I come from a land that has produced iconic figures who spoke about peace and peaceful means to achieving harmony. Throughout Vedic traditions, history has recorded persons who have achieved a great deal of harmony through their peaceful and pacifist approach. I will talk about two who strode across the sub-continent propagating peace.
The first was Buddha who made such an impact on the population not only in India but right across the east. Centuries after his birth and death, his teachings continue to impact people. His sphere was religion and the search for enlightenment about birth, life and death. He abhorred violence and his teachings talk about attaining personal and social equilibrium.
The second person was Mahatma Gandhi. His circle of influence extended from his basic tenets formed by the Bhagavad Gita to a political landscape. He led a non-violent fight for freedom for this country from the shackles of the exploitative and subjugated Raj of the British. His non-violence movement began with his own person and rippled across a nation. The Independence of India was not however, gained with the total absence of bloodshed and violence.
There is more knowledge about war than about peace. History has always focussed on wars, occupation of territories, usurping of land and people and establishing might through weapons and battle strategy. When we talk of peace, it is always a Utopian condition envisaged for the future. Descriptions of reigns, governments and nation building are not defined by peaceful conditions.
Peace can only be achieved through cooperation and integration between major human groups. This has been made possible through the dissemination of information that is part of the IT revolution. Today, electronic means to spread information is a huge aid in the effort to build lasting peace. By helping people communicate, view information, make decisions, and understand each other better, media, cell phones, social platforms and the internet can help greatly. The media can positively impact people’s opinions and attitudes and if used positively it can put an end to conflict and war. Sadly, that is not the case now. Emotions and feelings are whipped up to create tensions and conflict among communities based on religion, class, ideology and political differences.
Peace is not created with a one-time act of calling a cease-fire, signing agreements and accords, or publicly demonstrating reconciliations. It is just a date or milestone between two instances of war. In fact war and peace is a well-known, well used phrase that is just a metaphor in nation’s polity.
True peace can only be established over time. It involves dialogue and compromise, understanding and the will to let another person’s point of view prevail at many different levels. Peace is possible only through the action of different people, in different ways and at different points in a timeline of a conflict.
Arbitration, mediation, negotiation, reconciliation, peacekeeping by civilian and military authorities—these are important foundations for permanent peace solutions.
In the Vedic tradition the concept of Ram Rajya is an important goal or social and political condition. Ram Rajya embodies the popular conception of administrative perfection—the ideal ruler or the ideal status of monarchy. This is not typically a promotion of a single head or ruler who ‘owns’ the nation, the land and the people. Ram Rajya means that the State exists for the benefit of the people and not that the individual exists for the benefit of the State.
Several thousand years have passed and people still remember the reign of Sri Rama, the seventh incarnation of Lord Vishnu, the Protector of the universe. Rama’s reign has always been a benchmark in governance. His rule was an ideal one and stands for good administration, material prosperity and moral and spiritual well being of a nation. For the people of Ayodhya, Ram Rajya was a Bhuloka Vaikuntam- heaven on earth. It was Mahatma Gandhiji’s ardent wish to establish Rama Rajya in modern India after the freedom struggle. He said Rama Rajya is the kingdom of God on earth.
The great epic poet Valmiki, describes in The Ramayana about Rama Rajya at the end of the Pattabhishekam sargam, No. 128—the last sargam of the Yuddha Kanda in the Valmiki Ramayanam. The poet says that there was peace and prosperity everywhere. All the citizens were happy and content. There were no untimely death, people lived up to their full life span and free from all diseases and grief. The seasons never failed, the land yielded crops in abundance and the trees blossomed perennially with flowers and fruits. The winds were always pleasant and there were no devastating floods or cyclones. Trade flourished and there was plenty and more importantly, there was equity. As there was no one in the land who was needy, there was no need to give charity. There were no thefts anywhere and there were no signs of internal or external trouble. In Ram Rajya, Valmiki concludes, the idea of Bhuloka Vaikuntam had become a reality.
That is the idea of peace in the true context for where there is equity, when justice in its true sense prevails, when there is nobody in need…then there is no conflict. Peace prevails.
This topic was suggested by Shackman, for the weekly Friday Loose Bloggers Conortium where currently eight of us write on the same topic every Friday. This is my contribution to that effort. The seven other bloggers who write regularly are, in alphabetical order, Ashok, gaelikaa, Lin, Maxi, Padmum, Shackman and The Old Fossil.