“This world is compared to a forest fire caused by the cohesion of bamboo bushes. Such a forest fire takes place automatically, for bamboo cohesion occurs without external cause. Similarly, in the material world the wrath of those who want to lord it over material nature interacts, and the fire of war takes place, exhausting the unwanted population. Such fires or wars take place, and the Lord has nothing to do with them. But because He wants to maintain the creation, He desires the mass of people to follow the right path of self-realization, which enables the living beings to enter into the kingdom of God.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 1.10.2 Purport)
It has been ongoing, since before anyone can remember;a continuous struggle. Vedic literature describes the two parties: suras and asuras. Loosely translated, the good guys and the bad guys. Piety, righteousness, duty, attention and honor. The other side with murder, theft, intoxication, greed and general sin. It is not surprising that groups of people in large numbers possessing contradictory qualities would not get along. The tensions escalate to the point of violence, sometimes reaching the largest scale.
Philosophers, concerned citizens, welfare workers, and the like have bemoaned the situation.
Why can’t there be peace? Will we ever get rid of war, for good? How to prevent death on a mass scale moving forward?
As the trigger to conflict is not a single issue, to address every potential cause appears to be a daunting task.
1. Dispute over land
The guy next door is adding on to his garage. The house came with a designated area fitted to cover a single vehicle. An enclosure to protect against the elements, some people use the space for other purposes, like storage. He is adding a second garage, which means that the construction moves closer to the side, which is the dividing line of the property.
In fact, you think he has overstepped his rights. He is building on your property, but he claims that is not the case. Civil conversation has not addressed the dispute, and so it is off to court. Even if you win, it doesn’t mean there will be a peaceful resolution. Resentment might be the result, and the conflict could resume at any time.
The same type of dispute on the largest scale is not only the cause of instances of war, but ongoing rivalry, as well. People living on a piece of land today think that their ancestors were cheated. It is time to right the wrong. The other side has no idea about the past; they are fine with the situation at present. Yet when attacked on the issue, when asked to leave the area, they fight back.
2. Trade imbalance
One country has a surplus of funds. Another has goods in excess. The two naturally exchange: money for goods. Both sides should be happy, but then there is the vulnerability in terms of leverage. If one side decides to withhold, the other is in trouble. The country with goods will be lacking in funds. The country with money won’t have any goods, some of which might be vital to sustaining life.
One solution is to go to war. There is no such thing as a trade imbalance if you simply make the other country part of yours. There aren’t any similar news stories about one state in a country exporting more goods than other states. As everyone is part of the same name, under one umbrella, there isn’t as much concern.
3. Leaders disliking one another
There was a summit of world leaders. Each was allowed to make a presentation in front of an assembly. One leader didn’t like what another leader had to say about them. This led to a battle of insults, carried out in the press. The relationship between the countries was fine prior to this. In fact, they were considered the strongest of allies, but due to the influence of time leadership is always changing.
From a simple dispute between personalities a war can start.
“He thinks that I’m not smart? I’ll show him. Take this rocket. Here is another missile. Eat that.”
The other side then feels it necessary to retaliate, and the conflict escalates from there. Two individuals in a conflict can at most do damage to one another, but world leaders have the resources of their country at their disposal. In addition, the citizens become a target, caught in the line of fire. This was the case with the infamous Rakshasa named Ravana, who because of uncontrolled lust put the people of Lanka at risk.
4. Battle for religious supremacy
My salvation-style faith says that you must accept so and so or be forever damned. This other person has their own book and the name of a different prophet. They have an identical sales pitch, though. Accept or else. Everyone must be converted or they are of no use to this world.
If an entire nation were to subscribe to such a philosophy, it would serve as easy justification for invading another nation. Such conflicts fill pages in the books describing the history of the world. The idea is to let one religion reign supreme, when in truth the Almighty is automatically for every person, from every walk of life. Even the animals are connected to Him, and they have no concept of religion.
5. Control over commodities
Similar to the issue with trade imbalance, the justification for these wars is “the vital national interest.” If my country purchases a certain resource from one country, it becomes heavily dependent on that country’s wellbeing. If another country should interfere by invading and taking over, that could jeopardize the wellbeing of my people.
One way to remedy the situation is to go to war. Kick the invaders out. I’m fighting a war on foreign soil, and not even for control of the country that was attacked. In more extreme circumstances, a greedy leader wants full control of a commodity. Why even risk getting into wars in the future? Just invade and take control. This has happened many times in history, especially over food, spices and gold.
If there are so many triggers for war, how to remedy the situation? It seems like they break out spontaneously, without cause sometimes. How to keep such forces in check? If someone were to attack your home, would you not fight back? Then should not the nation do the same? Don’t they have a right? Is not war sometimes a necessity, an unavoidable reality to living in a temporary and miserable world?
At the root of every issue is kama, which is material desire, or even lust. Uncontrolled kama turns into wrath, and combined together they devour the otherwise sober and rational person.
काम एष क्रोध एष रजोगुणसमुद्भवः।
महाशनो महापाप्मा विद्ध्येनमिह वैरिणम्।।
kāma eṣa krodha eṣa rajoguṇasamudbhavaḥ।
mahāśano mahāpāpmā viddhyenamiha vairiṇam।।
“The Blessed Lord said: It is lust only, Arjuna, which is born of contact with the material modes of passion and later transformed into wrath, and which is the all-devouring, sinful enemy of this world.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 3.37)
The only solution is consciousness of God, through more than fear or dogmatic insistence. Genuinely thinking of Him and seeking His pleasure, knowing His nature and understanding the variety of the world created by Him. Fortunately, this is made easier in the age of darkness and quarrel through the chanting of the holy names: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.
Follow a routine and enter into a bhakti-yoga discipline. Be conscious yourself, to guard against lust and wrath. From there rescue others, and at least create peaceful situations and communities in the process. Every individual has the right to reunite with the Divine, in what is known as yoga, and that bond is so strong that no war can break it.
Like in forest spontaneous spark,
Out of nowhere a war to start.
Perhaps over resources distribution,
For imposed tariffs retribution.
Or religion supreme over all reigning,
So other nation my enemy naming.
Solution to every cause only one,
Bhakti life, calm even in conflict won.
Categories: the five