Sunday 7 January 2024

Who is an assassin?


Of course, he or she is a murderer, someone who takes the life of another. The difference is, murder is usually committed for personal reasons or on the spur of the moment. An assassin plans the kill and is motivated by monetary or professional gains.

The assassin in the Killer Kavita series eliminates her targets after sending them a poetic warning note informing them of the date and time of their death! Why on earth does she do that?

The second book in the series, Killer Kavita- The Hunted is coming soon!

Monday 9 May 2022

The Significance of Jesus' first miracle: Why on earth did He turn water into wine?


The Significance of Jesus’ first miracle: Why did He turn water into wine?

Jesus’ first recorded miracle on earth is found in the second chapter of St. John’s gospel, verses 1to 11. It’s a curious case of divine intervention, turning water into wine at a wedding feast, apparently to save the bridegroom from a huge embarrassment. But is that all?

No way. There’s lots more to the story.

The Background

It’s safe to assume the wedding was of a relative or friend of Mary’s since she’s involved in the arrangements. The servants share the problem with her, that the wine has run out.

- Jesus has begun gathering disciples by now. He has 5 followers. Two, who had followed John the Baptist: Andrew and John (Ref: John 1:35-37). Andrew’s brother Simon Peter. Philip (whom Jesus finds and says simply: ‘Follow me’ John 1:43) and then Nathaniel, who responds to Philip’s call with the famous line: ‘Can anything good come out of Nazareth?’

I find it interesting that Jesus doesn’t berate Nathaniel for his cynicism. On the contrary, He declares that Nathaniel is a true Israelite and that ‘in him there is no guile’. He immediately demonstrates His divine vision by telling Nathaniel that He’d seen him sitting under a fig tree. This blows Nathaniel’s mind and he responds: ‘Rabbi, thou art the Son of God…’ (John 1:49).

#I feel this encounter demonstrates that God doesn’t get angry with honest doubt. Remember Mary’s innocent query when the angel Gabriel announces that she’s going to conceive a holy child? Mary asks: ‘How can this be, for I know not a man?’ (Luke 1:34).

In contrast, when Zechariah receives an angelic message (from the same angel Gabriel) about becoming a father (he and Elizabeth were childless and pretty old) and puts forth a similar query: ‘How shall I know this? For I am an old man and my wife is advanced in years’ (Luke 1:19), the angel says he’ll remain mute until his child is born because he did not believe God’s words. 

There could be two explanations for the different responses of God’s angel to Zechariah and Mary.

i) As a priest, Zechariah was perhaps expected to display faith in God’s word. Besides, he’d been beseeching the Lord for a child for many years. When his fatherhood was announced, he could not believe it. Contrast this again with Abraham, who was in a similar position (childless) when God announced that he’d become the father of a great nation. Abraham believed God and it was credited to him as righteousness! Clearly, God was displeased with Zechariah’s unbelief.

ii) The angel strikes Zechariah mute so that he could not articulate any further doubts! God knows our hearts. Perhaps Zach would’ve confessed doubt instead of faith.

Now, back to the wedding in Cana.

Mary is already there. Jesus and his disciples are invited. The wine runs out and Mary relays the problem to Jesus. His reply is rather gruff: ‘Woman, what does this have to do with me? My hour has not yet come.’ (John 2:4). I’m sure the Lord meant exactly that: His ministry hadn’t yet begun. But look at her response: she says to the servants: ‘Do whatever he tells you.’

As His mother, she knows His heart and knows He has the power to perform miracles!

