Sunday, December 12, 2010

Communal Harmony: India’s Foremost Character and Necessity - Dr. Ravindra Kumar

For thousands of years Bharat, that is India, a land of unity in diversity has maintained a distinctive position among the nations of the world. People from diverse communities have lived together in India although the majority community consists of followers of one particular religious-belief; for, secularism and communal harmony have always played a vital and significant role. In other words, communal harmony is the basic character of India, a prime necessity for the life of the nation. In this regard, I can venture to say with certainty that with the constant increase in development at all levels and in all walks of life, where the process of globalization is expected to multiply many folds, the relevance and importance of communal harmony in India will also expand. Accepting the realty of communal harmony will be an obligation even for those handfuls who try to shatter it from time-to-time.  
There are the followers of different faiths, religious-communities and sects in India. They speak many languages and carry out their day-to-day practices on the basis of different local-regional traditions and values. Through coordination between so many natural-geographical diversities of this huge land tract and prevailing circumstance, Indians work for their livelihood. They accept this reality, maintain courage and enthusiasm, and step forward. This is in fact the best option before Indians. Therefore, strengthening communal harmony at regional-national levels is a necessity of India.

Further, India is the largest democracy of the world. History of democracy in India goes to the remote past. This system of governance is in fact quite suitable and conducive to the nature of inhabitants of this country. Not only had this, for the unity of India, particularly in the achievement of political unity of the country, democracy played the vital role. Despite numerous glitches and expected evils, democracy largely contributes to strengthening communal harmony in India. In other words, it emerges as a strong force for maintaining the solidarity of the nation. However, the need of the hour is to make democracy the centre and basis of belief for the maximum possible number of people, all religious-community, sects and sub-sects. Besides ascertaining the stability of the country, it can also contribute making India as a leading force of the world in these days of increasing process of globalization.
Therefore, increasing communal harmony is essential for India; there is no other alternative to it. 

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Universality in Diversities of Religions-Dr. Ravindra Kumar*

अयं निज: परो वेति गणना लघुचेतसाम् उदारचरितानां तु वसुधैव कुटुम्बकम्
AYAM NIJAH PAROVETI GANANAA LAGHU-CHETSAAM, UDAARA CHARITAANAAM TU VASUDHAIVA KUTUMBAKAM [‘this is my own and that a stranger’, is the calculation of the narrow-mindedness; for the magnanimous–hearts, however, the entire earth is but one family.]-Hitopadesha: 1: 3: 71  

Despite apparent diversities in the fundamentals or the teachings within the world religions, human-unity and dedication to universality is in fact the foremost and principal feature of each and every religion.
Diversity, if defined or analyzed on the basis of underlying the philosophies of religions, appears as a process of teaching the varied followers in different ways. In the prevailing circumstances of space, for the sole purpose of the safety of existence, development and achievement of goal, conduction of action-process on the basis of high human-value, is the gist of manifesting diversities of all religions.
Diversity is a typical characteristic of humanity, a common attribute. The development of several different traditions, practices, beliefs and methods of worship originated within the various cultures in different parts of the globe from time-to-time. Therefore, it is almost impossible to discard the reality of diversity. It is usual and necessary.
However, despite manifesting diversities, the main purpose of all religions is to impart the knowledge of human-unity among their followers. The essence of all teachings of each and every religion is to lead its respective followers toward the truth and light on the one hand and with the purpose of making life meaningful, to inspire them to act constantly on the other. This reality can be well understood from a keen human-desire which appears in the following Shloka of the Brhadaranyak Upanishad:
असतो मा सद्गमय तमसो मा ज्योतिर्गमय ।। मृत्योर्मामृतं गमय 1
[Meaning thereby: Lead me from the Asat to the Sat; Lead me from darkness to light; Lead me from death to immortality]
This reality can be more or less observed in the foremost messages of all religions in general and from the various teaching of the Qur’an and the Japuji, Mul Mantra, [the origin of the Adi Granth] of Sikhism in particular.

Not only this, the basis of unity, according to the fundamentals of all religions, is the only one source of the creation2, uniformity in accepting the goal of life as Mukti, Moksha, Nirvana or the stage of Parmananda. Hence making the life purposeful by noble deeds. The fundamentals of every single religion are within the domain of this reality. The basics of Jainism and Buddhism are also not exempted from this reality.
The concept of human-unity in all religions is eventually dedicated to universality. This concept of universality is not confined to the earth only, or to the planets where there may be a possibility of life. Rather, the entire universe is within the scope of the concept of universality. It is fully dedicated to all-pervading [God], supernatural power or the Order, which itself is symbolic of equality of all. Thus, equality of all is in the centre of universality. Furthermore, the root of it is in the concept relating to the Satva-Tatva, which equally exists in all human beings [as also in all living beings]. Saint Kabir’s saying in the Guru Granth Saheb that “all have been created by the one light” and a part of one of the Ayats of the Qur’an that “this community [of human beings] is really one…” well clarify this fact.
Particularly, in context of inhabitants of the earth this can be studied and analyzed from the concept of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam, the essence and meaning of which has been quoted at the commencement of this short essay. We categorically find a broad and all-welfaristic idea in the concept of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam, which with an extraordinary call of sacrifice for fellow-beings lays stress on human practices. Undoubtedly, along with understanding the true meaning, importance and significance of human-unity, the reality of universality, even in philosophical perspectives [which essentially include its concerned branches such as ethics, argumentation, metaphysics etc.] can also be analyzed on the basis of this concept.
Undoubtedly, manifesting diversities in messages and teachings of different religions are rather in one way or the other dedicated to human-unity. This unity is the basis of universality and essence of fundamentals of all religions.  
* Indologist Dr. Ravindra Kumar is former vice chancellor of CCS University, Meerut, India.   
1. I: III: 28
2. God, Supreme Power, or the Order.  

