Non-violence and health are the most important aspects explained in Vedic philosophy. Health is a very valuable asset. Victory over nature is not possible. The scientific basis of the ancient eternal contemplation and practice of worshipping nature, rivers, streams, animals and vegetation has now become apparent to the world.
The deadly fright of the second wave of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is rising worldwide. The outbreak, which started in December 2019, making Wuhan- a busy city of neighboring China - an epicentre has left much of the world in distress and chaos, repeatedly. The dismay is somewhat severe and a series of lockdowns has further fuelled silence and panic. Regularly updated statistics and recent surveys show that there were fewer infections in Africa and South Asia during the first wave, but the possibility of an uncontrolled situation is clear now in the second wave. However, being careful in taking precautionary measures seems a strong way to avoid possible toll. Demonstrating high skills in preventing it with the utmost effort will be a welcome task. But this predicament should not be treated as a brand new incident and beyond human imagination or experience. This calamity is just another new version of the various harrowing and horrendous plagues in the past.
The world had been perennially infected with such viruses even in the past. SARS (2003), Anthrax (2001), Bird Flu (2005), Ebola (2014), Swine Flu (2009), Zika (2016), and AIDS (1990) were constant witnesses of viral infections globally. These viruses were slightly territorial. It is the only time terror has ever been created globally. Nonetheless, the symptoms and characteristics of those infections were relatively similar.
A theorem on population, evidenced by Thomas Robert Malthus, claims that such calamities and pandemics would be regular and automatic natural phenomena. Dean Koontz's novel ‘The Eyes of Darkness’ (1981) passes the prophecy of a devastating infection, around 2020, of the virus called ‘Wuhan-400’ from Wuhan. Claire North's book ‘The End of the Day’ (2017) also forecasts identical assessments. Research on molecular science, nuclear cell and virology studies has shown that such epidemics had spread around the world and caused havoc intermittently. The heart-rending work of the ancient philosopher Sophocles ‘Oedipus Rex’ refers to the brutal pandemic immediately after King Oedipus’s coronation. In the twentieth century, Albert Camus's masterpiece ‘The Plague’ has been a poignant explanation.
Such disastrous catastrophes occurred in other periods of history too, but their separate scientific and laboratory tests were not possible to identify them. Unlike the aggressive expansion of the communication industry at present, even the common people did not have the reach on the notice. However, there are plenty of references in history regarding epidemics or choleras. Some historians have reported that such incidents had hit Nepal as well in 1830 and 1920 BS.
Therefore, such possibilities - whether human or natural - are regular cycles. Precaution is the key to preventing such haphazard pandemoniums. Everyone should support and adhere to the government’s call. If the situation is out of control, no entity may be functional. We must assimilate the truth that self-security amounts to the security of the whole. It must be overcome with caution, alertness and restraint. All must be prepared in the same way and help others, too, accordingly. However, the narratives of corona should not be narrowed down only on the lenses of science, health, biological casualties and disease on news, debate and analysis. The coronavirus terror is carefully crafting and cementing a new social narrative oriented toward the empowerment of ancient Eastern civilization.
The new social narrative
Communication is considered a gift and the optimal height of human invention in today's age. But many fake and bogus reports (infodemics) at this time of tragedy have to be stopped as they have cozoned the mass additionally. It has proved that misinformation or rumour mill is more damaging than the lack of information.
This epidemic has completely transformed the world power equation. Of course, author Joseph S Nye had already made a hint in his book ‘Soft Power: The Means to Success in World Politics’. But now, the world is realizing that weapons, warriors or warships don’t gauge the power. Today, a question has become increasingly complex to the front of the self-proclaimed powerful nations emitting arrogance and pride. What did their nuclear weapons, atomic arms, molecular reserves, chemical furnaces, long range missiles, radioactive cannons, various types of military training and other powerful warfare logistics help to mitigate the core crises of the world or self? All these alleged achievements that most nations have spent large chunks of the budget on are proved absolutely futile today. No one should wage a war to prove ability. Managing self is the highest aspect and huge success rather than winning others. The pandemic has forced everyone to assimilate this grand message.
Non-violence and health are the most important aspects explained in the Vedic philosophy. Health is a very valuable asset. Victory over nature is not possible. The scientific basis of the ancient eternal contemplation and practice of worshipping nature, rivers, streams, animals and vegetation has now become apparent to the world. The great importance of the ancient Eastern philosophy in living practices has now come to light. The shining brightness of the practices such as greeting with a ‘Namaskaar’ instead of handshake or hugging, residing at a certain distance, wearing another garment after coming from out, and changing clothes at meal time - things that the so-called modernist society often would rate as conservative course - is now proved paramount.
Some irrational and arrogant western authors would periodically write that Asia is the land of the poor and filthy. Cold, cough, cholera and epidemics are the drink of Asians and Africans, they would vehemently vomit. The scholarly engagements of a handful of Western literary figures were centred on projecting the people of Asia and Africa as rude, wild, inhuman, underdeveloped, and hateful. People living there have to imitate their way of life to civilize themselves; they would love to spread this message. The coronavirus pandemic has even given stern repercussions to those who produce prejudicial knowledge to extend violence. To bathe in swimming pools brim of spit, coughs and urine, to use paper after going to toilet, baking bread instead of meal with lentil vegetable pickles, hanging eclectic bulbs on a plastic trees instead of a real lamp (diyo) at basil plants have been proved to be pseudo and senselessly hollow. The futility within the pretext called modernity is all exposed. Even the message that Eastern civilizations and traditions were scientific in every way is hailed on the ground. It also became apparent that the city could not ensure security credibility to people.
Industries like fashion, entertainment, technology, automobiles, and tourism go first and fast prone to crash. It is being justified that agriculture is the mainstay and the prime necessity. The significance of the message from author Pearl S Buck’s work, ‘The Good Earth’ is becoming ever more striking. It is also being established that yoga, meditation, and rest are the major rhythms of life.
Modern means being scientific, not necessarily being western! Some of the mismanagement that the West vaingloriously note at us are highly scientific in many respects. So we have the opportunity to assimilate that we are more advanced than them and to make it universal. It has even justified the practice of community-centred cooperation rather than self-seeking capitalism. It has proved that surviving self and helping others for the same hap is a heavenly blessing than winning others through mass assassination. Therefore, the new dimension of manufacturing alternative knowledge cannot and should not be excluded from the debate over the coronavirus. (The author is an associate professor at Kathmandu School of Law, Nepal.)