The Sacred Ecology of Ahimsa

Bichhdā kuchh is adā se ki rut hī badal gaī / ik shaḳhs saare shahr ko vīrān kar gayā – Khalid Sharif

He parted in such a way that the season has changed / A whole city stands deserted by one man’s departure

Kishore Saint, Ashish Kothari, Aseem Shrivastava

“Ahimsa and Truth are my two lungs. I cannot live without them.”  – Gandhi[i]

“Never has humankind needed non-violence as now, nor ever been so unready for it.”  – Sudhir Chandra[ii]


We live in strange times. The certitudes of the past have vanished into the oblivion of history, as though all the key lessons from it were already well-digested. On the other hand, the digital age has drawn metropolitan humanity into a virtual future, detaining us in a maze of endless corridors of seduction that serve to conceal the enormous problems that lie denied and buried in hidden depths of the present so that we indefinitely postpone solving them. We are expected to lust after everlasting prosperity and live in the persuasively fictitious interregnum between the vanished past and a supposedly inevitable future. Digital technology is robbing a large proportion of humanity of the natural experience of time. It is as though human beings could indefinitely exempt themselves from the kaal-chakra, the wheel of time, to sustain the spectacular illusions of an impossible present. A “Faustian restlessness” stalks metropolitan humanity, with profound, violent psychological, cultural and ecological consequences.[iii]

One cause of this global consumer pandemic is located transparently in the artificial acceleration of history resulting from modern technology, so far inescapably dependent on the rapid, unsustainable expenditure of fossil fuels extracted mercilessly from the bowels of mother earth. The full range and extent of irreversible ecological damage being caused by a nearly universal “technochrony”, pushed by commercialised masculinism and aggressive states, is manifesting itself in the gathering pace of climate change, species extinction, vanishing biodiversity, and the almost universal poisoning of air, water and soil at alarming rates.[iv] At the same time, these structural forces have built on traditional inequities to create a terribly divided and unequal world.

Unsparing critic of modern technology as he was, Gandhi would have been shocked by all this, but would not have been surprised in the least. The limited evidence of his day was enough to show him the possible contours of the future. With his inevitable staff in hand, he would have gathered his slender frame, and with a typically wry smile below those kind eyes, still walk towards – not away! – from us. What would he say to us in this bedevilled late hour? And what has he already said and lived that could guide us to effective action to address the multiple crises we face? These are the questions that prompt this essay…..

Kishore Saint

The Lady Vanishes

Gandhi’s Assassin. By Dhirendra K Jha

Four Indian intellectuals who were murdered for their ideas (2013-2017)

Why Gauri Lankesh was assassinated: The story of an indoctrinated engineer

Ayush Chaturvedi: Main Gandhi ke saath hun / Samar Halarnkar: A search for Hindus who will stand with Gandhi

What the Veneration of Gandhi’s Killer Says About India. By Yasmeen Serhan

Rabindranath Tagore’s essay on the cult of the nation