Management Lessons from Migration of Yadu Community to Dwārkā and Contemporary Labour Migration During COVID-19 (Part-III)

(Continued from Part-II)

Brig JS Rajpurohit, Ph.D.

Introduction

Dvāpara era of four-fold cyclical theory of Socio-political and religious change observed in the ancient Indian history, mass exodus from Mathura to Dwārkā is an exemplary case of management of human resource and disciplined crowd. The then elite section of society not only denoted but connoted Śri Kṛśṇa with the derogatory word, “Ranchod” (who flees from battle Jarāsandha, the king of Magadha wanted to take revenge from Śri Kṛśṇa for, he has killed his son-in-law, Kansa.

He had attacked Mathura seventeen times and had damaged the city, mired growth, hampered normal peace, civic life and progress. Jarāsandha was defeated by Lord Kṛśṇa in all the seventeen attacks. In his eighteenth attack, Jarāsandha made alliances with friendly forces to exterminate Yadu community. Realizing the gravity of situation, Śri Kṛśṇa acted wisely and decided to migrate majority of inhabitants from Mathura to Dwārkā.

This was the straw that broke camel’s back and forced Lord Kṛśṇa to take immediate action for survival of his clan or be prepared to suffer major losses. Lord Kṛśṇa took a bold decision and migrated Yadu community to Dwārkā. He had no time to plan the migration and was forced to migrate with almost no preparatory time. It would have taken him over a month (considering distance and resources available) a long time to reach Dwārkā but he had organized the migration with a fore thought, detailed planning and meticulous execution.

Management of people, animals and bullock carts all along 800 miles was a grand feat in those days, and has a number of lessons for us to follow, especially in times of COVID-19 crisis when labour migration became a major management issue. Migration of labor from a number of states back to their native villages was an unprecedented move that Indian government was unprepared for and actions taken by the government have lessons from ancient Indian migration organized by Lord Kṛśṇa.

Some questions arise in the present context; What forced Kṛśṇa to migrate? Why did he select Dwārkā only and not any other city? How did he organize the migration? Time taken and overcoming major turbulence due to migration? Could the contemporary migration of labour have been better organized than what was witnessed and our lessons from Lord Kṛśṇa?

Migration Lessons from Study of Contemporary Migration with the One Organized by Lord Kṛśṇa

Reasons to Migrate

Primary reason was fear of King Jarāsandha attacking Mathura in alliance with Kala Yavana (the Mlecchha king), Emperor Damghosha of Chedi, king Dantavakra of Karusa, Rukmi of Vidarbha and Avnti brothers Vind and Anuvinda. The main aim of Jarāsandha was to completely destroy Mathura and kill Kṛśṇa and Balrām. Jarāsandha had offered to Yadavas to hand over both brothers Kṛśṇa and Balrām to him failing which he would destroy Mathura. Kṛśṇa sought help of Hastināpur but they also expressed inability to help, and hence, Kṛśṇa was left with no choice. In contemporary issue of migration of labour,

the fear of death and destruction was very strong; death either by COVID-19 or by hunger; as there was complete lockdown in the country and with no job, survival was difficult. Decision was to migrate with families and children added to misery of migrants. There was no transport and hence journey was on foot, cycle or rikshaws. Time and distance from Delhi (taken as one central location) was almost 1300 kilometres (800 miles) that Kṛśṇa moved. Though Kṛśṇa, being avatar of Lord Viśṇu, could have killed Jarāsandha but spared him to be later killed by Bhīma, a devotee of Lord Viśṇu.

Selection of Dwārkā as destination

Primary reason was to move to a safe place where Jarāsandha would not be able to reach. Northern and central Bharat was within reach of Jarāsandha, the Magadh emperor, and hence were vulnerable. South was a suitable area; Gomantaka mountain and king of Raivata of Ikṣavāku Vamsa were strong obstacles for Jarāsandha as compared to northern region. Sea on the west coast was invincible by Jarāsandha and hence Kṛśṇa planned to migrate to Kaushasthali which he later named as Dwārkā (Dwār meaning gate and kā meaning mokṣa i.e. gateway to mokṣa).

