ROLE OF VEDAS IN THE ESTABLISHMENT OF PEACE IN THE WORLD

WRITER : DR. KRISHNA ACHARYA 2016-05-02


This topic really incorporates peace, harmony, and cohesiveness, throughout all nations of the world. Peace in the world would also mean "a complete elimination of war amongst nations and societies." In this modern era although there is very little to no out and all war among nations, there continues to be economic rivalry, injustice, shortage of essential needs, discrimination, abuse, disparity, and the resultant tension in society. How can such a situation be considered a form of peace? From the Vedic point of view, the only way peace can be called real, if the needs of all individuals ,families, and societies have their essential needs met, live fearlessly, and have love and respect for all in their day to day life. This state of peace should then be similar to a cow loving her calf, or a mother loving her children. One Vedic hymn, which explains such a state is as follows:

Samaani vah aakuti, samaani hyrdeyaani vah,

samaanam astu vo mano yathaa vah su sahaasati

sam jaaneedhwam sam prachyadhwam sam vo manaansi jaanataam

devaa bhaagam yathaa poorve sam jaanaanaam upaasate

sehridayam samaanasyam vidwesham krinomi vah

anyo anyam bhi haryad vatsam jaatamivagnyaa
The essence of this mantra is that all segments of society should have similar ideas, their minds and hearts should be similar, and actions lead to a result that is beneficial for all. Let there be no jealousy and a motherly love abound.

To bring about such a situation, five principles must be followed:

Principles of 1) individual, 2) family, 3) social, 4) national, and 5) world peace

1. Principle of Individual Peace

One does not have to be a genius to conclude that an individual is the real basis of all peace. After the first world ended in 1919, peace-loving nations got together, and a league of nations was formed. Despite that, some nations continue to secretively prepare themselves for war, therefore resulting in a second world war that also arose out of aggression of select individuals. Despite all of these efforts, there have been many wars in different parts of the world. It is clear that what has been done is not the real solution. One can conclude that one of the main reasons for these wars is human ego. Vedas tell us to be human, full of qualities. Swami Dayanand Saraswati writes that only that one who can contemplate and understand the happiness, unhappiness, losses, and gains in its real sense; he directs us to be fearless from unjust powerful individuals, and be kind and fearful towards a weak and righteous individual. Every effort is to be made to make the unjust powerless and give more strength in the hands of just individuals, no matter how hard it is, no matter how painful it is, even to the loss of the individual sacrifice.

Six types of deficiencies in human personality can result in unhappiness making one behave like an animal. These are desires, anger, greed, attachment, passion, and jealousy In Vedic teachings, these bad qualities have been compared to behavior of animals like owl (attachment), wolf (anger), dog jealousy, bird (passion), eagle (lust), vulture (greed), snake, scorpion, etc. The message here is that if an individual can remove these evils and behave humanly, peace will result. It is the control of mind which is most essential, and the hymn is:

Tanmeh manahaa shiv sankaal pamastu

In Athaarveda, it is the sensory organs of knowledge (gyaanendriya), speech, and mind, can result in unhappiness and bad behavior. On the other hand, if used appropriately, the same senses can also serve as the basis of peace. Maharishi Paatangali, in Yoga Daarshan, has given us ten codes of conduct. Five are social: nonviolence, honesty, nonstealing, celibacy, and nonaccumulation of unnecessary worldly possessions. The other five are personal codes of conduct: mental and physical cleanliness, hard work, satisfaction while bearing all difficulties and worldly situations, introspection (the study of scriptures and self-examination, with the intent of improving oneself), and surrender to god (that is the all-powerful, formless god). Following this path can result in peace, and just to repeat, individual peace will always result in familial, societal, national, and eventually worldly peace.

2. Principle of Family Peace

Personal peace is dependent on the peace existent in the family. An atmosphere of good relationships and actions within members of a family is extremely important. It is well known that people who commit crimes have higher incidence of family unrest. There are two main reasons of family unrest: financial dissatisfaction/disagreement and lack of trust with one another. During the marriage ceremony, or Vivvaaha Sanskaar, the husband promises while reciting the mantra from Rigveda "grehnaami te sobhaagatwaye hance mayaa patraa jardashtir yathaasah," meaning I accept you for attainment of lifelong happiness and prosperity. One of the sandhyaa mantras- vayaam syaam pataayo rayeenaam- means "may god bless us with all the prosperity". Another mantra explains that we ask god to provide us with children, materialistic possessions, austerity, intellect, and the capacity to enjoy all that we have with a feeling of selflessness. Several other Vedic teaching have similar a similar meaning. Vedas further instruct that any prosperity and materialistic possessions can result in peace only if possessions are attained by hard work and honesty. The first mantra of the 40th chapter of Yajurveda, or first mantra of the Ishopnishad, resoundingly declares that lord pervades in all that exists and all of what exists belongs to god. This chapter also explains that one must enjoy all that god has given with a feeling of renunciation, and finally, that one must not take anybody else's possessions by unfair means- "Eesha vaasya midam sarvam yaat kinch jagatyaam jagat tain tyaktain bhunjitaa maagrada kaasya-swiddhanam."