What does this episode reveal about the Lord?

a) that when there’s a need, He responds;

b) that He cares deeply about our respect in society. Running out of wine would’ve been a huge social blunder for the bridegroom. It’s clear that in this context, it was the bridegroom who was responsible for the arrangements. The ‘ruler of the feast’ (or the Master of Ceremonies) takes the bridegroom aside and compliments him on the excellent quality of the wine.

c) God honours marriage

d) God sanctions festivity and joy on good occasions. (Ref: ‘The joy of the Lord is your strength’ Nehemiah 8:10; ‘Rejoice in the Lord, always and again I say, rejoice’ Philippians 4:4 and many other scriptures).

e) 400 years had elapsed since the Jews had seen a miracle. Daniel's era was the last age of Jewish miracles. No wonder, therefore, that the simultaneous appearance of a prophet like John the Baptist and a man who worked miracles like Jesus attracted so much attention. People were stirred up and excited!

Also reveals that God confirms His word by signs and wonders. The 5 disciples had already committed their lives to Jesus. The miracle at Cana revealed His glory and caused them to believe in Him.

f) The miracle foreshadows Christ as the true bridegroom and the church as His bride.

h) Why did He use ceremonial washing jars?

These were used for washing of hands and feet in deference to the Levitical law (Leviticus 15:11). So, the water from the jars was usually for cleaning the outside of the body.

#Jesus replaced it with something on the inside.

i) the fact that the new wine was better than the old wine symbolizes the new covenant being better than the old. Moses’ first miracle turned water into blood (Exodus 7:20). But Jesus’ first miracle turned water into precious wine!

j) Great wine takes a long time to ferment. Jesus bypassed the entire time frame in moments, revealing His authority over the laws of nature, the way He did later by quieting the winds (Matthew 8:24-27) and by walking on water (Matthew 14: 23-27).

f) Throughout the scriptures, wine is symbolic of God’s grace and our resultant joy. It’s unnecessary for life. Its superfluity is a picture of God’s abundant grace.

- Our Lord makes the best wine without money or price (Isaiah 55:1-2)

It is God’s nature to do abundantly more than we can ask or imagine!

Ref: Jehovah Jireh: God is our provider. He shall supply all our needs according to His riches in glory!

Monday 18 April 2022

Lessons from the Battlefield Part Two


Lessons from the Battlefield Part Two

Why innovation and strategy outweigh superiority in numbers

The Battle of Gallipolli 18th March 1915

“Opportunities multiply as they are seized,” says Sun Tzu in The Art of War (5th Century B.C. military treatise).

The Allied forces won the First World War but they suffered reverses in many battles, too. One of these was the expedition to break through the Narrows (of the Straits of Dardanelles) leading to Gallipolli, which was ruled by the Turkish empire.

The British navy was probably the most powerful in the world at the time. They led the attack with twelve battleships, while the French contributed six. The Turks knew they were no match for the Allied forces, so they used an innovative strategy. Instead of laying a series of mines across the Straits, they sent their mine layer Nusrat on the 7th of March to set mines parallel to the coast on the Asiatic side of the Dardanelles. You’ll soon see why.

#Winston Churchill was the First Lord of the Admiralty during this war.

- Along the coast, the Turks had set up shore batteries (large guns) to protect the entrance to the Dardanelles.

North Sea trawlers had been sent to try and clear the watery minefield but they were easy targets for the Turkish shore batteries and suffered major casualties.

March 18, 1915

The British and French ships sailed into the Straits in an attempt to open a way through the Narrows. They were subjected to intensive shelling and a fierce gun battle ensued between the ships and the Turkish defences lodged in forts and mobile gun batteries. The mighty ships realized they had to turn back. As they tried to manoeuvre around, however, they struck the mines laid along the shore. The French battleship Bouvet, which had been damaged by shell fire and was listing hit one of the mines and sank within thirty seconds! About six hundred men drowned.

Two British battleships, Irresistible and Ocean sank.

The rest of the Allied ships beat a hasty retreat.

                                                              The Straits of Dardenelles

The Israel-Syria War of 1973

The Battle for Golan Heights

The Golan Heights has been described as the most hotly contested real estate on the planet. I guess one could say that of the whole of Israel.

The Heights is a flat plateau stretching over 1200 sq km and it overlooks Israel. It was Syrian territory until 1967 when Israel occupied it after the Arab-Israeli Six Days’ War.