In present scenario, migrating labour moved from states like Maharashtra, Gujrat, Punjab, Delhi and others to their native places in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal, Assam, etc. Last census by the government was conducted in 2011 that shows an existing and known pattern of migration within India that people undertake in search of jobs. But this was an unexpected and unique reverse migration due to unprecedented pandemic that created panic among labour and

temporary social instability in India. Timely assessment of situation and planning of movement could have prevented the circumstances becoming serious and masses moving on the streets. The state governments like UP and Bihar became active and started sending buses for their respective labour that the centre and Delhi governments also started helping. The situation took political, economic and social complex web and took longer to settle.

The migration plans

Lord Kṛśṇa had to migrate over night against will of Balrām, king Agrasen and many others. They all were ready to fight Jarāsandha and even prepared to die. But that was not acceptable to Kṛśṇa. He preferred his clan to migrate and survive. The move was majority on foot and in bullock carts. Mythology also says that Lord Kṛśṇa prayed and Bhu devī moved them overnight in their sleep to Kaushalsthali to which the author has reservations as it appears more of philosophical construct about the migration. Move of ladies, children and animals would have been slow, difficult and torturous. Kṛśṇa organized their stay enroute in Gomanatak mountains and with Raivata king. To that end, he even accepted marriage of princess Revati daughter of King Raivata with Balrām.

Resource management and controlling movement of the clan with the help of friendly kings ensured safety and well-being of his people. A contemporary analysis of labour migration during pandemic suggests that this movement was sudden and possibly administration was taken aback and had no plans in place at the outset for labour migrating from west to east. It was a graduated response

from government officials and plans were implemented as per the developing situation. Trains like Shramjivi Express were pressed into service much later. The dilemma of letting them migrate or stop all movements itself was not clear. Adhoc administrative arrangements were made by various districts’ administration, Non-government Organisations, and local people between Delhi and Lucknow and beyond to Patna.

Leadership

The leadership during the migration of Yādavas was well defined; Lord Kṛśṇa was in charge and he along with his brother Balrām orchestrated entire journey. Kṛśṇa had his share of social, physical, economic threats before, during and post migration which he tackled through flexibility of thought and decisive in action. In contemporary migration of labour, there were number of leaders in the fray, each one with personal, social and national goals. Though the common aim was safety of the migrants but whether they should move or stay in respective locations itself was a major decision dilemma.

Meanwhile, the labour continued to travel, which posed leadership challenges at both state and centre level. Despite a sincere leader like Mr Narendra Modi being at the helm of affairs, the situation got out of control. The realization dawned much later when integrated and collective decisions were taken to use public transport for movement of the migrants. The democratic challenges could have been overcome if, civil administration had adapted a flexible style of collaborative leadership style. May be some political leaders could have risen to visionary and servant leadership levels, the situation would have been different.

Conclusion

The two cases of migration are far different in time zones, yuga zones, technology and almost in every other sense; some readers may even find it comparing apples with oranges, the fact still remains that people migrated and they suffered the agony of leadership crises and consequent physical, economic and psycho- socio predicaments. The datum shows that a huge number of men and women was humiliated, they became outcastes within their own nation. Empathy and physical support were

so much more needed during migration as compared to any other time in recent history. When the well to-do people in the society needed them, they enjoyed their at services but when that need was temporarily ended due to COVID-19; we did not look after them and they were forced to migrate back to their villages and towns. Once the realization dawned that these very people are the working force of India; measures were put in place to help them out. Gradually the situation eased out.

We needed a Kṛśṇa in present crisis who could have reduced their agony, if not fully overcome.

