VIOLENCE AND WORLD PEACE
The Primary Lesson of Non-violence
I was initiated into the order of Jain Monkhood
while I was barely eleven by my preceptor revered Kalu Gani. The first observance
of monkhood in Jainism happens to be non-violence and the fifth one, non-acquisition.
The prime lesson of my revered Master was to hearken me to the onerous course
of cleric order. He alerted me to my newly adopted role where conscientiousness
was to be the mark of behaviour and where there is no room for lethargy
or moral indolence. He exhorted me to be ever alert. Not one step admitted
of casualness and moral indifference.
"Move not a step in abandon, lest an insect
be smothered by your sole. You have to censor each word that you utter,
lest it should offend an individual. While you take meals, be cautious lest
you trespass on another's claim. Restraint will mark your life ever and
anon else you will attempt to monopolise any material object to the detriment
of others. You cannot treat things cavalierly nor exacerbate another's feelings.
Nobody has a right to command anybody nor hold him in bondage."
This was the opening lesson in non-violence
and goodwill that my preceptor revered Kalu Gani was pleased to impart me.
He was able to awaken in me an inherent love for the teaching. Not for a
moment did my faith in non-violence erode since that significant initiation.
The Symptom of a Non-violent Behaviour
During the week following my baptism in the
monkhood I began the study of Dasavaikalika Sutra. Here did I learn 'Be
conscientious while you move, while you stand, while you sit at a place,
while you sleep and while you eat or speak."
With this unexceptionable and masterly preaching
of conscientiousness in each action, I was taught never to take liberty
with any of the objects. Unless so warranted no order of things was to be
disturbed nor a grain of anything to be wasted.
A cultivator of restraint and abstinence shall not so much as think of misusing
anything on earth.
The third lesson taught to me was that each
individual has a claim to free and independent existence. Its corollary
is that you have no right to cause annoyance or discomfort to a being. If
one teases, hurts, displeases or subjugates another, it is unforgivable.
Such a transgressor is violent.
A rich heritage
I learnt not a mere dogma from my master,
the great Kalu Gani, but my constant exposure to his covert and overt conduct
won for me a deep orientation in these universal truths that stood the test
of closest scrutiny. He spared to make any oblique observation on another
sect. A rich heritage had been bequeathed to him. This tradition of stoicism
and catholicity is as hoary as Lord Mahavira himself. During his days Ardrakumar
thus spoke to Gaushalak, the sectarian head of Ajivakas, "I denounce not
an individual : I only denounce a dogma that merits denunciation."
Lord Bhikshu had embraced this principle implicitly.
He abstained from adversely commenting on any sect or individual. My venerable
master Kalu Gani strictly trode this noble path. He bade one and all never
to be crass during academic debates. To him incitement during debate is
a sure sign of defeat. An agitated and sanguine debate is synonymous with
The master's composure and stoicism left a
lasting impact on my psyche. What he preached, he implicitly practised himself.
A constancy in word and deep is the positive indication of non-violence.
To a practitioner of non-violence utterance of unpleasant facts is an anathema,
what to say of deprecating another being. This lesson induced in me the
practice of equanimity and restraint.
The Genesis of Non-violence
Non-violence and truth are synonymous. The
two are a sine qua non to each other. The core of his kind lesson to me
in veracity may be worded thus - 'Never be a coward. Fear not age nor disease.
Be not afraid of grief, nor of death. Chimera scares one who is chicken-hearted
a timid person is a hostage of apprehensions. Such an unfortunate being
is shorn of austerity and asceticism.'
My preceptor's teaching led me to realise
that non-violence and truth are grounded in fearlessness. In fact, non-violence
and truth are concommitants to each other.
A man riveted to acquisition and avarice is
never crowned with fearlessness. It follows that non-violence can never
exist in such a set of circumstances. Fear is the prime mover of violence.
To scare and intimidate another is very much violence and so is fright and
apprehension to your own self. It follows that you should never be frightened
nor frighten others. This is the mutually coexisting principle of subjective
and objective fearlessness. Non- avariciousness is significant in as much
as fearlessness is its corollary. Falling for the material leads to anxiety
and craving for it leads to violence. We fear death because we fall for
our physical frame. This attachment to the gross is another name for acquisition.
Violence and acquisition are inseparably wedded
together. Conversely, non-violence and non-acquisition are wedded together.
I owe these golden truths to my preceptor, my Master Kalu Gani.
Instruction in fearlessness
Non-violence owes its origin to fearlessness
and stoicism is like a helmet to it. Revered Kalu Gani, demonstrated the
twin virtues reflected in his own conduct. His grip on both these virtues
was impeccable. I was exposed to his conduct and as if I spontaneously imbibed
these into mine.
It was the era of Prince Ganga Singh, then,
at Bikaner. He was counted amongst the ablest but had strong illustrious
rulers. The venerable Kalu Gani used to spend the four months of monsoon
at Sujangarh. The prince Ganga Singh felt impelled to call on the saint
there. He refrained to enter the precincts of the building. He barely made
obeisance to the monk with folded palms from without. However, he failed
to catch the eye of the Master. The devout householders who witnessed the
event were mighty scared. Such was the terror of the ruler.
While the Prince had bowed the saint was not
watchful of the entrance. The wrath of the prince was the only logical outcome.
God forbid the temper of such an irascible ruler. How to resolve the tangle?
Monk Mantri and a few householders present there dwelt upon this disaster
for long hours of the night. Revered Master had however retired as usual
for rest with no crease of anxiety on his forehead. His simple observation
happened to be "Why he vexed? It happened only inadvertantly. I never meant
to slight anybody. How could I be indicted for something far from my thought?"
