Eating is an agricultural act - Wendell Berry

Wednesday, December 03, 2008


the following thought has come and gone over the last week.
i even recall using the the phrase "these poor fellows".
but never found the space and courage to be direct about it.
the ten guys who came in and chaosed mumbai through their guns and grenades.
i forgive them. i don't hate them. they are the "poor fellows".

i borrow the following from a mail exchange from the author who wrote "Hotel Taj: Icon of Whose India?"

they (the terrorists) were as selfless and sacrificing as the commandos, equally brilliant and efficient in warfare like the commandos. the only problem has been they have been motivated by a ideology that taught them to hate and destroy in the name of religion.


Aniket said...

Quite true ...i have been since wondering abt their courage -- all of them being so young .. just crossed the twenty mark !!

Also, i am really impressed by the quality of the 'education' they are imparted ...albeit it is not in the right direction.

Vanessa said...

Have not been watching Indian news channels, i wonder if Arundhati Roy and brigade have been there echoing these sentiments.
Young boys? I remember feeling bad to see a stray dog limping on an injured leg. At the age of 8 probably. These people don't even flinch performing their ghastly acts.
Why don't u guys feel the same for people from shivsena/ Bajrang dal who will lay down their lives for their leader. What command the leader must have on them....never heard of anyone talking like that about our own misguided youth.
I am sorry, i have no sympathy.

Prasad Athalye said...

Absolutely no sympathy on anyone who comes in the category of terrorist no matter age.. innocent common man in mumbai has lost his life in the attacks. Everyone is highly shattered. Mumbai has been seen as a terriost place all over the world and lost its image.

I think all the terrorist were in the age of 21 to 25 and hence they are adults..
Most importantly they care about life of their family (as mentioned by one of the terriost) which states clearly that they have ability to think and well understands the value of life. I dont think this is misguidance.

csm said...

thanks for your responses.
i am not going to judge the comments here. will respond to any direct/indirect questions.
the crux of my point is to be able to separate the action and the person and codone the former only.

v - this forgiveness concept will extend to all humanity irrespective of their school of thinking. including the naxals, the vhp brigade. while i dont subscribe to their philosophy and their ideology, their cadres are the best when it comes to disaster relief operations.

prasad - having spent time with kids and youth over the last few years, i know for a fact that it is not rocket science to wrap them around your fingers.
age has nothing to do with maturity. how many times have you thought your parents/relatives are immature. i know i have thought it several times.

the power of forgiveness comes from the power of universal love. if you trust the latter, the former is a natural corollary.

Preeti Aghalayam aka kbpm said...

i am with you of course csm. i feel sad for them. they are legally adults yes, but such children. i cannot hate or loathe them (even if i would like to). it has nothing whatsoever to do with people being muslim or hindu; from gujarat or asamgarh or karachi or wherever. for once, i agree with that line too - separate the people from the problem....

Vanessa said...

Its all good in theory. Totally useless when the guy has a gun aimed at you. Who would think of the assailant's religion/ age nationality/ affiliations/ education/ innocence or lack thereof...while looking down the barrel of a gun?
We are staring at one now, after what happened. Maybe literally in the near future. Its scary.

Amidst all, csm, wish you a happy first wedding anniversary- Dec 5

csm said...

v - thanks for the wishes and the timely reminder.

am going to try a random hypothetical situation - assume you are facing the barrel of the gun. you have 2 choices (i am restricting to the 2 that being deliberated in this post)
1. to enrage yourself to show the gun pointer that you hate that guy.
2. to be calm and show/tell him that you forgive him.

if death is certain, which state of mind would you like to die with?

in most likelihood, there will be many more choices (including doing nothing, cowering in fear, pleading and begging, etc)

and it is not theory. there are a few practitioners. read about dr. ariyaratnefrom sri lanka. check the video as well (the introduction by nipun is quite stunning).
nothing prevents us from adopting a similar stance.

Prasad Athalye said...

