Vinobaji's views on 'Non-violence training'
Questions & answers between Shri Ramchandraji, Gandhi Smarak Nidhi and Vinobaji, March 1971, Brahma Vidya Mandir
What nonviolent action is
Question: We are in the process of starting a school of Non-violence. What would be an appropriate goal for this school that will galvanize the youth and workers like the goal of independence did during our freedom struggle?
Answer: There is no doubt that the freedom struggle inspired a lot of educated persons in which we, who are now aged, participated. Thinking back, we now realize that even though there was great enthusiasm, it was negative thinking. There were no positive expectations in wanting the English to leave, though Gandhiji tried to introduce constructive activities in his struggle for independence. But the people did not fully implement his programs of non-violence and constructive work in accordance with his wishes and hence the struggle cannot be called totally non-violent. It was a non-violence of the weak. Gandhji had even said towards the end that our struggle was not truly non-violent. The Almighty blinded me and used me to achieve our independence. In short, our goal was negative and moreover non-violence of the weak.
If you are starting a school, then the true meaning of non-violence should be taught. In the present circumstances, it would not be appropriate to limit ourselves to India (Bharat). It should have global implications. As far as India is concerned, the school should think about social, economic, spiritual and cultural equality. There has not been much improvement after independence in the conditions of our people. We should not think that the goal of non-violence was to achieve only political independence. We must have economic and social independence. There has to be a sense of brotherhood and sisterhood among people.
Unless we make spiritual equality as our basis, all our discourse will remain shallow superficial and suitable for the issue on hand. There is a need to rise above the current situation. Like we have pure science and applied science, similarly in non-violence too had two aspects, pure and applied and only a combination of the two makes it complete and true non-violence.
Gandhiji combined the practice of truth and abstinence with non-violence. He introduced the rules and regulation in our ashrams which are normally applicable to our yogis. Your school should have a similar ambience. Times have changed; now only science and spirituality is relevant. Spirituality will take precedence over religion. The Roman Catholics and Protestants are fighting in Ireland, the Shias and Sunnis are fighting. Hundreds have been killed in these fights. That is why now I talk about spirituality instead of religion.
There cannot be one language in the whole world. There are hundreds of languages. Political powers also differ from nation to nation. Some countries and people are very rich and some countries are very poor. So where is equality? One human should accept the other as an equal. In all aspects, all thoughts which differentiate human beings, which causes disparities, will be put aside, and only the spiritual will remain. Only when we rise above language, caste, religion, gender inequality, economic, sects, political parties, nationalities, will be become one and united. We are all one spiritually.
No matter if the person is highly educated and very rich or poor and uneducated, if he hears that someone has sacrificed for the welfare of the poor, it will make him very happy. It will create aversion if he hears that someone has killed another person. This is conscience and both civilized and uncivilized person have it even if they do not express it in the same way. Their feelings are the same. I believe that this human conscience is spirituality.
The words such as sacrifice are positive. The real meaning of non-violence is 'to love' - 'love force'.
To summarize, I have said three things; one the positive meaning of non-violence, two, from the global point of view the feelings of all, and third in respect of Bharat, an outlook of economic, social and spiritual equality.
Question: We have a peace foundation Institution (shanti pratisthan). We are making efforts in other countries also. It is necessary to remain in contact with them, but there are differences of opinion. We need your guidance.
Answer: Technology has brought the world closer. We have in our Brahma-vidya mandir (Ashram) where people from various countries; a sister from Germany, one brother from America, Sarlabahen is from England are in the Ashram. They have all become one here. We wish that such ashrams and Spiritual Centers are established all over the world where people from all over the world can meet and share their thoughts with each other. But of course they should be qualified and deserving. We have not been able to establish peace in our own country. When there are riots and disturbances in my own country and if I go to America and start lecturing them on 'peace' they are certainly going to ask me to tell them first what is happening in my country. So (Peace Centers) Shantipratisthan's first priority is to bring peace in our country by forming Shantisena (peace volunteers). Gramdaan with Shantisena. Then only will we have peace in our country and be able to get results in other countries. Let some members of Peace Centre keep contact with other countries and others should form peace volunteers and start work here.
Question: From an historical perspective and for the future benefit of the society, it is necessary to spread Gandhiji concept of humanism and his sacrifice for truth through non-violence in the world. There have been such martyrs in all countries and all religions. We can gain by spreading this knowledge all over the world.
Answer: We should understand what is a martyr? A person killed for a particular reason is considered a martyr. Had Gandhiji not been assassinated and had died a natural death he would have probably not been considered a martyr. In that sense Lord Buddha and Mahavir are not martyrs. Martin Luthur King and Gandhiji are martyrs. Therefore being assassinated cannot be the criteria of being considered a martyr. It is the one who has sacrificed - surrendered his life - I have coined the term 'surrendered soul'.
There is an assembly of all messiahs, religious leaders, and saints. Throughout history considering all over the world there may be about 100 or 200 such leaders. We should consider all them a part our family, one family. Such text books should be prepared. Look what is happening in India? No one in Tamilnadu has heard about Saint Shankar Madhavdev is spiritual leader of Assam. Ramanujacharya used to consider himself inferior to his guru Nammalvar, but no one knows about the latter. People know of Ramanuj because he wrote in Sanskrit but no one knows about his guru. Such a list of hundred or two hundred gurus who have connected people should be prepared which would comprise names of great men including teachers, scientists, and political leaders of king Ashok's caliber. Each region should give more details about such men from their regions. The question will arise if this list is going to be historical or mythological (pauranic). For example, Prahalad and Harishchandra would be mythological. Would you add them to this list or not? The main consideration will be whether the women and men in this list have made an impact in the lives of human beings. Such names will be in the list.