Sahridayam samanasyamavidwesham krinomi wah. Anyo anyamabhi haryata watsam jatmiwaghnya. Atharva Ved 3.30.1.
Meaning: God instructs that the heart and mind of all people should be similar and without any ill-will. Human beings should interact with one another in a manner similar to the love shown by the cow to its new born calf.
This verse instructs us that our sentiments in our hearts be the same, our thoughts be the same and that there be no enmity amongst one another. God has instructed every human being accordingly. The Vedas explain to humans that you should have love for one another by giving the beautiful example of the cow loving her new born calf.
It is only possible to appreciate one another’s happiness and sorrow and have unity of mind when we are friends. But when we are enemies of one another then we do not see the sorrows and happiness of others. The feeling of enmity destroys the individual, the family, the society, country and the whole world.
The Vedas have strongly emphasized the need to be free from enmity.
Are deva dwesho asmadyuyotana. Rig Ved 10.63.12.
O learned persons! Remove enmity from us.
Yosman dweshti yam vayam dwishmastam vo jambhe dadmaha.
Those who offend us and those whom we offend, we place them, O Lord! In your jaws of justice.
In this way the Vedas have in many places given advice to humans to avoid enmity. There are two paths in this world - one is the ordinary path and the other - special. The ordinary path is the one in which one adopts a ‘tit for tat’ policy, i.e., if someone does good to you, you also do the same and when someone does bad to you, you do likewise to him/her. The special path is the one where one responds to a bad action with a good action. Ordinary people, follow the ordinary path, but special people follow the special path. The special path is as follows-
Those who plant thorns for you, you plant flowers for them, because the flowers planted by you will blossom as flowers for you and thorns planted by the enemy will grow as thorns for your enemy.
Human beings should win over anger with peace, evil with virtue, miserliness with charity and untruth with truth. If we are to win anger with anger, evil with evil, miserliness with miserliness and untruth with untruth, then there is nothing special about it.
But there is one matter that needs special attention. Responding to an evil act of someone with a virtuous act, is only relevant with individuals. It is not appropriate with respect to national duties, community, society and organizations. In so far as national duty is concerned, if the enemy attacks the nation then it is the duty of the nation to defend itself and destroy the enemy. If this is not done then the nation will fall under the grips of the enemy and become their servant.
In so far as enemies of the society are concerned, they must be punished. If such persons are not punished then there will be no law and order. Therefore thieves, bandits and tyrants have to be punished, otherwise the society cannot exist.
The issue of forgiveness arises only between one individual and another. For example if someone does something bad to me, then instead of doing bad to him/her I should cultivate a relationship of friendship with the person. To do so is not easy. It requires a lot of strength and courage. Remember those who do bad will get bad results and those who do good will get good in return.
It is well known that a person who does not cause any harm to anyone will have a feeling of distress against the one who causes harm. Because of this the aggrieved person talks ill of the other person. The person would not even appreciate his good qualities. By criticizing the person causing the grief, the aggrieved person wants to bring peace of mind to himself/herself. But his/her mind becomes even more restless. He/she continues to suffer with the feeling of revenge.
When people become enemies of good persons, the good persons do not pay attention to their evils, they forget their bad deeds. There is no effect on them of the bad deeds done to them. They do not even remember that someone had done bad to them. This is the greatness of such people. They regard even their enemies as their own people. In their mind every one is same. It is very difficult for an ordinary person to achieve this state of mind. Regular practice is essential for this.
A poet has said “I have heard that those who follow the path of God do not even disturb the hearts of their enemies. Where will you find this state of mind? Your fight is with your own friends.”
Examples of great persons on this subject matter show how they had won over enmity. What was their reaction towards their enemies?
The great King Ram was exiled because of Kekai. Shree Ram accepted the exile as a blessing. Even greater than this was the fact that he held no malice against Kekai. He did not utter any bad words against her. This is a fine example of not keeping enmity.
The great yogi of the nineteenth century Maharishi Dayanand Saraswati was a very forgiving person. At the end of the debate at Kashi, he received a lot of insults. People threw bricks, cow dung and shoes at him and cursed him. A saint named Pandit Ishwar Singh used to live in Kashi. He saw people saying bad things about Dayanand. He felt like meeting Dayanand to find out how he was facing such severe abuse and criticism. If Dayanand still remained unaffected by all the insults then he would truly be a learned person and a great soul.
With this thought saint Ishwar Singh went to Dayanand. Rishi Dayanand smiled and welcomed him respectfully. They discussed the subject of God and soul at length. During this long discussion Ishwar Singh did not see any signs of dejection on his face. Dayanand made no reference to the injustice and oppression of the people on him.
When Ishwar Singh saw that even after such great insults and injustice hurled at him Rishi Dayanand did not utter even one bad word, he touched Dayanand’s feet and said “Maharaj! I had thought until today that you are a person learned in Vedas only, but people have done so many evil things to you, even then you have no ill-feeling against them. I am now fully convinced that you are a great soul and a yogi.”
Remember such persons were real yogis. Forgiveness was their religion. They had removed enmity from their heart through practice and experience. Perhaps we are thinking that ordinary persons like us cannot do so. To some extent this is true, but if we are to achieve happiness then we have to adopt the same path that was followed by the great people in the past. If happiness and peace is wanted in this world then we must all renounce enmity. We have to look at one another with a feeling of love.