There is an interesting story in the Mahabharata, not as often retold. It is the story of how the illustrious, valiant clan of the Yadavas to which Krishna belonged, destroyed themselves.
Fearing bad omens surfacing in his land, Krishna and the Yadavas go on a pilgrimage to Prabas—a holy town near the ocean. A fight breaks out between factions that cannot agree, assumedly on what had transpired in the great Kurukshetra war featured in the Mahabharata. Words lead to blows.
In a fit of anger, Krishna reaches out to a blade of Eraka grass that miraculously turns into an iron weapon and kills the miscreants. Taking a cue from Krishna, everyone reaches out to the blades of grass around, which turn into lethal weapons.
They are intoxicated and overcome by anger, rage, passion. It is only too easy to “pull the trigger.” They aim the weapons on each other. Quickly, the situation escalates into a full-fledged bloodbath and in the ensuing skirmish the Yadavas manage to wipe out their entire race. A part of this weapon finally causes the end of Krishna too. It is a tragic end to a glorious people.
It is hard to comprehend how in one instant, harmless grass becomes a stockpile of dangerous weapons. In the hands of an inebriated lot, the weapons become nothing short of complete annihilation machines. What haunts me, in particular, is how easy and quick the decimation is.
How fickle our natures are. Even Krishna the exalted one, instead of conducting himself with grace gives in to anger and violence in a moment of madness.
The weapon brings out the ugly in the most beautiful of people.
When I hear about tragedies of Sandy Hook, Columbine and San Bernadino, I am reminded of this story. Weapons in the arms of a chosen few is permissible in a society where we wish for collective law and order to prevail. Weapons freely available to anyone and everyone is a different story.
I have trouble accepting the argument of defence as justification. Life is not a video-game where we are Jedis fighting the Dark Forces. There is real blood spilled and real loss of life. Innocent lives can be lost with one wrong move.
If we own a firearm, when do we decide that it is the right time to discharge it? Have we been trained in ways of dealing with and de-escalating situations? Shouldn’t discharging firearms be the last resort?
Cops and army-men go through that kind of rigorous training. Why then is it so easy for us, the general public, to circumvent this kind of vigilance and conscientiousness. Even so, I digress from the current debate.
People can have their light sabres if they are qualified to carry them. I can accept that. We are expected to pass a driver’s license test before we drive a car. Whether we buy a firearm, in a shop or a show or online, why are basic background checks so hard to accept?
There are, by some measures, at least 300 million firearms in the United States. Roughly one for each person. Freely rampant all around us, as common as grass. When I first heard this statistic on the radio, I remember getting down from the car feeling wary and skittish of every person I saw on the road. Who knows who was walking around with a gun.
As history shows, it is only too easy to pull the trigger.
Sandhya Acharya worked in the area of corporate finance and is now actively pursuing her passion for words. She is a mother of two boys and a dance enthusiast living in Santa Clara