The face mask to fight against all epidemics

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According to the book of PuranaHiranyakashyap, the king of daitya-s (demons), had desired a boon from the Lord Brahma, the Creator, that he be immortal. The Lord, although pleased with his penance, said, “I cannot grant that boon!” The crafty, intelligent, supremely powerful Hiranyakashyap noted, “In that case, grant me a boon that I can be killed by no one that is man or animal, god or demon, inside or outside my house, by hand or weapon..” Lord Brahma, smiled and said, “Tathastu” (so be it).

We know the rest of the story (if we don’t, we can Google it). He was killed by the Narasimha Avatar of Vishnu, who was neither male nor female, neither man nor animal. That particular incarnation of Lord Vishnu, the Keeper, was created with the intent of meeting the gaps in the clauses stated by Hiranyakashyap. 

Like Hiranyakashyap, the modern man thinks he is immortal or desires to be so. No animal, no bird, no trees, no weapons should kill him. His LEB (life expectancy at birth) went up from 31 years in 1900 to 72.6 years in 2020. The Giver of Life (choose to read it as Nature or God), must have smiled and said, “Tathastu!” and introduced an incarnation of a sublime power called the “virus” which is neither living nor dead, neither a plant nor an animal, neither male nor female. Like energy, it is transferred from one life form to another, and the more it is transferred, the more rampantly its destruction is spread.

Men (read “Human”) try to find reason and pattern in everything they see. It is essential for them to “know” the causal relation and consequences of everything around them. It is not enough for them to know that there is a sun, and that gives us light. We have to know – where is the sun, what is the sun, what is it made up of, why it gives us light. But it doesn’t end there. We also have to find out what will happen when it doesn’t provide us with light, what will be the alternate source of energy when the sun ceases to exist? 

It is like this question: what will happen to mankind when men have died? Why do we need to ask so many questions? Ah! Development, progress, the advancement of civilization. Fair enough. We are the supreme creation of God, aren’t we? We can think (we think others don’t), we are intelligent (others are fools), we are powerful (others are helpless), we are like Hiranyakashyap (and nothing – no epidemics – can kill us).

The Giver of our Life has made us mortal for a reason. The resources are limited, and we don’t like to share them with anyone. We want all the oxygen for ourselves, all the rivers for our use, all the space for our living. And who can stop us? We have a way of getting what we want. Or so we think. But someone has to intervene before we destroy everything. Someone has to step in to remind us that no matter what we “think,” we are not all-powerful. We are just another parasite living off earth’s resources. According to Darwinian theory, we will need to fight with other pests, and whoever is the fittest will survive. And the epidemic would judge who is the fittest.

In this battle, of course, both parasites will mutate. Men will mutate to become immune through drugs and vaccinations, and the viruses will mutate to become immune to those drugs and vaccinations. If men manage to kill every single strand of virus, then too- a new virus or bacteria will come back to haunt men. Let us look at some of the trends in history. 

The earliest record of massive destruction of human lives was caused in the 165 BC in the Roman Empire, known as the Antonine Plague that killed nearly 10 million people. In 541 AD, the Justinian Plague wiped out almost 70% of the European population by killing approximately 50 million people. Japanese smallpox killed 2 million people (nearly ⅓ of the Japanese people in 735 AD). The next major epidemic happened in 1331 AD, which is known as the Black Death or Bubonic Death, and it killed almost 100 million people, and the population of Europe and northern Africa was almost wiped out. Since then, in every century, epidemics have returned with its axe of death hacking lives mercilessly as we bring down trees to make paper. Be it smallpox or measles, plague or influenza, typhoid or malaria, lives have been lost in millions. And of course – cholera. Have you watched “Love in the Times of Cholera”? How easily people have died and have been added to the roster in the pages of history. 

If I don’t mention the latest – SARS, Swine flu, Bird Flu, Chikungunya, Ebola, and Corona, they will perhaps be offended. So what have we learned from these epidemics? Nothing. We do fire drills in offices to remember how to act in case of fire. The Japanese learn how to evacuate or be evacuated in case of an earthquake. We donate in times of tsunami if our houses aren’t washed away. But what do we do in times of an epidemic?

Take the plague, for example. We thought we had eradicated the plague. Medical professionals were no longer taught about the plague and its cure, until it resurfaced in 1994 in Surat, India. The Great Plague, which had wiped out continents, had scourged people for centuries at a stretch, fell empires – we had dared to declare our victory against it. Why? How? It will resurface again. Are we prepared? No. 

Where will migrant workers go? How will daily wage owners survive? What leaves will employees in MNCs apply in this situation? How can a BPO organization allow work from home? How will non-prisoners live imprisoned? How can I survive without going to the beauty parlor? We don’t know. And we never will, till we accept that we are NOT invincible. We will be killed. We are like any other living beings. There will be some form of power that will come again to stall our growth or make us extinct. 

If that’s our fate, then what is the point in learning? The learning might help us survive the days until we become entirely defunct. First of all, we need to accept our vulnerability. Secondly, we need to learn from the past about what happens to a healthy life when a catastrophe strikes. We can NOT go on as usual. There is nothing to complain about.

And most importantly, we have to learn to follow the rules and stop pretending that we are born “free”. We are not. We need to shed the masks made of freedom. Till we have renounced all ties from the community, we have to bear the responsibility of being socially accountable. Let’s brace ourselves; what we are experiencing is what has happened many times on the face of the earth.

Featured Image Credits: Needpix

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