A Call to Ahimsa and a Prayer for Peace

— By Saptagiri Iyengar, Active member of Sadhana

When does ahimsa lose relevance? It never does.

Even in the face of the Pulwama attack of February 14th that claimed the lives of forty Indian police officers. Even in the face of the Indian government’s counterstrike that claimed the lives of three hundred and twenty militants. Even in the face of the Pakistan government shooting down two Indian military jets. Ahimsa persists in the hearts and souls of the people of India and Pakistan. Ahimsa is not an idea or an ideology that risks losing relevance. Ahimsa is the very state of being natural to every human being. Ahimsa is our highest truth.  

The current political context is very tense. One small perceived misstep could spark a violent sequence of events that has the potential to cause irreversible bloodshed and destruction. The threat of nuclear annihilation looms over all of us. More than ever, we need to return our collective consciousness to the Ahimsa that is innate in every one of us. The need of the hour is Ahimsa--Ahimsa in how we think, how we act, and how we react.

As human beings, we must mourn the loss of lives incurred on all sides. We must not become desensitized to the humanity of our neighbors. Only by exercising Ahimsa collectively will we be able to stop this escalating cycle of Himsa.

We must exercise Ahimsa in our everyday reaction to the sensationalized news that stokes our egos and floods our minds with cries of revenge. It is only through the constant, intentional, exercise of Ahimsa in the face of this relentless stream of media provocation that will we able to come together as advocates of peace and harmony. It is through Ahimsa that we can struggle toward a world free of militaries, jingoism, and war.

 As staunch practitioners of Ahimsa, Sadhana: Coalition of Progressive Hindus calls on the citizens of India and Pakistan to stand in opposition to this rapid escalation of violence on both sides of this critical juncture. Foremost, we must stand in solidarity with the people of Kashmir, over whose homes and families the threat of war threatens to wreak the most devastating violence.

In 1966 M.S. Subbulakshmi, the renowned Carnatic singer, performed “Maitrim Bhajata” by the Paramacharya of Kanchi, Sri Chandrashekarendra Saraswati, in front of the U.N. Assembly. The humble song is a plea for universal peace and implores the nations of the world to unite under the banner of humanity. In the current moment, India and Pakistan should heed the timeless wisdom of the Jagadguru and put into practice this noble call.

maitrīṃ bhajata akhilahṛjjetrīm

ātmavadeva parānapi paśyata |

yuddhaṃ tyajata spardhāṃ tyajata

tyajata pareṣu akramam ākramaṇam ||

jananī pṛthivī kāmadughāste

janako devaḥ sakaladayāluḥ |

dāmyata datta dayadhvaṃ janatāḥ

śreyo bhūyāt sakalajanānām ||

 

Commit to Friendship and Humility,

For they will conquer the hearts of all.

Look upon others as yourself.

Renounce war.

Forsake rivalry.

Give up unwarranted invasions.

Mother Earth gives us all that we require.

God, our father, is most compassionate.

Oh peoples of the world!

Practice Restraint.

Be kind.

Be generous.

May all peoples reach the highest truth.