Monday, November 29, 2010

Resolving Cultural Differences through Peaceful Means -Dr. Ravindra Kumar

Like religion [that is Dharma in Indian terms] culture [Samskriti] also is a vital subject in human life. In other words, culture occupies an important place in man’s life. It is culture that introduces good human Samskaras [which specify inclination, ideas, growth, activities etc. of an individual, community, society or a nation in the best possible manner] to the rest of the world. Moreover development or advancement of people is judged through culture. I have never heard when someone had done something disgraceful or shameful, or he had been involved in an antihuman activity, or an event and his act and involvement was accepted by the world as cultured. It is quite clear that any awful, disgraceful or defaming act or an evil cannot be connected to culture. Hence, there is a broad concept in the root of it. People, who take or define culture lightly, are not correct.
Inevitability of Classes, Dispute and Struggles
Clashes, differences, disputes or struggles are natural in human life; they are but fleeting human tendencies. That is why; thinkers and scholars have declared that both struggle and cooperation are necessary in society. Therefore, if differences, disputes and struggles emerge at any levels and in any walks of life, there is nothing amazing about it. It is a part of the process of life and nothing abnormal or unnatural about these.
As has been mentioned in the beginning, culture is a vital subject of human life and it has its own importance in man’s life. Therefore if there emerges a dispute or struggle particularly in the name of culture, its affects on community, society or a nation are dire as we know in comparison to other kind of disputes and struggles it causes massive harm. But, solutions to all kind of cultural differences, disputes or struggles are possible by peaceful means. On the basis of high human values they can certainly be resolved. It is particularly possible because culture itself is based on good human instincts. It is counted for achievements and development; good behaviour, good qualities and cooperation are its conditions. Nobody can deny this fact.
Now, before discussing the importance, adaptability and significance of peaceful means or the lofty human values in resolving cultural disputes and conflicts, it is necessary to clarify that the above-mentioned conditions of achievement, development, good behaviour and cooperation always continue in similar fashion as and when there is course of discussion or analysis of the word meaning of culture, or about its objective, it does not matter if discussion or analysis is in the perspective of individual, community, society or national level, or if it is being discussed in international context as is being done in these days of constantly increasing process of globalization.
Moreover, culture cannot be separated from righteousness. No effort should be made to separate it from uprightness. Without any prejudice it may be taken as my keen desire to base the concept of culture on positive ideas and not on negative ones.  
Resolution through Peaceful Means
Resolving conflicts by peaceful means is the only humane and welfaristic way. Therefore, we should wish to settle them through peaceful means. But, while thinking of going forward this way it is necessary that a peaceful atmosphere is created on the ground. For that to happen, patience and tolerance are essential. Simultaneously, leaving any prejudice laying stress on self view, one’s desire despite such view being thought best or real is also essential. The reason to leave out one’s self view is because it may create pressure or indicate self-supremacy. Hence, if through this method the process of settling cultural disputes or resolving conflicts is started, all possibilities remain alive for its success.
It is true about all kind of disputes and conflicts in general and those that occur in the name of culture in particular that people involved in disputes never represent the majority of their co-cultures. Disputers are always less in number. Majority of the people always wish for peace and can be found ready to assist, even those who represent other cultures during the initial phase when efforts are made in settling differences or resolving conflicts. But, they must be confident that there is no prejudice in such efforts and once they are sure they are ready to lend a hand and in clearing the way. With confidence and tolerance people can easily be prepared for assistance, cooperation and working together; people can also be educated for this purpose as it is important. It seems not so difficult too in these days of mass awakening, or globalization in which cooperation at all levels and in all walks of life has become inevitable and vital. 
Now, if situation in above-mentioned order is there, a formula comprising of following three points must be adopted:
1.      To understand the ground reality of dispute or conflict in current perspective;
2.      To show sincerity and firm determination to resolution; and
3.      To become ready to sacrifice
Moreover, due to sensitivity of cultural disputes and conflicts it is necessary that none of the disputant parties feels defeated during the course of resolution process or after reaching a conclusion through peaceful means. It is essential that the outcome brings a win-win situation to all. Possibilities of reaction from among the internal elements of either party remain alive. Consequences from reprisal may become worse than the previous situation. We have many examples to prove the fact that due to lack of proper confidence peaceful efforts did not succeed. Their failures affected communities, societies and nations overwhelmingly that resulted in more conflicts and struggles of severe nature in the name of cultures. Therefore, sincerity, honesty and extra care are also desirable in this regard.   

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Youth, Leadership and Globalization* - Dr. Ravindra Kumar

