The principle of non-violence in religious concepts, Non-violence...

1.2. The principle of nonviolence in religious concepts

Non-violence in Eastern religions

For the first time, the problem of non-violence was most clearly posed in religious concepts, primarily in the ancient religions of the countries of the East, and in particular in India. As you know, one of the ancestors of many religions is the Vedic religion, on the basis of which brahmanism was formed, characterized by caste, asceticism, ritualism. As oppositional directions, other religious systems developed, which are more open and accessible. Among them, first of all, we should mention Jainism and Buddhism.

From the point of view of solving the problem of nonviolence, it is important to point out for the aforementioned religions a number of general provisions. All of them proceeded from the conception of the world as a whole system, differently interpreting this integrity, where all the elements of the whole represent some unity, where a person, his life, has a certain place. In many of them, the idea of ​​reincarnation of the soul dominates as the central one, as a result of which human life is a system of countless reincarnations, the transition from one body to another. With the idea of ​​reincarnation, the concept of karma is closely related, which in translation into United States means about causality, causality, fate.

Hence the meaning of religions is that a person must be freed from karmic dependence, interrupt the chain of reincarnation, merge with Brahma, reach the state of nirvana, etc. In addition, the very nature of Eastern religions contributed to the formulation and solution of the problem of nonviolence, many of which were open-minded, capable of integrating close religious systems (for example, Hinduism); preached tolerance and themselves were distinguished by tolerance.


The problem of nonviolence occupies a special place in the philosophy and ethics of Jainism. The essence of the theory of Jainism is as follows [38]. The starting point is the recognition of the priority of the spirit over the body (matter). To achieve salvation and liberation (nirvana) is possible only by liberation from the material. At the same time, material is also karma, represented as a very thin and sticky matter, to which all the rest, coarser matter, sticks. The jiva (soul) is connected with ajiva (matter, body). By connecting with the latter through karma, it takes the form of living beings (plants, animals, humans). It is possible to free oneself from karmic dependence through cognition, to develop the necessary norms of behavior, after which it is important to attain exhaustion and loss of the remaining karma, first harmful, and then to the rest.

The ethics of Jainism is expressed by the following main points:

- conviction in the truth of the doctrine, genuine faith in every word of the doctrine as the basis for the performance of right actions and right conduct;

- correct knowledge and as a result of his perfect knowledge; it is believed that fully Jainist knowledge is revealed only to those who could get rid of harmful karma;

- a righteous life, which is understood as a rigid orientation towards observing certain norms of behavior: all members of the Jain community voluntarily assume five main vows: not to harm the living, not steal, do not commit adultery, do not gain, be sincere and pious in speeches .

The principle ahimsy (ahimsa - literally the rejection of violence) occupies one of the leading places in the ethics of Jainism. Jains do not eat meat, they tend not to harm even small animals, let alone hunting. They are caring for both domestic and wild animals. They do not eat tubers and roots of plants, as well as fruits that contain many seeds. Jains are married early in their daughters because infertility is equated with a violation of the principle of ahimsa.

Justification of the principle of ahimsa in Jainism has a very definite and concrete character: it is impossible to harm the living because it has a soul and is on its way in the chain of reincarnations; consequently, an arbitrary interruption of life violates this move and adversely affects the karma of the person who committed the violence.


The essence of the teachings of Buddhism - in its original basis - is set forth in the three sermons of Gautama (Buddha). [16]

In the first sermon Gautama points to two extremes that must be avoided: indulgence to sensual pleasures and extreme asceticism. This can be achieved by choosing the middle path, which promotes vision and knowledge, leads to peace, higher wisdom, enlightenment and nirvana. The median path is the eightfold path, which includes: 1) correct understanding; 2) the right thought; 3) correct speech; 4) correct action; 5) the right way of life; 6) correct intention; 7) correct effort; 8) the correct concentration.

Next, Gautama notes that life is suffering (dukkha): birth, decay, disease and death are dukkha; everything connected with attachments, desires, is dukkha. The cause of suffering consists in desires, in attachments to life, sensual pleasures. The cessation of suffering is possible by separating from desires, renunciation, refusal, release from them, which is accomplished by following the eightfold path.

