The irony of the modern world, with its concomitant civilization traits, is that the more it seems to have progressed in terms of scientific and technological marvels, the deeper violence seems to have taken roots. Of all the forms of violence, the most lethal one is when man is after man in his murderous form. This is all the more appalling when one reckons the fact that we the homo sapiens enjoy the gift called the faculty of reason, and yet reason has failed man not because he has lost his ability to use this faculty but there is a choice in taking to violence to settle scores. There is no deficit of laws to tackle violence even as one can well argue that the implementation part of the existing laws needs to be revisited for effective deterrence. However, as the senseless violence of the last few days shows, be it in the killing of a top newspaper editor in the heart of Srinagar or in the savagery inflicted on two innocent boys in Assam’s Karbi Anglong district, there is a deeper psychological issue involved. All of this has stemmed from an acute spirituality deficit.
India has always been known as the land of ahimsa, best represented by Mahatma Gandhi’s use of the pristine doctrine of non-violence in the 20th century British period in this country then ragged by the brutishness of the imperial British. But what was more important in the Mahatma’s use of non-violence as a political weapon was his belief in the spirituality behind non-violence. Courage played such a vital role in his crusade that this simple, khaki-clad political genius was ready 24X7 to face all forms of tyranny inflicted by the British and yet he would never take to violence by instigating his followers to go violent against the colonialists. His was a philosophy of love and compassion even for those who were baying for Indian blood. All of this could be possible because his use of non-violence to force the British to see reason and leave India had its genesis in his spirituality; his was a political saadhanaa. He had malice towards none, not even towards murderers, because his was a language of absolute love. No wonder, therefore, that the great Martin Luther King should have invoked the Mahatma during the heyday of his civil society activism, and no wonder, too, that the legendary Nelson Mandela should have been so very deeply inspired by the modern Indian priest of non-violence. Let us not forget that both King and Mandela too had given a deep spiritual touch to their crusades against their oppressors. And they did win in their own ways, inspiring the whole world.
Therefore, as we try to remember that it is this country that, apart from Gandhi, gave birth to the great spiritual practice of Buddhism too, and whose ancient sages had prescribed the beautiful ways of yoga for self-realization so that every man could see an element of divinity in every single creature in this world, one gets the shock of life when he sees the monstrosity of murderous violence rearing its head virtually everywhere. We have, nevertheless, no shortage of conflict resolution experts in the form of political theorists and sociologists churning out mantras of peace, and yet violence, which does not spare even women and children, all absolutely defenceless, continues to unsettle humanity. The root, in fact, lies in our spiritual deficit – an acute shortage of love, compassion and fellow feeling, or respect for life – despite us being called the spiritual capital of the world. A course correction may still be put in place if our schools evolve spiritually too. Let our children be taught spirituality – which is different from religion because spirituality is a compassionate way of life based on self-realization and a journey into the beautiful inner world of pure and positive emotions and thought processes where there cannot be any room for hatred of any kind – right from Class I. Moral science, which is mostly about do’s and don’ts, has been tested. Now it is time for a spiritual awakening. Yoga in all its forms, including meditation, can work out wonders as well, apart from spiritual discourses and training of the tender and impressionable mind to be righteous in spite of all provocations.