We have a charismatic leader who can impact the situation in future

Brig JS Rajpurohit, Ph.D. Group Commander, Group HQ NCC, Gorakhpur (UP)

“Tamaso Mā Jyotirgamaya”- Finding a Guru in Modern Times

– Dr. Aparna (Dhir) Khandelwal and Prof. Bal Ram Singh

Knowledge is a supreme reality that is not limited to experience, education, reasoning and practice. It is an awareness, or understanding of facts that helps in awakening the intellect of a person for making one wise, and use that wisdom (बुद्धि) to pursue naturally the purpose of life through चित्त, अहंकार (अस्तित्व), and महत (the supreme mind) according to the Sankhya Darśan. The mahat concept is the gateway to understanding the brahm (ब्रह्म), the ultimate seat of the knowledge. Thus, a journey of this kind requires training, practice, guidance, and ultimately the sākśātkār (साक्षात्कार) or darśan. An important individual who effectively guides in this journey is known as ‘Guru’. Since Vedic era the word ‘Guru’ is well recognised in various texts like Muṇdaka Upaniṣad (1.2.12), Śvetāśvetara Upaniṣad and Advayatāraka Upaniṣad.

Literally, ‘Guru’ word is constructed from two Sanskrit words, gu (गु) and ru (रु), gu (गु) means dark, ignorance, superficial, confusion, etc., depending on the context, and ru (रु) means to break, to remove, to end, deeper/heavier, or enlighten. Guru-Gītā, a Hindu scripture (Guru Gītā is a spiritual text originally constructed by Sage Vyasa, and narrated again in  the Sakanda Purāṇa where the nature of the guru and the guru/disciple relationship is described in the form of a dialogue between Śiva and Pārvatī). Śiva narrated the etymological derivation of the word ‘guru’ that is based on the syllables gu (गु) and ru (रु), and their meanings in different contexts. According to Wikipedia, there are different versions of Guru-Gita ranging in verses from 100 to 400. According to a Guru-Gita following verses are directly defining the term Guru. It is interesting to note that the primary meaning of the gu (गु) as dark and ru (रु) as the remover is retained to describe the concepts of the ślokas. –

गुकारश्चान्धकारो हि रुकारस्तेज उच्यते |

अज्ञानग्रासकं ब्रह्म गुरुरेव न संशयः||33||

‘गु’ शब्द का अर्थ है अंधकार (अज्ञान) और ‘रु’ शब्द का अर्थ है प्रकाश (ज्ञान) | अज्ञान को नष्ट करने वाला जो ब्रह्मरूप प्रकाश है, वह गुरु है | इसमें कोई संशय नहीं है |

 In this translation the physical reality of dark is removed by the physical element of light, and that is then metaphorically used to indicate that the guru removes the ignorance by eating it away (grāsakam), means destroying it permanently.

गुकारश्चान्धकारस्तु रुकारस्तन्निरोधकृत् | 

अन्धकारविनाशित्वात् गुरुरित्यभिधीयते ||34||

‘गु’ कार अंधकार है और उसको दूर करनेवाल ‘रु’ कार है | अज्ञानरूपी अन्धकार को नष्ट करने के कारण ही गुरु कहलाते हैं |

Here the guru is presented as someone who does not allow the darkness to continue, in other words the guru destroys it. Implications are here that the guru is a dynamic personality who can spot, assess, and prevent the ignorance from continuing.

गुकारः प्रथमो वर्णो मायादि गुणभासकः |

रुकारोऽस्ति परं ब्रह्म मायाभ्रान्तिविमोचकम् ||36||

‘गुरु’ शब्द का प्रथम अक्षर ‘गु’ माया आदि गुणों का प्रकाशक है और दूसरा अक्षर ‘रु’ माया की भ्रान्ति से मुक्ति देनेवाला परब्रह्म है |

Here guru is projected as someone who removes confusion from the illusionary māyā. Two points worth noting are (1) gu (गु) here is presented as the promoter of illusion by highlighting its qualities or features; and (2) ru (रु) means not just a remover of the confusion from this illusion but doing this from the perspective of the parbrahm (परब्रह्म), meaning after attaining that status.

Thus, a guru is a very dynamic personality who can provide guidance to his/her disciple (शिष्य) under a variety of natural and artificial (illusionary) conditions of activities to develop wisdom and vivek in the pursuits of the ultimate goals of life.  

