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Past Reflection
REFLECTION
The Persons Who Changed the Lives of Terrorists and Criminals
Surya Nath Prasad
February 01, 2018
Key words: violence, transformation, consciousness, inter-faith dialogue


No doubt, we all have potentialities to be divine or devil or slave, it depends on our awareness and practice or non-awareness and non-practice of the potential elements, viz. body, vitality, mind, intellect and spirit, within all of us. But situation is that we all are terrorists and violent, it is a matter of degree, and nature of manifest and latent violence in each one of us, because we all are deprived of the manifestation of these elements, and when the situation arises, our violence comes out without any consideration of our own relations, kin, clan, nationality, religion, status, gender, and among them, most victims of our violence are women, children, old and sick.

However, if the social, religious, political, governmental and non-governmental leaders, rulers, bureaucrats, judges, and several experts and specialists in the United Nations think and realize that they can solve the problem of violence and terrorism, they being elders and guardians must treat the terrorists and perpetrators as part and parcel of the society, and they deserve to be heard and listened. Here I would like to refer to the elders of the society some true events of the past how terrorists of their times had become non-terrorist and nonviolent, and to enlighten them to solve the burning problems of violence created by the terrorists of Islamic State (ISIS) in Iraq and Syria, Boko Haram in Nigeria, the Taliban in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and al-Qaeda and its offspring in other parts of the world (like al-Shebab in north-east Africa), and Naxalites and Maoists in India.

There were some great persons who, and events and news, which brought drastic change in the lives of hard core criminals and terrorists in different parts of the world. Sage Narada, Lord Buddha, Events of Mass-Killing, Prophet Muhammad, News about ‘Merchant of Death’, President Ramon Magsaysay, Acharya Vinoba Bhave and Shri Jayaprakash Narayan changed the life of criminal robber Ratnakar, who became Saint Valmiki, Criminal Angulimal, Garbage Thrower Lady, Alfred Nobel, Terrorist Huks of Philippines, and Dacoits of Chambal Valley respectively.

How Did a Murderer Become Saint Valmiki?

Saint Valmiki in ancient India was a murderer but mere an event of killing of one of pair birds at the hands of the hunter changed the life of the killer and he became a distinguished saint and recognized as a pioneer poet (first poet) and author of a popular book: Ramayana (500 B. C. to 160 B . C.).

There is another story also in the life of robber Ratnakar (Valmiki):

In his early life, he was highway robber, who used to rob people after killing them. Once, the robber tried to rob the divine sage Narada for the benefit of his family. Narada asked him if his family would share the sin he was incurring due to the robbery. The robber replied positively, but Narada told him to confirm this with his family. The robber asked his family, but none agreed to bear the burden of sin. Dejected, the robber finally understood the truth of life and asked for Narada’s forgiveness. Narada taught the robber the mantra for salvation but the mantra in question, the name of Lord Rama, was not to be given to murderers and the like. Narada thus told Valmiki to chant “Mara” the phonetic anagram of “Rama” instead to circumvent this restriction. The robber meditated for many years, so much so that ant-hills grew around his body. Finally, a divine voice declared his penance successful, bestowing him with the name “Valmiki”: “one born out of ant-hills”.

How Did Criminal Angulimala Become An Arhat (Buddhist)?

Life of the cruel criminal murderer Angulimala was changed by Lord Buddha (500 B. C.). The story of Angulimala is:

“The Buddhist scriptures relate that one day, after his meal, the Buddha went out from the monastery where he was staying and walked towards a great forest. Seeing him going in that direction various people working in their fields called out to him to warn him that in that forest dwelt the dreaded Angulimala.

Little is known for certain about Angulimala but the usual account of his life has him the son of a well-to-do family and at one time a brilliant student at the University of Taxila, then the Oxbridge of India.