CSM - I think this battle has thoughts directly tied up with indias freedom fighters. There used to be two set of people popularly known as (Naram dal - Mahatma gandhijis followers) & Garam dal (Veer Savarkars followers) like Bhagat singh, vasudeo balwant phadke. Each side of people coluldnt convince other.

I still think instead of forgiving OR killing the only left terrorist, make his life miserable and painful in such a way, that any one who thinks to join terrorist group will think 100 times after seeing result. But instead if we forgive, it will give birth to such others taking it for granted.

Purvs said...

Question: If these nine terrorists had escaped and murdered another 200 innocents two months from now, would you forgive them again? How long does one keep forgiving someone and making excuses for them?

Vanessa said...

Agree with Purvi.
As to the hypothetical question, its fight or flight. I would turn the gun back on him if i had the ability/ training. Or try to escape.
If death is certain as you say. Doesn't matter what thoughts i die with. I won't be able to broadcast them from heaven (or hell :)). Its how my family reacts. I am sure my husband and daughter can never forgive. My kid won't appreciate the courage/ training of the person who killed her mother.
If the society/ law forgives the killer, my kid might grow up to be another terrorist.

Vanessa said...

@Aniket- What kind of courage does it take to attack unarmed/ unprepared people and throw grenades? Even a 5 year old has COURAGE to throw stones at FROGS.

I don't think they were here to die for the cause either. They sure counted on negotiating their way out, getting few people released and being HEROES back home. Just like the Kandahar hijack "HEROES". Don't think they were briefed about the possible counter-attack by our commandos.

csm said...

forgiveness does not mean expiating kasav's criminal acts. he and whoever commits criminal acts will have to face the consequences.
it also does not mean that we slack off protecting ourselves and our communities.

purvi - there is no end to forgiveness.

prasad - if your rationale is true, then the death penalty should be a deterrent to murderers/psychopaths. is it? there is enough research to prove it otherwise.
we tend to do the aggressive reaction by reflex (for eg., when a stray dog barks at you, you do a stone throw fake automatically). we can attempt to train our minds in responding and not reacting. the ariyaratne video is exemplary in highlighting this particular topic.

v - you presumption on how your family and particularly shreya will grow up is completely unfounded. unless you are instilling these thoughts in her, there is no way you can predict how others will behave (even if they are carrying your genetic markers).
here is a good link to see the impact of forgiveness -
there are many many more such great inspiring stories of forgiveness.

Preeti Aghalayam aka kbpm said...

i do think its natural to momentarily feel anger if a close one dies. we are even angry at DOCTORS when a loved one dies in hospital. but the question is, how useful is this? maybe you are an active one who makes it your lifes aim to destroy the person you are angry at. so? that person's family is now angry at you, and not reluctant to take some 'action'. and so on it goes. Got to break the cycle at some point. Hate has to be absolutely the most unproductive emotion ever.

and anyway this can hardly be about these 10 terrorists. the game is much bigger than that surely.

Vanessa said...

"forgiveness does not mean expiating kasav's criminal acts. he and whoever commits criminal acts will have to face the consequences."

Then what does forgiveness mean?

The idea of a child growing up and avenging a parent's death sounds straight from Bollywood, i know. Dont know abt revenge, but the psychological impact at the early age will be immense. Will sure determine what kind of person he/she becomes. Not 'forgiving' for sure.
I wonder how the 2 yr old whose parents were killed in nariman house attack will grow up to be. Will he forgive them? in another 5,10,15,20 years?

csm said...

kenny - keeping it at the level of the 26/11 attacks. it is a useful juncture to dwell upon and then build from there.

v - Dr ML King points out that the first step in loving our enemies is developing and maintaining the power to forgive, “He who is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love.’ He later explains that “Forgiveness does not mean ignoring what has been done… It means that the evil act no longer remains as a barrier to the relationship. Forgiveness is a catalyst creating the atmosphere necessary for a fresh start and a new beginning.” Dr. King’s next point about forgiveness is that “we must recognize that the evil deed of the enemy, the thing that hurts, never quite expresses all that he is …we must not seek to defeat or humiliate the enemy, but to win his friendship and understanding.”

if the child is exposed to hatred, chances are that the child would grow to take revenge.
if the child is exposed to forgiveness, i am certain that the child would assimilate it just as well.

it is not important for me to imagine or hypothesise how little moshe would grow up. i have no control over that.
it is important for me to know how i grow up and respond to such situations.
i can only control that.

