Religious beliefs have for years exerted a strong influence on the perception, attitudes and mindset of the people who have followed the scriptures as they consider them it to be the will of the Almighty. But the interpretation of scriptures at face value, without the application of intellect, has distorted truths and led to the formation of false and unrighteous belief systems.
One such confusion is about the use of violence for good ends. In the Bhagvad Gita, which is based on the principle of ‘Ahimsa Parmodharm’, violence is abhorred as evil and the begetter of all sins. However, the same scripture depicts wars between Gods and Demons. It is depicted that while it was always the asuras who waged wars, devtas took to violence and bloodshed for the protection of goodness in the world. In the end devtas always emerged victorious.
It seems as if the use of violence for meeting righteous ends is justified. This belief system has been the root cause of many wars waged in the name of humanity. Considering it to be just, armies even ask for the Almighty’s blessing, before they take on their ‘enemy’. Wars have caused a chain reaction, and one of the evils that has emerged from them is the unending arms race. Nations are acquiring more and more deadly weapons with the aim to ‘secure’ their countries.
The understanding that violence is allowed for the protection of one’s idea of right has taken horrific forms in people’s personal lives. Incidents of mob ‘justice’ have become common, families have been killing their own children ‘to protect the honor of their community’. Brothers, burning in the fire of anger and revenge, have caused bloodshed within their families and jilted lovers have taken lives to ‘put an end to misery’ caused by unrequited love. In fact these days, the more difficult news is about people seeking revenge for ‘right ends’ rather than people using violence for ‘wrong ends’.
We see violence everywhere natural resources have been plundered recklessly as man has behaved like the arrogant ruler who treats all other life forms as subservient to him. Speechless, innocent animals are slaughtered for their flesh and other parts. This has caused great disturbance in the elements of nature, resulting in global warming and drastic climate change. Nature has been forced to revolt, causing calamities like floods, landslides, earthquakes and hurricanes which have become common all around the world. But, getting back to the scriptures, the Bhagavad Gita itself abhors the idea of violence in thought, word or action.
In fact, the distinguishing feature between the Gods and Demons is that while the former are always nonviolent, the latter are always violent. While it preaches a non-violent way of life, the Gita particularly stresses the consumption of satvik food, which is procured, cooked and served without any violence.
Just ponder over it: what remains of good if it uses bad means? Secondly, what is the need for the right to fight against the wrong, for truth reveals its own self. Will light ever need to fight with darkness to make space? By natural law, darkness disappears when light erupts.
The belief in the use of violence has distorted the principle of ‘right is might’ to ‘might is right’ leading us to believe in theories like ‘survival of the fittest’. The Bhagavad Gita preaches the Law of Karma that espouses that one receives what one sows. This means it is impossible to derive harmonious ends by using violent means.
And so, how is it possible that the scripture that clarifies the Law of Karma and calls non-violence our supreme religion sanctions the use of violence under any circumstances? Surely the depiction of wars in the scriptures is symbolic. Surely, it refers to the fight between good and evil that goes on in the minds of every human being.
We must understand the true meaning behind the depiction in scriptures and discard this deeprooted misunderstanding that has caused immense loss to humanity. Because of this myth, religion today has become a cause of war and fundamentalism, rather than the reason for establishing peace in the world as was intended by its founders.
Source: Prajapita Brahma Kumaris World Spiritual University
Prajapita Brahma Kumaris World Spiritual University is a socio-spiritual educational institution working for the establishment of a peaceful and virtuous society. The organisation imparts spiritual knowledge and teaches Rajayoga meditation that empowers a person with inner powers and divine virtues, developing a vision for the self and clarity in life. It is actively associated with the UN through its affiliation as an NGO. It has a consultative status with ECOSOC and UNICEF. The UN has conferred it with seven peace messenger awards.
The Brahma Kumaris has a global presence with over 9000 meditation centres in 139 countries spread across all the continents, conducting Rajayoga sessions free of cost to anybody interested. The International Head Quarters is in Mt.Abu Rajasthan, India.