The Syrian Ploy

Syria was desperate to wrest control of the Golan Heights back from Israel and they used the Cry Wolf ploy to lull their enemy into a false state of complacency. We’ve seen how effective this is, time and time again. Remember, Sun Tzu’s famous statement: ‘All warfare is based on deception’?

- The Syrians kept mobilizing troops and then recalling them to barracks. They did this so frequently that, when they mobilized troops for a real attack in October 1973, the Israelis thought this was just another routine exercise.

- The Syrians were confident of victory because they had 1200 tanks equipped with night-fighting equipment. The Middle East terrain contains long fields of fire. There’s nowhere to hide and the Syrians considered this to be a huge advantage. If they simply rushed at the Israelis, how could the latter retaliate when they were heavily outnumbered with just 170 tanks?

The Israeli Response

Once the Israelis got over their initial shock, they gathered their defence forces with remarkable alacrity. As a small state, surrounded by hostile countries, Israel had perfected the art of mobilization.

- They had dug anti-tank trenches in front of the Golan Heights.

-Although outnumbered, the Israeli tanks were superior to the Syrians’ and could fire up to a range of 5 kms.

- Israel had worked hard to develop long range gunnery skills.

The Battle

The Syrians launched an attack by driving straight at the Israelis on the Golan Heights and soon ran into the anti-tank trenches. It made them sitting ducks for Israeli tanks on the Heights. They had to return quickly after suffering debilitating losses.

- Due to their night-fighting equipment, the Syrians launched another attack under the cover of darkness. Their Soviet-made T-55 tanks had infrared projectors which enabled them to see through the dark.

The Israelis only had night vision binoculars! (They’ve come a long way since then).

Despite this, Israel prevailed for one important reason: superior leadership and better strategy.

The Syrians kept advancing straight ahead on the long, flat terrain. The Israelis, however, kept moving about and firing, sometimes to the left, sometimes to the right. They didn’t allow their tanks to become easy targets and managed to pound the Syrian tanks into submission!

It’s a testament to their success that even today, the Golan Heights remains in Israeli possession.

Thursday 7 April 2022

Lessons from the Battlefront Part One


                                                The First Battle of Panipat 1526

Lessons from the Battlefront Part One

Why innovation and strategy outweigh superiority in numbers

Part One: The First Battle of Panipat (April 1526)

Part Two: The Battle of Gallipolli (March 1915) and

The Israel-Syria War (October 1973)


History teaches us that the numerical strength of an army is no guarantee of success on the battlefield. The examples are many. I’m using the accounts of three battles mentioned above to illustrate this. So, let’s get into it.

All warfare is based on deception,” says Sun Tzu in the celebrated 5th Century B.C. Chinese military treatise, The Art of War, “Hence, when we are able to attack, we must seem unable; when using our forces, we must appear inactive…”

Each of these three examples proves this. 

The First Battle of Panipat 21st April, 1526

Babur Vs Ibrahim Lodi


The Lodi dynasty was on the throne at Delhi, headed by Ibrahim Lodi. A clash between Ibrahim Lodi and the Governor of Lahore, Daulat Khan Lodi resulted in Daulat Khan inviting a Mongol prince to invade India. This prince, Babur, had made Kabul his base (in 1504) after struggling to control his ancestral kingdom Fargana. Babur took over Lahore in 1524 and then returned to Kabul to plan his strategy for defeating the Lodi emperor. He crossed the Indus in December 1525 with a force of just 12000 (according to his memoirs, the Baburnama).

The Battlelines

Ibrahim Lodi’s army numbered about one lakh, which was huge in those days. But it suffered from some disadvantages, which proved fatal.

i) It was not a standing army. Rather, it was a force that had been gathered from different parts of the empire. The soldiers had never fought together.

ii) It had a large contingent of elephants which, for obvious reasons, marched slowly.

iii) Lodi was overconfident. He’d heard about the small numbers of Babur’s army and must’ve thought the Mongol would be crushed easily.