Role and contribution of youth in building the society and nation is inevitable and important. Enthusiastic and animated youths are always capable of according different dimensions, to the pathway of progress. With proper guidance and constructive approach, they can undoubtedly and unprecedentedly add to the development of society and glory of the nation. 
Hundreds of thousands of pages of history are before us to prove the foremost role played from time-to-time by enthusiastic and fervent youths in the making of societies and development of the nations. On the strength of their tireless efforts they have brought revolutions in their respective fields and thus have become heroes of their eras. They left deep impression of their exemplary work on the people of not only their own respective countries, but on the whole world thus emerging as the world leaders.
Who is not familiar with the accomplishments of young Gautama Buddha on the strength of Jnana [knowledge] and Karma [deed] in changing the Indian society thereafter becoming the source of inspiration for so many in the world. I am particularly talking about Gautama Buddha first because despite his birth in the Indian subcontinent, people of South and Southeast Asia are well acquainted with his name, views and works. His message and the suggested way for the welfare of the whole humanity, is well known to them and for which he is highly respected.
Youth leaders from across the globe and their contributions to the cause of humanity have been exemplary. Moreover the legacies, which they have left behind through their views and work, are still relevant to the modern context and shall remain significant in times to come.
I am citing two examples from Thailand. First of them relates to Phra Paramandar Maha Chulalongkorn, who also known as Rama the Fifth [1853-1910] was crowned when fifteen years of age. But, on the strength of his wisdom, sincerity and capability, Rama the Fifth accomplished several historic tasks including the abolishment of slavery system from Siam. Beside this, he also accomplished the tasks of introducing telegraphic system, reforming the judicial system of Siam and brought about changes in the economic and social field in his country. Moreover, he wrote the golden pages in the history of the nation by establishing good relations of his country with other nations of the world thus succeeding in attaining an equal status for Siam among the nations of the world. 
The second example relates to Bhumibol Adulyadej, also known as Rama the Ninth, the present king of Thailand. King Bhumibol Adulyadej (1927) ascended the throne at the age of nineteen at a time when the situation of the country was critical. It was facing political instability. But the genius and skill of the young king went a long way in solving the problems of Thailand and leading the country towards the path of progress. Later he accomplished some historic tasks, thus saving the nation from crisis of a serious nature. For his skillful handling of the situation, which arose during incidents relating to mass killings in the Thammasat University, Bangkok [1976] and violence due to political unrest in the country (1992) was instrumental in saving the country. His role in carrying forward and strengthening the process of democracy in the kingdom of Thailand will also be cherished for a long.
Other examples which can be cited come from the continent of Asia. Vivekananda [1863-1902], one of the great social reformers of modern India and also a scholar par excellence in his thirty-nine years’ significantly added to the treasures of Indian philosophy and spiritualism. Similarly, Chandrashekhar Venkataraman [1888-1970], the great Indian scientist, who also won the Nobel Prize in physics in 1930, created history through his scientific experiments when he was quite young, thus astonishing the whole world. Rajiv Gandhi [1944-1991] in his forty-seven years gave a new direction, especially by ascertaining a place for India in the field of science and technology. Moreover, Rajiv Gandhi made his compatriots realize their role and contribution in the increasing process of globalization. During his tenure as Prime Minister he mounted his country high in the world affairs too.
Ninoy Aquino of Philippines [1932-1991] was appointed as an advisor for the main statutory body of the country as young as seventeen. He also became a member of the Parliament and the provincial governor at a very young age. All those who are familiar with his life and works, they are aware how he served his nation and guided his compatriots. After his assassination he became a source of inspiration for those who came on the forefront to change the political system of the nation under President Ferdinand Marcos through the EDSA [Epifanio de los Santos Avenue] revolution in 1986. Likewise, Sirimavo R. D. Bandaranaike [1916-2000], who was the world's first elected woman Prime Minister, lead the nation of Sri Lanka at  her young age and accomplished a gigantic task of making her country self-reliant in social, political and economic fields. As one of the founder leaders of the Non Aligned Movement, the NAM, she had also left deep impression of her personality in the international arena.
Talking about women, from time-to-time many young women leaders have created histories. Mention can be made about Golda Meir [1898-1978], who emerged a young woman leader at the age of fifteen. On the basis of her capability and skill she ascertained a special place for herself and led Israel as its fourth Prime Minister. There is a long list of such women across the world amongst which the name of Kalpana Chawla [1962-2003], an Indian-American scientist and a NASA astronaut is worth mentioning.
Our discussion about young leaders cannot be confined to Asia. Abraham Lincoln [1809-1965] had started influencing the American society deeply from the age of twenty-five. Later, he emerged as an angel of social change. It was Lincoln who as the President of the United States of America accomplished the great tasks of abolishing the centuries old slavery system from the American society. Similarly, Martin Luther King Junior [1929-1968], emerged as a leader of African-American Civil Rights Movement in 1955 when he was just twenty-six years of age. From the time when he was in his late thirties he brought about changes in social and political spheres in the country, and today he has become the source of inspiration for so many across the world.
Undoubtedly, youth have always played an important role in the making of societies and rebuilding the nations.  Furthermore, those who took the right path, they created histories, and on the strength of their capability and fervor  they inspired hundreds of thousands to come to  the forefront to bring fundamental change in the prevailing economic, political, religious and social systems. Their role is still equally imperative and it will remain so in future, particularly in the process of development and building of societies and nations. Especially their contributions cannot be denied in the transformations of the society as a whole as per the demand of time and space.
Constructive approach and proper guidance for youths, particularly in the process of development and building the society and nation are significant as they prevent them from going astray and helping them to bring forth the spirit and enthusiasm, and thus making their efforts welfaristic. In this context some of the extraordinary examples are worth mentioning.

First of all, let us take the example of the struggle for Indian freedom in the Gandhian era [1917-1942]. Thousands of capable and enthusiastic youths having a definite goal went forward under the direction of Mahatma Gandhi. These also included youths like Jawaharlal Nehru, Abdul Ghaffar Khan and Rajendra Prasad. With soaring courage they continuously fought on the strength of Ahimsa for the freedom of their motherland. The result was positive, historical and exemplary, and well known to all.
The second example can be cited is from Hue Danang, Vietnam where youths through a non-violent action came forward for a socio-political change in 1966, and again during the years 1967-68 students of the country played a vital role in the movement launched for equality in the society. Likewise, the third example worth mentioning here from Asia relates to the ADSA revolution in the Philippines in the year 1986. The manner in which the youths and students of the country who took inspirations especially from the late Ninoy Aquino played a vital role in the non-violent ADSA revolution for the set purpose of political change in the Philippines is not unknown. Needless to say that young force was there behind the historical and non-violent change in the Philippines in 1986.   
Not only in Asia, but also in the United States of America as we know, non-violent actions launched under young leaders like Martin Luther King Junior, had been responsible in bringing about fundamental change in the social and political fields of the country. It is the effect and result of those actions that people like Colin Powell, Condoleezza Rice and Barack Obama have been and are in the centre of global politics today. They have emerged as leaders to lead the United States of America.
Moving to the African and the European continent we witness that these nations have also not been left uninfluenced.  In all movements launched, right from the third decade to the end of the twentieth century whether be it the demand for equal wages for work, rights, freedom and equality or reforms in education system in England, France, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Poland, Spain, Netherlands and Yugoslavia, youths as their leaders have played a vital and decisive role in all of them.                       
Simultaneously, in the series of events pertaining to the struggle of peasants in Ghana in 1937, the movement for separation of Zambia from the African Union between 1959 and 1964, resistance of Algerians to the deployment of troops by their rulers against them in 1962, or the action taken by Sudanese to overthrow the military rule in the country, youths have played important role in all of them. Undoubtedly wherever youths were guided properly, they recorded unprecedented victories. Their contribution became exemplary, memorable and ideal for generations to come, particularly for the energetic excited young.
Hence, for youths, particularly those who are going to become the basis of any fundamental change or the reconstruction of society and nation, or adding to the development, it is absolutely necessary that they are guided properly, and a constructive approach becomes imperative. 
Today, the process of globalization has taken an unprecedented dimension transforming the world into a global village. In this process it is impossible for any nation of the world to exist in a state of isolation if thought in terms of progress and welfare. Therefore, going forward together in cooperation is indispensable and inevitable now. Moreover, in this process of global change the role of youths is as important as it has been in the past especially in the reconstruction and development of their native societies or nations. In other words, their role and contribution in this process of globalization is as desirable as it is important at the local and national level.
The data pertaining to the continuously increasing process of globalization is well before us to prove the role played by youths in bringing it forward. Particularly, the revolutionary contribution of youths in the economic field and also in science and technology including information technology is worth mentioning, and is unprecedented. More especially, the role played by the youths of China and India, the two super powers of the future, in exemplary and ideal for the youths of whole world.
Taking India for instance, twenty-five percent graduates of its four main technical institutes go to the United States of America every year where they significantly contribute in many fields including information technology. Similarly, they play a vital role in other countries of the world especially in the nations of Europe.
As the process of globalization has to go further, many more dimensions have to be added to this process where the role of youths become undoubtedly more vital and significant, thus increasing their responsibility many folds. Taking a lesson from history, youth must work with extra care so that the situation like that of socio-political slavery does not emerge again. Along with this, they should ascertain that everyone on this planet gets equal opportunity to rise and take the benefit of development at the global level. 
Thus, it is hoped that youth and their leadership will work in the right direction with a sense of responsibility and constructive approach. It is also hoped that they will perform their duty well in the process of globalization. Moreover, it is our duty that we join them and wherever necessary direct them. Finally, we all are the shareholders in the gains achieved through the efforts of youths, which will be a gain for the entire world. 
*This article is based on the principal text of lecture to be delivered by Dr. Ravindra Kumar at the Udon Thani Rajabhat University, Udon Thani, Thailand on November 24, 2010.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Gandhian Non-Violence in Current Global Perspectives - Dr Ravindra Kumar

