Spirituality can put an end to India's rioting and lynching

Best way to counter an unruly mob is by creating larger groups of good people.

 |  5-minute read |   14-01-2016
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Last week this site ran an article by me with the headline "(Indians), don't worry about terror! Spirituality will tame it." In less than a week, my spirit of optimism has been severely dented and I am compelled to paraphrase it. "Indians, worry about mob mentality." The only consolation is that spirituality can still tame it!

More on that magic formula later. But the point is a small number of people with destructive mindsets are able to hold the country to ransom and spread a vicious tone of chaos. Then Dadri, and now Malda, we seem to be either getting trapped in a mob mentality or allowing vested interests to take advantage of its obscure mechanics.

A study by the University of Leeds suggests it takes only about five per cent of a crowd to influence the group's direction, with the other 95 per cent following without even realizing what they are doing. By this logic, it takes only about 10,000 people to enact a Malda-like mob of 200,000 people. Simply put, it's not so difficult to mobilise a mob and unleash rioting, looting and violence. The flipside is that only a small miniscule, not the whole population, is responsible for trouble in society.

It's proven the world over that attempts to control mob mentality by force don't help much; they often end up legitimising it. The best way to counter them is to beat them in their own game, by creating bigger mobs of good people!

"Violence and destructive tendencies make noise and news while non-violence happens in silence. The time has come for the non-violent ones to make noise," says renowned spiritual guru Sri Sri Ravi Shankar.

Also read: Why media missed Malda riots but not Dadri lynching

And that's exactly what Sri Sri Ravi Shankar and his Art of Living intend to do by hosting a global festival in Delhi in March. Welcome to the World Culture Festival (WCF). Mark the dates: March 11-13, 2016.

Organised to mark the 35 years of Art of Living's service to humanity, the festival promises to create a huge mob of people who are peaceful, loving and caring and want to make a difference to the planet. Politicians, religious leaders, businesspersons, peacemakers and artists of all hues will come together for the pressing goal of global peace and harmony. They will get a common platform discuss, analyse and reflect on ways of working for society. Like all mobs, they too will have a slogan. "Let's give back to, rather than only take from, the world."

"WCF is not an ordinary festival. It's a rare opportunity for good people to make noise about the goodness in the world," says Gautam Vig, one of the volunteers who is in the thick of planning the grand event. It promises to unite the mind and hearts and kindle people's faith in the human values of compassion and cooperation.

And for those who believe more in the medium than the message, note this. The festival is expected to see a footfall of over 3.5 million people from around the world and all parts of India, making it as the Soccer World Cup in Brazil (3.5 million turnout in 64 matches) and much bigger than the Winter Olympics in Sochi (1.1 million) and ICC Cricket World Cup (one million).

Such a huge gathering of people of different nationality, religion, race, will surely reinforce that we all can coexist with our differences. "With over 3.5 million people expected to congregate, the festival will definitely create ripples of positivity in the world. The vibes of peace coming out a mass meditation will be felt across the globe," adds Sri Sri.

Surely it would be. Even if we apply the five per cent formula, the gathering will positively influence at least 70 million people. And that's the force-multiplier that we badly need. With vested interests exploiting and manipulating the propensity to revolt against perceived inequality or unfairness with impunity, India faces the danger of becoming a mob-driven country. Add to it the governmental system that moves only when there is pressure.

Also read: Comparing Malda with Dadri is terrible for India

It's known that when people assemble because they are emotional and angry about something, it only takes one act of violence to whip them into a fury. Throw in a communal emotion to it, then we have a readymade template for Maldas and Dadris, to be peddled it elsewhere as fallouts of disenchantment or a quest for social change.

What ails India of today is polarisation on the basis of prejudice. It's becoming fashionable to be against or for something. We are losing the freedom to be neutral and see things as they are. Even debate over Jallikattu gets peppered with beef-eating or sacrifice on the Eid. The space for neutrality is shrinking and this is being used to spread paranoia over the "other".

"We need to shed our prejudices against and identification with gender, religion, caste and class. People identify themselves with limited characteristics, forgetting their basic identity as part of the universal spirit. There are good people and bad people in every community, religion and every section of society. Spiritual wisdom alone can educate people to this," says Sri Sri.

That's why my magic formula of spirituality becomes so relevant. Spirituality is the art of seeing things as they are. Usually one gets caught up in one's thoughts and emotions and it is spiritual practises which make one free from prejudice and bondage. That way, I see spirituality as the best antidote to polarisation.

Had the Muslim population been exposed to a multireligious, spiritual education and they understood the essence of omnipotent God for which the Prophet Muhammad fought, the radical elements wouldn't find it so easy to get them on the street to demand death penalty for blasphemy. They would have known that rioting, looting, hurting others and violence is a bigger blasphemy than what the likes of Kamlesh Tiwaris are committing. If that was the case, they wouldn't have been shouting "Gustakh-e-nabi ki sirf ek hi saza, Sar tan se juda."

Also read: How Mamata benefits from Bengal turning a communal hell hole

Writer

M Rajaque Rahman M Rajaque Rahman @rajaque

A former journalist, the author currently facilitates spiritual-based workshops of the Art of Living. His writings focus on adding spiritual aspects to things worldly.

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