AHIMSA | NONVIOLENCE | SWAMI SIVANANDA
|| INTRODUCTION ||
In the regeneration and divinisation of the human , the first step is to eliminate the beastly nature . The predominant trait in beasts is cruelty . Therefore , wise sages prescribe Ahimsa ( non-injury ) . This is the most effective master-method to counteract and eradicate completely the brutal , cruel Pasu-Svabhava ( bestial nature ) in the human .
Practice of Ahimsa develops love . Ahimsa is another name for truth or love . Ahimsa is universal love . It is pure love . It is divine Prem . Where there is love , there you will find Ahimsa . Where there is Ahimsa , there you will find love and selfless service . They all go together .
The one message of all saints and prophets of all times and climes , is the message of love , of Ahimsa , of selfless service . Ahimsa is the noblest and best of traits that are found expressed in the daily life and activities of perfected souls . Ahimsa is the one means , not only to attain Salvation , but also to enjoy uninterrupted peace and bliss . The human attains peace by injuring no living creature .
There is one religion — the religion of love , of peace . There is one message , the message of Ahimsa . Ahimsa is a supreme duty of the human .
Ahimsa , or refraining from causing pain to any living creature , is a distinctive quality emphasized by Indian ethics . Ahimsa or non-violence has been the central doctrine of Indian culture from the earliest days of its history . Ahimsa is a great spiritual force .
|| MEANING OF AHIMSA ||
Ahimsa or non-injury , of course , implies non-killing . But , non-injury is not merely non-killing . In its comprehensive meaning , Ahimsa or non-injury means entire abstinence from causing any pain or harm whatsoever to any living creature , either by thought , word , or deed . Non-injury requires a harmless mind , mouth , and hand .
Ahimsa is not mere negative non-injury . It is positive , cosmic love . It is the development of a mental attitude in which hatred is replaced by love . Ahimsa is true sacrifice . Ahimsa is forgiveness . Ahimsa is Sakti ( Power ) . Ahimsa is true strength .
|| SUBTLE FORMS OF HIMSA ||
Only the ordinary people think that Ahimsa is not to hurt any living being physically . This is but the gross form of Ahimsa .
The vow of Ahimsa is broken even by showing contempt towards another person , by entertaining unreasonable dislike for or prejudice towards anybody , by frowning at another , by hating another , by abusing another , by speaking ill of others , by backbiting or vilifying , by harbouring thoughts of hatred , by uttering lies , or by ruining another person in any way whatsoever .
All harsh and rude speech is Himsa ( violence or injury ) . Using harsh words to beggars , servants or inferiors is Himsa . Wounding the feelings of others by gesture , expression , tone of voice and unkind words is also Himsa . Slighting or showing deliberate discourtesy to a person before others is wanton Himsa .
To approve of another's harsh actions is indirect Himsa . To fail to relieve another's pain , or even to neglect to go to the person in distress is a sort of Himsa . It is the sin of omission . Avoid strictly all forms of harshness , direct or indirect , positive or negative , immediate or delayed .
Practice Ahimsa in its purest form and become divine . Ahimsa and Divinity are one .
|| AHIMSA — A QUALITY OF THE STRONG ||
If you practice Ahimsa , you should put up with insults , rebukes , criticisms and assaults also . You should never retaliate nor wish to offend anybody even under extreme provocation .
You should not entertain any evil thought against anybody . You should not harbour anger . You should not curse .
You should be prepared to lose joyfully even your life in the cause of Truth . The Ultimate Truth can be attained only through Ahimsa .
Ahimsa is the acme of bravery . Ahimsa is not possible without fearlessness . Non-violence cannot be practiced by weak persons . Ahimsa cannot be practiced by one who is terribly afraid of death and has no power of resistance and endurance .
It is a shield , not of the effeminate , but of the potent . Ahimsa is a quality of the strong . It is a weapon of the strong . When a person beats you with a stick , you should not entertain any thought of retaliation or any unkind feeling towards the tormentor . Ahimsa is the perfection of forgiveness .
