Dharma himsa tathaiva cha – Swami Chinmayananda

Swami Chinmayananda SaraswatiAhimsa paramo dharmaha, dharma himsa tathaiva cha » Non-violence is the greatest dharma, so too is all righteous violence. – Mahabharata

Personally, I am no advocate of violence. But violence, too, has its rightful place in life, life does not preclude death. The average Indian has been moulded into a particular national mentality of quixotic tolerance. His attitude is shaped into its distinct pattern by the ideologies and moralities preached in our national literature. And no single work in our classics has gained such a wide influence on our people as the Bhagawad Gita: and in, this century, no other single message had such a universal appeal to our countrymen as the single line, Ahimsa paramo Dharmah or “Non-violence is the greatest Dharma.”

This line in its over-emphasis, has sapped both initiative and energy in our millions, and, instead of making us all irresistible moral giants, we have been reduced to poltroons and cowards. And banking on this cowardly resignation of the majority, a handful of fanatics have been perpetrating crimes which even the most barbarous cave dwellers would have avenged. To clothe our weaknesses, we attribute to them glorious names and purposefully persuade ourselves to believe that they are brilliant ideologists!

Let us for a moment go to the original sacred verse and investigate the significances of the moral precept: Ahimsa paramo Dharmah. This is the opening line of a stanza [in the Mahabharata], and the very next line reads: Dharma himsa tathaiva cha. “So too is all righteous violence.” Indeed, non-violence is the supreme policy to be adopted by man to foster enduring peace in the world; but there are certain dire moments in the life of individuals, as of nations, when we will have to meet force with force in order that justice be done.

To every individual his mother, wife and children are the nearest dependants and to guard their honour and life is the unavoidable first moral duty of each head of the family. This is an obligation whether the victim be a member of the majority or of the minority class within a country, province or city.

By the over-emphasis laid on non-violence we have come to witness the pathetic situation of today, when thousands, in cowardly fear take to precipitate flight, leaving their innocent children to be butchered and their unarmed helpless women to be dishonoured or converted or killed. Under the cloak of glorified non-violence, an entire nation of cowards fly from their homes, when a small sect of fanatic barbarians boldly stalk in and out of their open undefended thresholds to kill, to rape, and to loot. When will we learn to fully to interpret   our   Vedas, Scriptures  and Upanishads? If only we all learn that dharma-himsa is equally noble as ahimsa.

To me it seems that the only solution for the day’s internal chaos is to bring home to the people the significance of the much neglected teaching of dharma-himsa. As it is, a misled and over-excited minority in the country has the sole monopoly of violence; and non-violence is a dangerous folly. However ideal a moral precept may be, so long as, in a society, innocent children, to be butchered dishonoured and tortured, while the youth of the land is made to watch dispassionately the hellish scene, are we to conclude that either the idea is a dangerous one, or that we have not rightly understood the full meaning of the precept.

Under the present available scheme of chaos in this country, when under the planned instigation of a few power blind, reckless men, a minority community is rendered into a murderous gang of fanatics, it is the duty of the majority to win back the erring thousands. The cure depends upon the disease; the potency of the medicine is decided upon the virulence of the illness. Today when looting, arson and rape are the dharma of a few, it is rank cowardice for the many to suffer the tyranny of the unprovoked violence in meek submission. In the battlefield, when violence is rampant, it is the dharma of everyone to meet that maniacal violence with determined, restrained, violence not only in self-defence but also to convince the aggressive vicious few that it rarely pays to be violent.

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