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The Wisdom of Kootaneeti for a Polarized World

According to Vedic Rishis and creators of Kootaneeti, it is one thing to have emotions and completely another being emotional. Says Kautilya a.k.a. Chanakya in Arthashastra “A leader without emotions is undesirable, but a leader driven by his emotions is disastrous.” If only we read history, we could learn the validity of these sage words written two millennia ago. Not convinced? Go to YouTube and watch some scintillating speeches by Adolph Hitler. His emotionally churning words driven by lame socialistic ideas galvanized the whole German nation to hate and persecute Jews, mercilessly. The situation is not much different from despots in other parts of the world, either. The worst leaders have often been those who have toyed with people’s emotions.

Education is supposed to help us to define and understand the difference between the good and the bad. But what is good? And what is bad? Is that which is good – today, good – tomorrow? Is that which was bad yesterday, bad today as well? Such intellectually daunting questions are not even asked – let alone any effort to answer them.  

Although we, as humans, pride in our ability to think – thinking as an activity is barely our priority. As a result, we are swayed by our emotions. The massive polarization we witness around the world is because we as individuals have forgotten to think.

According to Vedic Rishis and creators of Kootaneeti, it is one thing to have emotions and completely another being emotional. Says Kautilya a.k.a. Chanakya in Arthashastra “A leader without emotions is undesirable, but a leader driven by his emotions is disastrous.” If only we read history, we could learn the validity of these sage words written two millennia ago. Not convinced? Go to YouTube and watch some scintillating speeches by Adolph Hitler. His emotionally churning words driven by lame socialistic ideas galvanized the whole German nation to hate and persecute Jews, mercilessly. The situation is not much different from despots in other parts of the world, either. The worst leaders have often been those who have toyed with people’s emotions.

“Emotions,” says Acharya Shukra a.k.a. Shukracharya “are dominant in an ignorant mind. And blind emotions without a shred of logic either worsens a problem at hand or simply exchanges it for a new one.” To confirm this, let us revisit the “Arab Spring,” where millions of Arabs around the middle east marched in a rage with a certain hope to dethrone dictators who ruled their land for decades. And while they did succeed, the despots are far from gone. What they have achieved from their “revolution” is a new despot in the place of an old one.

Modern political thinkers and scientists tend to weigh a lot in the power of people. No doubt, people when united have great power. But without a leader driven with a balanced mind – that power will do no good.

“A fire can cook your food or burn your house,” mentions Pishuna, “similarly a power can make or break a nation.” Political power is the least understood element in the world we live in.

All chaos begins with unsteady minds. Minds that have failed to achieve the object of their desires. Clueless minds. Minds that are driven by hate. Minds that have zero accountability.

Emotions are often detrimental because they are driven often by half-truths and lame biases. And according to Kautilya, in Artha Sutras, “Unwatched emotions are open invitations for disasters.” The kind of which we are witnessing today – Polarization.

Fear is the worst of all human emotions. A fearful mind often thinks from a position of the weakness of the self instead of that of the adversary. Fearful mind confuses an opportunity for a threat and threat for an opportunity. It also downplays persistent evolution and embraces reckless revolutions.

Domination is delusion; it becomes a reality when people become delusional. The fear of being dominated is the fear that looms in everyone’s mind. But how can a mind that is dominated by fear dominate others? Who is without fear, today? And without fear how can anyone amass power to “dominate.”

If another important lesson history teaches it is that nations, religions, institutions, or even cults collapse owing to their weakness instead of other strengths. If you think you are weak; strengthen yourself. You do not have the weaken the strong to strengthen the weak. That is a preposterous idea.  

The threat might be a reality, but fear is useless. With fear, we will only worsen our chances to survive or thrive. Without fear and indifference, we stand a fighting chance to overwhelm the threat. Fear in our adversaries makes us strong; fear within makes us weak. Never think from fear; think from a calm mind.

No two people can have a similar view. Disagreements are natural even within a family. When you have disagreements; you need to discuss them with an open mind. To reject, ridicule, and repress a contrary opinion is a sign of ignorance.

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