Chapter 1: The Future Belongs to Krishna,

Question 2



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Question 2


It is the same with war and peace. Here too, we choose. We want to keep peace and eliminate conflict and struggle. It seems we cannot act without choosing. But the world is a unity of contradictions and dialectics. The world is an orchestra of opposite notes; it cannot be a solo.

I have heard that once someone was playing a musical instrument. He played a single note on a single string at a single point, and he played it for hours on end. Not only his family, even the neighborhood felt disturbed by it. Finally a group of people came and said to him, "We have heard any number of musicians and they all play a number of different notes. How come you are stuck with a single note?" The man answered, "I have found the right note; others are still searching for it. That is why I stick to the right spot. I need not search any more."

Our minds would like to choose a single note of life and deny all others. But only in death can one find a single note. As far as life is concerned, it is composed of different and contradictory notes. If you have seen an arched door in some old building, you might have noticed that, to construct it, opposite kinds of bricks are laid side by side. And it is the opposite kinds of bricks, placed together, that hold the heavy burden of the house on their shoulders. Can you conceive of using the same kinds of bricks in the construction of an archway? Then the house cannot be constructed; it will collapse then and there.

The entire structure of our life is held together by the tension of its opposites -- and war is a part of the tension that is life. And those who think that war is totally harmful and destructive are wrong; their vision is fragmentary, myopic. If we try to understand the course of development that man and his civilization have followed, we will realize that war plays the largest share in its growth. Whatever man has today -- all the good things of life -- were found primarily through the medium of war. If we find today that the whole earth is covered with roads and highways, the credit should go to war and to preparations for war. These roads and highways were first constructed for the sake of waging war, for the purpose of dispatching armies to distant lands. They did not come into being for the sake of two friends meeting or for a man and a woman belonging to two distant towns to marry. The fact is, they came into being for the encounter of two enemies, for the purpose of war.

We see big buildings all over. They all came in the wake of castles. And castles were the products of war. The first high walls on this earth were built with a view to keep out the enemies, and then other high walls and buildings followed. And now we have skyscrapers in all the big cities of the world. But it is difficult to think that these highrises are the progenies of war.

All of man's modern affluence, backed by scientific inventions and high technology -- indeed all his achievements -- basically owe their existence to war.

In fact, war creates such a state of tension in the mind of man and presents such challenges, that our dormant energies are shaken to their roots and, as a result, they awaken and act. We can afford to be lazy and lethargic in times of peace, but moments of war are quite different. War provokes our dynamism. Confronted with extraordinary challenges, our sleep ing energies have to awaken and assert themselves. That is why, during a war, we function as extraordinary people; we simply cease to be the ordinary people that we are. Confronted with the challenge of war, man's brain begins to function at its highest level and capacity. In times of war man's intelligence takes a great leap forward, one it would ordinarily take centuries to make.

Many people think that if Krishna had pre vented the war of Mahabharat, India would have attained to great affluence, she would have touched high peaks of growth and greatness. But the truth is just the opposite. If we had had a few more people of Krishna's caliber and had fought more wars like the Mahabharat, we would have been at the pinnacle of our growth today. About five thousand years have passed since the Mahabharat, and for these five thousand years we have not fought a single major war. The wars we have had since then were baby wars in comparison with that epic war of the Kurukshetra. They have been quite petty and insignificant. Indeed it would be wrong to even call them wars, they were petty fights and skirmishes. Had we only fought some major wars we would be the richest and most advanced country on this planet today. But our present state of affairs is just the opposite: we are at the bottom of the ladder.

The countries that fought great wars are at the pinnacle of development and prosperity today. At the end of the First World War people thought Germany was destroyed, debilitated for good. But in just twenty years, in the Second World War, Germany emerged as an infinitely more powerful country than the Germany of the First World War. No one could have even dreamed this country could fight another war after she was so badly beaten in the first. Seemingly, there was no possibility for Germany to go to war for hundreds of years. But just in twenty years time the miracle happened, and Germany emerged as a giant world power. Why? -- because with will and vigor this country utilized the energies released by the First World War.

