His Relevance For Our Times

GANDHI - His Relevance For Our Times

His Relevance For Our Times

Table of Contents

  1. The Tradition of Nonviolence and its Underlying Forces
  2. A Study of the Meanings of Nonviolence
  3. Notes on the Theory of Nonviolence
  4. Nonviolence as a Positive Concept
  5. Experimentation in Nonviolence: The Next Phase
  6. Satyagraha versus Duragraha: The Limits of Symbolic Violence
  7. The Best Solver of Conflicts
  8. The Spiritual Basis of Satyagraha
  9. Satyagraha as a Mirror
  10. Why Did Gandhi Fail?
  11. Gandhi's Political Significance Today
  12. Violence and Power Politics
  13. India Yet Must Show The Way
  14. War and What Price Freedom
  15. A Coordinated Approach to Disarmament
  16. A Disarmament Adequate to Our Times
  17. The Impact of Gandhi on the U.S. Peace Movement
  18. Nonviolence and Mississippi
  19. Aspects of Nonviolence in American Culture
  20. The Gandhian Approach to World Peace
  21. The Grass-roots of World Peace
  22. Is There a Nonviolent Road to a Peaceful World?
  23. Nuclear Explosions and World Peace
  24. The Gandhian Way and Nuclear War
  25. A Gandhian Model for World Politics
  26. A Nonviolent International Authority
  27. Basic Principles of Gandhism
  28. The Ideal and the Actual in Gandhi's Philosophy
  29. Means and Ends in Politics
  30. A Contemporary Interpretation of Ahimsa
  31. The True Spirit of Satyagraha
  32. Gandhi through the Eyes of the Gita
  33. Gandhi's Illustrious Antecedents
  34. Taking Sarvodaya to the People
  35. Epilogue: The Essence of Gandhi
  36. Sources

About This Book

Edited by : G. Ramachandran & T. K. Mahadevan
ISBN : 81-7229-348-8
Printed by : Kapur Printing Press,
Published by : Gandhi Peace Foundation
221/223 Deendayal Upadhyay Marg,
New Delhi 110 002,
© Gandhi Peace Foundation


Chapter 24. The Gandhian Way and Nuclear War

By P. T. Raju

This is a subject in which almost every one who has heard about Hiroshima is interested and about which very many are worried. What I can say and wish to say on the subject is known to, and can be said by, many. But they may not say it in the way I do. All can infer that Gandhi would say that there should be no nuclear war and that all nuclear weapons should be banned; but he would go further and say that all war should be banned, and would go still further and say that all forms of violence should be banned. When we think about nuclear war, we think about a dreadful reality, a possibility that was made actual, not by the promptings of the good will in man, but by those of his evil will. The solution of how to prevent nuclear war cannot, therefore, be given in more idealistic terms, unless we want to preach. We have to see that ideals are effective. This attitude may be pragmatism; but pragmatism cannot be avoided in a pragmatic world. The human world is essentially pragmatic.
Mencius and Hsun Tzu - Their Views
Mencius and Hsun Tzu were two of the most important philosophers of ancient China. Whereas Mencius was, until recently, held in esteem and remained popular, Hsun Tzu lost respect. It is said that the reason is the former's doctrine that human nature is essentially good and the latter's doctrine that it is essentially evil. People are flattered by the former doctrine and dislike the latter. Mahatma Gandhi also believed in the essential goodness of human nature. Our legal procedure assumes that man is essentially good and innocent, and so throws the burden of proof on the shoulders of the plaintiff. But the cases in which the plaintiff succeeds in proving the guilt of the defendant show that human nature is not essentially good. The assumption about human nature, therefore, is only a pragmatic assumption, not an absolute one. And even this assumption does not seem to be necessary; the opposite assumption that human nature is essentially evil can be made in pragmatics, and the defendant in the court may be asked to prove his innocence. This is the practice in some countries. If he succeeds, his success will mean that human nature is not essentially evil.
