Bishwa Nath Singh
What is non-violence?It's a burning topic that requires very careful study.
(Photo of Mahatma Gandhi)
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Bishwa Nath Singh:
The doctrine of non-violence has been universally accepted as a basic principle of all religions. One will agree that it is a fundamental part of the Jain teachings and is based on love and kindness for all forms of life. It has been pointe...d out in Jain scriptures that even the thought of evil is as bad as the action resulting in injury. It takes non-violence to its highest form in thoughts, words and deeds. According to Jainism the killing, which is done through the careless activity of thought, speech and body, is violence. Non- violence is disciplined behavior towards every living being. Absence of violence of any sort towards all beings at all times is known as non-violence being called as Yogasutra. Lord Gautam Buddha has been called as the Lord of Compassion. The God of Hindus is called Dayalu, Kripalu. "Thou shalt not kill" is one of the ten commandments in the Holy Bible. The recent terrorist attacks by Naxalites or Maoists, whatever we choose to call , are of the intensity which have disturbed the whole country. In recent past, the brutality with which Jihadis in Pakistan are killing are highly disturbing. The attack on May 28,2011on Ahmedi Mosques in Lahore killing seventy persons who were praying inside the two mosques shook the conscience of humanity. India had honor to have an apostle of non-violence in the person of Mahatma Gandhi in the last century who had liberated India from clutches of British colonialism through non-violent means as a result India got independence on August 15,1947. Many people have started raising question in the face of such terrorist attacks on innocent civilians as to the relevance of Mahatma Gandhi’s non-violence in our era. The question arises whether Mahatma Gandhi ‘s doctrine have become irrelevant. It is for Gandhian philosophers to answer these questions. Are those who proclaim themselves to be Gandhians, take Gandhi and his philosophy seriously or Gandhism has also become a sort of religion with certain rituals with certain ashrams and properties thrown in? Where are active Gandhians? Mahatma Gandhi was not mere philosopher of non-violence but an active practitioner who made it a way of life. Even Sabarmati Ashram is devoid of such Gandhians in true sense. There was a news flashed during the year 2002 that those who were in charge of Sabarmati Ashram did not allow a peace meeting to be held on their premises by peace activists like Medha Patkar and others fearing state government may stop their grant. How such Gandhians who care for state grant can ever practice ideals of Gandhian philosophy based on the concept of human behavior purged of all vested interests. Let us first be very clear of Gandhian philosophy of non-violence.! Mahatma Gandhi always spoke of Satyagraha and Ahimsa i.e. insistence on truth and non-violence. Both concepts are integral part of each other. No non-violence is possible without truth and no truth is possible without non-violence either. Does one recollect that often our great saga used to say in the past that God is truth but Mahatma Gandhi had reversed this concept and said Truth is God. The truth and non-violence are integral to each other is because truth has to be non-coercive and based on deeper conviction. An element of coercion would contaminate truth. Violence, on the other hand, is highest degree of coercion and is used to make people believe what they do not want to believe and accept what they do not want to accept. Thus violence and truth are totally opposed to each other. Non-violence, on the other hand, guarantees freedom of conscience and people are free to base their behavior on their deeper conviction. Self interests would also contaminate truth and lead to unauthentic behavior and hence violence. Thus a non-violent behavior should have following attributes: as It must be based on genuine conviction; besides being truthful and freedom of conscience Any behavior lacking these attributes is likely to lead to violence. It is also important to understand that by violence we should not only mean physical violence. Violence can be subdivided into three categories: (1) physical violence leading to injury or death; (2) violence by words and (3) violence of ethical norms and fundamental values. Physical violence could be either individual or of nations and communities; similarly violence by words also can imply individual or group or entire nation and of course violation of norms could be cultural norms of a civilization group or those of an individual. Mahatma Gandhi use to tell that non-violence is not a cover for cowardice, but it is the supreme virtue of the brave. Exercise of non-violence requires far greater bravery than that of swordsmanship. Cowardice is wholly inconsistent with non-violence. Translation from swordsmanship to non-violence is possible and, at times, even an easy stage. Non-violence, therefore, presupposes ability to strike. It is a conscious deliberate restraint put upon one's desire for vengeance. But vengeance is any day superior to passive, effeminate and helpless submission. Forgiveness is higher still. Vengeance too is weakness. The desire for vengeance comes out of fear of harm, imaginary or real. A dog barks and bites when he fears. A man who fears no one on earth would consider it too troublesome even to summon up anger against one who is vainly trying to injure him. The sun does not wreak vengeance upon little children who throw dust at him. They only harm themselves in the act.Through the successful efforts of Mahatma Gandhi in making non-violence in word, thought, and deed, the basis of all struggles for political liberty, freedom, and self government, the word non-violence has acquired a word-wide recognition. Non-violence( Ahimsä )is not to be practiced at the physical level only but at a mental one as well. In other words, mind, speech, or ‘body states. Even hurting someone’s feelings are non-violence (Ahimsa) In fact, ‘Violence is the presence of evil thoughts, feelings or attitude’. Ahimsa or non-injury, of course, implies non-killing. But, non-injury is not merely non killing. In its comprehensive meaning, Ahimsa or non-injury means entire abstinence from causing any pain or harm whatsoever to any living creature, either by thought, word, or deed. Non-injury requires a harmless mind, mouth, and hand. Ahimsa is not mere negative non-injury. It is positive, cosmic love. It is the development of a mental attitude in which hatred is replaced by love. Non-violence is true sacrifice besides forgiveness and power. Non-violence is true strength. Let us live unto expectations of Mahatma Gandhi and follow His doctrine of non-violence in our life!
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