Mahatma Gandhi and his Ideas in the Modern Political System
Please find through attachment some of the writeups written recently by Dr. Ravindra Kumar, Former Vice-Chancellor, Meerut University, India, Editor-in-Chief of Global-Peace International Journal and the Founder of the World Peace Movement Trust for your Web/Buletin.
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Former Vice-Chancellor, CCS University, Meerut (India)
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Journal of Education, Culture, Civilization…
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BRIEF BIO-DATA OF DR. RAVINDRA KUMAR
(# 23-B, Lane: 2, MANSAROVAR, CIVIL LINES, MEERUT-250001, INDIA)
Born at village Kakrauli of Muzaffarnagar District [U. P.], India DR. RAVINDRA KUMAR (M.A. Political Science & Philosophy, PGD in Gandhian Studies and Ph. D. in Political Science) is a universally renowned Writer, Thinker, Scholar, Political Scientist, Peace Worker and Educationist, who has authored/edited more than 100 works on great personalities of the Indian Sub-Continent including Mahatma Gandhi, and on various social, religious, political, historical, educational and cultural issues. Some of his works, of which many are of international repute and have been translated into Marathi, Tamil and Thai languages apart from Hindi and English languages include ‘MORALITY & ETHICS IN PUBLIC LIFE’ (1999), ‘RELIGION AND WORLD PEACE’ (1999-2003), ‘GANDHI AND GANDHISM’, PART-I (2001), ‘CHAMPARAN TO QUIT INDIA MOVEMENT’ (2002), ‘THEORY AND PRACTICE OF GANDHIAN NON-VIOLENCE’ (2002), ‘NON-VIOLENCE AND ITS PHILOSOPHY’ (2003), ‘FIVE THOUSAND YEARS OF INDIAN CULTURE’ (2003), ‘TOWARDS PEACE’ (2003), ‘CIVILIZATION: ITS PRINCIPLES AND EVOLUTION’ (2004), ‘MAHATMA GANDHI AT THE CLOSE OF TWENTIETH CENTURY’ (2004) etc.
A noted Indologist and the Former Vice-Chancellor of the C. C. S. University, Meerut, India, DR. RAVINDRA KUMAR has been associated with a number of national and international academic, cultural, educational, social and peace organizations/institutions/bodies such as ‘FRIENDS AT ARCHIVES GROUP’, N. A. I., New Delhi, India (1985-90), ‘COMMON-WEALTH HISTORIANS’ SOCIETY’ (1990-91), ‘EXECUTIVE COUNCIL, MEERUT UNIVERSITY’, Meerut, U. P., India (1993-4), ‘EXECUTIVE COUNCIL, M. D. UNIVERSITY,’ Rohtak, Haryana, India (1993-5), ‘SENATE, GANDHIGRAM RURAL INSTITUTE,’ Gandhigram, Tamilnadu (1994-7), ‘UNITED WRITERS’ ASSOCIATION,’ Chennai, Tamilnadu, India (Since 1997), ‘PEACE EDUCATION COMMISSION,’ U. S. A. ( Since 2000), ‘U. N. UNIVERSITY FOR PEACE,’ C.R. (Since 2000), ‘GANDHI INFORMATION ZENTRUN,’ Berlin, Germany (Since 2001) etc. He has visited many countries of the world as a Visiting Professor and Scholar.
As a Representative of Indian Culture, DR. RAVINDRA KUMAR has delivered 200 lectures/ talks at the ‘LUCKNOW & AHMEDABAD T.V. CENTRES’ (1992), ‘DECCAN GYMKHANA’ Pune, Maharashtra (1992), ‘MUMBAI HINDI VIDYAPEETH’ Mumbai, (2001), ‘SARDAR PATEL UNIVERSITY’, Vallabh Vidyanagar, Gujarat (2002), ‘GANDHI PEACE FOUNDATION’, New Delhi (2002), ‘MANIBHAVAN GANDHI SANGRAHALAYA’, Mumbai, (2003), 'J.T.V.' (2003), ASSEMBLY of the ‘NOIDA SENIOR CITIZENS’ FORUM’, Noida, U. P.(2004), ‘INSTITUTE OF GANDHIAN STUDIES’ Wardha, Maharashtra (2005); ‘A.D.M. UNIVERSITY’ Manila, Philippines (1996); ‘THAMMASAT UNIVERSITY, MAHACHULA BUDDHIST UNIVERSITY, ORIENTAL CULTURE ACADEMY, SILPAKORN UNIVERSITY & CHULALONGKORN UNIVERSITY,’ BANGKOK (Between 1996-2003), ‘PRINCE OF SONGK0LA UNIVERSITY & RADIO SOUTHERN THAILAND,’ Pattani (Between 1996-2001), ‘MAHIDOL UNIVERSITY,’ Salaya, Nakorn Pathom, Thailand (Between 1998-2002), ‘THAKSIN UNIVERSITY’, Songkla (2005) and ‘MAHAPANYA MAHAVIDYALAYA BUDDHIST COLLEGE’, Hat Hai, Thailand (2005); ‘UNIVERSITY OF LEIDEN,’ Leiden, The Netherlands (1997); ‘NORDIC INSTITUTE OF ASIAN STUDIES, COPENHAGEN PEACE RESEARCH INSTITUTE & REDIO FREEDOM,’ Copenhagen (1998), ‘ODENSE UNIVERSITY,’ Odense (Between 1998-9), ‘CENTRE FOR ADULT EDUCATION & VESTFYNS GYMNASIUM,’ Glamsbjerg (1999), ‘UNIVERSITY OF AARHUS’ (2001), AALBORG UNIVERSITY,’ Aalborg, (2001-2005) and ‘DANISH ACADEMY OF PECAE’, Denmark (2005); ‘ST. PETERSBURG STATE UNIVERSITY’, St. Petersburg, Russia (999); ‘UNIVERSITY JAUME I,’ Costello, Spain (2001); ‘PEACETIME FOUNDATION’ and the ‘LEGISLATIVE YUAN’ (Parliament Premises), Republic of China (2001); ‘CENTRO STUDIO SERENO REGIS’ and the ‘UNIVERSITY OF TORINO’, Torino, Italy (2002); ‘VIENNA UNIVERSITY’, Vienna’ and ‘FEDERATION FOR WORLD PEACE IN AUSTRIA’ (2003); ‘GANDHI INFORMATION ZENTRUM’, Berlin, and ‘OKUMENISCHES ZENTRUM BERATUNG FUR KRIEGSDIENSTVERWEIGERER-FRIEDENSPADAGOGISCHE MEDIENSTELLE’, Spandau, Germany (2003); the ‘ACADEMY FOR WORLD WATCH’, Shanghai, People’s Republic of China (2004); ‘MALAYA UNIVERSITY’, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (2005) and ‘DEMOCRATIC VOICE OF BURMA’, Myanmar (2005) on subjects related to Asian Values, Civilization, Culture, Economic Cooperation, Gandhism, Human Rights, International Understanding, Journalism, Terrorism, Value Education, Way of Life and World Peace.
As a Peace Worker, DR. RAVINDRA KUMAR started ‘PEACE-REVIEW’- an International Journal of Peace Studies in 1998 and worked as its Editor-in-Chief till 2000. In 2001 he started ‘GLOBAL PEACE’- another International Journal of Philosophy, Peace, Education, Culture and Civilization. He has inspired thousands of people all over the world for commitment towards non-violence by signing pledges. DR. KUMAR has been the Chief Organizer of a National and International Seminars organized in collaboration with the Indian Council of Social Science Research at Meerut, U.P., on ‘RELIGION & POLITICS,’ in July 1993 and at Pune, Maharashtra, India on ‘MORALITY & ETHICS IN PUBLIC LIFE’ in January 1996. Also he has been the Convener and Secretary General for the International Seminar and Symposium organized at Meerut, U.P., India on ‘EDUCATION, PEACE & DEVELOPMENT’ in November, 2000, on ‘NON-VIOLENCE & DEMOCRACY’ in April, 2002, on ‘HUMAN RIGHTS’ in January 2003 and in Mumbai on ‘MAHATMA GANDHI’ in February 2004.
Many of Dr. Ravindra Kumar’s highly researched papers/articles have been adopted time to time by renowned institutions like INSTITUTE OF GANDHIAN STUDIES, Wardha, India, SYDNEY PEACE FOUNDATION, Australia, THE CENTRE OF CIVILIZATIONAL DIALOGUE [CCD], Malaysia, THE DANISH ACADEMY OF PEACE [DAP], Denmark, The FGM, Pune, India, THE INTERNATIONAL FELLOWSHIP OF RECONCILIATION [IFOR], The Netherlands, THE TRANSNATIONAL FOUNDATION FOR PEACE AND FUTURE RESEARCH [TTF], Sweden, THE UNITED STATES INSTITUTE OF PEACE [USIP], USA etc. as the source material. He is a leading contributor for A-Grade Journals of the world viz. The Gandhi Marg, The Bhavan’s Journal, The Taiwan Journal etc.
DR. RAVINDRA KUMAR’S works contribute significantly for bringing about reconciliation among social groups, religious communities and sects. They focus on equality, humanism, integration, international understanding, non-violence, social change, unity and global peace. Apart from ‘MEERUT RATNA’ (1993), ‘NIRALA SMRITI SAMMAN’ (1998), ‘SHAN-I-KAUM’ (2003), ‘SANTIDOOT’ (2004) ‘AMBASSADOR FOR PEACE’ (2005) and other honours, ‘PADMA SHRI’ was awarded to Dr. Ravindra Kumar by H. E. the President of India in 2001.
1-Mahatma Gandhi and his Ideas in the Modern Political System
Presently a big portion of the world happens to be under Democratic system of Government. Theoretically, this system stands out to be the best up to now. This is a truth. It is the best because people are connected with it directly or indirectly at every level. Not only this, it is this very system, which provides maximum opportunities of public progress and development. People can themselves decide in this system the mode of their welfare. However, even though being theoretically the best system of government, if we peruse the democratic nations, we first of all find that there is non-equal development of the citizens. We subsequently find that these nations are more or less victimized by regionalism. They have problem relating to language. They are under clutches of terrorism and communalism. There is also the problem of negation of human rights in these nations. There are other vivid problems akin to mention above and peace is far away so long as these problems exist. These nations should get themselves rid of these problems in toto, all citizens of them must have equal development and they should have communal harmony towards making all citizens collective and unified partners in progress. But, in reality, it is not so.
It is essential that the nations of democratic system of government should be free from above-mentioned problems, must be capable of ensuring equal development of their all citizens and the citizens concerned must march forward on path of progress in unified way along with rendering contribution to world peace. Gandhism is very much contextual today on this accord. It is significant. Let us grasp importance of Gandhism while analyzing it in brief.
In quite simple and clear words, Gandhism consists of the ideas, which Mahatma Gandhi put forth before human world. Along with that, to the maximum possible extent, Mahatma Gandhi treated his individual life in accordance with these ideas. Clearly, Gandhism is a mixture of Gandhi’s concepts and practices. I do not hold merely his theory to be Gandhism. The basic groundship of Gandhism happens to be non-violence.
The non-violence is the most ancient eternal value. This non-violence is the ground of ancient-most civilization and culture of India. Mahatma Gandhi said on this very account while making his concepts and practices based on non-violence:
“I have nothing new to teach you… Truth and non-violence are as old as hill.”
As we know, non-violence and truth are two sides of the same coin. After knowing Gandhism, it is imperative for us to know clearly the concept of non-violence also as it accords the ground for Gandhism.
What is non-violence? Ordinarily, we attribute non-violence as a dictum that prescribes non-snatching of anyone’s life. Really, this is not complete derivation pertaining to the concept of non-violence. Non-violence is quite opposite to violence. As such, it would be better to know the position relating to violence in order to know non-violence and to be in knowledge of its meaning. According to a Jain scholar:
“Whenever, we hurt some other living being through our thought, utterance or action under non-cordial stipulation and non-apt learning, such an impure spirit or act of destroying life of some other one, including the impure tendency, utterance or presuming, is taken to be full of vice of violence. In such a situation, even if there is no sort of violence externally, it intrinsically ipso facto remains a tendency of violence.”
As a situation opposite to violence is non-violence, we can firmly state, “Total non-violence consists in not hurting some other one’s intellect, speech or action per own thought, utterance or deeds and not to deprive some one of his life.” We can clearly say this in a few words as follows: Abstinence in toto from violence is non-violence.
Mahatma Gandhi fully agrees with above-mentioned derivation of non-violence. He himself has said, “Non-violence is not a concrete thing as it has generally 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 shattered by every evil thought, false utterance, hate or wishing something bad unto some one. It is also shattered per possession of necessary worldly things.” In this chain Mahatma Gandhi clarified in an edition of Young India:
“…To hurt some one, to think of some evil unto some one or to snatch one’s life under anger or selfishness, is violence. In contrast, purest non-violence is epitome in having a tendency and presuming towards spiritual or physical benefit unto every one without selfishness and with pure thought after cool and clear deliberations… The ultimate yardstick of violence or non-violence is the spirit behind the action.”
Mahatma Gandhi, while in principle admitting his concept of non-violence, clarified further in this respect and said:
[A] Non-Violence is Perpetual:
In context of non-violence being perpetual, Mahatma Gandhi states, “…When we peruse the era from beginning unto now relating to the period for which we gain historical evidence, we find that man has been ultimately treading path of non-violence”. It is, as such, that non-violence came into existence along with man. “In case it has not been with man from the very beginning, there might have been self-doom by man”.
However, it has not been that and not only human race is alive in such a huge number but there has been gradual enhancement in development and nearness in spite of presence of various obstacles and nuisances. This could never have been, but because non-violence is perpetual, it happened.
[B] Non-Violence and Truth are Complementary to Each Other:
Non-violence is governing because it is perpetual and permanent. It is on this accord that Mahatma Gandhi says, as I have already enunciated that “Truth and Non-violence are two sides of the same coin. Both have same value. Difference consists in approach only. On one side there is non-violence, on other side is truth”.
The derivation is that Truth stays with permanence or that Truth is permanent. Non-violence on account of being permanently present stays to be true.
[C] Non-Violence and Cowardice Unrelated:
Mahatma Gandhi always believed in active non-violence. He always desisted inaction like a brave man. It is a truth relating to non-violence that it is not a weapon of a week person. It has no place for cowardice. In own words of Mahatma Gandhi, “…Non-violence should not be mistaken to be a true battle against every sort of evil”. He further states:
“In contrast, non-violence of my conception is true battle against evil; it is active confrontation and not a device of tit for tat.”
