Shri Guruji Golwalkar on China (Part IV): Real threat— Crisis of character

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Shri Guruji Golwalkar
IN order that we may mobilise our entire internal resources and liquidate all types of internal forces of subversion and fight till the enemy is completely vanquished and the yellow scourge erased from the face of the earth, the one great and inexhaustible storehouse of power that we have to build up is the sterling national character of the people. Without that, any amount of external aid and equipment will be of no avail.
The Real Threat
We know that in the defeat of the democratic forces in China and victory of the Communist rebels, one of the most decisive factors was the 'characterlessness' of the democratic forces. America tried its best to protect that democracy. They helped it with millions of dollars and huge quantities of arms and ammunition of the latest type to equip the army so that it may deal effectively with the Communist revolt. But history tells us that even officers in the army, for the paltry gain of a few chips, sold the American arms to the rebels, with the result that they became very well equipped and the nationalist army was defeated.

Nearer home, there are countless such instances of characterlessness. To cite an instance, it is widely known that Pakistanis are hatching a conspiracy in Assam. Many Pakistanis from East Bengal have infiltrated and are still infiltrating into Assam. They have settled down there. This is a conspiracy to make Assam a Muslim-majority area and later join it to Pakistan. But our Government is not willing to face this fact. It has not opened its eyes even though we have been sounding a note of alarm from as far back as 1950. Now it asks, "How to recognise those Pakistanis?" Some persons in Assam came forward and prepared a list of all the Pakistanis who had illegally entered in recent years, with their names, addresses, etc., and submitted it to the Government. The Government appointed an officer to go into that list and report his findings. He made enquiries. His report was:
"This list is all false. Only a very few have come from Pakistan." Why did he report in that way? It came to be known later that he had taken a huge bribe. Lord Attlee, the reputed Labour leader of England, has said in an article that the Government machinery in our country has become corrupt to the core. It is in such countries, he says, that the Communists succeed in subversion. He had asked a prominent person of one of the Asian countries whether there was any threat of Communist subversion in their country, to which that person gave the significant reply, "Our administration is not corrupt and therefore we have no such fear." This warning, coming from an eminent statesman of a mature nation, must make us pause and ponder over this fatal internal corrosion.
The Basic Malady
Thus, crisis of character is a very serious affair. We have to grapple with it, not merely by words or by criticising others but by going to its very roots. Mere criticism will take us nowhere. If we call X, Y, or Z names, how it is going to correct our behaviour? On the contrary, it will give us an additional bad quality of calling others names. How then can we eradicate this demon of immorality from ourselves?

It is well known that a person becomes immoral and corrupt to the extent his selfishness gets the upper in his life. The greater the selfishness, the more a person is prone to take recourse to unseemly methods for fulfilling his self-interest. It a man is unselfish, he will never go in for evil and his character will never suffer. He will be an honest man. Today selfishness has grown. Every man wants something more than what he gets. He does not care whether the way in which he gets it is good or bad. Often it is bad, and therefore there is crisis of character. So we have to control the selfishness of man. This is an extremely difficult job. Constituted as we are, some little selfishness is bound to be there. We are not all sadhus. We have not given up our families, wearing only a koupinam. It is not possible for us. So far as the whole society is concerned, that will not also be conducive to welfare of the society. A little selfishness will remain, to maintain our body and our family and to give them a minimum of happiness compatible with modern times. Let us not, therefore, think ill of any person who desires to lead an ordinarily comfortable life. But then that is the limit. If a person goes beyond that and indulges in selfishness to the detriment of the interests of the people as a whole, then certainly it is reprehensible.
Morality from Top Downwards
How to control self-interest from running amuck? Suppose we advise all people and give them lectures, will it do? Will Sadachar Samitis and mass pledges in public achieve that miracle? Mere lectures on morality and pledges have never corrected people's morals.

