Please note: The Devanagari script used in the following post does not render properly in ‘Chromium’ browser, so I suspect same must be the case with ‘Google Chrome’. This problem was not seen with Mozilla Firefox and Opera browsers.
Long back in the years 1991 and 1992, Doordarshan National channel (click) used to telecast a television serial (click) by the name ‘Chanhakya’, which was based on the historical character (click) by the same name – who was a philosopher and a political scientist in his own right. I was between 6 to 7 years old at that time, so obviously had no taste for such heavy stuff. I have come across praise of both Chanakya and the televised series on numerous occasions, but had never tried to venture into his ideas or philosophy. However, a few days back a fellow tweeter – ANIL KUMAR (click) had provided me with a link to a clip of one of the episodes of the serial. And I was positively impressed. In what follows I reproduce the portion that spurred me into link and write about it. I also try to provide a reasonably faithful translation along with my interpretation of it.
You can find the video here:
“…इस लिए दूसरों का मार्ग तुम्हारे मार्ग से भिन्न है तो चिंता मत करो, विचलित मत हो | अपनी आस्था को संजोकर रखो, अपने मूल्यों का जतन करो और समय-समय पर उनका मूलयांकन करो | सत्य के प्रकाश में अपनी परम्पराओं को देखो और उनका विशलेषण करो | जब तक तुम सत्य की रक्षा करोगे, संस्कृति तुम्हारी रक्षा करेगी | यह तो सीधी समझ में आने वाली बात है | अगर आज तुम असुरक्षित महसूस रहे हो तो कारण बाहर नहीं, भीतर है | सत्य का मार्ग तुम छोड़ते हो, तो चुनाव के लिए कौन सा मार्ग शेष रह जाता है? यह तुम्हारे पतन का कारण है,> और यही समाज के पतन का भी कारण है | चुनौती स्वीकार करने बजाये आप द्वेष करते हैं, घृणा करते हैं, दूसरों को चुनौती देते हैं | यदि सत्यनिष्ठ मूल्यों में तुम्हारी इतनी ही आस्था है, तो उन्हें जी के दिखाओ | तुम्हारा क्रितत्व ही तुम्हारा इतिहास हो सकता है, और अपना इतिहास बनाने का तुम्हें अधिकार है | सामर्थ्य है तो उठकर दिखाओ, जीकर दिखाओ, कुछ कर के दिखाओ; उदाहरण रखो, उदाहरण बनो, किसने तुम्हें रोक रखा है? बढ़ो, आगे बढ़ो…”
[“…Is liye dusron ka maarg tumhare maarg se bhinna hai toh chinta mat karo, vichalit mat ho. apni aastha ko sanjokar rakho, apne mulyon ka jatan karo aur samay-samay par unka mulyankan karo. Satya ke prakasha mein apni paramparaon ko dekho aur unka vishleshan karo. Jab tak tum satya ki raksha karoge, sanskriti tumhaari rakshaa karegi. Yeh toh seedhi samajh mein aane waali baat hai. Agar aaj tum asurakshit mehsus kar rahe ho toh kaaran baahar nahin, bhitar hai. Satya ka maarg tum chhodte ho, toh chunaav ke liye kaun sa maarga shesha reh jaata hai? Yeh tumhaare patan ka kaaran hai, aur yahi samaaj ke patan ka bhi kaaran hai. Chunauti sweekar karne ke bajaaye aap dvesha karte hain, ghrina karte hain, dusron ko chunauti dete hain. Yadi satyanishta mulyon mein tumhaari itni hi aastha hai, toh unhein jee ke dikhaao. Tumhaara kritatva hi tumhaara itihaas ho sakta hai, aur apna itihaas banane ka tumhein adhikaar hai. Saamarthya hai toh uthkar dikhaao, jeekar deekhaon, kuchh kar ke dikhaao; udaaharan rakho, udaaharan bano, kisne tumhein rok rakha hai? Badho, aage badho…”]
“…That is why, if others’ path is different from yours, then do not worry, do not get disturbed. Preserve your faith, keep your values intact and from time-to-time, evaluate them (your values). View your traditions in light of (objective) truth, and analyze them. As long as you defend the truth, culture (‘times’) will protect you – this much is a straightforward thing to understand. If today you are feeling insecure, then the cause is not without, it is within. If you quit the path of truth, then which other path is left to choose from? This is the cause of your debasement; and same is also the cause of society’s decadence. Instead of accepting the challenge (of proving yourself to be on the side of truth), you hate, you detest, you provoke others. If your belief in truth-based values is indeed so strong, then show that you live by them. Only your deeds can become your history, and you have a right to make your own history. If you have the ability, then rise above, live it up, accomplish something; place an example, become an example, who has stopped you? Go, go ahead…”
I do not think all of what ‘Chanakya’ says in above video (and is also written) is practicable in today’s world without bringing upon the self immense harm, however the line I like the best (and because of which the serial and the above quote find a place on my blog) is this: “सत्य का मार्ग तुम छोड़ते हो, तो चुनाव के लिए कौन सा मार्ग शेष रह जाता है?” [satya ka maarg chhodte ho, toh chunaav ke liye kaun sa maarg shesha reh jaata hai?]. It roughly translates as “if you quit the path of truth, then which other path is left to choose from?” This might sound a very generic-righteous statement, but the fact is it is one of the most logical and yet philosophically profound things to say. Many times we try to delude ourselves. But that creates a cognitive dissonance. In a few matters we think it alright to ignore truth or to compromise upon it if it does us appreciable amount of ‘good’. But the next question that arises is: if it is alright to deviate from the path of truth and righteousness, what is the limit for it? Or is there no such limit?
