Back to the Editorial
(Hinduwebsite Editorial - Exploring Truth
Amidst Lies and Distortions)
A number of people died during the recent natural disaster
near Kedarnath temple. The temple survived the ravages of flood,
but many people died. There is a news that the incident had shaken
the faith of many people and some had even vowed never to visit
the place again.
The tragedy raised an important question. How can people who
visit a sacred temple or who go on religious pilgrimage can meet
with such a terrible fate? If God is there, how can this really
One of the Shankaracharyas commented that it happened because
Siva got angry. Now, Siva has not definitely spoken to anyone about
this and whatever the blessed Shankaracharya said was most likely
There is another news in circulation according to which it happened
because the authorities moved the statue of the goddess from there
to another place.
A Television serial may show Siva and Parvathi as ordinary householders
weeping, crying and getting angry for every small inconvenience.
But it makes no sense when you consider the fact that Siva is the
Lord of the Universe consisting of billions of galaxies and planets.
A lord of that kind of real estate has to do a lot of multitasking
to balance things and keep the planets in their orbits. We do not
think that He would be unduly disturbed for whatever happens at
Kedarnath due to activities of ordinary folk given the fact that
ours is a phenomenal world subject to constant change and decay
and we are prone to act according to our instincts and desires.
How can our gods punish us when we are made to be ignorant, deluded
and egoistic? We are created this way and we are expected to act
in ignorant ways, are not we? Logically, gods should be annoyed
if we disobey them and act intelligently against the intentions
of Nature. This is indeed true and validated by our scriptures.
The Vedas clearly say our gods are not pleased if we try to achieve
liberation. Just as we would not feel happy if we lose our cattle,
gods are not happy if human beings escape from the mortal world.
We therefore do not agree with any idea that suggests that our divinities
out of anger or annoyance precipitated this tragedy. If we make
mistakes gods would understand it since we are made to make mistakes
and make wrong choices.
We know it is very difficult to reason about this with
those who might have been part of the tragedy or lost some close
relation. We know it is equally difficult to dispute the matter
with eminent spiritual leaders who have an opinion of their own
to explain the tragedy. While general public may get over with it
after a few weeks, it t may take years, and perhaps decades, for
some people to recover from the shock.
And this was not for the first time that a tragedy happened at
a sacred place. People dying at places of pilgrimage or during religious
festivals is not uncommon in India or in other parts of the world.
Tragedies happen and sometimes hundreds of people die.
When things go wrong, it is human to look for causes and blame
someone or something for it. When tragedies happen people become
emotional. They blame politicians, government, and God or gods.
But to blame God or the divinities for them is probably stretching
our imagination too far. Hindus are not expected to do it at all.
In our tradition we make the choices. We call the shots. Our
gods come into picture only when we want to. Otherwise, they remain
silent in their respective spheres.
It makes perfect sense for a Muslim or Christian to look to God
when such tragedies happen. In these religions God is the Guardian
of people. He enforces the law. He is responsible for the lives
and redemption of people who believe in Him. The believers are His
flock and He is their shepherd. They are bound by a Covenant, with
their duties and responsibilities clearly defined. He keeps a close
watch on people and rewards them or punishes them according to their
deeds on the Day of Judgment. Until then, they are not punished
but left to themselves.
In Hinduism, the equation between people and God are very different.
In our case, God does not control our lives, unless we surrender
to Him completely and obliterate all notions of duality and separation
from Him. In other cases, we are judged by our own actions. God
makes a promise to take full care of the lives of only those who
surrender to Him unconditionally and spend their entire lives in
Under normal circumstances He does not interfere in our lives,
unless we seek His active intervention. For the most part, He leaves
us to ourselves and gives us the freedom to act according to our
wills, within the limitations of the laws He lays down.
In Hinduism, there is no Judgment Day. We are, in fact, judged
every day and every moment as long as we live by our own thoughts,
desires, intentions and actions. The punishment or reward
comes in the end cumulatively, when we depart from here with our
Therefore it is very inappropriate and ignorance to blame God
or goddesses for the problems we face or the suffering we undergo
upon earth. If we pray, our gods will probably help us. But if we
do not pray, they do not punish us. They remain indifferent. If
we make mistakes, they let the law of karma to take care of it.
Karma is the fence enclosing our whole world. Inside it we all are
prisoners. This is the truth. Our prayers are also either answered
or ignored according to our past karmas.
In Hinduism, this is the truth: we are responsible for our lives
and for our actions. When things go wrong, we have to look within
ourselves to find the causes, because we and we alone precipitate
our reality. Even natural calamities are the result of our collective
Because of this, we are not supposed to blame God for the incidents
that happen upon earth. It is either individual karma or collective
karma which is in play or perhaps both. Blaming God for our suffering
is a bad karma because it is the same as accusing an innocent person
God is not responsible for our suffering. We are responsible
for it. We create and recreate our lives continuously with our thoughts,
desires and actions. This is Hinduism in action. While hundreds
died, thousands of people escaped miraculously. Now, you may think
whey they were able to escape.
Therefore, let us stop blaming Siva or the gods for the tragedy.
The tragedy happened because of gross negligence on the part of
many institutions who are responsible for the welfare of the people
who live there and the tourists who visit it.
It is clearly a manmade disaster, shaped by human greed, in which
both individual actions and collective actions played a significant
role. The gods have not caused it. Probably they might have averted
a much bigger disaster to save a few good souls. Therefore, let
us reflect upon this incident with humility and see what we can
learn from it.
Suggested Further Reading