carry our your assignment.” That was how Buddha interpreted the true meaning of ahimsa.

Sri Krishna has unequivocally and for all time to come declared that establishment of dharma implies the destruction of the evil-doers:

विनाशाय च दुष्कृताम् ।

Sri Krishna himself was the very embodiment of that principle. No doubt he exerted himself to the utmost to avoid war and bring about peace. But he clearly foresaw that the ultimate sanction lay in his own supreme strength. When he was about to go to Duryodhana for bringing about a compromise Dharmaraja (Yudhishtira) became anxious about his safety fearing that the evil-natured Duryodhana might harm Sri Krishna. Sri Krishna assured him that in that event Dharmaraja would get the kingdom without a war as he himself would destroy Duryodhana and his host of associates. That is the only right view regarding the role of strength while facing adversaries. To speak and act always in terms of applying force when it is not needed and when a just and honourable compromise is possible is inhuman and brutal. But to talk always of compromise and not to use force even when there is no other way out to undo injustice and insults is sheer cowardice and imbecility.

We, therefore, have to properly understand the true message of those great lives as lived by them in this world of hard realities. And the hard reality is that the world, as it is constituted today, understands but one language – the language of strength. It is on the unshakable foundation of immense strength alone that the nation rises and maintains itself in a glorious condition.

(The above is from Sri Golwalkar’s Bunch of Thoughts.)

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