Now, Mencius and Hsun Tzu were not making pragmatic assumptions, but absolute assumptions. Mahatma Gandhi also seems to have made an absolute assumption. For belief in the ultimate conquest of violence by nonviolence assumes that there is, in the essential nature of even violent men, something that is susceptible and responds to nonviolence and love. Here we add love to nonviolence, and this addition is acceptable to Gandhi. Mere nonviolence, as a neutral state, does not evoke any response from the other. But love is not neutral; it is expansive and produces reaction. In fact, Gandhi uses the words love and nonviolence practically as synonyms.
If every man is essentially good, why has Gandhi admitted that very few can understand the truth and strength of nonviolence? Here lies a great difficulty in the pragmatic world. Gandhi writes: "Violence can only be effectively met by nonviolence. This is an old, established truth. The questioner does not really understand the working of nonviolence. If he did, he would have known that the weapon of violence, even if it was the atom bomb, became useless when matched against true nonviolence. That very few understand how to wield this mighty weapon is true. It requires a lot of understanding and strength of mind. It is unlike what is needed in military schools and colleges. The difficulty one experiences in meeting himsa with ahimsa arises from weakness of mind." The courage of the soldiers trained in military academies is still weakness but not strength. These soldiers do not understand what true strength is; and the nations too, therefore, which train them do not understand true strength.
But why have they not understood their true strength, if every man, by being essentially good, possesses it? Or should we therefore dismiss nonviolence as a panacea offered for all the evils of the world, like the panaceas offered by the different religions? Humanity seems to be disillusioned about the ability of man to adopt the panaceas. Christ preached love; but Christian nations, through the centuries, have been engaged in some of the bloodiest wars. Buddha preached compassion; but the armies, in a number of wars like the Sino Japanese war, were Buddhist. The only conclusion we can draw - if we accept that human nature is essentially good - from the history of humanity and the realities of the pragmatic world is that what is essentially good in human nature is not always to the fore, and that in the case of the vast majority of men it is as submerged as the Satanism of the libido is submerged in the depths of our being. Both the godly and the ungodly have various levels of existence in our being. (I think that Freud was wrong when he said that the ungodly alone belongs to the unconscious.) As Mencius said, emotions like sympathy and the sense of righteousness are natural to man; but, as Hsun Tzu said, selfishness and jealousy are also natural. If a man or woman does not feel jealous when the loved person loves another, we think that it is unnatural and seek for reasons. However, we wish to appeal to the good in man and we want that the good in him should work; we do not wish to appeal to the evil in him and we want that it should not work. Humanity can survive if the institutions it builds up can succeed in evoking the good in man. If they provoke the evil in man, and if evil can dominate over the good in him, there is little chance of man's survival. And the danger will be greater as the evil becomes stronger.
In the pragmatic world we have to accept, therefore, that both Mencius and Hsun Tzu are right. In this world we should not talk of absolutes. No man is absolutely evil all his life; neither is any one absolutely good all his life. The difference is one of degree and extent. There are religions according to which the root of evil is individuality. But we cannot understand how this teaching, in an absolute sense, is applicable to the human world. I cannot think that my desire to exist as an individual is a moral evil. Otherwise, suicide would not have been a crime; and some religions say that it is even a sin against God. In the pragmatic world, in order to do good I must exist as an individual. Again, in order that I can be good, the good nature in me must express itself in action, but not end up in mere sentimentality. Neither can I accept that the essence of man contains both good and evil. If any man in the world can become good even towards the end of his life, then it is the whole of him that becomes good. If part of his essential nature is necessarily evil, then he cannot get over his essence. Hsun Tzu was right, therefore, only to the extent that the root propensities which can be turned into evil belong to man; but the propensities themselves are not evil. Anger, for instance, is said to be evil. But is not righteous anger necessary to overcome evil? Love is said to be good. But has it not led many a poor lover to commit theft in order to please his beloved? Fear is said to be evil. But more often than not, it is fear of consequences that checks evil-doers. We live in the pragmatic human world, not in the world of saints. I feel inclined towards the opinion that man - if we take the normal man - is good in his essential nature; but the situations in which he finds himself may turn his good nature into evil. But this opinion is about an ultimate.
