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Eulogy for the AIE crash victims

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By Dr. B. M. Hegde, India [ Published Date: May 25, 2010 ]

"For those who seek to understand it, death is a highly creative force. The highest spiritual values of life can originate from the thought and study of death." -- Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

Death of a near and dear one is a great personal moment of sorrow that all of us have (or had) to face sometime or the other in our lives. The collective death of all our relatives brings greater sorrow and that is what is happening to our brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers, children and grandchildren all at once. Cutting across all artificial barriers of caste, creed and religion this great loss has brought us together at this hour of our darkest day in life. Death being the greatest leveler, we have now, for a moment, feel that we are related to each other at least in this sorrow. Learning from this experience, let us not let death be proud by acting as if we are one large family mourning our dead together. This unforeseen tragedy has at least had one plus point. It has reminded us of the impermanence of human life on earth and the importance of humility in all our dealings. Man is but totally impotent in the face of death; the latter being the only certainty in life.

I went to see an elderly lady today who had lost six family members, children and grandchildren and she could not be consoled. She had not eaten since the accident. I had to tell her a real story from the 1927 Penguin classic, The Bridge on San Luis Rey, written by Thornton Wilder. The real life story happened in 1844 in Lima in Peru where the only bridge connecting the main land to the capital Lima, built by the Incas, broke one afternoon without any warning just like the Air India crash in Mangalore. Five people walking on the bridge at that time (every one in Lima had to cross this bridge almost daily) fell down 5000 feet into the gorge below getting pulverized. A young priest sitting in the courtyard of a mud Church on the far side of the bridge went to investigate if the dead had sinned against God and wrote a book about it.

A mother of the only child among the five dead could not be consoled until the wise old lady of the village told her the real philosophy. She said: "Young lady, your child has died; no one can bring it back to you. Your child is in the world of the dead. You are in the world of the living. The two worlds are connected by an unbreakable bridge of HUMAN LOVE, unlike this man made bridge that broke now. You would have loved your child as long as you live. Do the same thing now and keep loving your child as if it is alive in the world of the dead." This made the mother forget her sorrow. My patient that lost six of her near ones also got consoled by this philosophy. Let us all together resolve to love all those that departed in the air crash the other day as if they are in the world of the dead. May their souls rest in eternal peace. Many of them were so young that they have not seen life at all. Those whom the God’s love, die young, is a truism in their cases. May all of them be blessed abundantly.

Accidents do occur in the best of circumstances and that is why they are called accidents. In hind sight lot could be said as to how this accident could have been avoided.  Even the best airports had the worst crashes all over the world. Captain Key’s trident crash in London killing every one inside in the 1970s, recent crash landing in the Hudson river with best pilot and the longest run way, the collision of two Jumbo jets in the Canary Islands, Indian Airlines crash in Ahmadabad with a normal run way, mid air collision above the Delhi airport in the not too distant past, and many others remind us that despite all our speculations and suggestions, accidents could occur anywhere and not necessarily in the air and in Mangalore. 737-400 Boeings were safely landing in Mangalore on the old run way even in the rainy seasons. The Air India Express is not a wide bodied Jet as is written about. It is a similar 737 but a bit bigger and faster, may be. Even if Mangalore airport is closed permanently accidents do kill people elsewhere. If the bath water is dirty the remedy is not throwing the baby, bathtub and the bathwater outside the window. No pilot would commit a mistake wantonly as he will also be killed. Man is fallible and mistakes do occur. Human kind has to learn a lesson or two from every calamity. May be, this will make Mangalore airport have a longer run way and better radar controls.

In my opinion this is our best opportunity to forget all our differences in the name of caste, creed, religion, class, wealth etc and live like brothers and sisters in peace as we are doing today when we mourn our dead. Let us dedicate our communal harmony in Mangalore to the memory of the dead and be an example to the world in living like a large brotherhood. All religions preach peace and all of us are God’s children. Death sends that message to us today loud and clear.

May the departed souls rest in eternal peace. May God give the strength of mind and peace for the bereaved families to bear their irreparable loss. Let us love our departed near and dear ones till our last breath.

"It is difficult to accept death in this society because it is unfamiliar. In spite of the fact that it happens all the time, we never see it."  -- Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

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Abdul Khader, India :
Congrats, Dr. Hegde, for the wonderful and moving article. The city will survive and move on, as long as we have citizens like you. Death is a great leveller - it knows no boundaries. May the souls of the victims rest in peace
A.S.Mathew, USA :
It is a touching article with great spiritual insight. Even in our deepest sorrows, God has a masterplan to bring some blessings out of it. Let this tragedy may bring greater unity and love among the poeple of all faiths so that they can cry together, console and help each other; and to have a totally new beginning of life.

"Troubles are often the tools by which God fashions us for better things" Henry ward Beecher.

"Every time trouble comes, consider that through it the Lord is giving you a needed lesson". Parmahansa Yogananda.
Albert Praveen Menezes, Karkala/Kuwait, Kuwait:
Very beutiful article by Dr.Hegde. This mangalore incident has brought all communities togeather. Lets live all brothers & sisters of Mangalore & Dakishna Kannada with peace and Harmony.
Valson Mendonsa, USA :
Meaningful article by Dr.Hegde. It is true that 'those whom love God, die young'. Life is short and uncertain, its all in God's hand we need to realize.
Laila Pinto , Saudi Arabia:
Thank you Dr Hegde for your wonderful eulogy. Its so well written. It touched my heart reading it. The Mangalore crash did touch the hearts of all Mangaloreans.
Kishore Salian, UK:
Many thanks for this Dr. Hegde. I am sure this article would have helped console many near and dear ones of the crash victims.
S. S. Kaup, USA :
"In my opinion this is our best opportunity to forget all our differences in the name of caste, creed, religion, class, wealth etc and live like brothers and sisters in peace as we are doing today when we mourn our dead. Let us dedicate our communal harmony in Mangalore to the memory of the dead and be an example to the world in living like a large brotherhood. All religions preach peace and all of us are God’s children. Death sends that message to us today loud and clear."

