Lesson from the Pune landslide tragedy

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As per the latest reports, out of around 200 persons feared trapped under debris after a massive landslide hit the tribal village of Malin in Ambegaon Taluka of Pune district on Wednesday early morning, 30 are declared dead. Malin, a village 112 km from Pune, is located at the base of a hill with a population of around 700.   The survivors said that they heard a loud sound at the time of the incident and saw a giant debris crashing down over the entire village which comprises of 48 houses. The impact left only the spire of the 35-foot high temple visible as the entire village got submerged in the landslide.

The blame for the tragedy has been quickly rewarded to the heavy rain over the past few days. They say the rain loosened the soil and dislodged boulders and rocks on the hill. They also say the rescue operations have been hampered by the rain and the narrow road and poor communication lines have made the job more difficult.

Environmentalists say large-scale deforestation had made the place vulnerable. Landslide experts opine that the root cause of the landslide appears to be leveling of land on the hill for cultivation, and the uprooting of trees.

Who to believe? Any person with a little understanding of how the nature works will not have two opinions. There is a saying in Gujarati – kag nu besavu ane dal nu padavu – meaning if a crow happens to sit on a branch of a tree and if the branch breaks, foolish people would think that the crow caused the branch to fall.  Rain strikes the same area since time immemorial. Why the landslide only this year? That is where the opinions of the environmentalists start making sense to the industry-lovers who are otherwise proud of their ambitious enterprises. And let us also understand that this tragedy is not the end of the game. Rather it is just a cautionary notice from the nature.

Regardless of what the so-called experts say, we can understand from the scriptures, from the teachings of Srila Prabhupada, and even from our experience, that the main reason behind the landslide is the gross misuse of natural resources. If a drunkard enters a supermarket he may start picking up anything and everything not knowing he won’t be allowed to leave without paying. Similarly, today’s man has gone insane and thinks that the natural resources around him are no one’s property and that it is up to him how to snatch it, use it or throw it.

Srila Prabhupada says: “Those who are bewildered by the external features of the material world and are engaged in the animal propensities of the eat-drink-and-be-merry type of life are simply wasting their lives by the unseen passing away of valuable years.”

Lord Krishna says in the Bhagavad Gita: mayadhyaksena prakrtih suyate sa-caracaram  hetunanena kaunteya jagad viparivartate. Meaning “This material nature, which is one of My energies, is working under My direction, O son of Kunti, producing all moving and non-moving beings. Under its rule this manifestation is created and annihilated again and again.” In the purport, Srila Prabhupada says, “It is clearly stated here that the Supreme Lord, although aloof from all the activities of the material world, remains the supreme director. The Supreme Lord is the supreme will and the background of this material manifestation, but the management is being conducted by material nature.”

Even if the non-believers do not want to accept the statements of the scriptures, they are invariably forced to face the resultant actions, and at that time they have nothing else to take shelter of except claims for doing better in the future. And when they find things going out of control they start shooting in the dark with the same lofty claims as if they knew it all.  It is high time people understand the intricacies of the laws of nature.  It is all well explained in the ancient Indian scriptures, but unfortunately, the tendency is to ignore it for want of sufficient education and fear of the results. Fortunately, ignorance of the law is no excuse.

The law of nature is not going to see anyone differently. If we ignore scriptural instructions as to how to use the natural resources only in the service of its master, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and if think that we can go on cutting trees to make concrete skyscrapers, and constructing dams to support irresponsible industries, then we are undoubtedly, and unfortunately, inviting more tragedies. In Pune it was landslide; it could be a devastating flood or a wildfire somewhere else. The principle remains the same – if we want to be happy in life, we have no other choice but obey the laws of the nature.

Hare Krishna