We have been thinking about normal men. But what should we say about abnormal men? Unfortunately there is no clear cut distinction - as the psychologists tell us - between normality and abnormality. Within certain degrees, abnormality is not noticed; and below certain still lower degrees, it is not even suspected. Men like Hitler are abnormal. If a man is abnormally good, we call him a saint, a bodhisattva, a mahatma. If he is abnormally evil, we call him satanic, an evil genius. We call neither a lunatic, except in a metaphorical case. But when he begins to forget his personality, we feel sure that he is a lunatic. But there are several shades of difference. It is some of these personalities who are not completely lunatic who work havoc on humanity. And it is not all such personalities whom law regards as above law or below law.
Our pragmatic world consists of all kinds of persons. The absolutely normal, in the strict sense of the term, is a norm. He is the ideal person for whom reason is a stronger drive than propensities leading to evil. Psychologists have not admitted that reason, like instincts, is a drive. But in the "normal" man it is a drive. It is as much a force as the instinct of pugnacity. But because of its freedom from the physiological, and because ordinary men live at the level of the physiological most of their lives - here one may contrast this kind of life with the buddhiyoga of the Bhagvad-Gita - the strength of reason is not felt as much as the strength of other propensities. When Aristotle said that God exercises a pull towards Himself through the rational part of man's soul, he was thinking of reason as a force, although he expressed his idea in the current religious and philosophical language. Absolutely normal persons, in the strict sense of the term, are therefore very rare. The vast majority of men fall below the norm, and are therefore not truly normal. It is with reference to such people that we have to think of the practical applications of ahimsa and the banning of nuclear weapons. That the essential nature of man is good is, for the pragmatic world, an ideal to be achieved, not a major premise from which we can draw conclusions as to what man will do in all situations. Man's essential goodness is like a hidden treasure, which has to be dug out and brought up to the surface before it can be used. I think that the authors of our Puranas were pessimistic about the ultimate success of ahimsa in this world; otherwise, they would not have prophesied that Kalki would be born in the future for destroying the evil-doers with the sword in order to establish the kingdom of peace. Perhaps Mahatma Gandhi was born to tell humanity that it had a chance to save God from the trouble of incarnating Himself as Kalki. However, we need not accept the: pessimism of the Puranic writers, and we may think about how to establish ahimsa in our world.
The above discussion of the nature of man is necessary because there has been some loose talk about ahimsa and the banning of nuclear weapons. Nothing can be more fruitless and even more dangerous than an unrealistic and sentimental approach to either idea. Mahatma Gandhi was the master of the technique of nonviolence and satyagraha; and after him, its abuses have been more common in India than its proper uses. But the master himself admitted mistakes in the use and the application of the principle. At one stage he discountenanced mass satyagraha, and advocated individual satyagraha. The strength of non-violence is an inner strength; it belongs to one's spirit, and not to one's body. It can be known and understood by the individual himself, not by others. Others can know that the individual possesses it only when he succeeds, and success here has to be understood not in the sense of having achieved the end for which he offers satyagraha, but in the sense that, even if the end is his own end, he has been able to stick to the principle to the last moment. Because of the inwardness of this strength, Gandhi used to consult his intuition. Socrates would have said that he was consulting his daemon. Ordinary men easily mistake the promptings of their selfish interests for the voices of the daemon.
A realistic approach to the problem of nonviolence requires taking into consideration the nature of the pragmatic world in which the principle has to be practised. Our world consists of ordinary human beings, for whom the essential goodness of man is not a major premise for drawing practical conclusions, but only one of the possible inward forces which can be made effective. Otherwise, the laws of ethics and of society and the law courts would have been unnecessary throughout the history of man. No man can be certain which force in the other will begin to act and in which way in any important situation. What "ought" to be done is not always the same as what "is" done and what "will be" done. It is to cancel this difference between the "ought" and the "is" that checks and preventives are needed. These checks are of many forms; and one of them, psychologically effective, is fear of consequences.
