VIOLENCE AND WORLD PEACE
World Peace and Non-violence
Society consists of innumerable individuals
having a common bond. That bond is mutuality. Plurality constitutes collectivity,
but mere collectivity does not become society without the bond of mutuality.
Without a common thread the beads would not make a rosary and it is of utmost
importance to examine and evaluate the thread.
Sometime back Lord Mahavira's twenty-fifth
birth centenary was celebrated. On that occasion a Jain emblem was prepared
which contained at its base the following sutra: Parasparopagraho Jeevanam.
This is an important aphorism from the first Sanskrit book in the Jain tradition.
It means that sentients (jivas) are mutually related through favour and
obligation, i.e. beneficence. The industrialist pays wages to the labourer
and the latter acts in a manner likely to benefit the former and to safeguard
his interests. Likewise, the teacher imparts knowledge to the pupil and
makes him go through a sacred ceremony. The latter moulds himself according
to the teacher and respectfully obeys his directions. Both are examples
of mutual beneficence. Life's formula is not conflict, for conflict denotes
helplessness and is not an independent trait. On the other hand mutual beneficence
is an independent trait. While treating life as conflict compels man to
take the course of violence, mutual beneficence takes him on the road to
non-violence. We live as part of society and the unit of society is the
individual. Like individuals like society and vice versa. The above relationship
is both ways true but relatively so. In modern times, society is conceived
in terms of economic conditions and their management. It is assumed that
if the latter are good the individual will be good too. Behind this assumption
is the belief that the external cause can explain everything and that an
individual's own quality and competence do not matter. Its converse is equally
one-sided. It holds that the individual's own quality and competence constitute
the basic or material cause of virtue and vice-versa and that economic management
and social circumstances act only as external causes. Neither proposition
encompasses totality which can be represented only by the formula --individual,
economic management and social order. A relative and balanced transformation
of all these three constituents can alone establish a healthy and non-violent
Countries like the Soviet Union and China
laid utmost stress on bringing about changes in the economic and social
order. Consequently organizational changes did occur there but the individual
remained unchanged. Even though external conditions are under severe control,
economic and social offences continue unabated. A relaxation of controls
might lead to an increase in crime. Thus mere organizational changes are
not enough. As opposed to the socialist countries, Great Britain, America
and India claim to have a democratic system where the individual enjoys
the right to freedom of speech, writing and expression. In the democratic
system the claims of the individual are not ignored and everyone has equal
opportunity to grow according to his ability. However, there is no tight
control on the economic and social organizations. The result is that while
one individual can become a billionaire, another leads a life of starvation
and deprivation. There is neither a guarantee of employment nor a limit
to individual possessions.
Both democratic and socialist systems have
in them the seeds of violence. There is a need for a third system to usher
in world peace. The Jain philosophy has an important principle called 'anekantavada'
(the doctrine of manifold aspects). It considers the third alternative faultless--neither
'this' nor 'that' but 'this as well as that'. In philosophy both eternalism
and non eternalism are acceptable. Anekanta will consider neither blameless.
When both are integrated as 'eternalism-cum-noneternalism' we get the third
alternative which is blameless. In the same manner it is possible to find
a lasting solution to the problem of world peace by integrating the socialist
economic system requiring a definite limit to individual proprietorship
with the democratic individual freedom. The famous historian Toynbee talked
of the twin questions of bread and faith. Neither in isolation can be faultless.
Only that system can be conducive to world peace which ensures both in the
We are inhabitants of the same planet and
share a common solar system. All of us are being affected by inter-planetary
radiation and all of us are in need of a proper atmosphere and ecological
cover. This natural state has given birth to the feeling of coexistence.
Nature dictates that we cannot but live together. There are indeed impediments
to the fulfillment of this natural requirement. These impediments are less
natural and geographic but more artificial and imaginary. We have accumulated
in our minds several notions and beliefs which have cut off our direct contact
with reality. We see distorted images through the spectacles of these false
notions and beliefs. One harmful consequence is that we have raised huge
artificial walls between man and man making it impossible for one man to
see, know and understand another. Differences of race, colour and religion
constitute an unholy trinity that has so divided humanity as to make hostility
among men appear more real than friendship. It is this hostility which has
vitiated the natural concept of coexistence. How ironical that we have to
make strenuous efforts to make people understand the principle of world
peace and friendship, whereas no effort whatsoever is required to make them
understand strife and unrest!
