I object to violence because when it appears to do good the good is only temporary; the evil it does is permanent…. Mahatma Gandhi
We live in a world where violence has become so pervasive that most of us don’t even know; or care, about insurgencies and civil wars raging in different parts of the world. But this was not the case a few years back when any incident of violence on a large scale anywhere in the world received much attention and was treated as a matter of great concern.
This was mainly because such incidents were very few & rare. However today the scenario has changed with modern armoury built up by the majority of the countries who are striving hard to expand their borders or control within, as a result of which, we have been witnessing many armed conflicts that have been going on for years and have killed or maimed lakhs of people. If not for the rest of the world, one would expect that those indulging in the violence would be having second thoughts about what they are doing. But that is not so.
The reason is that behind most of this violence lie political, social, economic or ideological factors, and the perpetrators think it is justified to use it to achieve their goals. Thus they commit the most heinous crimes in the name of a just cause. They either don’t care about the suffering inflicted on innocent people by their actions or consider it an inescapable part of their fight.
Looking at the ruthlessness with which people kill each other for a just cause raises a big question that how can we as humans regard violence as an acceptable means of achieving even noble ends? The roots of such just violence lie in the perverted interpretation of religion. YES! If one goes through religious mythology and history books, one would find that they are full of wars waged to protect good from evil, defend the faith from the onslaught of the unbelievers, to spread the word of God and end supposed “evils” like idolatry and heathenism. Now, those who fought these wars were not really seen as marauders, instead they were seen as defenders of the faith. Thus the military exploits of these warriors are eulogized to this day by the adherents of their faith.
It is said that religion is supposed to uplift man from the artificial divisions devised by humans and elevate him to a stage where he realizes the oneness of humanity and its link with the Almighty. But unfortunately, most people do not ponder on these philosophical matters. Their link with religion is limited to its superficial ritual aspects. As a result, they identify with people who have the same religious beliefs as themselves but regard people of other faiths with indifference, suspicion or hostility.
With the advent of the 21st century, many people in the world have started leading purely materialistic lives and have no link at all with the concept of religion. But they begin to identify with religion when communal divisions become heightened in a society. Thus, instead of being a unifying force, religion has become the basis of fragmentation in society & has emerged as the most potent tool for motivating violence. We know that all religions talk of universal brotherhood, but this fact is understood and accepted only by those who ponder on spiritual matters and realize the fact that we are all souls, not bodies & it is by this virtue of being souls, and the children of the Supreme Soul, we are all brothers. Unfortunately all the religions in the world today are religions of the body, not the soul. Hence we are stamped as Hindu, Muslim, Christian or Jew when we are born in a family that follows that particular faith. But the fact is that the soul does not have any religion as its original religion or intrinsic qualities are of peace, love, purity, happiness, power and bliss.
History has shown that since time immemorial every religion in the world has propagated nonviolence because real strength lies in non-violence. Hence reacting to the slightest provocation is not considered as a sign of strength, but our inability to tolerate it. We must thus remember that the stronger we are, the lesser we would be disturbed by adversities or provocation. Just as the mighty ocean absorbs all the refuse that comes to it, the strong & composed beings take the ups and downs of life in their stride easily. It is known that empty vessels make more noise than full ones. Similarly, violence is the tool of those who are empty inside. Those who have imbibed the essence of religion in their lives will never take to violence, however great be the provocation, as they know for sure that truth can never be defeated by force. Remember! Humanity will continue to be divided into religious lines till we begin living according to our original religion which is that of being a soul, rather than merely following rituals. The essence of religious life is soul-consciousness or the awareness that we are all souls. Once we gain this awareness and realize that we are all Almighty Supremes’ children, we would start radiating positive energy all around thereby making the world free from the dark shadow of violence forever.