Question: Recently I was reading excerpts from a Russian writer relating the terrible sufferings of political prisoners under the Stalin regime. What if somebody in that situation committed suicide to end the unbearable sufferings? Would that person have the same punishment as someone who simply takes his own life in a mood of escapism?

Sri Chinmoy: It depends on merits and demerits. During the war, how inhumanly and brutally the people in concentration camps were tortured and killed! What if they themselves wanted to destroy their lives because they didn't want to be killed or mercilessly beaten without any rhyme or reason? Here we have to know that there is something called God's dispensation. Let us say that these people are innocent and they are being killed. Or they fought for their lives and lost and now they are being killed. In order not to be killed by the enemy, they may want to destroy themselves.

In India and elsewhere it has happened many times that two warriors are fighting, and one knows definitely that the other one has won and it is a matter of a minute or a second before he will be destroyed. Immediately he will put an end to his life. So here I tell you, his suffering will not be the same as if he had just committed suicide. Many times it has happened when Kings have been arrested and killed, the Queens say, "We don't want to be killed by our enemy. We want to kill ourselves. Since we are destined to be killed by our enemy, the best thing is for us to kill ourselves." You can say it is their sense of prestige that they don't want to be killed by their enemies. But in this case, when people who know they are going to be killed take their own lives, then I tell you, they are always doing the right thing. Again, from a different angle, you have to see if a war is a real divine war or not. Sri Krishna said to Arjuna, "It is your duty to go to war and fight because you have to destroy the undivine forces." At that time it was definite. The Kauravas were undivine and by comparison, the Pandavas were much more divine. Krishna was divine, and Krishna was saying "Fight." Arjuna used all his moral weapons. He said, "I won't fight. I won't fight. They are my brothers and cousins." But Krishna said, "Look, I am giving you divine advice. If you lose the battle because you are fighting for the divine, you will go to Heaven. And if you win, you will be the divine Lord. You will rule divinely… If you conquer the hostile forces, the undivine forces, you will not be an ordinary ruler but a divine ruler. And, even if you fail, just because of your sincere effort, just because you fought bravely against the undivine forces, the compassion, love and pride of the divine will take you directly to Heaven."

But only you have to know whether in this war, the divine will and the divine dispensation is there. If it is the divine will that these people should be destroyed, then if you lose you will go to God in Heaven. I personally feel that when the other party is full of ignorance, it is not the wisdom that is punishing them, it is their poor judgement. They are fools and the ignorance force is destroying them. So why allow the foreign ignorance force to destroy you when you have your own ignorance force? Both are ignorance but in comparison the foreign ignorance force is much more destructive. If you have the capacity to escape, then you should try to escape. Otherwise, if the foreign ignorance force kills you and you are innocent, then, in the inner world the treatment will be much different than if you committed suicide.