At Taxila, other students were jealous of him and succeeded in poisoning their teacher’s mind against him, with the result that the teacher asked of him what he must have believed would be an impossible honorarium, a thousand human right-hand little fingers. Unbelievably, instead of giving up and quietly going home without graduating, the young man set out to collect the fingers and pay the fee. Presumably, he quickly discovered that people were reluctant to willingly give up their little fingers and so he was forced to resort to violence and killing in order to obtain them.

Then he found he had nowhere to store these fingers. He tried hanging them on a tree but the birds stole them so his solution was to string them around his neck. For this gruesome and growing garland of bloody fingers he was nicknamed Angulimala which means ‘finger garland’ or ‘finger necklace’.

This was the man who, peering out from his lair, spotted the Buddha coming towards him and who that day had round his neck nine hundred and ninety-nine little fingers. This powerful and athletic serial killer, who had already successfully resisted several attempts to apprehend him, grabbed his weapons and dashed out to murder the Buddha and complete his score.

He expected to easily overtake him and quickly finish the job but then a very strange thing happened – even though the Buddha was only walking, serene and unhurried, Angulimala,

despite his formidable strength and speed, found he couldn’t catch up with him. Eventually, exhausted, angry, frustrated and soaked with sweat, Angulimala screamed at the Buddha to stop.

Then the Buddha turned and with neither anger nor fear, speaking quietly and directly, he told Angulimala that he, the Buddha, had already stopped. He had stopped killing and harming and now it was time for him, Angulimala, to do likewise. Angulimala was so struck by these words that there and then he stopped; he threw away his weapons and followed the Buddha back to the monastery where he became a monk.

Later, the King, ignorant of what had happened, came by leading his troops out to arrest Angulimala. Being a very pious monarch, he called to pay his respects to the Buddha and to inform him of what he was up to. The Buddha asked the King what his reaction would be were he to discover that amongst this assembly of monks sat Angulimala.

To the King it was utterly unbelievable that such a foul and evil person could now be a Buddhist monk and seated amongst such exalted company, but were it the case, he answered, he would certainly pay his respects and make offerings. Then the Buddha stretched forth his right hand and, pointing, announced that there sat Angulimala.

When he’d mastered his fear and recovered from the shock, the King, having paid his respects, said to the Buddha how incredible it was that, “What we have tried to do by force and with weapons you have done with neither force nor weapons!” In the course of time, after a period of some trial to himself, Angulimala did eventually succeed in purging his mind of all greed, hatred and delusion and realized for himself the Buddhist goal of Enlightenment.

The story of Angulimala teaches us that the possibility of Enlightenment may be awakened in the most extreme of circumstances, that people can and do change and that people are best influenced by persuasion and above all, example.” http://angulimala.org.uk/the-story-of-angulimala/

Why Did Killer King Ashoka Become a Buddhist Peace Propagator?

There is a story of “Ashoka the Great”. He was one of the greatest emperors of India who ruled India from 269 BCE to 232 BCE. He was troublesome, cruel and very short tempered person who killed his 99 brothers leaving only one brother Tissa to become the king. In 265 BCE, Ashoka attacked Kalinga. In the battle, about 100,000 civilians were killed, as well as 10,000 of Ashoka’s soldiers. The war of Kalinga (BC 261) was the turning point in the life of Ashoka. The mass death, the ruined houses and bloodied corpses in the war changed the mind of Ashoka and sickened him and he underwent a religious epiphany, and he became a follower of Buddhism.

Ashoka made Buddhism his state religion. Later he was appointed as ‘Dharma Mahapatro’ to propagate Buddhism all over Asia. He sent his son Mahindra and daughter Sanghamitra to Ceylon (Sri Lanka) for spreading Buddhism and peace. He built lion stambhs to spread Buddhism, these stambhs are now called Ashok Stambh. Ashok Stambh of Sarnath was adopted as national emblem of India. Besides Ashok Stambh, Ashoka had built many constructions-Dhamek Stupa ( Sarnath, Uttar Pradesh), Bharhut Stupa (Madhya Pradesh), Mahabodhi Temple (Bihar).(http://asianhistory.about.com/od/india/a/ashoka.htm; http://www.factsninfo.com/2013/04/interesting-facts-information-samrat-ashoka-great-emperors-of-india.html)

How Did Prophet Muhammad Bring Change in the Garbage Thrower Lady?