 “To cause pain or wish ill to or to take the life of any living being out of a danger or a selfish intent is Himsa. On the other hand after a calm and clean judgment to kill or cause pain to living being with a view to its spiritual or physical benefit from a pure, selfless intent may be the purest form of Ahimsa. Each such case must be judged individually and on its own merits. The final test as its violence or non-violence is after all the intent underlying the act.” – M. K. Gandhi   
Gandhi’s above statement is self-explanatory to clarify his viewpoint pertaining to Ahimsa [non-violence]. Besides, it is sufficient enough to elucidate significance of Gandhian concept of Ahimsa on the one hand and its adaptability on the other. Furthermore, it is fully capable to prove the uniqueness and excellence of Ahimsa in the current perspective. Above all, it may serve as a guide to those who opt for Ahimsa in its refined form under prevailing situations of time in future.
How? In this context, it is feasible to acquire familiarity with the word-meaning of non-violence, and simultaneously, with its foremost concepts prior to attempt any critical analysis.
Word Meaning
‘Non-violence’ is constituted by the two words: ‘non’ and ‘violence’. The former ‘non’ is a prefix which, after its use with a word, simply explains negative or opposite state of the word concerned. In my opinion nothing more is required to append or explain the role of the concept.
The term ‘violence’ is derived from the Latin word ‘violare’ [present participle ‘violans’], and its root may be traced to the Latin words ‘vis’ [force] and ‘fero’ [to carry].1 On basis of the generally accepted explanation of above-mentioned terms [vis and fero] violence could be interpreted as ‘to do something by force’. The currently prevalent English word violence is itself observed in terms of expression of physical or verbal force against self or other. It is synonymous to a compelling action against one’s will. 2
The notion of ‘violence’ has been variously defined and explained by scholars, thinkers and philosophers of repute, from time-to-time. As almost all such explanations are available for analysis, I do not deem it vital to say anything further in this regard except that non-violence is a state just opposed to violence.
The Indian Etymology      
According to the Indian etymology Ahimsa [non-violence] comprises of the following three elements:
·         A
·         Hims and
·         A       
Like the English word ‘non’, ‘A’ in Indian parlance also conveys the negative state of the concerned word. Plainly speaking, after its (‘A’) placement as prefix to a word the opposite connotation of the word becomes apparent. For example: Asahayog, Asvikar or Amaryaadit. 
‘Hims’ as is evident, again with ‘a’ [as a nominal suffix] divulges the state of Himsa [violence], i.e. an act of causing pain to others, and spoiling life in any form.