In contrast, Babur was fully aware of his numerical disadvantage and used brilliant strategies to overcome this.

i) Unlike previous invaders, Babur did not rape and pillage the populace. He’d come to India with the aim of establishing an empire and did not want to alienate the people. It is said he took care of widows and orphans in the areas he conquered. As he entered through Ropar and Ambala, he bought about 700 bullock-carts from villagers. Bought, not grabbed. Will tell you why he needed them shortly.

ii) Babur convinced the powerful Janjua Rajputs to join his campaign. They were bitterly opposed to the Delhi throne and seized their chance to overthrow Ibrahim Lodi. With their assistance, Babur’s army swelled to about 25000. It was still one-fourth of the size of Lodi’s but better than 12000. Besides, the Rajputs were brave warriors and that was a big plus for Babur.

iii) This battle saw the use of cannons for the first time in India. Lodi’s army had no cannons.

iv) Babur had a contingent of expert mounted archers, which proved more effective than sword or spear-wielding cavalry.

v) Babur’s artillery included matchlock rifles, which were a rarity in those days.

vi) Babur’s own contingent of 12000 was battle-hardened and fiercely loyal to him. They’d fought together in about eight or ten campaigns and one can imagine the camaraderie amongst them.

Despite these advantages, Babur knew that his choice of battle venue- the field of Panipat- would give a large army the upper hand. So, he had to come up with some solutions fast.

After reaching Panipat on the first of April, he quickly chose the best possible position. Keeping Panipat city on his right, he had a seven-kilometer long trench dug up to the Yamuna river on the opposite side. This was filled with wooden spikes and covered with earth and leaves, etc. to conceal it. Behind them, he made a row of the bullock-carts bound together with rawhide. There were gaps of ten to fifteen feet between them at various points, where he placed his archers and artillery. His cavalry, too, could charge through these gaps.

Behind the first few rows of infantry soldiers, Babur himself led the main position called Kul. He was flanked by a contingent on the left led by his trusted General Mohammed Mirza and another to his right led by his son and successor Prince Humayun. His heavy cavalry contingent was led by another war veteran called Iltmish.

The Battle

Babur’s scouts informed him about the progress of Lodi’s army. It was a large, unwieldy force that marched slowly. They covered only four miles per day, while travelling to Panipat!

To precipitate matters, Babur sent a large force of about four thousand men to raid the Lodi camp on the 19th of April. The raid was repelled by Lodi’s Afghan guards and Babur lost a number of men. This early victory lulled the Lodi army into a false sense of complacency. They became confident of a quick triumph in battle and attacked Babur’s army two days later.

Lodi sent his 300 strong elephants contingent first. Babur waited for them to come perilously close and then fired a barrage of artillery and cannons. The cannons might’ve missed their targets since their range was short but the mere sound confused and frightened the elephants, who panicked and trampled their own army. Lodi’s infantry met a similar fate when they fell into the trench in front of the bullock carts. Babur then deployed his heavy cavalry to cut off the Lodi army from both sides.

#Babur wanted Lodi to attack first so that the latter's army could be cut down in the trenches and confused with the cannon fire! That's why he'd sent an advance raiding party to the Lodi camp.

The battle lasted six hours. Lodi died on the field. They say he showed exemplary valour, refusing to flee even when his army was being routed. Babur went up to Lodi’s body and said: “I salute your bravery.” But the rest of Lodi’s army, comprising about twenty-five thousand, met a cruel fate. Babur had them all beheaded. 25000 men! Just think. Gross! And in a grisly message to his future enemies, he made a mound of their heads.

A rather common practice in those days. Queen Elizabeth I put her enemies' heads (particularly those who rebelled against her) on spikes at public spots so that everyone could see them! 

Anyhow, after his quick victory at Panipat, Babur marched on Delhi.

