Non Voilence & World Peace

Jain Books

The Foundation of Training in Non-Violence

-Acharya Mahaprajna

Is it possible to train people in non-violence? The question is neither unnatural nor irrelevant. It is a certain disposition of the mind which results in Ahimsa or non-violence. The former can be the subject of training; not the latter. The same logic will apply in the case of violence. A disposition can be got rid of as well as transformed. Its outcome can neither be removed nor transformed.

The Origin of Violence

Man by instinct is given to acquisition and accumulation. It is here that violence is born. Transforming the above instinct is the best means of bringing about non-violence. Training in non-violence lies solely in making efforts to rouse the awareness of non-acquisition.

We can't even think of training in non-violence without a thorough discussion of and reflection on concepts like individual ownership, collective ownership, state ownership, co-operative or mutual ownership, centralised economy and decentralised economy. The tremendous attraction held out by individual ownership has been responsible for the success of the above system for economic development. Both collective and state ownership have beaten a retreat as is evident from the development of the past one decade. Co-operative ownership has fared no better, either. The reason is not far to seek. The instinct for ownership is at its strongest only at the level of the individual. In all other cases it gets enfeebled. This means there is a direct relation between acquisition and violence. The instinct for ownership leads to acquisition, which in turn breeds violence.

Training in Non-violence : The Beginning

The solution to the problem of violence, lies in answering the question: where does one begin for training people in non-violence? The first step to non-violence is fearlessness. Even a thousand repetitions of the mantra 'Do not fear' will not rid an individual of fear so long as he is attracted by the body and infatuated by wealth and material objects. How can the aim be achieved by nursing the cause of fear in the mind and repeating the lesson of fearlessness orally? In what way can one block the flow of fear or abort its rise? A proper and practical understanding of these issues is vital. Then only can fearlessness become the first stage of training in non-violence.

The Seed of Non-violence

Proprietorship, accumulation and fear are interrelated. It is not easily possible to get rid of them. However, they can be cleansed refined and disciplined. Therein lies the seed of non-violence. The search for the means of refinement is difficult. Short-lived discipline or refinement is easy; making it lasting is very difficult. But, though difficult it is not impossible.

The First Practical Step

The violence takes its course from affection to thought and from thought to action. Therefore, the first step on the road to training in no-violence is sublimation and refinement of affections. The mind has to be trained to ensure that only positive, and no negative, affections are generated.

The Formula for Physical Training

It comprises Yogic Postures (asanas) and rhythmic control of breath (pranayama): Padmasana (Lotus Posture), Shashankasana (Moon Posture), Yogmudra (Scaling Posture), Vajrasana (Thunderbolt Posture), Sarvangasana (All limbs Posture), Matsyasana (Fish Posture), Godhikasana (Posture adopted while milking a cow) etc. affect the Nervous and the Endocrine systems. They weaken the physical factors responsible for violence. Anuloma-Viloma, Chandrabheadi, Narhishodhan, Ujjayi Shitali (Pranayam that cools the system) and similar Pranayam purge the body of the causative factors of violence.

The Formula for Mental Training

The formula for mental training is Meditation. Kayotsarga (total relaxation) Deerghashvas Preksha (Perception of Deep Breathing or diaphragmatic Breathing), Samvrittic Shvas Preksha (Perception of Exhalation and Inhalation alternatively through Right and Left Nostrils) and similar meditational practices contribute to the development of concentration. Violence increases directly in proportion to the degree of distraction. So, the less the distraction, the less the violence.

The Formula for Affective Training

More important than physical and mental training is the training of affects. The formula for practising it consists of meditation on the Chaitanya Kendra (Psychic Centres) and on the Abhamandal or Leshya (Psychic Spectrum). Contemplative practices are useful for all types of training --- physical, mental and effective.

The Base and the Field of Application

What has been expounded above is a method of individual training. In fact, training in non-violence is given only at the level of the individual. Its application, of course, takes place at the level of society. It is therefore, not inappropriate to say that the above training has the individual as its base and society as its field of application. The same holds good of violence. Accordingly, the most important way of bringing about a non-violent society is making individuals non-violent and all training should be directed at this end.

Family Life and Non-violence

Society implies inter-relatedness of and interaction among individuals. Human relationships and rectitude in behaviour constitute training in non-violence. Its beginnings are best made in the family. It is not proper to view violence as being limited to wars and terrorist activities. Wars take place only sometimes and in some places, whereas violence manifests itself within the family almost daily. It erodes mental peace, which in turn contributes to the spread of violence on a wider scale. Peaceful coexistence within the family is an important guarantee of the success of training in non-violence. Intolerance, lack of self control and overreaching ambition poison the peace and happiness of a family. A curb on them and practice in avoiding them will automatically rid the family of the prevalence of violence.

