Painful Patriotism
Editorial

Painful Patriotism

Spiritually driven philosophers of yore in our land have bequeathed to its people of all later generations words of wisdom, mostly laying down the rules of life to achieve a sense of purpose and fulfilment, in a virtual cornucopia from which anybody can draw while writing scholarly articles or speaking before audiences with varied backgrounds. Although what has been handed down in the nature of failsafe ideals to be imbibed and followed in daily life is to be found originally in the languages of their times, namely Prakrit, Paali, Sanskrit and Brahmi, the texts have been translated into languages in use by successive generations, including Kannada. Even as the originally scripted lines have endured many centuries and rendered in easy-to-grasp styles till our times, the message being conveyed by the leading lights among the cognoscenti, quoting the lines from the texts of thousands of years vintage seems to have got blunted, having lost their charm and power of communication. One cannot be faulted for remarking about the speeches by public speakers quoting the lines drawn from ancient texts as mere platitudes. Some may liken their quotes to the expression devil quoting the scripture.

The nation’s people have just taken part in the 72nd Independence Day with customary glitzy and glamorous display of patriotism early this week, never mind most of them returning to their old ways of grossly unpatriotic behaviour in word, deed and thought. The advisory by the Nation’s President to the people was not to indulge in publicly debating contentious issues and not to disrupt life in the country in any manner. The flock of rationalists and self-declared intellectuals don’t seem to fall in line with the Nation’s President unmindful of the consequences of their public statements under the umbrella of freedom of speech.

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The world of today comprises, nay stands divided into some 200 countries marked by wide diversity in their profile coming under differences in language, ethnicity, faith, culture, physical features and what have you. In this backdrop, one is prompted to juxtapose lines from two different ancient sources, namely, (a) Janani Janmabhoomishcha swargaadapi gareeyacy (with its origins unclear), meaning “Mother and motherland are far superior to the Heaven,” and (b) Ayam nijaha, parovetti, gananaa laghuchetasam, udaare charitanaam tu, vasudhaivakutumbakam (from Chapter 6 of Maha Upanishad) meaning “This one is mine (my relative), others are not mine (somebody else). Thus think narrow-minded people. For broad-minded persons, the entire universe/earth is one family.” Confusion arises as between the two verses, one seems to imply love for one’s country or patriotism while the second verse enlarges on that outlook, rather restrictive, thus taking one’s mind away from sticking to patriotism.

In any case, considering the current realities of the goings on in the country, namely (a) Large scale misdemeanour by the people at large and (b) The despicable conduct of the political class, barring some exceptions, it hurts to remain patriotic. The clarion calls by speakers of all hues to the people of the land to love their country amounts to sloganeering without substance as it were.

August 18, 2018

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