Date: 5/28/2002


Unworthy and Undeserving Leaders of Independent Bharat:

........................Part – 4

(The Hindu Ideal Political Leader by Parsuram Maharaj: - An Executive Member of the Sanatan Dharma Maha Sabha)

The history, literature, and sacred texts of Hindu society have continuous references to political struggles of varying degrees ranging from subtle discussions to warfare. The Ramayan and Maharabharat along with the Puranas, and Vedas all provide a practical guide as well as spiritual guide to life's problems. The Hindu therefore has a wealth of historical references, which can be a guide in the selection of a political leader. In this the season of politics it is perhaps timely that some of the Hindu political blue- print be explored. One such text that provides a comprehensive treatise on the qualities of the ideal political leader is the Mahabharat. The Mahabharat is not a mere epic; it is a romance, telling a tale of heroic men and women and some who were divine; it is a whole literature in itself, containing a code of life, a philosophy of social and ethical relations, and speculative thought on human problems that is hard to rival.

In the conclusion of the Mahabharat the patriarch Beeshma on his deathbed was asked by Yudhishthir about the qualities and duties of a leader. In what is popularly known as the Bheeshma Gita, Beeshma replied ' A leader should be a man of action. You might have heard from many that destiny rules a leader. It is a fallacy in reasoning if you think so. Destiny does play a part. I grant that. But without action a ruler can never help destiny to play her part. Destiny is powerful but action is equally powerful. Both are potent. But to me, it seems that action is the more potent of the two. It is action, which shapes the destiny.'

'The next or rather, the next equally important duty of a ruler is Truth. If you want to inspire confidence in the minds of your subjects, you should always be truthful. All accomplishments find a home in a ruler. His behaviour should be above reproach. Self-restraint, humility, and righteousness are qualities, which you have to look for in a ruler if he has to be successful. He should have his passions under perfect control.' 'Justice should be the second of a ruler.

There are three more things, which a ruler should cultivate. He should know how to conceal his own weakness carefully. By weakness is meant the weaknesses in his nation...A ruler's conduct should be straightforward. Another danger is mildness. He should not be too mild. He will then be disregarded. The subjects will not have respect for him and his words. Again. he should avoid the other extreme. He should not be too fierce because then the subjects will be afraid of him, and that is not a happy state of affairs.'

'A ruler must consider that his first duty is to his subjects. He should guard them as a mother guards the child in her womb. Will any mother have thoughts of pleasing herself when her child is in her womb? All her thoughts will be bent only on the child and its welfare. Even so a ruler should subordinate his desires and wishes to those of his subjects. Their welfare should be his only concern.'

'The best ruler is one whose subjects live in freedom and happiness as they do in their father's house. Peace will be theirs, and contentment. There will be no wickedness, no pretence, no dishonesty, and no envy. The very core of a king's duty is the protection of his subject and their happiness. It is not easy. To secure the happiness of his people he should use diverse methods.' 'A ruler should be proficient in the art of choosing honest men to hold important offices. Skill, cleverness, and truth are all three necessary in a ruler. Old and fallen buildings and living-houses should be renovated by him if he has to win the good opinion of his subjects. The ruler should remember that his treasury should always be full. Supervision of the works of all his ministers should be done by the ruler himself. He should never trust the guardians of the city implicitly.'

The Beeshma Gita continued into other subject areas how should a ruler select ministers, etc. Having outlined some of the salient points of the Beeshma Gita of the Mahabharat Hindus may use some of the ideas identified in assisting them in selecting one of the two potential leaders in any national elections. What is striking is that many of the issues of government that were topical thousands of years ago still are relevant to man's society today. -Update on Last Week's column-

The Maha Sabha is pleased to report to the Hindu community that the offending toilet seat company apologized to the Hindu community. In a written statement Lamar Van Dyke, one of two partners of Sittin' Pretty Designs, offered an unconditional apology to the Hindu community for placing images of Lord Ganesha and Goddess Kali on toilet seats. The company said they would withdraw the items from sale. In her apology for offending the sensibilities of the community, Lamar said, "My partner and I meant no harm or denigration by our product. The toilet seats were not at all an attempt to insult our beloved Goddess Kali or Lord Ganesha, both of which we both feel personally close to. We understand now that to a traditional Hindu, a bathroom simply doesn’t constitute an area of the house to display sacred images. We meant neither harm nor insult, and apologize to the Hindus of the world for unintentionally upsetting them."