In the second sermon, the theory of the absence of a soul in man is stated: "The body (rupa) does not have a soul. If there was a soul, then the body would not be the subject of dukkha. But, since the body is soulless, it is the subject of dukkha [16]. It follows that a person must give up his I & quot ;.

The third sermon speaks of the "wheel of life", which is driven by ignorance, obscuring the true mind of man. Ignorance gives rise to morally and immorally conditioned actions, as a result of which ordinary consciousness is formed that distinguishes in the world forms-names, which in turn become objects for the six senses. In the process of contact with forms there are feelings that evoke desires, desires become the cause of greed, greed leads to a thirst for eternal existence, a thirst for life - to birth, the inevitable consequence of birth is old age and death. In other words, the living entity is doomed to spin in the "wheel of life" until it turns to the teachings of the Buddha.

In understanding the world, the Buddhists adhered to the principle of "chatushkotika", which was borrowed from the more ancient Indian religions. The essence of the "chat room" (literally - having four peaks) is that you can say about any object: it is or is not, or is not is. This determined the dual (really quadruple) attitude of Buddhists to the world, to what is done in it, to the teaching itself. For example, a person is simultaneously in samsara (samsara - the wheel of life), and in nirvana separately, neither is there nor there. All this makes it difficult to understand the essence of Buddhism for everyday consciousness, including its ethics. At the same time, it serves as the basis for other logics that appeared in the European tradition not so long ago.

Without the purpose of considering here the foundations of Buddhism and its many directions, let us turn directly to whether the problem of nonviolence was posed here, and if so, how it was decided.

First of all, it should be noted that Buddhism, like Jainism, attached great importance to ethics, the development of norms of behavior. To comprehend Buddhist knowledge is possible only by following rigidly fixed ethical standards.

Justification of the ethical principles of Buddhism as well as of Jainism is the need to get rid of karma and achieve nirvana. However, karma is understood by Buddhism in a different way: as the sum of the virtues and vices of a given individual, not only in present life, in and in all rebirths, but focuses not so much on actions themselves, as on conscious acts or even moral or immoral intentions. Therefore, any person, even if he is not even a monk, can lay the foundations of future karma in this life, which will help in subsequent rebirths count on an unclouded consciousness and the opportunity to reach nirvana. Therefore, a person should behave appropriately, so that positive karma is strengthened, and the negative karma is weakened. Obviously, the principle of ahimsa is the leading ethical principle, which means not only the rejection of violence, but also the infliction of evil and even non-resistance to evil by violence.

However, in Buddhism, non-violence acquires some new sound. In accordance with the Avalokiteshvara Bodhisattva, it is not to accept the "salvation" until the last speck of dust reaches the state of the Buddha, Buddhists claim that a person can not acquire complete and final "liberation" as long as all trees, grass and fields will not find Buddhism. Hence, as in Jainism, the principle of ahimsa is of paramount importance, but is saturated with new content and acts as a means of overcoming egocentrism and anthropocentrism. At the same time, the principle of ahimsa is not brought to the extreme. In particular, N.V. Abaev, considering the peculiarities of Buddhism in medieval China, notes that "the Buddhists tried to avoid extremes of careful attitude to all living things ... and adhered to the principle of" middle way ", trying to spare nature as much as possible and at the same time time compulsorily recognizing that incontrovertible fact that a person can not live without killing and not eating living things. " [1, p. 100-101]. And further: "The main criterion of admissibility of violence over nature in the process of interaction with it was the absence of personal motivations in the results of practical activity that could harm living beings" [1, p. 101].

As for man, Buddhism prescribes to treat him with love and mercy, but a special, exclusive attachment to a person is strongly condemned. Buddhist love is, most likely, not an active and active position, but a passively benevolent mood, non-resistance to evil, forgiveness of offenses.

Thus, according to the Buddhist conception, the ethics of nonviolence is not to change anything, it is important not to exacerbate the suffering that permeates all life, to renounce personal participation in the commission of violence, pressure, coercion.


The essence of Hinduism is expressed by the following general principles of this doctrine [23].

