To move towards growth in life, we require faith in three things – in oneself, in the goodness in society and in God. However, looking at the recent incident in Kedarnath, where so many innocent lives were lost, one wonders if God exists. If He does, why would He do such things to His own devotees? It is on these occasions that faith becomes fragile and one tends to lose it. However, it is also on these occasions that faith is most needed too. We must remember that God is impartial; He is present everywhere and not confined to particular location, although pilgrimage centers are centers of high energy bringing solace and touching the innermost chord of faith. When disaster happen in such places those who die anyway attain Him, those who are saved thank Him and retain their faith but it is the relatives of the departed, whose faith goes through a testing time. They reel with the question, “Why? Why? Why?” and it is quite natural that they turn negative. When your near and dear ones leave suddenly, your faith is shaken but faith is what helps pull you through the tragedy. We do not get anything by losing our faith. In fact, faith holds our mind together in times of crisis and prevents it from falling even more in despair and blame. This is a time for prayer. When fear takes over our mind, prayer helps keep it steady. Let us pray for peace to those whom we have lost and for strength to their families to overcome this grave tragedy.
Let us also be grateful for all the lives that have been saved. The passion with which volunteers have come forward to help out in this calamity stands to show that there is a lot of humaneness in people. Stories of crime and corruption in the news may cloud it, but we must not lose our faith in the goodness in society. If we start believing it is full of thugs and thieves, we cannot function at all. Having faith in the people and the world around us is essential to move ahead.
Finally, having faith in ourselves, we must do what is within our capability as well. For example, millions of people visit our pilgrimage places, but we do not have arrangements to handle that kind of crowd there. Except a few, all of them are in bad shape due to neglect. We cannot totally stop natural disasters from happening but we can certainly be prepared for them. Many such places, including Kedarnath, don’t even have proper roads. The passage to Amarnath is just a few feet wide and caters to lakhs of pilgrims going up and coming down at the same time. Even the shortest way, through Baltal, is a 14km long one way trek through hilly terrain without a place to rest or any arrangement to carry someone in an emergency or a blockage. When these places attract people in such large numbers, they need to be developed accordingly with better facilities, medical support, transport and communication systems.
At the same time, the paranoia in the minds of people about going on pilgrimages due to the Kedarnath flash floods must be addressed. We do not stop flying because of air crashes or going on the road because of accidents. Without faith, we are frightened by events, feeling lost and anchorless. Difficult times can bring out our hidden courage and potential in more ways than one and unshakable faith gives us the strength to smile even through catastrophes.