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Mainstream, Vol XLVII, No 2, January 24, 2009

Moral Warfare

Monday 26 January 2009


By segregating ethics to the Kingdom of Heaven and depriving the Kingdom of Earth from its use man has up to now never seriously acknowledged the need of higher ideals in politics or in practical affairs. That is why when disagreements occur between individuals—violence is not encouraged but punished, but when the combatants are nations, barbaric methods are not only not condemned but glorified. The greatest of men like Buddha or Christ have from the dawn of human history stood for the ideal of non-violence, they have dared to love their enemies and defied tyrannism by peace, but we have not yet claimed the responsibility they have offered us.

Fight is necessary in this world, combat we must and relentlessly against the evils that threaten us, for by tolerating untruth we admit their claim to exist. But war on the human plain must be what in India we call dharma yuddha—moral warfare. In it we must array our spiritual powers against the cowardly violence of evils. This is the great ideal which Mahatma Gandhi represents, challenging his people to fearlessly apply man’s highest strength not only in our individual dealings but in the clash of nation and nation.

In the barbaric age men’s hunger did not impose any limits on its range of food which included even human flesh but with the evolution of society this has been banished from extreme, possibly in a like manner, we await the time when nothing may supposedly justify the use of violence whatever consequences we are led to face. Because, success in a conflict may be terrible defeat from the human point of view, and material gain is not worth the price we pay at spiritual cost. Much rather should we lose all than barter our soul for an evil victory. We honour Mahatma Gandhi because he has brought this ideal into the sphere of politics and under his lead India is proving everyday how aggressive power pitifully fails when human nature in its wakeful majesty bears insult and pain without retaliating. India today inspired by her great leader opens the new chapter of human history which has just begun.

[Modern Review, September 1934]

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