Lust for Lucre
By Jyots Bhattacharjee
Apparently thieves are not the least interested in religious boundaries or in others’ faith. They seem to live in a world of their own, which is dark and isolated. Thefts in religious places have become a rule rather than exception. We often hear about them and no religious place is safe from them. We have heard about these cases of theft in various places, including our own state. In many bizarre incidents of theft, the burglars have begun to act across religious considerations stunning the general people and the administration. Newspapers often report about the incidents of assaults on religious places. They may be atheists, who do not believe in god. But that does not mean that they have the right to hurt the religious sentiments of others. Religious places store jewelry, cash and other valuable things offered by the worshippers. Most of the idols in the temples are gems-studded and they date centuries back. They are actually tiol treasure. But these petty thieves do not bother about the antiquity or magnificence of these precious idols. They only know that these idols would fetch them huge amounts of money, as they are in great demand. That is all that matters for the thief. They are neither interested in religious sentiments nor in the history of the idols, since their only aim is to accumulate money and nothing else. Self-interest is their main idea and they do not care about tiol loss. Their interest is purely individual and not tiol.
There are countless cases of stealing of precious idols from diverse temples. In our state also we have heard the news regarding the decimation of religious places, stealing of idols. Sometimes they even carry on wanton destruction of the idols and temples. It demonstrates only a kind of sick mind; or why should they needlessly destroy temple property? Perhaps because of their sick mentality they derive some perverse pleasure out of their destructive activities. Only some psychiatrist may be able to delve into their inner minds and cure them. We have to deduce that they must suffer from some mental disease; otherwise there is no explation of their destructive activities.
The thieves possibly do not belong to any religion, or they could not have hurt the religious sentiments of the people or perhaps the temptation of filthy lucre is too strong to ignore. During the pujas I see many people offering gold, silver or cash to the deity with the mistaken belief that their sin will be washed out and the deity will forgive them, if they offered valuable things. So after stealing the idols and other things, and committing some heinous crime they go to offer puja and gold and other valuable things to the deity to get forgiveness and blessings in return. But how foolish and silly of them! They merely belittle the deity by offering all that wealth. The gods and goddesses have everything and they do not need anything from us except sincerity, honesty and devotion. But the crimils make mistake by assuming that supertural divine being can be bought with money. Their sin merely gets increased because of their infamous conduct. After all, two wrongs cannot make one right. Deities are supertural divine beings and they should not be conceived as human beings. Human beings can be bought with bribes, but divine beings cannot be propitiated with bribes. But because of our limited knowledge and lop-sided vision we cannot understand this basic truth that the deities want nothing from us.
For the unscrupulous and uninitiated people there is only one God and that is money. For getting money they may commit any number of heinous crimes without care. They have stolen any number of precious idols, valuable jewelry and cash from diverse temples across the country, including our own state. For the worshippers these idols are not merely some statues or some valuable work of antique sculpture, but they are living deities, who can hear us and who can help us in our needs. But for the thieves they are merely some valuable commodities for sale, which will bring big money. They do not care that by such atrocious activities they have terribly hurt the religious feelings of countless devotees, who cannot imagine a temple without their revered God or Goddess. Really these thieves are a bunch of heartless people, who do not have any feeling for anybody and who do not have a trace of spiritualism in them.
I suppose these thieves have neither a conscience nor any feeling. They may have granite in place of heart. Otherwise how can they do such terrible crimes and remain happy. I sincerely wish that the Gods and Goddesses could have appeared in the scene to prevent the misdeeds of the crimils. At least that is apparently what happened in the ancient era, if we go by the ancient texts and the T.V. mythological serials. But obviously this does not happen in this kaliyuga. The deities do not appear before us, since we are all sinners. In the pre-historic era apparently the deities appeared at the drop of a hat and they destroyed the evil forces to protect the good. But now they do not come. Possibly they have noticed that there are no good persons in this earth of ours; all are evil-doers. So whom would the deities protect? They may have abandoned us to our fate. I fervently hope and pray that the deities reconsider their decision and do not forsake us. That will be disastrous to mankind as well as to this good earth of ours. The thieves and the other anti-socials do not care and the various kinds of crimes are going on ubated.
From the media we learn that only recently they stole some idols of Mahavira and some Hindu deities. It is terribly sad that the crimils do not care about the sanctity of certain sacred things. There are no words to condemn such atrocities, which merely reflect their inhuman ture. They do not seem to realize how their despicable actions have hurt the religious feelings of the devotees. But then they are devoid of higher feelings or finer values.
These people may be atheists, who do not believe in God. But even the atheists do not vandalize religious places. They may be non-believers, but they too have moral sense and they certainly possess conscience. Mahatma Gandhi identified God with truth and he said that the atheists apparently believe only in the things which they perceive and they do not believe in supertural deities, which can neither be demonstrated nor proved. In a way they are empiricists, since they have faith only on the things which can be perceived or proved. Their beliefs depend on a certain principle. May be, they are followers of Berkeley, for whom “Esse Est Percipi” (Existence is perception). Atheists do not believe in divine entities simply because they cannot be proved. But they do not ever try to hurt others’ religious sentiments and have no destructive inclitions. They may not believe in the existence of unknown divine beings; but they respect the sentiments of others. But these thieves, who destroy property of religious places and steal idols and other valuables, have no theories regarding religions. They do not have any ideal to follow. Perhaps they believe in some brand of religion and go to offer prayers in diverse places. But their prayers are irrelevant and superficial and they cannot wash away their sins by following certain rituals.
