The Tribune - Spectrum

, March 10, 2002

War-mongers fuel war, masses suffer, soldiers die
R.C. Sharma

"WAR is a death’s feast," said George Herbert. Surely, war is death and destruction. Peace is life — alive and kicking. Wars may dazzle for a while but victories of peace permanently benefit mankind. The ‘Taj Mahal’ of Agra and the ‘Statue of Liberty’ in America are victories of peace. The kings and commanders of old become dust, but these greatest beauties will continue to inspire the coming generations.

The heroes of war rise to victory by wading through the blood of innocent people. Changez Khan did win spectacular victories, but at a terrible cost. How many soldiers and civilians died to make that victory possible? Changez Khan, it is said, used to make pyramids of human skulls and he piled up 50,000 skulls to build one such pyramid. What are such victories worth? Are these victories or great crimes against humanity? The historians had called Alexander the Great! He was great in killing and destruction. Of real greatness that consists in sacrificing one’s interests for the good of others, he possessed not much.

Who is great — a Hitler or a Napoleon, who bathed in the blood of innocent people, or the prophets of peace like Buddha, Christ and Gandhi who did not take blood but who gave their blood, who died so that the world may live, who suffered so that others may be happy?


The victories of war are shortlived. Where are the victories of Hitler? The countries of Europe that he overran are as free today as before the rise of Hitler. Where are the victories of Napoleon? Where has gone the empire of Alexander or Caesar or Changez Khan? They are unknown to the world except to a few students of history. Their deeds left no permanent marks on the world. Is it worthwhile indulging in mass slaughter to win victories that come and go? Who can forget the holocaust of Hiroshima and Nagasaki where 2,10,000 innocent men, women and children were killed within seconds and many lakhs were disabled and diseased. We pray that such a terrible destruction is not repeated.

Peace-time victories benefit mankind for all time. Jenner has died; but the vaccination he invented still saves millions from small-pox. Pasteur invented the cure of hydrophobia. Men in all countries and climates benefit from his inventions. The same is true of the discoveries and inventions of Penicillin, X-ray, radium and a hundred other inventions. They have brought comfort to the present generation and they will bring relief to the future generations. The blessings of peace-time achievements know no barriers of country or climate, past, present or future. They will save and serve man, so long as humanity exists on this planet. The military generals go out of the world picture. Who remembers Generals Montgomery, Clark, Rommel or Timoshenko? They were all in the war theatre at one time and now their place may be in the pages of history, not in the minds of common men.

In peace-time, great poetry is written, inventions are made and progress in education, health and standard of living is recorded. What brings greater glory to England — the immortal dramas of Shakespeare or the victory of Waterloo in which the present generation has no interest? The plays of Shakespeare, the poetry of Milton, Wordsworth, Byron, Shelley, Keats and many other good works of literature could not have been written, if enemy aircraft had been raining bombs on them. When the cannons are bombing, the still, small voice of art can’t be heard.

In peace-time education makes progress, art flourishes, culture rises and the common man gains. Philosophers and scientists propound enlightening theories. Religious men preach the gospel of God. In war-time, the only religion is country, the only god is the God of Victory. But soon humanity forgets the names and dates of the battles; the commanders of a hundred wars are thrown in the waste-paper basket of public memory.

Free India’s flag has Ashoka Chakra on it. It is not Ashoka, the hero of Kalinga War or the slayer of humanity that the world worships, but Ashoka whose Dharma Chakra gave the message of peace and virtue to the suffering world. No one cares to remember the names of the inventors of the greatest war weapons, the hydrogen bomb but Mahatma Gandhi, the apostle of peace, has found a lodgement in the hearts of men in all countries.

Einstein, the father of the Atomic Age, said that he did not know what weapons would be used in World War III, but he was sure World War IV would be fought with stones. The idea was that WW III will destroy all civilisation and the world would begin from a scratch. In point of destruction and expense, the modern wars have beaten all records. Millions die, tens of millions suffer. The industries of the warring countries are ruined, the economy of the world is shattered. During World War II, England alone was spending Rs 15 crore per day, and Germany much more than this, and the war lasted for five years.

War-mongers encourage war; warlords plan it; soldiers fight it; scientists help it; whereas common masses in all countries suffer from it. Soldiers die, their widows and orphans cry; bombs are rained, beautiful cities are reduced to rubble.

Mahatma Gandhi says war is evil. The Christ enjoins us to cultivate good neighbourly relations. The Vedas tell us to live in peace and spiritual bliss. The Quran preaches love and humanity. Buddhism teaches Ahimsa or non-violence. Is not war, therefore, a challenge to and a test of our sincerity of faith and belief?

It is high time, peace-lovers of the world unite and make strenuous efforts to stop eruption of wars among the nations so that human beings may live in peace and harmony.