The Candid Eye

June 2, 2009

Politicians As Servants:It’s Loka Samgraha

Guruji,Sri Sri Ravishankar, in the Speaking Tree column has said ‘Spirituality And Politics Both Deal With People’ .You can find this article here.

A politics devoid of spirituality is infested with corruption… “Politics without ethics and human values would result in chaos, crime and corruption… “Politics is mainly about caring for people, providing for their welfare.” In essence he says that politicians who shun spirituality can be detrimental, even dangerous, to society. 

In response to the above cited piece, a reader asked: “…. who will inculcate spirituality in politics today and how?” 

Politicians are indeed a diverse lot and it is difficult to establish what they perceive to be their dharma. But spirituality impacts every one, politicians included. Reading spiritual literature sporadically and casually may not have an effect, but regular, diligent reading would make an impression. Interestingly, Priyanka Gandhi suggested that Varun Gandhi should try to read and understand the import of the Bhagavad Gita. She said this in the context of the election campaign speech that he allegedly made that caused a great deal of controversy swearing on the Gita. 

In the third chapter of the Gita in Verse 21 Krishna says, “Whatever action a great man performs, common men follow. And whatever standards he sets by exemplary acts, all the world pursues.” Every member of the Lok Sabha has a great responsibility. Vedanta calls this responsibility ‘loka samgraha’ or service and welfare of the people. Lord Krishna speaks of loka samgraha, citing the example of Raja Janaka, father of Sita, who achieved spiritual perfection by excelling in performing his prescribed karma or duty as a ruling monarch solely for the welfare of the people, while being personally indifferent to any reward. 

There are politicians who work for personal gain, and they go about their business quickly for fear that they may not get another chance to do what they want to do. To understand the work at hand, some might study the work done by their predecessors. The Gita says, “He who abandons the commandments of the scriptures and lives as his desires prompt him, attains neither spiritual perfection, nor worldly happiness, nor liberation. Therefore, let the scriptures be your norm in determining what should be done and what is not to be done. Understand the injunctions of the scriptures first and then set yourself to work.” Spiritual ethics and not selfish interests or individual whims ought to guide our leaders. A politician’s motto must be ‘Desireless action for the welfare of the people’. 

Religion could be communal, but not spirituality because spirituality deals with the Supreme Spirit, and with jivas or living entities who are but minute spirit souls. Vedanta too deals with the spirit and is therefore universal and its philosophy is applicable to every single jiva on this planet. Lord Krishna says in the Gita, “I dwell in the hearts of all.” 

Politicians of other faiths also may read the Bhagavad Gita for it is a non-sectarian, non-religious philosophical treatise on how an individual should act in society and evolve spiritually as well. It contains only eternal truths, and universal principles that hold true for every human being. Read in the right spirit, the Gita’s teachings only inculcate universal social values that are truly secular in nature. 

Political leaders could make the effort to access the Gita, read it regularly, imbibe its message and set about in earnest working for the welfare and benefit of the people.

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