The Vision Of A New Society: 12 ►Need for Training in Non-Violence

Published: 17.10.2019

Man commits violence. That is his svabhava, [1]  according to some people.  Guided by the belief that the life of one creature depends on another creature[2], man engages himself in acts of violence out  of his fear of death. It may be true to a certain extent that man cannot live  without violence. But it is not in his 'nature' to be violent. Like violence,  telling lies, theft, tendency to accumulate wealth, attachment to physical  pleasures, etc. are also not in his nature. It seems correct to say that these  tendencies are vibhava.[3]Vibhava  is the state of diseases  and svabhava is the state of  health. The only difficulty is that man regards what is vibhava  as svabhava  and vice  versa. That is why he  is unable to know his disease or his health.

Man goes to a doctor when he is physically ill. He describes his illness  and gets himself treated. His illness can be cured if the symptoms are correctly  described, the trouble is properly diagnosed, the right medicine is given, the  doctor takes a personal interest and the patient is careful about what he should eat and what he should avoid eating. How can people, who do not accept that they are ill, do not get their trouble diagnosed and do not take and avoid certain food ever hope to be  healthy?

Violence  Is a Malady

Violence is an emotional malady. It is related to  one's actions and sanskaras. The person who is afflicted by such a sickness  becomes aggressive for no reason at all. Sometimes, he takes to mindless  violence in the name of entertainment. Sometimes, because of his love for tasty food, he kills birds and animals. Sometimes, provoked by a desire to take  revenge, he kills someone. At times, the feeling of insecurity at heart also  forces him to indulge in violence.

The  violent tendency cannot be treated so long as it is not taken as a sickness. When one is not aware that it is a sickness, who would have it treated? An able physician is required to control the growing violence in education, politics, and is every other field.

Violence is on the increase because of the  systematic training in violent ways. If a similar training in non-violence is  provided, violence can be checked. Is there a provision anywhere for such training?  Who can give training in non-violence? What could the 'teaching aids' for that training? These are the questions that need to be seriously considered. As far as I can see, training in nonviolence cannot be given through books. Books can  provide information about non-violence. But that information is not related to  life. The sickness of violence cannot be cured till non-violence is assimilated  in life.

Combining Training with Research and Practice

I am very much in favour of  training in non-violence. The process of training becomes comprehensive when it is combined with research and practice. The tremendous power of non-violence  cannot be established unless new research is not carried out in the field of  non-violence. The scientists study in detail the minute particles of matter and  prove their significance and usefulness. Today people refer to non-violence as  the weapon of the weak. They degrade the people, who are devoted to non-violence. Why? The reason is obvious. Has any research been ever undertaken  on the subject of non-violence which had been glorified in our ancient religious treatises? If only it could be established through research that  non-violence is beneficial for all living beings,[4]then  violence would not have got the chance to assume its present deadly form.

Next to research comes training. What is non-violence?  How far is it efficient? What is its usefulness? How can it be put into practice?  What can be its consequences? If practical training is given with these points  in mind, non-violence becomes alchemy to refine the way of life.

After training comes the practice. The meal may be  extremely tasty and nutritious, but its quality would not be established unless  it is eaten. Similarly, however lofty a principle may be, it would not bring  any benefit unless it is put into practice. Under its protecting influence, the  entire mankind can live without worry. But that would be possible when it is practiced  in the form of equality, friendship, fearlessness and tolerance. These three  phases of non-violence have the life- giving power. Only with this faith  non-violence can enhance its influence.

Who  Would Give Training In Non-Violence?

The  need for training in non-violence is being keenly felt in order to make  non-violence an integral part of people's life. The question is as to who would  give such a training? For that purpose, we would have to find such persons who  are devoted to non-violence in a natural way or have become non-violent by  continuous practice. The example of Mahatma Gandhi can be cited in this  connection. Those who went to meet him or lived with him automatically got some  glimpse of non-violence. Those who have read Gandhiji's writings, know with  what devotion he followed non-violence in his life.

