In the Indian epic Mahabharata, non-violence has been described as the highest duty of an individual. However, in real life, most people think that it is not feasible to be totally non-violent.
Is it so? When we decide to be non-violent in every situation, it influences our speech and behaviour. A person who wishes to be non-violent will not do anything that may get him into a situation involving violence, whether it is emotional, verbal or, in an extreme case, physical violence.
As a result, such a person is likely to be affable, humble, patient, tolerant, considerate and loving. When such a person’s speech and behaviour are marked by the above qualities, they will not offend or hurt anyone or create any feelings in others that may lead them to be aggressive towards this person.
The result will be harmonious relations with others in which there is no scope for violence of any kind.
On the other hand, a person who believes that one may need to use force sometimes, even if only in self-defence, and therefore carries a weapon, may feel emboldened to act aggressively at times. Such behaviour is obviously not going to win him any friends and will only feed his insecurity and aggression.
“A calm person carries an aura of peace around him. This influences even those who may have negative feelings for him. And this influence extends to all creatures and even the elements of nature.”
We may argue that even if we are nice to everyone, someone may try to harm us due to a vested interest or evil intentions. Being good, they say, is no guarantee of having good done to the self.
It is here that subtle forces come into play. A person who has removed violence from his feelings, thoughts, words and deeds will naturally be peaceful. Subtle waves of peace emanate from such persons and influence the atmosphere and people around him. The proof of this phenomenon can be found in places of worship. Even in a busy area of a city, the inside of a temple, mosque, gurudwara or church is an oasis of calm. These places soothe the mind and provide respite from the hustle and bustle outside. The atmosphere in these places is such because the people who go there create positive, holy or peaceful thoughts while they are there. At the least, they avoid having negative or mundane thoughts. It is human thoughts that create the atmosphere of a place. That is why there is tension in the air in places where people tend to be tense, angry, irritated or frustrated–something that can be seen in workplaces.
When we interact with others, it is the subtle energy we radiate that has the biggest influence on their behaviour towards us. Ever wondered why our sweet words and smiles fail to convince someone for whom we harbour not very good feelings? They are catching the negative vibrations going out from us, not our words.
A calm person carries an aura of peace around him. This influences even those who may have negative feelings for him. And this influence extends to all creatures and even the elements of nature. This is described in the life stories of holy men and women, as to how would-be assassins had a change of heart on coming near them; how wild animals calmed down in their presence; and how the elements of nature came to their aid.
“If all men and women understand as well as Gandhi how the power of non-violence works, much of the world’s conflicts and suffering will end.”
Thus, a person who has quietened his or her mind and intellect can calm down those with violent intentions.
Here one needs to mention the inviolable law of action and reaction, or the law of karma. Sometimes, violence suffered by one may be a result of one’s karmic accounts, whether of the present birth or earlier ones. But, even in such a case a violent reaction on one’s part will only add to one’s karmic bondage. If we understand this fact and face a violent situation calmly, our karmic burden will soon be finished and the violent situation will subside.
The subtle energy of peace also works on a larger scale in societies and nations. Communities that are peaceable see less violent incidents than those where aggression is glorified. Even in international relations, nations that consciously pursue a policy of neutrality, treat all their citizens equally and fairly and do not interfere in others’ affairs, avoid armed conflict. Switzerland, which has not been in an international military conflict since 1815, is a good example of this.
Some people associate national pride with military power and aggressive posturing on the world stage. This does not serve the interests of any nation. Ultimately, the success of a nation is measured by the quality of life of its people, of which peace, stability and security are key elements, and not by the number of wars it has fought or won. One only needs to read the international pages of newspapers to know the condition of nations that pursue a bellicose foreign policy. The security agencies of such nations are constantly on alert for attacks and their citizens fear being targeted abroad because of their nationality.
These nations forget that friendship and non-violence are the best sources of security. As Mahatma Gandhi said, non-violence is the greatest force at the disposal of mankind. It is mightier than the mightiest weapon of destruction devised by the ingenuity of man. If all men and women understand as well as Gandhi how the power of non-violence works, much of the world’s conflicts and suffering will end.