The bundle of sticks

Swami Gulagulaananda said:
"You can snap the twig between your fingers..."

I love watching nature shows on TV. If you tune in to Animal Planet, Discovery or The National Geographic Channel, you often see the grasslands of Africa. And in the vast grasslands graze the gnus, gazelles and zebras while predators like lions and scavengers like hyaenas are prowling around. Let's not forget the meerkats and other rodents nervously walking around with twitching noses.

And then suddenly there're thousands of thundering hooves galloping, creating clouds of dust behind as they try to escape the bite of that lioness (or her pride)... Eventually the herbivore takes a tumble as the lioness sinks her teeth into the wind-pipe of the moaning animal. The rest of the animals catch a breath and watch as the hungry cats devour the vanquished beast.

I don't know about the gazelles, but the zebras, gnus and buffaloes are very powerful animals. Herbivores often graze together in large numbers. And yet, when the predators approach, they bolt. They don't understand that if they all stand together and fight, they can actually defeat the cats. The cats are probably not more than 20, while the herbivores number over a 100. They are equipped with very sharp horns, a powerful skull and very strong legs. But the concept of fighting together does not dawn upon them, and thus when the cats tear through their herds, they run helter skelter, with no plan of action, each one thinking for himself. Ultimately the slowest, youngest and/or weakest falls. This is why the cats continue to rule the grasslands and jungles.

A very analogous situation is the fact that the British ruled over India for over two centuries. Indians outnumbered the British by a huge margin - But were greatly divided. And we know what happened after that. Concepts of 'Divide and Rule' work very well - the cats employ them as well.

I find the society in India is greatly fragmented in several ways - And this kind of fragmentation leads to great powers ending up completely useless because each of them individually have no pull. Take the example of elections in Karnataka. There are factions of Lingayats, Gowdas and others who tend to elect members of their own castes BECAUSE they belong to the same caste, and not based on performance, present or past. Imagine not being promoted because you and your manager are not of the same caste. It's ridiculous.

When fighting for a cause, it is important to have faith in your leader. Many times, there are way too many leaders and no followers... as in, everyone wants to be a leader. And leaders should remember to be responsible. I was greatly disappointed to see the Anna Hazare movement bite dust. What was such a huge movement, what had gained such great traction and momentum came to a grinding halt because people started getting divided and fragmented, digressing into areas that they should not concern themselves with. While some people don't admire Gandhi, many more admire Sardar Patel. And Sardar Patel admired Gandhi. Sure, Gandhi made many wrong decisions - But Patel continued to believe in him. What's noteworthy here is the fact that faith in the leader is of utmost importance. Imagine during the freedom struggle if people started feeling that Patel is too right winged, Nehru is secular and all the Muslims decided to follow Jinnah and all Bengalis thought Bose was plain awesome and each one decided to follow their own leaders... The movement would not have had the same strength as what it had being unified under Gandhi.

It is very easy to break a bundle of sticks by simply breaking a stick at a time - This is the first story we learnt in Moral Science in school. As long as we continue to remain fragmented, we shall be oppressed, and continue to be hegemonised by the 'cats'. It's time for the hunted to turn around and defend themselves, time to reclaim what we have been losing, time to blur out differences and strongly oppose evangelism, to oppose differential treatment, to spread the message of harmony, of unity, to fight for the common cause and to destroy the predators.

Comments from Facebook:

Vivek Goel: dude! ‎:) it was gr8 SwamiJi

Prajwal M Sudarshan: good one Nik.. :)


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