Let us first consider nuclear war. It is one kind of war; war with conventional weapons is also war. But our anxiety is focused on nuclear war rather than on war itself. Anyone can see the reason; it is fear of complete annihilation. There will be no winner and loser in a nuclear war. Both the nations at war will be annihilated. It is fear of annihilation - engendered by the foresight of the Nemesis about which we have no doubts - that is acting as the deterrent to a major war. I remember having read Vinoba Bhave saying that he had no objection to the manufacture of atom bombs by the great powers, because their manufacture was acting as an effective preventive of war on a wide scale. But Sri Rajagopalachari announced that nuclear weapons should be banned. Both are right if we understand the reasons.
None will deny that the fear of mutual extermination has been preventing war between major powers. None ventures to start it; but each is afraid that the other may start it, and is not quite sure about what the other will do. Fear is thus acting as a check. Each power, in this situation, is not relying upon the essential goodness of man so much as upon his desire to exist and not be annihilated. This is what the Yogic psychologists call abhinivesa or attachment to one's existence. This desire of man is some thing on which we can generally count. No one wants his own destruction except when one is out of mind. One may say that the fear of annihilation is mean and does not bring out the essential goodness of man on which ahimsa is to be based. But another may say in retort that humanity is not the most desirable species on earth, and so none need shed tears if such a species is annihilated. Russell wrote: "Mankind.... are a mistake. The universe would be sweeter and fresher without them....I cannot understand how God ....can have tolerated the baseness of those who boast blasphemously that they have been made in his image." The truth is that, in the pragmatic world, man's essential goodness cannot be so much relied upon as his fear of annihilation. And this truth holds not only in the case of individuals but also in that of nations.
The objection to Vinoba Bhave's opinion is that, if several nations possess nuclear weapons, then some mad person or nation may suddenly one day start a nuclear war, which will engulf the whole earth. Certainly, this is a possibility, and should be prevented as bacterial war should be prevented. Both nuclear and bacterial war should be banned. Sri. Rajagopalachari also is right. So long as one nation possessed the atom bomb, it seemed reasonable to desire that other nations also developed and possessed it. It seems to be reasonable also to desire that every civilized nation should develop and possess it; for then no bigger nation will bully and threaten a smaller one. We know that three nations at least possess it. Given a few years more, a few more nations will announce its possession. Then, it may be said, lest one of them should, in a fit of bad temper, start the atomic war, the manufacture of nuclear weapons should completely be banned. Yes, they should be banned; there can be no two opinions about banning them. But this is only the first step in our thinking, after assuming that more than one nation has the bomb. The dialectic of thought about nuclear weapons cannot stop here.
When Einstein was asked what the result would be of a third world-war, he said that after it people would fight with bows and arrows. The scientist-philosopher could not say that people would not fight. Even before bows and arrows were invented, people fought with stones; and before that time, they must have fought with their teeth, nails and fists. There was fighting and killing all the same. It is not necessary to possess civilized weapons for humanity to destroy itself. Like the Yadava clan, it can destroy itself with bundles of water grass. Students of savage tribes of even modern times tell us that war between tribes can be a war of extermination. Russell writes: "We read in the Old Testament that it was a religious duty to exterminate conquered races completely." So extermination of whole peoples is not a new fear; the only difference is that primitive tribes are not conscious of the extent of humanity, but we are.
Modern imperialists do not believe in the usefulness of extermination as much as in that of subjugation and of spreading spheres of influence. Correspondingly, there is fear of loss of real independence and of cultural genocide, not of physical extermination. By the abolition of nuclear war we may remove the fear of the total annihilation of humanity or of at least the extermination of the civilized world. If we succeed in the abolition of nuclear war only, can we remove the other fear, namely, the fear of threats, subjugation, and cultural destruction by stronger powers?
