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In the post-Covid world order, much like the Hindutva way of life, human well-being and collective treatment of humanity as one big family should be at the centre of policy-making and governance
Sandeep Krishnarao Patil in First Post.
There have been multiple theories about the origin of the COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic theory started with a virus being spread through animals, but it slowly gave way to the lab theory that emphasised the making of the virus in a Wuhan lab. The theory around lab origins of Covid-19 virus gained traction.
With more and more scientists vouching for the artificial nature of the virus, a growing debate revolves around the unleashing of bio-weapons on innocent citizens for economic and political domination in the global order. Owing to growing inclination towards the lab leak hypothesis about the origins of COVID-19, National Security Adviser (NSA) Ajit Doval in late October mentioned about the “deliberate weaponisation of pathogens being a big concern”. He also mentioned the growing need for bio-defence against deliberate weaponisation of pathogens.
Along with the need for bio-defence, ever since the egregious pandemic spread its tentacles in the world, there has been an unceasing debate on the post-Covid world order. The old patterns of economic and social interactions have been shattered. The COVID-19 pandemic taught the world a number of important lessons, the most important of which is human interdependence and human interlinking. Though the pandemic is still prevalent, it is important to understand and visualise the principles on which the society should rest for post-Covid world order. A perfect example for the world to analyse as well as imbibe for a post-Covid order is the Hindutva principle of life and well-being.
The Hindutva way of life is still unfathomable to the Western mind. Even after multiple invasions, the invaders couldn’t break the basic ethos of Hindu society. One of the primary reasons for this is the inclusion of Hindutva principles and values in our daily practices. These same principles stood strong even during the times of the pandemic. The low death rate due to Covid in Bharat is still a mystery for the global scientific diaspora. In 3.47 crore Covid cases, Bharat has seen 4.75 lakh deaths so far. Such low death figures even after the second Covid wave became a major point of discussion and debate the world over.
In the midst of all these debates, the Hindutva way of life shined as a clear guiding light to emulate and idolise. There were multiple facets of the Hindutva way of life that gained acceptance in the global society. Starting from the way of greeting, regular handshakes gave way to the contactless ‘Namaste’. We saw many global leaders ditching handshakes to do ‘Namaste’. Though the spiritual significance of ‘Namaste’ of ‘one divinity bowing down to another divinity’ might not have dawned on the global society, the acceptance of ‘Namaste’ as a healthy form of greeting clearly resonated globally.
Also, cremation after death was accepted as a healthier way of dealing with Covid dead bodies. As Covid spreads through droplets and body fluids remain in the body 3-4 days after death, there are chances of the virus spreading after burial. Cremation was accepted as a more scientific manner of dealing with dead bodies as bodies reduced to ashes posed no risk of Covid spread. China, a communist nation, released a circular on the cremation of Covid dead bodies even if the families disagreed. Cremation, an accepted practice of Hindutva, guided the nations on post-Covid death rituals.
There has been extensive research on how Bharat managed to bear the brunt of the pandemic. Food habits and daily rituals have all been scrutinised to understand the ways of healthy living. According to a paper published by Madhavi Latha Konea and Dhanu Radha Samayamanthula available in the US National Library of Medicine, conventional Bharatiya foods are acting as immune boosters to overcome COVID-19. The paper analyses and puts forth that Bharatiya conventional foods contain the main constituents, such as lysozyme, antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and herbs for boosting immunity. The Hindutva eating habit, which has kept the society healthy since eternity, is getting its long-overdue recognition in Covid times.
Also, the role of yoga in helping Covid patients deal with respiratory issues has been much appreciated. While addressing the contribution of yoga in handling Covid, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said, “Yoga helped people to muster confidence to fight this disease.” The significance of yoga in enhancing immunity, respiratory capability, muscular strength as well as in stress reduction and management has greatly helped during the pandemic.
Moreover, Ayurveda has also been accepted as an efficient therapeutic method in dealing with Covid-19. According to a paper, ‘Ayurveda and Allopathic Therapeutic Strategies in Coronavirus Pandemic Treatment 2020’, published in ‘Current Pharmacology Reports’, it was concluded that depending upon the patient’s conditions and symptoms, Ayurveda is useful for the treatment of COVID-19.
Acceptance of yoga and Ayurveda, the two most ancient Hindutva techniques of health and well-being, emphasises on the importance of learning from ancient techniques to deal with modern problems. Also, it paved the way for epitomising how the post-Covid order will be more of the Hindutva order. Along with physical well-being, the acceptance of Hindutva way of life for mental well-being is also being accepted. According to Purushottama Bilimoria of RUND University, the Hindu position on death and dying opens up new conversations with therapists and care workers.
While discussing the post-Covid order, the strong philosophical pillars of Hindutva can provide the much-needed depth on which the post-Covid world can rest and prosper. The Sanskrit shloka, “अयं निजः परो वेति गणना लघुचेतसाम्। उदारचरितानां तु वसुधैव कुटुम्बकम्॥“ (This is mine, that is his, say the small minded, The wise believe that the entire world is a family), forms the bedrock of the Hindutva way of life. Treating the world as one big family lies at the centre of the Hindutva cultural ethos. An example of it was also visible in the way Bharat helped different countries during the pandemic. According to the government data, Bharat had delivered around 70.70 million doses of vaccines to 95 countries and out of these, 12.7 million doses were given to 47 countries by the government. The remaining 58 million were supplied by the Serum Institute of India under its commercial and COVAX obligations.
