“I hope our kids will grow up with more hatred,” says a Lebanese mother. “They must be more on guard.”
A Lebanese soldier wears a T-shirt with the slogan, “Kill ’em all!”
In North Ireland an interviewer asks a boy, “What do you feel about your father’s death now?” The boy’s friend answers for him, “Revenge, that’s what you want. Isn’t it, Paul?” The boy agrees, “Aye. Revenge.”
These are the voices of vengeful survivors in countries torn by war. In such countries—and there are many of them—hatred and revenge show little sign of letup. Usually the living hatred in such places has been bred by generations of crimes and atrocities. For a person to seek revenge when his family members are slain in a sectarian feud is natural. And for an economically oppressed people to take bloody vengeance on their oppressors is also understandable. But because the hatred and revenge make peace and harmony impossible, even for future generations, a sane person will see these destructive forces as undesirable. As theologian H. E. Fosdick stated in his book Wages of Hate, “Hating people is like burning down your own house to get rid of a rat.”
The ancient Vedic literatures offer serious solutions to human hatred. The history of the great saintly king Dhruva Maharaja gives an instance of how one man overcame a revengeful anger that threatened to annihilate an entire race.
One day, Dhruva Maharaja learned that his younger brother had been killed by a member of the Yaksas, a powerful mountain tribe. Overwhelmed with lamentation and anger, Dhruva immediately got on his chariot and set out to take revenge. Dhruva Maharaja was a great fighter, and he and his forces began killing thousands of Yaksa soldiers. But Manu, the law-giver of the human race, being compassionate to the remaining Yaksas, approached Dhruva to give him instructions.
Manu did not approve the attack on an entire state to retaliate for one man’s crime. The situation was similar to many modern-day conflicts, where cities and nations of nonpolitical, nonmilitaristic men, women, and children become victims of military violence.
Manu said, “My dear son, please stop. It is not good to become unnecessarily angry. It is the path of hellish life. By killing Yaksas who are not actually offenders, you have gone too far.”
Manu’s instructions were ultimately spiritual, because according to Vedic literature, it is only when we can see the spiritual oneness of all living beings that all party differences can be cleared up.
“One should not accept the body as the self,” said Manu, “and thus, like the animals, kill the bodies of others.” The animal thinks that the body of another animal is his food; therefore, one animal attacks another. But a human being, according to Manu, the law-giver for humanity, should not even kill animals unnecessarily, what to speak of human beings.
Dhruva Maharaja was not only a warrior, but a pure devotee of Lord Krsna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead; therefore, he soon became submissive to the wisdom of Manu. Dhruva had temporarily forgotten his original God consciousness, but Manu’s instructions revived it. Nowadays, we can hardly find a politician or military leader who can stop in his tracks and deeply consider why he is pushing thousands of people on toward the path of violence. But that is even more reason why educational advice like that of Manu to Dhruva should be extended to all people. It is the greatest need of the day.
Manu taught God consciousness. He informed Dhruva that every living entity contains an eternal spark of spirit and that the Supreme Lord also dwells in the heart of everyone. Therefore, since every living creature is a residence of the Supreme Lord, unnecessary killing is unlawful. A person should act to please God, and that will simultaneously please himself and others. But vengeance will please and satisfy no one.
By elevating himself beyond sectarianism to God consciousness, a person will go beyond the bodily designations that sustain so many racial and fanatically nationalistic hatreds. For one who is God conscious, no individual or group is an ally or an enemy: everyone is an individual spirit soul, part and parcel of the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
Dhruva Maharaja took the instructions of Manu, ceased his killing, and came to peaceful terms with the Yaksas. In other words, the transcendental wisdom of Vedic knowledge was practical and successful in establishing peace. This knowledge is still applicable today, as it is universal and intended for all times. Wherever people sincerely attempt to implement this advice, therefore, good results will come.
But if wisdom like Manu’s does not become influential, then what is the fate of humanity? There are indications that the slogan “Kill ’em all!” is sometimes on the minds of the leaders of the superpowers. Abusive words and threats are passed back and forth with increased intensity, and the nuclear weapons are already on hand for the mutually assured destruction of both superpowers as well as much of the rest of the world.
In his recent address to the United Nations, President Reagan declared, “In modern times a new, more terrifying element has entered into the calculations: nuclear weapons. A nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought.”
But how can we avoid it? Summit conferences like START and INF, with bafflingly complex de-escalation plans, will always fail unless some real wisdom is introduced. Behind the diplomatic masks and underneath the superpower peace rhetoric lurks the irrational enemies of humanity: hatred, revenge, and ignorance—all based on identifying the body as the self.
The world’s leaders show no appreciable understanding of God consciousness and how it can work to solve the deadly feuds between individuals and nations. But now more than ever we need practical enlightenment. The Krsna consciousness movement is making the Vedic knowledge available to all people, with confidence that if even a few responsible leaders take it up, humankind will be spared. The alternative is to go on suffering from the ignorant, vengeful acts of those who want to “Kill ’em all!”