The Dharma of Retribution

  • Hari Dang
  • India
  • May 23, 2014



In 1962 I was teaching at The Doon School, Dehra Dun, and had recently returned from our almost-successful Everest summit attempt alongwith Captain M. S. Kohli, Sonam Gyatso and John Diaz of the 8th Garhwal Rifles (as Leader). It was in 1962 also that the politically  neglected and ill-equipped ‘professional’ Indian Army, and our devoted, disciplined, patriotic  soldiers and officers were vanquished, massacred and humiliated in the North West and the North East, while  Congress‘ politicians played games with generals, policies on the front, ministers and lavish conferences at Bandung and Colombo. “Hold Dhola, defend Thag La and Namka Chhu as vital ground !” the sycophantic favourites ‘ordered’;  “save Se La, defend Bomdi La; rush the Awasthy Batallion [to be massacred] to Dirrang Dzong. The ‘favourites’ were flying around in helicopters and lying ill in Delhi or in special messes at Corps HQ or the foothills or Tezpur. We were playing the Forward Policy like Chinese Checkers; but soon the guns volley’d and thunder’d and the Indian Army lay shattered  by the hubris of its leaders – and the first Prime Minister shed tears at the loss of Assam. Cried he, “Our Hearts go out to the people of Assam !” And followed this by desperate ‘well-written’ letters, making  desperate calls to the Americans and ‘reviled’ West  to send fighter aircraft  and ammunition to defend the Indians against the Chinese Army, the PLA and the PRC. Fast forward to the last decade…and we see a different Himalayan capitulation – of a Prime Minister silently ‘allowing’ the national resources to be stolen. Sycophancy and nepotism (unearned power) have ruled. Indian ‘stock’ had reached so low that even foreign journals of ‘repute’ (alongwith our ever-present ‘brown sahibs’) thought nothing of advising the Indian people on whom to ‘reject’ as their Prime Minister!

Hence, the Dharma of Ashwatthama’s Retribution! Ashwatthama merely symbolised the need for rectification of the blunders that have cost the Nation, through the use of the non-violent Ballot Box. 

Ashwatthama’s retribution here refers a Buddhist compassionate  ‘retributive natural justice’; a cleansing, to make ourselves  stronger against the follies and weaknesses of others.

Ashwatthama had been living for retribution. India needed to have a ‘closure’ – to rectify follies and redress grievous wrongs. Ok, call it by any other name, but we needed to ensure, with Ashwatthama to remind us every day, a grand political victory against the forces of nepotism and sycophancy.  The General Election of 2014 have rectified over 60 years, especially the last 10 years, of error and folly through Retributive Dharma.

Formerly School Master at The Doon School, Dehra Dun; Principal, The Army Public School; Principal, The Air Force School; Rector, St. Paul’s School, Darjeeling. 


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