Author: Gautam Chikermane

Lessons From Mahabharata – Reclaiming The Epic For The 21st Century

As India continues on its journey from a $3 trillion to $10 trillion economy, as it reorients its political pendulum from permissions and entitlements to development and prosperity, as it resets its strategic stance from apologetic-defensive to confident-expansive, and redefines its cultural arc from being moored in a timid crust to one that carries international hues, it needs not merely the modern tools of engagement and technology to negotiate the world’s constantly-changing landscape but a stronger civilisational base upon which it can stand with knowledge, dynamism, force and stability; it needs to re-imagine itself and re-identify with its own ethos and its own experiences. Amongst its experiential kaleidoscope evolved over millennia, there are four important civilisational legs that have sustained India for more than five millenniums – the Vedas, the Upanishads, the Puranas and the Epics (the Ramayana and the Mahabharata). The Vedas captured the insights of rishis and eternalised them into words and three notes, a combination of language and sounds that resonates with our deepest parts even today as truth, a living entity …

What Would General Bhishma Tell Prime Minister Narendra Modi Today?

Five millenniums ago, after the Great War fought on battleground Kurukshetra between all but two warriors of Aryavarta, when King Yudhishthira asked Ved Vyasa about how he should go about rebuilding his kingdom, Vyasa told him to seek the advice of General Bhishma. Son of Ganga and King Shantanu, pupil of Guru Parashurama, administrator-warrior-thinker-strategist par excellence, this monument of a man lay on a bed of arrows on the battleground, consciously waiting for the opportune time to let his soul leave his body. With his death would go all wisdom, all knowledge, all perspectives about dharma, statecraft, kingly duties. And war. The ensuing discourse between Bhishma and Yudhishthira comprises the largest of 18 parvas, books, in the Mahabharata. At 12,890 verses the Shanti Parva holds little more than one-sixth of the entire 73,640-verse text of the Critical Edition. Broadly, this parva is divided into three parts, Rajadharma parva (law of statecraft, governance), Apaddharma parva (laws of emergencies, calamities) and Mokshadharma parva (law of salvation, metaphysics), although each influences the other, in a seamless blending, with …

Narendra Modi Must Use Balakot To Consolidate India’s Rajasic Transformation

Pakistan wanted to “bleed India with a thousand cuts”. Question: is Pulwama, where 40 jawans of the Central Reserve Police Force lost their lives in a suicide attack on 14 February, the thousandth cut? “The sacrifices of our brave security personnel shall not go in vain,” promised Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Question: is 14 February Pakistan’s Shishupala moment? Three years ago, former Research and Analysis Wing chief Vikram Sood had advocated that India should stop being the “good boy” of international affairs. Question: does 14 February mark the end of the idea that India is a peace-loving, peace-spewing nation ready to be trampled, humiliated, killed? Across planes of time, space and beyond, on battlefield Kurukshetra, Sri Krishna, after several rounds of attempting to deliver peace, each of which was destined to fail, had advised the reluctant warrior Arjuna, fraught with tamas, to go and fight. Question: is this India’s rajas moment, a moment when the collective consciousness of a nation comes together and sheds its tamasic mode and embraces the rajasic spirit? Is the new …