What do the spiritual traditions say?
Author: Ronald Engert
Issue No: 92
The moral demand for peace with simultaneous rejection of war is insufficient from the point of view of transcendence, because there is the danger of serving particular interests of certain groups with such a demand. In this case, the demand for peace would be for some a form of violence against others. How it is from the absolute point of view of a spiritually liberated perspective and what the eternal principles could be, this article tries to clarify.
Peace is a state that all people strive for and is also highly desirable for humanity. Alone, it is not always possible, as can be seen from history, which has always been a history of wars.
So the question is not only what peace is and how to achieve it, but also what war is and how to deal with it, and how peace and war may be mutually dependent. And above all, it is a question of how we can achieve a final peace that is not just a moral demand within an unjust and divided world, leading at best to a makeshift peace that will predictably be replaced sooner or later by war again because the fundamental problem has not been solved.
The knowledge of the Vedas
In the holy scriptures of ancient India there is essential information about this. Especially in the Bhagavad-gita we learn a lot about it, because here it is about war and peace. The story of the Bhagavad-gita is as follows:
In ancient India 5000 years ago, there were two royal families, the Pandavas and the Kauravas, who were related to each other and originally lived together in peace and friendship. While the Pandavas were very religious people who lived a virtuous life, the Kauravas had gone astray over time and lived by fraud, robbery, extortion and worse to maintain and increase their power. You could say it is the typical model of all myths: the struggle between good and evil.
For example, one episode tells how the Pandavas were cheated in a dice game by the Kauravas and lost their kingdom as a result. Also, the Kauravas tried to kill the Pandavas by inviting them to live in a palace made of shellac and then setting it on fire. In this way, there were constant crises, and the Pandavas tried to resolve these problems peacefully. However, at some point, despite all their efforts, a warlike conflict inevitably arose.
War in the Bhagavad-gita
The Pandavas were five brothers. They were close friends with Krishna, who ruled in a neighboring kingdom. In particular, for Arjuna, one of the Pandava brothers, Krishna was a close confidant. Krishna, in turn, is considered in Indian lore to be an incarnation of God who had appeared on earth at that time to relieve it of the great burden of demonic people. For the people of that time, he was an outstanding personality.
When war could no longer be avoided and Krishna’s diplomatic efforts also failed to bear fruit, Krishna offered his help to the two adversaries equally.
He was not partisan, but lived the Dharma, the sacred law of religion, of the eternal and true principles of justice and transcendental vision.
Therefore, he did not favor any party and said the following to Arjuna and the representative of the Kauravas, Duryodana, “I will not fight in your war, but one party will get me as support and the other party will get all my forces for support. Now choose.” Duryodana immediately pushed forward and chose the army, for he said to himself, “What is Krishna good for if he doesn’t fight? I will take the army, for then I will have a much larger force.” Arjuna, in turn, immediately realized that he would take Krishna even if he did not fight, because Krishna was his confidant and a very wise and successful leader. Arjuna had complete confidence in Krishna’s support.
It came to the day of the Battle of Kuruksetra, a legendary event that is also historically documented. The armies were facing each other on the battlefield, and Arjuna asked Krishna, who was assisting him as charioteer of his chariot, to drive to the center of the battlefield to see how the opposing ranks were arrayed. Arjuna then saw on the opposite side “his fathers, grandfathers, teachers, maternal uncles, brothers, sons, grandsons, friends, and also his fathers-in-law and his patrons” (Bg. 1.26). Seeing this, he was overcome with compassion and spoke the following words:
“My dear Krishna, at the sight of my friends and relatives standing before me with such eagerness to fight, I begin to tremble all over my body, and my mouth dries up. My whole body trembles, and my hair bristles. My bow Gandhiva slips from my hand, and my skin burns. I am unable to stand here any longer. My mind is confused, and I am dizzy. I see only disaster looming, O Krishna, slayer of the demon Keshi. I do not see how anything good can come of killing my own kinsmen in this battle; my dear Krishna, neither do I desire the consequences of this killing, such as victory, possession of the kingdom, or happiness.” (Bg. 1.28-31)
We see here the classic situation of a person who has a good heart and does not wish to harm anyone.
He would rather renounce winning or obtaining the kingdom. He even wants to renounce his own happiness. He feels dizzy and trembles, he becomes weak and loses his bearings.
About the Author: Ronald Engert
Ronald Engert, born 1961. 1982-88 studied German, Romance languages and literature and philosophy, 1994-96 Indology and Religious Studies at the Johann Wolfgang Goethe University Frankfurt/M. 1994 co-founded the journal Tattva Viveka, since 1996 publisher and editor-in-chief. 2017 Bachelor’s degree in Cultural Studies at the Humboldt University of Berlin. Since then, master’s degree. 2022 Master’s thesis on “Mysticism of Language”. Author of “Gut, dass es mich gibt. Diary of a Recovery” and “The Absolute Place. Philosophy of the Subject”.
This article has also been published on the German Website: Ewiger Frieden durch Transzendenz