HAPPY INDEPENDENCE DAY!
“Freedom is my birthright,” said Bal Gangadhar Tilak. This four worded declaration compacts within itself an immense vastness of human social, moral, political, and spiritual experience. The Hindi word that Tilak actually used for “freedom” was swaraj, which means “self-rule”. On the occasion of our 66th Independence Day Celebrations, Tilak’s statement is very much worth meditating upon.
1. To be free means to not be ruled by any power external to us. The very essence of freedom lies in the fact that man is born free. He is never born a slave to anyone. The fact that there are situations in which external powers try to subdue and destroy the freedom of a human being doesn’t mean that they have truly taken away his/her freedom. “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent,” said Eleanor Roosevelt. Mahatma Gandhi said, “The moment the slave resolves that he will no longer be a slave, his fetters fall. Freedom and slavery are mental states.” The Austrian psychologist Viktor Frankl said, “Forces beyond control can take away everything you possess except one thing, your freedom to choose how you will respond to the situation.” Jesus taught us not to fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. Many of our Freedom Fighters gave their lives to set this nation free. The world killed their bodies, but it couldn’t kill their freedom. Despite the fact that we are born into various situations, the fact remains that God has created us free. Tilak didn’t stop by saying just “Freedom is my birthright;” he finished the statement by saying, “and I shall have it.” The second part of the statement speaks trillions. Freedom is a responsibility to have and live.
2. To be free means to not be ruled by any self-destructive power within us. Mahatma Gandhi proclaimed the power of Satyagraha, “holding on to truth”. He firmly believe in the power of truth as absolutely triumphant (“Satya Meva Jayate”). Today, India is involved in a great war within. There are carnal lusts that wage war against the very soul of the nation (cf. 1Peter 2:11). We are battling with corruption within that, like a disease, is bent on destroying us not just physically but spiritually as a nation. This bondage is greater than any other bondage ever. When the breaks of a nation fail, and its running downhill, destruction is the only portent ahead. But, God gives us hope as a nation; for the Bible says, “Blessed are the meek in heart for they shall inherit the earth.” To be meek doesn’t mean to be weak. To be meek means simply to have one’s strength in control by wisdom and knowledge. Satyagraha is a philosophy of freedom by meekness. It is not a way of violence, but of true liberty of the spirit. John Dalberg-Acton once said, “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” The way of violent authority is a destructive path. It creates the environment of subjection by terror. Meekness is the virtue of the True Teacher; the embodiment of Truth, “holding on to truth.” We wont be destroyed. The corruption is not something out of control. God is not out of control. It is we who will decide the fate of corruption in this nation; and not corruption that will decide the fate of us as a nation.
God Bless India!
Happy Independence Day again!