Peshawar, Pakistan: After suffering from a power cut for more than a week, people riot in the streets.
Tunis, Tunisia: After suffering under a dictatorial president, unemployment and spiraling prices, people take to the streets and riot.
BUT . . . in Tottenham, London: Police shoot a man dead while arresting him, and hundreds of youngsters initially protest against the killing and then riot for more than five days. This is different from the first two examples where people have become angry due to lack of economic facilities. In London the rioters went on rampage, looting and burning whatever they could not carry away. Plasma TV’s, jewelry, designer clothes, iPhones, iPads, and expensive shoes were some of the favorite items of these looters. Politicians, corporate, sociologists, psychologists all tried to analyze the reasons behind this outrage but in essence denounced the rioters as “opportunists,” “criminals,” “greed-victims,” etc. One suspected rioter when apprehended by the police explained his position: “What do you think I am supposed to do when all day long I am bombarded with SMS’s telling me what to buy. What am I supposed to think about those bankers whose greed is of Himalayan proportions when compared to mine. When I see politicians stealing right under my nose, do you think that a sermon on honesty will cure me?” This is maximizing-the-Ravana-(Ra*one)-within culture.
In Bhagavad-gita (2.62-63) Lord Krsna gives a step-by-step analysis of how a certain individual’s mindset becomes prey to covetousness. “While contemplating the objects of the senses, a person develops attachment for them, and from such attachment lust develops, and from lust anger arises. From anger, complete delusion arises, and from delusion bewilderment of memory. When memory is bewildered, intelligence is lost, and when intelligence is lost one falls down again into the material pool.” The whole process begins with a single contemplative thought. It could very well be a single SMS offer, or a magazine advertizement, or a glance at a giant billboard for a second. If it is contemplative, if the mind dwells on it, then . . . GOTCHA! the marketers have got you in their grip. That is why they do not mind giving you umpteen free things on the net as long as you do not mind them putting ads all over the page. They know that one glance, one contemplative glance, is all that is needed. Why? Because that glance has the power to create attachment for that particular product. This attachment when grown easily develops into full-blown lust. And when there is no opportunity to gratify this lust, a person becomes angry (as we saw in London).
In the words of Devamrta Swami (a senior monk in the Hare Krishna movement): “A consumer society increasingly saturates itself with Ravana-ism, the riotous self-esteem, vigorous lust, and exorbitant acquisitiveness. Though a brahmana by birth, Ravana was a market researcher’s dream. A foremost predator, he followed only one rule: “If I feel like doing something, wanting anything, I do it, I get it!” Like a contemporary economy in boom mode, he let nothing stand in his way unchecked growth at all cost. Never mind the ecology, never mind our own sanity just go for it!
After Ravana forcefully ravaged Rambha, the celestial wife of his own nephew, the husband, drawing upon his demigod power, cursed Ravana: the next time he forced a woman, he would die instantly.
Even that drastic measure only slightly slowed down Ravana’s ego and lifestyle. No question of morality, dharma, or fear of karma. Like a chic urban sophisticate of today, Ravana simply calculated. “Sometimes I slightly perceive the vague presence of some higher governing principles in the cosmos, far and faint in the background; sometimes I’ve seen that some curses seem to become fulfilled. I care for no karma or dharma, but just to be a bit on the safe side, I won’t force any more women. After all, what is the need they all want me anyway . . .”
What is needed is the tools necessary to maximize the Rama within. Obviously the most glorious example of this is Hanumanji. In one sense the quest of both Ravana and Hanuman was same Sita. But their consciousness was poles apart. One wanted her for himself, while the other wanted her to sit besides Lord Rama and wanted to serve them eternally.