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Nonviolence and Its Many Facets (Booklet)

by Acharya Mahaprajna

The question arises as to how violence was born in man. His forbears - the primates - had already learnt the art of living together. Some other mammals had learnt it earlier. Then when and how did man become violent? This is an unanswered question.

Man too is a social animal. He lives in society together with other fellow beings. But social life by its very definition implies a life of inter-relatedness. These relations have multiple bases. To satisfy his sex instinct man built the institution of the family and new relations came into being. He made friends to indulge his feeling of affection. His ego gave him a feeling of exclusiveness. More new relationships were born. But all of them were based on the utility principle. By themselves they have produced what might be called practical non-violence. Members of the family and friends do not normally fight with or torment one another. But is it true non-violence ? It certainly is not, for even the slightest case involving selfish interests explodes the relationship. This is true of husband-wife, brother-brother and all such relationships. Examples are not lacking where one has even murdered the other. Thus we must distinguish between what we have called practical non-violence and true spiritual non-violence, since the former is based on selfishness. It works through our behaviour only so long as our selfish interests are not threatened. Thus it is clear that merely because man is a social animal, he cannot be regarded as a supporter of a non-violent society.

The question - 'How was violence born in man?' if seen in the above light turns out to be basically faulty. It (the question) is the result of a wrong understanding. When our as well as society's entire life style is based on practical non-violence, on the slightest pretext violence can flare up anywhere in the family, between communities, castes and sects. Those researching into non-violence have, I am afraid, not fully grasped this truth. That is why they keep asking the questing: 'How was violence born in man?' For a proper understanding of the whole matter, they have to first understand the concept of spiritual non-violence. Merely living together on the basis of practical non-violence is no guarantee of true and lasting non-violence.

Publisher: Jain Vishwa Bharati, Ladnun, India
Translator: R. P. Bhatnagar
Edition: Second Edition, 1994
Pages: 28
Dimensions: 14.00 x 21.70 x 0.20 cm (W x H x D)
Weight: 47 g
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