With the conclusion of the Second World War it seemed that there might be no more wars in the world. But, so soon, the powers that fought it are ready for a much deadlier and dreadful war than the last. And the two countries -- Germany and Japan -- that suffered the worst destruction and defeat in the last war have emerged, amazingly, as two of the most affluent countries in the world. Who can say, after visiting today's Japan, that only twenty years ago atom bombs fell on this country? Of course, after visiting present-day India, one could say that this country has been subjected to recurring atomic bombardments. One look at our wretched state can make one think that, down the ages, we have been through unending destruction brought about by war after war.

The Mahabharat is not responsible for India's degradation and misery. The long line of teachers that came in the shadow of that war were all against war, and they used the Mahabharat to further their anti-war stance. Pointing to that great war they said, "What a terrible war! What appalling violence! No, no more of such wars! No more of such bloodshed!" It was unfortunate we failed to produce a line of people of the caliber of Krishna and also failed to fight more Mahabharats. Had it been so, we would have reached, in every succeeding war, a peak of consciousness much higher than the one reached during the Mahabharat. And, undoubtedly, today we would be the most prosperous and developed society on this earth.

There is another side of war which deserves consideration. A war like the Mahabharat does not happen in a poor and backward society; it needs riches to wage a great war. At the same time war is needed to create wealth and prosperity, because war is a time of great challenges. If only we had many more wars like the one Krishna led!

Let us look at this thing from another angle. Today the West has achieved the same height of growth that India had achieved at the time of the Mahabharat. Almost all the highly sophisticated weapons of war that we now possess were used in the Mahabharat in some form or other. It was a highly developed, intelligent and scientific peak that India had scaled at the time of that historic war. And it was not the war that harmed us. Something else harmed us. What really harmed us was the fit of frustration that came over us in the wake of the war, and its exploitation by the teachers of those times. The same fit of frustration has now seized the West, and the West is frightened. And if the West falls, the pacifists will be held responsible for it. And its fall is certain if the West follows the pacifists. Then the West will be in the same mess that India found herself in after the Mahabharat.

India listened to her pacifists and had to suffer for it for five thousand years. So this matter needs to be considered fully.

Krishna is not a hawk, not a supporter of war for war's sake. He, however, treats war as part of life's game. But he is not a warmonger. He has no desire whatsoever to destroy anyone; he does not want to hurt anyone. He has made every effort to avoid war, but he is certainly not prepared to escape war at any cost -- at the cost of life and truth and religion itself. After all, there should be a limit to our efforts to avoid war, or anything else for that matter. We want to avoid war just for so it does not hurt and harm life. But what if life itself is hurt and harmed by preventing war? Then its prevention has no meaning. Even the pacifist wants to prevent war so that peace is preserved. But what sense is there in preventing a war if peace suffers because of it? In that case, we certainly need to have the strength and ability to wage a clear war, a decisive war.

Krishna is not a hawk, but he is not a frightened escapist either. He says it is good to avoid war, but if it becomes unavoidable it is better to accept it bravely and joyfully than to run away from it. Running away would be really cowardly and sinful. If a moment comes when, for the good of mankind, war becomes necessary -- and such moments do come -- then it should be accepted gracefully and happily. Then it is really bad to be dragged into it and to fight it with a reluctant and heavy heart. Those who go to war with dragging feet, just to defend themselves, court defeat and disaster. A defensive mind, a mind that is always on the defensive, cannot gather that strength and enthusiasm necessary to win a war. Such a mind will always be on the defensive, and will go on shrinking in every way. Therefore Krishna tells you to turn even fighting into a joyful, blissful affair.

