The Vedic Model of Leadership is first of all that of the Rishi or seer.
The Rishi is a visionary, connected to the conscious forces of the universe, in harmony with nature’s intelligence, and living a life of dharmic values. Vedic mantras, particularly those of the most ancient Rigveda, arise from the Rishis’ direct cognition of the cosmic reality. Yet these mantras require the vision of a Rishi to understand, which modern scholars do not have.
The Rishi is similar to a yogi who can access higher states of consciousness at will. Yet the Rishi is also called Loka-krit or Bhuta-krit, one who is a creator, a world-maker – a maker of culture and has a vision of the future evolution of humanity. The Rishi is not simply one who has renounced the world, though he has given up the ego, but one who is seeking to guide the world in the greater unfoldment of all beneficial and harmonious potentials to the highest Self-realization.
The Rishi is not promoting one belief or another but a way to understand the entire universe within us. A Rishi is not a political figure who takes on a political office, but Rishis can guide rulers who are humble and receptive to their profound influence. Ancient Vedic kings and emperors (Chakravartins) had their Rishi Purohits like Raja Sudas and Rishi Vasishta or Raja Bharata and Rishi Dirghatamas.
The Rishi has a vision of the welfare of the whole of life, not merely that of human society. The Rishi is not limited in his concern with the affairs of one human group, community or country or another, protecting it or advancing it over the needs and desires of other competing groups. The Rishi has a cosmic vision, extending even beyond any planetary concerns.
Rishis in the Information Technology Era
Today the ancient Rishi role must be redefined in light of modern science and the new information technology. This does not mean that scientists are the new Rishis or that a true Rishi must also be a trained and successful scientist. It means that the new Rishi must be able to show us how to reorient science and technology so that these can aid in the unfoldment of a deeper consciousness between human life, the whole of nature and the greater universe, which in the Rishi vision forms a single intelligent organic system.
In other words, the Rishi must be able to provide guidance as to how science is best used, what its values and limitations may be, and how to adapt science so that it does not undermine the organic and spiritual basis of life as is to often happening today. This can at times put the Rishi and scientist in apparently opposing camps, as much as it may at other times bring them together.
The Rishi has an ecological vision but as augmented by a greater yogic understanding that can embody the consciousness and intelligence behind nature. The Rishi has profound psychological insight, but extending beyond the human mind to immortal consciousness and all pervading awareness. The Rishi is no mere intellectual, however brilliant, but one who has the direct perception of the unity of all existence as fact of his consciousness. The Rishi lives in direct cognition, not in ideas, theories, speculations or calculations.
The Rishi may not regard what is called human rights today in terms of social unity, equality, and individual freedom, however useful, as our highest goals as a species. The Rishi has a higher vision of dharmic values, including the necessity for human beings to honor the Earth and other species, and to place the search for higher consciousness above the pursuit of material enjoyment as our main cultural aspiration The Rishi will promote higher dharmic and yogic education, not just outer educational skills, job training or adjustment to the current social order or the new technology.
The Rishi will help us understand our karmas, both individually and collectively, outwardly and inwardly, and move beyond their compulsions. The Rishi will have a detailed and comprehensive knowledge of the Vedic sciences through understanding the underlying mantric vibratory fields out of which the universe arises as a manifestation of Self-awareness.
The Need for New Rishis
Why do we need new Rishis? Presently our new technology is being guided and directed by technocrats, who are mainly business leaders following commercial compulsions. This means that so far the technology is directing us, with technological innovations determining how upcoming generations will view their lives and their role in the universe.
We need a deeper vision to guide and direct our technology, particularly as to how information is used and presented. Technology as mechanical in nature cannot properly guide life and consciousness that are organic and the product of millions of years of natural evolution. The Rishi brings an understanding of the limitations of information technology, its proper usage but also when to shut it off and look beyond it.
The Rishi helps us understand that information is not knowledge in the true sense of the word, which is profound wisdom. Information, whether in the human mind or in computers, is not intelligence. It is data that can be interpreted various ways according to the values, goals and perception of those who organize it. We all know how the media can spin the news almost any way that it wants. Information, of which there are many types and even contrary studies, can be cited in the support of almost any point of view, including those that are contrary to each other. This is because information is rarely definitive; it is at best suggestive.
For the proper use of information, we must develop our decision-making capacity with true insight. For arriving at right decisions as to how to live, information can be of some help but is never enough and too much emphasis on information can inhibit decision making, which has temporal limits, and get us caught in endless opinions and fact finding.
Technology, however much information it provides or the sophistication of its instruments, does not have the solutions. To remake the human being or human society in the image of technology may likely weaken or even destroy human creativity and insight. It may create a group of robotic, perhaps media and drug controlled people, as the new great society.
Using Technology to create the Freedom for Higher Consciousness
The Rishi has a vision not only of the human future but also of the eternal and the infinite at a cosmic level. The Rishi tells us that better outward functioning through technology is not an end in itself. We must create a society that uses the free time created by technological advances to free our inner creative spirit and deeper our inner research into consciousness. If we use the new technology merely to create more engaging and powerful forms of entertainment and distraction, we will leave human beings addicted to external stimulation and lacking in any inner will power, creativity, motivation or insight.
The Rishi vision of the infinite and eternal creates a broad field in which we can place our technological advances in time and space but not be overwhelmed by them. The Rishi can provide a mastery over technology and the ability to transcend it. The Rishi can find the wonders of the galaxies in a simple flower or experience the Big Bang behind the universe in every breath. The Rishi lives in direct seeing, being and knowing through unity consciousness, not through limited bits of data.
How does the Rishi Compare with Other Leaders Today?
The research scientist can invent new technologies but may not know how to fully develop or apply them, or counter their side-effects.
The technocrat and business leader may know how to popularize, adapt and promote new technologies but may not know their long terms affects upon society or the human being. His concern is often colored by short term profits and market competition.
The political leader who wants to modernize and make better technology in his region or country may also not know the long term effects of his action relative the entire society or greater human life.
The Rishi knows the human mind and universal consciousness and how to connect the two. This is not a matter of mere outer technology but of an inner technology of Yoga and meditation, for which the outer technology can provide the free time, releasing us from outer necessities.
Technology should be used to free our inner creativity and spirituality for a new renaissance, enlightenment and development of cosmic consciousness. If technology reduces us to shadows or replicas of machines and computers, controlled by the media, drugs and technology, caught up in outer physical and sensory enjoyment, then that technology has failed us and will only produce another Brave New World that may not last. This is the current negative trend that is developing
New Rishi leaders are necessary, not just scientists, marketing agents or liberal politicians. May a new generation of Rishis arise again to guide us forward! We must awaken a cosmic creative intelligence, not simply a new technology or artificial intelligence.