Aniket said...

Sorry for being invisible .. busy in shifting house

I still think it's not the same as throwing stones at frogs ... if it was a serial bomb-blast issue, i wud have said that ... but out here it wasnt the same. And in their mindset, they might be even greater 'heroes' now as opposed to the Kandahar case.

And ...never wud i say that he who killed should be set free ....but its 'WE' who need to not carry this hatred thru our lives ...this indeed sows the seeds for the next gen terrorists in us

Prasad Athalye said...

CSM - I remember when BJP were in ruling, Vajpeyee himself went to the border and started Samjhota express forgiving everything what happened in past. The word itself says that his intension was to bring piece and to improve relations. So this exercise has been done once from our side.

But even after that there were many attacks still.. I think some relations would never be improved despite whatever happens.

On the other hand people claim their act being driven by their religion. The root cause is the interpritation and thinking behind such fight which is pushed to everyones mind from childhood and passed to next set of generations.

People from media, puts blame on our country to be responsible for such attacks. See the video on TOI. All such things directly affects mindset, relationships and take away the principal of forgiveness.

I think we have tried 'Sam', 'Dam', 'Dand'..

its time for 'Bhed'.

Jai Hind

csm said...

prasad - am sure that forgiveness has not tried honestly enough.
my point here in this post is to look at this at a personal level and not at the country level or at a systemic level.

when you say it is time for bhed, do you mean another partition? around religion?
then be prepared to do the same thing around caste, gothram, etc.

Prasad Athalye said...

CSM - Bhed is to make the enemy weak and alone from all grounds.. Alienate the enemy from its support and supporters. India is already on the path where the the country is being declared as Terriost country.. It seems this weapon is working so far..

Serious Lounger said...

kewl, csm you of a profound mind can only forgive those guys - kids yes, but then at the age of 21-28 we have most people earning a living, supporting their families and in some cases running multinational organisations - so they know what they were doing and very clearly at that too - this was not a 14 year old with a gun. I dont feel the need to forgive them and well, in moi personal opinion, gandhiji's satyagraha wouldnt cut ice with these coots - for no matter how bad the brits were, they were finally worried about killing too many people and looking bad at it and that is when non violence and forgiveness work - the ability to use a larger public opinion to force action - here the people involved dont care about public opinion - so this thinggy of forgiveness, etc etc wont cut ice. and i think if you have cancer, you would do better to excise it from your system. And if I were facing a gun, I would rather give it back them than sit a say I forgive you - atleast makes me feel that i did something active as opposed to passive..

csm said...

1. using age to determine capabilities and motivations! valid if you are talking about the 'average joes' - which these guys are certainly not.
2. the approach of forgiveness is not result-oriented. there is no attempt to 'make it work'. it derives extensively from "do your duty, don't expect the fruits".
3. the cancer you mention is not kasab and co, it is the hate we (includes kasab and co) carry within ourselves.
unless we aim to tackle that, eliminating terror camps, LeT, JuD, etc., will only eliminate terrorists and not terrorism.

Serious Lounger said...

arre baba, precisely moi point - mere mortals like us cant forgive that easily, comes a lot easier for profound sages like ye :D :P.. anyways, my limited point is that forgiveness has to have an impact - you cannot sit and forgive everything forever, if things dont change - gandhiji was willing to turn his other cheek only because it had an impact on the brits - the same does not apply to these religious fanatics - cos if you turn your other cheek, they will slap you again..