“Therefore get up and prepare to fight. After conquering your enemies you will enjoy a flourishing kingdom. They are already put to death by My arrangement, and you, O Savyasachin, can be but an instrument in the fight.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 11.33)
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तस्मात् त्वम् उत्तिष्ठ यशो लभस्व
जित्वा शत्रून् भुङ्क्ष्व राज्यं समृद्धम्
मयैवैते निहताः पूर्वम् एव
निमित्त-मात्रं भव सव्य-साचिन्
tasmāt tvam uttiṣṭha yaśo labhasva
jitvā śatrūn bhuṅkṣva rājyaṁ samṛddham
mayaivaite nihatāḥ pūrvam eva
nimitta-mātraṁ bhava savya-sācin
His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada often mockingly refers to the system of democracy as “demon-crazy.” A preposterous scheme to allow any person, whether qualified or not, whether highly educated or without any intelligence, with awareness of the issues of the day or no familiarity with even basic policy positions, to vote for leaders of the community, the state, and the nation.
In the vox populi system success is determined by the ability to sway public opinion. It may be universally agreed upon that stealing is wrong. You shouldn’t take what doesn’t belong to you. You shouldn’t imprison the innocent. You shouldn’t sell out the nation in order to line your pockets, being paid off by foreign countries.
Yet if you can sway public opinion, by obfuscating the facts, by misdirection in words, by purchasing false and misleading advertisements for the radio and television airwaves, then you can win a seat of power. Success moving forward is simply garnering the same public support, whether your policies are right or wrong.
In this light we can look back to the situation of the great Bharata War, which is described in detail in the Sanskrit text known as Mahabharata. If the modern-day political campaign was in full force, the Kauravas could have employed several smears against the good guys, the Pandavas, in order to remain in power.
1. The Pandavas want to steal land
“Just look at these guys. They can’t be happy with what they have. They want to take what doesn’t belong to them. The entire kingdom of Hastinapura. What nerve! How dare they demand this much? This is the land of our ancestors. They have sullied the great name of our family.”
2. The Pandavas are going against respected members of the family.
“Bhishmadeva is on our side. No one is more respected than him. The Pandavas are traitors to the nation. They are righteously indignant against the supposed crimes that we have committed, but no one is supporting. They would be laughed out of a courtroom, with their crazy conspiracy theories.
“No, we did not set fire to their house. We did not feed a poison cake to Bhishma. That claim about Draupadi being disrobed in public has been widely debunked. Without evidence they say that we are the criminals, when in fact no one believes their lies.”
3. The Pandavas are aligned with Krishna
“They say you can judge a person by their friends. With whom do they associate? Who can vouch for their integrity? With the Pandavas, their best friend is Krishna. This person has the lowest character. We don’t know whether He is a kshatriya or a vaishya. He danced with young, married women in the forests of Vrindavana. He used to tend to cows, and now He is supposedly an authority on morality, on how to rule a kingdom? Please! His endorsement is a negative strike against the Pandavas.”
4. The Pandavas aren’t even good at dice
“They claim we cheated. They say the game was not fair. Hey, nobody forced Yudhishthira to participate. Nobody made him agree to the terms of the wager. They are just sore losers. Don’t blame us that they got sent to the forest for many years. They lost, fair and square. They can’t even win at dice, so how could you expect them to deal with foreign adversaries while ruling a kingdom?”
5. The Pandavas are greedy
“We refuse to give them even an inch of land. We are justified in this position, as the Pandavas are greedy. That is not a saintly quality. Though they stand up with their false pride, just see how low in character they are. If we give them the kingdom of Hastinapura, that will not be enough. They will demand more. These rascals should be dealt with swiftly, with the proper punishment.”
Thankfully, there were no such elections during that time. The Pandavas finally took to the battlefield to settle the differences. They were on the right side. Their success was assured, since they were devotees of the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
By Krishna’s will everyone was already put to death. Arjuna simply had to act as the instrument. Receive the credit for the victory, powered by the all-potent one, who was carefully steering the chariot while also guiding the leading warrior from within.
Obfuscating truth otherwise clear,
Political campaigns employing the smear.
Since public opinion deciding,
Not actual justice presiding.
So even on Pandavas cloud of taint,
As greedy sinners could paint.
But Supreme Lord intervening then,
Success determined battlefield when.
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