Remember the noble actions of great sages of yore . Jayadeva , the author of Gita-Govinda , gave large and rich present to enemies who cut off Jayadeva's hands , and obtained Mukti ( liberation ) for them through sincere prayers . Jayadeva said :
" O my lord ! Thou hast given Mukti to Thy enemies , Ravana and Kamsa . Why canst Thou not give Mukti to my enemies now ? "
A saint or a sage possesses a magnanimous heart .
Pavahari Baba carried the bag of vessels and followed the thief saying :
" O Thief Narayana ! I never knew that You visited my cottage . Pray accept these things . "
The thief was quite astonished , and left off the evil habit from that very second and became a disciple of Pavahari Baba .
Remember the noble actions of saints like Jayadeva and Pavahari Baba , you will have to follow their principles and ideals .
|| GRADATIONAL PRACTICE OF AHIMSA ||
When thoughts of revenge and hatred arise in the mind , try to control the physical body and speech first . Do not utter evil and harsh words . Do not censure . Do not try to injure others .
If you succeed in this by practice for some months , the negative thoughts of revenge , having no scope for manifesting outside , will die by themselves . It is extremely difficult to control such thoughts from the very beginning without having recourse to control of the body and speech first .
First control your physical body . When a person beats you , keep quiet . Suppress your feelings . Follow the instructions of Jesus Christ in the Sermon On The Mount :
" If a person beats you on one cheek , turn to the person the other cheek also . If a person takes away your coat , give your shirt also . "
This is very difficult in the beginning . The old Samskaras ( impressions ) of revenge , of " a tooth for a tooth " , " tit for tat " , " an eye for an eye " , and " paying in the same coin " will all force you to retaliate .
But you will have to wait cooly . Reflect and meditate . Do Vichara or right enquiry . The mind will become calm . The opponent who was very furious will also become calm , because there is not any opposition from your side . One gets astonished and terrified also , because you stand like a sage .
By and by , you will gain immense strength . Keep the ideal before you . Try to get at it , though with faltering steps at first . Have a clear-cut mental image of Ahimsa and its immeasurable advantages .
After controlling the body , control your speech . Make a strong determination ,
" I will not speak any harsh word to anybody from today " .
You may fail a hundred times . What does it matter ? You will slowly gain strength . Check the impulse of speech . Observe Mouna ( silence ) . Practice Kshama or forgiveness . Say within yourself :
" This is a baby-soul , and is ignorant — that is why one has done it . Let me excuse this time . What do I gain by abusing this person in return ? "
Slowly give up Abhimana ( ego-centred attachment ) . Abhimana is the root-cause of human sufferings .
Finally go to the thoughts and check the thought of injuring . Never even think of injuring anyone . One Self dwells in all . All are manifestations of One GOD . By injuring another , you injure your own Self . By serving another , you serve your own Self .
Love all . Serve all . Hate none . Insult none . Injure none in thought , word and deed . Try to behold your own Self in all beings . This will promote Ahimsa .
|| BENEFITS OF THE PRACTICE OF AHIMSA ||
If you are established in Ahimsa , you have attained all virtues . Ahimsa is the pivot . All virtues revolve around Ahimsa . Just as all footprints are accommodated in those of the elephant , so also do all religious and ethical rules become merged in the great vow of Ahimsa .
Ahimsa is soul-force . Hate melts in the presence of love . Hate dissolves in the presence of Ahimsa . There is no power greater than Ahimsa . The practice of Ahimsa develops will-power to a considerable degree .
The practice of Ahimsa will make you fearless . One who practices Ahimsa with real faith , can move the whole world , can tame wild animals , can win the hearts of all , and can subdue enemies . One can do and undo things . The power of Ahimsa is infinitely more wonderful and subtler than electricity or magnetism .
The law of Ahimsa is as much exact and precise as the law of gravitation or cohesion . You must know the correct way to apply it intelligently and with scientific accuracy . If you are able to apply it with exactitude and precision , you can work wonders . You can command the elements and Nature also .
|| THE POWER OF AHIMSA ||
The power of Ahimsa is greater than the power of the intellect . It is easy to develop the intellect , but it is difficult to purify and develop the heart . The practice of Ahimsa develops the heart in a wonderful manner .
