A traveler, Muslim by faith, passing through a predominantly Hindu village, pleaded for shelter to a peasant of moderate affluence. The peasant was aware of the difference in their faiths, he knew that stranger standing before him was a beef-eater, one who called him a kaafir and prayed to his Allah. But he also saw a hungry man; he could relate to his tiredness as someone who has plowed his own fields, the traveler’s weariness was no stranger to him as one who was at the mercy of agents beyond his influence, factors beyond his control. The drooping beard, the disheveled hair and the pangs of hunger on his sweaty face appealed to the human in him. In his heart of hearts, he wanted to help this man. But he was hesitant. So, he decided to consult the priest of the village, a shrewd and learned Brahmin. The Brahmin scoffed at the idea of him helping a musalman and threatened him with dire consequences if he did so. He used his learning and eloquence to explain what a grave sin he was going to commit. He reasoned with the peasant, whether he actually wanted to give shelter to a cow-killer? The Brahmin smiled, inwardly, when the peasant left with a squarer jaw and a flinty look in his eyes. The Mohammedan was given the boot, no surprises there. The Hindu was saved from desecrating his dharma. He was happy, even proud, of his actions, considering it a step closer to Heaven.
Now, why did the Brahmin inspire the peasant in such a way? It was not because he actually believed in what he preached. Oh No! He was well versed in his shastras, he was aware of his first and foremost duty as a human, as a member of the family this World is. Vasudeva kutumbam was what his sacred texts had taught him. Had he been in a similar pickle, he would have actually cooked for the poor traveler, as he knew that, Atithi Devo Bhava. He had no objection to his being a Muslim, for he truly believed in Sarva Dharma Sambhava. But his knowledge did not deter him from doing what he did. Because it did not help him. The good will that the peasant would have earned was of no use to him. The control he had over the peasant, and his kind, was more important and beneficial to him. If the peasant somehow came to know, that his natural instincts and his common sense kept him on the morally and ethically right path, that he did not need the Brahmin’s wisdom, for what Life taught him was through its myriad ways was enough for him to live with his head held high, that he could reject the Brahmin’s wisdom if it did not appear wise to him; the Brahmin would lose the power he wielded over him, and subsequently the others. In an indirect fashion, the priest also influenced the Muslim’s lives, by ensuring that he was not sheltered. His one word could have been the difference between life and death for the traveler. Power was the most sinful delicacy the Brahmin had ever tasted.
But he forgot, that the power he acquired through gaining the good will of such Hindu peasants and Muslim travelers was purer, whiter and not easy to vanquish, as compared to what he wielded through control, deception and obfuscation. The surrender of the peasant and traveler to his will may or may not be a natural result, unwilling and half-hearted, but the good will of a fellow man cannot be forced out of him.
We all condemn Divide-and-Rule, but we all indulge in it, I think, if not consciously, then sub or un consciously. We all have been the Brahmin, the Peasant or the Muslim once.
The Brahmin could have been a Mullah,a Padri and the traveler a Hindu or a Sikh. It would all be the same. Humanity is so hell bent bickering , waging wars against each other , fellow species and Mother Nature , that it forgets why we are humans in the first place . An intelligent life form must have a higher purpose other than mere existence , at least not the way we exist now . Is it too much to expect this from Gaya's most intelligent child , to live with all the possible imperfections , but in a way which ensures that life itself is not threatened ?
Creative Disclaimer - No disrespect or mal intent intended towards Muslims , Non Brahmin Hindu peasants or Brahmins , in general . It is just a story , please treat it like one .