This holiday season, there is little to applaud and much to worry about, with Omicron making the rounds and closings announced. It is a time for wishes and many prayers as we prepare to welcome 2022. In his Christmas Day message, Prime Minister Modi recalled the teachings of Jesus Christ, “which emphasized the service, kindness and humility ”, words that are simple and deep, and at the heart of the messages that have inspired humanity and taught good manners of living to generations. They resonate well with the rich teachings of India and all of the other spiritual traditions that have guided us from time immemorial.
So now is a good time to reflect on how the nation has understood and lived these teachings and messages that have been around for so long and are so clear that we can forget that there is much to be learned from them every day. . Consider this simple, love your neighbor as yourself, the most difficult message to live with because it is one thing to love the Lord that you do not see but another to love the neighbor that you see, and worse , the neighbor who has a perspective or an attitude that can be irritating, burdensome, or the neighbor who may be from a different place, color, religion or caste! This is not to consider the even more important question: who is really my neighbor? Is there a physical limit, a distance metric, beyond which people are not neighbors, and therefore who qualifies to be and who should be considered out of bounds?
And consider the picture of this Bible question in the song Gandhi loved, Vaishnava jana at, which explains why only the one who can understand the pain of others is the one who can be a true devotee of the Lord, the one who serves without pride, without pretension, without greed. And then the simple teaching of the deceased Swami Dayanada Saraswati, one of the great exponents of Indian Vedic literature, that a consumer is never free because a consumer always wants; only a contributor can experience true freedom and helping someone in need is the best form of service and freedom. In Swamiji’s words: “If you have riches with you, you are simply rich. When you do is going, you are getting richer because your heart has widened to accommodate more people.
In today’s India, the significance of these messages and the words of the Prime Minister is that they must be repeated because they are less heard and have taken a back seat, almost banished and replaced by dissent, conflict and anger as we negotiate our destinies and chart our course. There is more to retaliate, to retaliate, to settle scores as the language of force arises and the language of love is lost in battles, some of which are given and many of which are created.