A is a citizen of India and B of Pakistan.
It is the nationality which divides them. The Indian feels more attached
to his country's soil than he does to the Pakistani. In reality one man
should be closer to another man, but in practice men feel more attached
to things than to other men. Thus people feel much more attracted towards
race, colour and religion than towards one another. The gulf dividing truth
and actual behaviour constitutes a complex problem. Philosophy speaks of
three kinds of opposition: pratibadhya-pratibandhak (that which is impeded--
that which impedes), vadhya-vadhak (the hunted--the hunter), and sahanavasthan
(presence of one-- absence of another). The turning off of the electric
switch results in darkness where there was light earlier. This is the first
kind of opposition. The snake and the mongoose represent the second type
of opposition. Lastly, water and fire represent the third kind of opposition.
Now it should be obvious that coexistence is unthinkable in the face of
differences and opposition. Jain philosophy found a solution to this problem
on the basis of which the principle of non-violence was established. Anekanta
has a comprehensive viewpoint about the avoidance of opposition. One of
its canons is : There is nothing in the world like total opposition or total
non-opposition. Similarly total difference and total non-difference are
not true. Underneath opposition and difference are hidden non-opposition
and non-difference respectively, and vice versa. If we see only opposition
and difference, we encourage violence. If we see only non-opposition and
non-difference, we destroy the belief in usefulness and imperil practical
behaviour. Therefore, the solution to the problem of violence lies in viewing
opposition/non-opposition and difference/non-difference dyads relatively
and in trying to integrate and reconcile them. On this basis alone can the
principle of coexistence be implemented.
The Materialistic Point of View
Man's ego prompts him to be more and more
ambitious. It is this ambition which lies at the back of materialism. He
has sensations too and he always wants pleasant sensations. It is again
this hedonism and love of comfort that props up materialism. And a materially
successful person looks down upon all those who are less privileged. As
a result of all this, the entire energy of the individual is being spent
in indulging his ego and his pleasures. How can we then think of world peace
and non-violence and of the ways of bringing them about? Peace and non-violence
are no more subjects of philosophy; they are essentially human conduct.
It is common knowledge that practice is much more difficult than precept
and since a major part of society is motivated in its activities by ambition
and the pleasure principle, the inevitable consequence is violence and unrest.
How can we successfully change the situation? This question agitates our
mind again and again. We do talk of non-violence but do not know how to
break the cycle of violence. The question naturally arises whether it is
so easy to give up ambition that one can do so merely on the basis of discussion
and deliberation or whether one can give up the pleasure principle merely
by reading about non-violence. Undoubtedly without saying goodbye to hedonism
and materialism there can be no end to the cycle of arms race, wars, unrest
and violence. Even if America and the Soviet Union agree to limit the arms
race some other countries may resort to nuclear armament and once again
create the problem of maintaining balance of power, leading to yet another
race for manufacturing arms. This would create a state of perpetual war
Disarmament does offer a solution to the problem
of war, but it cannot offer an adequate solution in the absence of a proper
study of the factors leading to a war. And these factors are expansionism,
the tendency of some countries to impose their political system and life
style on others and the mentality of universal proselytization. We must
address ourselves to finding the ways of removing these factors if we want
to prevent wars and establish world peace.
Non-violence: The Eternal Religion
Non-violence is an eternal religion but we
do not accept it as such. It is only when humanity is threatened with destruction
that we start thinking of non-violence and of the ways of spreading it.
It is thus clear that the reason why non-violence is not developing independently
is our habit of treating it merely as a method of crisis management. Though
violence is a negative tendency and non-violence a positive one, for all
practical purposes we have changed their places. As a matter of fact a serious
misunderstanding has arisen because of the word non-violence, since it is
taken to mean the negation of violence. By this reasoning, violence has
become primary and non-violence secondary. It has led people to believe
that violence and not non-violence is an unavoidable part of life. The rigmarole
of violence automatically comes to an end once non-violence is understood
to be an inevitable part of life.