One who practices Ahimsa develops strong will-power . In one's presence , enmity ceases . In one's presence , cobra and frog , cow and tiger , cat and rat , wolf and lamb , will all live together in terms of intimate friendship . In one's presence , all hostilities are given up . The term " hostilities are given up " means that all beings — humans , animals , birds and poisonous creatures — will approach the practitioner without fear and do no harm . Their hostile nature disappears in them in one's presence .
The rat and the cat , the snake and the mongoose , and other beings that are enemies of each other by nature , give up their hostile feelings in the presence of the Yogi who is established in Ahimsa . Lions and tigers can never do any harm to such a Yogi . Such a Yogi can give definite orders to lion and tigers . They will obey . This is Bhuta-Siddhi ( mastery over the elements ) obtainable by the practice of Ahimsa .
The practice of Ahimsa will eventually culminate in the realization of unity and oneness of life , or Advaitic ( non-dual ) Consciousness . The Yogi then enjoys the highest peace , bliss and immortality .
|| LIMITATIONS TO THE PRACTICE OF AHIMSA ||
Absolute Ahimsa is impossible .
It is not possible to the most conscientious Sannyasin or monk . To practice that , you must avoid killing countless creatures while walking , sitting , eating , breathing , sleeping and drinking . You cannot find a single non-injurer in the world . You have to destroy life in order to live . It is physically impossible for you to obey the law of non-destruction of life , because the phagocytes of your blood also are destroying millions of dangerous intrusive spirilla , bacteria and germs .
According to one school of thought , if by the murder of a dacoit many lives are saved , it is not considered as Himsa . Ahimsa and Himsa are relative terms . Some say that one can defend oneself with instruments and use a little violence also when one is in danger ; this is not considered to be Himsa .
Westerners generally destroy their dear horses and dogs when they are in acute agony and when there is no way of relieving their sufferings . They wish that the soul should be immediately freed from the physical body . Motive is the chief factor that underlies everything .
A renunciate or monk should not defend oneself and use violence even when the life is in jeopardy . To an ordinary person , Ahimsa should be the aim , but one will not fall from this principle if , out of sheer necessity and with no selfish aim , one takes recourse to Himsa occasionally .
One should not give leniency to the mind in this respect . If you are lenient , the mind will always take the best advantage of you and goad you to do acts of violence . Give a rogue an inch , the rogue will take an ell : the mind at once adapts this policy , if you give a long rope for its movement .
Ahimsa is never a policy . It is a sublime virtue . It is the fundamental quality of seekers after Truth . No Self-Realization is possible without Ahimsa . It is through the practice of Ahimsa alone that you can cognize and reach the Supreme Self or Brahman .
Those with whom it is a policy may fail many a time . They will be tempted to do violent acts also . On the contrary , those who strictly adhere to the vow of Ahimsa as a sacred creed or fundamentals cannon of Yoga , can never be duped into violence .
|| A UNIVERSAL VOW ||
Ahimsa is a Mahavratam or " great universal vow " . It should be practiced by all people of all countries . It does not concern the Hindus or Indians alone . Whoever wishes to realize the Truth must practice Ahimsa .
You may encounter any amount of difficulties ; you may sustain any amount of losses , but you must not give up the practice of Ahimsa . Trial and difficulties are bound to come in your way to test your strength . You should stand adamant . Then alone will your efforts be crowned with sanguine success .
There is a hidden power in Ahimsa which protects its practitioners . The invisible hand of GOD gives protection . There is no fear . What can pistols and swords do ?
Even now there are people who do not give the least pain to any living creature . They carry sugar and rice for distribution to ants in their holes . They do not use lights at night for fear of killing the small insects . They are very careful while walking in the streets , as they do not wish to trample upon small insects .
Blessed are these people . They will soon see GOD as they have very soft hearts .
SOURCE | SATYAVEDISM.COM