The above idea analogously holds particularly true in case of faith-based theism (basically, all theism is faith-based!). If we stick to the path of objective truth, we have an idea of what to accept as truth and what to reject (as falsehood). But once we start accepting non-verifiable assertions as truth, and especially so, if they are contrary to what logic and evidence suggest, then where do we stop with such a belief-system? If I choose to believe that there exists an omnipotent, omniscient, all-good God despite the fact that this assertion explains zilch about the Universe, despite the fact that no supporting verifiable evidence exists, and also despite the fact that most philosophical arguments have rejected possibility of such existence, then is there something I would disbelieve as a matter of philosophical obligation? Why would I disbelieve anything ever? If the very basis of rejection of existence of something (God, in this case), i.e., objectively verifiable evidence was disregarded, how will I keep my honesty intact and use the same as basis to reject some other assertions, say, “you won’t die even if you jump unaided from the 10th floor of your building” or “the Earth is flat” or “eating paracetamol causes those belonging to the ‘Aries’ zodiac to turn into frogs”?
Atheist and a teacher of philosophy – Matt McCormick had explained the above hypocrisy very well in his article – Open the Floodgates (click).
I had also done a very short post in the past highlighting the utter hypocrisy one needs to indulge in to believe in the existence of God purely based on faith: Missing Marble’s Mystery (click).
The basic concept holds true not just in matter of theism, but everywhere where a criterion for ‘perfection’/’accuracy’ exists. If we once decide that imperfection and inaccuracy are alright, what degree of imperfection and inaccuracy are alright – that is an important question to be asked. Of course, the clever reader would point out, that I myself had brought up the idea of ‘Chanakya’s’ ideas to be not completely practicable. Meaning, am I assigning a degree to which it is alright to not follow what ‘Chanakya’ had suggested? Yes. I’m keeping that limit to be how much pain could or would I like to bear for siding with the truth. If siding with truth causes me more pain than I can or would like to bear, I would give up! But have we thought, why it is so difficult to live with and by truth? I think ‘Chanakya’ has answered it well, and it is a nested answer. If we are ready to deceive ourselves, we would naturally detest others who try to live truthfully. We will create obstacles in their path. Their (those who try to be truthful and righteous) truthfulness and righteousness are challenges thrown at us. Instead of appreciating their effort and challenging them back with even greater truthfulness and righteousness, we end up hating them, detesting them. Imagine but, this “we” is not just you or I, but the entire society. If the entire society deviates from the path of truth and in addition also creates obstacles in path of those practicing it, what would be the fate of such a society? And more important, what would be the ultimate source of such decadence? It would be the seemingly innocuous deliberate individual ‘compromises’ with truth that every member of the society makes. Isn’t this explanation elegant?
Above were the ideas that had crossed my mind as I watched ‘Chanakya’ speak in that video. Needless to say any further, I found the words quite profound. I ended up ruing the fact that I was not old enough to have appreciated the serial when it used to be aired. I was actually quite surprised to note that the quality of direction of the serial, the acting of the cast, the background score were all superlative. I made a mistake of mentally comparing the above video with serials that one gets to see nowadays on Hindi TV channels! I felt sorry for the generations that are subjected only to these and not ‘Chanakya’. I fortunately happen to be from a generation that knows what I had missed. And perhaps, if I try hard enough I might actually be able to watch all the 40 or so odd episodes. 😀