Just when we thought that the worst of the Wuhan-originated pandemic is behind us, it recurred with virulence in India and shook the whole world. Harrowing scenes of shortage of critical supplies and the pandemonium amidst the pandemic, was accentuated by distressing blame game by people entrusted with leadership. Frankly, the dissection should have been reserved for a much later date. Moved by the unfolding tragedy, and motivated by the shared humanity and compassion, ordinary people from all over the world, and particularly the Hindu diaspora rose to the challenge to mitigate the disaster.
While the number of deaths is in hundreds of thousands, it is important to remember that behind each death there is a circle of family and friends and a lifetime of suffering.
Many of us retreat to our scriptures in crises like these for guidance and sustenance. We try to make sense of these seemingly senseless destructions of life and livelihood. While philosophical constructs espoused in them provide us with the strength to go on and deal with the calamity, there are other ancient Hindu texts that deal with the very earthly matters related to pandemics and diseases. It would be far-fetched to predict or even speculate what the future holds. While there have been many advances in science and pandemic management, and we are thankful for them. Let us also remember the timeless injunctions passed down to us from our ancient sages. In the 3rd chapter of Janpadodh Vimana of Charaka Samhita, it mentions: The literal translation of a Janpada would be a district or a county but then when the talk today is of the whole world as a village, the concept of Janapada is expansive enough to cover our globe. In the times we live in where each one of us individually feels powerless in the face of this raging pandemic, these mantras provide us with the direction and wisdom, each one of us can practice keeping our air, water and surroundings, free of unwholesome contaminants. While we are at it, the same text traces the origin of pandemics in Chapter 3, 24-27 to a combination of greed, laziness, extravagant indulgences, and adharmic behavior. Let us all heed to these timeless pearls of wisdom that are our common inheritance, and do everything in our power to help the needy and provide solace to the grieving. This too shall pass!