The attributes of guru have to be such that such a dynamism in developing the disciple is readily feasible. Some of those attributes are described under stanzas on ‘आचार्यलक्षणम्’ in Śukla Yajurveda’s Advayatāraka Upaniṣad (an ancient Sanskrit text on Yoga), as outlined below.

आचार्यो वेदसम्पन्नो विष्णुभक्तो विमत्सरः ।

योगज्ञो योगनिष्ठश्च सदा योगात्मकः शुचिः ॥14॥

A truly competent teacher is, armed with Vedic knowledge, a devotee of Viśṇu to mean that the guru has full knowledge of the causal world, free from envy/jealousy through the knowledge, devotion, and practice of yoga. This is important for a guru so that there is no envy with the disciple, providing total devotion to the guidance of the of the disciple.

गुरुभक्तिसमायुक्तः पुरुष्ज्ञो विशेषतः ।

एवं लक्षणसम्पन्नो गुरुरित्यभिधीयते ॥15॥

He should be devoted to his own guru, meaning continues to remain a śiṣya in practice, thus being able to develop the camaraderie with his own disciple, is particularly well versed with the knowledge of puruśa and prakriti, the source and expressive powers of the universe, He who possesses various types of  such virtues is designated as a guru.

गुशब्दस्त्वन्धकारः स्यात् रुशब्दस्तन्निरोधकः ।

अन्धकारनिरोधित्वात् गुरुरित्यभिधीयते ॥16॥

The syllable gu (signifies) darkness. The syllable ru (signifies) the destroyer of the darkness. By the reason of the ability to destroy darkness he is called a guru.

गुरुरेव परं ब्रह्म गुरुरेव परा गतिः ।

गुरुरेव परा विद्या गुरुरेव परायणं ॥17॥

The guru alone is the supreme absolute brahm. Guru alone is the supreme way. Guru alone is the master of parā (as opposed to only aparāvidyā. Guru alone is the supreme and last resort.

गुरुरेव परा काष्ठा गुरुरेव परं धनं ।

यस्मात्तदुपदेष्टाऽसौ तस्माद्गुरुतरो गुरुरिति ॥18॥

The guru alone is the limit of all knowledge. The guru alone is the ultimate wealth. He is the teacher of the non-dual reality. Therefore, he is the ultimate guru.

The tradition of spiritual relationship and mentoring, where teachings are transmitted from a guru to a disciple, is known as guruśiṣya paramparā. This guruśiṣya relationship has evolved in Indian tradition since Upaniṣad era where guru and śiṣya developed resonance of thoughts and then guru transmits his knowledge to the person who respectfully sits down near him with śraddhā, in the quest for knowledge. A guruśiṣya relationship are beyond age, gender, and battlefield, as the guru can be Yama to a teenage boy Naciketā, lord Kṛśṇa to warrier Arjuna, or sage Yājñavalkya to his own wife (Gārgī / Maitreyī).

The concept of guru and Guru Purṇimā is quite old, the oldest being celebrated as the birthday of Ved Vyāsa, on the day of Aṣāḍa Purṇimā. The latest revival of Guru Purṇimā festival was done by Mahatma Gandhi in honor of his spiritual guru, Rajchandra. In its true tradition a guru does not expect anything in return from a śiṣya, and performs the imparting of knowledge as a karmayoga.  

With time, people started observing guru as a mentor, counsellor, advisor, who inculcates values in his disciples by sharing knowledge and his own experiences, and who cares about the wellbeing of his disciples. A guru, however, in its true tradition will dedicate his/her life caring about disciples spiritually, and educating them in accordance with their nature. Thus, he is an inspirational source for the spiritual evolution of the disciple. The tradition of guru runs deep in India. The entire Sikhism concept is laid down based on the the teachings of Guru. Its main scripture is called Guru Granth Sahib and the words therein called Gurbaṇī.

