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Non Voilence & World Peace

Jain Books

Peace and Non-violent Action

Ganadhipati Tulsi

Darkness has an eternal existence - it existed in the past, it still exists and shall continue to exist. Mankind has discovered the use of 'lamp' to offset the effects of darkness. Lamps were lit by the man in the past, these are being lit in the present and these would also be lit in the future. It could never happen that there would be darkness alone and no means to create light. The relevance and need for light, on the other hand, would always be more with the increase in the intensity of darkness. The very fact that darkness can never be extirpated does not deter man from lighting the lamp. His struggle against the darkness shall go on and on so long there is a need for light.

The same story holds good in the case of violence and non-violence. They existed in the past, they still exist and shall always exist in the future. There had been incessant and untiring efforts to practise non-violence; there are efforts going on even now and these efforts will be there in the future as well. Like darkness and light, both violence and non-violence are eternal entities. The more powerful the violence becomes, the more strenuous efforts would be needed for propagating non-violence. The relevance of non-violence would ever increase with the onslaught of violence. That violence could not be eradicated from the world should not force non-violence to cease its activities. In fact, non-violence is not to be conceived in any manner less powerful than violence. The only requirement is to awaken this supine force. Look at the colossal amount of money being pumped into experiments, research, training and manufacture of equipments for perpetuating violence. What matching efforts have been put in to propagating non-violence? Hence there is an urgent need for:

(1) Comprehension of non-violence

(2) Research in non-violence

(3) Training in non-violence, and

(4) Experiments in application of non-violence

Many of us might be ignorant about the modus-operandi to be followed for conducting the research and training in non-violence. But training in non-violence is a reality.

To indulge in violence is an instinct deeply ingrained in man. Whenever there is a stimulant, this instinct is translated into action. However the Jain canonical text "Acharanga Sutra" - the bible of non-violence, enumerated three motives behind indulging into violence:

(1) Retaliation

(2) Defence

(3) Fear (i.e. apprehension of insecurity)

Whatever the reasons be, there has always been an organized and systematic training in violence. Billions of dollars are wasted on these ugly developments. Every day some new weapon is developed, every time new techniques for perpetrating violence are developed, and these are proudly and unabashedly displayed and used. The dictum of Jain prophet Lord Mahavira, 'that there is always a weapon sharper than the other' comes to be true. On the other hand, as said above, there is no effort whatsoever put in for 'training in non-violence', leave alone its application. Is it not unfortunate that people pay lip service in praising and talking about non-violence but they never think in terms of its training? Then how can we conceive that non-violence would be adopted as a 'life-style'? Most of the people these days have no faith in the efficacy of non-violence as a tool to counter the effects of violence. Unfortunately, they hold an utter negative attitude towards training in non-violence. But we firmly believe that there is a boundless power in non-violence and that training in non-violence is feasible.

Having dealt with the feasibility of training in non-violence, we come to two important aspects of training in non-violence:

(1) Theoretical

(2) Practical

The former comprises the comprehension of the philosophical theories of non-violence. There are diverse doctrines of non-violence and if we enter into the polemics, we may get entangled into futile controversies. Therefore, we shall mention only a few basic metaphysical ideas without which the very concept of training cannot be understood.

There are five points which confirm the value of non-violence on metaphysical basis, namely--

(1) Reality of Soul : There is a real existence of soul.

(2) Independence of Soul : Every soul is responsible for its own sufferings or pleasures. From this point of view, the soul is independent.

(3) Equality of All Souls : Speaking arithmatically, the number of souls is infinite. The states of different souls formed by the effects of their own "Karmas" are also diverse. But from the point of view of intrinsic nature, all souls are completely identical; there is no difference whatsoever. This principle of 'equality' is not confined to human beings but applies to each and every living being. We can definitely make a statement that "souls of all living beings are intrinsically identical."

(4) Relativity in All Facets of Living: No one can survive by remaining absolutely indifferent to, or also, from other beings. Therefore, the principle of relativity applies to every particle of nature. Even a single leaf falling from a tree would have its effect on the whole universe.

(5) Co-existence: To think in terms of "Either I shall remain or he will remain" has no place in the canons of non-violence. Thinking on the lines of "You as well as I will live; this as well as that will prevail", is the terminology of coexistence; and ideology of non-violence.

