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A soldier’s faith

india Updated: Mar 04, 2010 11:45 IST
Suresh Chander
Suresh Chander
Hindustan Times
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A man has two supreme loyalties – to his country and family. The second being more personal, he will fight to his last breath if he knows that his family is safe.

In the battlefield, every soldier tends to turn to spiritualism. Every spare moment is utilised – to pray, sometimes for personal safety but invariably for the well being of the near and dear ones. A famous military philosopher wrote, “the deadliest form of strategy in war is to set the two loyalties (to the country and family) in opposition and so impose a breaking strain on the will of the soldier.”

Thus, every soldier’s mental resolve has to be strengthened systematically. Besides belief in the superiority of his military leaders and faith in his team, he has to have immense faith in his God. To strengthen his spiritual fibre, religious training is carried out systematically in every army. Traditionally, all fighting soldiers congregate at the unit temple, gurudwara or church every holiday or prior to every major event. Units are authorised to have a religious teacher.

I had often wondered if the religious ethos had changed during the last few years. Today the jawan is more educated and aware of the goings-on in the army and the country. Changing his mindset is more difficult. How is the army tackling this issue?

I was lucky to attend the Raising Day Celebrations of the Infantry Battalion that I commanded more than three decades ago. The present day jawan is smarter, more confident and is handling state of art weapons and computer systems. But the most heartening aspect was that the Reunion Day started with all the jawans and officers along with their families attending the havan at the Battalion temple. The prayer ended with the entire Jat clan – serving and retired – shattering the morning calm by shouting the famous the Jat war cry ‘Jat Balwan, Jai Bhagwan.’

The great fighting force had not lost its spiritual mooring.