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Right to go to war

Discuss about the Just War in Ramayana for Conflict and Security Law.

A war has to fulfill certain conditions for it to qualify to be a just war. The reason for the war, the intent, the net benefit of the war, the authorization of the war, the amount of force used relative to the force used by the perpetrators of the war and the conduct during the war are the criteria used to justify war. This paper addresses the violence in the epic Ramayana in order to assess the justification of the violence. All the instances were force was used are discussed and approved or disapproved based on the amount used, the reason and the net benefit received by all the parties including offenders. The actions of Rama and all other groups of people covered in the epic such as women are discussed as they cause or react to violence. The Indian traditions concerned with war and conflict are also looked into great detail. The steps taken to promote peace in times of crisis are addresses relative to the principles of just war. Naturally, King Ravana was an evil man and Prince Rama had to respond with violence in some instances. The struggle that emanates involves a series of conflicts.

Waging a just war involves the following criteria, the right to go to war and the right conduct during war (Subedi, 2003, p 334). In the Ramayana, the princes were justified to go to war to fight the demons. The decision to go to war was made by Vishnu who had decided a mortal form in the princes in order to be able to fight Ravana who could only be defeated by a mortal form. Ravana was guilty of oppressing the other gods and Vishnu wanted to put an end to this. The cause of the war is justifiable since the gods were important in the Hindu society since the property of the people was depended on the gods. Given that Ravana kept on tormenting the gods for no particular reason besides a few selfish reasons, Vishnu had to act accordingly to protect the other gods and the entire Hindu society by extension. The innocence of the gods that were troubled by Ravana justifies a need for intervention in order to promote peace among the gods. Stopping Ravana was inevitable and the only issues to consider was the way through which this could be done. The three princes; Rama, Bharata, and Lakshama were first made aware of the situation that confronted them in order to ensure that they only stuck to the mission of freeing the gods. The princes were also made aware of the reason for the war and the right way to conduct the war.

The use of proportionate force

The use of force to stop Ravana is justifiable since Ravana does not stop in his evil quests (Balkaran & Dorn, 2012, p 663). He keeps on troubling the gods and even starts violence with prince Rama upon learning Rama was out to stop him. The zero-sum approaches adopted by Ravana and the kidnapping of Sita further show that Ravana was determined to cause chaos for as long as he could. War is an evil thing and it should not be used to solve the crisis if there are other options available. Ravana did not have a cause for the war that he was waging and this made it evil for him to fight. Rama and the other princes were justified to use force to stop him. The injustice suffered by the gods and people who tried to stop Ravana such as Sita and Rama compared to the situation that Ravana was going through brings out the unfairness of the demon Ravana. The gods and Vishnu, therefore, had to act based on the comparative justice principle of a just war. The people had also suffered for long since their sacrificial rites had always been stopped by Ravana.

The war in Ramayana was authorized by competent authorities. Vishnu has the requisite authority and justification to declare the war against Ravana. Vishnu existed in form of a trinity and he always took care of the people. The sacrificial rites directly concerned Vishnu and the other gods and his intervention is therefore fully agreeable. Choosing Rama was also a good choice since Rama was the rightful heir to the throne and it was his duty to protect the people. Just war should be conducted with the direct involvement of the people in positions of authority. The use of prince Rama and Lakshmana on behalf of the rest of the people protects innocent citizens of the kingdom from the war. Rama and Lakshmana also have the capacity to make a decision to go to war on behalf of the people based on the authority bestowed on them. The two princes were also taught everything they needed to know and they observed the right conduct while at war. The use of weapons in war is important and care should be taken not to hurt innocent parties of the fighters themselves. Rama and Lakshmana knew how to use spiritual weapons and they knew the right enemies to fight in the war.

Authorization of the war by competent authorities

The intention is among the key factors that one has to consider in justifying a war. Vishnu had the purpose of promoting peace by stopping Ravana. Rama and Lakshmana were also involved in a series of conflicts while in exile (Pattanaik, 2013, 55). The war against Khara by Rama is also justified since it was a response to an attack. The intention of Rama to fight against Khara is merely to promote peace and it was caused by Khara’s decision to meet Lakshama’s actions with violence. Khara was a man-eating monster and stopping him was important in protecting the people of the kingdom. Fighting Khara was also part of the war against Ravana who had tried to use his sister Surpanakha before and resulted to waging a war through Khara after Surpanakha failed. Sutrpanakha even tries to kill Sita after failing to seduce Rama and Lakshmana. Ravana hurts even innocent parties like Sita further justifying the need to stop him. The hurting of innocent people such as the kidnapping of Sita made it necessary for an individual to save them from Ravana’s evils. Ravana has proved that he is entirely determined to cause trouble and he would go to any extent including hurting people who are not even concerned with his quest. The intention of Rama and Lakshmana are truly justifiable unlike those of Ravana making the war of the princes against the demon justifiable (Subedi, 2003, 365).

