Peace, War and Conflict Resolution within World Religions

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Coming Together Is the Beginning, Staying Together Is Progress, Working Together Is Success -Vedas

By Hasmukh Velji Shah – World Hindu Council

The ideal world, free of conflict and war, in which we all desire to live is aptly captured in the daily prayers recited by Hindus all over the world “Vishwa Dharma Prakashena; Vishwa Shanti Pravartake; Lok Sanghathna Karye; Dhiyeya Nistha Sthirasthunaha||” – Let there be a shine and glorious Universal Order which will bring Universal Peace by uniting people of this earth, let this be our noble, unflinching and steadfast aim until we achieve our unity with the Supreme Being.

Unfortunately, the world as we know it is not the ideal we seek. It is full of discordant relations and behaviour which has brought conflict and friction of horrendous proportions. Let us try to understand the reasons for this state of conflict in us.

Disagreement is one reason for conflict. The story of three frogs illustrates this fact amply. The frog who lives in a well has not seen what exists outside and is not prepared to accept anything else, while the one who resides in the pond thinks only in terms of the near valleys and hills, beyond which there is no existence. On the other hand, an ocean frog is well aware of wider existence beyond the horizon. Naturally disagreement gives rise to conflict between the three in understanding the definition of the World each one sees and lives in. It is like the four blind men who each give an impression of what an elephant looks like by either touching the trunk or the ears or the tail or the legs. Each one is right but does not represent the whole. Disagreeing to others’ views is bound to lead to conflict.

Lack of respect for others’ beliefs and way of life also leads towards friction. Denying that there is more than one mode of Worship, denying that more than one Prophet is the Saviour OR not accepting the existence of more than one Holy Scripture is tantamount to disrespect to others.

Respect alone is not sufficient to remove suspicion of others’ way of live, and suspicion leads to conflict. Accepting the equality & Validity of all other Faiths is the touch stone which mankind must build upon for a World free of conflict.

Attempting to Dominate Man & Matter has led to Wars, Massacres, Genocide and Ethnic Cleansing on massive scales since the beginning of Mankind. Domination of Oil, Gold, Minerals, and now the Environment, have all been responsible for taking Human Beings to an abyss of total and self-destruction. But the biggest influence in conflict and war has been that of Religious Domination. Be it Bosnia, the Middle East, Afghanistan, East Timor, Nigeria, Mali or our own backyard Northern Ireland, the fuel for murder is Religion. Ethnic cleansing in the nations of post-Soviet era is proof enough of foisting Religious Orthodoxy to dominate that part of the world. In the name of God Man seems to be comfortable to inflict the most brutal torture on mankind. And yet it is Religion which professes to Salvage Humanity. The question is Whose Religion & God and who are the People who will receive the favour of being salvaged?

Where does Hindu Dharma fit in the scenario of Peace, War and Conflict (there is no word in English which has the exact meaning of DHARMA. It has been defined in scriptures as “That which sustains “ – Dharayeti iti Dharmaha.” It encompasses all those systems and values which are instrumental in maintaining harmonious relationships between individual, family, society and the Universe. It includes rules of health, hygiene, economy and ecosystem as well as various religious paths for the attainment of salvation). It is not a Dogma given by a Prophet and is not based on one Scripture. It is based on Fundamental Principles or Universal Truths. Some of these are:- World is One Family – Vasudhaiva Kutumbakama – Truth is One, Wise Men have called it by different Names – Ekam Sat Vipraha Bahudavadanti – Acceptance of the Validity of All Other Faiths as its Equal – Respect & Equality expressed through Action, Speech and Thought – Kaya, Vaacha, Mansa – Sarvaam Khalvidham Brahman – All is ONE not ALL being ONE

History is evident to the fact that Hindu People have never gone out of their spiritual land, India (Hindustan), to dominate and convert other people and nations around the world through use of force or deceit. They have only influenced other people by sheer example of cultural and spiritual living excellence. They have also given shelter to the fleeing Parsis and Jews when these people were being driven out of their own lands through religious persecution and conversion. Not only were these refugees allowed to stay in peace, but they were given total freedom of worship in their original way while living in India. In the Atomic Age the whole human race has a utilitarian motive for the Hindu way. The survival of the human race is at stake and the primary reason for taking Mahatma Gandhi’s (and his followers Nelson Mandela and Martin Luther King) or Emperor Ashoka’s or Swami Vivekananda’s teaching to heart is that this teaching is right – and is right because it flows from a true vision of spiritual reality, equality and unity with divinity. Then and then alone the reason for Conflict and War will be no more and Peace will have a chance to prevail.

In other words, this is HINDUTVA.

(TALK GIVEN TO:  UNIVERSITY OF BRADFORD PEACE STUDIES DEPARTMENT – MA DAY SCHOOL)

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