Mahatma Gandhi clarified to those who were keen to take non-violence to be a weapon of the weak or those who terming it as concrete and was upbringing non-action:
“…Non-violence and cowardice are not at all inter-related. I can think of a person to be coward at heart even if he is totally armed. In case it is not taken as cowardice to be equipped with arms, it is certainly symbolical of fearfulness. Pure non-violence is impossible without pure bravery”.
He clearly said at innumerable occasions in time of national struggle for freedom that was being bravely carried out with fearlessness under his very leadership:
“…Non-violence is an active force. There is no possibility of cowardice or weakness in it”.
Further… “There can be hope of a violent person being non-violent one day but there cannot be such a hope in relation to a coward”.
[D] Non-Violence: A Social Value:
Non-violence permanently exists in human nature and as I have stated, it came on earth with man. It can be said that one who is CREATOR of man on earth, is also ONE who kept non-violence permanently in human nature. Our existence could not have been if it was not so. We not only safeguarded our existence in its permanent presence but also progressed deeply and that is all clear before us. We are well aware that any progress is impossible without co-operation from others. When progress has been there, it is imperative that co-operation has been there. Co-operation is possible only when there is non-violence. As such, the non-violence, which is individually present, remains present socially also. It is in this accordance that Mahatma Gandhi says:
“…Non-violence is not only individualistic, it is social also”.
Logically, he further states in this regard:
“It must be developed. We are bound to admit that regulation of mutual relations in society is through non-violence to a considerable extent. I wish it to be developed on large scale”.
To those who take non-violence to be merely an individual notion, he said without mincing words, “It is not true that society cannot be organized or operated on basis of non-violence. I oppose such a statement”.
[E] Non-Violence: All-Timely and all Welfaristic:
As I have said, non-violence emerged on earth with man and Mahatma Gandhi took it to be perpetual and eternal. In this chain, he called upon the people to continue to develop it in practice throughout life while taking non-violence to be the basis of life. He said, “Non-violence should not be practiced on specific occasion only”. It is well timely. It is not short-lived or casual. Along with this, Mahatma Gandhi admits non-violence along with dogma of all-welfare and equality in toto. He separates it from utilitarianism completely and instantly from this point of view. In his own words:
“A worshipper of non-violence cannot ditto utilitarianism. He will work towards ‘Sarvabhoothitaya’ that is maximum benefit of all and shall perish himself while constantly endeavouring to gain the ideal. Maximum pleasure of all includes maximum pleasure of maximum number also. Follower of non-violence and utilitarianism will be found so many times at a path but ultimately an occasion will be there when they will find themselves forced to tread separate paths. In certain directions, they will also have to oppose each other. A utilitarian cannot sacrifice himself for the sake of saving his argumentation whereas a non-violent is always ready to face perishment”.
[F] Non-Violence and God:
Mahatma Gandhi integrally combines non-violence with God. According to him, “It is impossible to tread path of ‘Truth and Non violence’ unless one has vital faith in God. God is that alive force which incorporates all remaining forces of the world. This force does not depend upon anyone and it exists even when all other forces in world come to an end. In case I do not believe unto this all glittering light, that incorporates everything, I fail to understand as to how am I alive!”
God is really the Lord of universe. He accorded non-violence on earth along with man so that man can progress along with his existence and gain ambition. God kept all within the region of equality along with that. He has no consideration towards discrimination all small or big, high or low, rich or poor etc. It is possible only through developing non-violence that a man attempts to tread his life while practicing these non-discriminations in life. When man does so, he cannot at all ignore God who happens to be the Lord and who kept non-violence permanently in his nature.
These are some significant clarifications, which Mahatma Gandhi offers in context of non-violence. No doubt, non-violence is natural, true, and perpetual and a device that is far away from cowardice. It is social value also along with being an individualistic one; it is all-timely and all welfaristic. It is essential to believe in God if one cherishes to believe and practice non-violence. When I myself ponder over, I firmly believe that all eternal values get themselves comprehended unto non-violence. Forbearance can be there only while non-violence is in existence. Unity, compassion, fraternity, justice or equality is also for its help alone. It is basis, mother and up bringer of all the values.
Mahatma Gandhi, Non-Violence and Democracy:
While accepting dictum of all-welfare as basis and not that of majority, Mahatma Gandhi is certainly a staunch supporter of democracy and along with that, he wants that it should be intermingled with non-violence in every manner. In such a democracy, “Quantum of interference in liberty of people happens to be minimum”.
In fact, Mahatma Gandhi takes real democracy to be that admits governmental interference at the minimum, which has peace at the maximum and all progress on the basis of equality. It is possible only when non-violence is imparted the supreme status in practice as well as in principle and at social as well as individual plane. Only such a democracy can be successful in its real goal.
We could know the derivation pertaining to non-violence and also by perusing Gandhian point of view, its significance for human race. We could clearly know that it is only non-violence, which can make life prosperous at every level. When it is so why should not the democratic countries make themselves prone to non-violence in the event that these countries with democratic governance system accept welfare of all citizens to be their ambition or goal? Mahatma Gandhi wants this very all out of the system of government and it is really a thing of significance. It is such a significant matter that this reality cannot be denied by me or by anyone amongst you. It is on this accord that Gandhian non-violence is immensely significant in system of today’s governance, especially in a democratic system.
Presently, the democratic system in operation in worldly nations is not according to Gandhian principle. We are not getting what Mahatma Gandhi ultimately cherished from democracy. If it was so, these nations could be devoid of atmosphere of violence and presence of fear. There could not have been corruption and divided human society. I have already emphasized that there could not have been problems pertaining to terrorism, communalism, regionalism and problems relating to languages. More than this all, there could not have been observance of ethical and moral degradation in public life. Such degradation is being observed constantly. The main cause after all these things remain that all activities of these nations are not non-violent. There cannot be any possibility of violence while there is Gandhism in democracy. Violence is not sacred, pure or welfaristic from any point of view. Whatever is gained on basis of it is impure and temporary. It is on this accord that it cannot pace with democracy even for a moment. Mahatma Gandhi says, “Democracy and violence can never be mutual”.
Basis of democracy is non-violence in toto. And, there cannot be any diminution in it. Non-violence should be real; not merely titular. Democracy shall be pro-people only while so. Mahatma Gandhi said in this context, “If they are to be truly made democratic, they must be valiantly non-violent”. In case of absence of this attribute, democracy shall be there for name sake only and it would be better for it to…clearly be supporter of dictatorship.
Present System and Non-Violent Gandhian Way:
After above-mentioned analysis, the question arises before us as to how to guide modern system of government, especially democracy, towards Gandhian way, which undoubtedly has non-violence as its basic root. Then, it is to be made and quotable towards equal development of all citizens. This democracy must be such that “it should not warrant power of punishment”
In it, “… people will certainly be conscious regarding their duties: they may sometimes, of course, be ignorant towards their rights”.
In case there is something anti-people in it, the people shall make it favourable to them through non-violent means.
As we have analyzed, Mahatma Gandhi is in favour of spontaneous development of non-violence. To make democracy ultimately in accordance with non-violence remains to be his goal. This is possible. He rightly said in this regard, “… Non-violence is not merely an individual concept. It is social concept also. It must be developed in this form”.
Development is essential and it is in sight. He again states in this regard along with citing a nice example, “Mutual practices in society are regulated by non-violence to a considerable extent. I want it to be at development at larger scale”.
This should of course, be done in right direction and with truthful spirit.
It is the inference that the non-violence permanently present in human nature should be developed in practice from its present state towards progressive one in right direction per truthful spirit. A true and cherished democracy shall be established only in such a condition. A system shall be commendable in proportion to non-violence in it. This is important regarding every system, however, the government of the people-democracy-remains foremost in this chain. We have accordingly assigned it topmost place under our discourse.
Polity must be fearless, full of equality, providing protection to all eternal values and only then it can be pro-people. It can accord apt dimension to development. Man can contribute to world peace only in such a system of government along with gaining his goal. Government should be welfaristic to people and above being non-violent as enunciated by Mahatma Gandhi. Gandhian principle of non-violence is very much significant in modern system of government from this point of view. This significance is likely to be of permanent nature perpetually.
The Democracy of Gandhi’s Imagination:
Yes, the democracy of Mahatma Gandhi’s imagination-fully encircled with non-violence -exists in no nation of the world as up to now. Democracy of his imagination happens to be one, which does not have any provision of punishment and even an organization like ‘State’ happens to be obsolete in it. This is because Mahatma Gandhi holds, “…State is symbolical of centralized and organized violence”.
As non-violence is connected with human soul, man can be non-violent whereas in opposition to it, “… State is a soul-less machine. On this accord, it is impossible to get rid of violence. Its very existence depends upon violence”.
Non-existence of state as cherished by Mahatma Gandhi is impossible instantly or in near future. Even then, it is incumbent on the people, who are living in state organizations, to develop non-violence that is permanently present in their nature and to enhance it gradually up to adequate level. Along with that, all systems [specifically democracy] should, work in direction of development of non-violence at individual, community, social and national levels. The atmosphere of fear which we see, the diminution of values in life and the problems having cropped up vividly cannot be eradicated without developing it.
There is no alternative to non-violence. The whole human history is within our purview. Whenever polities were under clutches of violence, tacitly or expressively, they could not get anything except doom and disaster to their citizens. Their own peace was fully shattered per this doom and others were also badly affected. It is in this regard that in accordance with philosophy of Mahatma Gandhi, non-violence should be admitted as invariable part of our life and it is on the basis of this dictum that modem polities must operate. This will be very nice for them.
I have stated that polities cannot all of a sudden operate as per expectation of the Great Mahatma Gandhi. Non-violence cannot be a part of conduct instantly, but Mahatma Gandhi’s suggestion is very important in this regard as I have already mentioned. However, the polities must forward certainly in this direction. Needless to say that non-violence is true, natural, and enemy of fearfulness, stands at top amongst eternal values including the equality and has been gradually progressive. Its nice and vital example is before us in the form of its development unto today, since the inception of human race-that is since initial human-state. We clearly see that in spite of differences to whatsoever extent, ultimately there is an innovative desire for peace. This is because non-violence happens to be in human nature, as I have said again and again, and human being like it.
* Dr. Ravindra Kumar is the former Vice-Chancellor of CCS University, Meerut [India]. Also he is the Editor-in-Chief of 'Global-Peace'-an international journal of philosophy, peace, education, culture and civilization.
It was in 1969 that I had an opportunity to discuss a little about Mahatma Gandhi with my teacher for the first time. What conversation I had about is now lost in the abyss of time. But later I always wondered – why an international political leader like Gandhi was addressed as Mahatma, an honorific frequently used for a spiritually elevated soul. To find an answer, I think it is essential to review his life not in parts, but as a whole.
Gandhi affectionately called Bapu was a great leader endowed with a spiritual yearning for truth. The quintessence of his philosophy of life was the realization of Satya [truth] and Ahimsa [non- violence]. His purpose of life was as he says, “to achieve self- realization, to see God face to face, to obtain Moksha [Salvation].” But his approach was different from that of other seekers.
Gandhi received good Samskaras [pre-disposition] by virtue of his birth in a religious Vaishnava family of Gujarat, particularly from his mother who left an indelible impression of her saintliness on his tender mind. He imbibed truthfulness from the characteristics of the hero of the play ‘Harishchandra’. He wondered – ‘why should not we be truthful like Harishchandra?’ The question haunted him day and night. The king Harishchandra became the ideal hero of his dream and the paragon of truth. He so inspired him as to remain truthful all through his life even under trying circumstances and stands firm on his convictions.
Gandhi’s endeavours for self-realization were through strict observance of truth. He moulded his actions on the basis of truth, only the truth that he perceived within. The word truth ordinarily connotes not to tell lies. But for Gandhi it implied much more. Even hiding the truth from someone was deemed as untruth by him. He considered that the narrow implication of the term had belied its magnitude. Defining Truth he writes, “The root of ‘Satya’ [truth] lies in ‘Sat’. Sat means the ‘Being’ and Satya – the feeling of the Being. Everything is perishable except ‘Sat’. Therefore, the true name of God is ‘Sat’, thereby implying ‘Satya [Truth] so, instead of saying ‘God is Truth’, it is better to say ‘Truth is God’. A question may now arise whether the realization of Truth and the realization of Self were one and the same for him or the two entities. We get the answer from Maharshi Raman, “What is Satya except Self? Satya is that which is made of Sat. Again Sat is nothing but Self. So Gandhiji’s Satya is only the Self.” It is now clear, what Gandhi meant by Truth was in fact the realization of Self. He writes, “ What I meant to achieve – what I have been striving and pining to achieve these thirty years – is self-realization, to see God face to face, to attain Moksha [salvation].”
How to realize God is a complicate question. The realization of God can be attained by purity of mind and heart and sadahna [constant practice]. Bhagvad Gita, the dialogue between Lord Krishna and Arjuna in the epic Mahabharata, is regarded as a sacred Hindu scripture and an infallible guide of daily practice. Lord Krishna tells about four paths of God-realization. They are the service and sacrifice [Karma Yoga], devotion and self- surrender [Bhakti Yoga], concentration and meditation [Raja Yoga], discrimination and wisdom [Jnana Yoga]. There is no line of demarcation between one and another and one path does not exclude the others. A seeker can follow any of them according to his/ her temperament. Ultimately they all lead to one goal – the realization of God.
Gandhi held Bhagvad Gita in high esteem. He writes, “Those who will meditate on Gita will derive fresh joy and new meanings from it everyday. There is no single spiritual tangle which the Gita cannot unravel.” He found answer to the above question in Gita – Vairagya [non- attachment] or Abhyas Yoga [practice]. Vairagya means total indifference to worldly things and concentration only on the Absolute. Lord Krishna says in Gita:
“Fix thy mind on Me only, place thy intellect in Me; then thou shalt no doubt live in Me alone hereafter.”[Chapter XII: Shloka – 8]
And further says he, “If thou art not able to fix thy mind steadily on Me, then by Yoga of constant Practice [Abhyas Yoga] do thou seek to reach Me”. [Ibid: 9]
Gandhi was born to serve humanity. He was a practical man; he chose the path of practice and the path of renunciation of the fruits of action. Absolute faith in God and surrender to His Will became his object of observance [Niyam] and the constant thought of the Truth – Practice [Abhyas Yoga]. His mind was always occupied with truth in all walks of life – personal, social or political.
