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Religious Studies

Hinduism: attitudes towards fighting and warfare

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Most religions offer teaching on war and conflict. And over time religion has been at the heart of conflict between nations.

Hindu sacred texts on war

Hindu attitudes to war and peace are based on the teachings of Hindu sacred texts such as the Vedas, the Laws of Manu and the Bhagavad Gita.

Ahimsa (a very important belief in Hinduism) means trying to fight injustice and evil but without using any physical force.

Many Hindus believe that any violence is always wrong. This includes fighting in a war or killing animals for meat. They believe that actions like this will produce bad , karma (meaning all actions have consequences). However, war is not forbidden in Hinduism. The gods of the Vedas are asked to send prayers to help in battles and to take soldiers who are killed in battle straight to the afterlife. It is the dharma (duty) of Kshatriyas, the warrior caste, to fight in battles when required.

In the Bhagavad Gita (sacred text) Krishna (an avatar of the God Vishnu) has a discussion with a Kshatriya called Arjuna. Arjuna does not want to fight but Krishna explains that it is his duty.

Think thou also of thy duty and do not waver. There is no greater good for a warrior than to fight in a righteous war.

Bhagavad Gita 2:31

Therefore, within Hinduism, there are different opinions about violence and fighting.

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