View Full Version : Can Hinduism make the world a better place

22 March 2008, 09:44 AM
Kettering University professor says Hinduism could be key to world conflict resolution

by Beata Mostafavi | The Flint Journal Thursday March 20, 2008, 9:43 PM

FLINT, Michigan -- Kettering University professor Badri Rao imagines a world in which angry neighbors in India resolve quarrels by sitting together and following a different set of laws -- religious ones.
No legal jargon. No courts. No pricey lawyers.
Instead, their tool to settle conflict would be Hinduism.

They could earn good Karma for their next life, focus on the big virtues of forgiveness and tolerance, act morally in accordance to "Dharma."
The sociology professor knows it might sound, well, kind of out there.
Still, he has traveled the world presenting his research to diverse global audiences on the potential of a Hindu-based conflict resolution system in India.
"A lot of people would say 'oh no way this would work.' It poses many challenges but it has many opportunities," said Rao, 44, an Indian native who is Hindu himself. "It's very complex, but if you talk to people in terms of what they know and can relate to, there's a better chance they'll respond."

And hey, there's already a precedent in India.
Gandhi did it. Hindu principles of truth (satya) and non-violence (ahimsa) successfully helped him reach out to people and prompt political reforms.
"Of course that was a different time and different circumstances," said
Rao of the late Indian icon. "But Hinduism is a way of life, not just a religion. It's very rich and profound."
It's no simple plan, he said. It would mean scholars, educators, religious teachers and people in the justice system coming together to educate the public and highlighting Hindu concepts through mediation efforts.
It's a tricky solution, he knows. But he says the alternatives are no better.
He has thoroughly researched his home country's justice system and he believes it's failing.
There are recurring conflicts there. Hindus versus Muslims, cast-based violence and land disputes to name a few. And there is limited "access to justice."
He said in a country with more than 1 billion people -- where more than 70 percent of Indians live on 50 cents a day while 100,000 people own half the country's wealth-- the inequalities are huge.
There are language and literacy barriers, especially with the higher judiciary system being run in English. Court backlogs are massive with millions of pending cases and there are economic barriers.
He calls it a crisis.
"Given the huge unmet demand for justice, given the fact that social justice and human rights are eclipsed in India resulting in profound social conflicts ... and with courts stretched beyond limits, obviously not all of these matters can be resolved in court," said the father of two who lives in Okemos.
"There are more efficient ways to resolve conflict. One such study is religion. Religion is central to so many people's lives, and it is very central to the lives of Indians."
Anne Johnson, assistant dean for administration at Hamline University School of Law in Saint Paul, Minn., heard Rao's presentation at a conference in Jerusalem.
The event focused on conflict resolution based on religious traditions but all other lectures were related to only Christianity, Judaism and Islam.
"He provided us with a fascinating perspective of conflict resolution within the Hindu tradition," she said of Rao's research.
"I think it is a growing perspective that this is an important process in the whole peacemaking area of study," she added of connecting religion to conflict resolution. "When you look at how many different religions there are and how powerful they are in different areas, you can have an understanding of how you might figure out your common ground."
But there are still gaping kinks, Rao said.
A farmer who struggles to afford food and whose land is being threatened in a dispute might have a harder time thinking about religious principles, for example.
There are problems within Hinduism, he noted. The notion of Karma may lessen someone's compassion for a struggling fellow citizen because they may believe that person did something bad in their past life.
And there is the matter of people from different religious backgrounds who clash.
But Rao believes Hinduism has built-in characteristics to facilitate conflicts.
"We have to creatively reinterpret religion and use it as a resource," he said, adding "This project and idea is still in an embryonic stage and there are a lot of unresolved issues. There are a lot of ifs and buts but everything begins with an idea."

I dont know about this. I like the idea because after i get my BA i plan to get a masters in both International diplomacy and comparitive religion, but it seems to utopian and vague. Im curious to see what his research was like.