Gandhi was a seeker and introspection was the method of his sadhna. He writes, “I have gone through deep introspection, searched myself through and through, and examined and analyzed every psychological situation.” The study of Gita and the process of self- introspection brought him face to face with the true meaning of Ahimsa [Non- Violence] – no violence in thought, speech and act. He came to the conclusion that the realization of Truth was impossible without adherence to the supreme conduct of man – Ahimsa. In his opinion Truth and Ahimsa were so inter- mingled as the two sides of a coin. For the achievement of one or the other, complete control over the senses of Action [Karmendriya] and those of Perception [Jnanendriya] is essential. Lord Krishna also says in Gita:
“Control Raga- dvesha [attachment–malevolence], obstructions on spiritual path; Do your duty well. Control desire and anger – the enemies of wisdom. Master first the senses. Kill this enemy - desire by restraining the self by Self and by knowing Him who is superior to intellect”. Chapter III; Shloka 37 – 43]
Truth and Ahimsa appear to be at the same level as a pair Truth – Ahimsa, yet Gandhi regarded ahimsa as means [sadhna] and Truth as the ultimate goal [sadhya]. It is said ahimsa is the super- most religion [ahimsa parmodharmah], Truth for Gandhi was the Almighty God. He, therefore, strived for and adhered to perfect Truth in thought, speech and act all through his life and thereby achieved the realization of Self. It is most likely that he practiced also Kriya Yoga he was initiated in by Paramhansa Yogananda, who, who visited him in Wardha ashram in 1935. Although lean and frail in appearance, he was strong in body and mind and glowed with spiritual health.
Gandhi once admitted that he had little knowledge of religions even of Hinduism, yet he believed, like every Hindu, in God, in rebirth and Salvation. He had a broad perception of Hinduism. In this perspective he says, “I believe Hinduism is not an exclusive religion. In it there is room for the worship of all the prophets of the world. It is not a missionary religion in the ordinary sense of the term. It has no doubt absorbed many tribes in its fold, but the absorption has been of an evolutionary, imperceptible character. Hinduism tells each man to worship God according to his own faith or dharma and so live at peace with all religions.” So, he regarded all religions with Sambhaav [equitability]. He perceived no religion was superior or inferior. He had studied about all religions of the world and came to the conclusion as he says, “I believe the Bible, the Koran, and the Zend–Avesta to be as divinely inspired as the Vedas.” He even tried in his mind to unify the teachings of the Gita, Sermon on the Mount and the Light of Asia and found Renunciation in Gita as ‘the greatest philosophy of all religions’.
Gandhi said, “Nothing delights me so much as the music of the Gita or the Ramayana by Tulsidas.” It will, therefore, not be out of context if we consider here the influence of Ramayana on him. Ramayana is an epic like Milton’s ‘Paradise Lost’ - a grand story, of a grand Man, in a grand style. But unlike ‘Paradise Lost’, Ramayana is a sacred scripture of Hindus. Therein, Tulsidas has portrayed the persona magnum, Rama, as an incarnation of Vishnu as well as a model human being with high moral values to serve as example for common man. Frank Whaling writes, “Rama has remained a symbol of dharma, human relationship and kingship; for others he has been a symbol of ‘Brahman’ or a symbol of the loving Lord.”
In his childhood, the repetition of ‘Ramnaam’ [Rama’s name] suggested to him to ward off his fear of ghosts and spirits became an infallible guide’ for him later in life. Gandhi was highly impressed with the characteristics of Rama. Gandhi’s heart was the permanent abode of Rama who was endowed with the attributes of Brahman. Rama’s obedience, ready submission to the vows of his father, his love for his subject, protection to the weak, and equanimity to all beings he met during his exile, left deep impressions on Gandhi’s mind and heart. But what impressed him most was Rama’s way of administration – Ramarajya, in which justice prevailed and the voice of the low of the lowest was given due regard. In fact, he regarded ‘Ramarajya’ as the true model of democracy.
In introduction to his autobiography, Gandhi has written, “My experiments in the political field are now known. But I should certainly like to narrate my experiments in the spiritual field, which are known only to me and from which I have derived such power as I possess for working in the political field.” Indeed, he relentlessly pursued truth all through his life and achieved self-realization.
It is an anomaly that he is remembered and evaluated only for his political achievements. Little attention has been paid to the spiritual force within him from which he derived power to work in personal, social and political fields. According to Maharshi Raman, Adhyatmik Shakti [spiritual force] was working within him [Gandhi] and leading him on. He always listened to his inner voice and took decisions accordingly. His inner- self prompted him to serve the wounded in Boer War and Zulu rebellion in South Africa. He was always in front line and fearlessly led people in Satyagraha and Non-Cooperation movements. Undaunted he walked unarmed without any protection through the riot- hit areas at the time of partition of India, giving message of faith, love and peace.
Gandhi was a yogi- householder living amidst people. He was a Nishkam Karmayogi with no aspiration for any recognition or reward. He had limited his desires and needs to the bare minimum. Whatever he did, he did with right intention, right spirit and conviction, and worked for the benefit of others irrespective of caste, creed or religion. Notwithstanding the power he wielded over the Congress party and the masses, he never aspired for or accepted any kind of office. Had his name been proposed as the first President of India in recognition of his services to the nation, I am sure, none would have opposed it but he himself. He was such a great and magnanimous person. Rabindranath Tagore, a poet and visionary, recognized his greatness and spirituality and called him Mahatma, an attribute he aptly deserved.
Lord Krishna says to Arjuna in Gita, “Whenever righteousness declines and unrighteousness becomes powerful then I myself come to birth.” [Chapter IV – 7]. If we turn to the pages of the history of the world, it is evident that there have descended super- beings whenever the righteousness or ethical values are on decline to guide people on to the righteous path. The Indian soil is credited with the birth of many a super-being or the lofty spiritual personages who inspired people to forsake the evils of materialism that cause suffering, dissatisfaction and misery and to follow the path of spiritualism. Rational explanations of Mahatma Gandhi’s thoughts and acts will certainly place him in history in line with Lord Mahavira, Gautama Buddha and Jesus Christ. Gandhi stood for Truth, Ahimsa, Compassion and Service all through his life. ‘To serve humanity is the service of God’ was the principle of his life. He was a social saviour of the oppressed and down- trodden people and fought for their right of equality and justice. It is not all; he was the political saviour of nations in political turmoil. The leaders of many subjugated races and countries drew inspiration from him for their rights. Like Jesus Christ, he was Forgiveness personified. He had no feeling of malice towards anyone in his dying moments and breathed his last remembering his chosen deity ‘Rama’. Paying a glowing tribute to Mahatma Gandhi, Albert Einstein has written, “Generations to come, it may be, will scarcely believe that such one as this ever in flesh and blood walked upon the earth.”
Today, we are passing through a crisis – a crisis of identification of values. The world is entrapped in gross materialism. Man has become so selfish as to have utter disregard for others whether an individual or a society or a nation. Scientists are vying with each other to play the role of the Creator. It is high time to create a balance between materialism and spiritualism. In the chaotic circumstances prevailing all over the world today, we are looking for peace as elusive as the mirage in a desert. I think, Mahatma Gandhi’s life and his teachings can serve as beacon- lights to guide us and lead us to steady peace.
* Dr. Ravindra Kumar is the former Vice-Chancellor of CCS University, Meerut [India].
3-Mahatma Gandhi and Problem of Communalism: An Analysis
Communalism is one of the most serious problems that India has to face after her freedom from colonial rule in the mid of 20eth Century. This problem, which has existed among the followers of two principal religious communities- Hindus and Muslims – many times raised a great challenge before the secular structure of India. In the name of religion such acts have been committed that are no doubt shameful and a act of fleeing from the message of Mahatma Gandhi who lead the country to the door steps of freedom through non-violence, the sacred human value.
Mahatma Gandhi devoted his entire life for propounding communal harmony. He whished in ‘India of his dream’, “I shall for an India, in which the poorest shall feel that it is their country in whose making they have an effective voice; an India in which there shall be no high class and low class of people; [and above all] an India in which all communities shall live in perfect harmony.”
But it is unfortunate that after independence to this year, i.e. up to the year 2004, there have been over five thousand communal riots in India, and most of them occurred between Hindus and Muslims. After all, why have there been riots in such a large number? In other words, what is the reason for them? Whether is it one reason or are there many reasons? What is the impact of such riots on common man? What situation is created at national-international level due to these riots? These are the questions we become curious to get an answer to. Along with this we want to know, how to get rid of this problem. Come let us try to find answers to these questions pertaining to the problem of communalism in India. But prior to it, let us know and understand the meaning and definition of communalism.
Not only in India but also all over the world, scholars and subject-specialists have defined communalism in different manners. And, all these definitions, unfortunately, do not reveal the complete meaning or sense of communalism in clear-cut terms. However, Richard C. Lambert, who has given the definition of community according to the conditions prevailing in the country, provides us a correct picture regarding the position of communalism in India.
According to Richard C. Lambert, “The word Community is used in India for the unequal social units.” It may be said that communalism is the negative aspect of the community. That is to say, when the people of a particular community care only for their own narrowly concerned interests, through the means of their religious faiths, old customs and conservative practices, disregarding the interests of whole society, then it may be termed as communalism.
In general, following four main things can be found in a state of communalism:
l Unfair means; and
l Disregard to the interests of society.
The unfair means that are adopted in a state of communalism, neglecting the interests of society, instigation on the basis of religious sentiments is the main among them, which can be observed clearly in communal violence that occurred during the last 57 years in India.
India has a history of communal riots. The problem of communalism, especially relating to the modern age, and seeds of which were sown during the 19th century, is a gift of colonial rulers to India. In other words, the colonialists played the main role in starting communal tension in India in the 19th Century. Along with this, some people from a particular religious community were also involved in this act, who keeping aside the interests of entire Indian Society and filled with narrow-minded thoughts, joined hands with the colonialists. They were also in favour of bargaining with the colonialists for the benefit of their co-religionists. It was an easy task for them. India is a country of diversities, a land of different religious communities and sects. In such a country, if the government protects the people of a particular community who are ready to fulfill their own interests even by spreading communalism, what can be difficulty for them? They can do so without any fear.
Towards the end of the 19th century, Bal Gangadhar Tilak, who was one of the great political leaders of India at that time, started “Ganesh Pooja” and “Shivaji Mahotsav” in Southern India, especially in Maharashtra and its nearby regions, with the aim of creating awakening among the masses. I hope, even today, nobody can believe that while starting “Ganesh Pooja” or “Shivaji Mahotsav” programmes, he would have contemplated about Hindu-Muslims, or there would be any thought in his mind in the interest of Hindus – his co-religionists. He was one who always thought and worked for Indians, Indian nation and Indian nationalism. The programmes related to “Ganesh Pooja” and “Shivaji Mahotsav” was not initiated to support the interests of Hindus. However, both “Ganesh” and “Shivaji” were associated with the emotions of a number of Hindus.
A procession connected with the above programme was passing through the streets of Mumbai in the year 1893. When it reached near a place of prayer of another religious community, it was pelted with stones. The quarrel ensued between those participating in the procession and attackers, and finally resulted in a communal riot. Similarly, another incident occurred in the coming year, i.e. in 1894 at Pune. Behind both these incidents was the support of colonial rulers to the narrow-minded people involved in the acts.
From here, started communalism, which was also evident on some occasions in the Gandhian era of the national liberation movement of India? Mahatma Gandhi, as I have already said, was committed to communal harmony. He was of the firm belief that if the followers of two principal religious communities – Hindu and Muslim walk hand in hand, come forward together to solve the problems, small or big, become identical to nationalism, only then the progress of the country will be possible in real sense and the cultural heritage of India will be protected.
According to his firm belief, Mahatma Gandhi entered in the “Yajna” of national freedom along with others, whether they were Sikhs or Buddhists, Parsis or Jains, Christians or Muslims, or his own co-religionists. He, as all know, accepted ahimsa as both, means and goal. He made it the basis for achieving freedom for India. In my opinion, ahimsa holds its due place in all religious communities. I do not believe that it does not help the followers of any community to perform his or her duty. Rather I believe that it is ahimsa alone that assists to enable us to fulfill our duties in the best possible manner.
But it was unfortunate that many people could not become identical with the firm and true message of Mahatma Gandhi pertaining to non-violence. Even then, he, time and again, repeated his message of ahimsa till the last breath of his life; worked for communal harmony declaring it a value supplementary to non-violence. He, time and again, conveyed suggestions for peace brigade and for volunteers to work for harmony. These suggestions are more or less important even today for a country like India.
After independence there came a change in social, political and economic conditions of India, which was quite natural. There were many reasons for change in social conditions such as : the provision of equality before law, equal opportunities to all to get job etc., and above all, liberalization of the ownership of land. The change in political conditions mainly depended on adopting a democratic system for which all adults [men and women] of the country got the right to choose their representatives. Similarly, there was a definite change in the economic conditions as well. The freedom of earning livelihood by fair means, without any fear or pressure, was given to everyone. And, all rich or poor, so-called high or low, became entitled to government jobs without any distinction. All these things were truly symbolic of change in economic conditions.
With these unprecedented changes, the best atmosphere of communal harmony should have been created in India and according to the expectation of Mahatma Gandhi this country should have become an example in this direction. But this did not happen. Then, what happened? The same I have mentioned in the beginning. Communalism has become a serious problem in India and it has greatly damaged the country. After independence, there have been many reasons behind this problem. Along with this, it has also undergone numerous changes. Besides two religious communities, two sects of the same community, or even between sub-sects, you can we the atmosphere of conflicts. Even then, most of the problems of communalism in India revolve around Hindus and Muslims, which is a matter of great concern.
In my opinion the reasons for the problem of communalism in India are mainly two – silent and apparent. Side by side, there is also a third different reason that can be observed in several other countries of the world.
The reasons, which I have termed as silent, must be analyzed very carefully in relation to the problem of communalism in India. Among these reasons is the large number of unemployed youths, that comprise nearly ten per cent of the total population, i.e. ten crores, illiteracy and poverty is the main. Perhaps, you know that there are twenty-five provinces and seven union territories in India. In some of these provinces, even after fifty-seven years of independence, fifty or even more percent people are illiterate. Also in the entire country 26 per cent people live below the poverty line.
Poverty, illiteracy and unemployment create a lot of compulsions, especially before younger generation. That is why, many from younger generation, because of lack of right thinking, remain unemployed and in a state of poverty, get involved in the evil like communalism. In this context, as I have already mentioned, a minute and careful analysis is necessary. After this analysis certain remedial steps must be taken. The efforts being made for uprooting poverty, illiteracy and unemployment are not as fruitful as they should be.
With reference to communalism whatever apparent reasons are discussed generally, among them the first one is religious, and the second one is political. Third one is socio-economic and the fourth one is international. In the first, i.e. religious, its fundamentalism should be considered responsible for communalism. Malevolence like reactionary attitude, traditional bourgeois and conservative approaches etc. are mainly behind fundamentalism.
