WAGING WAR FOR PROMOTING PEACE
SCRIPTURES ON WAR AND PEACE
By Brigadier Chitranjan Sawant,VSM
Waging war has been a favourite pastime of kings and captains from time immemorial. Delving
deep into the art of statecraft one finds that waging a war has been an extension of pursuing
national interests to the logical end. What is not achievable through diplomacy is sought to be
achieved through wars. All political philosophers have a common meeting ground when they
say that war is an evil, albeit a necessary evil. Indeed a state professing to pursue a policy of
Peace says that it had to declare war to promote peace. Thus the ultimate goal of the civilized
world is peace and it cannot but be achieved by waging a war against enemies of a civilized
way of life and perpetrators of terror.
Mahabharat, the mother of all wars waged on the soil of India that is Bharat, was fought as a
Dharmayudh, that is as per the righteous code of conduct in war and its sole aim was to
eastablish a state of Dharma , where Peace would prevail after eliminating Adharma or the Evil.
It is a fact recorded in history that Yogeshwar Shri Krishna, who gave us Bhagwad Gita, went as
an ambassador of the Pandavas to the Kaurava court to plead for peace.He was prepared to
surrender many rights but the evil forces were adamant on perpetrating injustice and immorality.
The Yogeshwar had no choice but to advise the Pandavas to wage a war now to promote
peace eventually. The rest is history. Let us now go back to the time of human creation on our
planet and revelation of the divine knowledge, VEDAS, and learn more about war and peace.
Peace is indeed the avowed goal of the man who walks on the Vedic path. Waging a war for the
sake of waging a war goes against the grain of the Vedic Thought. As a matter of fact an
aimless act of commission or omission is frowned upon. A man, that includes a woman too, who
entertains sublime ideas and has charity for all and malice for none in his heart, acts as per the
tenets of the Vedas is indeed an Arya (that is a noble man). One who is fond of bloodshed and
goes against the injunctions of the Vedas is called a Dasyu(a demonlike creature). A war is not
of the making of an Arya. However, when the life and limb as well as the Dharma are at stake,
an Arya has little choice but to wage a war with all might and resources at his command. An
Arya goes into battle with a strong will to win. Let us have a look at some of the Ved mantras on
war and peace.
LEADERSHIP IN WAR
Ye Murdhanah Kshitinam Adabdhasah Swa-Yashasah Vrata Rakshante Aduhah , so goes the
thirteenth mantra of 67th sukta in the 8th mandala of the Rigveda. A great leader of human
beings, both in war and peace, is one who takes a vow to do a good turn to one and all and
lives and dies by it. For such a leader the motto is: Society before Self. A leader in battle is
convinced of the cause he is fighting for and convinces the army that he leads. This indeed is a
great morale- raising factor. It is a well known principle that Moral (that includes morale) is to
physical as ten to one. The Rigveda enjoins on such a leader to be Indomitable and
Irrepressible, that is one who goes through thick and thin and remains unfazed. He takes the
joys and sorrows of life in the normal stride of life. He is not cowed down by adversities and is
never over-whelmed by the enemy forces, notwithstanding their numerical or fire -power
superiority. Further, a leader in battle does not rest on his or his ancestors’ laurels but earns a
niche for himself through sane and timely actions. Of course, a leader cannot afford to be a
rebel against the time-honoured tenets lest the soldiers under his command catch this infection
and rebel against him. Such rebellious acts lead to acute indiscipline leading to fragging and
fratricide. That will sound the death knell of both, the leader and the led. The perennial source of
strength is the Character of the leader. Character is a cumulative outcome of fulfilling vows
taken in the larger interests of the king and country. In the present context king stands for the
The Rigveda, inter alia, eulogizes the role of a courageous warrior. What kind of a warrior draws
the admiration of his compatriots? The 5th mantra of the 55th sukta in the 1st mandala of the
Rigveda provides the answer. He is the one who attacks the enemy with a Vajra and strikes
decisively while he himself is calm, cool and collected. A brave soldier fights for Dharma against
Adharma and deals a death -blow to the evil enemy. The Vajra is the most potent weapon in the
armoury of the Vedic warriors. It finds mention in contemporary life and literature. Many
folklores are woven around it. Of course, the all time popular tale of Indra requesting Rishi
Dadheech for his bones to make a Vajra thereof to kill the dreaded demon demonstrates how
the rulers and rishies joined hands to fight against evil and help the good triumph. This also
illustrates the concept of a Total War where the entire nation is geared to fight, not the Army
alone, against the enemy. Here again it is the undaunted spirit of the warrior in battlefield that
keeps the flag of Aryas flying by beating Dasyus in their own game. It is, therefore, an ongoing
battle between the forces of good and evil where the former must defeat the latter. In the
Dharmyudh, it is the Dharm that comes out with flying colours. Moral of the story is that wars are
inevitable and a nation must remain prepared for it always and everytime. History bears
witness to the fact that those civilizations that paid scant attention to preparation of rank and file
of warriors invariably lost wars and their civilization was wiped out from face of the earth.
Prithivya Vya Ashah Parvatanam – O sons of the Brave! Be ever on the move across the globe,
in all directions and cross the mighty mountains.
