Politics and Religion

Question: I am of the opinion that politics and religion should be separate. One should not mix them while working for the government. Is it wrong to have such an opinion? 

Answer: Wrong from whose point of view? Politics is called rājanīti—the principles followed by a king for administering his kingdom. The king or ruler was considered the representative of God. Śrī Kṛṣṇa counts a king as one of  His vibhūtisnarāṇāṁ ca narādhipam (Gītā 10.27). The king’s main duty was to make sure that everyone followed his or her dharma. The kings ruled by dharma-śāstra. An atheist or nonbeliever could not be a king. King Vena became an atheist, so he was removed by the sages. Why were people like Rāvaṇa considered to be asuras? Because they opposed God. Why was Jarāsandha killed? From the point of view of modern politics, they were not bad kings at all. The kingdom of Rāvaṇa, Laṅkā, is described as made of gold. This implies that the kingdom was very prosperous. The same is true of Jarāsandha. Yet from a dharmic point of view, they are not considered good kings and were killed respectively by Rāma and by Bhīma under the guidance of Kṛṣṇa. Politics without dharma will bring corruption (adharma). You can see this all over the world. Can you expect a modern politician to be an ideal king like Yudhiṣṭhira or Bharata? There can be no basis for morality or ethics without dharma. Modern politicians are not trained to rule. They are chosen by people who themselves are ignorant about raja-dharma or the duties of a king. The candidates who compete for a political post are also equally ignorant. Anyone who can make better promises to supply the demands of the people gets voted into office. Most politicians forget their promises once they are elected.

Question: As a devotee of Bhagavān, is it a good practice to influence people to take up bhakti? I have started reading Śrī Guru Darśanam, and your Guru Mahārāja stated that only through the grace of Īśvara can one attain Kṛṣṇa. Based on this, I believe it is not proper for one to push people to take up bhakti. Please let me know if my understanding is correct.

Answer: You should not push but you can enlighten people about God. There is no harm in this. If someone is inquisitive about God and willing to hear, then we should help such a person.

Question: Countries such as Switzerland, Denmark, New Zealand, Singapore, etc., are perceived to be some of the least corrupt countries in the world. To my knowledge, these countries are secular nations and are not known to follow any dharma. Yet, the quality of life is relatively high in those countries. At the same time, the politicians are not abducting women like Rāvaṇa or imprisoning other monarchs or politicians like Jarāsandha. 

Although there are imperfections in these countries, they appear to be doing better than countries that believe in God or gods. These countries are more progressive with regard to economic development, fair wages, respect for individual rights, greater tolerance for homosexuals, etc. Even though they do not talk about God, they have been quite successful in running their nations. How do I understand this? 

Answer: You have to first ascertain what your goal in life is. Do you believe in only one life? Do you believe in the law of karma? Then we can compare and talk. Otherwise, it is like comparing an Indian cow to a Jersey or Holstein. If both countries have the same goals, then it is proper to compare them. But if the goals and beliefs of the countries are different, then such a comparison is flawed because there is no common ground. If the goal is to have a better standard of life, then certainly the countries that you mention are doing better than others. 

Question: I do not believe that we live only once. We are constantly transmigrating from one body to another. I also believe in karma, and that everything happens for a reason. You seem to make the point that certain people or countries may be more successful due to their past karma

Another point that arises is that nothing is permanent in this material world. A jīva is eternal, but the body in which it resides is temporary. 

As a seeker of truth, we have to decide what we want out of life: material or spiritual. We can either choose to continue our time here in the material world, or we can choose to use our time and energy to attain God. 

One cannot compare the two paths as they do not lead to the same goal, which is Kṛṣṇa. That is the reason why you are making a point that it is not acceptable to compare an Indian cow with a Jersey cow.  Is my understanding correct?

Answer: You gave the examples of Rāvaṇa and Jarāsandha as corrupt politicians who were yet religious. By this comparison, you want to show that religion and politics are a bad combination. But all you did was pick examples that prove your own point. What about the great kings like Yudhiṣṭhira, Bharata etc., whom I mentioned?

You also mentioned a few countries, like Switzerland, as examples of freedom from corruption, supposedly because they are secular states. But why not consider your own country—the great India? India is a secular state and there are many other secular states on earth that are corrupt.

Then there is the whole issue about the purpose of life. There may be less corruption in some materially advanced countries, but what happens to the citizens after they die? If they are born as subhumans, then what good was their human life, devoid of corruption? You need to see life in its entirety and not do a piecemeal analysis.

 

 

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Comments ( 1 )
  1. परीक्षित् | Parīkṣit

    The materially advanced countries mentioned are nowhere near the size of the massive India both in area and population.

    That these countries don’t follow any dharma, as mentioned in the question, is incorrect. Being secular is also a dharma (code of conduct). Certainly, they don’t follow the rare Bhāgavata dharma, nor does the Indian Constitution.

    It is ‘perception’, the resultant of mental construct of sensual/supersensual data, which determines happiness. Bhārata, in its essence, had been about this. About rasa.

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