The Politician and the Sanyasi

Punit Pania
3 min readOct 11, 2020

Politics is the collective outsourcing of our hypocrisy. It is less burdensome than self-loathing and more efficient than armed conflict. Yet we hold politicians to unreasonable standards that we ourselves fail at even though our jobs do no require as much treachery.

As a result, politicians constantly accuse each other of politicizing important issues in an exercise of peak pointlessness. Of course everything is political. How else will the ministers do their job? Quantum physics?

It is this naivete that keeps us from reaching the objectiveness of American Presidential debates. As uncivil as they have become, at least their politicians are spared the insult of acting righteous. More than naivete it is a weakness that keeps making us fall for Sanyasis. As if being a bachelor is the strongest vaccine against corruption. At least family men understand the importance of compromise. They understand that peace only lies beyond one’s ego. Sanyasis are hell-bent to prove the whole world wrong to vindicate their one lonesome decision, that of staying unmarried.

We have a history with Sanyasis, an unbroken chain leading right back to mythology. Rishis; often depicted as huge egos or wild tempers, are nonetheless revered by married men. Perhaps as a compensation for the numerous sins they commit in their private little lives, some petty, some gruesome. The Sanyasi is taking one for the team. So he is allowed his tantrums and self-righteousness. Of course, here we are referring to the political projection of a messiah. True ascetics never partake in power….or photo-ops.

Like most countries in the world our history of treating women and lower castes barbarically is screaming for remedy. Denial of facts only delays the inevitable correction. No matter how illiterate or religious a person is, committing an act of atrocity leaves a burden on his conscience. Even though his caste or wealth allows him to get away with impunity, the burden is carried across generations till it burns everything to the ground. Guilt is the toughest substance in the world. No amount of self-pity and havans can wash it away.

It is not surprising that a nation of wife-beaters elects a bachelor to solve all their worries bypassing the painful step of introspection. The implication being that a person who has forsaken all worldly attachments will govern from a place of righteousness. But desire is often sacrificed for a monstrous hunger for power, especially in politics.

Such figures are supported by the privileged class who casually keep saying Dictatorship is the only answer. Not realizing that this very casualness is allowed only in a democracy. Violence; whenever encouraged, eventually engulfs its patrons. It is nature’s odd way of balancing suffering, through ages of collateral damage.

Perfect justice is so rare it barely exists. It is usually delivered unevenly and across generations. But we keep insisting on utopia giving religion a backdoor entry into politics. In the Twitter age, every decision and statement is analysed for its sincerity. This scrutiny is important and it has establishment so worried that they spend crores in propaganda and bots. And politicians are also a part of this system of hyper but virtual vigilance, they are not above it. So they feel compelled to call out each other’s hypocrisy and the opposition feels compelled to scream ‘Death of Democracy’ every other day. It is like children playing ‘Statue!’ to the point of paralysis. Why do actual work when you can get by just by outrage? The majority continues to suffer in anonymity. It always has. Peepli Live was not only indicative of our past it was also predictive of Hathras. Just that now in the information age, some atrocities refuse to stay hidden beneath mountains of banality of the privileged.

The only way out is to to recognize the politician in ourselves. Only then will we able to allow our elected representatives to do the dirty work, without pretense.

- Punit Pania