Debating India


When sacrifice makes a lot of sense

Wednesday 19 May 2004

NEW DELHI: "I was angry and resentful towards a system which, as I saw it, demanded him (Rajiv Gandhi) as a sacrificial lamb... He was going to be sworn in as PM. I begged him not to let them do this. I pleaded with him, with others around him, too. He held my hands, hugged me, tried to soothe my desperation."

As she drove to Rashtrapati Bhavan, did those fateful moments of October 31 (the day Indira Gandhi died) - described in her book, Rajiv - flash through Sonia Gandhi’s mind?

Or did they trouble her children, Rahul and Priyanka? Veteran Marxist leader Somnath Chatterjee hinted as much, when he told the media that Sonia’s children feared for her safety.

Whatever her reasons, Sonia Gandhi is hardly the first person to turn down a position of authority.

Indian scriptures say there are three kinds of diseases: aadi, vyaadhi and upadhi (physical, mental and those that accompany titles).

The message is clear: avoid the anguish and trauma that comes with office. The entire concluding chapter of the Bhagavad Gita is devoted to the importance of renunciation.

Not surprisingly, renunciation is a much-heralded virtue in Indian heroes, mythological and historical, from Rama refusing to revolt against his father, despite a guilt-ridden Dashratha urging him to do so, and going into exile for 14 years to Mauryan emperor Chandragupta becoming a Jain monk.

See online : The Times of India


in The Times of India, Wednesday, May 19, 2004.

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