On the 8th of August as the world watched the Beijing Olympics, there was a tear in my eye as I remembered how Nehru and India had helped China in its formative years in the 1950s, when the whole world was against Communist China even entering the United Nations but India was its strongest ally and supporter. And now the Olympics were being held in China, which was aspiring to be the strongest and most powerful nation in the world, even over and above the USA, in the Olympic arena.
Indian Prime Ministers have certainly aspired to hold the Olympics, but they have been ignored. I started to imagine, if indeed the Olympics were held in India, what would the opening ceremony be like?
While China has proudly displayed its inventions, such as gunpowder, the compass and paper and fireworks, what would India have shown? Inventions? Conquest of Countries? The power of Money?
No. The strength of India is in the soul. It would have shown the knowledge of the soul, since self-knowledge is the highest knowledge. It would have shown the conquest of the frivolous mind.
While China's first Emperor unified and ruled over China and controlled it with an iron hand, putting down all rebellions ruthlessly, he could not rule his own mind, and became paranoid in the end. He feared assasinations from his own courtiers and trusted no one. He wanted to live forever, so took arsenic as a medicine in order to live longer, which took his own life in the end.
Contrast that history of China to Emperor Ashoka, the conqueror of North India, who changed from being a merciless conqueror of kingdoms to a benevolent king, filled with fatherly love for his own subjects, teaching morality to his kingdom in edicts, and even setting up the very first animal hospitals in history. The English historian and writer H.G. Wells once called Ashoka the greatest King in human history. He was that impressed.
This conquest of the mind, this change from cruelty to kindness, this transformation of evil to Godliness, is what India would have shown in the opening ceremony. And this is unique to India. India would show the national epic of the Ramayana, how the ancient King Rama sacrificed his kingdom for the sake of his father's promise, and went smiling to the forest. India would show the high ideal of brotherly love, where Prince Bharat refused to be the King, and instead ruled in his brother's name. India would show the priceless jewel of womanly chastity, where the beautiful princess Sita refused to part with her husband Rama, and followed her husband in exile to the forest.
As Swami Vivekananda had pointed out in the 19th century, compare this high ideal of India to the West, where Helen of Troy is idolized, "the face that launched a thousand ships", the woman who left her Greek husband and ran away with the Prince of Troy, thus launching the Trojan war. Contrast this Western ideal with the high ideal of mother Sita in India.
India would have shown how the writer of the Ramayana was a dacoit and killer, Valmiki, who transformed himself from a ferocious killer of lives to a saintly sage, the RISHI who composed the Holy verses of the Ramayana, thus giving the promise that even the most evil can change to the most saintly, showing that nothing is impossible for the human mind. As the ancient verse in India says, "The mind is the man - the cause of his bondage, or the cause of his liberation".
India would have shown how all religions have always been welcomed and tolerated in India, such as how the Zoroastrians came to India in boats from Iran and were granted sanctuary 1300 years ago, with full religious freedom, when the rest of the world was savagely intolerant of other cultures and other religions.
And also, India would have shown how the might of the British Empire was opposed with love and non-violence by an apostle of peace and brotherly love, Mahatma Gandhi, whom the whole world still remembers and says:
"In this day and age, when the world is torn apart with hatred, violence and terrorism, when the world is going to the worst depths of human depravity, we need a Gandhi once again".
This would be India's opening ceremony for the Olympics, And no one in the world can ever beat or equal this opening ceremony. The pomp and splendor of the previous ceremonies have come and gone, and are soon forgotten, but no one can forget the nobility of the soul, no one would ever forget the conquest of the mind that would be shown in the ceremony. No human being would not be touched by such an opening ceremony held by India. And may that day come soon.
Porus Homi Havewala.
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