After all ‘Our belief alone is true’ and ‘rest is untrue or incomplete’, we find this kind of mentality of fundamentalists. As per this mentality, when the followers of any religious community, sect or sub-sect indulge in their activities, they certainly come in conflict with others. Reason is quite evident. They do not have tolerance, which is absolutely necessary for a country like India – a land of different religious communities. They become the cause of confrontation, malice and struggle.
Politicians also have played a villainous role in creating serious communal situations in India. There was politics at the root of painful division of India in 1947 in the name of a particular religious community. But even after paying a heavy price in the form of partition, in many riots provoked thereafter, we can find the involvement directly or indirectly, of political parties or their supporters. Along with this for the sake of vote bank, the policy of appeasement, selection of candidates on the basis of community, sect, sub-sect and caste, and flaring up religious sentiments at the time of elections, led to the rise of communalism. These practices are still continued and the country is bearing heavy loss because of it. We can witness many adverse results of these practices.
Economic and social reasons can be found mainly in competition among the people living at lower and lower-medium levels and in the involvement of professional hooligans, speculators and the anti-social elements in communal riots. This involvement is, purely for economic gains and to attain overwhelming influence on society. I find the above-said realities and reasons in riots occurred a few years back in my own city and also in other cities like Mumbai.
External elements also have a role in worsening the problem of communalism, and making it serious. I may not mention the name of any particular country in this regard but scholars and those who think on this problem from time to time are quite aware of this fact.
The main reasons for involvement of external elements or their role in riots are as follows:
· To create an atmosphere of instability, so that it becomes socially weak;
l To hope for gaining sympathy from minorities;
l To try to weaken the economic structure of a foreign country; and
l With the aim to conceal their own incompetence.
Besides above-mentioned facts there can be more - silent or apparent – reasons in all areas, which create communalism or enhance it, or make it serious. There are also some such reasons that rise instantaneously and result in communal disturbances or in riots of serious nature.
Other that silent and apparent, the third reasons, that I have mentioned earlier, will come before us in brief in remedial suggestions by me, and I do hope that we will understand it.
In India, since the year 1947 up to the year 2002, the amount of property that has been lost in communal riots, with that, if not more, at least 2 crores and fifty lacs people could easily be given employment; the problem of housing and education of the same number of people could be solved.
Due to the communal outbursts the occupational activities were affected, and that would be considered as national loss. With this loss the day-to-day problems of crores of people could be solved and their life could be made happier and more peaceful. But it is unfortunate that wealth and property, lost in riots, was burnt without any aim in a country like India in which crores of people are under poverty line. What should be done so that such situations are not faced? I once again appeal that if at all three levels-individual, community and government – something in a concrete manner is done stage by stage, the country would be free of communalism.
Let us, first of all, discuss the steps to be taken at individual level. India has a population of more than one hundred crores, in which 12 or 15 crores are Muslims. More than 80 crores are Hindus. It is possible that, due to differences with Hindus, such a large number of Muslims will disappear? Certainly not. Then, will they leave the country? It is also not possible. Most of the Muslims, more than 90 per cent of them, are Indians, i.e., they are born here. This country belongs to them too, and living here they have to build their future. There is no doubt about it. They have no other alternative other than this.
More than eighty crores Hindus cannot dream of a truly progressive India advance on the path of peace without co-operation of Muslims and other communities. It is only possible when all from majority and minority communities walk hand in hand.
Each and everyone have to make a balance between his or her own religious community and national interests, he or she has to unite with nationalism, and then should move forward. The teachings of a religious community may be great, but the followers of the community concerned should understand that nationalism is greater. If they do not become familiar with this fact, they will be away from national stream; they will suffer. This fact relates not only to India but also to many other countries of the world.
Each and every religious community has been founded on the basis of certain values that were best and necessary for circumstances of the country and times. Goodness like adjustment with others, or co-operation, or consistency can be found in their teachings. But by not moving according to the teachings of their religious community those who depend upon fundamentalism and conservative practices, or those who use their co-religionists taking advantage of their poverty, illiteracy or innocence, are dishonest towards their own self, their co-religionists and also towards those great leaders who founded the religious community. Everyone must understand this fact also. Along with this, leaders of all communities, by knowing it, must come forward for an atmosphere surcharged with harmony, in which lies their welfare too.
Policies like appeasement, fun and frolic with the sentiments of people for individual and party interests, and selection of candidates on the basis of religious community or sect by keeping aside the qualifications, one, certainly, does the things against national interest or nationalism; are reflections of lower national thinking. That is why; these kinds of acts should be stopped at government level and also at the level of political parties.
There is a great need to work towards eradicating the problem of unemployment among the youths, illiteracy and poverty and that too with honesty and without any discrimination. This will help in solving many problems, and will create awakening. The result will be in checking on communalism to a great extent. That is why it is expected that a lot of work have to be done at government level in this direction.
Thus, in order to get rid of the problem of communalism in India, there is a need of collective efforts. All will have to discharge their duties. If we do so, definitely harmony will prevail. Everybody will prosper. This must be done; this was the dream of Mahatma Gandhi for a free India.
Dr. Ravindra Kumar is the former Vice-Chancellor of CCS University, Meerut [India].
4-Gandhi: An Embodiment of Indian Cultural Heritage
Speaking in a conference at Allahabad on April 5, 1936, Mahatma Gandhi said about India Culture, “Many of us are striving to produce a blend of all the cultures which seems today to be in clash with one another. No culture can live if it attempts to be exclusive. There is no such thing as pure Aryan Culture in existence in India Today. Whether the Aryans were indigenous to India or were unwelcome intruders, does not interest me much. What does interest me is the fact that my remote ancestors blended with one another with the utmost freedom and we of the present generation are result of that blend.”
Gandhi’s above statement with special reference to the Indian Culture is extraordinary and factual, though at the first glance, it may appear general and ordinary. Extraordinary it is for the reason that Gandhi has said a lot in brief for the simple reason that this statement would be of great help, to some extent if we intend to explore the main features of the Indian Culture.
The first most important point about the culture that Gandhi has brought out in this statement is that any culture that tries to remain exclusive cannot survive. It means that for the long life of a culture, it has to remove rigidity and avoid parochialism. The rigidity and parochialism are in fact two demerits which keep one isolated from others and ultimately prove themselves self-defeating or in other words result in self-destruction. As opposed to it, flexibility and liberality are the two attributes that bring on synthesis and continuity in life. They function as a force of unification and not of segregation. It is necessary here to clarify while talking about flexibility; I do not mean that we have to break loose from all constraints and to refrain from being firm. Though the Indian Culture is known for its liberal and magnanimous attitude, it has never deviated from its fundamental values. This is the reason that it is still alive even after a lapse of thousands of years whereas, the other cultures about which we study in history are now non-existent. The main reasons for their disappearance are those that I have enumerated above.
In the perspective of Indian Culture, the second important point which Gandhi has raised is that there is nothing like pure Aryan Culture in the country. Discarding the concept of Aryan and non-Aryan cultures as unimportant issue, he says that our ancestors mingled with each other so well that the outcome is the present day generation. It clearly shows that Gandhi has on one hand struck at fundamentalism and on the other has brought out the basic principle of harmony. It is evident from history that the Indian Culture many a time was subjected to fundamentalism, but it could not deviate from its basic principles of patience, tolerance and above all non-violence. Sometimes it appeared that Indian Culture would lose its form because of fundamentalism and other attacking forces, but it did not happen and the culture remained firm on its course of progress. Consequently, the fundamentalism and the other weakening forces proved to be momentary and disappeared like water-bubbles.
Synthesis is a significant feature of the Indian Culture. We can also say that is the basic principle of the culture, the history of which goes back to the ancient past or we can certainly line it up at least with the Dravidian era. Later on, many other cultures came in contact with the Indian Culture and easily merged themselves into it according to the circumstances and conditions that prevailed in India rather than those in the land of their origin. In the same context, Gandhi is very true when he says, “It [Indian Culture] nurtured the synthesis of those cultures which stayed in this country. They affected the Indian way of life and in return got influenced by it.” Continuing further Gandhi regarded the homogeneity of the Indian environment the basis of this synthesis.
History is witness to the fact that all those cultures that came in contact with the Indian Culture were not completely or partially devoured by it. Not only did the Indian Culture through its great values make am impact on other cultures, it also imbibed their befitting features. This is the reason that there was no possibility of any pretence of harmonious blending of cultures. There was not anything forced upon, nor was their existence ever questioned. After the synthesis of Aryan and Dravidian cultures the vast Indian Culture came to be viewed in its entirety by the people of the world. Later on, many other cultural streams that flowed into the Sub-Continent from Greece, Persia, Arab countries or any other parts of Europe merged themselves into the vast ocean of Indian Culture. If we put aside the question of how and why these cultures arrived in this country, the picture that emerges before us reflects the unique characteristic of synthesis of Indian Culture.
It is fact that the Indian Culture is grand and unique and has fostered other cultures. Gandhi, in his time, was a great exponent and representative of Indian Culture. We can call him an embodiment of Indian cultural heritage glimpse of which we can have in his brief statement on Indian Culture exposing its characteristics of magnanimity, flexibility and above all of synthesis. Whatever views Gandhi held on Indian Culture and spoke about, he himself acted accordingly. He occupied himself with re-establishing the genuine cultural values throughout his life. As he has himself affirmed in the opening lines of his statement, he has in principle and practice remained firm on his views, “To remain aloof from the rest of the world or do erect walls around us…it is [definitely] to go astray.” It means that to keep ourselves with in the confines of narrow-mindedness and rigidity is to get lost and ultimately lose our entity. To do so will also be against the everlasting and coordinating culture of India which is replete with non-violence and its supplementary values such as patience, tolerance and progressiveness. Therefore, he urged his colleagues and the countrymen to act upon the real cultural values, but prior to it, he advised them to assimilate them.
Gandhi was justified in his grievance that the prosperous Indian Culture in which there is no alternative to the great values it represents, has not been given due recognition, made a subject of study and the specific features of which have not been properly evaluated. It is not all; he was unhappy with the disregard for it and the indifference to its values in their day to day application. Hence, in one of the issues of Young India, he wrote, “Our culture is a treasure-house of such great values as are hardly found in other cultures. We have not given it its due recognition; have seen it and learnt about it disregarding its proper study and undermining its values. We have almost discarded it by not conducting ourselves according to its tenets; [but] without the conduct, more intellectual knowledge is just like a corpse that may be preserved as mummy. It seems good to look at, but fails to inspire.” It means to observe the characteristics of a culture in right perspective and to comport oneself accordingly. It is does not happen so, in his own words, “…will be like a mass suicide.”
Gandhi’s views as a representative of Indian Culture are founded on facts, for they present it in right perspective; they make him an embodiment of cultural heritage. In brief, these views along with his conduct conforming to them will always remain capable of guiding one and all who would work with a desire to keep the true Indian Culture alive. It is not all; they will also be a source of inspiration to all other cultures of the world for their longevity.
*Dr. Ravindra Kumar is a Former Vice-Chancellor, CCS University, Meerut, India; he has been the Consultant to UN University of Peace for Gandhian Studies.
5. Non-Violence: A Natural, Dynamic and Live Value
Non-violence, that is ahimsa, is not a rough thing, nor is it an inactive thought or a value established by man. Non-violence is a natural, dynamic, active or live value. Because of its permanent existence in human nature, its being dynamic and active non-violence is an essential condition for existence, development and the ultimate goal, and for this very reason it is the first and absolutely necessary base of civilization.
Best manifestation of non-violence took place in Lord Mahavira. For Mahavira non-violence is the soul-force. Besides being nucleus in Jain philosophy, the form of non-violence that shaped in his individual practices and daily routine, nevertheless, it did not exist in the life of any of his contemporaries. It this regard Mahavira is unparallel even today; and after him anybody equaled him or has been able to follow him completely, is beyond my knowledge and belief.
Further for Gautama Buddha, and in modern times, for Mahatma Gandhi, non-violence is, ultimately, a natural value. As for many incarnations, prophets, philosophers and thinkers, since ancient to modern times, for Buddha and Gandhi also it is the principal human value. Although Gautama Buddha did not directly accept the naturalness of non-violence, but the manner in which he has repeated love for life as innate desire by all [Sabbes Jeeviyam Piyam), and disliking for violence and punishment [Sabbe Tashanta Dandassa], the conclusion is drawn that non-violence is a natural value. Buddha laid stress on maximum purity in daily practices and he called for practical non-violence as much as possible. For this reason, non-violence became the subject of more and more practices in his philosophy.
Mahatma Gandhi’s arguments that ‘man has made consistence progress in direction of non-violence’ and in a natural way ‘mankind moved towards non-violence for progresses’ spontaneously confirm the naturalness of this value from his side also. For Gandhi too, non-violence is the subject of maximum practices and ultimately its yardstick is the intention behind the action. According to Mahatma Gandhi, importance lies in making non-violence conducive to circumstances of time and space; it is the base on which success of non-violence depends. No doubt, this conception towards non-violence is acceptable to all-general or particular.
Non-violence of Mahavira is the soul-force whereas non-violence of Buddha and Gandhi is a natural value. By speaking so, readers may presume that there is a difference in views of Mahavira, Buddha or Gandhi regarding non-violence. In other words, there is a difference between above-mentioned concepts relating to non-violence in which it soul-force according to Mahavira, while it is a natural value according to Buddha and Gandhi. But in reality it is not so. Definitely soul reflects the nature, or we can say that nature is influenced by soul. Therefore, the one that is the soul-force is, more or less, natural also.
So far as the question of non-violence being dynamic and live or an active value is concerned, in that Mahavira, Buddha, Gandhi and many other also, are unanimous. Let us now have some discussion regarding non-violence being a dynamic and active value.
As historical evidences confirm, in its primitive age man adopted the technique of living and stabilizing together. By doing so, man showed co-operation towards fellow man, which, like affection, is another supplementary value of non-violence. And interestingly, even in primitive age, after mutual co-operation humans did not make a final stop. Man did not stop satisfied at the feeling of his own safety and that of his contemporaries. On the contrary he had a keen desire to move forward. In other words, man was crazy enough to further develop the sense of mutual co-operation. And this was the reason that he continuously co-operated with others and established new records, one after the other. Because of this natural instinct man is still on the path of progress and he has to go further and further. Despite the presence of many hurdles, worldly competitions and envy, the instinct of co-operation with others could not elope from human nature and it will never elope. Because of this instinct man will remain active as far as possible, he shall continue to proceed towards prosperity.
