Politics needs intellectuals

Politics needs intellectuals

By DAVINDER P.S. SANDHU | 18 June, 2016

During his travels in the Himalayas, Guru Nanak Dev, has a dialogue with a group of spiritual adepts, the sidhas, The dialogue, titled Sidha Gosht, is documented in Sri Guru Granth Sahib. A simple version is also found in the writings of Bhai Gurdas, who was born in 1551 in Goindwal, a small village in the Punjab. Bhai Gurdas travelled to Varanasi where he studied Sanskrit and vedic scriptures, and also wrote in Brajbhasha, Persian, and Punjabi. His works in Punjabi are collectively called Varan Bhai Gurdas, and are known as the key to an understanding of Sri Guru Granth Sahib.

Varan Bhai Gurdas mentions the Sidhas asking:

O Nanak! What is the state of society in the mother land?

Guru Nanak Dev replies with an equally pertinent question:

O respected Sidha, truth has become dim like the moon and falsehood is like deep darkness

Society is stricken with unfair practices, and supporters of such practices, and the people want relief

In these difficult circumstances, the Sidhas, the adepts, have taken refuge in the mountains, and criticise society from their high perch,

How then can the motherland ever get redeemed?

There is a lesson here. It has become a fashionable norm for thinkers and intellectuals to disdain political leadership of the day. Politics is frequently attacked at intellectual gatherings, as being a vocation below the dignity of great thinkers, and they would rather remain away in their ivory towers. This is surely a recipe for disaster, for if right thinkers withdraw, intellectual and moral compass is lost, and societal decline can be the only result.

In the Indian spiritual tradition, King Janak is revered as a principled ruler, and an enlightened person. Bhai Gurdas mentions:

The best Saint is King Janak, for he ruled well, without being attached to any trappings.


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