On A Path Without Any Destination

RSS Author RSS     Views:N/A
Bookmark and Share          Republish
In this interview with Naveen Vasudevan, Satish Kumar, the editor of the alternative magazine, Resurgence, talks about his 8,000-mile journey on foot to raise awareness about the threat of nuclear weapons and the connections between peace, social justice and sustainability.
Walking the talk
While I was walking with Vinoba I had the inspiration to walk for peace outside India, because at that time (1961, 1962), there were a lot of campaigns in England, the US and Europe against nuclear weapons. One morning, I read that Bertrand Russell, at the age of 90, was sent to jail because he was protesting against the bomb. Here was a 90-year-old man going to jail for peace in the world, and I, then 25, was sitting in a cafe drinking tea! I was absolutely inspired and moved by Berty’s action. So with a friend, E P Menon, I decided to walk for peace.
I thought: ‘How do I do it? I go to Moscow; I go to Paris; I go to London; I go to Washington. If I fly, there will be no impact because thousands of people fly by plane. You arrive in Moscow and stay in a hotel. And who are you?

‘But if I walk from India to Moscow, and then walk to Paris, and then walk to London, and then walk from New York to Washington DC, then at least I have put my body on the line, so to speak. I have put my body where my mouth is and expressed my protest by walking…’
We decided to walk because, for us, the important thing was not to reach the destination but to arouse public awareness. Walking is a noble tradition: the Buddha walked to enlighten people; Gandhi walked to make salt to free India from British rule; Vinoba walked 100,000 miles to inspire landlords to give land to the poor; pilgrims all over India walk for hundreds of miles for self-realisation. Walking is the only way to be in touch with yourself, with fellow human beings, and with the earth.
Once Menon and I had decided to walk, we went to Vinoba to get his blessings and he said: ‘You have my blessings. This is a tremendous idea, to walk. For walking abroad with a message of peace I give you my full support. But I want to give you two weapons for your protection. One, go without any money on you. And secondly, you are vegetarian; remain vegetarian.

‘The reason I want you not to take any money is because if you have money you will arrive in a village or a town after walking all day, 20, 30 miles, and you will be exhausted. And you will look for a restaurant to eat in, you will look for a bed-and-breakfast to sleep in, and you will move on, and you won’t meet anybody. But if you have no money, you will be forced to find a hospitable, kind person somewhere who can offer you a bed for the night. And when they offer you a bed for the night they are bound to ask you, ‘Would you like something to eat?’ And then you say, ‘Yes, but we are vegetarians’. Then they will ask you, ‘Why?’ You can communicate about peace, because peace is not only peace in the world and nuclear weapons, but peace with nature, peace with the animal world. For that is your Jain tradition. If you can kill animals, the same attitude can kill human beings. The mentality is the same, that exploits nature and creates wars. So you can talk about it.’ And he said: ‘You must talk peace, not only the peace of nuclear disarmament but spiritual peace, peace within yourself. Unless everybody has inner security there cannot be world security. Peace within yourself, peace within the world (between peoples, and nations, and races, and religions), and then peace with nature. These are the three kinds of peace that should be understood as comprehensive peace, total peace.’
Social change is not one-dimensional. No single issue is enough by itself. Peace is related to social justice, social justice is related to sustainability of the earth, everything is connected and interdependent… The urgent need of our time is to develop a culture of non-violence. Our governments, businesses, industries and our media all promote violence. We spend billions and billions of pounds, dollars, euros and rupees on the instruments of violence. We are violent to ourselves, violent to other people, and violent towards nature. We talk about democracy, freedom, development, progress, and even peace, but actually promote and practise violence. So, in our schools, universities, media, businesses, in all walks of life, we need to promote non-violence. Non-violence is paramount.
Parimal Tripathi is a volunteer content writer for Jaagore. To learn and speak about issues on street children, environmental pollution, garbage disposal, corruption, volunteering, volunteer work, community services, NGOs, social and civic issues visit http://www.jaagore.com

Report this article

Bookmark and Share

Ask a Question about this Article