The vaccine help extended from Bharat was not restricted to only the rich and developed countries but also extended to the developing world and poor countries of the Caribbean and Africa. The help was extended as a goodwill gesture. The vaccine diplomacy epitomised Hindutva principles of ‘vasudhaiva kuṭumbakam’ where the world is treated as one big family. The help extended by Bharat also epitomises the core human value of Hindutva as stated in ‘ॐ सर्वे भवन्तु सुखिनःसर्वे सन्तु निरामयाः।सर्वे भद्राणि पश्यन्तु मा कश्चिद्दुःखभाग्भवेत।’ (May all beings be at peace, may no one suffer from illness, may all see what is auspicious, may no one suffer). This prayer for the well-being of all humanity clearly depicts the Hindutva way of life where care for all forms of life lies at the centre of existence.
In the post-Covid world order, much like the Hindutva way of life, human well-being and collective treatment of humanity as one big family should be at the centre of policy-making and governance.
The Hindutva concepts of namaste, yoga and Ayurveda can form the bedrock on which the post-Covid order can build and strengthen.
We can no longer live in the silos of our individualistic existence, but we should realise the importance of our collective existence. Individual well-being should give way to collective well-being. The Western society and civilisation, which is more individualistic in its outlook and approach, should shun its individual-centric approach to a more collectivist approach as is the case in Bharat. It is imperative for nations, especially the developed nations, to realise the inter-dependence and interlinked nature of our human existence. This has been brought to the forefront with the spread of Covid-19 across the globe.
Today we cannot say that if any other country is affected by COVID-19, it won’t affect our own country. The spread of ‘Omicron’ in South Africa has the whole world worried. All countries stand at the same pedestal. Each nation needs to be sensitive towards the adversity of the other. Each nation needs to extend a helping hand in whatever way possible to improve the plight of a suffering nation.
Today, the world needs to be together like one big family, which we refer to as ‘parivar’ in Hindutva. Even at the individual level, our lives can no longer be individualistic in approach. Our health and well-being depend on the health and well-being of others. The class, race and caste divide is no longer there in the picture. The well-being of the rich and strong depends on the well-being of the poor and weak. The well-being of the society lies at the well-being of all individuals in it.
It is imperative to treat all its members as members of a ‘parivar’. Help and care need to be extended to all sections of the society like members of a family. The future lies in collectivism and treating the world as one big family. We need to imbibe the Vedantic philosophy, which forms the bedrock of Hindutva, of ‘the oneness of existence’ to understand the post-COVID order. Swami Vivekanand said, “The one theme of the Vedanta philosophy is the search after unity.” It is this unity of existence that will shape the post-COVID order.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, while uniting the nation in the fight against COVID-19, stated: “Utsaho balavanarya nastyutsahat param balam | Utsaharambhamatrena jayante sarvasampadah (There is no force greater than our enthusiasm and spirit in this world).” His words stressed the collective effort of humans to overcome the most difficult of times. The strength of the post COVID world lies in the collective strength of all. The developed, developing and the underdeveloped world needs to come together for the collective well-being of all.
RSS Sarsanghchalak Mohan Bhagwat while explaining Hindutva said, “Hindutva is a holistic approach. This is unity in diversity and is marked by emotional integrity.”. Though the remark was with reference to nationhood, emotional integrity is the need of the world order. Unity in diversity should form the essential of the post-COVID world order. Our differences in caste, colour, creed and race shouldn’t deter our will and spirit to find the pandemic and let the global humanity stand on its feet in the post COVID world.
Universal acceptability and a spirit of belongingness and care should be the pivotal drivers of our existence. We should exist in the world as part of one big family, as key members of one big ‘parivar’. The sooner we realise our interdependence, the better will be the prospects of a brighter tomorrow. The Hindutva philosophy of life and our mutual existence should be the guiding light in shaping the new world order. The archaic concepts of individualistic society should now give way to a more united world of mutual care and respect. Such care and respect like we share as integral members of a family.
Apart from the pandemic, today we face many other challenges like climate change, global migration, famines and poverty. A concerted approach is the need of the hour in order to face the challenges that confront us in the near and distant futures. For a concerted approach we need to plan globally and act locally. Individualistic societies and governments will not be able to deal with the imminent crisis facing us. Our response to global challenges lies in our collective strength. The strength lies in unity. The strength lies in mutual care and respect. The strength lies in the universality of our goals. The strength lies in treating everyone as members of one big family.
The eternal principles of Hindutva shine before us as guiding light for shaping the new world order. The Hindutva concepts of namaste, yoga and Ayurveda can form the bedrock on which the post-COVID order can build and strengthen. The Hindutva societal structure of ‘parivar’ should be an essential structure for the post-COVID world. Care and well-being of each member of this ‘parivar’ should be the end goal we should strive for in the new global order. Collective effort and response should be made not just against deliberate weaponisation of pathogens but also against all the imminent dangers that we face.
*Part-I of this article was first published on January 4 and Part-II on January 5, 2022 in the First Post.
**Writer Sandeep Krishnarao Patil, is advisor, VESIM Literati Festival, Mumbai, Khajuraho Literature Festival and Prabuddha Bharat, Belagavi. Views expressed are personal.