Swami Chinmayananda Thoughts on Violence and Nonviolence



No single work in our classics has gained such a wide influence on our people as the Bhagavad Gita: and in, this century, no other single message had such a universal appeal to our countrymen as the single line – Ahimsa Paramo Dharmah – Nonviolence is the greatest Dharma.

This line in its overemphasis, has sapped both initiative and energy in our millions, and, instead of making us all irresistible moral giants, we have been reduced to poltroons and cowards. And banking on this cowardly resignation of the majority, a handful of fanatics have been perpetrating crimes which even the most barbarous cave dwellers would have avenged.

Let us for a moment go to the original sacred verse and investigate the significances of the moral precept: Ahimsa Paramo Dharmah. This is the opening line of a stanza, and the very next line reads: Dharma himsaa tathaiva cha. "So too is all righteous violence."

By the over-emphasis laid on non-violence we have come to witness the pathetic situation of today. When will we learn to fully interpret our Vedas, scriptures and Upanishads. If only we all learn that dharma-himsa is equally noble as ahimsa.

Indeed, non-violence is the supreme policy to be adopted by man to foster enduring peace in the world; but there are certain dire moments in the life of individuals, as of nations, when we will have to meet force with force in order that justice be done.

To every individual his mother, wife and children are the nearest dependents and to guard their honor and life is the unavoidable first moral duty of each head of the family. This is an obligation whether the victim be a member of the majority or of the minority class within a country, province or city.

In the battlefield, when violence is rampant, it is the dharma of everyone to meet that maniacal violence with determined, restrained, violence not only in self-defense but also to convince the aggressive vicious few that 'it rarely pays to be violent.'

Swami Chinmayananda

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