Forgiveness - The spiritual response to terror, forgiveness
by Jamuna Rangachari
In the mire of violence we find in the world today, is any solution possible ?
Shantanu Saikia, who lost his wife Sabina Sehgal Saikia, a senior
journalist with a leading newspaper, in the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks, has
said he and his family have forgiven him and his twelve year old son wants to
meet him. “What he did was indoctrinated into him and his group. She was not the target, but a victim.
There is no feeling of revenge, anger or rancour,” and added, “my son wants to
meet him. Probably he wanted to come to terms with his mother`s death, by doing
that,`` said Saikia, while participating in a discussion on television. “
“Is this really possible?” I thought, dumbstruck and awed at his equanimity and way of dealing with the
“So was the case with Gladys Staines and many more caught in the mire of violence. We must also realize this is actually a favour we do ourselves it is only with forgiveness that we can move on
Well, it is no
coincidence that most religions have emphasized the flowering of a heart that
can forgive. Jains begin their dus lakshan dharma (10 days to learn
about and rededicate their lives to each of the 10 pillars of Jainism) with uttam
kshama (forgiveness based on correct perception and correct knowledge) and
conclude it with kshama vani (the asking of forgiveness from each
other). They believe that in forgiveness lies the essence of all the principles
The real spirit of the Indian festival of color, is to embrace everybody by
forgetting and forgiving the wrongs of others.“Lord, forgive them for they know not what they are doing, “ said Jesus,
the essence of whose very life and teachings is the practice of forgiveness.
Prophet Mohammed is said to have climbed up the steps of a house to inquire
about the health and well being of a lady, when, unlike other days, she did not
hurl abuses or throw garbage at him.The Guru Granth Sahib, the holy book of Sikhism, is
full of verses that emphasize the need to forgive. "Bure da bhala mana.
Gussa man na vasa (Be grateful to the one who is bad to you since he is
only an instrument. Don`t allow anger to fester in your mind)," goes one
Gandhi is a prime example who tried his best to lead his life following this
tenet. In South Africa,
when three white young men wished to hurl stones, Charles Andrews, his friend and a white clergyman
suggested they turn back. Instead Gandhi, quoted the Bible, saying “to the man
who slaps you on one cheek present the other cheek too. “
Are these just tenets which are impossible to implement? Not really.
As Shantanu has shown, it is the only possible way to continue living. Perhaps,
this may also call on something in the enemy that makes his hatred decrease and
So, while we allow the judicial process to proceed, at the personal level, maybe
forgiveness and empathy are the key to a change.