“The most persistent sound that reverberates through man’s history is the beating of the war drums”……….. Arthur Koestler
Do you think this is true?
Maybe, it has more truth than you, me, I would like to believe. Much of what we learn in history, is the study of human conquest.
Wars of accession, wars of succession, wars of attrition. War on terrorism. Terrorism against humans. Humans against terrorism.
Your religion versus mine.
Your woman, who I want.
Alexander is extolled. So is Achilles and his heel.
Panipat, a small and dirty town in India, is known for the three battles that redefined Indian history. Talain, an even smaller town, 50 km from Panipat is known as the town where the decisive battles were fought, ending Hindu rule in India for 1,000 years.
How many warriors do we remember? How many scientists and poets? I would wager that there is an even split. Yet, there are poems sung to glorify those who died in battle.
At the end of the Mahabharatha, when Yudhistir reached the gates of heaven, he met with his cousins, the Kauravas (the ‘villains’ of the epic). They fell, in honour, in battle and so went to Heaven. Oddly, we don’t really have any descriptions of Heaven in Hinduism.
So, what is it that, despite our protestations to the contrary, drives us to war? Why do we spend so much money on it? What primeval instinct drives us to fight?
These are questions that have begun to trouble Hira Singh, as he starts to delve into this topic.
Soldiers are sons, daughters, mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, friends. They feel love. They kill, at the behest of their kings and leaders other soldiers who are sons, daughters, mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, friends, and who also feel love.
Why then, the hate? The blood and glory? Why then, the spoils of war? Why then the haunting images of death that haunt those who fight, for the rest of their lives? Why then, for some, the glory of the kill? The madness that haunts them, and walks in their shadows for the rest of their lives?
There is no answer yet, but only the sound of the war drums.
The slow, hypnotic drumming that drives us to war, and to the kill.