Let us learn this lesson from the tragedy that we confronted by this incident. Let us not harm and hurt others because of our man concieved differences. The culture we cultivate and embrace moves in both directions: good and bad.
Chris Mascarenhas, Kuwait:
Thank you Dr. Hegde for your thoughtful and meaningful analysis of life and death. Accidents are part of life for the mankind and reason for death. Blaming anybody and anything for the accidents simply shows our ignorance. As you said any person can make a mistake anytime in life despite experience and anything can fail despite made by reputed manufacturer with lifelong guarantee.

Let us face the realities of life and not make life more miserable thinking that we know better than others. Mangalore is a hilly region where you can not have straight roads, planes for airports and railroads. Let us have trust in ourselves and others. Without having proper knowledge we are questioning the experts - be it thermal power plant, airport, Economic zone and whatever proposed for the development of the region. Sometimes some irregularity and high handedness takes place in every project but it is impossible for anybody to propose and implement a totally unfit and irrational public utility project.

It is very painful to digest this tragedy but we have to accept that it was beyond human control. Let us pray for those who lost their lives in this terrible tragdy and try to console and help the bereaved families.
Anita Quadros, Dubai, UAE:
Thank you Dr. Hegde for those encouraging words to help us bear the loss of our dear ones.
We Catholic are called to pray for the departed Souls in Purgatory on a daily basis, and we know that the departed Souls, who are closer to God, in turn pray for us!!
May Perpetual Light shine upon all departed Souls, Amen.....
Janet D'souza, UAE:
Kudos Doctor! I can just imagine the old lady getting consoled by your soothing words. Often, it is not the poultice or herbs or medicines that heal the wounds but the soothing words of the caretaker that does the trick.

"All religions preach peace and all of us are God's children!" I am completely bowled over by your words of wisdom! Hats Off to you doctor!!!
Vajraksh, India :
Although words do not work during such moments efforts to console the victim's families are very much necessary. Anything that can cheer them up back to life should be more than welcomed. This article made me feel good at the first glance, but starting to ponder on a few lines I feel that there are two types of people who could be problematic. firstly the ones who blame such accidents on fate and destiny and secondly the ones who do not question the accident and generalize it with other occurrences of the similar type. They somehow without their knowledge give a space for people with vested interests to escape. I hope articles like this doesn't make us forget to question bad decisions of the government. Decisions being made for the common man like you and me by our politicians and bureacrats, but thinking about their own profit.
Now looking at certain lines very closely, the line "even if Mangalore airport is closed permanently accidents do kill people elsewhere" is not a thoughtful statement. Reason out an accident/accidents before getting into a philosophical mode. Maybe in the case of a natural disaster like earthquake/tsunami, you could get into a philosophical tone, even then such natural disasters too can be questioned.

We can pay respect to the departed souls only by questioning the major mistakes that led them to their death and not by comparing the accident to any other and not by being happy with the plus points of it and just forgetting it. Unlike the Lima Peru story, the sins of the Alive has to be investigated
Absolutely no personal offense to my adorable local hero Dr. BM Hegde.
Dr.Manohar Dominic Prabhu.(Dr.Manu) Kuwait /Bajpe, Kuwait:
It is always a joy to listen to Prof.Dr.B M Hegde be it his lectures,speach at gatherings,talks at conferences or even a interaction with this great man.

This writeup by Dr.Hegde is a wonderful and very meaningful one.He rightly says that this tragedy has definately reminded us of the impermanence of human life on earth and the importance of humility in all our dealings.

Mangalore has been in the news for all the wrong reasons lately.Let this tradedy be an eye opener for all of us to get united forgetting the caste,creed ,religion etc.Let us make Mangalore(undiveded Dakshin Kannada)a better place to live with peace and harmony.Let us bring back Mangalore's healthy weather and glory days.

My deepest condolences to the bereaved families.Let God give them strangth and courage to bear the irrepairable loss.May the departed souls rest in eternal peace....
Kudpi Rajanikanth Shenoy, India :
Well written article with good analysis of the situation and observation, Professor.

Thanks for the eye opener to thousands of people blinded by misconceptions and fear.
Austin Prabhu, USA :
Wonderful article Dr. Hegde. Birth and death is in God's hands; living a good life is in our own hands. Life is short, let us live it to the best.
SHENOY R, India :
Good article by Prof Hegde. Thoughts to ponder upon. We all have lost some one near and dear to us some time or the other. May be sickness, may be old age, may be an accident and may be a disaster. Loss is a loss and no amount of consolation will give comfort. The story of Buddha where he asks the lady to get mustard seeds from the house where no one has died comes to mind. Life and death are like day and night.

The movie Saaraansh starring Anupam Kher and Rohini Hattangadi where they lose their only son living in America, how they over come that sorrow which is the Saaraansh of that movie came to my mind. I was so moved by the great piece of acting by both actors. We Indians believe in Karma and re birth. May be and just may be we know and we have perfected the art of consoling ourselves well.
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