Gandhiji  was cleaning his teeth with a twig every day. He did not like the idea of breaking  the whole branch of the tree for a little twig. He promptly criticised his  colleague for doing such a thing. Even for washing his hands he used very  little quantity of water. His heart pained when lot of water was being poured  down when the same work could be done with little water. If the cot had to be  moved from one place to the other, he was very careful that no living creature  got killed in the process of dragging it. If out of carelessness, the stone with which he cleaned his feet was misplaced, he felt uncomfortable. There are  a large number of incidents connected with Gandhi's life, which clearly  indicate his spirituality and devotion to non-violence. Only those people, who  follow non-violence in their lives can give practical training in non-violence.

Mahavira's View of Non-Violence

On  reading about the incidents in Gandhiji's life it appears that he had learnt  his lesson of non-violence by reading about Mahavira. His attitude towards  nature was always positive. He said:

Digging the earth or getting the earth dug is violence.  Drinking cold water and giving it to others to drink is violence. Lighting and  making others light the fire which is like a sharp weapon i.e. violence. He who avoids such violence is a Bhikshu.[5]

Similarly,  Mahavira also described fanning the air, cutting trees and plants, and killing  the mobile living beings as violence. If the people who indulge in understanding  exportation of the natural resources take even a little inspiration from the  teachings of Mahavira, they can feel the impact of non-violence in their lives.  But what is surprising is the fact that in the society which has faith in  Bhagwan Mahavira, there is no provision for the training in non-violence. That  is the reason why, even among the Jains, fruits and vegetables are cut on  special occasion in the shapes of birds and animals. This illusion as if  creates the impression that the meal is non-vegetarian. This gives an  unnecessary encouragement to violence. Therefore, even such practical points which  push the future generations of the country towards violence should be included  in the training in non-violence. 

Difficult  but Not Impossible

Some  people think that though the suggestion of training in non-violence is a good  thing, it is difficult to give such training. Can training in anything be easy?  Is training in violence easy? Had it been easy, India would not have been  trounced in Indo-China war. Indian soldiers have not been trained to fight at  the high altitudes or mountainous regions in freezing cold. As a result, they  were defeated. Subsequently, after receiving training, they got accustomed to  such situations.

As  far as I am able to understand the problem, although training in non-violence  is difficult, it is not so difficult that no one can be given that training at  all. The main thing is to have faith. First of all, it is necessary to learn to  have faith in the power of non-violence. With practice, that power of  non-violence can be recognized, it can be enhanced and can also be utilized in practical  life.

It is too much to imagine that violence would end as a result in training in non-violence. End of violence means the end of the world. So long as the world  exists, man would continue to be dominated by negative feelings like lust,  anger, and so on. So long as these feelings persist, violence cannot be totally  eliminated, but its intensity can be minimised. The greatest significance of  training in non-violence is that attempts would be continued to render  ineffective the ever-growing new forms of violence that raise their ugly heads  every now and then to swallow human qualities.

Who  resorts to violence? Mahavira's words can be quoted in this connection. In the Ayaro,  a violent person has been described as the one who is afflicted by the  mental demerits like lust, anger, greed, etc.[6] He  who is decrepit, is suffering from want and deprived of the desired material objects resorts to violence. He who is difficult to be persuaded and cannot  learn even after persistent efforts, takes to violence. He who does not  understand the basic purpose of life resorts to violent practices. It is  necessary to make him mentally healthy and to wean him away from violence.  Training in non­violence is the only way to be mentally healthy. Training is related not to preaching but to practice. Telling someone not to commit  violence is preaching. Training would acquire meaning, when violence is  eliminated from human behaviour.

Footnotes
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Sources

Title:  The Vision Of New Society
Author:  Acharya Tulsi
Publisher:  Adarsh Sahitya Sangh
Edition: 
2013
Digital Publishing: 
Amit Kumar Jain

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Page glossary
Some texts contain  footnotes  and  glossary  entries. To distinguish between them, the links have different colors.
  1. Anger
  2. Ayaro
  3. Bhagwan Mahavira
  4. Bhikshu
  5. Fear
  6. Fearlessness
  7. Greed
  8. Mahatma
  9. Mahatma Gandhi
  10. Mahavira
  11. Non-violence
  12. Nonviolence
  13. Svabhava
  14. Tolerance
  15. Violence
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