By K.K. Sharma
Ahinsa is a noble doctrine and is Vedic in origin. A Vedic injunction ?Ma Hinsyat sarva Bhutani?, i.e. cause no injury to all the creatures, is quoted in corroboration. But, another vedic injunction clearly cautions ?Ma Nah Stenah Eeshat? (Rig Veda-Mandal 2. Anuvak 4. Sukat 42. Mantra 3) Thieves i.e evil persons should not rule over you. On the platform of empirical existence (O;ogkj ds eap ij), slavery is the greatest evil. Thus, ahinsa becomes a relative concept. Above all, absolute ahinsa is not practicable. Not because intent of an absolutist is suspect, but for the simple but cruel reason that life lives on life as shown below.
Now you see that there is hinsa both ways. If you do it, i.e. you boil the milk then, of course, there is hinsa because you destroy bacteria but, if you don?t, i.e. you don'tboil milk even then you are heading for hinsa and it will be a greater hinsa because you jeopardise the very life of the baby. Such situations arise practically at every step in life.
The largest number of vegetarians in the world live in India but vegetation too has life. Scientists discovered this fact sometime ago but our rishis knew it millennia ago. Their consumption, raw or cooked, results in deprivation of their lives.
What is ahinsa? The answer is that ahinsa is to narrow down the scope for hinsa. Another question arises where should a Luxman rekha be drawn? When a similar question arose in the Mahabharata then the elders advised when two hinsas are involved, as usually is the case, you should opt for the lesser hinsa, the lesser evil. Hinsa is undoubtedly an evil, unavoidable, inescapable, therefore, the wiser course is to opt for the lesser evil.
Should a doctrine be accepted simply by reference to the personality of its expounder or should it, after rigorous critical examination, if found to be sound and valid, then accepted. A bigot will opt for the former but a rationalist for the latter. It is worth pointing out that in the past, here in India, even the gods have been subjected to questioning. The Gita opens with a question and is replete with questions and answers. Lord Krishan did not get any respite even for a moment on the battlefield of Kurukashetra. He was subjected to an avalanche of questions. If the Lord can be subjected to questions then why can'tany politician?
Critical evaluation of ahinsa?Its implications and limitations.
An expounder must bear in mind that his doctrine should further the cause of good and not that of evil. Wisdom should be the guiding light and not blind adherence to personality cult. Ahinsa is very effective provided the other party has respect for the moral values. Sikh Gurus, embodiment of renunciation and sacrifice, tried their level best to fight off tyranny with their sheer nobility but with little success. Realising the inefficacy of that approach, the tenth, Guru Gobind Singh, lifted the sword, sacrificed himself and his whole family with the result that within the ensuring one-and-a-half century, the same Kabul which had been the source of invasions one after another, was under our feet. ?Within a few days, the Punjabis forced their way though the Khyber Pass and captured Ali Masjid. They marched on to Kabul which had fallen on August 9, 1839 (See?How the Sikhs lost their Kingdom by Khushwant Singh p.22. 1966 edition).?
In October 1947, even Mahatama Gandhi acknowledged the inefficacy of adherence to ahinsa as he blessed the Indian jawans who were being airlifted from New Delhi enroute to Srinagar, to drive the tribals and their Pakistani masters away from Kashmir. He did not ask them to throw away their weapons and get killed in the name of absolute ahinsa, nor did he tell them to engage in courtship with the enemy on the battlefield. His political followers took no cue from that but, instead, started looking up to his wooden monkeys for guidance. In the fifties, the Chinese blasted their way through Aksai Chin but they heard no blast. They built up a road linking Tibet with Sinkiang through Indian territory but they saw no road and did not tell their own people until the cat came out of the bag. In October/November 1962, they were running like rats before the same Chinese cat.
Once Swami Dayanand Saraswati, founder of Arya Samaj, was travelling through a jungle in the upper reaches of UP when he encountered a bear. It stood up on its hind legs to attack. He was carrying a thick staff with which he hit the bear so hard that the bear ran away. It will certainly be interesting to hear from an adherent of absolute ahinsa as to what he would do if he is confronted a similar situation.
Those who do not agree, their attention should be drawn to the occupation of 20000 square miles of Kashmir by China and 35000 square miles of the same State by Pakistan, in both the cases by force. Above all, it has to be borne in mind that weakness invites aggression that is the lesson of history. Attention of the absolute ahinsavadis should be drawn to the Sanskrit proverd ?Vasundhara Vir Bhogya? i.e. ?The earth is enjoyed by the brave?. Not only that even the realisation of the Ultimate Reality cannot be achieved by the weak (Mundak Upanishad 3.2.4) u v;a vkRek oy ghusu yH;ks
By saying that ahinsa drove the British lion out of India, they are trying to enact a scene from Garbh Gita which describes that a lion ran away at the sight of a goat. Indian historians must dig deep into the British archives to find out as to what were the compelling reasons which prompted the British to enter into negotiations to transfer power in India? It is said that their faith in the loyalty of the Indian army had been shaken and they thought it prudent to enter into negotiations to quit India.
The largest number of vegetarians in the world live in India but vegetation too has life. Scientists discovered this fact sometime ago but our rishis knew it millennia ago.
A country cannot be run exclusively by emotions or by sheer naiviety. But, after Independence, the political leadership of the country was driven by emotions and wishful thinking as it is evident from Pundit Jawahar Lal Nehru'sfollowing words which he used in his broadcast to the Nation at the time of Chinese invasion??We had been living in an atmosphere of our own creation?. In the summer of 1962, some Congress stalwarts were demanding the disbanding of Indian army. It showed that they had little grasp of machinations of power politics on the international stage.
It is certainly unwise to seek solution to national problems by force at the first instance, but to abjure it for good is equally unwise. It should be the last resort.
In the event of foreign aggression as to what is the duty of the absolute ahinsavadi towards the defence of his country. Morarji Desai, a staunch advocate of absolute ahinsa, in his address to the nation at the time of Chinese invasion said,? We have to live with honour?. But, he did not explain how because he did not know that. In his autobiography, he wrote that once he went on a visit to West Germany, and was shown a World War II concentration camp. He was so upset that he could not eat for a day. Further question: How can absolute ahinsa tackle a savage like Hitler?
One thing is certain that a staunch ahinsavadi, if he is true to his conviction, will not join the army nor will he countenance the others to join it. But, he will like the others to sacrifice their lives to protect him. Question arises, as to what type of code of moral conduct is he going to evolve? Ethics meant for an ascetic is not suitable to run a country but it is a recepie for disaster.
(The writer cam be contacted at 29, Paxton Avenue, Slough, SLI 25X.)