Since ancient times the Indian scholars have been elaborating upon Himsa [violence] comprehensively. More specifically they have been analyzing it minutely from the word-meaning perspective. Based upon these explanations and analysis of Himsa [violence], they have also been striving to define Ahimsa [non-violence]. All such explanations and analysis are available. Particularly interpretations regarding word meaning of Ahimsa are well before us to urge and encourage reanalyzing and reinterpreting them according to the demand of time and prevailing conditions of space, and preferably on the basis of the fundamental spirit in the root of Ahimsa.     
Main Concepts
Consequently many excellent, unique and worthy concepts of non-violence have developed from time-to-time, both in the East and the West. Most of the concepts developing in the East relate to India. The importance of Ahimsa as a supreme human value has been explained by Indian scholars and thinkers. Since ancient times they have analyzed it minutely with the sole purpose of inspiring people to make it the basis of their day-to-day practices, because despite existence, prosperity and peace in life are possible only through continuous practices of non-violence.3 Therefore, having the East, and particularly Asia in the centre, discussing the main Indian concepts relating to Ahimsa first, will not be out of context.
Indian View
Ahimsa occupies its due place in philosophies related to all the four major Indian religious-communities -Hindu [Vedic], Jain, Buddhist and Sikh. In fact, Ahimsa has been placed there in the highest esteem as the supreme human value. Not only this, since ancient times Ahimsa has been playing a vital role in the lives of followers of religious-communities like Hindu-[Vedic], Jain and Buddhist. In an all-inclusive manner it can be said that non-violence has been the central point in day-to-day practices of almost all Indians. Hence, emergence of exemplary concepts pertaining to Ahimsa in the basic philosophies of all the four religious-communities [or as generally said religions] in which, as known to all of us, three4 are ancient while one5 was established some five centuries ago. Due to their uniqueness they necessitate a brief analysis.
Vedic [Hindu] Philosophy
The Vedas are the fountain of that philosophy, which is popularly known as Hinduism today. The Vedas6 are the oldest religious treatises of the world. And in my opinion Ahimsa, as a supreme human value, is established in all of them in general and in the Rigveda in particular. Perhaps many of us may not be aware of the fact that Ahimsa along with the principle of Universalism and Human Unity emerges in the first Shloka of first Sukta of the first Mandala of the Rigveda.7 However, it is a different matter if prayers to God [or gods] were the chief basis for desiring Ahimsa at the time of composition of the Vedas and particularly the Rigveda in prevailing situations, and spiritualism was the main source of realizing non-violence.
Besides the Rigveda, in the other three Vedas [the Yajurveda, the Samveda and the Atharvaveda] also Ahimsa appears as a keen desire for affability with fellow beings, fearlessness, and release from grieves and injuries.8
In the treatises of the later period, particularly the Upanishads, the Manusmriti and Srimadbhagvadgita, Ahimsa clearly appears as a Dharma, Jnana [knowledge], Satya [truth], a sense of duty and the supreme human value. The conclusion that we can draw from all mentions in the Vedas and other Vedic literature about the concept of Ahimsa is that it implies ‘not to injure and not to kill an innocent living being is non-violence’ and thus, ‘complete abstinence from violence is non-violence’. Moreover, Ahimsa must be an essential part of human behaviour. A human being should be non-violent in theory and practice, both. And, finally non-violence should be there as the basic spirit in the root of his every act.
The concept of Ahimsa in Jainism is undoubtedly unique and extraordinary. Here it is more dominant in comparison to other Indian concepts relating to it. Moreover, it is completely based upon the negative aspect of violence as is evident from a brief statement, in which it has been said that na himsa ahimsa.9
Jainism, as is well known, intrinsically revolves around Ahimsa. Non-violence is accepted as Brahman there. The scope of the concept of Ahimsa under Jainism is so comprehensive that it includes not causing even superfluous diversion of nature besides aversion from the slightest violence towards the tiniest living creature. A human being is expected to strictly follow the principle of Ahimsa realizing the spirit in the root of the following Shloka:
Ahimsa Savvasattanam Sada Nivvekarika,
Ahimsa Savvasattesu Param Bambhamani Diyam10
Meaning thereby: Non-violence, very dear to all living beings, is pacifying; is Brahman. 
Therefore, keeping the perception of atmavat sarvabhuteshu11 firmly in mind one must follow the principle of parasparopgraho jivanam12, and thus should come forward to cooperate with others.     
Along with any kind of violence, a killing by mistake [or knowingly/unknowingly] is equally accountable in Jainism. It is a subject of reckoning. For, a human being is liable to blame. In this regard the following explanation of a verse from one of the Jain Sutras is adequate for corroboration:
The Arhatas and Bhagvats of the past and present, and future, all say thus, speak thus, declare thus, explain thus: all breathing, existing, living sentient creatures should not be slain, nor treated with himsa, nor tormented, nor driven away.13     
Just from the short statement, “nor driven away”, it is evident that the concept of Ahimsa in Jainism is really severe. Moreover, Jainism’s laying great stress on self-sacrifice, self-control and discipline makes its concept of non-violence intricate and rather difficult for common people to follow it. That is why; despite its being unique, its having based on negative aspect of violence it is difficult to be accomplished by each and every one.                           
Although like Jainism, the concept of Ahimsa in Buddhism is also connected to self-control and discipline, 14 and to a large extent, with the unique principle of parasparopgraho jivanam,15 but, neither Buddhism and nor Gautama Buddha himself brings non-violence within the scope of superfluous rigidity. Despite accepting Ahimsa as the supreme human value16 and declaring it to be the most precious jewel of humanity, Buddhism lays great stress on its practical aspects so that it could be feasible to common man. That is why; Buddhism calls for making Ahimsa an indivisible part of day-to-day human practices in its refined form as per the demand of time. During the lifetime of Buddha, Karuna, i.e. compassion [union of pity and friendliness] was the best and practical reflection of non-violence. It was loving kindness towards all beings [Metta]. Moreover, it was itself a dimension of the theory of Ahimsa on the one hand, and recognition to the right to live of each and every living being on the other. Besides being an acid test of humanity, it was also the acceptability of principles of love and protection of life. Moreover, it symbolized the revelation of Buddhist concept of non-violence.

