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Religious Freedom, Violence, and Shanti

Om, Shanti, Shanti, Shanti

Shalom, Salom, Peace

Similarly, Aseem Shukla's essay on Bin Laden's death generated some electric, electronic back and forth within the leadership of Hindu American Foundation. The Hindu holidays that I celebrate to mark the death of a rakshasa (demon) is, for me, an analogy—the person or creature is a personification of an aspect of our own natures that we must overcome. Reading and re-reading the Bhagavad Gita is a means to conquer the demons within, not a means to justify war. HAF Executive Council Member Sachi Lamb's stance, most akin to mine, led me to find the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. quote from Strength to Love:

Are we seeking power for power's sake? Or are we seeking to make the world and our nation better places to live? If we seek the latter, violence can never provide the answer. The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral, begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy. Instead of diminishing evil, it multiplies it. Through violence you may murder the liar, but you cannot murder the lie, nor establish the truth. Through violence you may murder the hater, but you do not murder hate. In fact, violence merely increases hate. So it goes. Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.  

Thankfully, much has been said both about the jubilation and justice served, and I slowly find solace in words such as MLK's.

So seeking shanti becomes both an action and reaction. Since I wish ahimsa could be practiced by more people, my reaction is to push harder for peace both inside and out. I lose myself in the devotional music of southern India at Sarovar 2011 and use the power of the pen to speak out for what I believe in.

5/11/2011 4:00:00 AM