Training In Non-Violence (Ahinsa Prashikshan)

Published: 04.09.2007
Updated: 13.02.2008

Ahinsa is nectar.

All human beings want peace. No one is happy in anarchy, which generates disturbance and restlessness. How can, then peace be obtained? It can only be obtained through applied ahinsa. Ahinsa doesn't mean merely abstinence from killing a creature. In it's broader sense, it means refraining from infliction of pain on others as also from usurping the rights of others. This kind of ahinsa - wherein the good of others comes well before one's own - has always been needed. Scriptures say so and dharma enjoins upon all of us to do so.

Alas, contrary to the universal desire for peace, the world is sitting atop a heap of dynamite. Countries are ceaselessly engaged in production of weapons of mass-destruction. Great and mighty nations today find themselves being threatened with terrorist attack. Religious frenzy has led to crusades and jehads in one form or the other and the world today finds itself facing its own annihilation. International powers, pursuing policies of self-aggrandizement, have brought the world to the brink of total destruction. Human race was never so afraid of violence and destruction in its 2000 year old history as it is today. Why?

Take a look at the world. The world is busy in arming itself to teeth. In military cantonments, all over the world millions of soldiers undergo operational training year after year in the name of army exercises. Every year millions of soldiers are brought to a state of battle-readiness. Special forces are raised to deliver death on a larger scale in the quickest possible ways by using the modern technological weapons. Newer versions of missiles and delivery systems are being invented and put into practice every year. Preparations for mass-scale violence and extinction of the human race continue non-stop. The developed nations are pouring in all their energy in saying ahead of others in destructive power, the power of violence.

If training and readiness is that necessary for staying ahead in violence, is it not equally necessary to train and be ready for peace? If it is, how do we go about it? Will the reading of scriptures alone will help us to bring ahinsa in our lives? Or faithfully following rituals and thronging the places of worship will help us to develop Ahinsa? Certainly not. For that we will have to train ourselves in Applied Ahinsa so that a readiness for ahinsa comes into being. Ahinsa is a nectar and nectar cannot be found unless we go deep within - within ourselves - and without. We will have to find out as to what are the causes of violence and how these can be eliminated. First of all, let us think the causes of violence. It springs from two sets of causes: internal & external.

Internal Causes Of Violence:

The prime cause of violence is stress. Only a man in the grip of stress commits violence. Stress cause bio-chemical imbalance in the body, which accelerate violence. Violence is not caused by external factors alone, the causes are internal as well. Due to stress, certain glandular secretions increase, causing chemical imbalance. The individual, unaware of homeostatic changes, becomes violent. This is the second precipitating factor leading to violence.
The above two-cause imbalance of the nervous system leads to a man, becoming violent.
Negative orientation is the fourth major reason leading to violence. Hatred, jealousy, fear, lust are all negative orientation. They influence feelings and emotions, which turn an individual violent.
The fifth cause of violence is hyper-activity. Hyperactivity of the mind, of speech and that of the body leads to violence. Hyperactivity affects biological, bio-chemical, bio-physical and mental process and excites them. This excitement causes violence.

External Causes Of Violence:

  1. Distocted concept of development.
  2. Imbalanced social organization
  3. Prejudice based on race and colour.
  4. Fundamentalism
  5. Lop-sided Economics: concentration of too much wealth in a few hands and billions seating under hunger & poverty.
  6. Consumerist culture based on materialism.

The above analysis of violence shows that roots of violence are both intrinsic as well as extrinsic. To bring about ahinsa in society, we will have to think about internal and external causes and how those conditions can be overcome. Violence has become a part and parcel of the present social system, specially the organised violence. To eliminate the cult of violence from the social pattern and human life, an alternative system has to be developed.
Acharya Mahapragya, the great handlinger of ahinsa yatra, has made a deep contemplation over the causes of violence and for remedying those, he motivated the mission of training in ahinsa. The programme comprises of four dimensions:

  1. Non-violence Principles & History.
  2. Changing of the Heart / Transformation of consciousness
  3. No-violent Life-style.
  4. Honesty & Ethics in Profession and Training in Self employment Techniques.

