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  Ahinsa - Divisive and motivated Article  


By: Rasik Sanghvi
June 16, 2003

With great regret I have to draw your attention to Dr. S. Sharma's article Ahinsa- Non Violence. In this article Dr. Sharma indulges in divisive argument and opinion that Mahavir and Buddha were responsible for India's ineffective non violence policies.

First of all Mahavir and Buddha were purely spiritual and religious leaders and if you notice from India's ancient religions before Sikhism, the Indian religions had a record of separation of religion and other fields like politics, social and education. Hindu religion at one time had indeed become way of life as well when they had powerful educative and political institutions like various Ashrams where Krishna, Rama, Arjuna etc. were educated and learnt their spiritual and religious as well as military, political and educational lessons. To day even controlled religions are associated in some form or other with economic, political and education fields. Buddhism was shortly associated with Education and political fields as in case of Nalanda University and Emperor Ashoka's Missionaries.

In fact the true meaning of separation of church and state is not the total disengagement of state with religion but the truly equal treatment of various religions which is not possible for any controlled religion majority state as these religions themselves do not accept anekantvaad. The political separation of church and state is the only practical way for these states to keep political unity and cohesiveness. In India where its religions are developed and mature enough and there is inborn religious equality among people because of anekantvaad, the lack of powerful socio, political, economic, educative, military, religious institutions like erstwhile Ashrams are the real problem. The state of such a majority religion can naturally treat all religions equal because of such religious sanction. In that case the violence of Madrasa or forced conversion of controlled religion activities can be effectively neutralized by the positive Ashrams teachings and awareness, without violence.

In an ideal situation which was the case during Mahavir and Buddha's time- before the rise of controlled religions, Jainism and Buddhism was the natural dynamic evolution of Hinduism as both the founders were Hindu and in reality did not differ much from the ancient branch of Hinduism called Nirganth. ( In fact Jainism claims a parallel existence to Hinduism owning Nirganth system as the part of Jainism and Mahavir only last of 24 Tirthankaras). The rise of controlled religions and political upheavals, massacres, rapes, destitutions and wholesale annihilations of people and nations indeed raise question about relevance of non violence preached by Jainism and Buddhism in defending the people. But it is great mistake. To effectively defend against the violence people should not necessarily be carnivorous. As regards violence against human aggressors, rapists, intolerant regimes after 99 count of violations a defensive action should be permitted by general citizenry.

If there were right institutions to teach where and when a defensive action may be permitted, its effectiveness would bring much earlier the ideal situation where all will understand that violence is not an effective way of solving the problem as unlike other methods like truthful awakening, as violence can be always be met with greater violence inspite of Jainism or Buddhism. That should also explain Gandhiji's effective but limited contribution and relevance.

Rasik Sanghvi

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