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Hinduism Core Teachings On Peace In Life And Society

What is the single most effective way to secure peace in society, peace in the world? To develop a sense of oneness with one another. We are all essentially divine. When we remember this inherent divinity present in everyone, we begin to see others with respect and love and that is the end of all quarrels and dissension.

Social harmony comes when we discover our underlying unity. There are various ways to unity but the best is to realize our divinity which is equally present in everyone. Feeling one with one another at the level of atman is what provides a solid foundation for lasting sense of solidarity and the resultant happiness.

Our Rishis valued wisdom or deep understanding of life. They rightly recognized that unless good sense prevails upon the people, peace and harmony will remain a distant dream. Hence they fervently prayed for proper intelligence, so that men may not resort to violence. True intelligence is that which leads to understanding the fact that coexistence and interdependence is the way of life.

Upanishads, the essence of the Vedas, counsel all seekers of peace to be seekers of Truth. Untruth cannot bring peace. It can only add to our miseries and woes. Truth always makes man peaceful and strong. Truth, again, is of two types: the lower and the higher. Man travels from lower truth to higher truth. A seeker of truth is a traveller from lower truth to higher truth. Hence the Vedic Rishis tell us to pray for the higher truth.

Why should one practice non-violence? The simple reason which the Upanishads give is essentially we are all one.

Indeed when one sees the same self everywhere, in all beings, how can he hurt others? Hurting others is to hurt oneself.

The Upanishad also speaks of nonviolence against ‘all creatures’ (sarva bhuta) and the practitioner of ahimsa is said to escape from the cycle of reincarnation.

The Upanishads teach us to seek total peace. It is not just seeking peace of mind but peace with the rest of the creation. Only then can total peace be achieved.

Scientific and technological progress alone cannot bring peace in life. We need to have nobility of heart if we want peace of mind. It means cultivating a right approach towards life and a healthy attitude towards everyone. Peace, shanti, is the highest and greatest need of all times.

Source – Excerpts from Towards a Vedic Philosophy of Peace by Rudraprasad Matilal – Vedanta Kesari May 2010