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Embarking on the Path of Peace: India’s Diplomatic Odyssey from Ahimsa to Global Accord Rooted in Jain Wisdom

By Tarun Agarwal

The concept of international order is an ever-evolving discourse that traverses the epochs of human history. It reflects diverse civilizations, cultures, and belief systems, each contributing unique viewpoints on how nations and individuals should interact on the global stage. In this intricate tapestry of worldviews, Jain philosophy stands as a profound and timeless source of wisdom, offering a perspective on international order deeply rooted in principles of non-violence, harmony, and compassion.

Jainism: A Philosophy of Non-Violence

Jainism, one of the world’s oldest religions, is celebrated for its unwavering commitment to “ahimsa,” or non-violence. This principle extends far beyond the mere absence of physical violence; it encompasses all facets of life, including thoughts, words, and actions. Jainism teaches that every living being, regardless of its size or form, possesses an inherent right to exist and flourish without fear of harm. This profound dedication to non-violence serves as the cornerstone for Jain perspectives on international order.

India, the birthplace of Jainism, has imbibed this principle into its cultural and philosophical ethos. Mahatma Gandhi, the leader of India’s struggle for independence, exemplified the power of non-violence in diplomacy through his concept of “Satyagraha” or nonviolent resistance. His legacy continues to inspire nations worldwide, showcasing the transformative potential of non-violence as a diplomatic tool.

Harmony with the Universe

Jain philosophy underscores the interconnectedness of all living beings and the imperative of maintaining harmony with the universe. The Jain doctrine of “anekantavada” recognizes the multi-faceted nature of truth, emphasizing that reality is intricate and cannot be reduced to simplistic viewpoints.

In the realm of international order, ‘anekantavada’ encourages a profound comprehension of the diverse perspectives and interests that different nations and cultures uphold. India, with its kaleidoscope of languages, religions, and traditions, serves as a living testament to this principle. By celebrating its diversity and nurturing inclusivity, India can set a global example of harmonious coexistence rooted in the Jain-inspired value of understanding the multifaceted nature of truth.

Compassion and Welfare of All

Jainism places significant emphasis on compassion and the well-being of all beings. This compassion extends not only to human beings but also to animals, plants, and the environment. Jain teachings advocate for a sense of responsibility towards all life forms and urge the minimization of harm in all actions.

India, boasting diverse ecosystems and rich biodiversity, is ideally positioned to lead global efforts in environmental stewardship. By adopting sustainable practices, advocating for conservation, and sharing its knowledge, India can exemplify a commitment to the welfare of all living beings in line with Jain principles. Such actions not only benefit the global environment but also foster a culture of compassion that transcends borders.

Conflict Resolution through Dialogue

Jainism offers a distinctive perspective on conflict resolution. Instead of resorting to war or violence, Jains advocate for peaceful dialogue and negotiation. The principle of “samvatsari,” or forgiveness, plays a central role in this approach. Forgiveness and reconciliation are seen as indispensable tools for resolving conflicts and establishing enduring peace.

India’s history of diplomacy and conflict resolution aligns seamlessly with the Jain perspective on peaceful conflict resolution. By prioritizing dialogue, negotiation, and reconciliation in its foreign policy, India can contribute significantly to global efforts aimed at conflict reduction and peace promotion. In the face of deep-seated conflicts, India can serve as a mediator, illustrating the potential of non-violent diplomacy to transcend enmity and build bridges.

In a world often marked by conflict, power struggles, and violence, the Jain philosophical perspective on international order offers a compelling alternative. Rooted in the principles of non-violence, harmony, compassion, and dialogue, Jainism provides a timeless framework for nations to interact on the global stage.

India’s unique cultural and philosophical heritage, deeply influenced by Jain principles, positions it as a natural leader in promoting these values internationally. By embodying these principles in its foreign policy and diplomatic efforts, India can serve as a beacon of hope and inspiration, guiding the world towards a more just, peaceful, and sustainable international order.

As the world grapples with complex challenges, the Jain philosophy reminds us that our collective destiny is intrinsically linked to our ability to foster non-violence, harmony, and compassion in our interactions with one another and with the natural world. India, a nation steeped in these principles, possesses a distinctive opportunity to shape the future of international relations in a manner that reflects the interconnectedness of all life and the pursuit of global well-being.

The author is Ph.D scholar at Diplomacy and Disarmament Division, School of International Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, India. He tweets: @TarunAgarwal09

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