Shri Guruji Golwalkar on China (Part III): Friends, Enemies and the Chinese Puzzle 
Further, many persons who lecture on morality and administer pledges are such that we should not look into THEIR lives! Once I met a Sadhu. He told me that he was giving lectures to the clerks and other lower staff in Government offices on 'character', on how not to be corrupt and so on. I said, "But, how will you succeed in your mission? You advise a chaprasi who may be taking a bribe of a few paise. Can you not realise that the chaprasi is a poor man unable even to feed all members of his family twice a day? If in that condition, he stoops to taking a little bribe, we can only pity him, though of course we cannot justify his action. So go higher up, lecture to those at the top. See if they can be corrected." Then the Sadhu said, "But the higher-ups are good!"
I said, "I shall give you an example. There is a gentleman in the galaxy of our political leaders, who is adored and loved by the country. Once on the eve of the last elections, he was invited to a city to be presented with a purse for the purpose of elections. A number of big businessmen and industrialists had formed a committee and collected a big sum of money. At a grand function, with all those speeches extolling the person and the party, they offered him the purse. He got up to reply. He said, "I know that all these people that have assembled here are indulging in black-marketing and the money they have offered me is born out of sin. It is sinful even to touch it. I feel that all such should be flogged publicly and even hanged!' All this he spoke in a very high moral tone, but quietly pocketed the purse and went away!" Fortunately, the Sadhu also knew this incident. Then I told him, "Go to such high-up and correct them first."
If the top men are morally upright, then morality will trickle down to the lowest stratum of society and general good character will be the result. You cannot build character from the bottom to top. It has always to be built up at the top first. On the other hand, physical comforts have to be provided starting from the bottom. Feed those who are at the lowest rung of the ladder of our social life, who are physically working hard day and night and leading an existence, which is certainly an insult to the dignity of the society. Let the people at the top go without a meal, I don't mind. But that is how society should be rebuilt and revitalised - physical needs from the bottom upwards and morality form the top downwards.
The Living Ideal
It is a matter of common experience that character and morality are wanting even in the very high strata of our national life. Those in the higher strata of life are intelligent and educated. They know what is morality and what is immorality. They can even deliver excellent sermons on the subject. Then, what are we going to achieve merely by advising such persons?
Can we improve the moral standards of our people by taking recourse to legislation? Take the case of Prohibition. It is in force in many states. But in all those States, illicit distillation has become a flourishing cottage industry! Hence, mere legislation is a useless instrument for bettering the morals.
In fact, there is only one way by which selfishness can be restrained. Give the man an ideal to work for, to live for and die for. Then that person, in his devotion to that ideal, will be able to control the pulls of his self-interest and build up a better character. There is no other way. Give the people an ideal, high and holy, an ideal, which naturally resonates in their hearts, throbs in their blood and which has been with them for generations. Then even the ordinary man in the street will be able to feel the rise of devotion and character in him. Such an inspiring ideal is the realisation of the glory and greatness of our scared Hindu Rashtra.
"I am a child of this great Hindu nation. For generations, my great forefathers have striven to make this the greatest and noblest nation - an ideal nation of ideal men - on the face of the earth. I, too, will live and strive for the same goal." - This is the natural impulse that we have inherited. We feel it in our blood. If this natural sublime urge is roused then our people will be able to rise above their selfish pulls and manifest chaste national character in their day-to-day life.
The Vision that Inspires
Even in the present times of national crisis we cannot afford to ignore this content of idealism. Let us not forgot that it was on the battlefield of Kurukshetra, when war-drums were beating, trumpets were blowing and Arjuna was standing in the centre of the two armies, that Sri Krishna taught him the eternal and inspiring message of selfless action in the cause of dharma and spurred him to matchless valour and victory. It is only when a hero is inspired with the vision of an ideal that he will be able to put forth the best in him.
He should be clear in his mind about the life values for which he is to fight and die, if need be. Talk of economic plans and industrial glory cannot stir the people to suffer and sacrifice. Dry and disparaging descriptions of our motherland as 'snow-bound', 'unfit for human habitation', 'not a blade of grass growing there', etc., will only kill the spirit of the people who will then see no difference even if such a piece of land is occupied by the enemy. So it is absolutely essential that the eternal and inspiring call of devotion to our holy motherland and our national ideals is engraved in the heart of every son of this soil.
All our valiant freedom fighters in the past and in modern times were inspired with the living vision of Hindu Rashtra. That was the only effective rallying cry to rouse our masses to action from one corner of the country to the other. And whenever that vision was blurred or lost sight of, the people too relapsed into inactivity and servility.
The lesson of the 1857 War of Independence is before us. The great leaders of that revolution, at the very first stroke, captured Delhi and released the Moghul Badshah who had become a mere tool in the hands of the British. They reinstated him on the throne as the free Emperor and declared him the leader of the War of Independence in a bid to mobilise the support of those sections of the people who still owed loyalty to the Delhi throne. But this step made the Hindu masses suspect that the atrocious Moghul rule, which was smashed by the heroic efforts and sacrifices of Guru Govind Singh, Chhatrasal, Shivaji and such others would once again be revived and foisted on them.
And that, they felt, would be a greater tragedy than the English rule. The Hindu mind, which was inspired with the hope of Hindu Swaraj looking at the great Hindu generals like Nanasaheb Peshwa, Tatya Tope, Rani Lakshmibai and Rana Kunvar Singh lost its urge to fight. Historians say that this was one of the decisive factors, which ultimately led to the collapse of that revolution.It is only when the people are inspired with this age-old national vision that it is possible to make them rise to heights of selflessness, sacrifice and heroism and to forge them into a single living national entity from one end of the land to the other and build up an unassailable national strength. And when we do that, we will be able to humble not one but ten Chinas!
(The Bunch of Thoughts- Part Three - The Path To Glory: XXIV. Fight to Win*)
*In the wake of Chinese invasion in October 1962