Despite being complementary up to a large extent to the Vedic [Hindu]17philosophy and accepting valour as its principal value, Sikhism18 stresses on harmony among human beings and thus calls for mutual cooperation and approval in their day-to-day dealings or activities. Moreover, Ahimsa of Sikhism can be observed in its stress on human-unity and fraternity on the one hand, and in its commitment for defending the weak, helpless and women on the other. A Sikh is expected to regard it as his foremost duty, and for its accomplishment, be ready to sacrifice his life. Categorically, non-violence of Sikhism can be viewed in its call and teachings for mutual cooperation, approval and harmony in human transactions, and the certainty of defending others.     
Other Eastern Concepts
Besides the above-mentioned four Indian concepts, non-violence can also be discerned in the Confucian doctrine of no return of evil for evil”19; Taoist’s emphasis on harmony, humility, yielding to overcome, and seeking to cultivate the feminine side of human nature 20; Christianity’s call for “return of hatred by love”; and Islam’s message of fraternity for fraternity. All these concepts are imbued with high morality and ethics and thus deeply embedded in non-violence. All of them, having perceptions of human-unity, mutual cooperation, practices and harmony in the centre, call for carrying out daily human practices. In brief, I venture to repeat, these concepts can be viewed integrally connected with high moral values and ethics.     
Western Concepts
The Western world, particularly Europe, also is not immune from concepts pertaining to non-violence. Rather, some of the western concepts are quite ancient and like that of the East, they too are well known and commendable. It is beneficial to mention a few of these. One of those concepts relates to the Greek philosopher Aristotle [384-322 B.C]. He, as we know, favoured fostering of attributes. He sought constant development of ethical values of a man so that he could rise to a height.21 As it is possible only through non-violent tendencies, Aristotle by his advocacy of development of attributes or virtues22 and ethical values in one way or the other enriched the concept of non-violence. Moreover, he directly or indirectly followed that Greek tradition, which could be linked to great philosophers like Socrates [470/469-399 B.C] 23 and Plato [428/427-348/347 B. C.].24     
For an analysis of the western concept of non-violence, the name of German classical thinker and epistemologist Immanuel Kant [1774-1804] is also worth mentioning. Kant, as known to us, besides being the father of German classical philosophy, was himself a thinker of peace. He stated that it was a practical imperative to treat humanity, whether in your own person or in the person of any other, never simply as a means, but always at the same time as an end.25                                                                
Supporting the three well-known principles promulgated by Gnaeus Domitius Annius Ulpianus [170-223 A. D.], anglicized as Ulpian, a Roman Jurisprudent and statesman, that “live well as per your natural inclination, never transgress the rights of others, and give their due rights to others”26, Immanuel Kant stated that be not only the means for others but also an end.27 He laid great stress on non-violation of others’ rights on the hand, and for developing relations on the basis of equality on the other; and most particularly on ensuring others’ due share. Thus, speaking about equal treatment and good behavior and especially taking on others’ rights, Kant ensured a base to the concept of non-violence; however, his thoughts were focalized on human beings rather than all living beings.       
In this same chain the name of English philosopher and reformer Thomas Hill Green [1836-1882] also emerges foremostly. His concept of non-violence is well evident from his statement, particularly made in context of justice. He said, Justice is the habit of mind, which leads us to respect those conditions in dealing with others…not to interfere with them so far as they already exist, and to bring them into existence so far as they are not found in existence.28      
Hence, Green presumed non-interference with the existence of living being, and along with this in a positive sense, interference for the promotion of existence and its rise as justice. This justice is undoubtedly complementary to the principle of non-violence, because notions like the existence of living being and the promotion of existence stimulate the spirit of non-violence.
Other significant Western concepts of non-violence can be found in the views of eminent English Utilitarian thinkers like Jeremy Bentham [1748-1832] and John Stuart Mill [1806-1873]. Non-violence of these thinkers may be observed in their laying stress on realizing one’s moral duties towards other human beings on the one hand, and towards animals on the other. They particularly emphasized the moral duty of man towards animals, because they too are sensitive to the feelings of pain and pleasure. Furthermore, an important concept of non-violence prevails in thoughts of the Scottish philosopher Adam Smith [1723-1790], 29 who accepting negative virtue of not hurting one’s neighbour as justice, favoured negation of all kinds of violence. This according to Smith, is justice, and undoubtedly symbolic of non-violence.30 
Moreover, in the views of an Alsatian-German-French theologian and one of the thinkers of the modern age like Albert Schweitzer [1875-1965], who recognized reverence for life as basic principle of ethics,31 also exists a sound concept of non-violence. Schweitzer recognized the right to live as the first right32 and “to honour the life as the first duty, not only one’s own but also of others,33 as is evident from his own statement in which he said, Ethics grows out of the same root as world and life affirmation, for ethics, too, is nothing but reverence for life. That is what gives me the fundamental principle of morality, namely, that good consists in maintaining, promoting and enhancing life, and that destroying, injuring and limiting life are evil.” 34
From the above brief survey and analysis of different concepts pertaining to non-violence in the West and the East, particularly India, we reach at the conclusion that despite its being a subject of constant realization and development, as Mahatma Gandhi also admitted35, Ahimsa has been a prime notion not only in the philosophies of religions, but also in the ideas and practices of thinkers and philosophers of repute since ancient times. It has been accepted as the supreme human value since primordial age and at the same time has remained as a dynamic force underlying human activities. 
Gandhian Non-Violence
Gandhian concept of Ahimsa not only epitomizes a fine coordination among the various concepts of non-violence of India and the rest of Asia, but it also synthesizes different concepts of the East and the West. Furthermore, besides retaining its own exclusive identity, it seems to harmonize among the concepts of non-violence of the ancient, medieval and contemporary periods, and also the modern time. That is why; I have firmly said time and again that Mahatma Gandhi has accorded a wonderful dimension to the theory and practice of Ahimsa. After Gautama Buddha it is perhaps only Mahatma Gandhi who effectively and successfully adopted Ahimsa according to the demand of time and space in his lifetime. He brought the concept of Ahimsa completely out of the domain of extremism, and extended it to enlarge the basis of practices effectively and uniquely in the political sphere. Moreover, he remains the source of inspiration for so many others around the world even after he passed away, particularly for those who desire success through non-violence in socio-political spheres.
