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A Hindu Perspective on Politics

Seeta Lakhani's picture

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If politics is a play for power then it goes against the central tenet of Hinduism and all religious teachings. The Hindu view is that whenever one tries to mix politics with religion, politics wins and the result is politics minus spirituality. Major proponents of Hinduism have always claimed that spirituality does not pay tribute to politics because it will lose its potency. It is politics that should pay tribute to spirituality. However, we have seen an example in the last century of how it can work.

In the last century we saw how politics can be improved through religious teachings. Mahatma Gandhi picked up two spiritual principles from Hinduism and Jainism and forged a very powerful weapon. For the first time it was shown that it is possible to resolve human conflict in a humane manner.

Developing the politics of Ghandi
The two principles Gandhi picked on are: truth-force (satya)’ and non-violence (ahimsa). That is insisting on what is viewed as right (satyagraha) in a non-violent mode. As humanity evolves it has developed sufficient sensitivity for this new approach to work. Ghandi used these ideas in a highly effective manner through a campaign of civil disobedience which rocked the British Empire. He also realised that these ideas can only be practised in context. For example, at the same time as he was advocating a non-violent struggle against the British, he was quite happy to sanction the need for violent struggle to fight Hitler.

This new ideal, taken from the realm of spirituality into the realm of politics, has had far-reaching influence. Dr Martin Luther King considered Gandhi to be his guru and adopted the same methodology to gain civil rights for black people in the United States. This process succeeded dramatically. From the slaves who built the white house has emerged another individual, Barack Obama, who is now ruling the White House.