By Ved Prakash Saxena
Everyday newspapers and TV news channels pour out chilling tales of crime and corruption of all sorts. Everyone feels disturbed, distressed, and insecure. The rave and rant against corruption grows louder by the day. The irony is that those suffering one kind of corruption themselves commit some other kind of corruption causing distress to others. Everybody is a victim of corruption and, surprisingly, everybody is a perpetrator of corruption. Tentacles of corruption have clutched people of all description–-educated and uneducated, rich and poor, teachers and traders, businessmen and bureaucrats, politicians and policemen, litigants and lawyers, young and old, … . Crimes committed by juveniles are rising alarmingly (police data show that at least six crimes are committed every day in Delhi alone by juveniles!). Corruption has erased the demarcating line between saints and sinners.
Authoritarian measures to curb crime and corruption -– legislation, policing, and punishment -– have no record of success anywhere and at any time. As Plato famously observed, “Good people do not need laws to tell them to act responsibly, while bad people will find a way around the laws”. These measures fail to achieve their objective because they deal with the effect and not with the cause; they treat the disease without addressing what caused the disease. The hope that the institution of Lokpal and Lokayukta will eradicate the all pervading corruption, too, is just pie in the sky. It is a gross reality that people holding these august offices may themselves breed corruption. A case in point is that of the former Lokayukta of Karnataka, Dr. Justice Y Bhaskara Rao, whose son, Ashwin Rao, was found conducting an extortion racket from the Lokayukta’s office itself! Ashwin Rao was arrested by the Special Investigation Team (SIT) along with other Lokayukta officials. Laws are blatantly transgressed and law-enforcement officials themselves are seduced into corruption which continues to thrive unabated.
Gītā’s approach to tackle crime and corruption is to eradicate the underlying cause. According to Gītā’, any act of crime or corruption originates in ‘kāma’ (desire) which pushes the person into wrongdoing for its gratification. The Gītā’ way to eradicate crime and corruption is to overpower desire. In Sloka 3.36, Arjuna asks Krsna, “Impelled by what does a person commit sinful acts despite themselves not wanting to commit them as if driven by some unassailable force”? Krsna answers that the force in this context is verily the unappeasable desire having its abode in the senses, mind, and intellect which fogs knowledge (discrimination between right and wrong) and bewilders him and the wrath arising from the nonfulfillment of desire (Slokas 3.37, 3.39, 3.40 paraphrased). A man obsessed with a desire is deterred neither by fear nor by shame in committing any kind of crime or corruption for its gratification (kāmaturānām nā bhayam nā lajjā). What is the way out, then? Krsna counsels Arjuna to first bring the senses under control, then subdue the mind by reason, and then slay this hard-to-win enemy– the desire (Slokas 3.41, 3.43 paraphrased). He further advises Arjuna to subdue the fickle and unsteady mind by bringing it back from wherever it has wandered around under the control of self by means of practice and detachment from the objects of sensual pleasures (Slokas 6.26, 6.35 paraphrased), and by dwelling upon the reality that the pleasures born of the sense-object contacts are all transient and surely the cause of suffering in the end (Slokas 5.22). This is one way to eradicate corruption: disciplining the unbridled mind by imbibing Gītā’s teachings and cultivating the noble attributes of self-control, mental purity, austerity, truthfulness, ‘non-anger’, compassion, non-violence, modesty, forgiveness, sense of shame in transgressing social norms, etc., listed in Slokas 16.1, 16.2, and 16.3. For this, the teachings of Gītā need to be introduced in early childhood first at home and then at school, and continually reinforced by parents, elders, and teachers. Thus the children shall grow up with a disciplined mind which will not be led astray by any passionate desire. It is not that desires cease to arise in the disciplined mind but they disappear without driving the person into the pursuit of their objects of gratification just like the sea that abides in itself despite being filled with the waters of rivers entering it from all sides (Sloka 2.70 paraphrased). People in control of their senses, mind, and intellect rise above the level of instinct-driven behaviour to the level of reason-based moral behaviour, and thereby they stay away from crime and corruption in thought, word and action.
The other Gītā way of eradicating corruption is to lead people by example. In Sloka 3.21, Krsna tells, “Common men conduct themselves after the manner of persons holding positions of authority and eminence, and the generality of men naturally conform to the standards of conduct set by them”. The import of this statement is loud and clear: if the noblemen are righteous and upright in their actions and dealings, so will be the common men; if the noblemen indulge in crime and corruption, so will the common men. Moral values, like fluids, flow from top downwards. At home, the parents and elders should set examples of honesty, integrity, and uprightness in their behaviour for children to emulate and imbibe. Children learn far more readily by example than by precept.
Anyone who has imbibed the teachings of Gītā identifies himself with all beings and feels the pleasure and pain of others as of his own (Slokas 6.30, 6.32). He is compassionate, friendly and forgiving towards one and all and bears animus against none (Sloka 12.13). He is ‘Sarvabhoothitey Ratāh (Slokas 5.25, 6.30, 12.4); that is, he is always selflessly engaged in the welfare of all beings. He is transformed from a self-centric being to a community-centric being. His actions are not directed towards serving self-interest but toward the good of all beings, and he considers his selfless actions as his humble offerings to God who dwells as much in him as in all sentient beings. Such an enlightened person who sees God in all and all in God (Sloka 6.30) can never even think of an act with the faintest hint of crime or corruption of any kind. He will never even think of harming or exploiting anyone.
Corruption can only be wiped out by striking at its root -– the all–consuming desire -– by elevating man from the level of an instinct-driven beast to the level of a knowledge–driven human and this possible transformation can be brought about by instilling and imbibing Gītā’s timeless teachings. Legal measures are no remedy for eradicating the canker of corruption. We certainly can have a corruption-free society if people, by and large, imbibe Gītā’s timeless teachings and reflect them in their actions and behaviour. It shall be a long process for sure but a sure success, nevertheless.
घर–घर गीता, सस्वर गीता | सुमधुर गीता, हर उर गीता ||