Same thoughts have been echoed by the great Chaanakyaa. He declared that ultimately it is the service, or care, of the elderly by the rest of the family that leads to peace and happiness in that given family. There is yet another teaching in the Vedas. The teaching is that the conduct of children should be according to the desire of parents. The husband and wife should be cordial, respectful, and loving towards one another. There should be no jealously among siblings, and the different members of family should work selflessly for the welfare of one another. Listening, respecting, and caring for elderly parent has been considered to the highest order of service.

3. Principle of Social Peace

The society consists of families, and they influence each other. Besides the family, there are other reasons why there could be a peace or lack of it, in the society. These are untouchability, economic discrimination, religious jealousy, caste system, regional differences, etc. In our original scriptures, the Vedas, there is no place for all of these forms of discrimination. These social evils have become a part of our living, quite unfortunately, and need to be removed. Presence of these ills in society should not reflect on these original teachings. These have been added somewhere along the line because of selfish motives of those who were in control, and need to be brought back to its original glory. However, the principle of homogeneous, non-discriminative society does not mean that there should be no diversity. According to Vedic principles, unless there is diversity, there can be no creation (when the three states of nature, sat, raj, and tam, are in unison). According to one of the principles of Arya Samaj, no one is free to swerve away from the social rules that are beneficial to all. Donations have specially been stressed in the Vedas. Vedic teachings are that if someone has enough financial prosperity, and does not make donations, should be punished.

4. Principle of National Peace

Combination of an efficient, just, and kind ruler, and a proper administration are crucial to the safety and progress of a nation and happiness of its citizens. According to Shatpath Bhramin, only a person with those qualities is fit to be a king. For example constitution of America was prepared in such a way that there is no chance for the president or any other segment of government or military to become autonomous. Vedas state that the ruler protect its citizens in times of famine, and from external and internal disturbances. The war and peace being two sides of the same coin. Punishing the wicked is considered essential. Same were the teachings by Lord Shri Krishna in Gita. Kindness should not be considered a weakness, as is also written in Valmiki Ramaayan.

5. Principle of Global Peace

The main principle of Vedas for global peace is krinvaanto vishwam aaryam. Again, to reiterate, it is the code of conduct of an individual, which can make the world a better place. In the 40th chapter of Yajurveda, there is a beautiful mantra which is as follows:

Yastu sarvaani bhutaaani aatmaanev anupashtati,Sarva bhuteshu cha aatmaanan tato na vij upsaate

Yasmin sarvaani bhutani aatmev bhutvijaanateh Tatra ko moha kah shokah aikatvam anupashyatah
The meaning is that those who perceive the same Supreme Being in everyone's heart, and dwell on positivity and commonness rather than differences are not jealous. They also see that all souls are essentially children of the same god. They see unity, and are neither attached or unhappy.

Vedas tell us that everything that everyone has equal rights to use all products derived from nature. This basically includes everything we ever use in life. Atharvveda has presented seven principles of world peace. These are:

1. Satyaam bhre (life of honesty)

2. Ritaam (following the rules of creation)

3. Ugraam (hard work)

4. Deekshaa (vow of social service)

5. Tap (consistent hard work without reaction to stability and instability)

6. Bhram (spread of knowledge and faith in god)

7. Yajya (doing noble work for social welfare)

Contrary to these actions, bad conduct, selfishness, lust, ignorance, and not following the rules of nature wil lead to unhappiness. Since it is the mind which is the seat of all actions, good and bad, Vedas ask us to remind ourselves everyday, and that we pray to god to make our mind full of good thoughts and determinations.

Taanme manah shiva sankal pamastu

This requires pratice of yoga in its entirety. The ultimate hymn for peace is:

"Om dyo shaanti, antariksham shaanti, prithavi shaanti, aapah shaanti, oshadayaa shaanti, vanaaspatah shaanti, vishvedevah shaanti, bhramah shaanti, sarvam shaanti shaanti revah shaanti saama shaanti redhi om shaanti, shaanti, shaanti om"