Not on the strength of any theory, but on the basis of day-to-day practices and self-experiences, any one can reach the conclusion that non-violence and non-violent activities, and mainly co-operation, increases further with more efforts; it becomes conducive to us. Therefore, it can be emphatically said that non-violence is dynamic besides being an active value. Needless to say that non-violence is in our nature and it has the capacity to consistently develop. Any one who has least doubt in the activeness of non-violence or its dynamism, he can remove doubt by experiences of worldly practices of his own and others. There can be no question mark on non-violence being an active, dynamic and natural value.
Natural, active and dynamic value non-violence is entirely linked to heroism, or in other words, heroism is a necessary condition for it, and also an acid test of non-violence. There is no correlation between non-violence and cowardice. Vardhamana became Veera [the brave] on the strength of non-violence and he became Mahavira by adopting it his life.
Non-violence has the power which cannot be conquered by anyone. In the time of Buddha, Angulimal, who wore garland of fingers extracted from the bodies of people killed by him, once faced Buddha. Gautama Buddha was passing on his way when Angulimal came in front of him and he challenged Buddha to change his route, but Buddha did not care for his challenge. He was an apostle of compassion [the karuna] and compassion is the best supplementary value of non-violence. In this way, even being full of compassion, Buddha was definitely a brave also. Why should he be afraid of Angulimal? Buddha went on walking and at one time both were in front of each other. Buddha stood before him with strait eyes, but Angulimal could not see eye-to-eye; he got defeated and became Buddha’s follower. This was the strength of non-violence.
Many more such examples can be cited, but here I will discuss only one example more, which is related to Mahatma Gandhi and then give full stop to my talk. It was the month of March in the year 1930. Mahatma Gandhi was proceeding towards Dandi from his Sabarmati ashram of Ahmedabad. A man of a place near Bharoach, who was opposed to the principle of Gandhi, threatened him to kill in a lonely place. Anyhow, Gandhi got the news. He was a worshipper of non-violence and, therefore, fearless and brave also. He knew that anyone having ill-will cannot withstand before the power of non-violence. Two-three days passed. In the meantime Gandhi got ascertained the name and address of that ill-willing person and one day, in early hours, he confronted him. Gandhi told the man, “Brother! I am Gandhi; you want my life. Take it soon, none will know.” The man could not see eye to eye with the votary of non-violence and became his follower. This is the reality of natural, dynamic and active or live value non-violence and of non-violent hero.
*Dr. Ravindra Kumar is a Former Vice-Chancellor, CCS University, Meerut, India; he has been the Consultant to UN University of Peace for Gandhian Studies.
6-Reverence for All Life: A Move Towards Cosmic Consciousness
It has been depicted, most beautifully and clearly, in the first line of a Shloka of Jinavangmaya that ‘SAVVESI JIVIAM PIYAM, i.e., life is dear to all.’ Every living being, to a very intense and significant extent, has the will to live. This is a desire which manifest itself. A living being wishes to live so long as he can. Any person, sentenced to capital punishment if asked suddenly to choose one betwixt Nav-Nidhi [the nine treasures] and life, he will choose life. When it is established that all living being want to live and no one has accorded us a right to kill, there should not be any attempt to kill any one. No one should be tormented. In case we cause to pain to some one, try to strike and injure or try to take some one’s life, some or the other will also try to take revenge upon us. This is the very stage to start animosity and hostility. Hence, it is incumbent upon us that we respect the right of lives of all.
The second line of this Shloka states ‘PANINCHA PIYA DAYA, i.e., all living beings cherishes mercy’ in the same direction as they dislike attack on life. Suppose there are two people standing at a place before an animal. One of them holds a knife in his hand and the other a bunch of grass. Seeing both, even the animal’s eyes make it clear that the man with grass in hand is only acceptable to it. So, to give protection to all living beings should be an attitude of man. It should be remembered that one who protects others and has the tendency of daya, he himself becomes fearless. Thereafter he has generally no fear from any person. As such protection is the most important aspect of life. So it has been very rightly said that among all the charities, protection to life is the best.
The third line has the reference that ‘ATMAVAT SARVABHUTESHU, i.e., always keeping in mind AHO ATMAN meaning thereby, to consider all living beings as ones’ own self.’ To have a feeling of pain/sorrow for all beings of the world, keeping in mind that the affliction is being caused to us, the pain will be suffered by us as by others. While doing so, the last line of the Shloka directs, ‘RARASPAROPGRIGO JIVANAN’ which means a person should contribute good will and co-operation to a great extent. The creativity of the creature consists in the fact that he mutually co-operates. It is the only condition to make life worth-living.
* Dr. Ravindra Kumar is a Former Vice-Chancellor of the CCS University of Meerut, India; also he has been a Consultant to UN University of Peace for Gandhian Studies.
- Ravindra Kumar*
Generally, it is believed that the Hiinayaana one of the prominent schools of thoughts of Buddhism is individualistic. Maximum stress of Hiinayaana is to take humans towards happiness and salvation or liberation from his personal sufferings. Some have also extended an argument that because Hiinayaana philosophy is centralized upon individual, it is micro in dimension; and it is for this reason perhaps that it has been linked to word ‘hiina’, which in simple words can be translated to ‘lesser’, ‘small’ or ‘low’. But in reality, despite being centralized on individualism, the message and objective of Hiinayaana philosophy is neither small nor its depth can be underestimated; especially because not only in the East, rather Western scholar like Gene Hopp also agrees that “Hiinayaana Buddhism is a good introduction [itself] of Buddhism what the Buddha [himself] taught”.
Thus, reality is that Hiinayaana philosophy was in existence even before the Mahaayaana, another prominent branch of Buddhism; may be not in the name of Hiinayaana, because nomenclature Hiinayaana came to light at the time of rising of Mahaayaana during a broad philosophical discourse on Buddhist philosophy, which took place after Lord Buddha. Nevertheless, Hiinayaana was discovered as a rival word by a great intellectual belonging to the Mahaayaana school of thought. May be or may not be that great intellectual might have meant to downgrade its rival philosophy in comparison to their own views and for this reason he called it Hiinayaana [lesser vehicle]. Even then, Hiinayaana is not a lesser vehicle; as it is important and relevant even today.
As is well known, Lord Buddha also accepted the principle of enjoying or suffering the consequences of one’s actions. He agreed that humans are liable to the destiny according to one’s deeds. Buddha declared the human deeds as the reason of repeated birth-death and rebirth and accepted deed itself as the basis of ultimate salvation. The principle of four noble truths [Dukha-suffering, source of Dukha, cessation of Dukha and the path of cessation of Dukha] expounded by him, firstly shows the fact [mirror] of human life and then provides point wise knowledge and intelligence to make it purposeful and fruitful. Not only has this, Lord Buddha’s call for determined adaptation and specific commitments and promises for development of ideal virtues, especially Shila-the moral conduct [which is literally linked to calmness and pleasantness], also started virtually from individual life.
Shila turns a person virtuous and for this reason Lord Buddha has laid so much stress on it. A virtuous person can exercise self-control and then as a key to all happiness and dedicated to goodness, one can reach to the entire depths of the nature of excellent conduct. He can progress on the path of salvation of self and then of entire universe.
In reality, one can start from self. By renunciation of evils, a person, while developing ideal virtues through his good deeds, leads on the path of self welfare and reaches the stage of salvation; establishes himself as ideal for others and then inspires others towards that path [of salvation]. An individual who is not able to proceed on the path of self-welfare and reach the ultimate can not become ideal or inspiration for others. This is the universal truth. Beginning shall have to be made from the bottom; that is, from the level of individual. This is the crux of teachings of Hiinayaana. It contains the condition of becoming light for welfare of self first. Hiinayaana message is to show enormous light to others after making the self luminous and shinning.
* Dr. Ravindra Kumar is a Former Vice-Chancellor of the CCS University of Meerut, India; also he has been a Consultant to UN University of Peace for Gandhian Studies.
8-Present Education: Problems and Expectations
Four years ago we have kept pace in 21st Century. There are six hundred crores of persons in the whole world now. The population of my country is more than one hundred crore. A big number of people all over the world are facing many challenges and problems in the current century of which unemployment is the foremost problem being faced. Estimatedly, more than one hundred crore people that are approximately 1/6 of the population are in the clutches of the problem all over the world. It is not an easy task to control this problem expeditiously, thereby ensuring employment to all. We can very well perceive that human society is badly affected owing to this. It causes many foul resultants. Although it is not a topic of analysis here, yet it can be conveniently grasped that one, who does not have source of income and cannot earn in accordance with one’s requirements, can go to any extent: we can guess all such vivid problems of serious nature. In such circumstances, only a well-directed education, equipped with flexible methods according to the needs and the demands of the time can be capable of resolving the problems. This alone, can be a ground for our optimism. We can expect from it a way leading to the fulfilment of aim of human life, subsequently for freedom from varied problems.
In every age and time, there has been immense importance of education and its methods in accordance with national and regional circumstances. It has accorded a base of life full of pleasure, fulfilment and peace to human beings along with making them self-dependent. However, education and its method prevalent in the circumstances prevailing one hundred, five hundred, one thousand or two thousand years before cannot be as significant today as it was then. It is noteworthy that there has been an effect and action in every era to make education humanly fit according to the time and the circumstances. Needless to say, this was the need of the time.
In our country, it is being said regarding education since ancient times, “SA VIDYA YA VIMUKTAYE”. It signifies that the aim or/and objective of education is to make a man self-dependent in every field. It has this very end within its fold. Merely writing, reading or alphabetic knowledge does not amount to getting any gain from education. Getting education in real sense means sharpen the intellect, or get rid of day-to-day problems and to bring about complete harmonous development of personality based on equal opportunity.
Population in the world has increased rapidly. At the time of independence, that is exactly 57 years ago, India had 33 crores of people. Now this is more than 100 crores. Primary and higher secondary schools increased in proportion to the increase in population. Colleges and universities, imparting higher education, also increased. Number of universities or similar institutions is 250 in India alone. Literary knowledge increased tremendously at the world level. It is cent percent in many nations. The day is not far away when everyone will be literate. Number of degree holders is also on the increase. We are all observing significant progress that has been and is continuing in the field of computer due to advancement in science and technology. In spite of achieving all this, we do not see a decrease in economic and social problems pertaining to humankind. Dreadful problem of unemployment has emerged with the increase in population, which rendered man non-peaceful at social and economic planes.
How has all this happened? Literacy increased. There has been much increase in number of degree holders. There have been research accomplishments. Education developed remarkably not only at basic and secondary levels but also at higher level. Then, why there is no peace among human beings? The straightforward and simple answer to this query is that the direction of education is not adequate. Educational method today is full of several flaws. This condition prevails, more or less, in all countries of the world. It is not only in context of India alone. I have been to many nations of Asia and Europe during the last one decade. All are, more or less, under pressure of the problem of unemployment. They are also perplexed while pondering about future. I would like to quote an example of The Netherlands. I have been there a few years back. It is a beautiful and developed country. Population there is not very much. However, I found that hundreds of young men and women were worried about their future after getting education up to the highest degree conferred by a university. The Government of Netherlands provides allowance for fulfilment of basic necessities [meals, clothes, housing, medical facility, etc.] to unemployed young men and women. This suffices towards their subsistence anyhow but their future life remains in dark indeed. They cannot build a golden future while being without employment and depending upon unemployment allowance only. They are unable to carry out all sided-development of personality. They cannot keep pace with others in the society. It is in this perspective that when I asked a youngman, going to complete his Ph. D. thesis, about his future planning, he replied, “The biggest problem before me is regarding getting an employment. I shall be nowhere if I do not get it within a year…. I want employment, whatever it may be”.
What is apt to say for an educational system when a person is in perplexity even though he is going to get doctorate degree and is the citizen of a developed nation. I again asked this young person, “You get unemployment allowances in your country: why are you so worried?” He answered, “Yes, it is true that an unemployment allowance exists. There are many joyful on this accord…but, is it a life?”
Not all the nations provide unemployment allowance to their citizens. However, where it is prevalent, it is not a permanent panacea of the problem. Let us then deliberate as to what the students achieved after getting higher education. What could they gain after getting education up to 20, 22 or 25 years of life at varied levels? This is a problem oriented question before the system, educationists and social scientists as well as before the students. In fact, it is the sole responsibility of the system, educationists and social scientists to make education humanly fit according to the time and the circumstances. They cannot avoid this responsibility. It was in this context that 2500 years ago, Plato, the Greek philosopher expressed and gave to the society his views on aims and methods of education. He told about gradually making it practical. His views have significance to some extent even today.
Not long ago, Mahatma Gandhi called upon adopting a method with basic/fundamental education. His call was important and happens to be so even today. It is antagonistic that we did not adopt it. The loss caused to us on this accord cannot be estimated easily. In Indian circumstances, there was absolute necessity of adopting an employment-oriented educational system according to his view. Even today, some guidelines can be derived from it. We are attached to a hundred years old system and that has become completely fruitless today. It has become difficult today for a Ph.D. degree holder to the get job of a clerk. I mean to say that non-attention towards above-mentioned responsibility for so many years has resulted in education not becoming successful in accomplishing its aims and objectives. Especially, it has not been successful in solving the problem of unemployment. As such, it is now quite essential that this system should be made practical and effective as per the demands of time. It should be made collaborative in toto to human values.
In this context, it is the demand of the time that technical knowledge must be recognized as a compulsory part of education. It should be admitted that this knowledge should be akin to conditions prevailing in the country, resources available, etc. Subsequently, it should be gradually developed in further education of a student according to his capabilities, interests and attributes. I have two examples to clarify my above-mentioned statement of mine. I was a student of sixth or seventh class when two men came to my school to demonstrate how to make Lifebuoy soap. The Principal ordered all students to assemble in the playground. Both the men taught the students how to make the soap. Next day, a student brought such an exquisite Lifebuoy soap made by him that it surpassed even the soap of the company. The boy went to the Principal and presented the same to him. He praised the student very much. This definitely stimulated the courage of the student. The Principal presented this work of student before all in the school and asked to derive inspiration from that. This further inspired that student. The boy became interested in technical knowledge. He was virtuous. Accordingly, he continued to make Lifebuoy soap off and on at his home by ghee. The father of the boy was very angry at this. He used to come to the Principal so often to say, “You invited the persons who told how to make soap indigenously. My son has been constantly increasing the household expenses”.
