By Ayathuray Rajasingam –
The origin of Righteousness is the history of the search of God. Righteousness is the moral law coupled with spiritual discipline which guides one’s life. This is a universal law acceptable to all faiths. All religious people consider righteousness as the foundation of life. Righteousness is a concept found in Hinduism, Zoroastrianism, Christianity, Buddhism, Jainism, Judaism and other religions. Maha Bharath mentions that he who does not observe righteousness is bound to destroy himself while others who observe righteousness is protected by God.
We were taught how to conduct ourselves at schools and places of worship before our parents, teachers and priests. But today the parents, teachers, priests and even the people are at the mercy of the political leaders who have ignored the lofty ideals they have agitated for, by showing disregard for righteousness, after assuming power and acquiring wealth. They behave like Duryodhana as found in Maha Bharath. It is a sordid state of affair that political leaders distort and suppress facts while others support such facts on various pretexts for their own benefits because of rivalry between two factions. Practising righteousness by the politicians, religious extremists and the Security Forces in Sri Lanka has become a question mark.
Righteousness has the force of revealing the meaning of life and God. Lord Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita mentions what is life and how an individual should perform his duties in compliance with the concept of righteousness. When God creates life for a purpose, he expects those Souls to perform their duty in compliance with the concept of righteousness. Such performance of duties applies to all categories of people – whether they are might or weak, rich or poor, educated or uneducated, etc. All categories of people are equal before the eyes of God.
We are born in this world where we have to take up challenges. The concept of Righteousness should be analyzed within the purview of what life is.
Bagavad Gita mentions –
Life is a challenge – Meet it
Life is a Gift –Accept it.
Life is an adventure – Dare it
Life is a sorrow – Overcome it
Life is a tragedy – Face it
Life is a duty – Perform it
Life is a game – Play it
Life is a mystery – Unfold it
Life is a song – sing it
Life is an opportunity – Take it
Life is a journey – Complete it
Life is a promise – Fulfill it
Life is a love – Enjoy it
Life is a beauty – Praise it
Life is a spirit – Realize it
Life is a struggle – Fight it
Life is a puzzle – Solve it
Life is a goal – Achieve it
The emergence of foreign political and military leaders in totalitarian countries, promoting Marxist ideologies had great impact on the Sri Lankan politicians. This led them to carry on with their propaganda that God is only a fiction and that was the beginning of the lack of righteousness, which had eventually led the country into chaos. Sri Lankan politicians failed to realize the significance of righteousness which is exposed through the great epics Maha Bharath and Ramayana and also the teachings of Lord Buddha and Jesus Christ. Even some atheists went to the extent of challenging the existence of God relying on the development of science. Atheists have failed to realize that there is a difference between Religion and Science. Science is a continuing effort to discover and increase human knowledge of the physical or material world through observation and experimentation. It should not be forgotten that Religion begins where Science ends.
Moreover, it is sad to observe that politicians, religious extremists and the Security Forces have been ignoring the concept of righteousness and posed themselves as the guardian of their specific religions and misleading the people by staging unwanted attacks on other religious centres for political gains – a sign of poor governance. They failed to realize that every religion has their own respective Holy Book. But there is no specific Holy Book for Hinduism. The concept of righteousness are the teachings of the Vedas. The Vedas are a guide to the Hindus in their daily life. They play a pivotal role in preserving the religious dimensions of family and society. The beauty of Hinduism is that it allows room to accommodate within its fold all forms of worship, diverse customary rites, spiritual practices, all of which go hand in hand in harmony with one another. The main aim of Hinduism, like all religions, is the liberation of Souls, but Hinduism differs from other religions in that it does not assert a specific principle that the final liberation is possible through a specific principle. On the contrary, Hinduism approves all means that eventually lead the Souls to the final goal of being in union with the Supreme Being. The concept of spirituality arises upon realizing the self, i.e. who he is in all his activities. Basic knowledge of every religion will prevent politicians, religious extremists and the Security Forces to deviate from the path of righteousness.
The concept of Righteousness has link with spirituality. Spirituality is a subject that affects the human soul as opposed to material things. Everyone is spiritual. An individual is said to be spiritual if any action or thought that alters his or her state of mind. Whatever people do is bound to have a spiritual consequence. Spirituality is found in person who does not rely on physical comforts. It is a subject of realizing who he is. No sooner he realizes that his soul is a part of the Supreme Soul, there is detachment from world pleasures – a fact political leaders should realize. Spirituality is the process of attaining direct spiritual realization and is based on attaining one’s own experience of self-realization.
