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At the Feet of The Mother

Sanatana Dharma and War (2) War and History

A classic example of this blending of the temporal and the eternal are the two great epics, termed Itihasa or history, the Ramayana and the Mahabharata. The Ramayana gives us a living account of an event that took place in far back times. Yet it leaves for us the example of Rama, the Avatar who upholds the Dharma in the Age of Silver. Its focus is to teach us, through living examples and sometimes larger than life characters, the values and virtues of family and friendship, the ideal ethic for a king, the law of dharma to maintain a just and harmonious social order that includes the entire range of humanity and even the subhuman animal and plant, the Titanic superhuman as well as the godlike superhuman. Rama, the hero around which the story is woven is the centre of a vast theme that would decide the evolutionary future of mankind. And since these events repeat themselves with a certain regularity and persistence, the epic becomes a history that continues to shed light on the Present and even show us the way towards the Future.

It may be noted that history, in the context of the Sanatana Dharma is not merely the meticulous documentation of certain events in the past but equally a message and a lesson for the future. The exact dates and the details of how things happened, – if possible at all, is not so important as the why they happened. And this why is not so much about the outer factors alone, important though they may be, as about the inner causes that spring from the hidden springs and occult roots of our action. War, for example, to take a modern analogy, is not just about oil and wealth occupation of land as it is, and even more so, about human greed and lust and ambition. Pushing for war we shall often find ruthless cults, crude and savage impulses, cruel natures that feel insecure unless they have eliminated all that not only opposes but is simply different from their own type. These doers of evil and violent deeds leaving behind them a trail of loot and plunder, driven by excessive ambition and lust for power, drunken with pride and arrogance were the Asuras and Rakshasa who would not let man live in harmony and peace.

But wars have also been fought in self-defense, to uphold an ideal, for justice as well as to establish a fair and just society. This too is war, and war implies violence but here it is not driven by hate and ambition and fear and lust, nor by will to injure and torture, nor to destroy every form of difference and flatten all mankind into a single homogeneous type. Nor is it driven by intolerance to different ways of life but by the noble impulse to sacrifice oneself and save humanity and the cherished ideals of the human race such as liberty, fraternity and equality. Those who thus fight are the Deva type who are moved by a righteous impulse, even a divine wrath and powerful action that may be sometimes devastating and out of proportion. Yet the motive is the triumph of Truth and nobility and love and peace that sometimes must be won by humanity after passing through the doors of hell.

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