Monday, January 16, 2012


Porto Santo Stefano, Italy (CNN) - The 3,200 passengers aboard the Costa Concordia cruise liner were enjoying a night of entertainment and relaxation off Italy’s Mediterranean coast. Then, at about dinnertime, the lights went out, an ominous scraping sound moaned through the hull, and the ship tilted to one side. The 1,500-cabin luxury vessel, which was also carrying about 1,000 crew members, had run aground on a rocky sandbar off the tiny island of Giglio. Chaos overwhelmed passengers and crew alike when, as the ship listed and water rose as if it were a scene from “Titanic,” everyone realized that only one side of the ship’s lifeboats and rafts were reachable.  Amid screams, the crew appeared helpless, according to one passenger who had to make a ladder of rope to save himself and his wife.  The worst part came when a lifeboat crew member told everyone, “Women and children first.”

“All these families who were clinging to each other had to be separated,” said Benji Smith, who was on the Concordia for his honeymoon with his wife, Emily. The couple lives in Boston. After helping passengers, some crew members jumped overboard and swam ashore. At least three lifeboats apparently malfunctioned due to technical or crew error, Smith said.  Life rafts were “twisting and turning,” and the crew pulled in some rafts and put the people back on the ship, but the crew never returned for them, Smith said. With the ship’s staircases flooded, “we made ladders out of ropes to climb down from the outer fourth deck to the third deck,” Smith said. “We waited clinging to those rope ladders for 3½ hours” before being picked up by a lifeboat, he said. Smith said he and his wife never heard from any of the officers or captain during the incident. The couple was eventually transported by bus to a hotel in Rome.

Panic spread as people scrambled to find lifeboats in the dark as the ship quickly leaned to one side. Passengers complained about how the cruise ship staff handled the crisis when disaster struck. A sixth body was being pulled from the wreckage of the stricken Costa Concordia as the ship’s captain was accused of “significant human error”.   Mankind is by nature afflicted with the four flaws or defects, even the greatest scholars cannot free themselves of them.

The conditioned soul has four defects: (1) bhrama (‘the tendency to error’), (2) pramada (‘inattention’), (3) karanapatava (‘the inadequacy of the senses’) and (4) vipralipsa (‘the desire to deceive’). Any conditioned soul has these defects.  Bhrama means the tendency to think something that is true to be false and vice versa.  The word pramada means ‘inattention.’ Even when the senses do their job, the mind is not entirely attentive and so makes further errors. Karanapatava means the incapacity of the senses to properly perceive anything. And the last fault is quite devastating; it is vipralipsa, ‘the desire to deceive.’ Even though we don’t really know what the truth is, we say, ‘I have seen.’  So these are the conditioned souls’ four defects.

Śrīla Bhakti Promode Puri Mahārāja :
“Sri Guru Pranali - Siddha Pranali”
Conversation at Gopinatha Gaudiya Matha,
Cakra Tirtha, Jagannatha Puri, Sept. 28, 1998

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