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Terror and Forgiveness

By: for ISKCON News on Dec. 10, 2015
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Paris, November 2015.

Antoine Leiris not just lost his young wife in the recent Paris carnage but his 17 month old son also lost his mother. Addressing her killers he wrote an open letter, “I don’t know who you are and I don’t want to know, you are dead souls. If this God for whom you kill blindly made us in his image, every bullet in the body of my wife is a wound in his heart.” He further wrote, “So no, I will not give you the satisfaction of hating you. You want it, but to respond to hatred with anger would be to give in to the same ignorance that made you what you are.”

In this hate filled atmosphere when hordes of lumpen terrorists are gleefully killing people hearing the message of peace and tolerance especially from someone who has been a victim of the mayhem is although surprising but is so pleasing. 

True, humanity cannot be led seize by the acts of barbaric people, their mission of spreading hate and violence cannot be countered by more hatred and more violence. But nevertheless they need to be nabbed and neutralized and all the government of the world are working in that direction.

But the world has now become an unsafe place for all. The thirsty bullets of the terrorists vying for blood of innocents have filled our life with fear.  Today we can be killed anywhere – in restaurants, in theatre, in parks, in planes, in trains, on road, in offices and also in our homes.

The question which begs an answer is why so much violence in the world? Why one man rejoices killing another man?  Will the situation improve or will further deteriorate? 

Humans start behaving savagely when their animalistic propensity overshadows his human emotions. This happens when the feeling of compassion and love gets buried under the debris of hate and ignorance. Vedic literature addresses this gruesome reality comprehensively and presents a roadmap which if followed with due diligence can create a world which will not be blemished with blood and fear.  Srimad Bhagavatam (SB) 12.2.1 says that in the age of Kaliyuga, the age in which we currently live, religion declines and so do mercy.  And we see today that authentic religious principles as given in the bona fide religious literature are being sacrificed at the altar of secularism and modernity. This has resulted in the rise of killer brigade who cunningly use religion as a tool for selfish purposes. They choose vulnerable youths as recruits who could be easily brain washed and made to believe that killing people will please his God.  There activities bring disrepute to God and his genuine followers. 

This is a tough time for the devotees of the Lord because they have to simultaneously fight at two fronts. At one extreme are the atheists who want to deny the existence of God and at the other extreme are the terrorists & the hate brigade who claim to be the spokespersons of the God.

In such a hostile environment the torchbearers of religious principles should rise from their slumber to defeat the nefarious motives of the enemies of humanity. And the weapon to be used is the ‘wisdom words’ of sacred books such as Vedic literatures. As each ray of the sun easily swallows the darkness similarly each message contained in these books has the potential to ignite the mind and devour the ignorance.

History attests to this fact that whenever civilization passes through tough times the spiritually intelligent people take initiative to salvage the humanity. The representative of God always works for the welfare of mankind and continuously guides them towards righteousness. As Kaliyuga entered, vice began to overshadow virtue, alarmed at this outcome the sages assembled in Naimisaraṇya to discuss how to save people from the negative influence of this age. To achieve this they all decided that they should discuss elaborately about the transcendental message of the Supreme Lord, his different incarnations, his various pastimes and how the common man can get ultimate benefit by understanding his relationships with the benevolent Lord.  Speaking and hearing about the Lord is the most potent medicine because the words laced with transcendental message purifies a human heart checking all his sinful tendencies and simultaneously inspiring him to lead a virtuous life. 

Great personalities have revolutionized people’s life by instilling in their heart the love of God. For example Srila Prabhupada used to just chant the names of the Lord and speak the words of God from the sacred Vedas. He did not have money power or political power or muscle power but had pure spiritual power which was sufficient enough to change people’s heart and mind.  And to the surprise of the whole world his students easily took to devotional life and gave up all bad habits including eating meat because they understood that as a human if we inflict injury on other children of God then the act would displease God.

Today when the brutal bullets of the miscreants are causing tremendous pain and anxiety to all, the soothing message of these sacred books can only heal the bleeding heart. These holy books spread love and bring lots of hope; it can change the world by changing people’s heart by transforming greed into generosity, anger into compassion and hate into love. So without any discrimination and delay we should share the words of God in each and every corner of the world. Srimad Bhagavatam confirms that once a man’s mind is enlivened by the knowledge of Personality of Godhead the knot in the heart is pierced and all misgivings are cut to pieces (Srimad Bhagavatam 1.2.20 & 1.2.21). 

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Purushottam Nitai Das is a member of congregation at Iskcon Kolkata. He blogs at

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