And, thus, began the rule of the Mughal dynasty in India.


Babur built this mosque at Panipat in 1527 to commemorate his victory. It still stands today.

Thursday 31 March 2022

The First Murder: The Story of Cain and Abel


The First Murder: Cain and Abel

Why did God accept Abel’s sacrifice and reject Cain’s?

Is God unjust?


The story of Cain and Abel is found in Chapter Four of the Book of Genesis of the Bible. Cain is the first child, the firstborn of Adam and Eve. He is born in a fallen state, since his parents had been banished from the Garden of Eden by then, and the story of his life pretty much follows the same pattern of sin and disobedience. Abel, his brother, is born after some time and it’s pretty obvious that they grow up amidst fierce sibling rivalry. Abel tends the flocks and Cain works the field. Once they come of age, they both bring offerings to God. Cain brings ‘some of the fruits of the soil’, while Abel brings ‘fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock’. 

Now, here’s the part that’s confounded people for ages: The Bible says God looked with favour on ‘Abel and his offering but on Cain and his offering He did not look with favour’.

Hmm…food for thought? Was God unjust? Didn’t each brother offer something derived from his labour? So, why did God favour one over the other?

Two interesting themes emerge from the answers:

The value of sacrifice and

The importance of thought control



We all make sacrifices in our lives. We all give up the immediate gratification of our desires (at some point or the other) to ensure future prosperity.

The first act of worship in the Bible involves giving up something valuable. Abel gives choice pieces of the firstborn of his flock. Much like you’d offer the best portions of meat or chicken to an honoured guest. Also notice, that God looks upon ‘Abel and his offering’ with favour. Shepherds have a special place in the Bible. David was a shepherd and Jesus is The Good Shepherd. They're portrayed as tough, self-reliant and responsible for the lives of others. David tells King Saul how he rescued his sheep from lions and bears (1Samuel 17:34-36). ‘When it turned on me, I seized it by its hair, struck it and killed it’. Whoa, that’s a powerful image. Not like our assumptions of the character of a shepherd, huh?

It's reasonable to assume that Abel, too, would’ve had to fend off wild animals while tending to his sheep. This wasn’t paradise, after all. Abel is referred to as ‘righteous’ (Mathew 23:35), a man of faith ‘by faith Abel offered God a better sacrifice than Cain did. By faith he was commended as righteous when God gave approval to his gifts’ (Hebrew 11:4). So, we get the picture of Abel as a righteous, good and responsible guy. God approves of him and his offerings.

Cain, on the contrary, seems to have been a jealous, brooding sort of guy, who was easily pissed off. Some people have argued that God rejected his offerings because they came from the ground, which was cursed. But this isn’t indicated at all. God tells Cain clearly: ‘If you do what is right, will you not be accepted?’ The same view is expounded in St. John’s first letter (1John 3:12) when he writes: ‘Do not be like Cain, who belonged to the evil one and murdered his own brother. And why did Cain slay him? Because his own deeds were evil, while those of his brother were righteous.’ So, it wasn’t just his offering; Cain himself was out of favour with the Lord.


Having been rejected by God, Cain is very angry and his face is downcast. The Lord warns him: ‘Sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it’ (Genesis 4:7). One would think such a warning is sufficient for a man to get his act together but Cain is not amenable to reason. He doesn’t want to change. He does not repent, either. Neither does he seem to be bothered about giving God an offering that would please Him. He’s just mad angry and goes on to murder his brother, the righteous Abel.

Right here in the first book of the Bible, we’re shown the importance of controlling our thoughts. There are many, many exhortations about the need to renew our minds and take bad thoughts captive. Every action begins as a thought and the Bible tells us over and over again how important it is that we recognize this.

2 Corinthians 10:5 talks about ‘bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ’. The book of Romans says: ‘Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind’ (12:2). Proverbs 3:7 ‘As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he’.