Fear - The Main Contributor to Nuclear Arms
There was a time when the strength of a nation was assessed according to the strength of the sinew of the soldiers. Later the strength of the metal used, and still later the amount of gunpowder etc., determined the results of war. Gradually keen intelligence and scientific acumen have become more important for military power than strength of muscle. A small nation possessing atom bombs feels safe from a big nation. But if the former is deprived of its nuclear weapons, it will live in constant fear of the latter. What guarantee, then, can we give to remove this fear? If the fear is not removed but allowed to continue, should we blame the weaker nations if they develop weapons - if not nuclear, then some other - in order to defend themselves and retain the balance of power? Research on nuclear weapons started only for the purpose of depriving nations of the advantages of vaster armaments and bigger numbers.
How then can this fear be removed? If the advantage of nuclear weapons is cut off, even then some nation will possess some other advantage. Britain for some time possessed the advantage of the strongest navy, and other nations were afraid of her. Such fears also have to be removed. They cannot be removed by the protestations of Samaritanism. There was, and is, good Samaritanism not merely of individuals but also of nations. But it cannot always be relied upon in this world and is not enough to allay the fear. It can be allayed if there is a counter-fear: bigger nations should fear subjugating the smaller ones. Only then can the weaker nations have confidence in themselves and confidence in others. Then there will be less scope for suspicion.
How is this fear to be introduced as a check on the aggression of stronger powers? But until this is done, the banning of nuclear weapons, although good in itself cannot be an effective remedy for international evils. As the power blocs are now deployed, if there is war even without nuclear weapons, the destruction of life and the extent of human suffering will be far greater than in the last World War. An American gentleman said that a Japanese friend told him that, if the atom bomb had not been dropped on Hiroshima, Japan would have been fighting till today on hills and in jungles and the sufferings of the people would have been far greater than they were; the Japanese traditional spirit would not have allowed them to admit defeat and to surrender without the stunning effect of the atom bomb. I do not know whether such a thing would have happened, but it is quite conceivable. We can conceive also of the world divided into two camps and fighting with conventional weapons until half of the earth's population is destroyed. A long-drawn-out war with conventional weapons will not be less destructive than a lightning war with nuclear weapons.
As the world exists today, there is no effective check in it on a powerful aggressor, and he does what he likes under some pretext or the other. The check will be effective only if it originates from a power stronger than that of any aggressor. And this can, if at all, only be the power of the world. How can such a world power come into being is the great question. The League of Nations failed, because its checks were not effective. The United Nations has taken its place; but it is rather a moral force and, like any other moral force, is effective in some favourable situations and ineffective in others. Thinkers have been speaking of a World State. But it cannot yet be visualized and men are doubting that the idea is workable. But that there is a One World feeling has to be accepted. The worries of every nation have now become the concern of every other. If a country is underdeveloped it is regarded as a danger not only to itself but also to others. Even economic aid, which was once considered to be benevolence, is now a necessity, whatever be the way it is given. Yet, the One World idea has not yet taken a concrete shape; its detailed logical structure has not yet been worked out. It is there only as a vague, general moral principle. But its actualization cannot be postponed too long, however complex a problem it may pose. Only when it is actualized can all war be abolished, and weaker nations feel some relief and have confidence in themselves and in others. Only then will the bigger states be afraid of aggression on the smaller. Until there is total abolition of war, the ban on nuclear weapons alone, in our pragmatic world, will be like curing the symptoms and ignoring the aetiology of the disease. Of course, even curing the symptoms is something useful. Like man, nations also live by love, hope and fear. Every nation should show in its actions that it loves others, it should be hopeful of progress, and should be afraid of aggressing on others.
When India attained her independence and declared that she would follow the Gandhian way, there were some people in the West who began wondering whether she would disband her army. Some even imagined that an experiment in maintaining internal order would be made without the executive power of the police. But almost on the wake of independence, the Kashmir and Hyderabad (Deccan) incidents followed. Even Mahatma Gandhi's funeral procession was accompanied by the military. (Gandhi had said that he would meet Hitler's army with an army of nonviolent resisters!) All these events showed that Indian leaders were aware of realistic politics. Still, foreign political experts were doubting whether India was realistic enough in her external policies, and whether her idealism did not make her blind to some realities.
