The world we live in is dualistic, compound of separateness and oneness.
The latter lies concealed, the former manifests itself clearly. Men differ
from one another in several ways:
1. Differences of beliefs and concepts
2. Differences of ideas
3. Differences of taste
4. Differences of temperament
5. Differences of emotion
Differences of Beliefs
Differences of beliefs have led to the creation
of many sects and their innumerable followers. Sectarian differences are
a sign of freedom of thinking. Man is not a mechanical but a thinking
being. He has his own ways of thinking, postulating new doctrines and
But, besides being thoughtful, man is emotional
too. If he had been thoughtful only, differences would have remained just
differences and nothing more. They would not have led to strife due to
sectarian malice and cancour. So, it is not only differences of beliefs
that cause sectarian provocation, but also certain obduracy born of emotions.
Differences of Ideas
Every man is an independent being. So differences
of ideas are but natural. If he were a machine or if he was governed mechanically,
he would have thought uniformly. Since it is not the case and since each
man has a different kind of awareness, individual differences in thinking
are not unnatural. However, these differences of ideas cause strife only
when aggravated by emotions.
Differences of tastes
All people are not uniformly sensitive.
The same thing can give the sensation of joy to one person and that of
grief to another. Having these different sensations does not cause strife.
The spark of strife is kindled by emotions.
Differences of temperament
There are as many temperaments and habits
as there are individuals. It is the inner chemistry that is responsible
for temperamental differences. But here too, these differences become a
cause of strife when they are impregnated with emotions.
Types of emotions
Though the cause of individual difference
is emotion, not all individuals have the same degree of emotion. Differences
are caused only by the ascending or descending order of the degree of
emotion. From this point of view there are three main orders of degree
and nine secondary orders of degree:
1. Mild-emotion in a low degree
2. Medium-emotion in an average degree
3. Strong-emotion in a high
There are three degrees of
The medium also has three degrees:
Similarly, there are three degrees of the strong:
A mildly emotive man believes in peaceful
coexistence. He does not take part in activities involving destruction and
malice and can never think of lolling either himself or others.
Men of medium emotions are malicious and take
part in riots and destructive activities. Men with medium-medium emotions
practice hatred based on caste and colour, believe in untouchability and
aggravate and spread social inequity.
People with upper-medium degree of emotions
contribute to sectarian provocation and wilfully cause sectarian strife.
Those who have strong emotions indulge in violent activities like suicide
Man with medium-strong emotions provoke violence on casteism and sectarian
People with highly-strong emotions create a war mania in the people.
Violence and exclusive or one-sided viewpoint
The intense the emotion, the more compulsive
becomes false tenacity and obduracy based on one-sidedness. And false tenacity
and obduracy based on one-sidedness are the main characteristics of violence.
Violence is not confined to armament and war. Family quarrels, bitterness
in human relations, racial, sectarian and regional conflicts, separatist
thinking are forms of incipient violence which ultimately lead to armament
and war. Disarmament and banning of wars are good principles, but we will
have to first pay attention to the basic causes of violence. False tenacity
pushes a nation into cruelty and opens the doors to violence. To reduce
false tenacity Anekanta provides an important alternative.
The Basic Principles of Anekanta
Anekanta is an experiment in freeing oneself from false tenacity and obduracy.
It has five basic principles:
1. Dialectical Relation
Only that exists which has its opposite.
Existence is dialectical (yat sat tat satpratipaksham), i.e. No existence
is without an opposite.
The opposite is an obligatory part of one's
being. Since it is complementary, don't treat it as an adversary. Behave
with it as a friend. But what we see is that people following different
social, economic and political systems do not respect one another and behave
as enemies. Both in the Loka Sabha and Rajya Sabha the opposition has an
important place. Even then it is not treated respectfully but as an adversary.
Reinforcing Practice aspect:
The principle of opposites has universal
validity. Even then because of his emotional and self seeking nature people
treat those holding opposite view as enemies. For changing this emotional
attitude, practice in reconciliation, proves very useful. Respecting views
opposed to one's own is an important aspect of safeguarding one's being.
