Anna Hazare and Anna Basavanna

|By : Ashwini Surpur, Cupertino

“Just as a large number of small waves create a big wave, the effects of karma accumulate to form tendencies, an aggregation of which in a personality, we call character” – says Swami Vivekananda. Anna Hazare is such an aggregation. But even bigger aggregation is the set of the corrupt government and corrupt people of India – from a clerk to the prime minister. Can Anna’s aggregation of good karma win against such a massive bad karma aggregation in India over decades? Except a handful of really committed honest people, aren’t we all, already a part of corruption, be it out of inevitability or out of choice?  Many of the doctors with their self-practices and in government hospitals, merchants and entrepreneurs, real estate brokers, people buying or selling properties, all have their hands dirty. Almost everyone that can possibly evade taxes, do evade it without feeling a pinch of guilt. Politicians are just a small part of this system. Evading taxes at a smaller proportion is as much of a corruption as evading big ones. Perhaps one got small kickbacks because that is all the opportunity one had, not because one decided to stop there.

The system forces individuals to be corrupt at times. No one individual can defeat the system alone. However, as Vivekananda says, we do need a large number of small waves to achieve corruption free society.  That is when a hero emerges out of a complete chaotic society. We saw that during 12th century Bhakti movement of Karnataka where Anna Basavanna emerged in the corrupt Hindu society ridden with superstitions, caste based discriminations and social prejudices.

The sensation that India went through recently in the name of Anna Hazare is a great wake up call to the people of India. India once again showed to the world, its internal spiritual strength where magnanimous goals can be achieved through peaceful means and ahimsa. Which country in the world can imagine deploying their police without arming them? Which country can send their girls to school amidst a crowd of hundred thousand rallying people with peace in their hearts? Indian ethos has a potential for miracles to happen, no doubt. But is a peaceful rally alone enough to turn the country around? Perhaps not; It is not enough to rally for Anna and go home. A collective resolve to continue the burning passion to reform the society is the need of the hour. For that to happen, the society of India’s magnitude, with all its diversity and confusing identities, needs a spiritual beacon to guide and to sustain it.  India needs to get back to spirituality, Sanatana Dharma, which has created, sustained and reformed our society, time and again. Dharma or spirituality has to come to the forefront in leading the anti-corruption movement.

India has to turn inward, look within, and move from consumerism to dharma-based-society, where everyone is working for the society, not by force as in Communist societies, but out of love and devotion. Again, it is time to look at the Bhakti Movement of 12th century where Anna Basavanna showed the working of this Dharma based socialistic order, where corruption cannot even be imagined. Anna Basavanna, being in a high position in Bijjala’s kingdom showed that with spiritual practice, one will be able to practice truth in its highest form. Corruption is simply another name for the process of moving away from the truth and spirituality. Basavanna was so true to himself, that he did not even use the state’s money to light a simple lamp in his house when he was not doing government’s work, but instead, used the oil from his personal money to light the lamp. Basavanna’s concept of ‘Kayaka’ is that truthfulness in work, which is not enforced on people by law, but instead is gently and lovingly taught to the people.

Anubhava Mantapa was an institution where people saved up their meager earnings and contributed to the institution and its running. Aydakki Marayya, a devotee and a Shiva Sharana, spent his lifetime simply collecting small grains from the warehouse so they do not go waste, as his kayaka. In return, he took just enough rice needed for that day as his daily earnings. But one day, when he decided to take home more rice so he could skip a day’s work, his wife chided him and ordered him to go back to the Anubhava Mantapa warehouse and return the rice and apologize to Basavanna. In her eyes, that was corruption! That is the power of Dharma, the spiritual sadhana, that keeps corruption in check from an individual’s life. Only when individuals are free from corruption is the society free from this menace. We cannot start from the top, but instead from the bottom, at the grass roots. Only spirituality can help achieve this.

A small step towards a satvic lifestyle, a few small sacrifices towards simple living, and a small fire burning in every heart will go a long way. Yes, no newspaper will report this, no sensation will be shown on the television, and no one will sing the praises of these millions of heroes, but that is what it took India to make one Anna Basavanna then, and what made one Anna Hazare today. India needs these small heroes in large numbers. Why just India, the entire humanity needs that today. Can you be that small unsung hero? I will.

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