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The Quest for the Royal Road: Positive and Negative Aspects of Non-Violence

Published: 28.01.2016

Non-violence is generally interpreted as something negativist. 'No violence is non-violence' or 'absence of violence is non-violence' is the one-sided definition of non-violence. In order to define it completely, it is necessary to understand its positive as well as negative aspects. In the context of non-violence, the formula of not taking life of any living creature is important, but more important is to avoid thinking ill about any living creature. An evil thought is violence. An evil word is violence. All untrue utterances have been inspired only by violence. Like thinking evil and speaking evil, indulging in evil practices is also violence, no matter to whom they are directed. Man's actions are both good and evil. Any action to which the adjective evil is applied, is necessarily supported by violence.

Having feelings of malevolence and jealousy for others and the tendency to pull them down and all the attempts to create obstacles in their growing prestige imply violence. Creating fear in the minds of others, creating painful situations for them and hinder their progress are also the activities that fall within the periphery of violence. It is the aim of non-violence to restrain such activities in every way. This is the negative aspect of non-violence.

In positive terms, non-violence is related to lofty mental attitudes like equanimity, friendship, restraint, etc. Here, the primary meaning of non-violence is not confined merely to not killing. When this condition is applied to non-violence, its broad meaning gets restricted to a narrow context. The scope of equanimity is limitless. Friendship, like a plant, can grow and thrive only on that ground. It gives rise to the feeling of affinity with all. Only the individual, who is inspired by the sense of feeling one with others can understand non-violence and follow it in his life.

The individual who develops the attitude of regarding all beings as equal whether small or big, favourable or unfavourable, is non-violent. When the individual's consciousness is freed from all conflicts and when there is no feeling of attachment or malevolence in his thinking about himself and others, he is non-violent.

A non-violent person neither kills anyone, nor does he cause any trouble for anyone. He neither subjugates anyone, nor does he torment anyone. He avoids indulging in any activities that imply evil thought, evil speech and evil act. As an alternative, he transforms them into good.

Non-violence is the highest ideal of life. Alongwith it, many ideals present themselves automatically. Truth revolves round non-violence. Non-stealing is its natural result. Celibacy is its companion and non-accumulation of wealth is its real brother. In the supreme effort to achieve non-violence, these other ideals are acheived automatically.

Non-violence is a protective armour which repells all the attacks of deadly weapons like hatred, hostility, revenge, fear, attachment, etc. He who is able to have that armour, always lives in peace. His mind is not disturbed by the memories of the past or the fear for the future. He can never take an improper decision, inspired by the feeling of self-protection and self-augmentation.

Following the path of non-violence is beneficial both for oneself and for others. Where non-violence has been accorded a place of respect, the animosity among the animals with inborn hostility vanishes. The samavasaran[1] of the Tirthankaras is by its evidence. The co-existence of people cherishing opposite views is possible only on the background of non-violence.

The human values cannot be cherished in a country or a society, in which non-violence is not regarded as valuable.

Non-violence is the only protection, refuge, strength and prestige for every human being. The individual who is non-violent is an awakened being and is above the feeling of hostility.

Non-violence is awakening, violence is slumber. Non-violence is light, violence is darkness. Non-violence is nectar, violence is poison. Non-violence is liberation, violence is the worldly existence. Non-violence is the gate leading to joy and violence is gloom, affliction and contrition. Understanding the form of non-violence and assimilating it is by itself an achievement of life.


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Title: The Quest for the Royal Road
Acharya Tulsi
Publisher: Adarsh Sahitya Sangh
Edition: 2013
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Some texts contain  footnotes  and  glossary  entries. To distinguish between them, the links have different colors.
  1. Acharya
  2. Celibacy
  3. Consciousness
  4. Equanimity
  5. Fear
  6. Non-violence
  7. Tirthankaras
  8. Violence
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