The largest number of vegetarians in the world live in India but vegetation too has life. Scientists discovered that fact sometime ago but our rishis knew it millennia ago. The consumption of vegetables, raw or cooked, too results in deprivation of lives.
Should a doctrine be accepted simply by reference to the personality of its expounder or should it, if after rigorous critical examination, 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 divines had been subjected to questioning. The Gita opens with a question and is replete with questions and answers. Lord Krishna was not let 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’t be any politician?
India got freedom exclusively by Ahimsa propagated by the AAV’s is a moot point because they ignore the contribution of the revolutionaries right from Chapekar brothers down to Subhas Chandra Bose and his INA. Many of them paid the price by their lives and others spent their youth in the Cellular Jail of Andaman islands. When the news of INA prisoners was flashed to the nation, it fired the imagination of the students and country became virtually ungovernable. Congress which had been crushed by Lord Wavell seized the opportunity by pleading the case of INA prisoners and thus rejuvenated itself.
In the Mahabharata, Sri Krishna himself went to the court of Duryodhana as a messenger of peace. He cast aside all the past injustices done by the Kauravas, even ignored the heinous crime of trying to disrobe Draupadi in the presence of royal court. He reduced Pandavas claim of half of the kingdom to one village for each brother. AHIMSA is a noble doctrine and it’s 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 (), slavery is the greatest evil. Thus, Ahimsa becomes a relative concept. Above all, Absolute Ahimsa is not practicable. Not because of that intent of an absolutist is suspect, certainly not, but for the simple but cruel reason that life lives on life as shown below.
A new born baby feeds exclusively on milk. Sometimes, it suckles its mother and at others, animal’s milk is fed to it. Animal’s milk is boiled before it is fed. We may know it or not, boiling kills bacteria germs. If, in order to forestall the destruction of bacteria germs, milk is left unboiled and then fed, the result would be disastrous. The baby would soon suffer from typhoid or any other disease from which that animal itself would have been suffering and the result might readily prove to be fatal. Now you see that there is Himsa both ways. If you do it, i.e. you boil the milk then, of course, there is Himsa because you destroy bacteria germs but, if you don’t , i.e. you don’t boil milk even then you are heading on for Himsa and it will be a greater Himsa because you jeopardise the very life of the baby. Such situations arise practically on every step in life.
The largest number of vegetarians in the world live in India but vegetation too has life. Scientists discovered that fact sometime ago but our rishis knew it millennia ago. Their consumption, raw or cooked, results in deprivation of lives.
When someone falls sick then either a doctor is called for or the patient is taken to him. After diagnosis, the doctor prescribes some medicine or gives an injection. Both of them kill microbes or germs and the patient gets relief from pain and recoups health. But, if we listen to AAV (Absolute Ahimsa Vadi) then no medicine can be prescribed nor can an injection be given. Then, in such a situation, we shall have to see every person dying of groaning with excruciating pain. Hospitals and dispensaries will become redundant and medical profession meaningless. Diseases will reign supreme and this earth will be a living hell.
A single act of procreation results in the release of millions of sperms and usually all of them die every time. Occasionally, one of them succeeds in fertilising female’s egg. Here is a question for an Absolute Ahimsa Vadi to answer – when he is engaged in such an act and simultaneously sperms die then where does his Ahimsa lay asleep?
Position of an AAV is just like that of a person who is shouting at a busy cross-road that he doesn’t have a tongue in his mouth, his father is a confirmed bachelor and his mother is barren. Intelligent people will simply turn a deaf ear, treating his outburst to be childish. If he objects to the use of the word childish then we should have no hesitation in telling him that his outpouring is a bundle of contradictions. Similar is the case with the Absolute Ahimsa because without violating it one cannot even breathe because breathing destroys a number of cells in the body. One cannot eat even vegetables because they have to be deprived of their lives. One cannot have children because each act for procreation involves death of millions of sperms. When such a doctrine and that too without any critical examination is propagated in the masses and given the pride of place in the formulation of policy of a country then fate of that country is sealed and down fall guaranteed. History stands witness to that.
In such a messy picture, arises the question then what is Ahimsa? The answer is that Ahimsa is to narrow down the scope for Himsa. Arises a further question where should a Luxman Rekha be drawn? When a similar question arose in the Mahabharata then the elders advised when two Himsas are involved as usually is the case, you should opt for the smaller Himsa, the lesser evil. Himsa is undoubtedly an evil, unavoidable, inescapable, therefore, the wiser course is to opt for the lesser evil. Supposing a country is invaded by the swarms of locusts then the choice is either to kill the locusts or see men, women and children being killed by the resulting famine.
The wiser course is to destroy the locusts and protect the human lives.
Question arises, should a doctrine be accepted simply by reference to the personality of its expounder or should it, if after rigorous critical examination, 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 divines had been subjected to questioning. The Gita opens with a question and is replete with questions and answers. Lord Krishan was not let 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’t be any politician?
