Hindus believe that peace is created by heightened intellect and intimacy with Brahma. For the individual Hinduism provides core teachings which guide them through life in order to create inner peace for themselves and collective peace for the rest of the world. In order for a Hindu adherent to create inner peace one must meditate, adhere to the Ten Commandments and the most importantly, pray to Brahma. Ahimsa, purity, good actions (karma), reading sacred texts (Bhagavad Gita), performing puja, yoga and undertaking pilgrimages to sacred sites are all ways to create inner peace for the individual and therefore create a better rebirth (with the aim of reaching Moksha). Furthermore the unconditional love for Brahma, positive relationship with nature, respect for all things as well as an understanding of ahimsa (non-violence) and Satyagraha (passive resistance) are considered essential to a Hindu adherent as it creates a sense of self, tranquility, harmony and most importantly it helps the individual achieve inner peace.
The key understanding of a Hindu’s world view is dharma. The dharma according to the Tattririya Aranyaka states “Dharma is the foundation of the whole universe, upon dharma everything is founded.” Dharma helps create harmony and peace through the interaction of humans in differing levels (the four Varnas – castes). Through the four rules of right conduct, right caste, right sexual morality and the right end a Hindu adherent is able to fulfill their duties based on their caste. In the
Bhagavad Gita it states “strive in one’s own dharma”. This quote reflects the importance of serving a Hindu’s duty to God and humanity in order to obtain humanity, freedom and inner peace. In relation to dharma the most important thing that Hindu adherents strive for is Moksha – the freedom from the cycle of rebirth. In order to achieve Moksha one must complete their dharma. The relation between inner peace and the dharma is made evident in the Bhagavad Gita as it states “treating pleasure and pain, gain and loss, victory and defeat alike, engage yourself in your duty. By doing your duty this way you will not incur sin.” (2:38)
Furthermore karma is closely linked to dharma as it states that all human actions have consequences that not only affect their present life but will shape their future life until Moksha is achieved. Karma is broken into two differing categories, good deeds (punya) and evil deeds (paap). Punya will help the fulfillment of the dharma and therefore lead to a better rebirth and in contrast paap will hinder the fulfillment of the dharma and therefore lead to a worse rebirth, prolonging Moksha.
The intimate relationship with Brahma is essential for achieving inner peace. Through prayer a connection is made with Brahma, reinforcing the relationship with him. If a person loves the gods unconditionally their prayers will be heard, however if a person prays for peace but is harming something then their prayers will not be answered. Hindus pray for peace during all times, even times of certainty as it is a present from Brahma. On a more widespread level many people from the community chant openly in Hindu temples which helps reinforce the connection of Brahma on a more community based level. On a more global level Hindu’s believe that a positive relationship with nature is essential for inner and universal peace as Brahma is part of everything. Hindu adherents endeavor to maintain a healthy environment, not exploiting natural resources and thus focusing upon treating the environment with dignity, grace and respect.
In regards to the Bhagavad Gita (the scared Hindu text written in Sanskrit) it is apparent that peace can be explored in two different ways. The Bhagavad Gita explores the ideals of inner peace and offers insight into a moral understanding. The Bhagavad Gita is the text used by all variants of Hinduism, comprising of eighteen chapters and several hundred versus. For peace the Bhagavad Gita states that there is a clear understanding between
Ahimsa is compassion, non-violence (whether physical or emotional, spiritual or mental) and abstinence from harm. It helps create meaning and guidance for an individual seeking inner/world peace. Ahimsa is derived from karma and obtaining a better rebirth. It is also a result of the belief that society is progressing and universal compassion must remain in order to sustain the sanctity of life. Furthermore a main advocator for ahimsa was Mahamta Gandhi. Through his use of political force and nonviolence he created a more just society further enhancing the Hindu spirituality.
Mahamta Gandhi was universally known for being a symbol of peace and had a significant impact of the doctrines of Hinduism. Gandhi was a perfect role model of peace as through his Hindu philosophical world view he created a more just society through the creation of worldwide peace. Gandhi advocated the respect for all people regardless of caste. On a more personal level Gandhi helped emphasize the importance of Satagraha (soul force), peace as a fundamental basis of all religions. “There are many causes I am prepared to die for, but none I am willing to kill for.” This statement by Gandhi highlights the importance of non-violence and the strive for a peaceful life.
In a more general sense the idea of peace can be found in various Hindu organizations. All Hindu organizations work to create and promote peace within India as all are created on the principle of ahimsa, non-violence to provide avenues in order to renew or maintain peace within their lives. Examples include the Youth Society of Peace, which was founded by Nepalese youth. This organization helps to promote peace whilst informing the youth of social responsibility. Through meetings, programs, lectures and conferences it helps to strive for a peaceful future. “Young people are the key to future peace.”
To conclude it is apparent that Hinduism offers a variety of ways in order to achieve peace. Whether it is a more individual aspect or a world wide occurrence the guidance of Hinduism is made possible through the Dharma, karma, Ahimsa in order to achieve Moksha. Drawing from the Bhagavad Gita is it clear that the adherents of Hinduism have essential guidelines that enable both the individual and the community to help create and promote worldwide peace.