Monday, July 15, 2024

Defending Rahul Gandhi’s Philosophy

In a recent talk at the Harvard University, Rahul Gandhi spoke about the idea of death within Hindu philosophy, stating that “So the philosophy of Shiva says you were never born, you don’t exist and the philosophy of Vishnu says you never die…But all these people running around here they’re completely differently wired.” Social media and trolls soon went on a rampage listening to this video, and Rahul has been unfairly criticised and mocked. With an image of Rahul talking nonsense being pushed around by vested interests. All political affiliations and parities aside. Is what Rahul said truly inaccurate? Does he deserve this criticism?

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Rahul Gandhi is absolutely right in his philosophical words. The Trika philosophy of Kashmiri Shaiva thought indeed says there is no birth or death. There is only mere projection of consciousness of itself. In its truest essence, death and birth are an illusion. For Trika believes you are Shiva, and Shiva was never born nor will ever die. Rahul Gandhi’s maternal ancestors were Kashmiri Saivite Brahmins themselves, and his roots and his own self study seems to have given him a deeper perspective on Kashmiri Saivism and its philosophy. The legendary Kashmiri Saiva poet Lalleshwari/ LalDed a prominent female face of Kashmiri Saiva thought, once said  “If while alive, you cannot see Him (Shiva), How can you see Him after death? Think deep and sift the true Self from the self.” [1]

The deeper ideals of Kashmiri Saiva thought, is laying a path for an individual soul to realise he or she is Shiva himself. Once the Shiva consciousness is realised, one realises both death and birth is a play of Shiva himself, and not real. The path of sadhana (penance) is given as a way to realise and integrate into this consciousness or state of mind. This essentially the life goal of an atma/soul. This concept is quite similar to the Advaitha Vedanta concept of Maya. In essence, Kashmiri Saiva thought believes the world and its happenings (like life and death) to not be real essentially in this form. The form we see is not real. Since the world is not real, so is not one’s birth. [2]

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As to Rahul Gandhi’s second statement of “The philosophy of Vishnu says there’s no death.” Rahul is right here again. His words of saying philosophy of Vishnu itself may not exactly be correct. But both the Vaishnava schools of thought, Visisthadvaitha and Dvaitha believe the world is real, and staunchly against the argument of Maya which Kashmiri Saiva and Advaitha traditions push. They do believe that an individual soul has no death and keeps itself trapped in the cycle of samaskara. The ultimate realisation of Moksha therefore is the idea that an individual soul resides in Vaikunta, the adobe of Vishnu himself for eternity. Since both Vaishnava schools believe the world to be real, the birth of a soul is indeed real. And there’s no death to the soul itself, as the ultimate intended goal is to be residing in Vaikunta eternally. To quote B.N.K Sharma “Madhva, therefore, lays, great stress on the survival of every individual personality, as such, in release. This is the corollary of his belief in the distinctiveness of the Svarupa of each Jiva. As release is the realisation of the intrinsic bliss of selfhood by each one of us, it must be a positive experience, to be felt and be realised by each and at the same time incommunicable to others….” [3]

In essence the birth of an individuality of a soul is the truth according to Vaishanava. In simpler terms one can say, birth is real. But there is no death according to Vaishanava schools in this aspect.

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What Rahul Gandhi really meant was to show the different approach both Shaiva and Vaishanava schools of thought had. While one believes both death and birth to be unreal, therefore the Saiva school says you were never really indeed born. While the other says you have no death. He was attempting to show the differences of thought, in a simple manner.

His simpler explanation has evoked unfair criticism, because most people are intellectually ill-equipped to understand what he truly said.

Instead of attacking Rahul Gandhi, the Rahul baiters should think about what he said. Those who do, in this regard start their own journey in attempting to understand the nuances of the world’s oldest religion instead of mere chest thumping that one is a proud Hindu.

Rahul Gandhi has proved himself as a man of spiritual insight, a rare quality that needs to be appreciated by true Hindus.

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[1]: Concept of Manifestation Process in Kashmir ShaivismByMudasir Ahmad Tantray, Tariq Rafeeq Khan and IfrahMohiud Din Rather: Punjab University

[2]:Concept of Manifestation Process in Kashmir ShaivismMudasir Ahmad Tantray, Tariq Rafeeq Khan and IfrahMohiud Din Rather by John Whitehead

[3]:The Philosophy of Madhvacharya” by B.N.K Sharma 

Ved Aitharaju
Ved Aitharaju
Screenwriter By Study. Filmmaker By Profession. And a Columnist By Fealty. To Express The Intricate Threads of This Multiverse. A Scout by Providence Lost in The Boundless Paradox Of Creation.


  1. Well, you could be his next minister of culture, if he ever gets elected. I bet that he did not have all that understanding. To support a fool and boost his/her ego causes more damage.


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