The world is recognized not as an accidental combination, but as a hierarchically ordered whole, cosmos. The universal eternal order, enduring the universe as a whole, is called dharma (Keep). Without dharma, the world could not exist. Dharma embodies in itself some impersonal regularity of the universal whole and only a second time, derivative acts as a law predetermining the destiny of man. This explains and establishes the place of each particle in its relation to the whole. From the universal dharma is derived the dharma of every single taken.

Dharma is everywhere and acts as immanent justice, therefore it is recommended that every Indian should carefully consider his action: the right action causes good, wrong - evil. The evaluation takes place depending on the conformity of the dharma action.

However, since each action is the result of the intention and desire of the individual, the soul will be born and incarnated in the world until it is freed from the elements of every desire. The meaning of existence is to intuitively know that the multiplicity of the world is a fraud, for there is one Life, one Essence, one Goal. In comprehending this unity, salvation is composed, the greatest good, liberation and supreme appointment. Life is eternal and unlimited not by its duration, but by the knowledge of the universe in itself and itself in everything.

The combination of means that gives such an opportunity is called yoga. It is in the yoga system that the principle of ahimsa (nonviolence) is the main precept. Yoga includes the eight steps: abstinence (yama), fulfillment of the prescription (niyama), exercise of the body (asana), control of breathing (pranayama), distraction of the senses from their objects (pratyahara), concentration of consciousness (dharana), contemplation (dhyana) concentration in a state of trance (samadhi).

The first two parts - pit and niyama - focus on the ethical aspect. It is necessary to practice non-violence (ahimsa), be truthful, honest, restrained, i.e. avoid harming both action and intention, word. Ahimsa means a consistent abstention from inflicting harm on all living creatures and at the same time a lack of feelings of enmity and hatred. Do not kill here the basic rule, even self-defense does not justify the murder. The ethical preparation (yama and niyama) serve only as a base for the next stages, through the regulation of the body, breathing, the soothing of the senses, the person gradually ascends to the mastery of the higher stages of yoga, down to the state of samadhi - the intuitive penetration into the truth, the return of the spirit to its natural basis.

What are the moral and philosophical foundations of non-violence in Hinduism?

To answer this question, let us turn to the remarkable monument of Indian literature, philosophy, religion - Bhagavad-gita [50]. The content of the book is a conversation on the eve of a military battle between Arjuna and the Supreme Lord Krishna Himself. This conversation sets out the views on the foundations of the universe, religion itself, determines the role and purpose of man and his path to salvation.

Dialogue begins with the fact that Arjuna is questioning Krishna, who has taken the responsibility to control the chariot of the illustrious archer in the expediency of war, i.e. the commission of violence. He hesitates, pondering whether he has the moral right to war, especially since his relatives are on the opposite side: "I can not stand on my feet any more." I no longer own myself, and in my head everything is confused. I foresee only misfortunes, O Krishna, the conqueror of the demon Keshi. What can this battle bring to me, where all my relatives die? At such a price, O Krishna, how can I desire victory in it, hope for the kingdom and the joy it will bring to me? [50, p. 69-70]. To which Krishna responds that with death a person does not disappear, reveals the meaning of the idea of ​​the transmigration of souls, asserts that everything in the world is predetermined. The main task of man, including in this particular case, is not to get out of balance, to maintain the firmness of the spirit in both happiness and unhappiness. The soul does not change, it is immortal. "And he who thinks that a living being can kill, and one who thinks that it can be killed, is mistaken, for a true" I "can not kill or be killed." [50, p. 108].

As we see, nonviolence is not recognized as a value. Since the human soul is eternal, in principle life and death do not matter, which can justify violence. However, further analysis shows that everything is much more complicated. It justifies, as in the above situation, only violence in the name of religious principles. Krsna answers Arjuna's doubts so: "As for your duty to the ksatriyas, then know that there is no better work for you than fighting for the sake of religious principles. So do not hesitate. " [50, p. 122]. In other words, it is stressed that, on the one hand, the battle is predetermined from above, as is its outcome, Arjuna's task, by the way, as in any other business, is to fulfill his duty, the main thing is to do his own business (any) not tied to the results, to the products of activity. The rejection of duty, predetermined from above, constitutes a religious sin: "Fight for the sake of duty, not thinking about joy and sorrow, loss and gain, victory and defeat." Doing so, you will never bring sin upon yourself. " [50, p. 128].

