Ahimsa - The Basis Of Co-Existence

Published: 05.05.2010
Updated: 06.05.2010

Central Chronicle


As a matter of fact man is more attached to material objects than to members of his own race. He is more attached to the beliefs of caste, color and creed than that of humanity- Acharya Mahaprajna

Three kinds of distinctions rooted in caste, skin colour, and creed prevail in our society today. These three distinctions have divided humanity into various groups. The divisions are so deep and wide that the philosophical line of amity is not as distinct and clear as the philosophy of hatred. This philosophy of hatred has almost distorted natural co-existence. Today we have to make a great effort to explain the message of world peace or world friendship but we do not need to explain hatred and unrest.

One person is a citizen of India while the other is a Pak citizen. This distinction of nationality has created a wall between them. An Indian shows greater attachment to the land of India than to a Pak citizen. In reality man is closer to man than to land but in practice it is not so. As a matter of fact man is more attached to material objects than to members of his own race. He is more attached to the beliefs of caste, colour and creed than that of humanity. The distance between the real truth and its social practice is really a very complex problem.

In philosophy three kinds of antagonism or opposition have been pointed out. They are - pratibadhya (that which obstructs is to be killed), pratibandhak vadhya (that which is obstructing is to be killed) and vadhak aur sahanvasthan (antagonism towards co-existing race i.e. the hunter). The bulb was radiating the rays of light. In the meanwhile someone switched it off. The light changed into darkness. This is the opposition of the obstructing caste. The second type of opposition is what we see between a snake and a mongoose; that which is to be hunted and the hunter. Water and fire cannot co-exist hence the opposition that exists between them is of the non-co-existential quality.

In a situation of diversity and opposition, we cannot think of co-existence. The philosophy of anekant (doctrine of non-absolutism) has found a solution. On the foundation of this solution ahimsa was established. In anekant lies an excellent way to reconcile the opposition. It has a maxim: there is nothing like absolute opposition and absolute harmony.

The doctrine of absolute diversity and absolute unity is not true. Where opposition is manifest unity is concealed beneath. Similarly there lies unity in diversity and diversity in unity. When we see only diversity and opposition, violence becomes strong. If we see only unity and harmony then also our concept of utility is broken and social interaction is adversely affected. The solution of the problem of violence lies in experiencing relativity between diversity and unity and harmony in opposition. To establish reconciliation between the two is a solution to the problem of violence. On this basis we can implement the principle of coexistence.

Religion be accessible by faith

Man has the intellectual ability to take decisions. The intellect grows through work-experience also. It is not possible to have faith without knowledge, even as there can be no ice without water. Just as curds are a condensed form of milk, faith is a condensed form of knowledge- Acharya Mahaprajna

Once a man walked up to the sea shore carrying a pitcher in his hand. The pitcher is there and the sea is there. Is the sea water accessible to the pitcher? It will not be right to say that it is not accessible. But it will be not completely true to say that it is accessible. In fact it is accessible as well as inaccessible.

From the point of view of totality it is not accessible; from a partial or limited point of view it is accessible. A pitcher can also diminish the quantity of the sea water in proportion to its capacity.

It is difficult to say that religion is accessible to the intellect. But it is also not easy to say that it is not accessible to the intellect. Religion is infinite. To say that it is accessible to the intellect amounts to saying that a pitcher can measure the ocean. Infinite truth can be known only through knowledge. Then why was the question asked as to whether religion is accessible to the intellect?

Intellect represents the limits of our knowledge. Living beings as such have merely a trace of knowledge. Those having only one sense are capable of experiencing pleasure and pain. There is an ascending order of knowledge from being endowed with only one sense unto those endowed with five senses. Among living beings man has the greatest access to knowledge. Many other living beings have the senses as men have. Among them some have mind too. But intellect is not present in most living beings. Man alone has it. He has the power to take decisions. He has intuition too. Through it man comes to see and know even things unseen and unknown. In fact man has had the propensity to make the unknown known. The tradition of investigation is thousands of years old. It results in increasing the limits of knowledge and consequently in reducing the quantum of the unknown. Bullocks were beasts of burden in the past; they are so in the present and will continue to be the same in future too, because they lack intellect. Man has the intellectual ability to take decisions. The intellect grows through work-experience also.

Experience makes a man skilled. There are instances of people, not having been formally as engineers, acquiring engineering skills through sheer practical experience and personal effort. Knowledge is not found in equal measure in all persons. It too has gradation. Generally one gains experience with age. But here too, the rate of growth not being the same in all cases, not everyone earns the competence to grasp infinite truth like that of religion. There are individual differences too. One man accepts religion unquestioningly; another says he will do so only after due deliberation. The former belongs to the class of the faithful; the latter to that of the intellectual. We find these two classes everywhere these days. The intellectual's acceptance of a thing is a consequence of proper evaluation and decision; the faithful acceptance is the direct outcome of his faith.

However, according to me no act of faith is totally devoid of intellectual thinking. Once a man asked me, 'who do you regard as your guru?' I replied, 'Me myself.' The next question was, 'How is it possible, because you treat Acharya Tulsi as your guru?' I said, 'It is all too true that I regard him as my guru. But it was my own decision to have him as my guru since I found him worthy to be so.' So even in this respect the decision belongs to me. Even when scriptures are held in high esteem, it is a decision of an individual to regard them so. That Mahavira, Buddha and Krishan are divine depends only on those who accept them as divine. They did not announce to the world that they were divine. In our acceptance lies the validity of the proposition that they are divine. Validity and invalidity are born of people's intellect. As said earlier, even the faithful are not altogether devoid of intellect. They too concede only that which their intellect dictates. Take the case of a child. It accepts everything its mother says no matter what she says.

Is it true that faith is blind? Blindness means ignorance, but belief is always propelled by intellect. When such powerful propulsion becomes intensely compulsive, it comes to be called faith.

It is not possible to have faith without knowledge, even as there can be no ice without water. Just as curds are a condensed form of milk, faith is a condensed form of knowledge. Where the intellect is inadequate as a deciding agency, the heart becomes instrumental in acceptance. Dharma or religion is accessible only through intellect not through 'non-intellect'.

Viewed grossly religion seems to be related more to faith and much less to the intellect. But a deep examination reveals that one cannot relate to religion without the intellect. In fact, no faithful is devoid of the intellect and no intellectual is devoid of faith. Knowledge and faith both are our norms. Then how can there be only one question: Is religion accessible to the intellect? There should be the second question too: Is religion accessible to faith?

Central Chronicle - by the efforts of Mr. Lalit Garg
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Some texts contain  footnotes  and  glossary  entries. To distinguish between them, the links have different colors.
  1. 24. Tirthankara Mahavira
  2. Acharya
  3. Acharya Mahaprajna
  4. Acharya Tulsi
  5. Ahimsa
  6. Anekant
  7. Buddha
  8. Central Chronicle
  9. Dharma
  10. Guru
  11. Lalit Garg
  12. Non-absolutism
  13. Tulsi
  14. Violence
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