What are the conditions under which the goodness of man can become evil? What are they that make man act in an evil way? They may be roughly classified into two kinds: provocatives and opportunities. We can easily understand provocatives: they are positive happenings in the human world, like injustices, which cannot be remedied in accepted ways. Sometimes we call opportunities temptations. Generally man is tempted to do evil when he thinks that there is nothing to check him and that there is no fear of consequences. In a well-organized and strong society, whether national or international, there should be neither provocatives nor opportunities for doing evil. Opportunities are removed when the fear of availing oneself of them is introduced. Manu says that even the sannyasin should not sleep in the same room in which his mother or sister sleeps. The essential goodness of even the saint is not trusted by Manu, although he believes that the deepest essence of man is divine. He therefore wants to place checks, and does not allow any opportunity for evil. Even if the world consists of only saints, Manu will not believe in anarchism and will not say that we can leave every thing to the essential goodness of man. And his view holds all the more true in the case of our pragmatic world of national or international societies. The checks on possible evil, willful or not, must be clear and strong. Then nonviolence can work on the largest scale.
Provocatives of evil are too many. No doubt, the world contains several kinds of evil: natural calamities like earthquakes, volcanoes and storms, pestilences and diseases, deaths, etc. But we are not concerned with them, but only with human evil which comes under ethics.
Nonviolence, which we are discussing, is a moral principle and it is considered to be a moral force issuing from the essential goodness in them. We are therefore concerned with moral evil. The shortest definition of moral evil I can think of is that it is the gap between ideals and practice. If a man or nation professes certain ideals and does not live up to them in his or its activities, he is or it is morally guilty. One may say that the ideals of a group may not be moral enough and therefore it is able to live up to them. But the question is not whether we know them to be not high enough, but whether that group knows them to be not high enough. If it does, then it is guilty; if it does not, then it is not guilty. I cannot think that our ancestors who did not think that polygamy was immoral and the ancestors of certain Himalayan races who did not think that polyandry was immoral are all now in hell just for that thought and practice. Many of the civilized nations now think that a succession of marriages, divorce following divorce, is moral or at least legal; but simultaneity is a moral horror and a legal crime. I am not prepared to judge which form is morally worse: simultaneity or succession of spouses. But who are we to pronounce judgement upon and condemn the moral codes of other times and other societies, when we are not following our own sincerely? We shall be right only in judging whether those societies lived up to the ideals they accepted and knew. Moral evil is the difference between what we know to be right and what we do. To be morally responsible for what one does, one must know what is right; if there is no such knowledge, we do not say that one is immoral but that one is ignorant. Ignorance in several cases is not excusable; but that is a different question.
The gap between ideals and practice appears in society in several forms. Many forms of this gap, unfortunately, do not come under the control of law. Even in the case of those which come under its purview, there are possibilities not only of circumventing but also of defeating law. Evil provokes and evokes evil, unless it is checked and punished. It provokes evil in retaliation and evokes evil in imitation. If one goes scot-free after committing a crime and amasses a fortune, others will like to do the same. If one commits a crime against another and the latter finds that the law cannot help him, he takes the law into his own hands, the sympathies of society are with him, but the law is against him and he suffers a double injury. A society in which evil spreads in either way becomes disorderly and the society in which it spreads in the former way is unhealthy in addition, since it accepts evil tacitly and denies it overtly. Tacit acceptance and overt denial is an additional evil.
It is often said that, when we evaluate the culture of a people, we should take only the ideals they uphold, but not their practices we encounter. I do not know who first laid down the principle, but many of us were made acquainted with it first after Miss Mayo published her Mother India. There is truth in this principle, for in every country practices fall short of ideals. We expect that ideals are framed as guides to practices in order to transform and ennoble them. But one recluse, in a mood of disgust with what he saw around him, said that ideals are built up by some countries in contrast to practices. For instance, a people may be too materialistic in their practical life, but may build up grand idealistic philosophies. Such a phenomenon is certainly conceivable, and is sometimes true also. Such philosophies cannot be representative of the life of the people, but only of the ideals they can build up in thought. Therefore, whether the ideals are representative or not of the actual life of the people and how far they are representative are reasonable questions. The question will be: Are there effective checks to prevent the people from acting against the ideals? If the answer is affirmative, we can conclude that the people are serious about their ideals.