The father did not encourage his son. Even then, the son continued to take interest in soap making. Today, he is approximately 47 or 48 yeas of age and is the General Manager of an international soap manufacturing company. The soap of this company is famous all over the world for its remarkable quality. The son had to wait for 30 years to achieve a place but even then he did praise worthy job because of his virtue, interest and capability. He could have achieved this distinction within 25 or 20 years in case he had encouragement from his father.
The second example relates to the period of my higher education. There was a girl student in my college. Her father was an ordinary farmer but was immensely interested in sugarcane and resultant products. He had gained considerable knowledge of these.
His daughter, the student of this very accord, also took keen interest in performance relating to agriculture. The student passed B.Sc. in first division. Her father wished her to be a candidate at Civil Service and to go for M.A. by faculty change. The girl did not want this but respecting her father’s wishes, she changed the faculty and passed M.A., securing third division. She was under rebellion against her father now. She further worked very hard for two years and passed M.Sc. [Ag.] obtaining first division. She undertook research assignment subsequently and today she is an eminent scientist. It is a fact that the girl had to waste quite a significant time of two years but she presented a good example before others as per her virtue, interest and capability. An encouragement from her father at the prior stage could have been better.
I intended to say by all this that a student should come out with a certain mind from the education that the degree earned by him is apt towards an employment unto him. This is possible only when he possesses technical knowledge also in the specific field: notwithstanding that, he may have a degree in science, commerce or arts. A graduate can proceed on the way of life only after getting an employment. It is definite that education with technical knowledge makes employment an easy task. While doing so the graduate will not face difficulties in thenceforth developing his personality, keeping pace with others in the society or moving ahead at socio-economic level. Ultimately, this technical knowledge and education paves way to social, national or international welfare. We shall now have to achieve real aim of education through it.
India, amongst countries of South and South-East Asia etc., even today, is based in respect of agriculture and economy related to industries linked with it. These can be the root source of employment in our nation. In this very stream, in certain other countries including that of Europe, there are also industries linked with livestock, fishery or forestry and to so many sources of employment as well. It is our duty now to develop technical education based on above-mentioned foremost sources in accordance with the national circumstances and need of the time. Further, it should be made compulsory in educational syllabi pertaining to our nation. We should remember that if we do not take steps in this direction in right earnest and do not accord employment orientation to education, 1/5 part of our population in 21st century, i.e. 20 crore people will be badly effected by unemployment. It will have evil impact on economic and social fields indirectly as well as directly.
Our system of education is faulty. We stressed in by-gone years on opening more schools; having new schools, colleges and universities. It was essential too. This cannot be termed an unfair step. But we did not put stress on changing the educational system according to the need of the time while doing so. It is owing to that, that education today is not capable of providing employment. I have observed some fulfilment in this direction in Thailand, Philippines, Malaysia and many European countries. It is, however, voluntary and exists at higher level. This will have to be accorded with compulsiveness. We should work in a planned way. Only then we can get rid of the problems in the present century. It is this very expectation that we now have from education.
* Universally renowned Gandhian scholar and writer Dr. Ravindra Kumar is the Former Vice-Chancellor of Ch. Charan Singh University of Meerut [India]. He is the Editor-in-Chief of Global Peace International Journal.
9-Fundamentals of Civilization
Hundreds of thousands of years have passed since man has lived along with the creatures of different shape, size and kind. It is generally acknowledged that every being has a soul. What is a Soul? Where does it live in a body? What is its form? I leave these entire questions to you. You may decide to answer them according to your belief. But I can specifically say that even though the soul is embodied in everyone, the word civilized, the derivative of which is civilization, is used for man only not for any other creature.
In his age preliminary age1, which has also been acknowledged and described as natural or unrefined state, man like some other creatures lived on trees. He was bare bodied and had no permanent place to live. It is also a fact that he did not live on a particular tree and very often moved to another. In those days man was as fierce as any other wild animal, was carnivorous and ate flesh after having killed human beings. The raw meat, roots of fruit was usually his food. He moved about in a group as many animals did and they do so even now. In spite of it, man was different from other animals even then. The main reason of it was not only the formation of his body structure, but also the presence of the attributes of intellect and creativity in him. The intellect made him capable of analyzing things and the creativity made him dynamic. This is why man is very different from other animals. He learnt to make stone weapons at a very early stage and maintained them2. Besides he started collecting foodstuff also.
By making stone weapons man was able to achieve objectives according to his need at that time. They were useful for his self-security, and hunting to satisfy his hunger. In deed, the stone weapons proved useful to him to serve his purpose. In this chain of events, if we proceed further, we find that man later learnt to produce fire by rubbing two stones3. The fire thus produced served him in three ways: first to protect him from cold; secondly, to defend him to some extent from wild animals, though he was equipped with the stone weapons, but they were not sufficient enough to serve his purpose; and thirdly to enable him to cook his food particularly meat.
But having qualities of intellect and creativity and being different from other creatures, man was not civilized in his early years. There was nothing in him then to prove that he was superior in behavior or actions to other creatures. To be called civilized, it was necessary, even as it is now, to have good conduct in which morality is foremost. Therefore, Confucius4 repeatedly emphasized that “a civilized person should refrain from those activities that are against the moral values”5. It means that to be civilized one has not to forsake morality.
In the earlier period, during the course of his development, man could not make a significant departure from his way of life to be regarded as civilized and which could simultaneously lay the foundation of civilization. He was still making efforts ‘to say alive’ and ‘maintain his existence.’ He did succeed a little as has been mentioned above. I would like to reiterate here that it was the intellect and the creativity that helped man to learn by his experiences and he started making further progress. Thus his path to become civilized opened out. In other words, we can infer that intellect and creativity played an important and decisive role in making a man civilized and in the evolution of civilization. I hope and believe that the scholar expressing their views on the above subject and the exponent of the philosophy behind it would completely or partially agree with the inference drawn above; it is another matter that the language and the way of their expression might be different. As an example, I quote here S. Radhakrishnan ad verbatim, “Civilization is a matter of mind.”6
Among all other beings man only has the quality of intellect and creativity. It implies that there is some power behind it, and that power is named God. There is no doubt that man represents the finest creation of God and He, besides granting him these qualities, endowed him with another excellent value also, the realization and application of which gradually brought improvement in his behaviour and development of moral values which eventually led him to become civilized. It also indicates the beginning of civilization. It is natural that you may ask what that value is or was. My only answer is that it was non-violence which is the fundamental basis of any civilization. So the non-violence was the first and natural basis, while the second basis in the context of civilized and civilization was the morality. It is also a fact that where there is non-violence morality is naturally present.
As I have mentioned already, in his successive development, man discovered fire, which further ensured his safety. He was also able to protect himself from cold and to cook raw meat. In spite of this, he was not certain that it assured his safety. Man was still worried about his existence. He still wavered mentally and came out of this condition when an idea flashed in his mind as well as of his fellow beings that “they should live collectively to re-enforce their safety” and “living together, probably, became a necessity”7. They gave the idea a practical shape. They started living together in a group and stayed longer at one place. It assured their safety. In steed of killing each other, they were now able to defend themselves collectively against any attack, particularly of wild animals.
Staying together collectively symbolized co-operation. Co-operation enhances trust. Wherever there is co-operation and trust, non-violence is certainly at the root of it. In the atmosphere of violence, there is no possibility of co-operation. Since non-violence is permanently in the nature of man, they thought of living collectively, let it be for the sake of his safety came to his mind. Contrary to it, if the non-violence had not been a permanent feature of his nature, idea of living collectively would not have come to his mind.8 What would have been the consequences if, in spite of his attributes of intellect and creativity, he had applied his intellect negatively?
According to Gandhi, man himself would have been cause of his own ruin long ago9. But it did not happen so. Man grew in number because non-violence is permanently present in his nature. After having safeguarded his existence by living collectively, and having non-violence in his nature, man applied his intellect and creativity freely for his further development. On his way to become more civilized, he fortified himself with other excellences of character by setting up various systems, not forgetting to maintain morality. On his long journey to progress, man discovered an environment conducive to him and made efforts to achieve his goal. Whatever he has achieved so far is before us.
We should not forget that at the elementary stage man learnt to live with other human beings collectively and to stay at one place longer than before, he co-operated to his safety or his efforts to achieve his goal. Co-operation does not mean depending on others, but working together freely. Hence, the third fundamental basis of the rise of a civilization after non-violence and morality has been ‘equal freedom to all.’ John Locke, the philosopher of 17th century had different views about freedom. According to him, Freedom means that I should be able to act according to my own free will in all spheres of life so long the law does not prohibit it, and that I should not remain subjected to anyone’s fickle uncertain, unknown despotic wishes.’ His statement appears to be incomplete unless the above-mentioned wish of a person foresees the same for others. Since time immemorial, the meaning of freedom, in fact, has been that a man himself should be free and make sure that others also are free like him.
Therefore, Non-violence, Morality and Freedom are the three fundamental basis of civilization. By depriving others of their freedom by violent means subduing them by immoral ways, no civilization can be created nor can it be nurtured. We have before us the history of thousands of years that tells us that whatever efforts have been made to subject others becoming indifferent to non-violence, which is the basis of peace, the civilizations had their downfall. As opposed to it, whenever man has faith in the fundamental basis/principles. As a case study, let us discuss in brief the rise and fall of Egyptian and some centers of Mesopotamian Civilizations.
Rise and Fall of Egyptian Civilization
Rich in minerals and advanced in agriculture, the Egyptian civilization, like Indian and Mesopotamian ones, was the most developed civilization of the world. About four thousand years B.C., several communities called ‘Noams’ came to be known for the progress they had made through co-operation with one another. From these communities there emerged two states in the north and the south for leadership, which the southern state overcame the northern one and Menus set up a powerful kingdom in Egypt. As I mentioned before, Egypt was an agricultural country. After Menus had set up the kingdom, many plans for systematic cultivation of land were made. From the point of proper administration, farmers were divided into several groups. The administration of each group was in the hands of a high council. The council acted as a go-between especially in connection with the collection of taxes from frames and payments to the government.
In other fields also administration was carried out in a systematic and planned way. The advisory board was constituted inclusive of other Chief Advisor, Chief Treasury Officer, the Chief Justice and other higher Officer to advice the King. It was due to the good administration and implementation of necessary conditions for an overall development and progress of civilization that Egypt made an astounding progress. Its civilization became sky high. It was the time when the wonder of then world, the pyramids were built. Even today seventy pyramids are remained among which Khufu pyramid is the biggest. It is 146.5 meters high and 2300000 stones were used to build it. It took twenty years to complete it.
The Egyptian civilization was sky high during this period and it was not possible for it to rise further or maintain its current position. The people of Egypt became indifferent to the basics of civilization. Noam communities started fighting with each other and tried to undermine each other’s position. The result was that the government at the centre became unstable and became weaker and weaker. The unity of the country was shattered and the civilization met with its downfall.
About two thousand years B.C., Egypt was again united, but this time unit was not the same as was achieved by Menus. Naturally, in spite of the extensive system of irrigation, craft and expansion of commerce, the process of development could not be maintained for long. There was resentment among masses because of the partiality shown to certain communities by the administration. People by large were dissatisfied and were unable to develop their civilization as before. Like the unique progress made in the fields or writing, architecture, arithmetic, science, astronomy, and medicine after the unification of country by Menus could not be regained10 and because of dissatisfaction of masses and their resentment, the mutual co-operation continued waning and the distance among them growing. Taking advantage of the conditions, an Asian tribe11 invaded Egypt and subjugated it.
Having remained subjugated for a little less than two centuries, Egypt gained independence under the leadership of Ahamose-First. After it, during the reigns of Ahamose-First and Tuthmomis-Third12 it had also become a military might. The then rulers mussed it in conquering the adjoining areas and some parts of Asia, plundering them and exploiting them by making people slaves. The great achievement of the then Egyptian Military might was the organization of Navy and the induction of a variety of ships in it.
The Egyptian rulers who were indulged in attacking and plundering could not stabilize the internal administration. They could not share freedom with the people at large. Under these conditions, Egypt could not make any progress further and lagged much behind the earlier successes. The inner conflicts weakened the nation and about one thousand two hundred years B.C., it was exposed to foreign invasions and subjugation and the Egyptian civilization met with its downfall.
The world famous Mesopotamian Civilization prospered in the Valleys of the rivers Tigris and Euphrates [Dazala and Farat]. In the south of it, the Sumerian Tribes developed a unique irrigation system, perhaps for the first time, by constructing reservoirs, dams and canals and gave new dimensions to farming. They had a well-developed system of cattle rearing and had methodically separated the cattle required for agriculture. They had a system of taxation and a very civilized way of living. About four thousand B.C. there was twenty or twenty-five small kingdoms, which were ruled by priests. They were called Patessi. It was during their reign that their civilization was reckoned as one of the ancient civilization of the world. Later on, the two powerful kingdoms, the Lagash and Umma, had a conflict just for the reason that both wanted to bring the whole of the Southern Mesopotamian under their rule. This sort of thinking was against the fundamental basis or the principle of civilization. The above kingdoms fought with each other for a long time. In such an environment full of strife, the further advancement was not possible. Along with that, in an atmosphere of violence, there was always a possibility of damage to whatever progress they had already made. And it happened there. Also it affected the areas of the Southern Mesopotamia. One of the ancient and renewed civilizations lagged behind. It was about 2500 B.C. Sargaon-First, Who was the ruler of Akkadi tribes, inhabiting the Central and North-Western Mesopotamia, vanquished the Sumerians and ruled over them.
During the reign of Hamurabi, which was between 1792 and 1750 B.C., Mesopotamia was integrated once again. He was a great and an autocratic ruler who conquered the smaller kingdom of Mesopotamia and brought them under one banner. Though he united them by violent means, he ruled over them according to law. His Code of Conduct containing 282 laws gives an insight to the social, political and economic organization of the then Babylon. The city of Babylon became famous all over the world as the center of casual, political, economic and cultural set-up. During his time, religion, literature, culture and science all progressed excellently. Not only this, there was development in other fields also and the civilization that had earlier lost its brilliance flourished once again. He achieved this goal by paying attention to the development of other areas also like architecture, crafts, trade and commerce besides agriculture. Many literary works of that period are still found. The most famous among them is ‘Gilgamesh’ which depicts the story of deluge [Mahaparalaya]. Besides these achievements, mathematics, astronomy and others too were at their peak. The ruins of Babylon tell the story of its once prosperous civilization. During the reign of Hamurabi, the Babylon society achieved the highest goal of its development and it is regarded as the golden period of its history. It is an anomaly that it did not last long. Babylon had to face many invasions, which caused the downfall of this great civilization.