It is not a question of hurting others. In life there is always a choice of proportions, a choice between the proportion of good and of evil. And it is not necessary that war bring only evil. Sometimes the avoidance of war can result in evil. Our country was enslaved for a full thousand years just because of our incapacity to fight a war. Similarly, our five-thousand-year old poverty and degradation is nothing but the result of a lack of courage and fearlessness in our lives, a lack of expansiveness in our hearts and minds.

We suffered not because of Krishna. On the contrary, we suffered because we failed to continue the line of Krishna, because we ceased to produce more Krishnas after him. Of course, it was natural that after Krishna's war a note of pessimism, of defeatism, became prominent in our life -- it always happens in the wake of wars -- and that a row of defeatist teachers successfully used this opportunity to tell us that war is an unmitigated evil to be shunned at all costs. And this defeatist teaching took root, deep in our minds. So for five thousand years we have been a frightened people, frightened for our lives. And a community that is afraid of death, afraid of war, eventually begins, deep down in its being, to be afraid of life itself. And we are that community -- afraid of living. We are really trembling with fear. We are neither alive nor dead, we art just in limbo.

In my view, mankind will suffer if they accept what Bertrand Russell and Gandhi say. There is no need to be afraid of war.

It is true, however, that our earth is now too small for a modern war. A war, in fact, needs space too. Our instruments of war are now so gigantic that, obviously, war on this planet is simply not possible. But it is so, not because what the pacifists say is right and has to be accepted out of fear, but because the earth is now too small for the huge means of war science and technology have put into our hands. So war on this planet has become meaningless. Now the shape of war is going to change and its scope, escalate. New wars will be fought on the moon and Mars, on other planets and satellites.

Scientists say there are at least fifty thousand planets in the universe where life exists. And if we accept the counsel of despair, if we listen to those who are frightened of nuclear weaponry, we will prevent the great adventure which man is now going to make into the vast infinity of space. But it is true we have reached a point where war on this earth has become meaningless. But why it is so has to be clearly understood.

War has become meaningless not because what the pacifists say has struck home with us, war has lost its meaning because the science of war has attained perfection, because now a total war can be a reality. And to fight a total war on this earth will be a self-defeating exercise. War is meaningful so long as one side wins and another loses, but in a nuclear war, if and when it takes place, there will be no victor and no vanquished -- both will simply disappear from the earth. So war on this earth has become irrelevant.

And for this reason I can see the whole world coming together as one world. Now the world will be no more than a global village.

The earth has become as small as a village -- even smaller than a village. It now takes less time to go around the world than it took to go from one village to another in the past. So this world has become too small for a total kind of war; it would be sheer stupidity to wage a war here. This does not mean there should be no wars, nor does it mean there will be no wars in the future. War will continue to take place, but now it will take place on newer grounds, on other planets. Now man will go on newer adventures, newer incursions and greater campaigns. In spite of what the pacifists said and did war could not be abolished. It cannot be abolished because it is a part of life.

It makes an interesting story if we assess the gains we have had from war. A careful observation will reveal that all our cooperative efforts and institutions are the products of war. It is called cooperation for conflict: we cooperate to fight. And with the disappearance of war, cooperation will disappear.

So it is extremely important to understand Krishna. Krishna is neither a pacifist nor a hawk. He has nothing to do with any "ism". In fact, an "ism" means choice, that we choose one of the opposites. Krishna is "non-ism". He says that if good comes through peace, we should welcome peace, and that if good flows from war then war is equally welcome. Do you understand what I mean? Krishna says, and I say the same, that whatever brings bliss and benediction and helps the growth of religion is welcome. We should welcome it.

We would not have been that impotent if our country had understood Krishna rightly. But we have covered all our ugliness with beautiful words. Our cowardice is hiding behind our talk of non violence; our fear of death is disguised by our opposition to war. But war is not going to end because we refuse to go to war. Our refusal will simply become an invitation to others to wage war on us. War will not disappear just because we refuse to fight: our refusal will only result in our slavery. And this is what has actually happened.

