I have great pleasure in introducing the book ‘Essays on Conflict Resolution’. This book is a collection of selected papers presented at the International Seminar that we organized in February 2003 at Wardha on the role that non-violence can play in resolving conflicts and building up a culture of enduring peace. This seminar was jointly organized by the Institute of Gandhian Studies and Fujii Guruji Memorial Trust, Wardha. Fujii Guruiji Memorial Trust, a sister organization of Nipponzan Myohoji of Japan, has been keenly interested in promoting peace and harmony in the world. The main objective of the Trust is to propagate the message of Lord Buddha and Mahatma Gandhi- the message of world peace, love, non-violence, friendship and compassion. This seminar was organized on the occasion of 10th anniversary of Vishwa Shanti Stupa, Wardha as well as 70th anniversary of Fujii Guruji’s meeting with Mahatma Gandhi at Wardha. The seminar was jointly sponsored by these two institutions because we believe that the Lord Buddha and Mahatma Gandhi have made distinct and unique contributions to the ideology and methods of peace and harmony. In order to achieve world peace, we will have to seek the nearness of hearts based on the principle of non-violence. The teachings of Lord Buddha and Mahatma Gandhi alone can save the planet earth from the disaster.
We cannot forget the fact that the 20th century was the most violent century in human history characterised by many genocides and wars. In the most modern wars, more than 80% of the killed were innocent civilians and not soldiers. It was Dr. Martin Luther King who rightly said, “History will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period was not the vitriolic words and the violent action of the bad people, but the appalling silence and indifference of the good people. The generation will have to repent not only for the words and acts of the children of darkness, but also for the apathy of children of light”. In this context, it is worthwhile to note that the United Nations has declared this decade as the “International decade for a Culture of Peace and Non-violence for the Children of the World”. This declaration pin points certain basic question before us today and they will also help us to understand the philosophy of Mahatma Gandhi and Rev. Fujii Guruji.
It was in 1933 that Rev. Fujii Guruji came to Wardha to meet Mahatma Gandhi. In the first meeting itself, Gandhi adopted and chanted Na-Mu-myo-ho-ren-ge-kyo, mantra to the beat of a drum. From that day onwards, for about 15 years till his death, Gandhi, chanted this mantra during his daily prayer meetings. Now, this prayer has become part and parcel of Gandhi’s Ashram Prayers. It was Rev. Fujii Guruji, who had presented to Gandhi the famous three monkeys exhorting – “See No Evil”, “Speak No Evil”, and “Hear No Evil”. As explained by Rev. Fujii Guriji himself, “The basis of my spiritual foundation comes from the teachings of Buddha. However, Mahatma Gandhi’s non-violent movement inspired the founding principle of my action”. It was this feeling, that had brought both of them together. After the nuclear holocaust of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, to establish world peace, Rev. Fujii Guruji started his work by constructing peace pagodas or Shanti Stupas, as symbols of spirituality in Japan, India, U.K., U.S.A. and many other places. These pagodas are not only monumental structures, but are broadcasting centers for the message of peace. Pagodas represent the hope that peace, friendship and compassion can overcome war, hatred, jealousy in the human mind. The dedication of peace pagodas to the cause of peace, harmony, and love amongst people of different nations was one of the major contributions of Fujii Guruji. This added a creative and purposeful dimension to the international understanding through cultural and spiritual means. The idea of building pagodas or disseminating the idea of Peace and Non-violence and devotion to truth is unique in its form. On the occasion of the opening session of the world assembly of religious workers for nuclear disarmament in Tokyo in May 1981, he gave a call for nuclear disarmament echoing a cry of the people for an end to war and an affirmation of love through nonviolence. He also established an organization called Japan Bharat Sarvodaya Maitri Sangh. Fujii Guruji organized anti nuclear and disarmament movements in the U.S., Europe as well as Japan and also in many other places. He organized peace marches, fasts, prayers, conferences, etc. and championed the cause of peace. In December 1975, Rev. Guruji requested the United Nations Secretary General to strive for complete prohibition and abolition of nuclear weapons. In October 1976, Peace Marches were organized to urge the White House to adopt peace measures, and to strive for abolition of nuclear weapons. India recognized Fujii Guruji's great contribution towards the cause of peace by awarding him the Nehru Award for International Understanding in the year 1978.
After Fujii Guruji, it was Rev. Imaiji who ably continued the mission of Fujii Guruji. Rev. Imaiji identified with India and participated in the Bhoodan Movement. It was at his insistence that the late Ramkrishna Bajaj established the Fujii Guruji Memorial Trust under Rev. Imaiji's Leadership. Followers of Fujii Guruji in Nipponzan Myohoji have been ceaselessly endeavoring to carry out the missionary work of erecting peace pagodas as symbols of aspirations towards world peace. It was the desire of Rev. Imaiji that an International Seminar should be organized on the occasion of the anniversary of historic meeting of Fujii Guruji with Mahatma Gandhi and to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Stupa. Though Rev. Imaiji passed away before the anniversary of the Vishwa Shanti Stupa, the Fujii Guruji Memorial Trust and the Institute went ahead with his project and organized the International Seminar on Conflict Resolution.
I do not have to expatiate on the gravity of the challenge that humanity is facing today from open and direct violence as well as the seeds of violence that are embedded in the prevailing systems everywhere in the world. Nor do I have to refer to the way in which technology has enabled believers in violence to use means of mass destruction as well as targeted destruction. The spectre of terrorism and its consequences are haunting almost all parts of the world and human society in every part of the world. It has become clear that humanity can survive only if we find peaceful means to substitute violence, to secure justice or to resolve conflicts. The International Seminar was an attempt to identify peaceful and effective means of resolving conflicts. More research on peaceful means of conflict resolution needs to be undertaken in India and abroad. I am sure this publication will enrich the existing literature on the area of conflict resolution and helps in identifying new areas of research on similar lines.
This book is a companion volume of the book ‘Explorations in Culture of Peace’ published by the Institute last year. I hope this book, like the earlier one, will also be appreciated and well received by readers interested in building a world without violence and war.
March 2007 Institute of Gandhian Studies, Wardha