Ahimsa - The Science Of Peace: CONCLUSION

Published: 21.01.2009


The search for peace essentially thrives in an atmosphere of reconciliation and forgiveness. Entering into any argument or debate, or discussions about contentious issues, should be carefully and consciously avoided, especially by people who know that they can be swayed by sentiments. This is because any hardening of attitude is antithetic to compromises and peaceful solutions. If we want others to respect our viewpoint, we should first prepare ourselves to respect viewpoints of others. Mahavir’s Anekant-vaad or relativity of truth, an extension of the ahimsa attitude, effectively propels us in this direction.

The relativity of truth as postulated and elaborated by Mahavir evolves from his straightforward and simple definition of ahimsa - as you do not like to be hurt, none else likes to be hurt. From physical parameters, this extends to mental, social, religious, and philosophical domains. When there is an interaction between self and the other, this basic premise of ahimsa has to be kept in mind. As we want others to accept our ideas, others also want us to accept their ideas. As we want others to convince us fully before we accept what they say, others also want us to convince them fully before they may accept what we say. This basic premise of ahimsa is not contradicted by the principle that ‘truth ought to be accepted no matter what’. This is because, basing his teachings on spiritual experience as well as evident reality Mahavir postulated that truth is multifaceted, many sided, pluralistic and dynamic as well. It is never absolute. What we pronounce as irrevocable and absolute truth, in fact, becomes so only when it falls within some fixed parameters of matter, space, time and, most vital of all, life (the observer).

With the growing problem of violence in the modern world, there is a marked increase in discussions about Anekant among intellectuals as well as others. Unfortunately most of these discussions are not oriented towards finding practical ways to use this unique concept, but towards either glorifying it by its so-called copyright holders who seldom practice what they preach, or denigrating it as an antonym of firmness by its antagonists. With the advent of post-modernism and post-structuralism, some thinkers are suggesting that Anekant-vaad and Syad-vaad were mere tools of logic devised to counter the arguments of other schools. This is partially true because this was indeed one application, but certainly not the only application, of this doctrine.

All these and other debates, including those about the formation and history of this concept, are best left to the academics. We should simply judge it on its possible efficacy as a tool for social harmony and peace. When a doctor prescribes a medicine, a patient thinks only of its efficacy as a cure for his suffering; he does not ponder questions about the inventor of the medicine, or the date of its invention, or the theory at the back of its invention, and so on.

Most of the leaders and many of the movements working towards peace concentrate on solving the gravest problems. This is due to the fact that it brings greater glory. We should, in fact, tackle small problems first and let the solution to greater problems evolve on their own.

If we strive for peace and are sincere about spread of peace, we should not derive satisfaction from the increase of the strength, popularity and glory of our own group. This ultimately leads to conflict and violence. We should instead derive satisfaction in the overall progress towards peace brought about by the efforts of all groups working on the path of peace. The moment we think that the path followed by us is the best if not the only path towards peace, we are laying foundations for future conflict and violence, no matter how non-violent the method may appear.

Ahimsa is gradually becoming an excessively talked about topic. This is not surprising in times of increasing violence, but the alarming thing is that there is an upsurge in the number of talkers and fall in the number of example-setters. If someone is really sincere and serious in his concern about spread of violence and wants to do something on the Ahimsa front, he should stop preaching in words and start preaching in action. Preaching in action is to set an example by following the ahimsa code of conduct sincerely and honestly in his own life. The irony is that some are following the ahimsa code merely for display, for the glamour or glory attached to it. We tend to forget that honest display is actually more difficult than observance. Gandhi was a rare example in modern times of one who gave due importance to display value, too. But he never sacrificed his sincerity and honesty in practicing ahimsa at the altar of glamour and glory.

For any doctrine to be effective, the gulf between preaching and abiding by what we preach has to be bridged. This duality of theory and practice can be turned into unity only by sincere and honest application. Ironically, the sincerity and honesty of application dwindle with the passage of time and stagnate into ritualism. The unity of theory and practice must be constantly rejuvenated.

After understanding the prevailing circumstances, those who are genuinely concerned and want to work for peace and the well being of humanity should present what is good or beneficial in all religions of the world in the language that modern man understands. Nothing should be force-fed, as is generally done. Evoke the curiosity of people by demonstrating the benefits of the ahimsa way of life and describing it in their own language and idiom. Once they start asking questions, give them more details. Once they realize the benefits, they will surely seek more and more.

It is my strong belief that ahimsa is a perfect system for living, a complete way of life. The life-style based on ahimsa brings about changes in every facet of one’s existence. This is the reason for its efficacy in bringing about universal peace.


Prakrit Bharati Academy
D.R. MEHTA, Founder & Chief Patron

First edition: 1987
Second enlarged Edition May: 2004
Third Edition July: 2008

© All rights reserved with the author

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  1. Ahimsa
  2. Anekant
  3. Mahavir
  4. Space
  5. Violence
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