In the Bhagavad-gita it is repeatedly emphasized that the most important thing for a person is detachment from the world, from sensual pleasures, from material wealth. The fruits of the activity do not belong to man: "A person who abandoned all aspirations for sensual pleasure, who lives free from desires, who does not believe that he owns something and who does not have a false ego - only he can gain true peace" [50, p. 162].

So, the conclusion is: "Fight! Cast aside all doubts. " Thus, violence is justified, but only that violence, which is foreshadowed from above. In all other cases, the principle of ahimsa is established as one of the fundamental moral principles.

In the comments to this text it is noted that ahimsa as a renunciation of violence means denying the performance of acts that cause suffering or anxiety to other people. According to Ahimsa, people need to be trained in such a way that it is possible to achieve full utilization of the possibilities of the human body, which is intended for spiritual self-awareness; Therefore, any movement, an act that does not lead to this goal, is violence against oneself. What brings the spiritual happiness of all people closer is called a renunciation of violence.

Refusal of violence is repeatedly affirmed as an ethical principle in the Bhagavad-gita, including as knowledge acting in opposition to ignorance. This is how it sounds in the mouth of Krishna himself: "Humility, humility, non-violence, tolerance, simplicity, conversion to a true spiritual master, purity, steadfastness, self-discipline, rejection of objects of sense gratification, absence of false ego, awareness that birth , death, old age and sickness are evil; lack of attachment, freedom from the prolonged influence of children, wife, home and other things, calmness in the face of both pleasant and unpleasant events; constant and pure devotion to Me, the desire to live in a solitary place, detachment from the general mass of people; the recognition of the importance of self-realization, the philosophical search for the Absolute Truth - all this I proclaim by knowledge, and everything that exists apart from this is ignorance " [50, p. 611-612].

In what sense is non-violence here understood? In the commentary to this text it is noted that, under refusal of violence, it is usually understood that one can not commit murder or cause bodily harm, but in reality this means that it is unacceptable to be the cause of the suffering of others ... Therefore, if a person does not contribute to raising other people to the level of spiritual knowledge, he commits atrocity [50, p. 613].

Non-violence is seen in the texts of the Bhagavad-gita and as the quality inherent in righteous people endowed with divine nature, along with such qualities as purification of one's existence, development of spiritual knowledge, charity and others. The commentary emphasizes the value of the ancient original meaning of the term "ahimsa", precisely as "the interruption of one's life". For example, if an animal is killed prematurely, it will again have to return to this life form in order to complete its life in it and then go on to the next form.

Nonviolence also appears as a special form of asceticism. Krsna says to Arjuna: "The asceticism of the body consists in worshiping the Supreme Lord, the brahmanas, the spiritual master, the eldest, such as the father and mother, and in purity, simplicity, chastity and non-use of violence." ] 50, p. 739].

Therefore, in the Bhagavad-gita A holistic concept of non-violence emerges. On the one hand, non-violence acts as a value, expressed simultaneously both as an ethical principle, as knowledge, as a divine quality, and as a form of asceticism of the body. In its content, this is: a) the interruption of someone's life, since a person does not have the right to violate the chain of reincarnations arbitrarily; b) refusal of actions causing suffering and anxiety to others; c) the focus on achieving the spiritual happiness of all people. On the other hand, non-violence is not self-valuable in itself, but only in connection with the conversion of each person to the Supreme Personality of Godhead. This expresses the religious essence of the texts "Bhagavad-gita." Violence is unacceptable if it is committed arbitrarily by a separate human person, it must be abandoned, overcome in oneself inclinations and intentions to coercion, not to mention the very fact of violence. At the same time, it is permissible if it is carried out according to the highest Divine Purpose, when a person fulfills his duty and can not do otherwise under certain laws.


Concluding the review of the problem of nonviolence in the Eastern religions, let us dwell on one more religious concept, namely, Taoism. Taoism arose in China as an alternative to Confucianism (the same story as in India, where Jainism and Buddhism emerged as an opposition to Brahmanism) and itself was in turn the basis for the development of the Chinese version of Buddhism (Ch'an Buddhism) due to the similarity of some fundamental provisions.