In present society too, we have come across many such gurus. Like Sri Ramakrishna Paramahansa, Swami Vivekānanda, Swami Dayānanda Saraswatī, His Holiness Dalai Lama for Buddhism, ISKCON founder A. C. Bhakti Vedanta Swami Prabhupada for Bhakti Yoga, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar for Art of living, Radha Swami, Swami Rāmdev Bābā for Yoga, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi for Spirituality, and many others in such tradition. Their disciples usually refer to them as Gurudev! These spiritual leaders are kind of role models and sometimes preferred by people as an alternative to established religions to know more about divinity.

In olden days, the school or pāṭhśālā ran by guru was known as gurukula, later on in modern times they are called as āśrama, although the gurukula system of education is still in practice. Both of these are residential places of learning, without requiring any fees. Guru treats disciples or followers as part of their own family. In gurukula, students received complete knowledge of Vedic scriptures, philosophical-spiritual-medicinal-political, etc. along with various art forms, whereas in āśrama followers received spiritual preaching from their guru. Ultimately these are concentrated on such education that helps in revealing the purpose of life. While pursuing teaching or preaching, guru focuses on self-discipline among learners that result in inner perfection leading to liberation in the form of mokṣa.

Guruśiṣya tradition superficially still is observed in modern educational institutions, at least in traditional ones, where students in general pay respect to their teachers on occasions of Guru Purṇimā. Sometimes these occasions are observed in United States by Hindu groups, such as Vishwa Hindu Parishad America, and American teachers really appreciate such a devotion. The devotion to teachers, no matter where they are, is always beneficial to students, as śraddhā is critical for earning knowledge.

श्रद्धावान् लभते ज्ञानं तत्पर: संयतेन्द्रिय: |

ज्ञानं लब्ध्वा परां शान्तिमचिरेणाधिगच्छति || Bhagvadgita 4.39||

Those who are devoted and who are ready willing to control their mind and senses attain knowledge. Through such knowledge, they quickly attain everlasting supreme peace.

Thus, in Indian tradition the position of Guru is more or less same as Deva, the lord. One should be devoted to his Guru just like he is devoted to his Deva.  

यस्य देवे परा भक्तिः यथा देवे तथा गुरौ । Śvetāśvetara Upaniṣad 6.23

Will this system ever return, is it the right time for its return, can this system adapt to the modern time, can it compete with modern educational system, and will it be allowed in a time when education itself has become an over $6 trillion business? Only time will tell, but one thing is clear with forced adaptation during the Corona time, that the bluff of traditional system of institutional classroom has largely been called out! With the cost of education spiraling out of control at all levels throughout the world, the educational practices adapted during the Corona lockdown may in fact have provided the needed pause for pondering.

A trillion dollar question is whether gurus are ready to take their place! Let’s hope the answer would be YES by the next Guru Purṇimā!!

Worthy Gurus are absolutely needed!

– Dr. Aparna (Dhir) Khandelwal, Assistant Professor and Prof. Bal Ram Singh, Director, School of Indic Studies, INADS, Dartmouth, USA

Dvāpara Management Perspective of Migrants in India during COVID-19 : The Fixes that Failed (Part-II)

(Continued from Part-I)

Brig JS Rajpurohit, Ph.D.

“Fixes that fail”; Systems View of COVID-19

This is an analysis of the labour migration crisis from system’s view though one of the archetypes known as “Fixes that fail”. 

Government of India declared Lockdown on 22nd March, 2020 that had unintended consequences of labour from various metros migrating to their home towns. These unintended outcomes were rectified by fresh measures to prevent migration but unfortunately further deteriorated into complex psycho-social dilemma and a crisis. This cycle of actions and reactions was repeated till some acceptable solution was arrived at. The situation should have been dealt with, in a more rational manner to stop migration or manage it effectively. Cause and effect and circles of causality (Figure 1 of fixes that fail) identify the problem with two feedback loops; Balancing loop B1 and Reinforcing loop R1. System’s view shows balancing B1 loop where in due to country wide lockdown due to COVID-19, the labour class working in metros e.g. Delhi, started migrating back to their home towns in UP, Bihar, West Bengal, Assam and other states.