Problem of Non-violence
It is not difficult to prove the proposition
that man has accorded full recognition to the need for and usefulness of
violence. Today thousands of scientists are busy inventing destructive weapons
and thousands upon thousands of soldiers are either undergoing training
in the use of arms or staging war rehearsals. Thus all the three activities
-- research, training and practice are going on in the field of violence.
It shows the place and the recognition violence enjoys in our lives.
On the other hand non-violence is gaining
recognition in a state of helplessness and compulsion. Consequently there
is no research, training or practice in the field of non-violence. And if
any miniscule effort in that direction is being made somewhere, it is no
better than a cry in wilderness. This, then is the big problem. Violence,
though destructive, finds favour with people; non-violence, though one of
life's basic truths, does not attract most people. For solving the problem
it is necessary for those who have faith in non-violence to find new ways
Chanakya was trying to destroy the Nanda dynasty.
Disguised he walked into an old woman's house. She extended hospitality
to him and served him steaming porridge on a plate. Chanakya inserted his
fingers in the middle of it and scalded them. The woman said, "You too are
foolish as Chanakya". 'How?' asked Chanakya. The woman replied, 'Chanakya
mounts a direct offensive against a capital of Nanda kingdom with the help
of his small troops and gets defeated everytime by the huge Nanda army.
What else is it if not foolishness? You too inserted your fingers right
into the middle of the hot porridge. If you had proceeded gradually from
the edges you would have avoided being scalded." It taught Chanakya a lesson.
He started his next offensive beginning with villages and small towns and,
having gradually added to his strength, mounted a final attack on the capital
and brought down the Nanda empire.
The empire of violence is very huge. Its armies
are very big. A direct assault on it will prove unavailing. We should first
try to change people's consciousness so that they feel attracted towards
non-violence. Since early childhood the conviction should grow that non-violence
is a must for peace and success in our lives. For it we will have to prepare
a new scheme of mental training in non-violence. The chemicals responsible
for violence will have to be understood and technique for changing them
will have to be devised. The prowess of violence cannot be beaten merely
by discussing and theorising. For it a change of heart will be needed. The
practice of Preksha Meditation can bring about the necessary changes in
the chemicals responsible for violence. Such a chemical transformation will
be a long stride in the direction of developing non-violence.
Non-violence and the Education System
The present day education system lays a great
deal of stress on intellectual development. Our colleges and universities
are producing excellent teachers, scientists, lawyers, administrators, educationists
and businessmen. But they are unable to produce high quality ethical, religious
and spiritual men. The left lobe of our brain has become overactive and
the right lobe has become inactive. This imbalance has made the whole human
personality unbalanced and an unbalanced personality becomes the cause of
violence. Only a balanced personality can bring about non-violence. For
solving the problem of violence it is necessary that our education system
should aim at a balanced development of the intellectual and emotional aspects
of the personality. Both the lobes of the brain have to be activated so
that the right soil is created for sprouting the seeds of non-violence.
Non-violence and Willpower
Why does an individual indulge in violence?
This question has great importance for one who practices non-violence. Its
answer compels us to probe the unconscious. We discover there what psychologists
call a repressed desire that drives one to violence. It can be controlled
only by strong willpower, which is the same as a strong vrata or vow. It
is for this purpose that the Anuvrata movement is going on. The unconscious
harbours ego which accounts for the individual getting enjoyment out of
thinking very high of himself and very low of others. Discrimination practiced
on the basis of race and colour is but one manifestation of man's ego. Irrational
insistence too is rooted in ego. Here in also lies the seed of the communal
problem. Here it is relevant to recall one of the vows of Anuvrata:
"I will believe in human unity, will eschew any discrimination based on
race, colour etc as well as untouchability."
But if we want to develop non-violence, it
is not enough to be conscious merely of the present events. We should be
equally conscious of the prime instincts causing the events. Thus it is
necessary in the present context to work for disarmament and banning wars.
