8 Nov 2013

The Bat Policy – by Banamali Mishra

I am reminded of a story that I had heard in my childhood. As a child I enjoyed the story and found it very funny. As I grew up and acquired a little knowledge of biology, this story became interesting to me in a different light. Now with advancing years I sometimes look back and think how many human beings, though evolved, are still like bats in many respects.

Let me not keep you in suspense. I will recount the story now.  Many millenniums ago, long before human beings came into existence, prehistoric birds, animals and dinosaurs ruled the earth with their might. There were constant fights among them to gain supremacy. It was clear that animals were the kings on land and birds had unchallenged supremacy in air. Once there was a big fight. The huge strong birds carried large stones up in the air and dropped them on the animals, killing many of them. They swooped down on the small animals and carried them away. It was clear that the birds were winning the battle.

The bat had not joined the power struggle. It was a fence-sitter. It was unable to decide whether it was a bird or an animal. Seeing the obvious victory of the birds, it joined the side of the birds and fought against the animals. The birds asked him, “Why did you join us?’’ It replied, “Because I am a bird and I fly. The animals don’t fly.’’

Very soon the animals started winning because the birds couldn’t live and feed in the air. They had to come down to rest, sleep and feed themselves. The animals didn’t lose the opportunity and attacked and killed many of them. The bat, who was a great opportunist, changed sides. He told the animals, “I am an animal. I give birth to babies. I don’t lay eggs like the birds.’’

Very soon the tables turned again and the birds started winning, and it was time for the bat to cross to the other side. He said, “I am a bird. I feed in mid air. I live and sleep on trees and branches.’’ But the birds recognised the trickster.  They chased, attacked and threw him out of their camp. The frightened bat was not strong enough to fight alone and needed the protection of a strong animal. So it changed sides again and went back to the animals. It said, “I am an animal, I have fur and not feathers, I suckle my babies with milk; the birds don’t do that, only the animals do it.’’ But the animals had grown wiser. They had seen him fighting as an ally of the opponents. They rushed to kill him.  Poor bat was hated and hunted by both parties and he could not show his face to anyone.  He hid himself in a dark cave and could only come out in the night when most birds and animals had gone to sleep.

This is my story. Do I need to draw parallels with some of the Ashramites in the present crisis?  So many of us follow the bat-policy! We tend to become fence sitters, watching silently, acting neutral, waiting to intervene when the time is most favourable and become an ally of the winning side.

I take the liberty to say that this attitude is specially seen among the inmates of the Ashram. Do we not have any ideal in front of us? Have we forgotten that our very existence is governed by the Mother and Sri Aurobindo? Are we mindless animals who don’t feel and realize that the present rulers of the Ashram are power-hungry maniacs who have hijacked it and turned it into their personal property?  At present it is clear that the Asura is busy building up his own armies against the Divine.  Most Ashramites are quite content to receive comfortable gifts, and they intentionally close their eyes and ears and don’t even want to know whether Sri Aurobindo and the Mother have been insulted in their own house. It is not that they are not aware of the declining standards and ideals in the Ashram, but they have adopted the bat-policy and have chosen to stand and enjoy the benefits by siding with the ruling power. It is not an exaggeration to point out that these pseudo-supporters will support the other side if there is a shift in the authority. Should we not have the courage to stand against falsehood and challenge it when we see it? If we don’t stand for the Mother when She most needs us, when are we going to do it? The ruling power is propelled by a tremendous Asuric ego. If we just step back a little and watch the happenings and decisions taken in the Ashram, we will know that this is the reign of a powerful Kamsa. But surely this Asuric reign must come to an end and the Divine Mother will finally prevail. Let us not follow the law of inertia and continue to live in a state of rest, like an animal wallowing in the luxury of the mud. Let us will to step out of the dirt and whole-heartedly say VICTOIRE A LA DOUCE MERE. 

No amount of false justification and self- pretence can save us now. “In The Hour of God cleanse thy soul of all self-deceit and hypocrisy and vain self-flattering that thou mayst look straight into thy spirit and hear that which summons it. All insincerity of nature, once thy defence against the eye of the Master and the light of the ideal, becomes now a gap in thy armour and invites the blow. Even if thou conquer for the moment, it is the worse for thee, for the blow shall come afterwards and cast thee down in the midst of thy triumph.’’ (Sri Aurobindo,  SABCL Vol-17 page -1)

Let us do some introspection and ask the Mother to guide us and we will know whether we stand for the Truth or falsehood.

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