It was the success of Gandhi’s non-violent measures, which astonished the great scientist Albert Einstein [1879-1955] and made him to conclude, Generations  to come, it may be, will scarcely believe that such a one as this ever in flesh and blood walked upon this earth.36 Simultaneously, it encouraged the leader of African-American Community of the United States of America Martin Luther King Junior [1929-1968], who had first perceived cowardice in non-violence. But once having examined the Gandhian technique of Ahimsa, he reached at the conclusion, even after a decade of Gandhi’s passing away, that Gandhi’s way was undoubtedly extraordinary, and replete with real potential. He admitted that the Gandhian method of non-violence was one of the sacred and the most potent weapons available to oppressed people in their fight for freedom.37 
As is evident from Gandhi’s statement quoted in the beginning of this text, he accorded a new dimension to the concept of non-violence. There is inherent dynamism in his concept. It has the practicability in its root. Furthermore, it provides for its refinement as per the requirements of time and space.
Along with the above-mentioned statement of the Mahatma, some of his other known statements and writings on the subject apparently reveal harmony and coordination of his concept of Ahimsa with the other concepts related to it, and it does not matter if they represent India or other nations of Asia, or the rest of the world. Not only this, they clarify the undisputed relevance and adaptability of Gandhian concept of non-violence in the current perspective. 
In one of his articles on non-violence, Mahatma Gandhi wrote, Non-violence is not a rough thing as it has been enunciated. Undoubtedly, it is a part of non-violence to abstain from hurting some living being, but it is only an iota pertaining to its identity. The principle of non-violence is also shattered by every evil thought, false utterance, hatred or wishing something bad unto someone. It is also shattered per possession of necessary worldly things.38
Similarly, in another article on this subject he pointed out, When a person claims to be non-violent, he is expected not be angry with one who has injured him. He will not wish him harm; he will wish him well; he will not swear at him; he will not cause him any physical hurt. He will put up with all the injury to which he is subjected by the wrong-doer. Thus non-violence is complete innocence. Complete non-violence is complete absence of ill-will against all that lives. It therefore embraces sub-human life not excluding noxious insects or beasts…Non-violence is therefore in its active good-will towards all life…39     
After studying and analyzing the above two statements of the Mahatma carefully and minutely, and simultaneously keeping in mind his statement quoted at the outset of this article about non-violence, we arrive at some concrete conclusions. Foremost among them is that the Mahatma undoubtedly represents the general Indian concept of non-violence, which particularly and essentially includes the concepts of Ahimsa of Vedic-Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism and Sikhism.40 In my view it comprises of the following four points:
·         The domain of Ahimsa [non-violence] encompasses not only human-beings but all living beings;
·         In spite of being eternal, natural and the primary human value, Ahimsa is a subject of practice as per the demand of time and space;
·         Ahimsa is an active value; it has nothing to do with cowardice and it is an ornament of the brave; and 
·         Ahimsa is not a subject to be practiced occasionally; in theory and in practice it is all timely.
But, when the Mahatma particularly says that “the principle of non-violence is also shattered by every evil thought, false utterance, hate or wishing something bad unto someone” and “it is a part of non-violence to abstain from hurting some living being, but it is only an iota pertaining to its identity”, he clearly arrives near the Vedic concept. At the same time he also appears to relate it to the Jain concept of Ahimsa. This undoubtedly leads to more nearness to Jainism when his views that “complete non-violence is complete absence of ill will against that lives” and “non-violence is therefore …good will towards all life” are examined. But, the Mahatma seems to differ from negative Jain Ahimsa when he makes intent behind the act the acid test of violence and non-violence, or when he lays stress on evaluating non-violence on the basis of tendency and pursuance towards spiritual or physical benefit unto everyone. 41                       
While writing and speaking about non-violence, the Mahatma has also laid great emphasis on protection, pardon, pity and self-control. In Gandhi’s opinion constant development of these virtues is, in fact, the realization of Ahimsa. This belief of the Mahatma brings him again nearer to Jainism, Buddhism, and the general Indian concept of non-violence. Moreover, when he speaks that, “the principle of non-violence …also shattered per possession of necessary worldly things”, he, along with Indian, arrives near the Asian concepts on the one hand, and to an extent closer to the Western concepts of Ahimsa on the other. Moreover, Mahatma Gandhi by combining love and friendliness with non-violence confirms universalism. He also appears to synthesize between East and the West; and old and new concepts of Ahimsa.
For Gandhi Ahimsa is dynamic. It is an active force. Its scope is comprehensive. In his own words, “Ahimsa is a comprehensive principle. We are helpless mortals caught in the conflagration of himsa. The saying that life lives on life has a deep meaning in it. Man cannot for a moment live without consciously or unconsciously committing outward himsa. The very fact of his living-eating, drinking and moving about-necessarily involves some himsa, destruction of life, be it ever so minute. A votary of Ahimsa therefore remains true to this faith if the spring of all his actions is compassion, if he shuns to the best of his ability the destruction of the tiniest creature, tries to save it, and thus incessantly strives to be free from the deadly coil of himsa. He will be constantly growing in self-restraint and compassion, but he never becomes entirely free from himsa.”42
Hence, despite bringing harmony among different ideas pertaining to non-violence, Mahatma Gandhi’s own related concept seems to be constructive and worth mentioning. Moreover, Gandhi’s making the intent behind the act the acid test of Himsa or Ahimsa and his laying stress on reviewing each and every case relating to violence or non-violence on its own merits independently makes it all the more commendable.
Significance in Current Perspectives   
Change is inevitable. Nothing is beyond the law of change. Every sphere of human life is within its range. We ourselves witness change at local, national and international levels. Today’s world seems quite different from what it was just twenty-five or fifty years ago. Unprecedented development and constantly growing cooperation among people at all levels and in all walks of life is an effect of the process of this inevitable law of change. Simultaneously, rising competition and self-interests, and resultantly men’s indulgence in violent activities is also a consequence of this very process. In fact, it is a natural process. It cannot be denied. Rather, accepting it as a reality, there is the need of making it conducive in larger public interest. In this regard, Gandhian concept pertaining to non-violence can be accepted as an ideal. Particularly in the current perspectives when dangerous clouds loom large around in the sky, and when the whole world seems gripped by many destructive tendencies, Gandhian Ahimsa becomes more relevant than even the times of Gandhi. It calls for its refinement and application as per the needs of time and space.