Practical Training of Mind

Having understood the theoretical aspects of training in non-violence, the trainee is expected to undergo the practical training which would consist mainly in the training of mind.

The first and the foremost content of training of mind is the balancing of emotions. In psychological terms, emotions are mental disturbances. Fear, anger, hatred, sensuality, lust, agony and pleasure etc. are the emotions which are expressed as a response to particular stimulus. Although it is difficult for a person to become completely free from all emotional disturbances, yet he has to attain certain degree of emotional balance without which he will have to face countless problems. We may here illustrate the methods/techniques for balancing the emotions. Take for example - "Anger". It is a type of emotion. It can be controlled by practising meditation or concentration of perception on the emotional area of the brain. The techniques of "perception of psychic centers" and "perception of psychic colours" are proved to be effective for creation of such equilibrium.

Another example is--negligence/remissness. It is a result of lack of our alertness and concentration of mind. The technique of perception of deep breathing in addition to the above ones is proved to be effective in getting rid of this deficiency. The technique of "Preksha Meditation" prescribes sure remedies to the maladies like drug-addiction, tension and terrorism. Again, the complexes of inferiority and superiority are such emotional distortions that they would jeopardise the development of integrated personality. Special exercises of "Preksha Meditation" in which the sympathetic and the parasympathetic nervous systems are concentrated upon have been found useful in overcoming such complexes.

Behavioural Training

In the world of behaviour, the practical training in non-violence has a very wide scope. In brief, we have to focus attention on the following three points in this relation:

(1) Betterment and Development of Relations with Human Beings

(2) Expansion of Relations with Nature/All Living Beings

(3) Limiting the Relations with Material World

As a social animal, man leads a collective life. He has to deal with other entities in various ways. For that he has to build relations with them. It is easy to establish relations, but it is very difficult to maintain them properly. This is because of the selfish proclivity of man. Man is prone to see everything through the glasses of selfishness. How can a person standing on the plane of selfishness think in terms of selflessness? But one who has faith in non-violence would never try to capitalise on his relations with others for selfish ends. Training in non-violence is, therefore, imperative to save mankind from the poisoning efforts of selfishness in the world of human relations.

Betterment of Relations with Human Beings

We can classify behaviour of a person broadly into two categories - human and inhuman. The aphorisms of social ethics give us the directives for our behaviour or relations with other human beings. Those who behave in conformity with them, belong to the former category. On the contrary, those who totally neglect others well-beings, who are ready to trample on it, who do not hesitate in exploiting, suppressing, molesting or inflicting pains to others, fall in the latter category. Such people are said to possess 'brutal' or 'demonical' attitude. The betterment of human relations is possible only by purging a person of such an attitude. The training in non-violence must consist in bringing about this reformation.

The human relations can be classified into several units. Here we shall discuss only three of them, viz. (1) family relations, (2) social relations, and (3) professional relations.

(i) Family Relations: The dealings between father and son, mother and daughter, husband and wife, brother and brother, mother-in-law and daughter-in-law, sister-in-law and so on constitute the family relations. If they are imbued with human attitude, there will not arise any occasion of beating, fighting with, harassing or degrading anyone.

(ii) Social Relations: The sphere of social relations is much wider. It commences from the relations with the neighbours and spread upto every person belonging to the remotest corner of the society. Now, it is the inspiration of non-violence that relations should neither be established on the basis of selfish considerations nor should they be severed off in case the self-interests suffer. The gap between man and man which is widening on the grounds of caste, colour, sex, class or creed is the main source of increase in violence in one form or the other. But we should not forget that amongst all these differences, there is a common element and that is 'humanity'. "I am a human being; he is also a human being. The fair dealings which I expect from him, he also would expect the same from me." Only on this line of thinking can we build a foundation on which the congenial development of human relations is possible.

(iii) Professional Relations: The dealings between the employee, and the employer, the boss and the subordinate, different partners etc. are the relations in the realm of profession which require humanization. If there lacks a human attitude, the employer would exploit the employee, while the latter would fight shy of labouring. Such events as an employee suffering from high fever is compelled to do the work by the superiors, or conversely, the employee looks for pretexts inability to carry out the assigned task, would be frequent. The training in developing sympathetic attitude, genuine concern for each other, mutual respect, giving deserved share and appreciation to others, and imparting fair and impartial treatment to one and all would go a long way in solving such problems.