The ideal of nonviolence can be no exception to the rule that there have to be checks on practices wherever they deviate from ideals. If two men or two nations agree to adopt an ideal, there should be checks also on deviations. Generally people think that nonviolence is only physical. But it is mental also. There is mental torture, just as there is physical torture; there is mental compulsion, just as there is physical compulsion. In times of war, there is physical violence; and in times of peace, there is mental violence. Some forms of mental violence are called psychological warfare. When a man or nation cannot counter an intrigue by starting another intrigue, it uses violence to cut down the manoeuvre or quietly suffers. Apparently there is no physical violence, but an intrigue hurts all the same. From the moral point of view, both physical and mental violence are equally evil. Gandhi wrote: "It has been suggested by American friends that the atom bomb will bring in ahimsa (nonviolence) as nothing else can. It will, if it is meant that its destructive power will so disgust the world that it will turn away from violence for the time being. This is very like a man glutting himself with dainties to the point of nausea and turning away from them only to return with redoubled zeal after the effect of nausea is well over. Precisely in the same manner will the world return to violence with renewed zeal after the effect of disgust is worn out." Gandhi here speaks of disgust, because the scale of human misery produced disgust in him. But it is really the horror of war that is preventing nations from physical combat. Just as we think of the horrors of war, one may say, we should think of the horrors of peace time, unless and until mental violence also is eradicated. Hate does not simulate as love in war, but it does so in peace. Gandhi did not mean by nonviolence merely absence of physical violence. He added love to its connotation. How can there be love if there is mental violence? And how can we be sure that mental violence will not lead to physical violence? In the pragmatic world love has to be actualized in practice. It has to express itself in men and nations doing good to one another. Coexistence is not indifference to one another; it is cooperative existence, whether of individuals or of nations. In a world in which every nation is somehow concerned about every other nation, indifferent co-existence is out of question. Conditions have to be created for cooperation. The spirit of cooperation must be aroused, and there should be preventives to check hostilities, mental or physical. But preventives are not guides; ideals alone can be guides.
Even within a nation there can be physical and mental violence. Just as there are cold war and hot war between nations, we can think of cold war and hot war within a nation. The latter we call civil war. The former takes several forms. When rivalry between two political parties reaches a particular point, there is a cold war and mental violence. If a murderer escapes law, my sense of justice is hurt. If a big businessman evades income tax, he is using violence against his society. If an important officer takes large bribes with immunity, he also is using violence. Examples can be multiplied. Some of these practices are called violations of law. But law is an expression of the conscience of society; and these practices do violence against that conscience and have very adverse effects on it. They both provoke and evoke evil. This kind of violence may be called moral violence, but it is as much an evil as physical violence because it does not allow true ahimsa to work. And for the strength and solidarity of a nation, there should be effective checks on even moral violence. The fear of the consequences of such violence must be strong enough, like the fear of the consequences of nuclear war.
Will a time come in the history of the moral progress of individuals and societies when the above checks will not be necessary? I cannot venture an answer. But if it comes, ahimsa will reign absolute and supreme. Till then checks and fear of consequences alone can help in the propagation of ahimsa.
So far has been given a realistic appraisal of ahimsa and of the success of banning nuclear weapons. Gandhi himself said that only a few can understand the strength of ahimsa. Those few are Christ, Mahavira, Buddha, and Gandhi himself. I should not be mistaken for one who has no faith in ahimsa, for speaking of the need for checks, fear of consequences and so on. But one has to be realistic in one's attitude and take into consideration the realities in which the Gandhian way can succeed. There can be no two opinions on the Gandhian way: it is the most sublime. However in order to remove possible misunderstanding, I may say briefly that ahimsa, in the full sense in which Gandhi understood the term, can succeed only if the situation in which it is used is turned into a moral situation. If ahimsa is to succeed, all political situations have to be turned into meaningful moral situations.