But it is not enough, for it is only like fighting a fire without discovering
its causes. We have to do both things-- fight the fire that is raging and,
more importantly, find out the factors that have caused it. Likewise, solving
the existing problem of violence and discovering the basic cause of violence
are equally necessary. People working in the field of non-violence are much
less concerned about the latter and this, according to us, is the biggest
impediment to the growth of non-violence.
Armament, disarmament, war and banning of
war--all these matters fall within the jurisdiction of various governments.
The common man has nothing to do with them. And those wielding power are
not likely to listen to the talk about non-violence. We have, therefore,
to involve the common people in achieving non-violence. These people, as
we have seen, have no role in deciding matters of peace and war or of armament
and disarmament, but they undoubtedly have the power to decide the destiny
of those who decide the above matters. For achieving it,intense faith, incessant
striving and complete devotion are needed. We have reason to believe that
these qualities will emerge in those working in the field of non-violence.
World Peace and Non-violence
Today we have conquered distance. We are no
longer living as isolated individuals. Our activities and thinking now encompass
not only the country we belong to, but the whole world. This is an important
development. However, let us not forget the truth that the center of all
consciousness lies within the individual, no matter whether it is individual
consciousness or collective consciousness. Therefore, the dream of world
peace cannot be realized without refining the individual consciousness.
The individual is relegated to the secondary position as soon as peace becomes
an organizational matter or a matter related to management. Now, what characterizes
good organization or management is complete control. But such control is
subversive of peace. Therefore, sooner or later, one will have to awaken
social consciousness in individuals to ensure world peace. This social consciousness
is in traditional terms consciousness of equity. Military rulers and dictators
have survived through the exercise of total control. But we have now come
a long way from the days of monarchy to present day democracy. This is an
extremely important change. The next stage of the journey should be a government
wedded and committed to peace, a kind of 'paxocracy'. Here it is not necessary
that all democratic rulers should have faith in non-violence. The fact of
the matter is that even though ideally democracy and non-violence are closely
connected, today democratic governments have become close approximations
to dictatorship. The system of 'paxocracy' will not be different from that
of democracy, but the rulers in the former system will have to be men and
women having complete faith in non-violence. Only in such a 'paxocray' can
the dream of world peace come true.
Non-violence : A Practical Course of Development
If only conferences could establish world
peace, we could not ask for a greater blessing. Let us not forget that even
governments organize similar conferences with the same objective of peace
in the world. But the very same governments keep arming themselves to the
teeth. This duplicity is misleading. What a contradiction! Both, efforts
for peace and those for developing increasingly destructive weapons, made
at the same time. People everywhere are opposed to war. They never like
their own money collected through taxes wasted on wars and their instruments.
Unfortunately governments thwart and defeat the wishes of people.
Today there is no powerful platform of non-violence
anywhere. People working for non-violence are scattered without any effective
links and contacts, or even unity of purpose. Whereas nations with opposing
ideologies have found a common platform in the UNO where they confer, deliberate
and try to solve international problems, people bound together by a common
faith in non-violence never meet, talk or sit together to find collective
solutions to the world's problems. A global platform of universal non-violence
should be created where the various problems of violence may be collectively
considered and decisions taken on the ways of ending incidents of violence.
Should it happen, it will be a great step forward towards the establishment
of world peace.
People working in the field of non-violence
are in fact very inadequately trained and practiced in non-violence. It
is necessary to frame a course of action to remove this inadequacy so that
a cadre of seasoned and well-trained workers is created to spread the message
of non-violence to every corner of the world.
Peace brigades have been formed at some places
but they are just a drop in the ocean. Renewed efforts should be made to
strengthen the above experiment and to make it more meaningful.
The above three-point formula of non-violence
can greatly benefit the cause of world peace. All our thinking must be centered
on it. Of course other programmes can also be proposed so long as we are
clear about the aim---strengthening the faith in non-violence and faith
in non-violence implies nourishing world peace. Let all our energies be
trained in this direction. Our effort must be world-wide. May the cause
of universal non-violence advance and flourish!