In 18th century B.C. the Assyrian kingdom emerged around Ashar, a city in Northern Mesopotamia. During the reign of Tiglath Pilessar-Third [745-729 B.C.], who had conquered Babylon, this kingdom started making progress and it continued further during the reigns of the later kings chiefly, of Sargon-Second [722-705 B.C] and Asaruhddin [680-669 B.C.]. Roads were systematically constructed, canals were dug, many cities developed and there was international expansion of trade. Consequently, it once again attained its glory and became a powerful and prosperous centre of the world. But it is unfortunate that later on because of mismanagement and mal-administration there was exploitation of the general public and this kingdom also disintegrated and the great civilization perished.
The development of a civilization is not due to the efforts of an individual, but is the result of the collective efforts of more or less every member of society. As everyone in one-way or the other contributes to its development, the credit of it should naturally be given to all. Everybody wants his personal freedom and his peace should not be disturbed as one of the permanent partners of civilization. But when someone chooses the course of his progress for his own peace, development and prosperity by exploiting others, in that case the civilization however great and prosperous it might be faces problems and subsequently such civilization declines.
I have quoted above a few examples from the Mesopotamian Civilization. The purpose of it is that we should have a clear understanding of those factors, which are essential for nurturing a civilization. In fact, they are the ones, which I have discussed above in the beginning, and they are the fundamental principles. Non-violence is the foremost among them; the others are morality and freedom, which are related with it. All great civilizations of the world whether of Greece, Egypt, China or India, they prospered on the basis of these principles and any action antithetical of these principles causes their down-fall from time to time. People deviated from the path of non-violence, became immoral and deprived others of any civilization however prosperous it might be if it is indifferent to non-violence, morality and freedom to all. If we want to be recognized as civilized or are proud of our civilization, it is necessary that we must be mentally inclined to non-violence as our ancestors were. Even today, to have moral values and to ascertain freedom for others is as essential as it was for the human beings earlier.
* Universally renowned Gandhian scholar and writer Dr. Ravindra Kumar is the Former Vice-Chancellor of Ch. Charan Singh University of Meerut [India]. He is the Editor-in-Chief of Global Peace International Journal.
1. About one million years ago.
2. These weapons made of stone were primitive, crude and unshielded. Therefore, we can say that these stone weapons were sharpened pieces of stones weighing two or two and a half kilograms.
3. In Palaeolithic period.
4. Kung-Tse or Kung-Futsi [551-479 B.C.] was a famous ancient Chinese philosopher who propounded the ‘Doctrine of Moral Politics’ making ZEN [humanity] the basis of mutual relationship among men and gave supreme place to morality.
5. A History of Political Doctrines [H], Part-1, p. 132.
6. S. Radhakrishnan: Speeches and Writings [May 1962-May 1964], Publication Division, New Delhi, 1965, p.430.
7. It is quite different from the views of J. J. Rousseau, the French Philosopher. He writes that in primitive stage, co-operation with one another was not a necessity for people and that whatever one needed was a part of ones instincts. [History of Political Doctrines [H], Part-2, p.191]
8. Thomas Hobbes mentioned in “Leviathan” that ‘man has a natural tendency to call for the maintenance of peace for his safety.’ Therefore, man first thought of living collectively and put a check on his struggle.
9. Young India, 2 January 1930.
10. The civilization of Egypt under the leadership of Menus once again attained unprecedented heights and was regarded as the best civilization of the world. Besides building pyramids script was invented. The Egyptians made use of certain signs and pictographs in writing. They developed a single script and made progress in fine arts. Magnificent temples as in KANARK were built. They were adept in decimal calculation and were familiar with the fundamentals of science. They calculated areas of triangle, parallelogram and circle. Calculating the movement of planets in the sphere, they prepared an ephemeris in which a year was divided into twelve months and three hundred sixty five days. They had also made great progress in the knowledge of human physiology and surgery.
11. Known as HIKKOS.
12. The period of reign was between 1525 and 1491 B.C.
10-For the Establishment of a Peaceful World
My native village Kakrauli situated in the Northern India has inhabitants belonging to different castes and creeds. During my childhood I found all the people of my village out to help one another in their difficulties, sorrows and miseries. In welcoming and looking after their guests they had no comparison. Besides, I also saw disputes erupting among them and resultant clashes. There used to be clashes almost daily on one issue or the other. Sometimes a small alteration tended to threaten the peace of the village by taking a communal colour. Many villagers would be injured in the free for all battle that took place and the matter would go to the police, although such a situation arose only rarely. But in most of the cases the warring groups would lose their belligerence overnight. Non-violence would cool down their tempers and consequently both the groups would reach a mutually agreed compromise. This compromise was either brought about by themselves or through the efforts of some respectable inhabitants of the village.
When I grew up, I often heard about brawls and clashes in the neighbouring villages. Whenever these clashes took place between two villages, instead of two groups of a village, the situation often turned serious. I would often be scared of such a development. Then I would hear of an amicable settlement. The solution was often brought about by the five chosen members from each of the two villages. These persons would sit at a place and go over the whole problem and in due course of time strike a mutually agreed formula. Sometimes their dispute would lead them to the court as they would hope for a victory in their own way. The case in the court would drag on for days, months and years. Soon they would get tired of this lengthy and exacting process. Then it would force them to enter into a dialogue. Consequently they would agree on a point that the court was not going to be helpful at all, also the fact dawned upon them that the decision of the court could never be in consonance with their wishes and what they had thought would never become possible.
With the passing of time I grew up to achieve adulthood and from radio and newspapers and magazines I came to know that such clashes were frequent in larger towns and cities besides my neighbouring villages and these clashes would often take a serious turn. I also came to know of disputes specially boundary disputes and the disputes on sharing of river waters among different states of the country. But these disputes were quite different from the ones which arose in the villages or towns. However, solution to all these disputes would be made through negotiations.
Similarly I found nations involved in dispute and wars which were undoubtedly diabolical and destructive particularly the one fought between my country and Pakistan in 1971. Not only that I know of such wars fought between many nations and I also remember how these belligerent nations ultimately arrived at a compromise and a treaty after getting tired of violence.
History is a subject of my interest. Thus while browsing through the pages of world history I have gone through the description of many disastrous wars the description of which even today is heart rending and moving. For instance, the Peliponishial fought some 2500 years ago was the fiercest and the biggest war of Greece. It lasted for 27 years. The provocation of this war came from the mutual jealousy and rivalry among the Greek city states. Similarly, three Punic wars were fought between 264 B.C. and 149 B.C. and similarly two world wars were fought in the present century. I do agree that I am interested in history but I shall avoid touching upon these wars. Let us not fix responsibility for the outbreak of these wars but I would like to bring to light the results of these wars.
The First World War [1914-1919] claimed the lives of as many as 10 million people besides 22.5 million who were either injured or rendered invalid cripples. Most of the countries of the world took more than ten years to stand on their own feet.
In the Second World War [1939-1945] not less than 50 million people were killed besides 35 million who were either badly injured or maimed. It took the belligerent nations more than 15 years to pave the path of development. The warring nations after getting tired of the wars and the naked dance of death aspired for peace and pacific measures. There efforts in this direction resulted in the formation of the League of Nations after the First World War and the U. N. O. after the Second World War.
A number of instances can be quoted from the later period and the Arab – Israel conflict is a recent example. After the termination of the World War II, this conflict continued for a long time and resulted in an irreparable loss. The year 1967 presented a heart-rending and ferocious spectacle. Most inhuman incidents took place causing a big loss to man and material. But both the sides had to, in the long run, adopt pacificator measures and had to sit together for a meaningful dialogue. The war between Iran and Iraq continued for many years. It resulted into the loss of men and material, wealth, and famous industrial towns. A huge quantity of oil-a gift of nature to man was destroyed. And when they were completely exhausted they had to adopt the same policy about which I have talked to you.
The following points emerge from the discussion starting from the disputes at the village level to the wars fought at the international level:
History provides us instances where we find wars among nations continuing for many years and sometimes even for more than one hundred years. Although on surface all the four points discussed above may not be found working, yet a closer and deeper scrutiny would prove these points fully applicable to them.
It makes amply clear that violence based on disputes, struggles and mutual clashes are not permanent ingredients of human character otherwise he would not get bored and tired of them in the long run and would not try for peaceful solution to his problems. This undoubtedly proves that man is basically non-violent by nature and violence is born out of his actions only. Had violence been an essential instinct of man the whole mankind would by now have been wiped out. It is non-violence which has helped man to grow and keep his existence secure. Mankind can never remain unaffected from strife and struggles which have multi-reasons to cause them. This is termed as a passing necessity of the society. But we have been taking peaceful measures in order to initiate it as such measures are indispensable for the existence, progress and well being of mankind. They provide protection and security to human existence and then peaceful living is the very essence of human life. Non-violence, as has already been stated, is permanently associated with it. Thus non-violence and peaceful measures are essential and eternal.
Then there is a need for making efforts at the individual and collective levels so that a fearless and peaceful order is established. First step is to work as individual to cultivate a non-violent permanent perception and then to give it a collective shape later on. This is possible because one is closely associated with the other. Thus we can get rid of all tensions, clashes and wars after we realize the importance of non-violence beginning with individual and then growing into a collective, national and international realization. This is a truth and a reality. I have come to realize this fact as an essence of my life. You too will share my belief if you ponder over it.
I would like to return to the point where I started my discussion from. At the very outset I had stated that measures taken to resolve disputes emanating among inhabitants of my native village were very simple. First of all the two or more persons or group of persons involved in the dispute would assemble at a place. Some elderly, mature but impartial gentlemen would control the highly agitated persons. The starting of negotiations would help create non-violence impressions in the surcharged atmosphere. After listening to all the concerned parties, the situation was discussed threadbare and a conclusion reached which would be as under:
· The party or person found guilty was asked to express regret which he would willingly do and the dispute or problem was finally resolved;
· The guilty besides expressing regret was asked to compensate for the loss of the aggrieved person or party. The guilty would often accept it which would finish the dispute permanently; and
· If the clash was of a fierce nature involving grievous injuries or even death of some person the matter had to be taken to the police. But the above mentioned processes were certainly followed in such matters as well. The problems were definitely resolved although it took relatively longer time in such matters.
Similarly, I saw disputes between two villages being resolved. Respectable persons of both the hostile villages known as Panchas [five or more number from each village] would sit at a place and taking on the responsibility would resolve the dispute amicably. They would sometimes give a wonderful evidence of their maturity. Sitting at a common place, they, accepting their lapses and realizing their regrettable stances would bring about a permanent solution of their disputes. However, compensation was also included besides expressing regrets and realizing mistakes in graver situations and everything ended in the permanent solution of the dispute.
Disputes among the states were also resolved through the efforts of Panchas who held meetings and dialogues for this purpose. However, the process is absolutely different so far as the nations are concerned. There is national and international politics besides the other considerations. But they have to go through the process of a series of meetings and talks to arrive at the final solution. There too non-violence originates from such efforts which certainly are a step towards establishment of peace. Then start meaningful negotiations keeping in view the larger interest of human beings. There is an evident progress in this process which ends in inevitable compromises and treaties. Thus the path beginning with negotiations and ending in the solution is paved by non-violence and is ultimately a step towards the establishment of peace which helps in the solution of all the problems whether big or small.
In order to substantiate my point I would like to quote a statement of Dr. Ezer Weizmen, a renowned fighter pilot of World War II then posted in India and is at present the President of Israel. Mr. Weizmen, through a horrible fighting, had scored a thumping victory over Egypt in 1967 during the hostilities between Egypt and Israel. Later on it was he who played a crucial role in the Camp David deliberations. In a statement made a few months ago he had stated:
“We have finally decided that we shall have peace with our neighbours. This notion is the result of negotiations and there is nothing on this earth which cannot be resolved through negotiations”. [Times of India, 28.12.96]
He also accepted that there is no alternative to negotiations and had negotiations with Jordan and Egypt.
The statement of Weizmen is significant and it is a fact as well. Camp David negotiations are well-known but I can quote the example of Hebron negotiations. It took a long time to reach a conclusion but it succeeded in the end. The Parliaments of both the countries ratified the decisions and accorded their consent to it. It proves that the people of both countries really wanted it.
In 1996 India and its neighbouring nation Bangladesh concluded an agreement which was regarding the sharing of waters of the River Ganges. In India had constructed the Farraka Barrage which was the bone of contention between the two countries. But at last the two countries arrived at a mutually agreed understanding which is welcome.
The Panch system is not only significant rather it is the best system. It involves meetings, compromises, treaties etc. However, it does not seem to be that much successful at the international level as the role of Panchas can not be above Board, though there is nothing wrong with the system as it has recourse to non-violence which helps establish peace.
Non-violence and the allied tendencies help generate peace which is indispensable for the existence, progress and growth of human life. As discussed earlier, non-violence is an indivisible part of human nature. Therefore, when we make efforts for material progress at individual, social, national and international level, we should leave no stone unturned to make it strong and all-pervasive.
Today, the whole of the world is aware of the fact that nothing can be gained from violence and war. These are not going to solve any problem. Unfortunately no firm and meaningful steps have been taken to eradicate violence and its creations, the war. There is a prime need to root them out. Schools, colleges and universities will have to come to the forefront. I am sure that even if 5% of the revenue spent on progress and development of the countries is directed to it, we shall definitely find a comfortable, beautiful and pleasant world free from war and other allied tensions.
* Universally renowned Gandhian scholar and writer Dr. Ravindra Kumar is the Former Vice-Chancellor of Ch. Charan Singh University of Meerut [India]. He is the Editor-in-Chief of Global Peace International Journal.
11-Nuclear-Religious Conflicts and Peace in South Asia
I am myself a citizen of the South Asian Country India, the country that always accorded message of peace to world. It gave birth to eminent apostles of peace like Lord Buddha, Lord Mahavira, Guru Nanak and Mahatma Gandhi. You know that India is the biggest and a very important nation of South Asia. It is also the biggest democracy of the world. Most of what is known as South Asia today was formerly India. Burma was part of it up to 1937. Today’s Pakistan and Bangladesh were its part up to 1947. Nepal and Bhutan have remained connected with it. Not only this, several parts of today’s Central and South East Asia have been in India. As such, India cannot be separated from any event in South Asia – the event may be big or small. In case of a question pertaining to peace in this region, it can be safely stated that it is also impossible without India.
As I have enunciated, India always kept the flag of peace high what so ever circumstances, internal or external, may have been before it. It is an irony, however, that such an India, its neighbour Pakistan and nearby Sri Lanka are under a state of turmoil today. Other nations of the region are also under turmoil. Conflicts between religious communities and sects are the main amongst the responsible factors. The nuclear tests undertaken by some countries recently have enhanced this turmoil. This is a reality.