It is so ironic that, despite our opposition to war, we have been dragged into war over and over again. First we refused to fight, then some external power attacked and occupied our country and made us into slaves, and then we were made to join our masters' armies and fight in our masters' wars. Wars were continuously waged, and we were continuously dragged into them. Sometimes we fought as soldiers of the Huns, then as soldiers of the Turks and the Moghuls and finally as soldiers of the British. Instead of fighting for our own life and liberty we fought for the sake of our alien rulers and oppressors. We really fought for the sake of our slavery; we fought to prolong our enslavement. We spilled our blood and gave our lives only to defend our bondage, to continue to live in servitude. This has been the painful consequence of all our opposition to violence and war.

But the Mahabharat is not responsible for it, nor is Krishna responsible. Our lack of courage to fight another Mahabharat is at the root of all our misfortunes.

Therefore I say it is really difficult to understand Krishna. It is very easy to understand a pacifist, because he has clearly chosen one side of the coin of truth. It is also easy to understand warmongers like Genghis, Tamburlaine, Hitler and Mussolini, because they believe in war as the only way of life. Pacifists like Gandhi and Russell believe that peace alone is the right way. Both doves and hawks are simplistic in their approach to life and living. Krishna is altogether different from both of them, and that is what makes him so difficult to understand. He says that life passes through both doors, through the door of peace and also through the door of war. And he says that if man wants to maintain peace, he needs to have the strength and ability to fight a war and win it. And he asserts that in order to fight a war well, it is necessary, simultaneously, to make due preparations for peace.

War and peace are twin limbs of life, and we cannot do without either of them. We will simply be lame and crippled if we try to manage with only one of our two legs. So hawks like Hitler and mussolini and doves like Gandhi and Russell are equally crippled, lopsided, useless. How can a man walk on one leg alone? No progress is possible.

When we have men like Hitler and Gandhi, each with one leg, we find them taking turns, just like passing fashions. For a while Hitler is stage-center, and then Gandhi appears and dominates the stage. For a while we take one step with Hitler's leg and then another step with Gandhi's leg. So in a way they again make for a pair of legs. After Genghis, Hitler and Stalin are finished with their war and bloodshed, Gandhi and Russell begin to impress us with their talk of peace and non-violence. The pacifists dominate the scene for ten to fifteen years -- enough time to tire their single leg, and necessitate the use of another. Then again a hawk like Mao comes with a sten gun in his hands. And thus the drama is kept on going.

Krishna has his two legs intact; he is not lame. And I maintain that everyone should have both legs intact -- one for peace and another for war. A person who cannot fight is certainly lacking in something. And a person who cannot fight is incapable of being rightly peaceful. And one who is incapable of being peaceful is also crippled, and will soon lose his sanity. And a restless mind is incapable of fighting, because even when one has to fight a kind of peace is needed. So even from this point of view Krishna is going to be significant for our future.

In regard to our future we need to have a very clear and decisive mind. Do we want a pacifist world in the future? If so, it will be a lifeless and lackluster world, which is neither desirable nor possible. And no one will accept it either. In fact, life goes its own way. While the doves fly in the sky, the hawks continue to prepare for war. and in the way of fashions, the pacifists will be popular for a while and then the warmongers will take their turn, becoming popular with the people. Really, the two work like partners in a common enterprise.

Krishna stands for an integrated life, a total life; his vision is wholly whole. And if we rightly understand this vision, we need not give up either. Of course, the levels of war will change. They always change. Krishna is not a Genghis; he is not fond of destroying others, of hurting others. So the levels of war will certainly change. And we can see historically how the levels of war change from time to time.

When men don't have to fight among themselves, they gather together and begin to fight with nature. It is remarkable that the communities that developed science and technology are the same that are given to fighting wars. It is so because they possess the fighting potential. So when they don't fight among themselves, they turn their energies towards fighting with nature.

