Whenever I see a fan following or a personality attaining a critical mass of idolizing, I often wonder what prompts a human to venerate a fellow human. The mind rushes back to history as it tries to find a parallel in a civilization it is familiar with. India has its fair share of heroes in its evolution from being a golden bird to a colony to now, one of the fastest growing economies in the world.
India and its vibrant culture is over 5000 years old. It has seen different ages, religious mix, various hierarchies of people aka culture. And, every time, history tells us the story of the hero of that era.
Mythological Hero: When the word India did not exist and this land spread far and wide. When having a personal god was not a rarity. When ideals established the divide between the good and the deviated. When miracles were commonplace. When concepts of life and the universe were being passed on to man. It was a time when scriptures created Mythological heroes, whose concepts won the hearts of people and they started to belong. The rich culture and heritage of India’s glorious past found its nucleus during this era. Our mythological heroes of Bharat who would be our spiritual role models got ingrained in our rituals and religion.
Historical Hero: Slowly man started drawing borders and resources became a key vantage to forge an identity. At a time, when conquest was key, the power to control played havoc as warriors started to use force to usurp territory and make their mark. Some would plunder and go back while some chose to settle down in a new environ to make it their home. Either ways, culture got diluted and the era of co-existence dawned upon man. Life became a yardstick to accept or rebel, and not every time the original inhabitants got a choice. Over centuries, India changed its fabric to accommodate other religions and races and history started its recording of events that gave us new heroes. Some by force, some by choice, some by the idea of freedom when a united India snatched its consciousness back.
Community Hero: Belonging carved many states as geography played a major role in drawing the new India map post freedom based on language. In a porous country, where people are allowed to settle anywhere they want, except in sensitive areas, a new identity was soon carved for every state. Add to this the complex layer of religion and you have a heady concoction of communal and regional identity. It was never going to be easy but it is not impossible. The idea of India holds a cauldron of religions, communities and linguistic groups that even though find it tough to communicate, but come together under one banner called India or Bharat. Soon enough, the local community hero was born for people to look up to and follow.
Political Hero: We now live in a time, when power play decides the new ruler inside communities, states and at the country level. So as groups of people come together under an umbrella, it is inevitable for them to select and elect a hero to represent them in the garb of social service. As the socially conscious person strives to stake claim to his priorities, he is very well aware that not everyone will walk the talk. Politicians take advantage of this infirmity of action to create vote bank classified by religion and even caste. On one hand, the politician uses the people, and on the other hand, plays the hero as protecting their rights. Just the right recipe for the advent of the outsourced hero in a democratic nation.
Forgotten Hero: In the multi-layered hero structure, where religion, state, language, political play their own cards to promote their heroes I look inward to find mine. Then the realization dawns that the silent majority who always get to choose their heroes in a race of elimination, never get to choose in a mandate of selection. A country runs because of the many forgotten heroes and they are always at work, beyond recognition. Teachers, Scientists, Administrators, Business owners, Artists, Innovators and many such people who run our world in a beautiful way are our heroes. Soldiers who care beyond their families and protect the whole country transcending the meaning of love are our heroes. That unknown person who helps the other in need is also a hero.
Today, our personal hero can start with our ethics and as it extrapolates, it tries to find another human being or identity who can subscribe to values which can have a universal impact. Someday we will all be worthy of being our own heroes.