Confucianism as a philosophy and as a religion differed sufficiently rigorous in the demands to people, recognizing the inviolability of the existing system and regulating the behavior of each person by a system of strict rules (rules ). The whole traditional way of life is reduced to "five relations": this is the relationship between the sovereign and officials, parents and children, husband and wife, older and younger brothers, between friends. Each system of relations had a strict hierarchical organization and rules. The founder of this philosophy - Confucius - himself conscientiously performed all religious rites and taught their unswerving execution by others. After his death, he was deified, and in his honor the emperor himself performed religious rites. [38]

Taoism differed sharply from Confucianism, a recognized state religion, and acted as an opposition to it. The founder of Taoism is the ancient Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu, who wrote the treatise "Dao-te-ching".

In the center of the Taoist concept is the doctrine of the great Tao, the universal Law and the Absolute. Tao is everywhere and in everything, no one has created it, but everything comes from it, it gives everything to everything, form and name. To know the Tao (path), merge with it, follow it - this is the meaning, purpose and happiness of life. Tao is manifested through de, and if Tao generates everything, then de is nurturing everything. Just like in other religious concepts of the East, it was possible to comprehend the Tao by self-denial, avoiding the passions and vanity of life. This was achieved through special procedures, called the Taoist yoga.

From the point of view of the analysis of the problem of nonviolence, Taoism is interesting in that it opposed all violence against a person who was cultivated by Confucianism. As NV Abaev notes, "the Taoists opposed all violence against the human person and believed that attachment to the individual" I " It can not be suppressed by violent methods, so they were referred to as "bodybuilding" mission of Confucian rules whether sharply negative ... [1, p. 32]. And further: "The Taoists asserted that, as a" violence against the human person ", the Confucian rules, in fact, create and constantly exacerbate the feeling of one's own" I, "painfully experiencing the violence committed over him, themselves create the problem of a person alienating itself from its natural origin and opposing itself to the whole surrounding world 11, p. 33].

Thus, Taoism affirms the principle of non-violence, first of all, for every person who has embarked on the path of knowing the great Tao. This process can not be accelerated or slowed down, it is impossible to impose, every individual in accordance with his spiritual nature goes his own way. To do this, you just need to forget all the norms and conventions, and at the same time your own - I & quot ;.

As a universal principle and at the same time a method of comprehending the Tao is the principle of non-deed (w-wei), which in the context of the discussed problem is of great importance for understanding the essence of nonviolence. Without attempting to suppress and forcefully change in their nature, they provided an opportunity for their own passions, the flow of their psyche to function in accordance with their internal laws (their Tao), practicing a detachment from them (passions) [1, p. 37].

Thus, the principle of non-deed does not mean non-doing, but exclusion from one's own affairs, one's thoughts, experiences, passions, ie. the ability to stand in relation to yourself as if in the position of an outside observer, to acquire what we now call emotional stability. If in a negative sense, the "no-act" is characterized as "non-violation of the natural course of things", "refusal to violently interfere in human nature", then in the positive - as "act-through-not-act". This kind of no-act provided an opportunity to overcome their fear of the threat of an attack of mortal danger, on the one hand, laid the foundation for victories, for example in single combats. On the other hand, what was then called a condition for nonviolent resistance and found development in subsequent concepts of non-violent interaction.

So, if the problem of nonviolence was not specifically addressed in Taoism, its principled positions were developed, which were subsequently used in other religious and philosophical and ethical concepts. Here we include the provisions of Taoism on the denial of violence against human nature, the following naturalness, ie, the individual himself, in accordance with his inclinations and abilities, must enter the path of unity with the Tao, as well as the fundamental principle of non-action as a condition for acquiring an emotional balance, which is a prerequisite for refusing violence.

Also We Can Offer!

Other services that we offer

If you don’t see the necessary subject, paper type, or topic in our list of available services and examples, don’t worry! We have a number of other academic disciplines to suit the needs of anyone who visits this website looking for help.

How to ...

We made your life easier with putting together a big number of articles and guidelines on how to plan and write different types of assignments (Essay, Research Paper, Dissertation etc)