Half of all wars in the world history were started by religious backgrounds, and peace was always their hope for an end. In this essay, I would like to discuss what Gandhi, as the major eastern religious philosopher, would have said about Iraq war and it’s just cause.
Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi is a modern example of an exemplary Hindu. Gandhi beliefs are not very typical of all Hindus, but still he is referenced as the starter of a major movement in modern Hinduism. Of all the Hindu scriptures, Gandhi’s favorite was the Bhagavad Gita. It is a story, consisting of a conversation between Arjuna, a prince and member of the warrior caste, and Krishna, an incarnation of the supreme God.
In the beginning of the Gita, Arjuna advocates the position of ahimsa, the idea of non-violence, which unites the three main Indian religions: Hinduism, Buddhism and Sikhism. The term non-violence appeared in English around 1920, and was a direct translation of ‘ahimsa’ by Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi. It means – avoiding harm to others. While reading Gandi, we can see that the whole idea of ahisma was quite important to him. He wrote: “I object violence because when it appears to do good, the good is only temporary; the evil it does is permanent”. At the same time Gita is representing the thought of a just war.
In his story Arjuna overcomes his doubts and fights, he does know that war means killing some of his family members, but he still goes for it. However, the only type of war he accepts, is the war with strict rules: cavalry may only go into action against cavalry, infantry against infantry and so on. The warriors that were wounded and the civilians are to be respected. The idea of a Just War is represented here.
In this story, Arjuna learns fairly well, that his duty is to fight as a member of the soldier caste. Arjuna is told by his chariot driver Krishna, who is really the god Vishnu in human form, that:
“Even without you, all the soldiers standing armed for battle will not stay alive. Their death is foreordained” Bhagavad Gita 11:32-3
So how did Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, introducing the idea of ahisma deal with story of Gita, justifying a war, although a just war? Surprisingly, he thought of it as an allegory, and interpreted it as meaning that one should certainly engage in struggle, but only by means of non-violence.
Justifying Iraq war is the issue of these days.
The wars and conflicts are starting all the time in the world. And the biggest conflict, that the whole planet was dealing with the Iraq war. Can United States of America be justified here? Not according to principle of ahisma, because it means avoiding harm to others at all costs. Is it a just war? Hardly, because a just war is not “eye for eye”, or “eye for oil” war. It is justified war because it is perceived to be in the interests of justice – and should therefore be fought according to just rules. There cannot be any just rules in the Iraq war, the civilians will be killed and none of the “Calvary against Calvary” principles will be retained. The most ridiculous thing is that ahisma, the way Ghandi interpreted it, can be reached at such a little cost of negations and agreements.
Does the American pride, or oil hunt cost thousands of innocent lives? Even, if the lives are not innocent, who has the right to take them away?From the other side, Saddam Hussein is pretending to start a Holy war. ‘Holy War’ – is the war where: the God of a religion is perceived to ask, or command, its followers to make war on those who do not believe in that religion and who pose a threat to those who do. I cannot believe that God has commanded Saddam to build his own republic where he can be a complete dictator, commanding the lives of the people in it, and putting to death anybody he dislikes. Saddam is idolized in his country; can you serve any other gods, but the only God? That is not what his religion says. I think these two gentlemen have to overlook their views and support the ideas for which they make other people die.