The existing reality of our country and the superficial modern notion of success has reached to the worse. This COVID-19 pandemic has exhibited the vulnerability of modern existence as hundreds of dead bodies are floating in the Ganga, crematoriums and burial grounds are crowded, dead bodies lie unattended and the social media has become an obituary wall. Pharma companies are busy making millions of dollars and gaining hefty profits from the sale of vaccines, news of agencies hoarding up oxygen cylinders while innumerable images of people wailing outside hospitals as loved ones die are rampant.
This endless pain and helplessness is constantly churning our beings, making us understand the very paradox of our existence, that may look empowered but is in essence very fragile. We have reached to the moon but have been unable to provide sufficient oxygen to our fellow citizens, we have conquered all parts of the planet but have failed to protect our own people. The illusion of social media that promises instant connectivity has fallen flat on its face as people are dying alone, unattended and uncared for. The truth of the hyper capitalistic world is brutally visible but unfortunately we have lost all the ways that direct us to human possibility and hope.The Buddha, Kabir, Gandhi and Tagore were all born on this land and throughout their lives they nourished the idea of humanity, collective living and a consciousness premised on sharing, compassion and justice, but the irony is that their words and stories just exist in the pages of history, in our school textbooks and in the museums, we have forgotten to live by the teachings that they left us with. Amid this void, how should we find the inner strength to be able to fight without losing heart? Be compassionate, sensitive and ethically empowered so as to understand the pain of others as our own?Will the pandemic lead to an inner churning, a re-discovery of the self?
Unfortunately there is no answer! Google might provide some artificial steps in a matter of seconds just like “10 steps to become a spiritual person in hard times” or a corporatised spiritual guru may provide a ‘moksha package’ so that even those who have been away from all inner wanderings too can attain such realisation if they are ready to pay a heavy fee. Similarly our education system has an expertise in making us prepared for the outer world but we are never provided any chance to look inside. We have read the poetry of Tagore, Whitman and Rumi but not to redefine our existence but to only complete the poetry syllabus, we gain expertise on mathematics or on science and are able to reach the moon but are disconnected from fellow humans, we learn engineering to produce bombs but fail to cultivate relationships and we memorise the Articles of the Constitution to get through the Civil Service Examination but never protest for our rights. Unfortunately our education has taught us superficiality, egotism and has turned us into conformist consumers in a hyper-consumerist social order.
See the paradox, for so many years we have only learnt to disconnect ourselves with nature as the modern world looks at nature as an obstacle to human development, perhaps thats why humans prove their superiority only after conquering and destroying nature. The mountains are conquered to construct highways, forests are destroyed to build factories, the rivers are drying as a result of reckless building of dams. Moreover there are thousands of villagers who are forcefully made to give up their homes and farming land to make way for mega development projects and dams so that those in cities can get water, electricity and fast internet connectivity. To many of us the artificial lights of a mall look more beautiful than the sublime glow of the full moon.
From the last two days it is raining in Delhi and the water drops are touching the dry land. The leaves are greener after the shower and cold winds are blowing, the beautiful clouds are stealing our hearts and distracting us from the agony that shrouded our existence amid the pandemic. It is a moment of reconnecting with nature, of forgetting all the worries and breaking all boundaries to become one with the nature.It is almost like saying that it is time to end the gap between you and nature – you become the nature and nature becomes you.
These moments remind us again and again as to how much we are connected with nature. This is an inseparable relationship.The human possibility lies with the abundance of the sky, the shade of trees, the lap of the mountain and the brightness of the moon. We need poetry to redefine moments of life, songs to reach our inner self and love to nourish our existence.
Vikash Sharma is Founding Editor of The New Leam.