Mahabharata lessons for British soldiers going to Iraq

via PTI published on April 7, 2008



LONDON: Krishan Attri, the British army’s first Hindu
chaplain, uses extracts from the Mahabharata to counsel British soldiers going to war in Iraq or Afganisthan
.

Attri
was among the first four faith chaplains appointed by the army in
November 2005. The other three were Mandeep Kaur (Sikh chaplain), Sunil
Kariyakarawana
(Buddhist), and Imam Asim Hafiz (Islam).

Britain’s armed
forces have 300 regular commissioned Christian chaplains serving
183,000 Christian personnel, but the four new chaplains were the first
such appointments in the history of the forces.

Attri, who
hails from Kasauli in Himachal Pradesh, says that he uses the Bhagwad
Gita to explain the necessity of going to war to British Hindu soldiers
deputed in Iraq or Afghanistan.

There are 470 Hindus in
Britain’s armed forces. “I tell them, ‘God has given you an opportunity
to protect your country and maintain peace in the world’. They need to
know they are not killing anybody but just performing a duty,” Attri
says.

When Attri was interviewed at the Ministry of Defence
for the job, he was asked what he would say if a soldier did not want
to go to war.

Hindu teachings, he responded, offered good
guidance: “Duty is our priority. It’s our karma, and we have to face
it.” Hindu teachings have
armed most of the soldiers, he told The Times .

“They know they’ve undertaken a contract to look after the boundary walls of the country,” he told the newspaper.

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