Violence is too small a weapon against evil

When anti-social elements brutalize innocents, some people declare that violence is essential to counter such terrorists. Others say that violence is not the answer – the underlying socio-economic problems that impel people towards such deeds need to be addressed.

Both positions have their merits. But the root issue lies deeper as revealed in the Bhagavad-gita, which is spoken at the start of a war against evil. When Arjuna doubts the utility of violence, his position might seem similar to that of today’s pacifists. Intriguingly, though Krishna urges Arjuna to fight, his position doesn’t resemble that of today’s war advocates. The difference is most evident in Krishna’s call to Arjuna to fight (03.30). He doesn’t ask Arjuna to remember the atrocities committed by his evil opponents. Instead, he asks Arjuna to free himself from materialism, possessiveness and ego – the driving motivations for most wars. By urging Arjuna to fight but without the standard motivations for fighting, Krishna ensures that Arjuna’s consciousness rises above that of his opponents. And such raising of consciousness towards transcendence is the central cure for evil.

We all are spiritual beings. When we become disconnected from our spiritual essence, the forces of illusion mislead us and distort our values. The more these forces mislead people, the more their values get perverted, wherein they sometimes rationalize their depravity with religious-seeming ideologies. Terrorist brutality is thus the sickest expression of the pervasive disease of spiritual disconnectedness. The body’s sickest parts may need to be amputated, but amputation alone can’t heal the body. Similarly, terrorists may need to be crushed martially, but to counter the underlying cause of evil, violence is not big enough – we need transcendence.

Only when we focus on realizing our transcendental essence and harmonize with that focus everything, including occasionally violence, can we effectively combat evil, external and internal.

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