chapter  15
32 Pages

Katherine K. Young (2004), 'Hinduism and the Ethics ofWeapons ofMass Destruction', in Sohail H. Hashmi and Steven P. Lee (eds), Ethics and Weapons of Mass Destruction: Religious and Secular Perspectives, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 277-307

In the Western imagination, Mahatma Gandhi (1869-1948) has been the icon ofnonviolence (ahimsa) and pacifism. Because Gandhi was Hindu, people assumed that Hinduism and modern India (which is about 8o percent Hindu) were also nonviolen t and pacifist. This ide a was reinforced by India's policy of nonalignment under Jawaharlal Nehru and by a general image of Hinduism as the religion of peace (santi) and tolerance (tulyatva) promoted by philosopher-statesmen such as Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan ( 1888-1975). This stereotype of Hindu nonviolence was shattered in May 1998 when India detonated five nuclear bombs. An act that shocked the rest of the world, i t was far from shocking to Indians themselves-at l east those who know Indian history.