Ahimsa is not just a word

60 years ago, India was led to her Independence from the rule of British. The person behind the movement then was a thin, devout Hindu, oft soft-spoken man clad in white Indian attire with glasses. His name was Mahatma Gandhi.

Like many before, and after, his fight for a moral based victory was based in itself on a moral value. A word for which has today etched its rank into the ethos of common day vernacular – Ahimsa.

Ahimsa, a Hindu term is Sanskrit for non-violence first taught by the sage Patanjali.

The teaching is taken to mean that one should never execute, nor engage in, any way or form activity that may bring hurt to anyone. Gandhi’s standing in history is testament to this fact with his use of words to liberate a country.

However, in the years it has since seen the acceptance of the public, the deeper teachings from the Hindu scriptures has been somewhat misunderstand to mean “Don’t perform anything violent. Period”

That right there is, in my opinion, where we start to derail and go off course.

In the years since Gandhi’s victory, many have use adage on the premise of no violent based responses. Which is fine until you realize that as an alternative, people started employing the use sarcasm, insults, name calling, even labels in the place where the physical hand once moved.

Again, that’s not being violent, isn’t it? There in lies the mistake.

“Hurt” purported by Patanjali is not just constrained in physical injury. It goes to mean - No hurting any living being in anyway, directly or indirectly, with intent.

It’s one thing if I, by accident, moved my hand that came into contact with someone. It’s another if I did it on purpose. To say it very simply, Non-violence, is not about what you physically do. It is about who you are. I repeat - It is about who YOU are. Inside.

And the moral value that is internalized is then reflected in what you do/say.

The ancient Hindu scriptures have always spoken about “Self Realisation”. Self-improvement of one owns self in the process of Realising the Divinity. The teachings of Ahimsa is just that. In a manner of speaking, the *uninstalling* Himsa (Violence) from your psychology.

As a result, you approach any all situations with pure peace and good intention.

This teaching is succinctly said by Sri Yukteswar when he addressed a young Yogananda Parahamsa’s about a mosquito in the latter’s biography:

“I raised an avenging hand. Reprieve from impending execution! An opportune memory had come to me of Patanjali's aphorism on ahimsa (harmlessness).

"Why didn't you finish the job?"

"Master! Do you advocate taking life?"

"No, but in your mind you had already struck the deathblow."

"I don't understand."

"By ahimsa Patanjali meant the removal of the desire to kill." Sri Yukteswar had found my mental processes an open book. "This world is inconveniently arranged for a literal practice of ahimsa. Man maybe compelled to exterminate harmful creatures. He is not under a similar compulsion to feel anger or animosity. All forms of life have an equal right to the air of maya. The saint who uncovers the secret of creation will be in harmony with Nature's countless bewildering expressions. All men may understand this truth by overcoming the passion for destruction. "

~ Autobiography of a Yogi

Indeed, the words of a Guru that rings true then as it does today.

Granted the reality is that it is not always easy to be patient, what more non-violent, but if we can phase it out of our psyche, the true teachings of Ahimsa would then ring true in all of us.

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