Non-violence in the family means Training in Anekanta (non absolutism)

For there to be non-violence within the family, one major requirement is the spirit of reconciliation. It is possible to reconcile diverse thoughts and, tastes. To achieve it, training in Anekanta can be exteremely useful, for Anekanta admits of autonomy only in a relative sense. It accepts coexistence only to the extent that such acceptance does not, condone injustice. It approves of quality without disregarding unequal degrees of competence. The pillars of peace should be strong enough to withstand the strains of diversity. Training in Anekanta gives due place to diversity, so long as it is not at the cost of unity. Making people aware of this coexistent duality---diversity and unity--- will be an important step towards building a non-violent society.

Causative Factors of Violence in Society

There are innumerable social factors, some of them having come down to us since a long time past, that cause violence in society, casteism, racialism, apartheid, regionalism and mass poverty, to name but a few. Time and again they result in social conflagrations.

Racialism and discrimination based on colour can be best tackled by inculcating all the people with the spirit of common humanity. However, the problem of poverty is a bit complex. One aspect of the problem lies in the disparity between an inadequate supply of consumer goods and an ever increasing number of consumers. The problem gets compounded for want of a proper and just sense of sharing. A high premium, is placed on individual's comfort and acquisition, while the desire to share things equally and justly is at a heavy discount.

The Basic Unity of Mankind

The basic unity of all the people of the world should not be disregarded while conceding the usefulness of the territorial integrity and independence of each nation. The instincts of self aggrandizement and over ambition prove subversive of world unity. Of course, man has not yet developed enough to be able to practise equity and justice in his treatment of others. This keeps the regional and geographical divides in the world alive. Extirpation of geographical boundaries is not a prerequisite to the creation of a non-violent society. But it is imperative that these boundaries are not allowed to snap the tender thread of humanity.

Training in Non-violence : The Basic Element

The basic element of training in non-violence is a change of heart or mental training. The following specific principled formulas are required to be pail of the training for bringing about a change of heart

Factors Causing violence Effects

1. Greed Tendency to acquire

2. Fear Manufacture and use of armaments

3. Hostility Tendency to take revenge

4. Anger Internecine quarrels

5. Egoism Hatred and discrimination based on

considerations of caste and colour

6. Cruelty Exploitation and killings

7. Intolerance Sectarian strife

8. Absolute(as opposed to relative) Obduracy and the tendency to

thinking disregard the viewsof others.

9. Absolute behaviour Tendency to practise non co-operation

in communal life.

These instincts turn people violent. Change of heart means overcoming these instincts and cultivating new refined habits instead.

Formulas of Mental Training

The antidote to greed:

Training in freeing oneself from the infatuation for material objects and the body.

The antidote to fear:

Training in cultivating fearlessness and in strengthening the will not to manufacture or trade in armaments.

The antidote to hostility:

Training in cultivating friendship and in eschewing the tendency to take revenge.

The antidote to anger:

Training in learning to forgive.

The antidote to egoism:

Training in practising humility, non-violent opposition and non co-operation with injustice.

The antidote to intolerance:

Training in cultivating goodwill for other sects and the ability to put up with diverse views.

The last two factors causing violence can be countered by training people in relativism of thinking and behaviour. Negative feelings are to be countered by training in feeling positively.

Stopping Non-essential violence

Training in non-violence will have as one of its constituents making the people aware of the need to give up nonessential violence. Wastage of water, overmining, killing innocent creatures and people are examples of non-essential violence. It has made man cruel and has disturbed the balance of nature.

Physical Health and Non-violence

There is an intrinsic relation between physical health and non-violence. Ill health generates violence. One of the factors responsible for people committing suicide is inadequacy of sugar in the blood. Likewise, disorders of liver and spleen also contribute to violent thoughts. Therefore, training in differential dietetics and Science of Healthy Living is a vital component of training in non-violence.

Economic Health and Non-violence

Training in the following subjects is necessary for the economic health of an individual as well as society:

Voluntary parting with wealth


Decentralisation of the economy

Economics and World Peace

Economics and a Healthy Society

Legitimate Means of Making Money

Just Distribution of Wealth

Restraint in consumerism and limitation of wants

It need not be emphasised that the, physical mental, emotional and economic health have all to contribute to the creation of a non-violent society. They have, therefore, to be the bases of training in non-violence.

The Base and Fields of Experimentation in Training in Non-violence

The success of the methodology of training in non-violence depends on the development of an individual mentality irrevocably committed to non-violence. This has to be practised in the following areas:

Individual as a member of the family

Individual as a social being

Individual as a citizen of a nation

Individual as a citizen of the world.

Today people are divided ideologically and regionally. But non-violence requires a unified and integrated personality. In order to develop it, a multipronged programme of training is necessary. The thought of a non-violent society disregarding the individual is as illusory as that of a non-violent individual without a non-violent society. The two are relative to each other. This basic fact should not be ignored while thinking of the training in non-violence.