Friday, April 22, 2011

The Age of Revolution

Subtle, but momentous events have taken place in the world around us, since my last post here.

I remember cheering madly, as India lifted the Cricket World Cup, and in my naiveté, I considered myself a part of history in the making. Till but a few days later, seemingly out of nowhere, Anna Hazare cropped up on everyone’s radar. Slowly, but steadily, the facebook and e-campaigns by India against Corruption and drew more supporters. This, however, was no surprise – we had all seen what purpose technology could serve but weeks ago in Egypt and Tunisia.

What remained unstated, but perhaps a lot more pervasive than more Indians would care to admit, was the sense of doubt, and reluctance. At the end of the day, revolution lies, not in technology, but in the hearts and minds of people. And apathetic, resigned people, who believe it futile to stand against the status quo cannot breed revolution.

Perhaps I should qualify the statement, at this point.
It would a disservice to club what essentially are two distinct categories of individuals – the apathetic, and the resigned. The distinction? As I see it, apathy implies a knowledgeable, even righteous, disregard. Resigned, on the other hand, involves a greater degree of emotional involvement, and a sense that all is not well.

In terms of the Chronicles of Aryavarta and their Epic characters, it is perhaps the distinction between Dharma Yudhistir and Partha Arjuna. Yudhistir believes in the virtue of his approach, even though it may lead him to his doom – an argument he presents in favour of going ahead with the infamous game of dice. He believes in a divinely ordained destiny and in the sheer impossibility of dissent. He is apathetic, not perhaps in the malevolent sense of not caring, but something worse – an irrational, dogmatic sense of status quo, which results in his disregard for realities around him. It is a trait that is at once, both infuriating, and yet compels a certain sense of pity.

Partha on the other is resigned to living with the status quo, a sense that comes not from believing that dissent is impermissible, or even impossible but simply, that it is futile. The system he fights against is far too powerful and he thinks he is bound to fail. It does not stop him from feeling sad, even angry, at things he believes to be wrong. But it does stop him from acting on those feelings, from doing.

It may be a state of confusion that many of us understand only too well, whether we would admit it or not – that sense of grief and outrage at a world going wrong around us, but the equally debilitating sense of being small, insignificant, and thoroughly incapable of doing anything about it.

And then began the Jan Lokpal movement.

Let me clarify again. It does not, and did not surprise me in the least that we still have revolutionaries in our midst, men and women who believe they can still make a difference, or die trying. What did touch me though was how thousands went from resignation and rage, to hope. How no part was too small to play, be it but the almost-reflexive clicking of a ‘like’ button. Slowly, something changed – beyond the sense of Partha-like resignation, the fear that powers that be would reduce the entire campaign to mere ineffective posturing, a sense of hope seemed to shine through. It wwas a collective sense of wanting to try, without fearing failure or anticipating success, a sense of peaceful, almost cheerful effort, sans rage and resentment.

It seems for a moment like dispassion, except, it is so filled with the opposite. And then I realise the obvious - Perhaps the resignation was more my own, than anyone else. It is I who’ve been filled with hope. Like Partha on the eve of the battle, is I who was touched by the spirit of revolution and renewal. The spirit of Govinda. In the words of that revolutionary:

“... the greatest force in the universe is, Time. It’s greater than every probability, every wager, and beyond the comprehension of skill. It’s inevitable, because it’s inexorable. So it is with everything. In every age, there will be a Govinda; perhaps many Govindas…”

- Firewright: The Aryavarta Chronicles II

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