IF the sword is not to be arbiter in the affairs of men, then word alone can take the place of the sword. Sword is the symbol of the barbarian, word is the symbol of the civilised.
The Hindu civilisation is committed to the word. So was the Greek. The Greeks believed in the power of words, that is in the power of reasoning. They associated reasoning with God.
Belief in reason led to the development of oratory and logic. Oratory was born in the Councils of Greece. With logic they argued their cases better and with oratory, they developed the art of persuasion. But the supreme contribution of the Greeks to the art of peaceful persuasion was the dialogue. Plato made it popular in his Republic. Dialogue not only took a discussion forward, but also promoted the way of peaceful communication.
The Hindu civilisation made its choice long ago, when it developed the art of logic (Nyaya). We opted for words, not the sword. Hindus are not known to be orators. But they developed the science of sound, the only people who have done it. Sound is Brahman, they said. (Nada Brahma) Such was the power of sound that it could persuade even the gods! Who could sing the hymns sweeter—this was the bone of contention between the Vasishta and Viswamitra clans. Their battle went on for a long time. Sometimes the Vasishtas won; at other times the Viswamitras won. Ding-dong went the battle. The rewards were indeed great for the winner. Other examples are plenty. Rama spoke sweetly, Ravana spoke gruffly and Sita spoke mellifluously.
The Greeks developed the choir—group singing. The choir was not known for its pleasing qualities. The Hindus developed melody. It was designed to please—to persuade. Melody is the most pleasing sound.
If words were to be used to persuade others, then one must also have mastery over words. Through the art of oratory, the Greeks became masters of words. And in the science of sound, the Hindus reached perfection in the use of words. The Hindus made the use of words into a fine art. It was said that sweet words would melt the soul of a criminal. That was the belief.
The Semitic beliefs are based on faith, not on reason. Their dogmas are final. There is no scope for discussion on their beliefs. And there is no scope for change either. Violence stands as the arbiter between faith and reason. Words have no role to play in a Semitic faith. They chose the sword as the arbiter.
Oratory, logic, nyaya—these were almost taboo to the Semitic faiths. Islam appeared in India with the Quran in one hand and a sword in the other. This is not figment of imagination. This was real. The Arabs developed neither the art of persuasion nor oratory. Nor did they encourage reason.
The Hindu is committed to words, as I said before. But is he the master of words? He was–once upon a time. But no more. In fact, most of the Hindus can hardly write a letter to the editor! He must regain mastery over words. Words are the only weapons of democratic society. We cannot accommodate a sword.
It was science and satire which enabled the people of England to overcome the petty tyrannies of their society. With science they confronted the church and with satire they brought down the high and mighty. It is with science and satire that we Hindus must clean up the mess we are in. This is the only way we can deal with the violence in our society.
But where are the satirists? We have almost none. Satire is the highest form of the language. It is a gift of the gods. But no one wants to promote a satirist. Men in power look upon him with suspicion—that he is a dangerous person in disguise. A satirist, it is true, is an enemy of the wrong-doers.
Satire, however, is not lethal. But it can hurt. It uses ridicule to change the ways of men. Satire is not an expression of futile despair. It is inspired by a nobler vision, of what we can be and we are not. The aim is to chock the people out of their complacency so that they come face to face with reality.
Dear Reader, ours is a civilised and democratic society. We provide scope for a dialogue with those who do not agree with us. There is thus no scope for violence. Violence cannot be the arbiter in our affairs.
The men of violence think that they are right, that others are all wrong. Such men cannot have a place in our society. We know from history how wrong they were. Ours is a pluralistic society where different opinions are accommodated.
We allowed a Bindranwale to take over Punjab. The rich and highly educated looked the other way. Bin Laden thinks that he is right, that the world is wrong. This has been always the case. We must guard against such upstarts. We cannot rely upon the Middle Class to protect society. This is not the way to build into society its security. We must have critics, we must have satirists. They must sting the evil doers daily.
There are evil men. This is reflected in the history of all civilisations. The Gita says that we must fight evil men. We cannot come to terms with them. Nor can we hope that they will change their ways.