Hide, or stay put?

Read the previous part here

Anujeevin replied “My dear king, our enemy is very strong, and very wicked. He is also untruthful and uncultured. Seeking peace, or waging a war – both will be wrong courses of action. In my opinion, we should go into hiding.”

It is said that when the enemy is strong, and doesn’t follow any rules of war, then न सन्धि-विग्रहौ नैव विना यानं प्रशस्यते – neither seeking peace, nor waging war, but going into hiding is the best course of action.

The use of yaana can be confusing here. Yaana means travel, or move. This strategy calls for movement – forwards or backwards, depends on the situation. As opposed to seeking peace through an alliance or outright war, yaana can be seen as going midway in both cases – hiding, to strike at the opportune moment, or preparing to attack by moving forward cautiously…

द्विधाकारं भवेद् यानं भवेत् प्राणार्थ-रक्षणम् ।एकम् अन्यज् जिगीषोश् च यात्रालक्षणम् उच्यते ॥ ३६ ॥

dvidhākāraṃ bhaved yānaṃ bhavet prāṇārtha-rakṣaṇam | ekam anyaj jigīṣoś ca yātrālakṣaṇam ucyate || 36 ||

The strategy of moving is of two types. One is when you escape in fright in order to save yourself; the other is when you march forward to attack an enemy with the intention of defeating him.

अवस्कन्द-प्रदानस्य सर्वे कालाः प्रकीर्तिताः ।
व्यसने वर्तमानस्य शत्रोच्छिद्रान्वितस्य च ॥ ३८ ॥

avaskanda-pradānasya sarve kālāḥ prakīrtitāḥ |
vyasane vartamānasya śatrocchidrānvitasya ca || 38 ||

If one wants to attack in secret, then all times are favourable. You can attack once you know the enemy’s secrets, and also the time when he is in trouble.

“Oh king”, continued Anujeevin, “you should first ensure that our fortress is safe and well-guarded. Once done, you should send our spies to enemy territory well in advance, and then, when the time is right, you should march towards the enemy, with all our best warriors and allies.

अज्ञातवी-वधासार-तोय-शस्यो व्रजेत् तु यः ।
पर-राष्ट्रं न भूयः स स्व-राष्ट्रम् अधिगच्छति ॥ ४० ॥

ajñātavī-vadhāsāra-toya-śasyo vrajet tu yaḥ |
para-rāṣṭraṃ na bhūyaḥ sa sva-rāṣṭram adhigacchati || 40 ||

He who starts to march towards the enemy, without planning his routes, without the support of his friends and well-wishers and without adequate supplies, never returns home.

“And so it is better that we first withdraw into hiding and take time to plan our offensive. न विग्रहो न संधानं बलिना तेन पापिना कार्यलाभमपेक्ष्यापसरणं क्रियते बुधैः – the wise do not seek to engage in hostilities, nor enter into an alliance with a strong and wicked enemy. They only consider the practicality of their actions, and withdraw into hiding to plan ahead.

यद् अपसरति मेषः कारणं तत् प्रहर्तुं मृग-पतिर् अपि कोपात् सङ्कुचत्य् उत्पतिष्णुः ।
हृदय-निहित-भावा गूढ-मन्त्र-प्रचाराः किम् अपि विगणयन्तो बुद्धिमन्तः सहन्ते ॥ ४२ ॥

yad apasarati meṣaḥ kāraṇaṃ tat prahartuṃ mṛga-patir api kopāt saṅkucaty utpatiṣṇuḥ |
hṛdaya-nihita-bhāvā gūḍha-mantra-pracārāḥ kim api vigaṇayanto buddhimantaḥ sahante || 42 ||

If a goat moves back, it is only to attack with more force. The lion also crouches first, not out of fear, but in preparation to pounce on it’s enemy. Keeping enmity in their heart, the wise plan well ahead, and so bear the attacks of their enemies, or withdraw into hiding,

“And once the right opportunity presents itself, such a wise man will not hesitate to retaliate”, advised Anujeevin. “And therefore, I recommend that we do not seek peace, nor attack right away. In my opinion, we will have to withdraw into hiding”, he concluded.

MeghaVarna thanked Anujeevin for his advice, and respectfully led him out of the chamber. He then called Prajeevin inside.

“Tell me, respected Prajeevin”, said MeghaVarna, “what is your recommended course of action?”

Prajeevin replied “My dear king, I do not recommend any of the previous three strategies”. He paused, and then continued ” In this situation, Asana is the best course of action. We should wait within our secure fortress, until the enemy attacks. It is said…”

नक्रः स्व-स्थानम् आसाद्य गजेन्द्रम् अपि कर्षति ।
स एव प्रच्युतः स्थानाच् छुनापि परिभूयते ॥ ४५ ॥

nakraḥ sva-sthānam āsādya gajendram api karṣati |
sa eva pracyutaḥ sthānāc chunāpi paribhūyate || 45 ||

A crocodile that stays in its house (water), can win over the biggest of elephants. The same crocodile, when away from his house (on land), is humiliated by a dog.

“When attacked by a strong enemy, a king should remain inside his fort, where he is most secure and safe. He should wait for the attack before deciding on the course of action, but should never leave his fort and go out in the open. He should send word to his friends and allies, who can possibly help him, all from within his fort.”

“A king who panics and runs away leaving his fort, will never be able to enter it again”, stressed Prajeevin.

दंष्ट्रा-विरहितः सर्पो मद-हीनो यथा गजः ।
स्थान-हीनस् तथा राजा गम्यः स्यात् सर्व-जन्तुषु ॥ ४८ ॥

daṃṣṭrā-virahitaḥ sarpo mada-hīno yathā gajaḥ |
sthāna-hīnas tathā rājā gamyaḥ syāt sarva-jantuṣu || 48 ||

A serpent whose fangs have been removed, an elephant that is not in musth, and a king who has lost his fort, get defeated easily, even by an ordinary foe.

“My king, निज-स्थान-स्थितो ऽप्य् एकः शतं योद्धुं सहेन् नरः शक्तानाम् अपि शत्रूणां – a warrior, if he is at his secure fort, can face hundreds of enemies and defeat them as well, and so you should not leave this fort at any cost. Strengthen the fort, store all food and necessities, build a trench around it, arm the soldiers, make a firm decision of fighting the enemy, and stick to your decision of not leaving this place. जीवन् सम्प्राप्त्स्यति राज्यं मृतो वा स्वर्गम् एष्यति – If you live, you will rule over the earth, and if you die, you will go to heaven.”

to be continued…

As in war, so in life. The difference lies in the enemy.

In war, the enemy is outside – distinct from you, one who you can see, who you can hurt, and who can hurt you back.

In life, sometimes the enemy is within – your own thoughts, your own insecurities, your own feelings. How can you fight with yourself?

Some choose to hide – like an ostrich that buries it’s head in the sand, hoping that if it cannot see you…you cannot see it as well. And so we choose to ignore our problems, our fears, and our not-so-good thoughts. We hide from them and pretend that they don’t exist.

Others wait and watch – hoping that the right moment will come soon. When it does, it mostly passes by without us noticing, because we didn’t really mean to seize that moment and attack our insecurities – we just put off the task for later.

Don’t get me wrong. Sometimes, ‘hiding’ can mean withdrawing as well, and it works – better to go back two steps to the drawing board, and start again, rather than pushing on in vain. Other times, it helps to wait and watch – to learn more about how we react to situations, and then ready a proper plan of action.

But how many of us do this? How many of us consciously fight the enemy within us, and how many of us manage to win?

Food for thought!