Thursday, November 01, 2007

Ousting Evil From Our Midst: Different Ways

By Sri Sri Ravi Shankar - The Times of India - India
Wednesday, October 31, 2007

The concept of evil, as well as the approach to dealing with evil is different in eastern and western religious traditions and culture.

The East believes that it is God's job to deal with evil. The individual has nothing to do with it; he can only pray. It is the gods who will take action to oust evil from our midst.

In Tibetan Buddhism and Taoism, for example, there are specific deities responsible for counteracting evil forces, like Avalokateshvara in Tibetan Buddhism and the God Shui-kuan in Taosim.

In Hinduism, it is Goddess Durga who destroys the evil Mahishasura with one 'Hmmkar'. There are also a number of other Hindu deities including Shiva, Narasimha in the Vaishnava tradition, Hanuman, Kali, Bhairava, and Pratyengeera who have, from time to time, come to the rescue by overpowering evil forces.

So the power of prayer is appreciated; one needs only to pray and deities will take care.

The eastern approach will doubtless seem odd if not completely incomprehensible in the West where there is a much more action-oriented approach to dealing with evil. In the Abrahamic traditions, it is viewed as the responsibility of the individual to take action against evil and to deal firmly with one's enemies.

The Old Testament law of "an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth" goes back as far as Moses (Exodus 21:22-25). This principle clearly favours activism when it comes to dealing with one's enemies. Though Christianity professes ideals like "turning the other cheek" and "loving thy enemy" (Matthew 5:38-45), it is still action-oriented and responsibility to handle evil is left to the individual.

In Islam, the "devil" is pelted with stones by pilgrims as part of a ritual during Hajj. Here, evil is symbolically perceived as an external threat to religion. So stones are pelted to drive it away.

However, in some interpretations and in Sufism, jehad is more an internal exercise, non-reactive approach on the spiritual path. The philosophy of simply staying surrendered to God and letting God take care of the problem is deeply embedded in the consciousness in the East.

When Hindus see something evil, they leave it to God. A verse says: "Evam eva tvaya karyan, asmat vairi vinashanam" which means "It is your job to destroy my enemies".

In the Bhagavad Gita, Krishna says, "Mayaivaite nihatah purvam eva/ nimitta-matram bhava savya-sacin" which means "I have already killed the Kauravas (the enemy). You simply be the instrument and take credit for it".

The main idea is that to deal with evil, there needs to be some avatar, some great man, who will come and take care of it. Anyone who deals with evil is therefore raised to the level of a god, so that human beings can remain passive and non-violent.

At the most, to ward off evil people put demonic figures or scarecrows on rooftops but these have no scriptural references.

There are many superstitious practices to ward off evil around the world, especially in folklore. The non-violent and non-retaliatory approach evidenced in India's tradition is due in large part to the under-lying philosophy embedded in the Hindu consciousness that God will take care of any evil or enemy.

This philosophy, however, has often served as an excuse for passivity.

2 comments:

Vinay said...

Thanks to this beautiful passage i am getting 10 easy marks in my Maharastra CET exam where this passage appeared. Peace.

nJxS said...

i agree with Vinay....i still cant believe am getting 10/10 in this one.... :-)

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Ousting Evil From Our Midst: Different Ways
By Sri Sri Ravi Shankar - The Times of India - India
Wednesday, October 31, 2007

The concept of evil, as well as the approach to dealing with evil is different in eastern and western religious traditions and culture.

The East believes that it is God's job to deal with evil. The individual has nothing to do with it; he can only pray. It is the gods who will take action to oust evil from our midst.

In Tibetan Buddhism and Taoism, for example, there are specific deities responsible for counteracting evil forces, like Avalokateshvara in Tibetan Buddhism and the God Shui-kuan in Taosim.

In Hinduism, it is Goddess Durga who destroys the evil Mahishasura with one 'Hmmkar'. There are also a number of other Hindu deities including Shiva, Narasimha in the Vaishnava tradition, Hanuman, Kali, Bhairava, and Pratyengeera who have, from time to time, come to the rescue by overpowering evil forces.

So the power of prayer is appreciated; one needs only to pray and deities will take care.

The eastern approach will doubtless seem odd if not completely incomprehensible in the West where there is a much more action-oriented approach to dealing with evil. In the Abrahamic traditions, it is viewed as the responsibility of the individual to take action against evil and to deal firmly with one's enemies.

The Old Testament law of "an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth" goes back as far as Moses (Exodus 21:22-25). This principle clearly favours activism when it comes to dealing with one's enemies. Though Christianity professes ideals like "turning the other cheek" and "loving thy enemy" (Matthew 5:38-45), it is still action-oriented and responsibility to handle evil is left to the individual.

In Islam, the "devil" is pelted with stones by pilgrims as part of a ritual during Hajj. Here, evil is symbolically perceived as an external threat to religion. So stones are pelted to drive it away.

However, in some interpretations and in Sufism, jehad is more an internal exercise, non-reactive approach on the spiritual path. The philosophy of simply staying surrendered to God and letting God take care of the problem is deeply embedded in the consciousness in the East.

When Hindus see something evil, they leave it to God. A verse says: "Evam eva tvaya karyan, asmat vairi vinashanam" which means "It is your job to destroy my enemies".

In the Bhagavad Gita, Krishna says, "Mayaivaite nihatah purvam eva/ nimitta-matram bhava savya-sacin" which means "I have already killed the Kauravas (the enemy). You simply be the instrument and take credit for it".

The main idea is that to deal with evil, there needs to be some avatar, some great man, who will come and take care of it. Anyone who deals with evil is therefore raised to the level of a god, so that human beings can remain passive and non-violent.

At the most, to ward off evil people put demonic figures or scarecrows on rooftops but these have no scriptural references.

There are many superstitious practices to ward off evil around the world, especially in folklore. The non-violent and non-retaliatory approach evidenced in India's tradition is due in large part to the under-lying philosophy embedded in the Hindu consciousness that God will take care of any evil or enemy.

This philosophy, however, has often served as an excuse for passivity.

2 comments:

Vinay said...

Thanks to this beautiful passage i am getting 10 easy marks in my Maharastra CET exam where this passage appeared. Peace.

nJxS said...

i agree with Vinay....i still cant believe am getting 10/10 in this one.... :-)