1. Ahinsa: Principles & History:

Ahinsa is the climax of thought process for the welfare of human race. It is the basis of the flowering of life in both the worldly and the spiritual sense. The pious feeling of ahinsa is the bedrock for the growth of the institution of family from individuals, society from families and nation from societies leading to the brotherhood of nations. A correct evaluation of the progress of human civilization can be done only in terms of ahinsa. All religions and philosophies merge within the border definition of ahinsa. All religions therefore, admit the importance of ahinsa. There cannot be any difference of opinion as to the all-embracing nature of ahinsa. Ahinsa has been thought and talked about in every religion, philosophy and sect all over the world, whether it be the Vedic religion, or the Buddhist, the Jewish, the Persian, the Taoist, the Confucian, the Christian, the Islamic, the Shinto, the Sikh or the Jain religion, Ahinsa can not be defined within the narrow confines of regionalism, linguistic chauvinism, sectarianism or communalism, nor can it be thought of in term of as petty and personal property of an individual. It is an all-embracing sense of oneness with the world. That is why history and principles of ahinsa become important in the curriculum of training in ahinsa course. Ahinsa can only be realized when an attitudinal balance has already been achieved by an individual.

The world famous historian, Professor Arnold Toynbee, has stated that ahinsa has to be accepted as a way of life, if the world has to be saved from annihilation – Violently treated species of the world numbering 600, in the animal and bird classes, have already become extinct due internecine warfare. As against this 700 species of birds and animals, who exist with love and affection, have registered a growth in numbers.

Ahinsa is, therefore, desirable for all, the individual, the society and the nation. Only, the individual is required to be immune from the ills of social and physical environment, confident in the belief that he can bridge the gap between economic competition and poverty, communal harmony and communal disturbances and establish and balanced social order base on amity and balance in human relationship. Individual idiosyncrasy or absolutistic (or non-relativistic) attitude promotes violence. It is, therefore, important to have training in ahinsa to understand from a non-absolutistic or relative point of view of every religion and its philosophy.

2. Transformation Of The Heart (Psychical Transformation)

Internal latitudinal transformation is essential for bringing about external (behavioural) changes, because violence first takes place in the mind of man. According to modern scientific opinion endocrine glandular and systemic bio­chemical secretions govern, to a large extent, emotional behaviour of man. From this point of view, three kinds of changes have to be effected transforming thoughts, emotions and feelings and bio-chemical reactions. All the three kinds of changes are inter-connected. Feelings rise from the heart (psyche) and influence and mind, thereby generating a corresponding thought. In this way, feeling controls thought. For changing bio-chemical reactions, transforming feelings, mind and thought is necessary.

Transformation of the heart is our goal. But the same cannot be effected unless hyper-activity of the mind is brought to a state of rest. The first and foremost task is to reduce hyper-activity. A state of restfulness is not laziness of escape from engagement. It is, in fact, a necessary process for gathering strength and energy for accomplishment.

The second step in the process of transformation of the heart is minimizing the intensity of attachment and aversion to sensation, thereby bringing about an attitude of equanimity or mental equipoise.

The third step is generating positive feelings by putting a stop to indul­gence in negative feelings. Anger, pride, lust, fear, enmity, possessiveness. intolerance and hatred and negative and destructivity feelings leading to competition, cruelty, revenge, criminality, conflict, rebelliousness and dissatisfaction. These can be eliminated and positive feeling can be generated through asanas, pranayam, kavaotsarg, anupresksha and dhyan. This is a sure way to transformation of the heart or psychic transformation.

3 Non-Violent Life-Style:

There is a great deal of difference between living a life and living purposeful life. There are men who live for a purpose and have a distinct life­style and a culture. But today in the name of modernity and free consumerist culture, no purpose other than seeking carnal pleasure has retained its value. There has been an erosion of values. It is necessary to arrest this downtrend by providing training in 'Non-Violent Life Style’.