Development of any sort, individual, social, national or global, is not possible under a state of turmoil. You as well as I can well understand the situation that will emerge under non-development. It is on this accord that constant end of turmoil and establishment of peace are essential attributes. To achieve this goal, it is necessary for us to remedy the state that has emerged out of turmoil caused by religious conflicts and the nuclear tests. The question arises as to how to achieve this goal. To get a reply we shall have to go into realities of both the religious and the nuclear conflicts and to maximum possible extent peruse their historical perspectives, especially the religious conflicts, that too severally.
Religious Conflicts, Historical Perspective and Impact
In spite of indispensably being connected with religious assumptions and rituals, if we delve into ancient history of Southern Asia, we come to know about conflicts between religious communities and the followers. Under this chain, we can foremostly mention about conflicts between Aryans and Dravidians however we do not have a clear history pertaining to that. It is however certain that after the conflicts, the religious assumptions and rituals became assimilated1. Subsequently, the Vedic system known as Hinduism today became life ground of most of the Indian. I never say that there was not a conflict between those who belonged to Vedic system. There emerged vivid sects in this system and there were conflicts also within these sets. Even when non-violence is permanently present in human nature, time to time, there emerges a state of conflicts in practice even if the related practices are religious. Such a state of conflicts actually emerged. However, internally no serious situation emerged owing to the conflicts between the religious sects. India could continue sending message of peace to world.
In Buddhist-Era2 there were many followers3 of Jainism4. There were six sects5 under operation in Vedic community. All among Vedic were the believers in Vedas, and Brahmins enjoyed supreme position/status in them. Buddhism and Jainism-both-refused their faith in the Vedas and challenged the Brahmins enjoying super status in the system. Although they did not accept the concept of GOD, even though, they accepted many other virtues6, specifically Lord Buddha from Vedic system and ideology.
Lord Buddha opposed all inhuman actions that were prevalent in Vedic philosophy, system and community with an aim of peace because up to now different sects of Vedic religious community were not proving peace-oriented to common man even though they were uniform regarding Rule of Almighty and State of Vedas and Brahmins. The fact was that in practice they departed from forbearance which is the principal Value of Vedic system and ideology, and Lord Buddha was accordingly in action as above. Lord Buddha established a middle path towards a system where man could safeguard his existence and could gain aim of life with equality and honour. He accorded compassion as the position of basis of his philosophy. It was essential in the circumstances in accordance with the time and factors belonging to the country. India and nearby regions became followers of Buddhism in maximum number. Subsequently, Buddhism dominated Sri Lanka and other nations.
I hold Jainism to be quite ancient to Vedic one. Jain philosophy was present among Dravids prior to the advent of Aryans. So to say, a section of Dravids adopted Jainism. It could have got a new direction during the time of Lord Mahavira. Non-violence, permanently present in human nature, is the basis of this philosophy or religious community. This is the way towards peace.
In this manner, in about 500 B.C., three foremost religious communities – Vedic [Today’s Hindu], Boddh and Jain had followers in Indian region [Today’s Pakistan, Bangladesh, Burma etc. along with Afghanistan, Nepal and Bhutan]. These three had sects and there were conflicts as well, specifically in Vedic community. Even after that, a serious situation, such as in the last era7 of Mughal dominance, as we find in history before us, did not take place. The time of British Empire8 and independent India9 can also be equalled with the last era of Mughal dominance in this regard. The reason behind this had been that there had never been intrinsic fundamentalism in Vedic religious community. The practices of the followers became opposite to real values. In spite of this fact, it can be stated that forbearance and tolerance continued to be present. A place for internal criticism was there.
Gautama Buddha himself was born in a Vedic family. He criticized many practices and dogmas of Vedic system and established Boddh Religious Community. Lord Mahavira was also from a royal family. He too refused Vedic rules like Lord Buddha and, as we know, he occupied position of 24th Tirthankara of Jain religious community. Not only this, members of two different sects of Vedic Community could be persons of the same family. If husband was a follower of Sanatana sect and wife of Arya Samaj the two could easily live in a single home by following their respective rules.
Of course the Vedic people deviated themselves from basic assumptions of religious community to fulfill their individual and collective ends. This was the very cause of conflicts internally. This cause can be applied by us towards conflicts of Vedic community with other communities. But, I again firmly reiterate that this conflict is not at all in consonance with dictums or lessons of any religious community. Every religious community was established with many values in accordance with circumstances pertaining to the country and time. However, one among these values has been principal and the aim of establishment was to ensure that a human being should have development and achieve peace while carrying out daily practices.
When conflicts were there in sects and communities, social, political and economic spheres were impacted. Culture was hurt and resultantly miseries and grievances had to be faced. This happens to be a reality. After Lord Buddha, there was no serious conflict in religious communities or sects and to this what so ever reason we may attribute. If we study present history, which is before us, and if it is true, we see that during the last phase of Mughal empire10, situation became serious owing to fundamentalism. Not only Hindu religious community but other communities and sects also became victim of this fundamentalism. Resultantly, there were conflicts as per opposition. These were specifically from Hindus and another newly established community, Sikh, amongst Hindus. We all know that this religious stiffness, even though far away from the teachings of Islam and Prophet or the lessons accorded by them, is one of the main factors that caused disaster unto empire.11
It is a fact that differences enhanced among vivid religious communities at this time, however, it is also a reality that the people of India [mostly rural inhabitants] grasped Indian traditions. Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs and all others lived together and continued practices according to their beliefs. It is, however, a reality that there were persons who used to cause disharmony in society on the pretext of community or sect.
The Englishmen had an ambition to strengthen their hold pertaining to governance of the country and so they adopted a policy of divide and rule. They not only materialized direct conflict betwixt Hindus and Muslims but adopted such administrative cum political measures which could deepen communal difference between the two. Division of India in 1947 on the basis of religious community resulted owing to this. Historians are aware that first of all Hindu-Muslim conflict occurred in 1893 in Mumbai and after that in ensuing year 1894 at Pune and the imperialistic government had its hand in these conflicts. Subsequently, hundreds of conflicts ensued. The Englishmen could not stay in India in spite of treating on the above mentioned policy.
India became independent in 1947 and was partitioned into two. A nation named Pakistan emerged along with India. As this nation came into existence on the basis of a specific religious community, the people were exchanged from India to Pakistan and vice-versa. This was unfortunate. The two should have treaded the path of development in spite of all this. This did not occur. Development was there but peace could not be established. Communal conflicts caused harm unto each of the two severely. The arms race betwixt the two in parallel dimension shattered external peace. Now the situation is that in India there have been about 5000 communal riots between 1947 and 1997. These riots were mainly betwixt Hindus and Muslims.
Definitely thousand of people lost their lives in these riots and property of crores of rupees was destroyed. In Pakistan also there have been conflicts between sects or amongst members of one particular sect and also between two communities. The number of such riots happens to be in thousands. Loss of lives and property in Pakistan has been as serious as that in India. Other nations of South Asia are also not peaceful.
In case the nations of South Asia want prosperity, development and ultimately peace, they will undoubtedly have to establish harmony amongst different communities and sects. Without harmony we can not imagine peace in this region. For this ambition, it is necessary to attempt at three levels:
Nuclear Tests and Impact on Peace
I have clearly stated that some nations of South Asia advertently conducted nuclear tests recently in the garb of security and this has resulted in enhancement of non-peace in the region. In case we really wish to go into depth of these tests, we will have to deeply examine and study the series of events on the world after the World War Second generally and in Asia, specifically. Many of you are familiar with this series of events. Today, there are about 3500 atomic warheads in the world. Maximum attack capability of an atomic bomb serves as safety measure from attack capability of atomic bomb as the whole world becomes under this attack capability circle.
In this situation, I have no reason to hold that any one from the nations with atomic capability shall be courageous enough to initiate atomic war. I do not perceive that India shall be attacking Pakistan with atomic weapons or that Pakistan will be taking such an initiative.
Reality remains that atomic conflict or tension thereto is not a problem that is confined to South Asia. It has increased non-peace in the whole world. All nations with atomic capability must, now, march forward seriously pondering over the destruction of atomic weapons and to utilize this capability for the cause of humanity. They should come out of the atmosphere of fear and must march forward towards peace. It is only fear that is stimulating nations to get themselves equipped with atomic weapons and accordingly to make them. If the trend of making atomic weapons continues, the fear will be increasing at its more rapid magnitude. This fear will one day bring humanity to disaster and doom.
I would like to urge here that those who are playing political game and fulfilling selfish motive in the name of atomic capability are needed to think on all this. Is it nice to conduct activities at the cost of whole humanity on this accord? An action that is suicidal is indeed deplorable. Manufacturing atomic weapons is really a dangerous game.
We were deliberating on India and Pakistan. India is the birth place of too many apostles of peace and it happens to be the biggest nation in South Asia. It is my firm conviction that there can not be any problem which can resist a solution per peaceful means. These are the means which were adopted by apostles of peace. Any problem or dispute, how so ever big or small in magnitude, can be definitely solved by mutual understanding and purity of heart.
It is in this regard that I hold that being free from all disputes; India will have to render leadership to world towards getting the world free from nuclear weapons. There is no other alternative. Pakistan should imitate India subsequently. India and Pakistan are neighbours. Both these nations are facing common problems and hurdles. Why not these two should work for pleasantness, prosperity and peace through grasping responsibilities unto them? Why not these two should comprehend reality of international politics? They must fully utilize their capabilities in the direction of solving day-to-day problems of their citizens.
Not only in India or Pakistan, in other nations also of South Asia, 30 to 50% population happens to be below poverty line. It signifies that the people below poverty line have no guarantee of even two-times meals. They do not possess clothes: even though they are quite essential. There exists no apt arrangement for their houses. They are far from the facilities of education and medical treatment. How can we think about peace in such a situation? We can make progress in field of science and technology, we can gain atomic capability but we must understand that we can not claim any development without fulfillment of basic human necessities. All nations of South Asia, including India, shall not only have to ponder over it; they will have to absolutely conduct themselves in this direction.
I reiterate that none of the nations, that possess atomic capability, are courageous enough to initiate a war with nuclear weapons. It is because every one very well knows the consequences. Even if some one dares think ahead in this respect or line of action, I guess that it will itself back out. There will not be a repetition of those things which occurred at Hiroshima and Nagasaki on August 6 and 8, 1945.12 Whatever occurred there was the first act of this kind and I think that it will remain to be the last act.
Now, when India and Pakistan have gained atomic capability, they must fully utilize it towards nice pursuits. All nations of South Asia, including India, are quite lacking in comparison to America and Western countries in the field of grain-production. Other agriculture-products are also comparably far from satisfactory. This capability can be well utilized in the field of agriculture-produce. This will accord us freedom from the problem of food. Those who are still in want of food, the basic need, shall get welfare unto them. Nuclear capability can be utilized in the field of transport as well along with a progress in the span of agriculture. This will ensure progress in the field in addition to ensuring freedom from the problem of pollution.
India and other nations of South Asia have a dearth of electricity. Every body in countries of South Asia today is not getting benefit of the electric-power. Nuclear capability can bring, never-before, reforms in the field of electricity. It can increase production to such an extent that every person can derive benefit out of it. Why is this capability remaining non-utilized to its full extent? Nuclear capability can be utilized for health services as well. We can utilize it towards a relief from diseases of serious nature. We are facing a dearth of fuel for cooking. Atomic capability can fully bring an end to this problem on earth. Every household can benefit out of it.
Apart from above there are many other fields in which nuclear capability can prove to be a boon. It can be an assisting factor towards upgrading the standard of living of common man. India will have to march forward in this very direction and field. Pakistan also has no alternative except to follow. It is also expected from other nations of the region.
In this manner, on one side the nations of South Asia, especially India and Pakistan, will have to establish cordiality betwixt different religious communities and followers of various sects and on the other, they will have to strive hard to desist from all pursuits relating to armament-including the desire to go ahead in the field of nuclear weaponry. The capabilities achieved in fields of science, technology and atomic energy shall have to be well-utilized towards making life of common man happy. This is not only my expectations; it is as well the responsibility of both the nations. The two cannot be indifferent or escaping in relation to this responsibility.
I have already stated that there is no problem that cannot be solved by mutual rationalization and through peaceful means. The dispute relating to Kashmir is a very small problem from this point of view. There must be purity of heart. This dispute can be solved in a short time. I am myself keen to suggest a solution if it is accepted with truthfulness. This problem should certainly be accorded a solution positively now. Subsequently, peace should be established through intrinsic cordiality and external friendliness and the whole region must pace forward in this direction.
1. Aryans came to India about 2000 B.C. At this time, Dravids were the inhabitant of India and they had their own religious assumptions. Peace happened to be the supreme amongst them and it was based on Collectivity in life followed by non-violence. Dravids were peaceful but they were not uniform in respect of religious assumption. I mean to say that there was no uniform religious assumption in the whole Indian region [India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Burma, Afghanistan etc.] Uniformity began to emerge here after the advent of Aryans: whatever the means might be.
2. Between 563-483 B.C.
3. Amongst main followers: Veerangak, Veeryash, Sanjay, Eneyak, Say, Shik, Udayan, Shankha, Kashivardhan. Additionally, Dashambhadra and Chetaka were there.
4. Lord Mahavira, the 24th Tirthankara, was present at this time and many had become his followers along with those belonging to royal families.
5. Vaisheshik, Nyaya, Samkhya, Yoga, Meemansa and Vedanta.
6. Virtues like non-violence, stiffness, sacrifice, tolerance and forbearance. Lord Buddha transformed these into practice.
7. 17-18th Century A.D.
8. 18-20th Century A.D.
9. Time up to now since 1947.
10. Specifically in period of Aurangzeb.
11. Mughal Empire.
12. Atom Bombs were dropped over two cities of Japan – Hiroshima and Nagasaki on August 6 and 8, 1945. Approximately one hundred thousand people instantly died and if we count the number of persons dead consequent to the impact of these bombs, it comes to about 350 thousand. The persons, who died subsequently, were victims of diseases viz. intrinsic bleeding, leukemia, cancer and such others – the diseases that spread owing to the impact of these bombs. Many ensuing generations had to be under above mentioned inhuman deed informing of victims. Many infants were mentally and physically handicapped at birth itself. Many had to face difficulties relating to health. Temperature of the places, where bombs were dropped, stayed betwixt 3000 and 4000 degree Celsius. Only 1550 degree Celsius is required to liquidize iron. Many people perished under severe heat of these bombs beneath the process of liquidization. Their eyes were found burst-out and in this manner they became victims of an act which was inhumanitarian in toto.