Considering how sullied Indian politics has become, and depths of depravity to which Indian politicians have fallen, it is worthwhile remembering a story from the life of Chanakya, the ancient Indian philosopher and royal advisor. Once a Chinese traveller arrived to meet Chanakya. It was dusk and darkness had just started to set in. When the traveller entered Chanakya’s room, he saw that Chanakya was busy writing under the light of an oil lamp. Chanakya waved him in and asked him to sit. He then quickly completed the work that he was doing.
After he had finished with his work, he extinguished the oil lamp under which he was writing and lit another lamp. The Chinese traveller was mystified at this. He surmised that this was an Indian custom when a guest arrives at their home. He asked Chanakya whether this was an Indian custom when a guest arrives at their house-extinguishing one lamp and lighting the other? Chanakya replied, “No, my friend. There is no such custom. Actually, when you entered, I was working. It was official work, which concerns my nation. The oil filled in that lamp has been bought from the money from the national treasury. Now, I am talking to you. This is a personal conversation, not related to my nation; so I cannot use that lamp now, as it will lead to wastage of the money of the national treasury. Hence, I extinguished that lamp and lit this other lamp, since the oil in this lamp has been bought from my own money.”
What a lesson this teaches us! At a time when Indian politicians garner as much as they can from the nation’s treasury for themselves, it is amazing to see how principled our ancient spiritual leaders were. They are indeed worthy of emulation! Ancient India was such a great country because of the conduct of its kings and leaders. They were people not only of a high intellectual caliber but also had a strong moral conscience. Will this country ever regain its glory days? Or will we continue to regress at this rate, which is sure to lead to anarchy? Where will the new Chanakya come from? These are things all Indians must ask themselves if they are to dream of a peaceful and stable future for themselves.