The Mark of Cain

Cain doesn’t control his thoughts, but keeps his envious wound festering and then slays Abel. God asks him: ‘Where is your brother?’ and Cain says the now famous words: ‘I do not know; am I my brother’s keeper?’

The passage describing Abel’s death and Cain’s questioning by God, mentions the word ‘brother’ six times. It’s a poignant emphasis on the bond between the siblings that serves to heighten the horror of Cain’s crime.

Instead of slaying Cain in an act of divine retribution, God condemns him to the life of a restless wanderer. Cain still doesn’t repent, but complains ‘my punishment is more than I can bear’ and ‘anyone who finds me will kill me.’ Good riddance, one would think. But the Lord does something strange: he puts a mark on Cain so that whoever finds him would not slay him. I think this is amazing: that at the very beginning of the human race, God rules that revenge is not to be encouraged. Slaying man, who is made in the image of God, is never a good thing. Perhaps it’s true that a lifetime of suffering would be worse than a quick death.

A few interesting thoughts:

a) In Dante’s Inferno, the ninth circle of hell, which is the innermost and reserved for the worst kind of sinners, is named Caina, after Cain.

b) Cain and Abel’s offerings constitute the first recorded act of worship in the Bible. Ironically, the first act of worship occasions the first murder!

c) Good Friday is coming up and I’d like to leave you with a profound thought from Dr. Jordan Peterson, a clinical psychologist whose lectures are popular on YouTube. While talking about the significance of sacrifice, he mentions something unique about the Cross.

That it’s the supreme sacrifice of the Mother (Mary had to give up her son);

The supreme sacrifice of the Father (God gave up his Son) and

The supreme sacrifice of the Son (Jesus taking our place and paying for our sins), all at once!

And that’s the sacrifice that renews and redeems.


Saturday 26 March 2022

Jesus and the woman caught in adultery


Jesus and the Woman caught in adultery

What and why did He write on the ground?


Many stories in the Bible are short and succinct but so layered and complex that each time you read them, you’ll learn something new.

Case in point, the account of Jesus and the woman caught in adultery. It’s a short narrative in the Gospel of John, Chapter 8, verses 3-11. For those unfamiliar with the story, here goes:

Jesus goes to the temple courts (of the Temple of Jerusalem, the holiest of places for the Jews) at dawn, where ‘all the people’ gather around him and he sits down to teach them. Then ‘the teachers of the law and the Pharisees’ bring in a woman caught in adultery (caught in the very act, they say). They make her stand before the group and they tell Jesus that she was caught in the act of adultery. In the Law Moses commanded them to stone such women. ‘Now what do you say?’

The Bible states clearly that they were using this question as a trap in order to have a basis for accusing him (verse 6). To illustrate this further, the Mosaic Law said: ‘If a man commits adultery with another man’s wife…both the adulterer and the adulteress are to be put to death’ (Leviticus 20:10). In this instance, the man wasn’t hauled up before Jesus. The story doesn’t say why. And, surely, the accusers weren’t following due procedure. They should’ve taken both the man and the woman to the authorities concerned, perhaps the Roman Governor.? Why did they drag the woman to Jesus? He was just a popular teacher, a Rabbi, as far as they were concerned. The answer, of course, is as verse 6 says: it was in order to trap Him.

Instead of replying directly to the Pharisees, Jesus does something strange. He bends down and starts writing on the ground with His finger. When they keep on questioning Him, He straightens up and says the now famous, immortal lines: ‘Let he who is without sin, cast the first stone’. Again, he stoops down and continues to write on the ground. After this, the crowd begins to melt away one by one, the older ones first, until only Jesus is left with the woman standing there. Jesus straightens up and asks her: ‘Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?’

‘No one, sir,’ she says.

‘Then neither do I condemn you,’ He declares, ‘Go, and sin no more.’

