Thursday, November 27, 2008

Massacre in Mumbai

As i write, the standoff between terrorists and Indian army commandos in Mumbai continues. Till now, more than 150 people have been killed, around 300 injured by the attacks. Yes, the remaining attackers will be killed, the body count of dead persons will go higher, the eyewitness accounts on 24/7 cable news stations will be told and retold, and the speculation about who may be responsible and how they did it will go on.

But behind the sheer horror of such barbaric and seemingly random acts of murder and chaos, what is the lesson to be learned? You will not get any underlying truths from the politicians' sound bites, the expressions of condemnation or the expert talking heads on cable tv. To get a clearer picture, we need to look at events thru the eyes of sastra.

The verse that first comes to mind is the famous padam padam ya vipadam natesam. Instead of Louis Armstrong's song, "What a Wonderful World," the reality is: What a Dangerous World this is. Anything can happen and in this world, it's often that it does. Shit happens here. You go to have dinner at a 5 star restaurant (as some were doing at the Taj and Oberoi Hotels in Mumbai yesterday evening), and without warning hand grenades are tossed, explosions go off and automatic rifles are firing rounds of deadly bullets in your direction. Who is shooting, who is dying, who is being injured, who is escaping unharmed?? In the chaos, all seems to be random, and all reason appears to be absent (although we know from sastra that everything follows nature's laws which includes the law of destiny or karma, and nature is under the control of Krishna). To the ignorant, which is basically everyone in the material world, life seems predictable, but this predictability is quite temporary and no one can predict how and when this life will end.

Another thought related to this tragic event is how this needless killing is a result of prejudice and brainwashing. My first reaction when i started seeing the unfolding drama on the internet and tv was to condemn the killers. But then i saw a photograph of one of the alleged terrorists who had attacked the VT train station in Mumbai. Most of the people he killed were innocent children, women and vendors who sell chai and snacks at the station. But this killer looked to be only around 20 years old, dressed in a t shirt and jeans, like he could have been a college student. What inspired such misplaced blind faith in him that he chose this path? For sure, it was the work of malicious hate-mongers who misuse the teachings of God to incite hopeless young men to think of themselves as martyrs and actually become murderers.

Fundamentalists of all religions are the best and worst at the offense of interpreting God's desires and His words to incite hatred, bigotry and violence to achieve not God's wishes, but their own perverted goals. How can anyone who claims to follow God not accept that everyone who has life, has God within him? How can they claim to be superior to others? How can they justify murdering other jivas, either in human form or animal form? How can one claim to act for the Father while making plans to destroy their Father's other children?

So brainwashed boys who still look like children, are inspired to kill innocents by their fundamentalist gurus. The secular societies are also ignorant about how to follow a divine system, a society based on equality and spiritual values. So they create sytems that breed injustice, greed and imbalances. These injustices are the nourishment of the envious fundamentalists. Ignorance on both sides. A world where everyone talks about freedom or truth or God, but no one listens to Him when he speaks or to his pure devotees when they appear. Everyone talks; no one listens.

The noise, both inside everyone's mind and outside in the geopolitical world, keeps getting louder and louder. It's the sound of danger. The only real protection in any dangerous situation, is the presence of God. In such dire times as these, we should remind one another of the promise of Mahaprabhu, that God is not different from his names. In fact, He is more accessible in his names than any other form. Unfortunately, i have no attraction for hearing his names. This is the real tragedy of the precarious times we live in.