Recently we heard that fourteen precious idols of Hindu deities were stolen from an ancient Ram Jaki Math (Religious Semiry) in Vaishali district, some 40 kilometer north of Pat. According to the police, the stolen idols of Lord Rama and his family made of astadhatu were worth Rupees one crore in the intertiol market. It does demonstrate that those buyers of these precious idols are as bad as these thieves, who do not hesitate to sell precious idols, which have religious and historical value. Because of the huge amounts of money offered by these intertiol crooks, the thieves here are tempted to steal the idols and other valuable things just for acquiring pots of money.
The administration seems to have failed in protecting the sanctity of the religious places. Only recently we heard about the theft in a Jain temple in Jagiroad. The media reported that the idol, silver throne and cash were stolen by the miscreants. Obviously there is no safety in the abode of gods. We should be ashamed to ourselves for these heinous acts. It is time the gods appeared on the earth to save their abodes on earth and punish the miscreants, since our man-made government is uble to do so.
India was once a country where spiritualism reigned supreme. People followed the rule of dharma and never deviated from the path. The people went through three stages in their life time. They were Brahmacharya (Celibacy), Garhastha (householder), Banprastha (Life in forest) and Sanyas (Complete renunciation). That was the way to the realization of God or Moksa (liberation). Strict discipline was enforced in the life of every person and they never deviated from the rightful path. The young boys were sent to the ashram (hermitage) of the guru, where they learnt all the necessary things for a spiritual and happy life. Whenever there was rise of evil forces, God came to the earth to protect the good and destroy the evil.
In the Ramaya, written by Maharshi Valmiki, we find that God’s incartion Rama appeared on the earth to destroy Rava and other demons. In the Mahabharata, written by Maharshi Vyas Dev, we find that Lord Sri Krish came to the earth to destroy the evil forces like Kansa and the Kauravas, who were threatening to establish a reign of terror. As Lord Sri Krish told Arju in the Bhagavad Gita—
“Yada yada hi dharmashya glani bhabati Bharate
Abhyutham adharmashya tadatmam srijamyaham
Paritraya sadhum visaya ca duskritam
Dharma sangthaparthaya sambhabami yuge yuge”
(Whenever and wherever there is a decline in religious practice, O descendent of Bharata, and a predomint rise of irreligion—at that time I descend myself to deliver the pious and to annihilate the miscreants, as well as to reestablish the principles of religion, I myself appear, millennium after millennium.)
We are told that God comes to the earth in various forms to destroy the demons and protect the innocent people. Whenever irreligion rises He assumes diverse incartions to establish religion. I believe the thieves of the idols and other valuables from the religions places are not merely irreligious, but they are demons in human forms to destroy religion and the finer values of mankind. I wonder when we will be free from them! These anti-socials have no respect for any religion, even if they belong to one of them money is their goal, their destiny and their salvation.
Man destroys tural resources, kill animals, even human beings if necessary and commit all sorts of atrocities—all for money. Human beings are supposed to be the highest product in the evolutiory series. They are different from animals, because they have ratiolity and they can think. They have conscience, which determines what is good and what is evil. But in spite of having a conscience and despite his capacity to determine values, he is not behaving like a ratiol being. Can we say that man is superior to animals in any way?
Animals are not at all cruel and though they do not possess a conscience, they never wantonly kill anybody or destroy anything. Whatever they do, it is for self-preservation. But human beings are guided by selfishness and greed. Their wants are unending and for that they indulge in any sinful activity without sparing a thought for the calamity they are causing with their ruinous activities. For money and wealth they steal venerated idols, which are centuries old. No religion is sacred for these thieves. The buyers in the intertiol market are also equally guilty.
There is no limit to the atrocities of man. We have often heard about the killing of the one-horned Rhinoceros, the pride of Assam, by some anti-socials, because of the high demand for Rhino horns in the intertiol market. It is said that rhino horns have great medicil value. Again, according to some people rhino horns bring luck. You may have seen some people wearing rings or lockets where some small pieces of rhino horns are engraved. These superstitions make people crazy after rhino horns and they are ready to pay whatever is demanded by the seller. They do not realize that their sinful conduct may lead to the extinction of one of the invaluable gifts of God to the mankind. Besides the rhinos man also kills many other animals for persol gain.
I think materialism has made man terribly selfish and egoistic. Human beings have forgotten that they do not live in this world forever, and one day they would have to leave the earth. The material things they desire have no permanent value. Only virtuous conduct will show them the path of liberation, which should be the goal of every human being. Money has only relative value, but no absolute value. Only Truth, Beauty and Good have absolute value and the supreme Reality is the embodiment of these values. One day we have to reap the fruits of our action, if not in this life, then in the next life. Indian philosophy believes in “karmaphal” (The result of our action). Only good action can lead to a good life and we should certainly keep in mind this moral maxim. Lust for lucre ultimately brings nothing but suffering, it can never give happiness. We should also note that happiness lies in giving and not in taking.