My thanks to Lily Rose, of Myoho Beads, for bringing this heart warming story to my attention.
26/11: ‘My family and the others have not died in vain’
Jharna Narang, 36, lost her parents and brother at the Taj Mahal hotel on the day of the attacks. She was having dinner with her parents Vishnu and Neelam, brother Gunjan, his wife and her parents to celebrate Gunjan’s 32nd birthday, when the terrorists entered the hotel. Though her sister-in-law and her parents escaped, Jharna’s parents and brother died in the tragedy.
Jharna took four bullets — two pierced her hands, one hit her in the pelvic region and another in the stomach. The bullet wounds caused blood loss to the extent that her pulse ebbed to such a low level that doctors could barely feel it when she was first brought in to Bombay Hospital.
Nearly 50 bottles of blood and 24X7 efforts by a team of 19 doctors for eight months pulled her out of the crisis, though she would have to continue with medical treatment and physiotherapy for some more time.
Not one to give up on life and living, even the medical team which treated her call her an inspiration, found DNA’s Santosh Andhale, with whom she spent some time reflecting on her life-altering experience.
‘See to it that this never happens again!’ I am told this is what my brother said to the Taj employee who was with him, just before being shot. Now, two years after the tragic event, what has changed? I see increased security measures at most public places in Mumbai. But are we really safe? I don’t think so. People I know still shudder at the thought of 26/11.
I have been practising the philosophy of Nichiren Daishonin’s Buddhism for a few years now. I am alive today and survived the excruciating episode because of my faith and practice. From the moment that I was shot there was complete clarity that I cannot die. I have to live… my work is not finished yet, that inner resolve has kept me going. I have a mission to fulfil. This is what I have understood over the years of my Buddhist practice. Life is precious and each person is unique and here for a purpose. My family and others who died that day did not die in vain.
So how do we ensure that their death creates a turning point for humanity? How can we be truly safe? We are not helpless, there is hope. Violence is not the answer for violence. As Gautam Buddha said, ‘We must kill the will to kill.’ Both creative and destructive tendencies exist in our life and manifest in different ways. Anger, arrogance, greed, disbelief and disrespect for human life are negative tendencies. Compassion, unity and mutual respect are positive. To ensure a progressive and safe future, we each have to take responsibility for our lives, environment and all the problems and conflicts that plague modern society. Instead of playing the blame game or finding the easy way out by becoming apathetic and self-centred, we all need to stand up and take charge. To lead healthy, happy and fulfilling lives, we have to walk on the correct path of life.
Everything begins at an individual level and then extends to one’s immediate surroundings, communities and country. Our upbringing and environment influences the way we think, our belief system and that, in turn, prompts our way of life. A distorted view of life can make us lose our way and get into a self-destructive mode.
Focusing on an inner change in our attitudes and beliefs will enable us to live more humane lives. We can be happy only if we also consider the happiness of others and make all decisions and choices from the perspective of the greater good. Instead of blindly chasing our goals, stop to question and self-reflect what we are doing. What is the purpose of our life? What do we value most?
Have I grown spiritually over the years through life’s experiences along with my bank balance? If we want a peaceful and prosperous society how are we contributing to it? ‘Nothing is more precious than peace. Nothing brings more happiness. Peace is the basic starting point for the advancement of humankind.’ In the words of my mentor Dr Daisaku Ikeda: ‘Peace is not the absence of war.’ We can create the future we want, not passively but by becoming proactive.
What Gandhi stood up for and fought against has had an impact on many generations to come. We are enjoying the fruit of independence because of the struggles and hardships that he overcame. Inner strength, a fighting spirit and never giving up, these are qualities we must forge in our youth is what Dr Ikeda has taught. President of Soka Gakkai International, Dr Ikeda is a Buddhist leader, peace builder, author, poet, educator and founder of a number of cultural, educational and peace research institutions around the world.
Over the last two years, I have fought many battles, as because of my Buddhist faith I was deeply convinced that I have to go on. One step at a time, one day at a time I have to move forward. We all need a spiritual anchor to empower us to live with a sense of self-awareness, self-improvement and moral responsibility.
Buddhism teaches self-mastery, how to surmount and transform one’s inner weaknesses that make us unhappy.
Finally, medically I am fine. Physiologically a few more months to go… I don’t bear a grudge towards those who shot us. I want to use my life’s example to motivate the world to concrete action not revenge. Gandhi proclaimed that the power of the spirit is stronger than any atomic bomb.
Referring to this, Ikeda says, ‘To transform this century of war into a century of peace, we must cultivate the limitless inherent power of human life.’ This is human revolution.
As he says: ‘A great human revolution in just a single individual will help achieve a change in the destiny of a nation and, further, will enable a change in the destiny of all humankind.’
Such an amazing story of Courage, Wisdom and Compassion. I would love to think I could, one day, show such qualities in the face of such tragic circumstances.
The original text of this piece can be seen here.