Before addressing the issue of what He was writing on the ground, it’s interesting to see how Jesus turns the situation around so that the woman could not be put to death. For the Mosaic Law said, ‘No one shall be put to death on the testimony of just one witness’ (Deuteronomy 17:6). Jesus creates the situation where they aren’t even 2 witnesses left to testify against the woman. Also note, Jesus does tick her off: ‘Go and sin no more.’ He doesn't say, you’re alright, your accusers are mean, horrible, hypocrites, which they were, actually. The thing is, sin is not condoned. Ever.

Now, for the question at hand. What on earth was Jesus writing on the ground? And why?

Bible scholars have debated this through the ages and three main explanations have emerged. I’ll give you all three and then give my point of view:

i) Jesus was simply ignoring the woman’s accusers, showing his contempt for their attempts to ensnare Him. He was God, after all! He knew what was in their hearts. It was almost as if He was saying: ‘Uff, you guys are such idiots. Why are you trying to play with me?’

ii) Jesus was performing a sign that’s fulfillment of a prophesy. Jeremiah 17:13 says: ‘those who turn away from thee shall be written in the earth, for they have forsaken the Lord, the fountain of living water.’ In John 7:38 Jesus describes Himself as the fountain of living water. So, Jesus was basically writing their sins in the earth. When the Pharisees and teachers of the Law saw this sign performed, they were convicted of their sin, and left the scene. As experts in the Mosaic Law, they would’ve recognized the sign.

In short, Jesus springs a trap on them!

iii) According to Venerable Bede and St. Augustine, when Jesus wrote on the ground with His finger, He was harkening back to the time on Mount Sinai when He had written the Ten Commandments on stone tablets with His finger (Exodus 32: 15-16). It’s like He was saying, ‘I’m the author of the Law and you’re trying to trap me with it?’

The only other time when the finger of God appears in the Bible is in the book of Daniel (5:5) when ‘the fingers of a human hand appeared and wrote on the plaster of the wall…’ during King Belshazzar’s banquet. The finger wrote ‘Mene Mene Tekel Uparsin’, which Daniel interprets later as a prophesy of doom against the King, who had stolen gold and silver goblets from the Temple of Jerusalem and then defiled them by drinking wine in them during this feast. That very night, King Belshazzar dies.

*An interesting aside: 2 phrases in this episode became famous in the English language. One was ‘the writing on the wall’ from the above passage. The other is ‘knees knocking together’. That’s in the verse describing King Belshazzar’s reaction to the finger writing on the wall. It says: ‘The king watched the hand as it wrote. His face turned pale and he was so frightened that his knees knocked together and his legs gave way’.

In both instances (Exodus and Daniel), the finger of God appeared in judgement. But what of the time when Jesus wrote on the ground?

I think Jesus was doing both things: He was sending a sign of judgement against the Pharisees and teachers of the Law and He was reminding them that He- the Lord Almighty- was the author of the Law, so don’t try and mess with Him!

A clip from the TV series 'Jesus of Nazareth' depicting this episode

Thursday 6 January 2022

The Cult of the Female Assassin


The Cult of the Female Assassin

Why she’s deadlier than the male


The archetype of the cold-blooded assassin has fascinated people through the ages. The figure of a man or woman stealthily approaching an unsuspecting target leaves the audience breathless with anticipation, stirring up feelings of dread and excitement in equal measure.

Who is an assassin?

The Oxford Dictionary’s definition is ‘a person who murders an important person for political or religious reasons’.

The name is derived from the Latin assassinus, which is a variation of the Arabic word hasisi or al-hashishiyun, meaning hashish-eater! The tradition dates back to the Crusades (11th to 13th centuries AD) when a certain sect would use hashish before proceeding on murder missions. No doubt that helped dull the brutality of it all. But that’s just a name; hired killers have been around from the time man decided to bump off his neighbour. Why, King Darius of Persia used a hidden blade to finish off King Xerxes I in 5th Century BC!

Some famous assassins

Among the notable ones are:

-John Wilkes Booth: shot dead US President Abraham Lincoln at a theatre on April 14, 1865. Booth himself was gunned down by federal troops on April 26 the same year.

