Date of Award


Publication Type

Master Thesis

Degree Name



Religious Studies


Religion, History of.


Mehta, Mahesh,




The purpose of this thesis is to trace the roots of non-violence from the Vedic Age, circa 3000 BCE to the present day. The emphasis is on the history and philosophy of the three main religions of India, Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism. For the modern period significant stress will be placed on Mohandas Gandhi, the single most influential devotee of non-violence. An investigation of the early culture of India, reveals a group of people living in the Indus Valley as sophisticated and as aware of the world as any other civilization during the same time period. The collections of the compositions of the Vedic poets, collectively known as the Vedas reflect the rich culture and ideas of the Vedic people. Roots of nonviolence emerge in the earliest work, the Rig Veda, a great collection of hymns dating back to the second millennium BCE. An evolutionary process of the growth and development of non-violence occurs in the quintessential documents of the Vedas, the Upanishads. The development of monism matures in the Upanishads and is reflected in the non-violent way of life. Buddhism develops around the same time as Jainism in the sixth century BCE. Jainism represents the epitome of non-violence. Following the discussion of each religious tradition of India the thesis considers the reasons for violence and the reasons for non-violence in an attempt to analyze the philosophy of non-violence. The latter part of this work examines the life and evolution of Gandhi and his use of non-violence to mobilize the masses of India to gain independence from Britain. His work in India was continued by the saintly Viinoba Bhave and the pragmatic J. P. Narayan. In the west Gandhi's example inspired Martin Luther King Jr., to use Gandhi's techniques in breaking the status quo for the blacks of America.Dept. of Religious Studies. Paper copy at Leddy Library: Theses & Major Papers - Basement, West Bldg. / Call Number: Thesis1998 .F66. Source: Masters Abstracts International, Volume: 39-02, page: 0367. Adviser: Mahesh Mehta. Thesis (M.A.)--University of Windsor (Canada), 1999.