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 the blind adherence to a personality cult. Ahimsa is very effective providing the other party has respect for the moral values otherwise not. Sikh Gurus, embodiment of renunciation and sacrifice, tried their level best to fight off tyranny with their sheer nobility but with little success and tyranny showed no sign of abating. Babar, the godfather of the pseudo secularists because to-day their hearts bleed for him profusely, imprisoned even Guru Nanak for a short time. It shows what type of a person he was! 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 ensuing 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 through the Khyber Pass and captured Ali Masjid. They marched on to Kabul which had fallen on 9 August 1839 (See- How the Sikhs lost their Kingdom by Khushwant Singh p.22. 1966 edition).”
In late October 1947, even Mahatama Gandhi was obliged to acknowledge the inefficacy of adherence to Absolute Ahimsa as he was reported in the press to have blessed the Indian Jawans who were being airlifted from New Delhi enroute to Sri Nagar, 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 Ahimsa, 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, 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 Daya Nand Saraswati, founder of Arya Samaj, was travelling through a jungle in the upper reaches of UP that a bear appeared. It stood up on its hind legs to attack. He was carrying a thick staff; and hit the bear so hard that the bear ran away. It will certainly be interesting to hear from an adherent of Absolute Ahimsa as to what would he do if he is confronted with a similar situation.
It is possible that an individual may take any type of vow and still continue to live in peace but certainly not a nation. Reason being that in a civilised society, there is country’s constitution, its laws, its Judiciary, legal luminaries, law enforcing agencies and men of good will, to protect him but on the international stage, the old adage “Might is Right” still operates. 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 the history. Attention of the AAV should be drawn to the Sanskrit proverb “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 Upnishad 3.2.4)
Absolute Ahimsavadis argue that all conflicts end up on a negotiating table thus trying to score a point that in the end the conflict is resolved by Ahimsa. This argument is grossly misleading because it does not take into account the circumstances which force the belligerent party to come to the negotiating table. Germany did not come to the negotiating table until Hitler was forced to commit suicide, millions of Germans had been killed all over Europe, Eastern front and North Africa. Japan did not come to the Mussorie to sign the Instrument of unconditional surrender until two atom bombs had been dropped on the Japanese mainland, thousands of Japanese had been killed all over the Pacific, East Indies and Burma. Nizam of Hydrabad did not come out of his palace with folded hands to greet Sardar Patel until Indian army had taken police action. Nawab of Juna Garh never came to the negotiating table and fled the state. Commander of the Portuguese garrison did not come to surrender until Indian army had taken over Goa. General Nyazi, the tiger, could not be tamed and forced to sign the instrument of unconditional surrender until Indian army had tightened its iron noose around Dhaka. Question is how to break the will of the belligerent party. Under constant pressure from Mahatama Gandhi and misguidance from Lord Mountbatten, Kashmir issue was referred to the UNO for solution through negotiations and to show the triumph of Ahimsa over Himsa, but look at the mess it is in to-day!
India got freedom exclusively by Ahimsa propagated by the AAV’s is a moot point because they ignore the contribution of the revolutionaries right from Chapekar brothers down to Subhas Chandra Bose and his INA. Many of them paid the price by their lives and others spent their youth in the Cellular Jail of Andaman islands. When the news of INA prisoners was flashed to the nation, it fired the imagination of the students and country became virtually ungovernable. Congress which had been crushed by Lord Wavell seized the opportunity by pleading the case of INA prisoners and thus rejuvenated itself. Soon after that there was a naval revolt. Above all, these AAV’s are not ready to acknowledge the fact that the second world war had shaken the British empire to its roots. By saying that Ahimsa 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 Indian army had been shaken and they thought it prudent to enter into negotiations to quit India.
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’s following 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. Earlier, one congress leader named Jai Ram Dass Daulat Ram, later on appointed Governor of Assam, issued a statement that Ahimsa can face an atom bomb. A young student will tell us that he needed his education to be up-dated. One thing is quite clear that their craze for Ahimsa had robbed them of rational thinking.
It is certainly unwise to seek solution of national problems by force at the first instance, but to abjure it for good is equally unwise. It should be the last resort. On the platform of international scene it has to be borne in the mind that sometimes there could be an adversary who has little regard for scruples and he has to be dealt with accordingly.
In the Mahabharata, Sri Krishna himself went to the court of Duryodhan as a messenger of peace. He cast aside all the past injustices done by the Kauravas, even ignored the heinous crime of trying to disrobe Draupadi in the presence of royal court. He reduced Pandavas claim of half of the kingdom to one village for each brother. But, Duryodhan refused outrightly even to part with the land to the size of eye of a needle. On top of that, contrary to the canons of civilised behaviour and in breach of the norms of protocol he tried to capture the messenger of peace. Then Sri Krishna returned with the firm belief that all avenues to peace had been blocked and the only way left was to fight the evil out.
Question arises that in the event of foreign aggression as to what is the duty of the Absolute Ahimsa Vadi towards the defence of his country. Morarji Desai, a staunch advocate of Absolute Ahimsa, in his address to the nation at 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, there he was taken to a second world war concentration camp and narrated the atrocities committed on the detainees. He was so much upset that he did not eat anything for more than a day. Further question is how could Absolute Ahimsa tackle such a savage aggressor like Hitler?
One thing is certain that a staunch AAV, brought up on the daily dose of Ahimsa, 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 can be contacted at KKS/09/1, 29 Paxton Avenue, Slough.SL1 2SX., UK.)