A personal value system and a tool for social harmony
Ahimsa is the most familiar world to Indian Society. From Mahatma Gandhi, in the recent past, to Bhagwan Mahavir and Gautam Buddha, all are known to propound this personal quality among their disciples. We are aware of the personal transformation of King Ashoka, in the post-Kalinga war era, after adopting Buddhism. Many historians and politicians describe the policy of “non-violence” as the most powerful tool of Indian freedom struggle, as adopted by Mahatma Gandhi. Patanjali Yoga-Shastra also describes it as the first of the five “Yamas”, which should be cultivated and practised by every yogi, in day-to-day life. Spiritually, this quality has much deeper meaning and impact on the development of one’s personality and value system.
Violence is the paradox of non-violence (ahimsa). Violence may be of three types. First done by self, second got done by others and third accepted/ approved by self which is done by others. Each of them may be mild, moderate and severe. Each type may have three basic motives: First on account of greed (to snatch some one’s rights/belongings for self-gratification), second on account of anger (loss of rationality/mental control) and third due to personal misconceptions (sacrificing animals for self-protection against demonic influences etc. in the name of Religion).
This brief root cause analysis about violence may indicate deeper impact of non-violence on the development of individual personality on a spiritual seeker. Probably, it is on this account that ahimsa is called “Paramo-Dharma” (supreme duty for a peaceful co-existence and most revered personal quality). It evolves the mental faculties in such a way that the content of thoughts and their flow complements the growth of a very pleasing personal disposition on one hand and develops a respect for peaceful co-existence of all the creatures on the other. Therefore, it is not an exaggeration if it is considered as one of the pillars of much-sought welfare state/civilization, which provides equal rights and scope for the growth and development of all living beings.
Probably it may be this realisation which made the Buddhism to spread across the whole Asia, thousands of years ago. It is in this spirit that even today, many countries of Asia and far east feel proud in having Buddhism as their cultural heritage. Acceptance of “Ashok Chakra” in the Indian National flag symbolises the acceptance of this value system by the Constitution makers of India also, which may be considered a constitutional commitment of our societies, for developing a peace-loving nation.
In personal life, ahimsa is not limited to the principle of “Live and Let live”. It represents a bent of mind which bears the qualities, e.g. love, tolerance, bare minimum requirements for living the life, a sense of contribution and belonging for society, positive and soothing communications, vegetarian-eating habits and many more. This brief note may enable us to absorb the spiritual quality of non-violence in a more personal and practical way for shaping our ever-evolving life. Do we aspire for such a value system to shape our life, is the question, one should ask for self.
By Dr Dipak Shukla