- Nathuram Godse: a divisive figure till date! He shot Mahatma Gandhi in New Delhi on January 30, 1948.

- Lee Harvey Oswald: shot dead US President John. F. Kennedy at Dallas on November 22, 1963. Two days later, while being transferred from a jail cell, Oswald was shot dead by a Dallas Night Club owner Jack Ruby. Tried and found guilty of murder, Ruby was sentenced to death but died of cancer in jail in 1967.

-James Earl Ray: shot Martin Luther King Jr in Memphis, Tennessee on April 23, 1968. He was apprehended by London Police at Heathrow the same year while trying to flee under an assumed name.

- Ilich Ramirez Sanchez, better known as Carlos The Jackal, imprisoned since 1994. Planned some high-profile attacks on political figures in the 1970s and 80s.

- One of the world’s most infamous assassins is Julio Santana of Brazil, who has over 500 hits to his credits and has a book written about him called ‘The Name of Death’ by Klester Cavalcanti.

What’s the difference between an assassin and a murderer?

A murderer commits the crime spontaneously or in a premeditated way. He’s usually motivated by personal feelings of revenge or jealousy or greed over property disputes.

An assassin is a paid hitman who acts with careful forethought and planning. His reasons may be political, religious or even personal. It’s considered cold-blooded because of the premeditated nature of the crime and because the assassin may not be acquainted with the target.

The Female Assassin

She’s more elusive, more effective and, in the words of Rudyard Kipling, the female of the species is ‘more deadly than the male’.

Female killers have been depicted in literature and cinema but they’re a rare breed. They evoke a greater sense of dread because the trope goes against the grain of women being nurturers, more refined, the gentler sex. Lady Macbeth, while contemplating the murder of King Duncan, called upon the powers of darkness to ‘unsex her’.

Over the years, the female assassin has been portrayed as

-smart and self-assured

- physically attractive, so she can lure men in

- trained in unarmed combat and the use of weapons.

Hollywood raised her profile through action flicks like Kill Bill, Colombiana, Proud Mary and The Long Kiss Goodnight.

Interesting Fact

In 1975, not one but two women tried to kill US President Gerald Ford!

Both attempts were independent and unconnected.

The first assassin was a 26 year-old called Lynnette Fromme, a devotee of Charles Manson. On 5th September 1975 she pulled gun on Ford at a park but didn’t fire.

17 days later, Sara Jane Moore, a woman with left-wing sympathies and severe mood swings, fired a revolver at the President outside the St. Francis Hotel in San Francisco but missed.

Both women were arrested and found guilty of attempted murder but freed after Ford’s death.

What makes assassins so captivating?

People have such an enduring fascination with assassins that the internet is filled with queries about them including- believe it or not- ‘Where do I go to become an assassin’?

One of the replies is ‘go join a branch of the military.’ I guess they’re referring to army snipers. Come think of it, James Bond can be considered a Government assassin.

The term assassin conjures up images of flashy cars and gadgets, adrenalin-soaked chases and characters like Beatrix Kiddo (The Bride) from Kill Bill.

But what if she’s not like that? What if she’s vulnerable and conflicted? What if she lives an ordinary life? What if she’s one of us?

That’s my character in Killer Kavita, The Girl With The Poison Touch, a novel just released by Tara India Research Press under their imprint 4 Hour Books. She’s an assassin with a heart of gold. Killer Kavita is the moniker she’s given by the public on account of her propensity to send her targets a poetic warning declaring the date and time of their death, before eliminating them! Hot on her trail is a brilliant CBI detective Aarav Singh Rana, whose famed powers of deduction make him a legend in the Police Force, despite his young age.

Check out the awesome promo video for Killer Kavita!

The novel is currently available for ordering on Amazon. Here's the link below:

Should be out in stores as soon as the restrictions due to Omicron are lifted.

Happy Reading!