The third mantra, 39th sukta in the first mandala of the Rigveda exhorts those who are in the
profession of arms Not to let the grass grow under their feet. They should always be mobile in
all directions across hills and dales to pursue the goal without fear. It would be pertinent to add
that the military movement is undertaken all the year round and superstitions, like the one about
proceeding in any one direction on a given day may be hazardous, are left by the wayside.
Courage, fortitude, forbearance of a warrior are his assets that he can ill-afford to squander at
the mythical altar created by ill-informed and semi-literate men of religion of the dark medieval
The Rigveda mantra in the ninth mandala describes a lovely scenario of our army marching to
give battle to the enemy. It is a heartening commentary on the leader and the led. The
commander is in the forwardmost Ratha or the battle wagon, others follow him with implicit faith
; the rank and file of soldiers are mighty pleased in their hearts : Pra Senanih Shuro Agre
Rathanam Gavyanneti Harshate Asya Sena – 9-96-1.
With morale of our forces remaining sky high, victory in battle over the enemy is a foregone
conclusion. Indeed, high morale is a battle winning factor and a unique one. The leaders, both
at the national level and the armed forces level, have to take every possible step to ensure that
the morale of the nation and the armed forces always remains sky high. The Nation has to rise
as One Man and maintain cohesion.
LET US BECOME INVINCIBLE
mind is the man. With a view to becoming invincible, the entire country has to work for it
relentlessly. Let us start with physical fitness. A healthy mind is a part of a healthy body. So, let
us care for the body, irrespective of the teaching that an individual’s identity rests in his soul and
not in the body. Embodied soul is the answer to remain fit like a fiddle. What makes a fighting
man and a woman develop nerves of steel is moral courage. Where does a soldier get moral
courage from? Dharma provides moral courage to man. No wonder all efficient armies of the
world give teachings and practice of Dharma a proninent place in the training schedule.
Negligence in its implementation leads the army on the path of disaster. No sane outfit wants to
walk on a suicidal course. Let the rank and file become convinced of the cause they are fighting
for and then they will give their best in battle. Such soldiers are focussed men and women who
always strive to achieve the aim and get the goal. Nothing can stop them from achieving the
target, come rain come shine.
The Rigveda extols virtues of such enlightened soldiers as described heretofore. The third
mantra in 41st sukta of the first mandala runs thus :
Vi Durga Vi Dwishah Puro Ghnanti Rajaan Aisham Nayanti Durita Sirah
An enlightened and brave soldier, a Vir Kshatriya, is one who punishes enemies of the nation,
destroys their fortresses, dismantles their built-up defenses and razes to ground their cities and
shelters and finally exterminates them so that they do not raise their heads in revolt. Thus the
aim of a well- trained army, navy and air force is to annihilate completely all enemies of the
nation. Indeed, it is a clear and unambiguous Vedic mandate for taking punitive action against
the enemy, internal and external, and carry the operation to its logical end. Terrorists are no
exception to the rule enunciated by this Ved mantra.
Modernisation of armaments and keeping strategy and field tactics in tune with demand of the
day have to be catered for in making an armed force invincible. History bears witness to defeat
of inward looking nations at the hands of forward looking nations. A frog-in the-well tendency
must be discouraged. Interaction with other nations of the world is a sine-qua-non of keeping
abreast with new researches in the weapon system and art of war. Stagnation of all sorts must
be banished from the lifestyle of a nation. Those who shun information technology cannot stay
afloat for long. They will sink sooner than later. To stay afloat one must continue swimming,
even if it is against the current at times. To stay afloat a nation has to keep on kicking. So be it.
Notwithstanding what has been said heretofore about waging a war, annihilating the enemy and
exterminating him, the main mission of Man is Peace. It has already been emphasized that
going to war is the last resort of the state policy. Disputes between two nations are to be solved
through diplomacy and taking recourse to violence should be eschewed. However, more often
than not, the rule of international law is thrown overboard. Might is Right – that is the law of
jungle but prevails in the so- called civilized world. The injunction of the Vedas is to eschew war.
War is indeed destructive. Mankind has suffered in wars. Nevertheless, when the very life and
way of life are at stake, war is permissible in self-defense. If demon like men and women are
bent upon destroying our way of life, we cannot but go to war against them. Here one is waging
a war to promote Peace. Thus the ultimate goal is Peace, even if it has to be achieved through
The Yajurved in its 36th chapter,17th mantra talks of Peace in a very persuasive style. Peace is
good for the mankind and man should pray for Peace that prevails all over the divine creation.
The mantra is commonly called Shanti Path. The recitation of the mantra guides us, human
beings, to perfect peace. This mantra is environment-friendly as well as ecology-friendly. The
mantra mentions the shiny celestial entities, talks of planet earth, of water, of medicinal herbs,
green foliage, the divine knowledge and the Peace that pervades all over the Creation. Finally,
Man prays for the same all-pervading Peace to be a part and parcel of his own self. Let there be
Peace, Peace and Peace. Pray, when Man reposes unflinching faith in Peace, he will indeed
NA DAINYAM NA PALAYANAM – May I sum up by saying that Yogeshwar Shri Krishna exhorted Mankind through Arjuna that one should never show weakness of body, mind and spirit nor run away from the battleefield once the conch shell declaring war is blown. Spiritual Robustness gives a Kshatriya moral courage to face any enemy anywhere, fight to finish and win the war. It is our Dharma to engage the enemy in battle and defeat him to uphold the Rule of Law.
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