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What does Freedom mean? We are gathered on this Monday, 15 August 2016 to celebrate the political freedom India earned from the British Empire. What does this notion of political freedom mean to the present generation of Indian citizens? The scars of the freedom movement and the partition that came after the attainment of the epic resolution are no longer the priority for the younger minds. As a teacher, over the six years that I spent with the young Indian citizen infused me with an understanding that underscores the indifference they experience towards the colonial past. I mean, all of it is a good story. Having physical and close-psychological encounter with the colonial rule is the only way to experience that fact as such. No representation, verbal, visual or auditory is enough to put the person through whatever transpired in those two hundred years of slavery. In fact, in India, slavery under colonial rule must be differently defined, since slavery has been in existence in various forms and manners throughout the centuries.
For the younger generation of this great nation, freedom and independence are words that should be redefined. A mere political interpretation would not help at this stage when, at least a minority is attempting to threaten humanitarian values to attain their own version of political correctness. Freedom should make a meaningful place in their heart and spirit. Only a spiritualization of life would matter at this stage when vigorous politicization has failed miserably.
Freedom must be looked at with a spiritual looking glass. Are you free from hatred? Are free from fear? Freedom may mean the freedom to love your enemy, freedom to be free in the face of the most dreaded adversary. But such freedom comes with a price. The price is to learn, to acquire wisdom through learning the tradition. There were many who came before us; who among the face of great danger and adversity, showed us that spiritual truth could bless us with treasures more than any material could offer. One of my gurus, Dr. Wayne W Dyer registers this notion thus in his book, You’ll See It When You Believe It: “we are spiritual beings having a human experience.”
It is to this spiritual source that I suggest we should channel our younger generation to. The body is always limited, but the spirit is innately eternal and limitless. When freedom and independence are only notions celebrating a relativity of political events—one in which the people of this great nation were enslaved by the British, and the other in which the people are enslaved by their own elected leaders—any thinking individual would lose his or her sense of relevance. Unlike any other animal on planet earth, humans are wired to experience and long for freedom and independence. Independence and self-reliance are stages top on the psychological evolution.
In order to take the younger minds into the arduous task of nation-building, it is important to inspire them with ideals as well as ideas. Politicization of social life and its aftermath—mass corruption—have lead many to lose hope in the very notion of nationality itself.
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Important deed is to bring the young ones closer to the path of service. Serving the nation can indicate serving the people of this nation and the values that we stand for as one nation. This, one could expect these young men and women to ooze out only if they are given a sense of meaning and concrete purpose to perform so. This could be achieved not through the abstract act of politicizing memories with political archetypes. For the young mind, these are abstract notions that, perhaps, their grandparents went through at a distant time.
It’s important to make them patriots, but with a renewed sense of purpose. It is not jingoism but a sense of spiritual reward, sought by the rishis and great men of wisdom of this ancient land that could bring our new generation together in the task of nation building.