Righteous War


Will we ever see a righteous war on this earth (in Dwapara Yuga), one that might help to sway the power from the hands of those in control? Or spiritual peoples role is to stay in the silence and fight their inner enemies in the battle of kurukshetra for inner freedom? Or are those righteous wars only found in our history books on our shelves?

—Cyril, Ireland


Dear Friend,

Yes, we will certainly see righteous warfare, but perhaps we should ask what a righteous war might look like!

Paramhansa Yogananda said that World War II was a righteous war. He saw it as part of the process that would free peoples (like India, China, Africa, etc) from the colonial powers. He saw the Korean War as a righteous war to stem the spread of Communism in the early days of its rapid and growing threat to freedom.

But these “righteous” wars don’t necessarily fit the archetype of a storybook “good vs evil” drama. War is ugly, no matter who wins (witness the Mahabharata in India). Consider the “Troubles” in Ireland, for example (each side claiming the upper hand of righteousness and the support of the Almighty!)

When Jesus said “the poor ye have always,” he could have also implied that the “rich ye have always” — the rich and powerful, in other words. As Krishna guided the Pandavas in the Mahabharata, the Divine Hand also guides history in very subtle ways. Paramhansa Yogananda commented that he or one of the masters put into the mind of Hitler the idea to open a second front by attacking Russia. (Since the idea found fertile ground in Hitler’s mind, this idea wasn’t an imposition on his own karma or free will, just a nudge in a direction he was inclined to take anyway.)

What I am attempting to convey is that good vs evil in a relative and dual world is not always “black and white.” It may not be that simple to “know one (a righteous cause) when we see it.” At first, many prominent people opposed the entry of the United States into World War II, including Roosevelt’s wife, Eleanor and the famous aviator, Charles Lindberg.

If you study the Mahabharata you will also find it very nuanced as to right and wrong, considering the rules of engagement for warfare in that time, and how the Pandavas, at Krishna’s urging, broke some of the rules, or at least appeared to do so.

It will not likely be a case where “spiritual people” stand up to fight oppression, although many do in fact when you look at issues like combating racism, expanding voting rights, sheltering refugees, feeding the poor, and on and on. Those are “battles,” too, aren’t they?

In the end, the mob will never rule for long. Rich and powerful people will more or less always constitute a form of upper class-caste and will always ensure they have a strong measure of control, no matter what system of government exists. How much corruption of integrity results from this simple and observable fact depends on many factors. To be rich doesn’t always mean to be corrupt! In any case, this certainly will be true during Dwapara Yuga (an age of self-interest and mercantilism) — hopefully less so in thousands of years as planet Earth progresses towards Satya Yuga (the Golden Age or consciousness).

However, in order to be counted as “spiritual,” we need to do the inner work before the outer work can be empowered by divine grace. It is true that there are some spiritually-minded people whose dharma it is to stand up for justice and fight oppression. Gandhi, King, Mandela are just some of the more famous examples. Righteous and moral leadership is necessary, though admittedly all too infrequent. Sometimes Divine Mother has to use unrighteous hands to accomplish a righteous goal.

If you feel inclined to support some just cause yet seek also to do so with integrity, the most important thing you can do is to undergo purification and ego-transcendence at the feet of the Divine Light. In the stories from India we see this constantly as the theme. This is what Mahatma Gandhi did and insisted his followers do also. It is the corollary to military combat training: soul-training. To fight in a just cause cannot mean to hate. Do you see the sense in this?

Blessings and joy to you!
Nayaswami Hriman McGilloway