After the Mahabharat, India ceased to fight with nature simply because she turned her back on fighting. We did nothing to control floods and droughts or to tame our rivers and mountains, and consequently we failed, utterly, to develop science and technology. We can develop science only if we fight nature. And if man continues to fight he will first discover the secrets of this earth by fighting its nature. And then he will discover the secrets of space and other planets by fighting their nature. His adventure, his campaign will never stop.

Remember, the society that fought and won a war was the first to land its men on the moon. We could not do it; the pacifists could not do it. And the moon is going to exert tremendous significance on war in the future. Those who own the moon will own this earth, because in the coming war they will set up their missiles on the moon and conquer this earth for themselves. This earth will cease to be the locale for war. The so-called wars that are currently being fought between Vietnam and Cambodia, between India and Pakistan, are nothing more than play-fights to keep the fools busy here. Real war has begun on another plane.

The present race for the moon has a deeper significance. Its objective is other than what it seems to be. The power that will control the moon tomorrow will become invulnerable on this earth; there will be no way to challenge it. They will no longer need to send their planes to different countries to bomb them; this job will be done more easily and quickly from the moon. They will set up their missiles on the moon, warheads directed toward the earth -- rotating a full circle in its orbit each twenty-four hours. And that is how each country on this earth will be available, every day, to be bombed from the moon.

This is the secret of the great competition between the world powers to reach the moon first. And that is why the world powers are spending enormous amounts of money on the exploration of space. America spent about two billion dollars just to land one man on the moon. This was done not for the fun of it; there was a great objective behind this effort. The real question was, who reaches the moon first?

This contest for space is similar to another historical contest that happened about three hundred years ago when the countries of Europe were rushing towards Asia. Merchant ships of Portugal, Spain, Holland, France and Britain were all sailing towards the countries of Asia -- because occupation of Asia had become immensely important for the expansionist powers of Europe. But now it has no importance whatsoever, and so, soon after the Second World War, they left Asia. The people of Asia believe they won their freedom through their nationalist struggles, but it is only a half-truth. The other half of the truth is quite different.

In the context of the modern technology of warfare, the occupation of Asia in the old way has become meaningless; that chapter is closed forever. Now a new struggle for the conquest of lands altogether different and distant from this earth has begun. Man has raised his sights to the distant stars, to the moon and Mars and even beyond. Now war  will be fought in the vastness of space.

Life is an adventure, an adventure of energy. And people who lag behind in this adventure, for lack of energy and courage, eventually have to die and disappear from the scene. Perhaps we are such a dead people.

In this context also, Krishna's message has assumed special significance. And it is significant not only for us, but for the whole world. In my view, the West has reached a point where it will, once again, have to wage a decisive war, which of course will not take place on the planet Earth. Even if the contestants belong to this earth, the actual operation of the war will take place elsewhere, either on the moon or on Mars. Now there is no sense fighting a war on the earth. If it takes place here it will result in the total destruction of both the aggressor and the aggressed. So a great war in the future will be fought and decided somewhere far away from here. And what would be the result?

In a way, the world is facing nearly the same situation India faced during the Mahabharat war. There were two camps, or two classes, at the time of the Mahabharat. One of them was out-and-out materialist; they did not accept anything beyond the body or matter. They did not know anything except the indulgence of their senses; they did not have any idea of yoga or of spiritual discipline. For them the existence of the soul did not matter in the least; for them life was just a playground of stark indulgence, of exploitation and predatory wars. Life beyond the senses and their indulgence held no importance for them.

This was the class against which the war of Mahabharat was waged. And Krishna had to opt for this war and lead it, because it had become imperative. It had become imperative so that the forces of good and virtue could stand squarely against the forces of materialism and evil, so that they were not rendered weak and impotent.

Approximately the same situation has arisen on a worldwide scale, and in twenty years' time a full replica, a scenario of the Mahabharat will be upon us. On one side will be all the forces of materialism and on the other will be the weaker forces of good and righteousness.

