Peace Movement Gathers Momentum In Gujarat

Posted: 05.06.2002
Updated on: 22.08.2010

PALANPUR (GUJARAT)

A revolution for peace initiated by a Jain monk is slowly but surely gaining momentum in riot-ravaged Gujarat.

The monk is 83-year-old Acharya Mahaprajna who is the driving force behind the proposed university for non-violence’ in the land of Mahatma Gandhi.

Ahimsa Vishwavidyalaya’, billed as the only university in the world to promote peace, will be set up soon in Mehsana district. Acharya Mahaprajna is the eminent successor of the legendary Acharya Tulsi.

Gujarat Assembly Speaker Dhirubhai Shah is taking up with the State Government the case of land allotment at Saranga, Mehsana district, for the proposed university, BJP Rajya Sabha member Jayantibhai Barot, told UNI here yesterday.

The Acharya is clear about the university’s objectives and offers practical solutions to cases of violence. "With practice, we can bring about chemical changes in our body and mind so as to change our conscious and subconscious at the level of psychology itself," the Acharya says.

"Not by speeches, but by behavioural patterns, can this be achieved. Science cannot be ignored, as it has discovered many truths. And peace cannot be achieved by religion alone. Only by a synthesis of science and religion can we eliminate the reasons of violence and bring about peace," he explains. The Acharya, is at present on a three-year peace rally across Gujarat, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra. Hindu and Muslim rioters, who were fighting with each other in Ahmedabad until last month, have joined his 4,000-km-long ‘Ahimsa Yatra’. Politicians cutting across party lines are flocking to him. Even at his ripe age, he is moving on an average of 14 km a day and has already covered 1,200 km on foot.

The rally began at Sujangarh, Churu, Rajasthan, on December five last year when war clouds triggered by the December 13 terrorist attack on Parliament, had not yet begun to gather. Nor was Gujarat on the brink of a communal holocaust.

Acharya Mahaprajna has been joined by nearly 110 Jain monks and saints, besides dozens of others who will participate in the yatra every day for short distances despite the sweltering heat.

Even the lions international has taken note of his mission. In Delhi, one of these clubs is now known as Ahimsa lions club’ while ten more such clubs are on the anvil in Gujarat with the mission to promote peace at all levels of society, one of the devotees Pravin Chhajed said at a public meeting at Deesa in this district last week.

Latif Khan, a participant in the Ahimsa Yatra, said the journey was an important step in arousing public consciousness and would go a long way in restoring communal harmony in the country. Yusuf Bhai, one of the organisers of the yatra at Palanpur, told UNI that he was happy to associate himself with something which will help in achieving universal peace and brotherhood. The most important achievement of the Acharya is seen in Ahmedabad, even before he reaches the riot-ravaged city at the end of this month.

Dr Roop Narayan Agrawal, who has treated both Hindu and Muslim rioters and victims, has persuaded members of the two communities to repent for their sins. In mid-June, the doctor would lead a delegation of these rioters to meet the Acharya at Unjha or Visnagar where they would publicly repent for their mistakes, said Rajkumar Pugalia, who is in charge of publicity for the yatra.

Supercop K P S Gill, Security Advisor to Chief Minister Narendra Modi, has approached the Acharya to patronise a project in the worst-affected gomtipur area of Ahmedabad.

The Acharya has received messages of support from Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee and Union Ministers L K Advani and Maneka Gandhi, Rajasthan Governor Anshuman Singh and Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot, Gujarat Education Minister Anandiben Patel and Rajya Sabha MP Jayantibhai Barot.

During his ‘Chaturmas’ at Koba, Gandhinagar, with the onset of monsoon later this month, Acharya Mahaprajna’s ‘Ahimsa Vishwavidyalaya’ is likely to take shape. The monk does not have scholastic illusions about war. "World peace is possible only when we secure our borders in such a way that outsiders are not allowed to create disturbances in our land," he said.

"War should be avoided. We should move from violence towards non-violence. We cannot eliminate darkness altogether but we can certainly light a lamp to spread some light," he added

War clouds gather at home in the form of domestic violence which spills over to society and then between nations. Therefore, all peace efforts must begin at home, he felt. "Self-control and restraint are the keys to peace," Acharya Mahaprajna said.

There could be no development without peace, which is possible only through non-violence. War is basically created in human mind and reflects in our outward behaviour. So the mind should be cleansed first,’’ he added.

Unemployment and poverty leads to unrest, the Acharya said adding that in Gujarat, peace has been restored for now but long-term peace will be brought about by a change in attitude and in lifestyle.

His solutions to the problem of unrest include a wide range of do’s like preserving environment, shunning intoxicants and social evils such as untouchability, ethical means in elections and communal harmony and don’ts such as a vow not to kill intentionally, no foeticide or support to the policy of war or sabotage.

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Daily Excelsior, Jammu (Jammu & Kashmir) India, Thursday, June 6, 2002 (UNI) www.dailyexcelsior.com/02june06/national.htm