Politicians, religious extremists and the Security Forces are also not worried that Righteousness and Karma has some link. Karma is associated with the concept of re-birth and righteousness determines the concept of re-birth as good or bad. Every individual has to undergo the consequence of his or her past actions and hence re-birth becomes a continuing story. Actions taken by individual depend on the path of righteousness. Sometimes righteousness can be frustrated on account of threat, intimidation, undue influence, etc, which means failure to adapt by righteousness will result in re-birth to continue with the mission undertaken by the individual. It is anyone’s guess when a political leader fails to abide by righteousness, and becomes instrumental for misery and poverty to emerge in the country.
A man’s consciousness is distracted by senses and eventually lead to egoistic thinking or selfishness which is applicable to politicians, religious extremists and the Security Forces. Egoistic thinking characterize an unstable mind. Minds are the centre point for our desires, thoughts and feelings. It is a fact that the mind keeps on roaming. If the mind cannot be controlled, then it would lead individuals to the passion of greed, desire, jealousy and anger and will eventually end up in social disturbances. This is what happened when the Rule of Law in Sri Lanka was and is still deliberately ignored. It is for this reason the concept of righteousness was advocated by the ancient sages in Hinduism as well as by the founders of other faiths. Righteousness can be described as emanating from the framework of consciousness where it occupies superior place from where it sends messages to all the people irrespective of any discrimination whatsoever. The main aim of righteousness is to ensure harmony and balance in the society for which the duties and responsibilities of an individual are described in all religious scriptures.
An individual cannot wipe out the consequences of his bad actions by merely going to places of worship and participating in poojas, unless he gets rid of egoism. In the case of politicians ethics is important as it is based upon the concept of righteousness related to his position in society and their position in life. Buddhists during Wesak chant ‘Buddham Saranam Kachchami’ reminding everyone to analyze what is right and bad and that righteousness will lead a noble life. According to Buddhism unrighteousness begins to accumulate from the day an individual resolves to earn his living by plundering the wealth of others and killing them. Hindu saint Sankarachchariya mentions that an individual should first see God in himself and then serve others who are also manifestations of God. Even Jesus Christ said ‘Make this world the kingdom of God and His righteousness and everything will be added unto you’. It is service-orientation with righteous thought of an individual that could receive the grace of God.
It is time for the politicians, religious extremists and the Security Forces to realize that for a Hindu, religion is a philosophy of life. The rulers should take full responsibility to maintain the Rule of Law to preserve the sacredness not only of Hinduism but also of other religions. The correct description of Hinduism is Sanatana Dharma. Sanatana is timeless. Sanatana is the eternal law of the universe, which cannot be formulated in any rigid set of tenets. Hindu Dharma is developed, based on the Truth discovered by ancient sages and is collected in many scriptures such as the Vedas or the Bagavad Gita, etc. Sanatana is a mystical religion where an individual has to personally experience the Truth within. According to Hinduism the direct relationship between the God and the individual is religion. This does not mean Hindus condemn other faiths. Hindus believe that all religions are paths to the same God, like the rivers finally flowing into the sea or like the paths finally reaching the top of the mountain. Even in the great epic Ramayana, Rama is said to have treated all the common people with great respect and equality. For instance, when Rama met the boat-man, Kuga, he addressed him as ‘Friend’, denoting there was equality in his period. But today the absence of righteousness is clearly seen when the political leaders and the Security Forces with all the administration machinery gripped by egotism after acquiring power and amassing wealth through unfair means, when persons are arrested and kept under detention or have them disappeared, thus marking an erosion of democracy.
However, with the introduction of globalization and development of science and technology, it is difficult to distinguish what practices are consistent with the concept of righteousness. Politicians had forgotten that the greatest gift God has given is the ability to think and analyze what is good and bad, which if considered people would have adhered to righteousness. Righteousness never promote an individual to take revenge or to suppress the truths, but promote forgiveness. Righteousness will also never tolerate religious fanaticism and summary execution. Since human beings are greedy for power and wealth, they tend to forget the concept of righteousness. The country will prosper if the politicians, religious extremists and the Security Forces should reconsider the importance of righteousness.
Although all religions encourage the idea that everyone should live by righteousness and for righteousness, the world is filled with misery and poverty indicating that righteousness is lacking among the political leaders. Even in the epic Ramayana, righteousness is projected through Rama and his companions. Rama ruled Ayodya not for his glory, but for the happiness of his subjects without any discriminations whatsoever. Rama’s approach conveys the message of Truth and righteous conduct to humanity – a lesson that all political leaders should follow rather than relying on lies and deceptions. It is time to realize that an individual cannot never gain anything in life just by going to places of worship. Each soul will have to receive divine justice according to its past deeds in life. Righteousness is the only companion of an individual after death, and not the wealth acquired through unfair means. It is not the issue of making statements that rulers will not tolerate humiliating the religious practices of Hinduism and other religions, but how they live by those teachings of those religions.