Vijay Ratnasunder Surishwar
Non-violence and forgiveness are the pillars of unity and brotherhood in any society. And the culture of any nation reaches its zenith only when it adopts the principles of non- violence and forgiveness.
Realizing the immense need for social unity and brotherhood, Lord Mahavir (the twenty-fourth and the last Tirthankara of the Jain religion) presented the world – a new ideology and way of thinking. Not only did he preach that right faith (samyak-darshana), right knowledge (samyak-jnana), and right conduct (samyak-charitra) can together help attain the liberation of one's self, he himself became an idealistic figure by following the path of non-violence.
For right conduct, he advocated five vows – non-violence, truthfulness, non-stealing and chastity, for Jains. Since we are witnessing its reverse in present times, the socio-political atmosphere in India is taking an altogether different path. The malaise of caste, racial discrimination and case-based politics are strongly influencing the socio-political atmosphere of the country.
As a result, our social communities are competing with each other not for progress and development, instead they are falling prey to caste and religion based politics. These unchecked political agendas are not only instilling negative sentiment among diverse communities living in our country, it is also making people more opportunistic and intolerant towards each other. Various sections of society portray themselves to be undeveloped (even if they are not) and backward only to reap benefits from government’s schemes. Because politicians are not looking at what influence encouraging such attitudes will have, promoting such sentiment and ignoring its impact could hamper the progress of the society.
In this atmosphere of negativity, it is a big challenge to promote a single positive idea or thought for the betterment of the society. But, if the vision and ideology of Lord Mahavir is followed and practiced, it can lead to a positive change among people.
Love and compassion towards all living organisms is the very crux of the teachings of Lord Mahavir. It is this compassion that lays the foundation of forgiveness and non-violence and teaches society the positive impact of social unity and brotherhood.
He said, it takes a lot more efforts to display non-violence than violence. And, it was Lord Mahavir who was the first to teach the world that only, the strongest of all can walk the path of non-violence.
Today, there is an urgent need to develop such an environment based on these thoughts. We need an idea that can bridge the gap between all social communities and set an example for the world.
Since the Jain community is one of the most prosperous communities of India, they can play a vital role in spreading the teachings of the Lord Mahavir to usher ‘young India’ into a glorious future. One should always remember that to be able to bring about change, one has to face a lot of difficulties and hard work. Temptation and fear will always distract us from our noble path. But we should strive to overcome it and work towards eradicating caste and communalism from our society and follow the right path as was preached by Lord Mahavir.
(The writer is a leading Jain Saint)