Therefore, engaging repeatedly in mental reflection on reconciliation is
Every thing has countless pairs of opposites.
They exist together.
It is possible for two individuals with opposite
views to live together. The beauty of this world lies in the principle of
let us co-exist. Therefore don't think of destroying your opponent. Define
the limits and stay within them --you within yours and he within his. Don't
transgress the limits.
Reinforcing practice aspect:
Opposition is a mental construct. It is this
that is the main obstacle to coexistence. If we sublimate the emotions of
fear and hatred, this obstacle will be automatically removed. For the sublimation
of emotions repeated mental reflection on coexistence is essential.
Every object has an independent or autonomous
existence. None interferes with any other and so all objects are able to
retain their identity based on their intrinsic qualities.
Respecting and recognising the importance
of individual freedom is a prerequisite of a healthy society. The value
of individual freedom should not be underrated while conceding the importance
Reinforcing Practice aspect:
One person should not be a hindrance to another
person's freedom. Only that person can do it who does not consider his view
to be exclusively true. No one holding his view as absolute truth can help
interfering with the freedom of others. Repeated mental reflection on autonomy
or freedom is essential for changing this tendency towards interference.
Our being is independent and absolute, but
our personality is relative. Within the limits of personality our freedom
is also relative. Therefore no man is absolutely free and since he is not
absolute he is relative. The theory of evolution bases itself on struggle
and strife. Anekanta bases itself on interdependence. We survive on the
basis of mutual support.
Those whose thinking is one-sided, view the
individual and society separately in a fragmented manner. Some of them give
absolute importance to society while some others give it to the individual.
Anekanta has a holistic view. According to it both the individual and society
are relative. If society were all important, individual freedom would become
meaningless and if the individual were everything, relativity would have
no meaning. Freedom operates within the limits of relativity and the latter
acts upon and applies to the relation between the individual and society.
It is the absolutist standpoint that
is responsible for embittering human relations. Even chauvinism and war
are the products of the same standpoint. Human relations can be viewed in
a much wider perspective on the basis of relativity. And properly understanding
one's relation with objects, thoughts, dispositions and the body is very
necessary for cultivating non-violence. If relations with men are governed
by cruelty, those with objects by attachment, those with ideas by obduracy,
those with dispositions by lack of restraint and those with the body by
disposition, violence becomes inevitable.
Reinforcing practice aspect:
Repeated practices are essential for changing
a one-sided or absolutist viewpoint. Mere knowledge cannot bring about a
change. Long and sustained practice is necessary for it. Mental reflection
on relativity is essential for developing a holistic and relative viewpoint.
No idea can be wholly true. It is partly
true. Try to discover the truth in other man's idea even as you regard your
own idea as true. It is a sheer obduracy to consider one's own idea as absolutely
true and the other's idea as absolutely untrue. Such an obduracy or false
insistence leads one to falsehood. The way to discover truth is lack of
false insistence. A man devoid of false insistence can seek reconciliation
between opposite views.
Obdurate attitude is mainly responsible for
sectarian provocations. One sect is not ready to accept the partial trueness
of views held by another sect. Acharya Vinoba once wrote "I agree that the
Gita has profoundly influenced me. Next to that is the influence of Lord
Mahavira, the reason being my complete belief in his teachings." Mahavira
has directed people to accept the truth (satyagrahi). Today everywhere we
encounter satyagrahis -- followers of a policy of passive resistance as
advocated by Mahatma Gandhi. I was also made a Satyagrahi by Gandhiji. But
I knew who I was--not a Satyagrahi but a Satya-grahi (one who accepts the
truth). Every man carries a part of the truth in him, which is what makes
his life worthwhile. It follows that one should be prepared to accept each
such part of the truth as a particular religion, creed or individual may
have. We should become satyagrahi (accepters of truth). It is this teaching
of Mahavira which has influenced me most next only to the Gita."
Reinforcing practice aspect:
A man with 'reptelian brain' is always
ready to spread sectarian and racial hatred. Its evil effects can be mitigated
through persistent efforts. For begetting an awareness of reconciliation
one has to mentally reflect on reconciliation.