Epics for children: The importance of peace

When we look closely at the epics of different religions, we find some common principles expressed in diverse ways. One such principle is ‘Peace’. It is one of the greatest concerns for mankind and all religions attach a lot of importance to it. In the sermon on the mount, Jesus said, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.” In any conflict, the natural tendency of the opposing sides is to fight. If someone tries to bring back peace either by intervening in a dispute between two parties or by seeking reconciliation when they have been wronged by others or by apologising when they have wronged others, they can be called peacemakers.

The Bahá’í faith has two concepts related to peace—‘the lesser peace’ and ‘the great peace’. The former means wars are ended and peace treaties are signed while the latter means that the kingdom of God is established on earth and the entire world disarms and lives with unity and cooperation. In the Jewish book, Torah, Prophet Isaiah describes an ideal world: “In this most desirable world, people shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more. The wolf and the lamb shall feed together, the lion shall eat straw like the ox, and dust shall be the serpent’s food. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain.”

The word Islam is derived from the root word silm, which means peace. Hence, Islam is also called the ‘religion of peace’. Prophet Muhammad said, “He is a Muslim, from whose tongue and hands, people are safe.” One of God’s names in Islam is As-salam, which means ‘the source of peace’. Similarly, in the Quran, heaven is referred to as dar-as-salam, which means ‘house of peace’ and it is said the inhabitants of heaven greet each other by saying ‘Peace! Peace!’  

In Hinduism, ‘Om Shanti’ is one of the most popular mantras which invokes peace and tranquillity. In ceremonies, this mantra is usually repeated thrice. This is because the mantra is invoked to pacify three kinds of conflicts. The first is adhi-daivikam—conflicts caused by divine intervention such as earthquakes, floods, storms and diseases. The second is adhi-bhautika—conflicts caused due to the physical world around us such as accidents and fights between individuals, communities, and nations. The third is adhi-atmikam—negative emotions like anger, jealousy and hatred causing conflicts within our minds and emotions. Mahatma Gandhi was inspired by the message of the Bhagavad Gita and launched an entire national freedom movement on the principles of truth and peace.

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