Published in today’s Deccan Herald
When people are wronged, they do feel violated. This being the case, people find it all the more difficult to digest an injustice meted out to them for no particular fault of theirs. The moot question in such situations happens to be, “How to deal with the situation?” Though forgiveness is the best solution, our reaction is mostly one of dejection, seething anger and sometimes revenge.
A story from the Bhagavatha Purana can serve as a case study on the subject. There once lived a powerful king called Karthaveerya Arjuna who ruled over Mahishmathi. Once he ventured into sage Jamadagni’s Ashram. He was rendered a warm and royal hospitality. The king wondered aloud how the sage was able to rustle up such a great fare. The Rishi told him about the divine cow Kamadhenu who was in his possession. Karthaveerya Arjuna promptly coveted the divine animal. Jamadagni was reluctant to part with her. Karthaveerya Arjuna’s ego was offended by the categorical refusal. When he realized that persuasion would not work, he killed the sage in a fit of rage and walked away with Kamadhenu.
Jamadagni’s son Parashurama came to know of the gory details of the incident. He was livid. He vowed to axe down Karthaveerya Arjuna. He marched out to Mahishmathi furiously to execute his vow. Somehow, the killing of Karthaveerya Arjuna did not satiate his vengeance. He vowed to wipe out the Kshatriya clan off the face of earth. The Purana records that he went around the world twenty one times axing down every single Kshatriya who came his way.
People who have been outraged and penalized unjustly may appreciate Parashurama’s act of violence. They may even feel constrained by the law of the land to mete out justice the way they want to do so. Yet a little reflection on the subject will reveal that the brutality served no purpose. Lots of innocent lives which had little to do with the abominable act had to pay with their lives. It bred animosity, insecurity and an animal instinct to be on the defensive at all times. In fact the result of every battle and war, act of terrorism and vandalism is invariably the same across time and space.
As Mahatma Gandhi said, “An eye for an eye will make the whole world blind.”