The probability of success is also a key factor to consider in justifying a war (Balkarn & Dorn, 2012, 358). Rama and Lakshama we well trained on how to fight Ravana. The probability of success was therefore assured. The lessons that the two princes were given versed them well with spiritual wars. Their knowledge came in handy in their war against Ravana. They were able to identify the schemes developed by Ravana against them such as the attempt to use Surpanakha to seduce the princes. The trick that Ravana used capturing Sita was also anticipated by Rama and it was only successful due to Sita’s insistence.  The knowledge that the two princes had also enabled them to defeat Khara. The knowledge that Rama has is the one that enables him to overcome Ravana in the battle of Ramayana. The rescuing of Sita is also one of the instances in which the knowledge on spiritual warfare was required. The success of the mission that Rama had against Ravana depended on the teachings that he had received and his success in rescuing the gods and the society, in general, is due to his application of the knowledge that he had. The magical aspect of the war made it absolutely necessary for people who wanted to stop Ravana to be well-versed with magical weapons and war strategies. Rama and Lakshmana were ready to wage the war since their knowledge matched that of Ravana in the sense that it was not too little or too much.

The intention to go to war

The use of force is normally the last resort in a just war. Vishnu only resulted in the use of force after he was convinced that Ravana could not stop causing trouble for the gods and the people who depended on them (O’Driscol, 2018, p 54). Rama displayed great patience in his quest and he did not wage unnecessary wars. He always took time in deciding his course of action. The rescue of Sita, for instance, took a great deal of patience and strategizing. Engaging into war without proper planning would have otherwise led to hurting a lot of innocent people. The fact that Rama did not harm people who were not involved in the war justifies his war. Rama also sought alliances that enabled him to recover Sita and defeat Ravana in the long run. The use of Hanuman to spy on the whereabouts of Sita and to enter the citadel where Ravana had put Sita is also a great display of the discipline that Rama had in the war. The weapons that Rama, Lakasham, and Hanuman used also match the capabilities of Ravana. It is along with the principles of a just war to use weapons that are similar in destruction as those of the opponent. The ape and the princes used spiritual weapons just like Ravana who used magical weapons such as spells and tricks into luring his targets into traps and in fighting them. There was no excessive use of force in the war.

A just war also requires that the benefits that are anticipated to be proportional to the anticipated evils and harms if the war is not waged (O’Driscol, 2018, 41). The war against Ravana is justified by the fact that the evils that Ravana would cause to the people and the gods were necessary to be stopped. The benefits that the people would yield were continued seasons of peace for the gods and the people. The quest by Vishnu through Rama was therefore justifiable as it was entirely for the greater good of all the members of the society. The general society was the one that benefited from the war and there was no individualism of any kind. The war by Rama also involved the right conduct by Rama and his allies according to the principle of a just war. Rama did not engage in any conflict for his own personal sake besides defeating Ravana for the sake of the gods and the people. The rescue of Sita and the gods are justifiable since they were innocent parties that were suffering due to the evils that they were not responsible for. The killing of man-eating Khara was also a major relief for the people who would end up being a mere delicacy of the monster.

Conclusion

In conclusion, the war against Ravana in Ramayana is just. This is because Vishnu had the right to wage the war and Rama observed the right conduct during the war. The training that Rama and Lakshama received matched them to the level of Ravana in terms of combat might and the probability of winning the war justifies the course of the war. The net benefits of the war also match the evils that one would anticipate from Ravana’s acts further justifies the war. The authorization of the war and the result of violence are justifiable since they only occurred as a result of Ravana’s evil acts. The Ramayana is a depiction of a just war that is absolutely necessary to be waged for the benefits of the whole society. The benefits of waging the war to the Indian people and the gods justify the war by Vishnu through Rama against Ravana. The readiness of Rama and Lakshmana to fight against Ravana also justifies his quest to free the people. A just war requires that the proportion of the might of the opponents should match and the party willing to wage a just war must be convinced that he or she has a high probability of success. It is also important to take into account the reason for the war and the need not to hurt innocent parties.

References

Balkaran, R., & Dorn, A. W. (2012). Violence in the V?lm??ki R?m?ya?a: Just War Criteria in an Ancient Indian Epic. Journal of the American Academy of Religion, 80(3), 659-690.

O'Driscoll, C. (2018). The Irony of Just War. Ethics & International Affairs, 32(2), 227-236.

Pattanaik, D. (2013). Sita: A retelling of the Ramayana. India: Penguin books.

Reichberg, G. M. (2017). Thomas Aquinas on war and peace.

Subedi, S. P. (2003). The concept in Hinduism of ‘Just War’. Journal of Conflict and Security Law, 8(2), 339-361.

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