This can be developed by keeping in mind the dictum "Self discipline is Life.“ Life in true sense would sustain only if it flows through self-discipline. Disaster may strike once self-discipline is done away with, simple and wholesome food, abstinence from drinking and smoking, refraining from cruelty, development of consciousness, for environmental preservation, checking indulgence in wanton violence, forsaking of consumerist proclivity and the like are all a part of self disciplined life which, in other words, becomes a non-violent life-style. The entire ideology of anuvrat is an embodiment of the 'Non-Violent Life Style'.

4. Honesty And Ethics In Profession & Training In Self Employment Techniques:

Violence is on the rise all over the world. One of the main causes is the concept of the top sided economics. The imbalance is reflected in the rich getting richer, and the poor becoming poorer. As a result of this, millions of people do not get even a square meal. Hunger and poverty increase day by day. It is, therefore, necessary to reformulate the system of economics.

So long as we do not have a balance economics, the social order cannot be free from disparity. In the absence of a healthy social order, individual cannot be healthy. The economics bereft of spiritual and moral values causes problems. The rich and the poor both shall be able to live together amicably and peacefully, only if the disparities between the two are minimized. So long as we do not attempt to put an end to disparities and rely mainly on the use of force to quell violence, we will not be successful. It is, therefore necessary to deliberate over purity in means of earning livelihood and imparting in self-employment training to the poor.

We will have to think whether there is money in the nucleus of the system of economics or there is human being. We agree that for sustenance, one has to earn money without which it cannot promote human welfarism, it would promote materialism? If it is materialistic in nature, it will give rise to disparity between rich and poor prostitution, crime etc. If it is welfare-oriented, it will lead to fair dealing and conflict-free interaction.

The modern economic order rests on three factors: desire, need, and demand. Its motto is: increase the desire and there will be corresponding increase in needs and demands. Add to these a craving for comfort, luxury and a brand name. The entire system of advertisement revolves around the above three. The material object becomes the master with the individual human being thrown on the sidelines in such a system. Disparities between the rich and the poor become glaring and unbridgeable.

In the course of training in ahinsa, therefore, not only purity of means of livelihood is emphasized but the training for right kind of employment is equally emphasized. If an unemployed poor person is trained in the means of livelihood, he may generate self-employment and earn bread for his family.

It does not mean that there is no scope for industry while advocating self-employment. Industries are equally important but they should not exploit people. Both in the country and in the world the economic orders should be such that they promote human welfarism rather than materialism.

Ahinsa Prashikshan

In the above four dimensions, is currently going under the aegis of Anuvrat Shikshak Sansad which is an unit of Anuvrat Vishva Bharati at 32 centres and 47 sub-centres across the country. Till date 212.166 needy people have been trained at these centre. There is enough room for improvement in the content and process of training. Equally necessary is the need for reflections on production, distribution and marketing of products prepared in these training centres. It is believed that application of Ahinsa Prashikshan on a mass scale will ultimately establish a non-violent & healthy life-style.

Presented By Muni Sukhlal

Conceptualized by: Acharya Mahaprajna
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Page glossary
Some texts contain  footnotes  and  glossary  entries. To distinguish between them, the links have different colors.
  1. Acharya
  2. Acharya Mahapragya
  3. Acharya Mahaprajna
  4. Ahinsa
  5. Ahinsa Yatra
  6. Anger
  7. Anuvrat
  8. Anuvrat Vishva Bharati
  9. Asanas
  10. Body
  11. Communal Harmony
  12. Concentration
  13. Consciousness
  14. Contemplation
  15. Dharma
  16. Dhyan
  17. Discipline
  18. Environment
  19. Equanimity
  20. Fear
  21. Mahapragya
  22. Muni
  23. Muni Sukhlal
  24. Non-violence
  25. Pranayam
  26. Pride
  27. Vedic
  28. Violence
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