Exclusive to Vedic Management Centre by U. Mahesh Prabhu
“May all be happy, may all enjoy health, may all enjoy security; let there be no pain, let there be peace, peace, and peace…” say the Vedas. When the Vedas refer to “all”, it means every being, not just humans. The objective of Vedic knowledge and wisdom was to prescribe a path of health, wealth and prosperity. All the research of Vedic scientists, or rishis, was focused on achieving this goal.
During their observation and research, rishis identified a major factor that explained everything that entails pain and gain across the universe – karma. Karma, or the law of cause and effect (causation), explains almost everything in this universe. For, every effect leads to a cause and every cause leads to an effect. Knowing the reason behind cause and effect is key to understanding life and living it fruitfully.
Although modern science approves of this logic, it is not completely accepted. There is still scope for concepts like “accidents” and “God particle”. Vedic wisdom doesn’t accept such mundane concepts. We all get what we deserve. If you have an accident, it’s the result of our Prarabdha–Karma (actions of the past). And what we are to get in the future is a result of that we do today – Sanchita Karma.
Dharma is key to living with health, wealth and prosperity. Dharma presents two key concepts: Himsa or violence and Ahimsa or nonviolence. In an era where Dharma and Karma are often confused and convoluted, Himsa and Ahimsa are among the least understood.
Consider these situations. You are living a peaceful life and suddenly a bandit threatens your life and/or property. You have all your documents right, but when you approach a government official he asks for a bribe. Is it to be called Ahimsa to remain defenceless or pay a bribe or refuse to save your rightful property? That, according to Dharma, would be downright stupidity. Ahimsa is not accepting someone’s persecution, violence and unjustness. That’s verily called Adharma or against Dharma.
Dharma is not doing to others what you don’t like being done by someone else to you. Dharma is that which sustains the order in self (mind), family, society, nation and the world at large. Dharma is sustained by doing things where the strong don’t thrive by suppressing the weak and the weak are not subjugated by the strong. Dharma provides a way for people to live and let live. When there’s an imposition of someone else’s will on you or your own excesses on others, that’s Himsa, causing Adharma.
The Law of Karma provides for the right of every living being to pursue happiness, provided they don’t misuse it. Arishadvargas – lust, anger, greed, infatuation, ego, and envy – are the natural detriments that infest Manas or mind. When these detrimental qualities of the mind go unchecked, they give rise to Himsa or violence. Take your time and check every perceived crime in history and you will find that all those criminals had at least one of these detrimental qualities that overwhelmed them. Dharma teaches us the way to control these urges since uprooting them isn’t easy.
If you are being attacked by someone for unjust reasons and you remain defenseless, it’s not just Ahimsa, but also Adharma! If you are subjecting an animal to torture for sport (hunting), killing its habitat for the sake of your greed (mining), depriving its child for savoring its taste (recreational food), killing trees for your recreation, these constitute Himsa.
Non-vegetarianism is verily Adharma as well as Himsa because countless animals are subjected to seamless pain and torture for days for the sake of easy money and pleasing taste buds of handful for a few seconds. You may argue “I didn’t kill the animal, I just ate its meat or egg”, but it was because you were paying for that, or making someone pay for it, which led to the animal’s torture. You are the big clog in the wheel.
Violence is when your actions inflict direct or indirect pain on others. If you do nothing to stop a crime knowing that it’s bound to happen, it is a crime in itself. Ahimsa doesn’t mean you won’t hurt others; it’s a no-first-strike policy. I will not hurt you if you don’t intend to hurt me. To ask people to be suppressed in the name of Ahimsa is greater Himsa.
A soldier and terrorist both carry weapons; both are trained and paid to kill. But a soldier kills to protect; a terrorist kills to spread his intolerant ideology. For his code and conduct of killing to protect his people, a soldier is following Ahimsa and Dharma. For his code and conduct of killing people to further his own personal belief and faith, a terrorist manifests Himsa and Adharma.
It’s also Himsa when you spread false propaganda against someone who is just. It’s Himsa when you teach Himsa in the name of Ahimsa. Ahimsa is not the absence of violence; it’s also utilizing violence to curb the violence.