We, the people, should take over the reins and end all nepotism and corruption. Let us all build our own Ram Rajya, without involving politicians, who would rather feather their own nests than work for the welfare of the people, says DR SANJAY TEOTIA

Nepotism is the act of using your power or influence to get good jobs or unfair advantages for members of your own family, when they do not deserve it or may not have the right skill, experience or motivation. Nepotism is the bane of society. It goes against all principles of democracy and more specifically the fundamental right of equal opportunities for all. But the question that we should ask is whether nepotism is only a modern day evil? The answer is an emphatic NO! Nepotism existed even in the glorious days of the Ramayana and Mahabharata!

The Mahabharata and Ramayana have many incidents of nepotism. The beauty of these stories is that those facing the evil arrow of nepotism, didn’t let that affect them. Indeed, a lesson for us to learn. In the Mahabharata, Arjuna stood tall and mighty throughout the great saga, despite nepotism. He was placed below Karna, although Arjuna had earned his archery skills with life-long dedication and loyalty to his Guru. But that didn’t bother him and stop him from emerging victorious.

When Duryodhana and Yudhishtira were ready to be kings, Dhritarashta, favouring his son, sent the Pandavas to the town of Varanavata. Despite knowing that Yudhishtira was the rightful heir to the throne of Hastinapur, Dhritarashtra showed nepotism and preferred to hand over the throne to Duryodhana. By choosing Duryodhana as the Prince of Hastinapur despite his inadequacy, Dhritarashtra displayed his streak of nepotism and his attachment to privileges of birth. The epic exquisitely demonstrates the consequences of his actions.

Dr Sanjay Teotia

Bhishma Pitamaha was a legendary character in the Mahabharata. He lived through four generations protecting his clan and family, but failed to convince King Dhritarashtra of the dangers of showing nepotism.

Blind love for relatives in the Mahabharata was responsible for nepotism, but the story favours merit and righteousness and castigates those who favour any type of nepotism or corrupt practices to perpetuate reservations for a position.

The story, itself, centres around Dhritarashtra’s attempts to upstage meritorious claims to the throne by Yudhishtira and instead, focuses on his desire to bend and break the laws to place his son Duryodhana on the throne, instead.

The rishis, acharyas and other knowledgeable persons, who went underground after this episode in the Mahabharata, continued to degenerate into greedy, selfish and biased human beings incapable of providing wisdom and true knowledge. Overall, inefficiency in every field and various tricks to cover these soon followed, leading to the rise of nepotism, favouritism and corruption.

Dhritarashtra turned a blind eye to the various acts of wanton cruelty and plotting by his son, Duryodhana along with Shakuni. His passivity fanned the flames of hatred and bitterness. Instead of reining in his sons, he tacitly goaded his sons to fight the Pandavas. He is blamed by the elder courtiers and even by the virtuous Gandhari, his wife, for his blatant nepotism. Power corrupts people and it was exactly this what happened so many thousands of years ago.

If Indra or Vayu could seduce someone’s wife, the husband had no remedy. He just had to simply put up with it. Very few men like the rishis who had acquired extraordinary powers, could defy them. However, Gautama, the husband of Ahalya did just that. Often people had to bribe the Gods with tapas, yajnas, sacrifices and prayers if they wanted to get on in life without worries.

If God’s ministers and officers could be corrupt, then why not the ministers and officers under earthly governments? No wonder then that throughout the ages, bribery, corruption and nepotism have an ‘honoured’ place in our country, the Punyabhumi.

One of the most defining moments of the Ramayana is when Ram’s father, King Dasharatha, in order to fulfil his promise to Queen Kaikeyi, crowns her son Bharata as the king of Ayodhya and sends Ram to exile in the forest for fourteen long years.

This happens at a time when the whole kingdom was preparing for Ram to be crowned as their new king. This is a great example of nepotism! Manthara, Queen Kaikeyi’s maid is the one who is said to have told the queen that the throne of the maharaja belonged to her son, Bharata and that this could be achieved by banishing her stepson, Rama to exile. Manthara is described as a hunchback, ugly and antagonistic in appearance. In addition, Manthara, is an expert talker and is both cunning and manipulative.

When there are so many incidents of nepotism in ancient India at a time when Gods, rishis and sages interacted with the common man, is it surprising that nepotism is still happening even in modern times? And just like in ancient times, when there was a call for action to amend wrongs, the same should happen even now. So, let us do what is right and lead the way to a just and equitable society.

We, the people, should take over the reins and end all nepotism and corruption. Let us all build our own Ram Rajya, without involving politicians, who would rather feather their own nests than work for the welfare of the people.

(Featured Image: The photo shows Rama and Lakshmana arriving at the rocky terrain near Lake Pampa  in their search for Sita. The photo is from a Mewari manuscript, in the Mewar-Deccan artwork style and is believed to be 2000 years old.)  

Dr Sanjay Teotia is a senior consultant eye surgeon

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