This imperturbability was his characteristic at every juncture.
Triumph of Stoicism
Once he stayed at Bikaner for the monsoon
camp. A sect of Jains chose to oppose the move with all vigour and belligerency
at their command, short of assault and battery. Verbal invective knew no
bounds. Fracas led the saint to summon all the monks and nuns. He exhorted
them to, retain staunch composure and equipoise. Not the slightest reaction
to provocation was to be betrayed. Each one was to precisely stick to his
or her wonted conduct and movement. All offensives were to be braved ascetically.
No temper was to be displayed in whatsoever measure.
One of the monks could not contain himself
and remonstrated. On learning of it an austere penitence followed which
was an inspiration to other monks to be ever composed. Aggression fell felt
before the triumphant stoicism.
Provocation was prostrated and stoicism and
peace came out with flying colours. This lesson in tolerance struck a deep
note in my person and left me strength when a similar occurrence threatened
us at Bikaner at a later date.
Averting a catastrophe
A year or so after my installation as Acharya,
concluding our monsoon stay at Bikaner the moment of exodus arrived. We
were a throng of a few thousand as we emerged on the main road we were confronted
with a similar mammoth crowd of a rival sect led by its Acharya. Rangda
Chowk was the bottle-neck where the facing crowds congested for the likely
show down. The crowds were a murmur as to who should eat an humble pie and
give way to the other group. The other crowd was brimming with excitement.
That they would give way was unthinkable.
Our group was no less explosive. I heard them
blurting, "Why should we budge for them? Do they take us to be cowards?"
Ishwarchand Chopra, a prominent citizen remonstrated at the idea of conceding
to the opponent. I collected my wits and chose to turn towards Rangda Chowk
rather than inflame the situation. Each one followed me and a likely catalysm
Prince Ganga singh was informed of it. His
observation was, 'Acharya Tulsi is short of years but his actions are pregnant
with wisdom. He has added to the glory of Bikaner. Had he so much as demurred,
the catastrophe was certain with stampede and casualities."
It was Acharya Kalu Gani's illustrious example
that ingrained in me the invincibility of stoicism. There, was many an occasion
in my career where I drew from the teaching of my Master.
The Stoic smiles in the face of fire and brimstone
Once I wrote, "They oppose and we are titillated.
They recalcitrate and we are amused." To treat aggressive and defiant with
nonchalance is the mark of equanimity. It is the non-violent conduct of
the highest order. I came across to an event of this kind while we were
in Malva (part of present M.P). Revered Kalu Gani was traversing Jawara
and Ratlam. There a rival Jain sect was emboldened to paste each wall with
virulently slanderous pamphlets against the non-violent principles enunciated
by Terapanth sect. The entire town was afire with sectarian fulminations.
Acharya Kalu Gani endeavoured to assuage the
mass feelings and justify the dicta. However, he scrupulously abstained
from a counter-offensive. He demonstrated stoicism par excellence. A pandit
from Ratlam spoke to him how he had been impassively observing the events
and how tactfully the Acharya had handled a potentially explosive situation
by speaking of a profound discerning wisdom that shuns all recourse to confrontation.
The entire incitement was dealt with nonchallantly. Such wisdom dawns upon
a soul who has cultivated a non-violent mode of thought and conduct.
I treat this as a reward of my prolonged and serious contemplation.
Acharya Kalu Gani thus retorted to the pandit,
"Esteemed gentleman, a stoic alone can withstand provocations as against
another with a weak moral fibre who is prone to react instantaneously with
a similar squib."
These rare instances from the noble conduct
of a great soul brought home to me the need for composure and stoicism in
the face of provocation.
The helmet of Non-violence
Stoicism is the helmet of non-violence. Non-violence
or universal goodwill cannot fructify in its absence. Revered Kalu Gani
was a personification of non-violence and stoicism. During the dusk of this
great career he suffered a carbuncle in his left index finger. The pain
was excruciating but his prescribed travelling was incessant. He chose to
abstain from surgical measures with the instruments at hand brought by the
surgeon. He brought himself to discern the grain from the chaff, the subtle
from the gross. It was an agony that lasted over two months. To watch his
stoicism then was a unique training in toughening of character.
A non-violent soul has to guard against the
temptation of material glossing over, vigilance and non-attachment alone
will yield stoicism and equanimity. Consciously or unconsciously I imbibed
the guiding principles that infused the life and conduct of my great Master.
These seeds of goodwill for all and sundry enlivened as saplings the terrain
of my life. These lessons in enlightenment granted contours to my conduct,
time and again, as and when the need arose. I may cite one instance of such
an occasion of trepidation.
I had authored a book named "Agnipariksha"
(literally the fire test). It narrates how chaste Sita was put to the test
of flames to prove her chastity. Narrow minded bigots fired with communal
strains chose to disseminate their polluted mentality. They sought to prejudice
and incite mob-psychology The book flared a wide controversy affecting thousands
of innocent minds. All attempts were made to pacify their misgivings. Notwithstanding
M.P. High Court's pronouncement that the work was innocuous, we chose to
withdraw the book from circulation. The famous Sarvodaya leader Jayaprakash
Narayan declared it as a great experiment in non-violence. The decision
was widely lauded but a prominent author adversely commented and accused
me of being unfair to the world of letters. I attempted to alleviate his
bruised feelings "I am a practitioner monk of non-violence. My claim to
authorship comes later. To acquit non-violence honourably our conduct ought
to be above board and exemplary. This is the motto of my life embracing
this code implicitly."