As soon as the lockdown was announced, many skeptics asked, “This will adversely affect the daily wage earners. How can you be so insensitive? They will die of hunger? The economy will crash. Who will foot the bill?”
Those supporting the government’s decision responded, “If you are alive, only then you can earn wealth. What’s the use of eating today and dying tomorrow? Isn’t it better you fast today so that you can eat the rest of the year?”
A good leader doesn’t see human beings – citizens of a country – as a means of generating national wealth. He sees them as national wealth!
That’s the difference between Ravana’s and Ram’s army.
When Hanuman brought the mystical sanjivani- herbs that could revive the lives of Ram and Lakshman, it had a magical cyclical effect on the dead warriors lying on the battlefield. The fragrance of the herbs brought back the lives of dead monkey soldiers and the army regrouped to fight Ravana. Indrajit and Ravana were shocked as a few hours before, the entire army of Ram was routed. But the question remains: how come Ravana’s dead soldiers didn’t get the benefit of these herbs; after all the air carries the aroma impartially and they could also have come back to life.
When Ravana lost his men in war, he had their bodies dumped in the ocean so that no traces remain on the battlefield. He didn’t want the enemy to get psychological advantage by seeing dead rakshasas on the battlefield. For him, the rakshasas were a means of conquest and tools for victory. On the other hand, Ram preserved and honoured the body of the dead Vanaras. This difference in mindset saved the day for Ram’s army.
We saw during the 1999 Kargill war, Pakistan denied they sent their army to invade Indian territory. They refused to take the dead bodies of their soldiers back even as Maulvis from Delhi flew to Kargill in helicopters and performed final rites for Pakistan soldiers. The Indian army honoured them and gave them a decent burial, deserving of a soldier. Pakistan, meanwhile insisted they won the war and declared they had lost fewer men in the battle. This was painfully embarrassing as the relatives of slain Pakistan soldiers demanded an explanation from their government about their whereabouts and the government had no answers. For them their soldiers were a resource to be used for gaining land and power. The Indian- Ramayana- mindset is different- the man/woman is not a tool or resource to get something else; rather it’s the goal of our pursuits. We care for our people and even if it means hardship today, it’s worth it.
Ram cried bitterly when he lost Jatayu – a vulture who laid his life for the Lord. He performed the last rites for the giant bird and gave him the honour of his father. A vulture is not the most respected amongst birds but in the eyes of Lord, one’s designation or species is not important; it’s the attitude of service.
We saw nations including USA, Australia and even our unfriendly neighbour delay their response to the pandemic. They were battling with the prospect of economic considerations and that proved costly. But a timely action of lockdown that we took here could prove a game changer for India.
Let’s pray and wish for the best for all countries. Now is the time to unite in our service to fight the pandemic and honour our most important wealth- the people. Stay home, stay safe.
Jai Shri Ram