There is a story in the life of Prophet Muhammad (570-622 C. E.) how he brought change in the heart and behavior of The Garbage Thrower Lady through his kind, sympathetic, affectionate and tolerant behavior.

“She (the lady) thought till late at midnight and finally decided how to take revenge from him. She could not sleep all night, because she was too eager to take revenge for the idols she worshiped. Even before the first ray of sunlight had entered her window, she was busy sweeping her house. She saved all the garbage in a basket, placed it on the roof of her house and proudly looked at it for a while, then with an impatient look on her face, she looked at the street that she lived on, and thought, “No one has ever seen him angry. Everybody will praise me when they will see him shouting at me and getting mad. They will laugh at him and make fun of him.” She looked at the basket again and grinned.

Meanwhile, she heard footsteps, announcing the approach of the end of her waiting. “Finally my prey has arrived,” she thought, as she saw a man dressed in clean, white clothes coming that way. She picked up the basket in her hands and threw all the garbage on him when he passed by. Much to the woman’s disappointment, he did not say anything and continued on his way.

She did the same the following day thinking, “Maybe this time I will be able to annoy him.” But he was too gentle to shout at a woman. She misinterpreted his attitude as fear and decided to repeat the same mischief everyday in order to keep him frightened, so that he might stop preaching the Oneness of God.

This gentleman whom the woman hated so much was Muhammad (pbuh), the last prophet of Allah Almighty. He did not want to disappoint the woman and so continued to walk down the street everyday instead of picking an alternate route, and prayed for the woman to recognize the Truth.

One day, the Holy Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) did not find the woman to be on the roof of her house with the basket. This worried him, because he thought something must have happened to her for not being over there. So he knocked at the door. “Who is it?” asked a feeble voice. “Muhammad bin Abdullah,” was the reply, “can I come in?” The woman feared, “I am sick, and too weak to fight or talk back, therefore Muhammad has come to take revenge for what I have been doing to him.” But the permission to enter her house was in such a gentle voice that she allowed him in.

Muhammad (pbuh) entered the house and told the woman that not finding her on the roof had worried him and he thus wanted to inquire about her health. On finding out how ill she was, he gently asked if she needed any help. Hypnotized by the affectionate tone in the Holy Prophet’s (pbuh) blessed voice, she forgot all fear and asked for some water. He kindly gave her some in a utensil and prayed for her health, while she quenched her thirst. This made her feel very guilty for being so cruel to him in the past and she apologized for her mean behavior. He forgave her and came to her house everyday to clean it, to feed her and to pray for her, till she was on her feet again. The kind attitude of the Holy Prophet (pbuh) inspired her into the recognition of the Truth, and his prayers were answered in the form of yet another addition into the growing number of Muslims”. sktop/ What are some life changing short stories from Prophet Muhammad’s life – Quora.htm

Why Did Merchant of Death Alfred Nobel Change His Will?

Now we shall see how the story of ‘merchant of death’ Alfred Nobel published in a French newspaper by mistake the death of his brother Ludvig for his, headlining his obituary “The merchant of death is dead” changed the conviction, belief , will and life of Alfred Nobel, who was inventor of dangerous explosives (1862-18650) and murderous dynamite (1867).

Dr Alfred Nobel, who made his fortune by finding a way to kill the most people as ever before in the shortest time possible, died yesterday,” the newspaper wrote. “Alfred was horrified when he read this and later became obsessed by his posthumous reputation,” London explained.

“He subsequently changed his will, bequeathing most of his fortune to the establishment of a series of prizes, so that no future obituary writer would have any doubt as to his yearning for peace and progress,” he added.

