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JAINISM – THE CREED FOR ALL TIMES

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JAINISM AND WORLD–PEACE

World Peace : The Need Of The Time –

The world today is in the grip of conflict and strife. It is being torn asunder by threats of wars and terrorism. The Ethnic conflicts are at an all time high and various fundamentalist groups are fanning these conflicts to make their presence felt and to make political capital out of them. The world today is at its most unsafe epoch. The situations are being made more complicated by political and economic hegemonistic tendencies of some powerful nations and terrorising tendencies of some ethnic groups. Wherever we cast a glance on the globe, our eyes fall on trouble spots. Be it the Middle East, Far East or Southeast. Arab–Israel conflict has become a festering sore; the United States of America has waged wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and is now threatening Iran with dire consequences; North Korea is escalating its fatal arsenal at the annoyance of the USA; Pakistan is fomenting trouble and actively supporting the separatist terrorist groups in Kashmir with men and material and moral support and the ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka has claimed thousands of innocent lives and it still shows no sign of subsiding. This is not to mention the lesser intra–national insurgent movements that have various political, economic, religious and ethnic reasons. All of them are violent in nature and portend death and destruction. The world, at large, is in their grip and is looking askance for some hope of amity and peace.

Causes Of Conflict –

The causes of conflict can be broadly divided into the following four categories: –

A. Political – The political aspirations, justified in some cases and unjust in some others, of some groups, when not met, result in their violent expressions and the conflicts come into being. However, whether just or unjust they result in human misery and loss of not only human but other forms of life as well. The examples abound – The Chechen movement in Russia, the Tamil movement in Sri Lanka, and insurgency in Kashmir are glaring examples of this kind.

B. Economic When one group or nation greedily eyes the economic resources of another group or nation the conflict becomes inevitable. The US ambition of controlling oil resources of the Middle East is one such example.

C. Ethnic – The separatist tendencies of one ethnic group from the domination of another group as well as rejection of just claims of one ethnic group by another numerically or otherwise stronger group always results in ethnic discord and violent conflict. The Arab–Israeli conflict, the Tamil insurgency in Sri Lanka, the Chechen uprising in Russia can be seen in this light.

D. Religious – When one religious group tries to dominate the other, when there are forcible or enticing conversions, when there is religious intolerance amongst various religious groups that have to coexist for geopolitical reasons, the conflict cannot be avoided. The expansionist tendencies of some religious denominations also significantly contribute to such conflicts. The Religious fundamentalism of all kinds and conversions by some missionary groups fall in this category. There is no need to say that this single cause is the most dominant cause of strife in the world today. Whether it is the WTC episode of September 11 or Terrorist strikes in India and Indonesia, they have a common message for all of us. Religious expansionist ambition and religious intolerance mean war, terrorism, conflict and strife.

Besides these major causes of conflict there are some more that must not be overlooked if we aim at a world at peace with itself. They are as under: –

A. Egocentric Approach – When an individual or a group starts thinking that what it thinks or believes in is the only right thing, everything else is wrong, it spells trouble for every other individual and group may also think likewise and the conflict becomes inevitable. Such approach is called absolutist approach and is a surest cause of conflict. All the religious discord and animosities between the followers of different creeds from times immemorial including the religious wars and campaigns are witness to conflicts arising from this mentality.

B. Economic Inequity – Wealth when concentrated in the hands of some classes, attracts the envious attention of the deprived masses. The root cause of this inequity is greed.

C. Tensions – Undue ambition, extravagance and lack of understanding results in tensions, which when left unresolved manifest themselves in the form of psychopathic disorders and violent expressions. They shatter peace and tranquillity and make lives miserable.

D. Unethical Applications Of Science And Technology – Scientific and technological advancements were meant to be boons for humanity in particular and for the other forms of life on the planet in general. Instead their unethical application has resulted in the development of nuclear, biological and chemical weapons of mass destruction. The unethical means employed by the producers of such weapons to find market for their wares have resulted in sponsored wars where the parties instigated by such traders go to war and become hapless buyers of such weaponry manufactured by these unscrupulous perpetrators of misery.

Jaina Answer For Conflict Resolution And For Ushering In World Peace –

Jainism offers solutions to all the problems cited above that cause conflicts. The Jaina precepts such as non–violence, truthfulness, non–stealing, moderate possessions and inconspicuous consumption, non–egocentric approach and universal love go a long way in the direction of resolving all such conflicts. In the paragraphs that follow, we will see as to how each of these precepts contributes to conflict resolution and thereby to promote world peace.