Goodness suffers from a basic weakness: it wants to keep away from conflicts and wars. Arjuna of the Mahabharat is a good man. The word "arjuna" in Sanskrit means the simple, the straightforward, clean. Arjuna means that which is not crooked. Arjuna is a simple and good man, a man with a clean mind and a kind heart. He does not want to get involved in any conflict and strife; he wants to with draw. Krishna is still more simple and good; his simplicity, his goodness knows no limits. But his simplicity, his goodness does not admit to any weakness and escape from reality. His feet are set firmly on the ground; he is a realist, and he is not going to allow Arjuna to run away from the battlefield.

Perhaps the world is once again being divided into two classes, into two camps. It happens often enough when a decisive moment comes and war becomes inevitable. Men like Gandhi and Russell will be of no use in this eventuality. In a sense they are all Arjunas. They will again say that war should be shunned at all costs, that it is better to be killed than to kill others. A Krishna will again be needed, one who can clearly say that the forces of good must fight, that they must have the courage to handle a gun and fight a war. And when goodness fights only goodness flows from it. It is incapable of harming anyone. Even when it fights a war it becomes, in its hands, a holy war. Goodness does not fight for the sake of fighting, it fights simply to prevent evil from winning.

By and by the world will soon be divided into two camps. One camp will stand for materialism and all that it means, and the other camp will stand for freedom and democracy, for the sovereignty of the individual and other higher values of life. But is it possible that this camp representing good will find a Krishna to again lead it?

It is quite possible. When man's state of affairs, when his destiny comes to a point where a decisive event becomes imminent, the same destiny summons and sends forth the intelligence, the genius that is supremely needed to lead the event. And a right person, a Krishna appears on the scene. The decisive event brings with it the decisive man too.

It is for this also that I say Krishna has great significance for the future.

There are times when the voices of those who are good, simple and gentle cease to be effective, because people inclined to evil don't hear them, don't fear them, blindly go their own way. In fact, as good people shrink back just out of goodness, in the same measure the mischief makers become bold, feel like having a field day. India had many such good people after the Mahabharat, like Buddha and Mahavira. Nothing was lacking in their goodness; their goodness was infinite. In fact, it was too much -- so much that the country's mind shrank under the weight of this goodness. The result was that the aggressors of the whole world set loose their hordes on India.

It is not only that some people invade others, there are people who invite invasion on themselves. You are not only responsible when you hit others, you are also responsible when others hit you. If you slap someone's face, your responsibility for this act is only fifty percent, the other fifty percent of the responsibility should go to the person who invited and attracted your slap, who took it passively, without resistance. Know well that when someone slaps you, half the responsibility rests with you, because your being weak and passive becomes an invitation for him to hurt you.

A long succession of good people, of absolutely good people, was responsible for constricting and enfeebling the mind of India, for making it weak and passive. And this became a kind of invitation to aggressors around the world. And, responding to this invitation, they came, almost with walking sticks in their hands, and subjugated us, enslaved us. For long spells of time they ruled over us and oppressed us. And when they left, they did so on their own; we did not throw them out.

What is unfortunate is that we continue to be a shrunken people, suppressed and enfeebled in our minds and hearts. And we can again invite some aggressor to enslave us. If tomorrow Mao overruns this country, he alone will not be responsible. Years back, Lenin predicted that communism's road to London lay through Peking and Calcutta. His prediction seems to be correct. Communism has already arrived in Peking, and the noise of its footsteps are being heard in Calcutta. And so London is not far off. It will not be difficult for communism to reach Calcutta, because India's mind is still shrunken, still suppressed and stricken with fear. Communism will come, and by accepting it, this country will go down the drain.

That is why I say that India should do some serious rethinking about Krishna.


Next: Chapter 1: The Future Belongs to Krishna, Question 3


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