Dear members of the Presidium of the World Forum of Spiritual Culture! International Association "Peace through Culture" invites you to the online conference "Spiritual harmony - the basis of peace", dedicated to the Day of Spiritual Accord and the 10th anniversary of the World Forum of Spiritual Culture.
Ancient wisdom and world peace
The world is greatly marching ahead in the 21st Century, but the conflicts between nations are growing. Humanity has been living under the shadow of a nuclear holocaust. Therefore we need peace today. The minds of international leaders must be peaceful. We have two kinds of ways in front of us to achieve world peace. One is the materialistic development, and the other is adopting a peaceful ancient culture.
Today the science and scientists have failed to bring peace to the world. Unfortunately, science is being utilized for manufacturing nuclear weapons and other destructive arms resulting from the misuse of scientific energy. Since the discovery of atomic disintegration and the endless chain reaction in the atom, the whole human world has been living under the threat of death. Therefore it is not wise to say that only through materialistic development, peace can be achieved globally. On the other hand, ancient cultural wisdom, including Indian knowledge, has shown the new world peace and world prosperity.
From the dawn of human civilization, India has projected the lofty ideals of cosmic and Universal peace. Vedas advised us to be peaceful in daily life. They have elaborated on the benefits of Universal brotherhood and explained how to achieve a quiet life. The former prime minister Mr. Jawaharlal Nehru once remarked that all technological and scientific progress of the world, unless balanced by some moral standards and ethical values, was likely to lead us to destruction.
The ancient Indian Literature explains that a happy and contented life cannot be achieved if we waste our time and energy in conflicts. If we have to reach a peaceful life, we have to renounce all kinds of disputes. Once we are free from such contests, peace will jump into our lives. Upanishads, in which the ancient wisdom is preserved, proclaim to have the "Sama dṛṣthi" (Self Same-ness) and universal well-being. Bhagavad Gita clearly says that "how can there be happiness to one who is not peaceful within himself (ashantasya kutah
sukham?) "There cannot be a transcendental intelligence to one who is not connected to God. There is neither be transcendental intelligence nor steady-mind, without which there is no possibility of peace and how can there be happiness without peace". One whose senses are restrained from their objects is certainly of steady intelligence.
The ancient Indian Literature always maintained that human happiness doesn't depend upon the satisfaction of only physical appetites and physical passions or material wealth acquisition. Worldly pleasures cannot give peace to humanity. Even if human beings have all kinds of worldly pleasures, they cannot be happy and peaceful if their minds are constantly obsessed with anxiety and hatred, which raises disturbance instead of peace.
The ancient sages have realized that peace is a necessity for all human beings. They realized that peace is the ultimate objective of all existence in the world. Peace is a necessary and essential requirement for any society for sustainable growth and development. Individual peace heads to world peace gradually and steadily. In Hindu scriptures, Gods are described as the embodiments of peace; where there is peace, there live Gods. Lord Vishnu had been described as an Embodiment of peace. (shantakaram bhajaga shayanam, padmanabham suresham, etc.) In a society where social or political discrimination is there, there can be peace. Consensus exists in a society where domination, racism, deprivation, etc. have no place.
Indian Literature has been emphasizing since the dawn of civilization for the quest for peace and thereby perfection. Rgvedic hymns are replete with prayers for peace. In Rāmāyaṇa and Mahābhārata, we can find high appreciation for peace. Before the commencement of great a war, 'Kurukṣetra' elders of Kauravas and pānḍavas and their teachers have tried for peaceful negotiations. Krishna has made efforts to bring peace to the kingdom. Epic Mahābhārata wants to show the dire consequence of the failure of peace treaties. This epic suggests how every worrier and wise people dies due to war.
Lord Mahāvīra and Buddha both equally lay great emphasis on peace and non- violence. Buddha says in Dhammapada (Verses 102 and 103), "Better than the recitation of a hundred verses that are senseless and unconnected with the realization of Nibbana, is the recitation of a single verse of the Teaching (Dhamma) if on hearing it one is calmed. (Verse 102). A man may conquer a million men in battle, but one who conquers himself is, indeed, the greatest of conquerors". (Verse 103)
Thus Indian wisdom always stresses wholesome peace. They advocated the inner peace, which brings external peace gradually. If every individual becomes peaceful, then eventually, the whole world will become calm. Today whatever conflicts, violence, and wars occur, they are all frustrate expressions of inner struggle. The real war occurs within an individual human being which gradually transforms into the extreme action that we call world war or wars between nations. So the natural enemy of peace is within us and not outside. Therefore all Indian scriptures emphasized individual peace. They stressed self- realization, Self-restraint, control of sense organs, and, more importantly, the power of the mind. Ultimately it is the mind, which brings peace to an individual. This individual mental peace leads to collective cosmic peace. Without realizing this truth, some modern scholars say that peace can only be possible through gender justice, social justice, or community justice. They only see on surface-level problems and not tried to understand the true nature of the issues.
In the 1950s, the non-aligned protest movement against the possession, proliferation, testing, and employment of nuclear weapons gained importance in western European countries. The peace process initiated to negotiate the conflicts between political entities. During the cold war, the Soviet Union and China have developed the concept of peaceful coexistence for communist states to coexist with capitalist countries. In China, it was needed to live harmonious with the regional powers. It was in direct contrast with the theories that the two regimes could not live in peace. In 1949 under Stalin's leadership, the Soviet Union founded the world Peace Council to organize a global peace movement to promote the concept of peaceful coexistence internationally.
In ancient Greece, the word used for peace is eiréné, which means the opposite of war primarily. In ancient Hebrew, peace (Shalom) was not only the absence of war. It also represents well-being. In the Arabic Language, the word 'salam' means 'peace' or 'health,' This word had been used since the time of the Quran. In the New Testament, both the Gospels and the epistles use the Greek word eiréné for 'Peace.'
In ancient Indian Literature, peace was described as both personal and social. With the famous word 'Śāntiḥ' (peace), scholars end their Vedic recitations. This word 'Śāntiḥ' is repeated thrice for showing its importance. Sanskrit word for peace 'Śāntiḥ,' 'Śāntiḥ,' 'Śāntiḥ'
appears at the end of T. S. Eliot's famous poem "The wasteland," which he composed in 1922.
According to Indian wisdom achieving the ultimate liberation is called "Mokṣa." This "Mokṣa" alone is the genuine way to universal peace. Thus, stability can be achieved by transforming human beings from bad to good truth to untruth, from mortality to immortality. Social change establishes a just social order in a democratic spirit based on freedom, justice, and equality. This moral can ensure the peace free from conflicts not harming the nature around us is another foundation for peaceful living.
Nicholas Roerich was involved throughout his life with the problems of cultural preservation. He came to realize that the cultural heritage of each nation is, in essence, a world treasure. At his young age in the north of Russia, he unearthed the rare and beautiful ancient artifacts. He realized that humanity's creative genius's best products were almost always neglected, or even destroyed, by society itself. He then appeals to the Russian government for efforts to maintain and restore these priceless links to the past. In his opinion, the present generation should not forget the peace advice of their ancestors.
Ancient sages of India advocated for the worship of nature for peaceful coexistence only. Thus we have to understand the heart of the Indian peace concept. Therefore all human beings have to lead a quiet life that will open the doors for the community and national peace, but it can also lead us to world peace.
Prof. C. Upender Rao,
School of Sanskrit and Indic Studies,
Jawaharlal Nehru University,
New Delhi 110067