As the pandemic spread, migration numbers swell; depicted by ‘S’ in Figure 1; meaning rising migration rates which caused people to violate law and order. It forced the government to take harsh measures to prevent migration to protect people from getting infected. Steps by the Delhi government reduced the migration temporarily as shown by balancing part by ‘O’ in B1 loop. This was the first set of fixes or measures by the government that should have solved the problem. By these measures, part of migrating population was checked and stopped either within Delhi or at the borders of Delhi and UP. Since the measures put in place by the government were not strong enough, the impact multiplied and more labour started migrating as shown by ‘S1’ in R1 loop.

Multiplying effect led to people congregating at various places for buses and not finding them started hiring other means of transport or started walking along highways. Actions by the government, halted the migration temporarily but accentuated the problem with every passing day (time delay) called ‘Delay’ in Reinforcing loop R1 and it was visible on ground. Poverty and hunger added fuel to the fire. There was pandemonium across the nation and uneasy tension among Indians for inability of government to resolve the challenge could be felt. This impact is depicted by ‘S2’ in R1 loop. The entire issue is analysed with a holistic or ‘system’s view’ that says that for every problem, there are solutions that have to be assessed and applied in a holistic manner, failing which the measures fail and problem gets compounded. As problem gets compounded, further actions are initiated by the actors and situation improves only to worsen. The process continues till problem is resolved with a long time and suffering of people as penalty. In the instant case of migration, it could have been appreciated by administration and dealt with holistically before it became a social challenge. The police actions to maintain law and order became part of vicious cycle. Governments of Delhi, UP and Bihar got involved for their respective interests. State governments wanted safe return of their people from Delhi, Mumbai etc. and in the milieu, migrating people violated government rules of social distancing and lockdown, which led to Delhi government issuing next  set of orders to improve upon previous orders to stop the movement (depicted in Figure 1 by ‘S”).

These are the remedial measures adopted by the government in R1 reinforcing loop and as shown by blue stars in Figure 2 based on feedback of the unintended consequences of the first set of corrective actions taken by the government.

B1 loop could have been closed with the situation balancing out and with no side effects. However, the loop caused delay in seeking solutions or the repercussions of the corrective actions by the government were not strong enough. As a result, the situation had side effects that required immediate attention of the government. Attempts of migrants to reach home earliest led to actions by the police, imposition of curfew, violation of curfew by migrating labour and social disharmony. This was not the desired outcome by the government and hence led to additional measures till situation was resolved. A graphical representation of the situation of Fixes that fail in Figure 2 shows improvement in the situation over a long period but with a dip after every action by the government.

COVID-19 has posed a crisis the world has not witnessed since Spanish flu of 1918-1919. It is an unprecedented history in the making. Indian government response and handling of the pandemic has been one of the best in the world. In the instant situation that India is in; threat of COVID-19 is a real one and the migration is similar to the one Lord Kṛśṇa faced. Facing the calamity of an impending terrible war he was able to move a large chunk of population from Mathura to Dwarika without much upheaval.

Government under leadership of Mr. Narendra Modi deserves accolades for serving the humanity and saving millions of lives in the country from COVID-19. The government administration has effectively managed spread of the pandemic and Indian response has been appreciated the world over. However, response to deal with the migration of labour, consequent to pandemic and orders of Lockdown, requires deliberations. The measures taken by the government to fix the problems ended up creating different yet more problems instead and logical planning to deal with socio-economic issues needed to be developed. Preventing migration was the right decision but survival package in places of residence was a must in such sensitive circumstances. A planned operation to keep the labour wherever they were and looking after them would have been possibly an effective way to deal with the reverse migration.

And if the decision of the Government was to move the labour back to their villages, this too could have been planned systematically and entire movement could have been made comfortable and rejoicing journey for the poor and homeless. Any more politics on the issue is detrimental to our very existence as a nation and our economy, as our survival base depends on these humble, poor, shell shocked silent migrants.

If Lord Kṛśṇa could succeed in his times, so can we in our times.

To be continued…..

Brig JS Rajpurohit, Ph.D. Group Commander, Group HQ NCC, Gorakhpur (UP)