Non–violence – is the single most potent conflict–resolving factor. It is as effective in international arena as it is in national, social and personal lives. Here I would like to mention that as long as India and China both sincerely adhered to the principle of Pañcaśīla, their conflicts did not come to a head. Following the principle of non–violence makes it possible for nations to avoid wars and even smaller armed conflicts. An appreciation of this most humane principle may induce a feeling of abhorrence for wanton killings even in the minds of the most hardcore terrorists. There is no doubt that a universal acceptance and application of this Jaina tenet will leave the world tranquil and peaceful.

Truthfulness – Diplomacy these days has come to mean saying one thing and doing quite the other. This queer policy may succeed for some time but when the affected parties realise that they had been taken for a ride by clever diplomatic manipulations the conflict complicates further rather than getting resolved. Such sheltering behind cleverly hidden lies becomes the greatest stumbling blocks in the process of achieving peace. It will also not be incorrect to say that creating markets for one’s warlike merchandise by the manufacturing country is often based on its false propaganda and falsely instigating one neighbouring country against the other. It is not difficult to imagine that if a world order based on absolute adherence to truth could be created, it will be a world bereft of strife and full of peace and amity.

Non–stealing – The Jaina concept of non–stealing is not only refraining from theft as such but also to refrain from taking or accepting anything, how–so–ever small and inconsequential, without the permission of its rightful owner. Such absolute adherence to respect for the others’ property rights in the international dealings will not leave any room for disputes of territory and other economic conflicts. It can be said with some authority that if such a situation prevails, no conflicts will assume the proportions where wars may have to be fought and peace may have to be shattered. This applies equally to the matters of tangible as well as intellectual properties.

Moderate Possessions And Inconspicuous Consumption– Imagine a world order where the developed countries moderate their needs, which often border on wasteful luxury and conspicuous consumption, and share their wealth with the underdeveloped countries. Will there be hungry and deprived billions in the world then? The answer is an obvious ‘No’. Can there be any conflict in a world with no hunger and deprivation? The answer will again have to be a ‘No’. This seems to be a Utopian ideal but that is what Jainism preaches to its followers. If the entire world were to follow the Jaina precept of moderate possessions and inconspicuous consumption, the world may well be rid of conflict and the peace may prevail.

Anekāntavāda : The Harbinger Of Peace And Prosperity – It is the egocentric approach to things where an individual or a country thinks that what it feels for the world at large is the only right thing to do for each and every nation and who–so–ever disagrees with its views is to be roundly thrashed. It spells doom for the world. Such absolutist views are resented by everyone and give rise to conflict at every stage. Jainism with its non–absolutist principle of Anekānta, which advocates that the truth is multifaceted and everyone’s views may have something that is right and worth consideration and thereby respects everyone’s views, is the surest formula for conflict resolution and melting away of tensions in international matters. All sorts of conflicts, ethnic disputes, religious intolerance, ideological differences and racial discrimination can be resolved through the application of this one principle. Need I to mention that if all disagreements are sorted out in accordance with the Anekānta approach, there will be no discord or contention and peace will be within reach.

Universal Love – A feeling of universal love, friendship and fraternity that runs through the Jaina way of life, which respects the integrity of even the microscopically small life–forms, be adopted universally, it will result in universal non–violence and a feeling of compassion for all. The world so imbued with love and compassion will not resort to violence in finding solution to any of its problems how–so–ever complex. This, we can appreciate, is the most potent potion for remedying the problems of the world riddled with violence, strife and terrorism.

Conclusion –

In this essay we have tried to examine the problems that give rise to conflict and consequent disputes, wars, armed uprising, insurgency, terrorism and strife in general. We identified the political, economic, ideological and egocentric reasons for such disharmonious state of affairs. When we examined all these issues in the light of Jaina perspective and its precepts of non–violence, truthfulness, non–stealing, moderation in consumption and accumulation of wealth, non–absolutist view–point, and universal love, we noticed that if the world be imbued with these noble ideals, the conflicts will not be able to withstand their radiance.

It is quite reasonable to conclude that Jainism, with its nobility of approach, is certainly the way of life that can put an end to the world–wide conflict and contention and pave the way for peace, prosperity, amity, harmony and tranquility in the international life.

Jaina ideals offer a hope for the world torn by violence and terror.Svastika

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