The Co-Existence of Violence and Non-Violence in Hinduism

I have a huge amount of respect for Ghandi, and I imagine many of you reading this have too. But as I have come to understand Hinduism in more depth I have become increasingly aware that Ghandi was not, and is not, universally representative of Hindu ethics.

There is an ethical spectrum in Hinduism that is not dissimilar from other religions.

This is something noted up front by Anantanand Rambachan in “The Co-Existence of Violence and Non-Violence in Hinduism,” an essay on religion and politics in India. For example he observes that, “The Mahabharata war is referred to, in the Bhagavadgita, as a dharma yuddha. A dharma yuddha is a war fought in defence of justice and righteousness and for the security and well being of the community (lokasamgraha).”

So it is clear that, not only can Hindus claim scriptural justification for violence under certain circumstances, but they have their own equivalent to the just war concept. I wouldn’t be surprised if this raises some questions for some of you.

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