MAHARSHI DAYANAND ON NATIONAL DEFENCE
By Brigadier Chitranjan Sawant, VSM
Maharshi Swami Dayanand Saraswati, who brought in a religious renaissance in the 19th century India, in his principal work Satyarth Prakash (Light of Truth) has dwelt at length on the question of national defence in the sixth chapter. The sixth chapter is basically about good governance and, of course, national defence is an integral part of good governance. The bottom line of the Maharshi’s writings on defence is: National defence is a national affair which should be attended to on a day to day basis. In other words the defence officials as well as strategists have to evolve a standard operating procedure by which the threat perception is fool proof and indeed comes in motion suo motu well before the threat develops to a menacing degree.
A student of Indian military history is well aware of the fact that right from the medieval period to the post independence period the enemy has by and large caught us napping. Our intelligence agencies rarely lived up to their mandate and the national security councils, if and when they were functional, failed to appreciate the developing threat. Consequently the enemy always had gained the upper hand and brought us to battle on grounds of his own choosing. Therefore, the results were disastrous. The obvious results need not be overemphasized as they might cause morale of common man to sag.
Deriving profusely from the Manusmriti and quoting its original slokas in Sanskrit, Maharshi Dayanand Saraswati brings out a very important factor in national defence and it is strength of the common man. As a matter of fact, both in Europe and Asia, not touching the new world at all, the general emphasis of the royalty or the oligarchy was placed on strengthening the armed forces and their arsenals. The common man was by and large a neglected lot. With the result many a time the fate of many a kingdom was decided by the outcome of a single battle where the king lost his head and eventually his kingdom. Common citizens were least concerned about the outcome of these battles and continued with their normal occupation. No doubt they themselves were the worst sufferers because of this acute apathy to outcome of battle. Nonetheless, no one paid attention to this factor before the advent of Maharshi Dayanand Saraswati.
The Maharshi wrote in his epoch making book, Satyarth Prakash or Light of the Truth, “If the citizens of a state are weak, their weakness in turn weakens the rulers, the state itself and eventually causes the entire society to perish.’’ History bears witness to this. Dayanand Saraswati was a sanyasi and as a sanyasi had received little training in defence matters. Yet he paid attention to this aspect of statecraft and drew from his deep meditations to contribute his original thought to the concept of defence and proper threat perception at the proper time. The Maharshi also emphasized a crucial aspect of training of defence planners by saying that they must develop equanimity of mind under all circumstances. A complete absence of anger under stress is absolutely essential for making decisions which affect the future of the nation. Decisions taken in haste or in anger bring the decision maker and his followers to a ruin. An example is made out of a lion who rushes into a hail of bullets in anger and thus brings his life to an end. On the other hand a sagacious commander of men and women appreciates the situation in a cool and calculated manner.If the enemy is overwhelmingly superior, wisdom lies in withdrawing from the place of action until the time is ripe to annihilate the enemy forces.
Chhatrapati Shivaji, who founded the Hindavi Swaraj and built it up from the scratch, had mastered the art of perceiving the threat and dealing with the enemy from a position of strength. Apparently he had drawn heavily from the wisdom of Manusmriti in this aspect. With a view to gaining the advantage of defence in depth he sowed the seeds of Maratha empire both on the west coast and the east coast of peninsular India. His sons Sambhaji and Rajaram reaped the harvest at a later date when pressed hard by the Mughal emperor of Delhi. Not confronting the enemy when we are weak has been given due display by Swami Dayanand too. He says that when the circumstances are adverse, we should resort to a `tactical retreat’ and disappear from the scene of confrontation with the speed of a hare or a Sasa (that is the word used by the Maharishi).
On gaining sufficient strength a counter attack may be mounted with the prowess and speed of a tiger. The Swami emphasizes the element of thorough preparation well in advance before giving a battle to the enemy. The strategists should strive day after day to build up the defence machinery and the logistics required for it. By quoting the example of the tiger he has taken into account even the occasional failures in achieving the aim. Wildlife observers say that on an average a tiger makes attempts to catch his prey as many as 18 times before making a kill. The underlying idea is to make ceaseless effort. The Sanskrit couplet in this context goes thus:
Udyamen hi sidhyanti karyani, na manorathaih
Na hi suptasya sinhasya pravishanti mukhe mrigah.
It is only through ceaseless efforts that one is able to achieve one’s aim and the aim is never achieved by wishful thinking. The perfect example is that of a tiger who never gets his feed while lazying in his den but has to make a kill.
Dharm or a conduct of righteousness in battle and out of battle has been dwelt at length by the Maharshi in his book referred to before. He says: “Remember your dharm all the time and never fight shy of joining the battle against your enemy. Make use of your intellect in battle in order to achieve victory in the shortest possible time.’’ Dwelling on the same point and drawing once again from the Manusmriti the Swami advises soldiers to have strength of character. Character will hold a soldier in good stead in battle under adverse circumstances. The edifice of determination is built on the foundation of character and it is the dharm which cements your resolve to win. Therefore, fight for your cause with all your heart and never let your resolve to win be weakened. Be a Braveheart always and everytime.
Among many traits of a soldier of good character is a resolve not to go in for loot (plunder) of men and material belonging to the beaten enemy. The Maharshi specifically mentions that the women and children of the defeated enemy should be taken care of and never viewed with a lustrous eye. Perhaps he was dwelling on psychology in war. When the beaten enemy finds its women have been ravished and cultural wealth is being plundered, he resolves to give a last ditch battle again, instead of surrendering. Naturally it results in more bloodshed in a prolonged war. Good grace avoids unnecessary bloodshed. Moreover soldiers who have an eye for women are susceptible to be caught in a trap laid by the enemies’ intelligence department. There are examples galore how many a brilliant officer had his career cut short because he fell for the beauty in a beastly manner. The Satyarth Prakash advises caution on the part of individuals and vigilance on the part of higher echelons of command.
It is a pleasant surprise that the Rishivar in his monumental work, RIGVEDADI BHASHYA BHUMIKA has paid due attention to defence matters.It is well known to straegists of eminence as well as a greenhorn going into battle that Speed is of essence in achieving a victory. Swami Dayanand Saraswati has underlined this major point in the chapter on the construction and utilization of ships and aircraft in war. These means of transport in the air, on ground and at sea will lend speed to operations. The Rishi has added a new dimension to it, SPACE or antariksha. This dimension was unknown to captains of war even in Europe. Dayanand Saraswati takes no credit for it when he says that he is only narrating what the VEDAS already have in their mantras. He also says that a thorough preparation on these counts have to precede a desire for victory. In the present context it is recommended that one must read the chapter, Ath nau Vimanadi Vidya Vishayas Sankshepatah.
Let us put into practice the logical Vedic teachings of Maharishi Swami Dayanand Saraswati on matters military relating to Defence. A nation should always remain prepared for war. The policy makers should know who the prospective enemy is or can be. It is a well known fact that in international relations there are no permanent friends and no permanent enemies. There are only permanent national interests that guide the formation of policies both in peace and war. Therefore, the bottom line once again is pay attention to national defence on a day to day basis, remain prepared for war and talk of peace from a position of strength.
Brigadier Chitranjan Sawant, VSM
NOIDA-201 303 INDIA
Telephone 0091-120-2454511. Mobile 0-9811173590