As we have discussed, Gandhian non-violence brings harmony among various concepts pertaining to it 43 on the one hand, and establishes unity in them on the other. Moreover, as per its position 44 it seems to be emerging as an essential condition of existence and human progress. Even, for those, who in a situation contrary to non-violence, take the course of violence and thus indulging in violent activities, connect their acts in one way or the other with the safety of existence and progress, Gandhian Ahimsa becomes significant, because it brings common men within its fold. Furthermore, it becomes the subject of practice for all. Concomitantly, it calls for general welfare, mutual acceptance and harmony. Therefore, it clearly seems capable, to a large extent, in controlling dangerous violent tendencies, and transforming the hearts of those involved in violence.                                  
Categorically, for Gandhi Ahimsa is dynamic; it is truly an active force of the highest order, and indeed soul force.45 Moreover, it is completely free from any prejudices. Despite its going slow and achieving less than expectations, it has never come in a state of isolation. Rather, its eternal nature is going ahead. Sincerity, acceptance of the situation in current perspective, and readiness to compromise, are among those of its chief features, which are undoubtedly very significant in the global context of the day. And, when these characteristics join the acid test of Gandhian non-violence, its practicability enhances multi-folds. This state of affairs assigns a unique position to Gandhian non-violence and exhorts the people to think over it seriously and adopt it in their day-to-day practices to make human life more prosperous and peaceful.                    
3.       That is why; a person like Mahatma Gandhi went to the extent of saying, The Rishis, who discovered the law of non-violence in the midst of violence, were greater geniuses than Newton. They were themselves greater warriors than Wellington. Having themselves known the use of arms they realized their uselessness, and taught a weary world that its salvation laid not through violence but through non-violence.” [Young India, August 11, 1920]   
4.       Vedic [Hinduism or the Sanatana], Jainism and Buddhism.
5.       Sikhism.
6.       Four [the Rigveda, the Yajurveda, the Samveda and the Atharvaveda] in number. 
7.       See the fourth verse of the first Shloka of the first Sukta of the first Mandala of the Rigveda [Dayananda Bhashya [commentary], in which he explains Himsa to be an evil].    
8.       See the Yajurveda 36:18, and the Atharvaveda 19:60:1:2 and 19:15:16 respectively. 
9.       Complete absence of violence is non-violence. 
10.    Quoted from Isimasiai Suttai in Ravindra Kumar’s Non-Violence and Its Philosophy, p. 14.
11.     This is, at the time of feeling of violence originating against someone, one should see, keeping oneself in one’s place. [Kumar, Ravindra. 2002. Theory and Practice of Gandhian Non-Violence. New Delhi, India: Mittal Publications, p. 7]
12.    Desiring mutual cooperation willingly, because this makes the life worth living, prosperous and peaceful.   [Ibid.]
13.    Kumar, Ravindra. 2003. Non-Violence and Its Philosophy. Meerut [India]: Dynamic, p. 14. 
14.    As is evident from the Dhammapada [verse 225], meaning: “Who practice non-violence and control [their] body, they attain the unchangeable place [Nirvana], and they have no reason to suffer thereafter”, i.e. “Ahimsaka Ye Munayo Nichcham Kayena Samvuta/ Te Yanti Achchutam Thanam Yattha Gantva Na Sochare//”
15.    Which can be observed from the verses of [Dhammapada: 129 and 130] in which Gautama Buddha says, “All quiver at punishment, all shudder death; so, considering all equal [to him], a man should not kill [anyone], nor should he has a desire to do so. All are afraid of punishment, and all love life; so, considering all equal [to him], a man should not take life of anyone, nor should he has a desire to do so”, i.e. “Sabbe Tasanti Dandassa Sabbe Bhayanti Machchuno/Attanam Upamam Katva Na Haneyya Na Ghataye// Sabbe Tasanti Dandassa Sabbesam Jivitam Piyam/ Attanam Upamam Katva Na Haneyya Na Ghataye//”          
16.    As it is clear from one of the declarations of the Buddha [Dhammapada: 270] in which he says, “A man is not [an Aryan] noble because he injures living beings; but he is [an Aryan] noble because he is [completely] non-violent and he has pity on all that live”, i.e. “Na Ten Ariya Hoti Yen Panani Himsati/ Ahimsa Sabbapananam Ariyo’ti Pavuchchati//”     
17.    Or the Sanatana.
18.    Founded by Guru Nanak Dev [1469-1539 A. D.] during the fifteenth-sixteenth century A. D. in the Punjab Province.
19.    As Confucius himself has said, “If a man hurts me, I will return him my affection and good will; the more he hurts me, the kinder I must be; the perfume of goodness reaches me and the sad air of evil blows towards him.” [Kumar, Ravindra. 2003. Non-Violence and Its Philosophy. Meerut [India]: Dynamic, p. 25]
21.    History of Political Doctrines [Volume-1], p. 174. 
22.    This is a character trait or quality valued as being always good in and of itself.
23.    In this regard Socrates believed that the best way for people to live is to focus on self-development rather than the pursuit of material wealth and side-by-side his invitation to people to try to concentrate more on friendships and a sense of true community, which according to him is the best way for people to grow together as a populace, is worth mentioning here. []
24.    This can be viewed in Plato’s theory of justice that is implied to the principles of ‘non-interference’ and ‘will to fulfill the duties’, etc.
25.    Kumar, Ravindra. 2002. Theory and Practice of Gandhian Non-Violence. New Delhi [India]: Mittal Publications, p. 9.
26.    History of Political Doctrines [Volume-1], p. 259.
27.    Ibid.
28.    Kumar, Ravindra. 2002. Theory and Practice of Gandhian Non-Violence. New Delhi [India]: Mittal Publications, p. 10.
29.    The author of the famous works like The Theory of Moral Sentiments and An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations, which is considered by many as the first modern work of economics, and for, Adam Smith is considered as the father of modern economics.
30.    Kumar, Ravindra. 2002. Theory and Practice of Gandhian Non-Violence. New Delhi [India]: Mittal Publications, p.10.
31.    Ibid, p. 11.
32.    Ibid.
33.    Ibid.
34.    Ibid.
35.    Gandhi, M. K. [ed.]. 1940, August 11. Harijan Sewak Weekly. Ahmedabad: Navajivan [In this regard Mahatma Gandhi has particularly written that all historical evidences clearly specify that since beginning man has continuously treaded the path of Ahimsa. He has also pointed out that if we accept the reality of man’s inclination of his going ahead on the pathway to non-violence, it easily proves that he has to go further on the same pathway…]     
37.    Kumar, Ravindra. 2009. Non-Cooperation. Meerut [India]: World Peace Movement Trust.
38.    Kumar, Ravindra. 2002. Theory and Practice of Gandhian Non-Violence. New Delhi [India]: Mittal Publications, p. 25 [Originally quoted from Mangal Prabhat. 1945] 
39.    Gandhi, M. K. [ed.]. 1922, March 2. Yong India Weekly. Ahmedabad: Navajivan.
40.    Kumar, Ravindra. 2010. India and Mahatma Gandhi. New Delhi [India]: Kalpaz Publications.   
41.    Kumar, Ravindra. 2002. Theory and Practice of Gandhian Non-Violence. New Delhi [India]: Mittal Publications, p. 25.
42.    Ibid, p. 26.
43.    It doesn’t matter if they are from the East or the West, or if they represent the ancient or medieval periods, or the modern age.
44.    Being the supreme human value.
45.    In this regard the Mahatma wrote, “It is soul force or the power of Godhead within us. Imperfect man cannot grasp the whole of the Essence- he would not be able to bear its full blaze, but even an infinitesimal fraction of it, when it becomes active within us, can work wonders.”