When natural calamities such as the Kosi and Mahanadi floods take place, people start questioning the authority of God. How can God allow such misery to so many innocent people? What about the suffering of those who have lost their loved ones in the blink of an eye? Where is the mercy in all this?
Let us look for the answers in the Bhagavad-Geeta, the book of eternal wisdom. As far as the question of innocent lives being taken away is concerned, the Geeta tells us that on account of our bodily consciousness we think of our bodies as sacrosanct, that is they being everything. The truth is we are just souls for whom these bodies have been provided (Geeta: 2.27). Rebirth for those not qualifying for liberation is automatic and cannot be considered as anything unusual. Plus, innocent people live in the spiritual planet, not here in the material world.
As regards to the suffering of those who survived the disaster, arenít we aware of suffering in the normal course of life? Yes, it is true that in case of a calamity the suffering is more evident given that it is on a large scale. However, suffering is inevitable in the material world, which has been described in the Geeta as a place of misery (Geeta: 8.15). The only difference is that after a catastrophe like a flood, we are visually or otherwise reminded of the painful nature of our material existence.
But what about the apparent absence of mercy on Godís part? Here it would be more prudent to ask whether we are truly deserving of mercy. We human beings are capable of so much of evil that it would be extremely arrogant of us to ask for mercy. We kill, rape and murder without a second thought and hence do not deserve any mercy just as the Kaurava in the Mahabharata.
Some of us may seek to know the reason behind such seemingly meaningless mass deaths. But what happens in wars? What happens when cities are bombed? Did Hiroshima and Nagasaki not take place? We have many such examples of mass deaths, many of which were man-made and hence much more needless than those caused by floods.
Cruel occurrences such as natural calamities seem illogical to us because we only have a limited understanding of life. However, what makes complete sense is the realization that one should seek salvation in the time one has. Then one can achieve liberation and be free of all these miseries.