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The Pivot of Priorities


By Hugh & Colleen Gantzer

This column did not appear last week because of a human error. That glitch has been erased and, we were assured, will not appear again. Today we are concerned with larger obstacles, ones that have had a national impact. Thanks to the globe-spanning and time-leaping reach of the smart-phone, people can become aware of events the day before they happen in the west.  Messages speed across the globe at 186,325 miles per second which is much faster than the earth rotates and the International Date Line indicates the next day!

Because of the incredible explosion in digital communications, we in the Himalayan District of Dehradun have been affected by events in the far corners of India. In particular we have bonded with the long-drawn Farmers’ Agitation, the political upheaval in Karnataka, the Rail Disaster in Odisha, and the ongoing Women Wrestlers’ Agitation which the farmers have supported.

These seemingly disparate events have many things in common. For one, they seem to show a political class apparently suffering from an advanced attack of hubris: an unreasonable saturation of self-confidence. As we are also interested in history we recall that the same hubris also plagued the Royals and Nobles of France, Russia, China and the more recent rulers of West Asia before they lost their crowns and the heads on which such jewelled hats sat!  But what is the relevance of these historical comparisons since we have no ruling elite in India?  No relevance, perhaps. But then are the rulers of Pakistan and Myanmar any less? And how about Chairman Xi, is he not, in fact, Emperor Xi?

We feel the Pageant of Kingship has come closer and closer to our borders.

But praise be to the Almighty: we are still a Democracy. We are still a Government of the People, by the People and for the People, and that is what this column is all about. It is not about staging dharnas, locking highways or proclaiming azadi. It is about asking our voters to question all our elected netas about how they spend our money, or exploit our natural resources or slavishly follow the diktats of a mysterious High Command. We do not believe that one family has the inherited right to rule our superbly diverse nation. Nor, for that matter, does one group of cronies. So, what then drives this column?

It is a firm belief in the inherent wisdom of India. We believe in the wisdom of India’s greatest son, the man known as The Buddha. He asked his followers to question everything, even what he said. His great achievement was not that he was born into the family of a Nepalese ruler but that he achieved enlightenment under the Bo Tree in an Indian forest and his philosophy spread across the whole of Asia and then the world. We also believe that there is every likelihood that Our Lord Jesus of Nazareth spent his formative years In India and then returned to his Jewish people to preach a faith of Forgiveness, Compassion and Love to people who believed in a Vengeful God who demanded An Eye For An Eye And A Tooth For A Tooth. And finally, though we have the greatest respect for that ancient way of life called Hinduism, our deepest awe is reserved for the brilliant and scientific truths enshrined in those inspired allegories called Itihas. For a little while we wondered why there was no allegory which had pre-empted the Theory of Relativity which had brought the relevance of Time and Motion into the very existence of the Universe.  Then we discovered the image of a face with a gaping mouth out of which many objects poured. Our guide told us that it represented Time with Creation pouring out of it. There could have been no better icon of The Theory of Relativity than the image of SHRISHTI. This, in fact, is the essence of SANATAN DHARMA, the Perennial Philosophy.

It is time we changed our Pivot of Priorities to highlight the astoundingly scientific allegories of Itihas, enshrined in our all-encompassing SANATAN DHARMA.

(Hugh & Colleen Gantzer hold the National Lifetime Achievement Award for Tourism among other National and International awards. Their credits include over 52 halfhour documentaries on national TV under their joint names, 26 published books in 6 genres, and over 1,500 first-person articles, about every Indian state, UT and 34 other countries. Hugh was a Commander in the Indian Navy and the Judge Advocate, Southern Naval Command. Colleen is the only travel writer who was a member of the Travel Agents Association of India.)