Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Violence against Injustice in Buddhism



Every war that was fought was once a thought that someone thought
If he/she had not thought that thought then they would not have fought
--- Pratap Tambay and Shahnawaz Alam

The Buddha is almost made to sound synonymous with non-violence. But the buddhist ideal of non-violence is mid-way between the extreme violent injustice of the hindu religion (untouchability, sati and animal sacrifices in yagnas) and the extreme impractical non-violence of the jain religion. I quote

--- Excerpt from TBAHD (The Buddha and His Dhamma - by Dr. B.R.Ambedkar) begins

The Buddha was against violence. But he was also in favour of justice andwhere justice required he permitted the use of force. This is well illustrated in his dialogue with Sinha Senapati the Commander-in-Chief of Vaishali. Sinha having come to know that the Buddha preached Ahimsa went tohim and asked:"The Bhagvan preaches Ahimsa. Does the Bhagvan preach an offender to begiven freedom from punishment? Does the Bhagvan preach that we should not goto war to save our wives, our children and our wealth? Should we suffer atthe hands of criminals in the name of Ahimsa.?"" Does the Tathagata prohibit all war even when it is in the interest ofTruth and Justice?"Buddha replied. You have wrongly understood what I have been preaching. Anoffender must be punished and an innocent man must be freed. It is not afault of the Magistrate if he punishes an offender. The cause of punishmentis the fault of the offender. The Magistrate who inflicts the punishment isonly carrying out the law. He does not become stained with Ahimsa. A man who fights for justice and safety cannot be accused of Ahimsa. If all the meansof maintaining peace have failed then the responsibility for Himsa falls onhim who starts war. One must never surrender to evil powers. War there maybe. But it must not be for selfish ends...."

--- Excerpt from TBAHD (The Buddha and His Dhamma - by Dr. B.R.Ambedkar) ends

So the true way of ending war is to fight and win the war with own mind, to reduce ones bad qualities and improve ones qualities in the mind, so that the skillful thoughts, speech and action generated by the mind prevent wars outside.
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