Eight years after his devastating obituary, Nobel died and his famous will was unveiled, laying the foundation for what today are considered some of the world’s most prestigious prizes in the fields of literature, medicine, physics, chemistry, economics and peace. http://www.swedishwire.com/science/6521-story-of-the-merchant-of-death-alfred-nobel

How Did President Ramon Magsaysay Solve the Problems of Terrorism?

How the reform works of then President of Philippines Ramon Magsaysay (1953-1957), who was himself ex-guerilla and fought against Japanese occupation, solved the problems of “terrorism” of the Huks, a guerrilla rebel group who surrendered their arms during his governance. Philippine Senator Salonga said, “A land reform program that resettled and gave land to the Huks, turning them from fighters to farmers”. Anthony James Joes (1992) has written in his book: Modern Guerrilla Insurgency:

“Magsaysay’s solution to this problem was to open up virgin lands on southern islands to provide a homestead to any surrendered guerrillas who desired one. The former Huk would normally receive 20 acres; he also got help from the army to build a little house, a small loan to tide him over until the first crop, and may be a work animal or two. Those who accepted this amnesty-with-a-farm changed over-night from threats to the constitutional order into productive and eventually tax-paying citizens.” file:///C:/Users/suryanathprasad/Desktop/Modern%20Guerrilla%20Insurgency%20-%20Anthony%20James%20Joes%20-%20Google%20Books.htm

The Ramon Magsaysay Award was instituted in 1957 when the Philippines lost its President Magsaysay in a plane crash to honor him for his simplicity and humility, his passion for justice, particularly for the poor, and the advancement of human dignity with the initiation of Rockefeller Brothers who were his friends and admirers among others.

Today, the Ramon Magsaysay Award program is managed by the Ramon Magsaysay Award Foundation board of trustees composed of nine Filipinos serving staggered four-year terms.

The Ramon Magsaysay Award was conceived to honor “greatness of spirit shown in service to the people.” The award is given in six categories annually, viz. Government Service, Public Service, Community Leadership, Journalism, Peace and International Understanding, and Emergent Leadership.

How Did the Dacoits of Chambal Valley Surrender Their Arms Before Acharya Vinoba Bhave and Shri Jayaprakash Narayan?

India’s Chambal Valley has been a homeland to the feared dacoits —professional bandits for whom murder and robbery were a tradition as well as a way of life. Police methods had failed to control the dacoits, but a follower of Mahatma Gandhi – Acharya Vinoba Bhave – persuaded some of the bandits to give themselves up. In May 1960, twenty dacoits surrendered their arms before him. The dacoits were prepared to face the law courts and jail sentences courageously. The specially constituted Chambal Valley Peace Committee helped them in their efforts. After their release, they were given Bhoodan lands to lead a simple and peaceful life.

12 years later on 14 and 16 April 1972, a large group of dacoits formally surrendered in batches before Shri Jayaprakash Narayan at the Mahatma Gandhi Seva Ashram in Joura. A wave of relief seemed to sweep the Valley of Terror. American newsman TIME Correspondent William Stewart, who witnessed the scene of surrender and talked with the bandits, reported that at the end of the day of surrender, 167 dacoits were in jail. Jayprakash Narayan said “They are all like children.” http://mynameisideal.blogspot.in/2008/10/chambal-valley-details.html

The stories which I have just told about the drastic change in the lives of most murderer criminals during their respective times to be saints and or dutiful civilians through the efforts of great civil, social, political men and or spiritual saints, and pathetic sorrowful events must be kept in their minds by the heads of nation-states and other spiritual and social heads including the expert members of the United Nations to include the names of the leaders of terrorist and violent groups with their open heart in the prospective Global Meet for dialogue to solve the problems of terrorism and violence. Certainly, the United Nations should take the responsibility to coordinate and arrange this global meet on the very pertinent problem of the era – the solution of terrorism and violence through peace education based on five elements in human beings.

Surya Nath Prasad is M. A. (Sociology), M. Ed. (Experimental Education), M. Phil. (Nonviolence and Peace Studies), and Ph. D. (Education).


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