So, what could have caused such a thing to happen in our country, and specifically in a city like Chennai, which many people consider to be one of India's cultural capitals? (Indeed, when I was at high school, contemplating choices for college applications, Appa seemed most enthusiastic about colleges in Chennai- simply because it has still managed to preserve its cultural identity despite blending into a cosmopolitan 21st-century city.) Could it be attributed to the current films, news and games that our generation is exposed to, always rife with violence? Is it a sign of a 'Quick Fix' society- a society that is constantly on the lookout for fast, convenient solutions to their problems, regardless of the consequences of those solutions. Does it show that we, as a race, have become more selfish and careless, easily provoked, quickly enraged, by the slightest of things? Have we traded our values for the rapid development everyone likes to talk about? Have we lost our minds to this kind of mindless violence? Have we sacrificed our ethics, our sacred principles, at the altar of materialistic success? What kind of a society have we created? Is this (along with other examples that no longer shock us) a sign that Kali Yuga has finally arrived?
This is probably the first such incident of its kind in India, and hopefully will not trigger similar events across the nation. But dare we forget it? It has raised alarm bells, and the peal of those bells cannot be quietened by the passage of time. I do not have concrete answers, but I know for a fact, that we need to wake up and figure out what's going wrong. Change our education system? Remind students about traditions and values? Demonstrate to them the need to stick to morals and ethics while pursuing success? I really don't know. All that I can think of right now is a prayer that I've been reciting almost every evening, at twilight, in front of an oil lamp, lit at the altar. It goes like this:
Asato maa sad gamaya
Tamaso maa jyotir gamaya
Mrityor maa amritam gamaya.
Om shantih shantih shantih.
The Sanskrit verse asks the Maker to lead us from untruth to that which is true, darkness to the world of light, and death to immortality. This world, going by the examples we see around us, is probably at its darkest stage. May we wake from our deep slumber, and rise to a world of light!