Guiding Light: Handling violence in personal and national life

Turning to me, as a Hindu monk, you may ask, does not the Hindu scriptures emphasise ahimsa? Isn’t ahimsa paramo dharma. Yes, but that is only one-half of the verse. The other half says that for the sake of Dharma, violence should also be accepted as a means of action. That means doing what is right at the personal or the national level, one cannot overlook the use of violence.

Swami Brahmavidananda SaraswatiUpdated: Friday, June 10, 2022, 08:41 AM IST
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There is a great danger in overemphasising non-violence because it makes people incapable of handling violence in their personal or national life. | Photo: Pixabay

Never have I seen the society emphasising on ahimsa, non- violence and peace more than the present times although we actually live in fairly violent times. There is a great danger in overemphasising non-violence because it makes people incapable of handling violence in their personal or national life.

A possible personal situation – A man with a knife in hand, enters a ladies railway compartment where there are 20 women, and all of them meekly surrender their money and phones to him. What is to prevent these 20 women from screaming at the top of their voices? I'll guarantee you, any man will jump out of a running train. But non-violence has been emphasised so much that we are incapable of handling violence. At the national level, we have seen what happened in Tibet. The Chinese walked into Tibet in 1950 or so. Approximately 100 years before that the Chinese army had attacked Tibet and the Tibetans managed to overthrow the attacking army. A hundred years of overemphasis on non-violence made them incapable of dealing with the Chinese army just a hundred years later.

Turning to me, as a Hindu monk, you may ask, does not the Hindu scriptures emphasise ahimsa? Isn’t ahimsa paramo dharma. Yes, but that is only one half of the verse. The other half says that for the sake of Dharma, violence should also be accepted as a means of action. That means doing what is right at the personal or at the national level, one cannot overlook the use of violence. Like if a young girl is going to be attacked on the street by another man what are you going to do? Plead with him? Call the police who are not around? Or do what you can to handle the situation including violence.

Similarly at the national level, should we be disbanding the army in the name of peace and non-violence. There'll be nothing more foolish than that. That is why in ancient India, we had powerful kingdoms but we never invaded and conquered other countries. We had strong armies to protect our own kingdom.

(The author is founder, Aarsha Vidya Foundation. You can write to him at aarshavidyaf@gmail.com)

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