Improvement in Relations with Living Beings :

Conservation of Nature

Human race considers itself to be the topmost production of Nature. Therefore, his attitude towards other creatures (including plants) is callous. He indulges in violence to other beings for his own survival. We may classify himsa (violence) into two categories: (1)Avertible and (2) Inevitable. The inevitable form is also himsa, and under no circumstances it can be given the status of ahimsa (non-violence). We may, however, by-pass it from the point of view of inevitability, but the avertible/avoidable kind of himsa is the outcome of man's inhuman attitude towards other living beings.

Had mankind been imparted training as to how he should treat other creatures, there would not be occasions for avertible/avoidable himsa, cruel treatment and hedonistic outlook to flourish. Knowingly or unknowingly many people use such cosmetics which involve extreme cruelty and inhuman treatment to animals in their production. For mere entertainment some people organize animals fights, camel race etc. All such violence is nothing short of sadism. The training in non-violence can make man free from such cruelty by making him realize his oneness with the animal world.

A person having a magnanimous and human attitude towards the whole animal kingdom will not tamper with Nature. The modern ecology does not permit interference with any part of nature in any form whatsoever. But this very concept was propounded 2500 years ago by Bhagawan Mahavira in his doctrines of non-violence and self-restraint which assert that not even a particle of Nature should be hurt or disturbed.

Limiting the Attachments to the Material World

One of the basic instincts of man is possessiveness. Instigated by this tendency, he accumulates possessions. This innate impulse of possessiveness tends man towards his own extinction. In his book, "TO HAVE OR TO BE", Erich Fromm suggests man to chose between 'possession and existence'. If man wants to preserve his existence, he will have to say goodbye to possessiveness.

Man is in dilemma - on one hand he cannot do without material things, while on the other his existence is threatened by the impulse of attachment or possessiveness. Under such circumstances, one of the important contents of the training in non-violence would be - development of detachment or freedom from infatuation. As soon as his attitude towards material world is transmuted, there will be automatic self-imposed limits on accumulations and consumptions of material objects.

Non-violence : The First or The Last Refuge?

Both the trainees as well as the trainers of non-violent should bear in mind the declaration of Bhagawan Mahavira, "Non-violence is wholesome for all living beings." This dictum has more relevance on the eve of announcement of cease-fire when people terrified and fed-up with the catastrophic consequences of war take refuge in non-violence. Had violence or war the capability to give refuge, nobody would ever think of cease-fire. The ultimate answer is not war, but cease-fire. For this, it is imperative that instead of calling a 'cease-fire' (i.e. putting an end of war), let us put an end to the launching of the war.

Some people contend that non-violence makes a person coward or scared. May I ask them that if non-violence is cowardice, then why people ultimately take refuge under non-violence? In fact, it is the other way round. Bhagawan Mahavira has deemed fear and cowardice as forms of violence. Non-violence is not a weapon of timids, but of heroes. Only non-violence imbibed with the spirit of fearlessness and heroism can give shelter to the whole world. Let the whole world recognise this power of non-violence and accept it as the first refuge.

Training in Nonviolence: A Part of Curriculum

We have selected the above mentioned features for the training in non-violence, because there are mainly three reasons for indulging into violence:

(1) Fundamentalism

(2) Materialistic Attitude

(3) Cruelty in Human Relations

In order to get rid of the problems that crop up in day-to-day life with regard to the above three reasons, the only effective means is to impart training in non-violence to people. Many a time it so happens that a person takes recourse to violence only on account of his ignorance and lack of knowledge of the consequences of violence.

Therefore, it is essential to intensify the training activities of non-violence. It is not enough to experiment it by picking a few persons or villages. This can be accepted on trial basis but in order to widen the scope of the training programme, it is essential to integrate it with educational curriculum.

If non-violence is introduced as a compulsory subject in all schools and colleges and if due attention is focussed on practical training along with theoretical training, then this subject of non-violence can be made more applicable.

With a view to making this procedure of imparting training in non-violence more scientific and easy, critical debates can be initiated.