Indu Jains Speech
- Times of India 31.8.2000
Non-violence is way to world peace
The speech delivered by Mrs Indu Jain, Chairman, The
Times Group, at the ongoing Millennium World Peace
Summit of Religious and Spiritual leaders at the
Bhagwan Mahavir was deep in meditation. His closed
eyes emanated an extraordinary peace and serenity. A
bird flew in and sat close to him. When he opened his
eyes, the bird got frightened and flew away. Lord
Mahavir thought of the violence inherent in the very
opening of the human eye. Non-violence, or a-himsa is
not only the absence of violence but it is the lack of
fear and the presence of an all-embracing love for
Non-violence is reaching out to others while
transcending the barriers of caste, creed, religion,
sex, faction and even species. It is an independent
state of consciousness. Our physical, emotional and
intellectual states of being limit and confine us;
they choke us, degrade us and make us unhappy. The
absence of fetters or chains is non-violence.
Removing ignorance is the first step towards building
a world movement for non-violence. True knowledge
consists of self-understanding and self-control.
Non-violence is the highest form of knowledge since it
harmonises one's relations with others. Ahimsa, like
moksha or nirvana, is freedom from the endless drama
of opposites: pleasure-pain, happiness-sorrow,
attraction-aversion, love-hate, gain-loss,
success-failure, wealth-poverty, fear-courage,
strength-weakness, victory-defeat, praise-denigration,
gentleness-aggression, virtue-vice, good-evil,
In short, non-violence is freedom from the past, from
history, from memory. It is freedom from all that
which suffocates, chokes, distresses and disturbs.
Therefore, whatever can be subdued by opposites is not
free; whatever is not free cannot be non-violent; I
cannot be sensitive to other people's plight if I
remain a prisoner of the human drama being played out
by these opposites.
How can I be sensitive to other people and their pain?
The Jain philosophy of anekantvad has an answer to
this. It argues that there are no absolute theories or
theorems or formulas that are capable of describing
reality in absolute terms. Nirvana lies in right faith
(samyagadarshana), right knowledge (samyagnana) and
right conduct (samyakcharitra). Simply put, my way is
not the final one, my version is not the only version,
and my truth is not the ultimate truth. There are many
ways, several versions and diverse paths to reach the
truth. Each in its own right is legitimate.
How is this perfect state of peace and universal love
to be obtained? Desire and its satisfaction cannot be
the foundation of relationship with my self and the
other. In relation to myself, desire will only drive
me restless, anxious in seeking satisfaction and in
wanting to retain what I have. I will reach a point
where I can hardly ever enjoy what I desired and
obtained. In relation to the other, I turn the other
into a means of my satisfaction, into an object, to be
grasped and retained, and then manipulated. This is
why Jainism places such great emphasis on a-parigraha,
roughly translated as non-possession. But this
non-possession is not one of objects alone, but
non-possession of desires and control of the lower
It is fashionable in the West to think of non-violence
as a powerless tool. This is a misunderstanding.
Non-violence is a way of life and a theory of an ideal
society. One who believes in non-violence resists and
counters violence by being uninfluenced by it.
Non-violence absorbs the recurrence of violence. It is
an expansive, all-embracing love and concern for all
living and non-living beings. Remorse and bitterness
are not part of the agenda of non-violence.
Who would understand the language of love and concern
better than the youth of today? If non-violence has to
become a world movement, the young will have to assume
the leadership of this movement. They have shown
tremendous initiative in taking up the cause of
environmental protection, furthering peace and rising
above the narrow confines of nationality, ethnicity
and parochialism. Today's youth is a global citizen.
He or she understands the only language that is
universal: love. And love is possible through
non-violence alone. I salute the youth of today. I
salute non-violence. I believe in universal love and
dedicate myself to furthering it.
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