Times Have Changed

Almost a century ago, in 1915, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi returned from South Africa to India.  Some had already started to refer to him as “Mahatma’ because of the work he had done in South Africa.

Since Gandhiji  had lived away from India for many years, he spent the first few months after returning,  travelling and getting to know the situation in India first-hand.

Only after he had fully studied the hardships that the people faced did he embark upon his nationwide campaigns to alleviate poverty, end untouchability,  improve the situation of women and build amity between various communities in society.

Using the instruments of Satyagraha and non-violence, he accelerated India’s march towards Independence.

A few decades earlier,  Swami Vivekananda spent several years, from 1888 to 1893, as a  Parivrâjaka (travelling monk). He travelled all over India, and was appalled to see the impoverished conditions so many lived in.  He realized that due to centuries of oppression,  the lives of the majority of people were  miserable.

He concluded that education was the answer. Education to provide the knowledge which could improve their economic condition.  And education to impart the spiritual knowledge necessary to infuse self-confidence in them.

In order to create an efficient organization of dedicated people to spread these two types of knowledge,  Swamiji established the Ramakrishna Mission.

Still earlier, in the 17th century, Samarth Ramdas Swami devoted himself to studying religious texts and meditation for twelve years. After that he spent twelve years travelling all over the country on foot. He saw that repeated attacks by foreign invaders had made the lives of common citizens miserable.

He describes the situation thus-

माणसा खावया अन्न नाही
अंथरुण पांघरूण तेही नाही
कित्तेक अनाचारी पडली
कित्तेक याती भ्रष्ट जाली
कित्तेक ते आक्रंदली मुलेबाळे ||

After returning to Maharashtra, he established eleven Hanuman temples in Satara district. Alongside these temples Vyayamshalas (gymnasiums) were started as well. Samarth Ramdas Swami believed that a strong body was as necessary  as a mind steeped in spirituality.

Thus he began the task of transforming a timid and weak society into a strong one, capable of fighting against the oppressors.


Times have changed. The mentality of people has changed.

Values have changed.

Our vision has become myopic. Few so-called leaders of society can see beyond the next elections.

Observing society? – A waste of time!

Solutions to problems the people face? – There are no problems that some freebies will not solve!

Just distribute free laptops to all school-going children. Problem of education solved!

Unemployment problem? – What is the NREGA scheme for? Far easier than creating opportunities in industry and other productive sectors!

Corruption in implementation of government policies?-  Simple, blame everything on the earlier government!  After all, every government only executes the policy decisions of the earlier one.

What would the exceptional personalities of  India Past think, I wonder, if they could see the India of the Present?

They would be thankful they’re not living in the present time, I suppose!




  1. Those were wonderful examples and I keep marveling afresh at our felicity with which you weave the points you want to make, around them. While our great leaders would be thankful for not living in these times, what wouldn’t we give to have them here with us and guide us in these times of moral bankruptcy!


    1. Thank you!

      Oh yes, how true that that we would wish for such leaders as Mahatma Gandhi or Swami Vivekananda to guide us today. Perhaps our country will be fortunate enough to see the rise of such inspiring leadership in the days to come.


    1. Yes, certainly the values of society have changed- become more selfish in many ways.

      I think it is the responsibility of parents, teachers, as well as influential persons in society to ensure that children grow up with a sense of social responsibility.


  2. So true. The so called schemes which are only for a vote bank are as you rightly point out ‘myopic’. What the root of the problem is never examined and therefore no far reaching solutions are ever worked out by our selfish politicians. The poor unfortunately are taken in by these gifts. But I am hoping it will change one day… but will we see it in our lifetime?


    1. Judging by recent events, people, particularly youngsters seem to be in the mood for change. Many participated in the recent anti-corruption movements.

      Here’s hoping that things will change for the better- and in our lifetime. 🙂


  3. I don’t think this myopic attitude will change so soon, Manju! Tamilnadu started throwing freebies to woo voters and other states are following.

    Ex-CM of Tamilnadu, who was educated only upto 5th std. opened elementary schools in a number of villages in Tamilnadu and he was the one who started the mid-day meal scheme, so that at least for having the food, children would come to school. I don’t think we will ever have CM/politicians who will really care for the children of their states. Children are the ones who are affected by these freebie system. Anything which comes free of cost hasn’t got value. Instead, the govt. should create some jobs or encourage small scale industries with bank loans.

    I always love the way you come to the main point, step by step with many examples, Manju. Beautiful.

    I am a R.K.M. student and proud of it.


    1. You attended a Ram Krishna Mission school? I have heard people speak very highly of RKM educational institutions.

      So true, Sandhya, that anything free of cost doesn’t have value. When will our politicians understand this?


  4. Few so-called leaders of society can see beyond the next elections.

    nd yet these leaders dare to evoke the name of those whom you mentioned in your blog and the voters continue to listen to them. The voters are myopic too!


  5. Dang, you’re good. I wish I could say that my deconversion was that rational and easy. Looking back, I think I always knew it was all horseshit, but I wanted it to work. I wanted it to be true. What tipped the scale was when it became more important to be honest than to believe. Thanks for another thuopht-grovoking piece.


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