Ahimsa: A Vedic Perspective

Exclusive to Vedic Management Centre by U. Mahesh Prabhu

“May all be happy, may all enjoy health, may all enjoy security; let there be no pain, let there be peace, peace and peace…” say the Vedas. When the Vedas refer to “all”, it means every being, not just humans. The objective of Vedic knowledge and wisdom was to prescribe a path of health, wealth and prosperity. All the research of Vedic scientists, or rishis, was focused on achieving this goal.

During their observation and research, rishis identified a major factor that explained everything that entails pain and gain across the universe – karma. Karma, or the law of cause and effect (causation), explains almost everything in this universe. For, every effect leads to a cause and every cause leads to an effect. Knowing the reason  behind cause and effect is key to understanding life and living it fruitfully.

Although modern science approves of this logic, it is not completely accepted. There is still scope for concepts like “accidents” and “god particle”. Vedic wisdom doesn’t accept such mundane concepts. We all get what we deserve. If you have an accident, it’s the result of our PrarabdhaKarma (actions of the past). And what we are to get in the future is a result of that we do today – Sanchita Karma.

Dharma is key to living with health, wealth and prosperity. Dharma presents two key concepts: Himsa or violence and Ahimsa or nonviolence. In an era where Dharma and Karma are often confused and convoluted, Himsa and Ahimsa are among the least understood.

Consider these situations. You are living a peaceful life and suddenly a bandit threatens your life and/or property. You have all your documents right, but when you approach a government official he asks for a bribe. Is it to be called Ahimsa to remain defenceless or pay a bribe or refuse to save your rightful property? That, according to Dharma, would be downright stupidity. Ahimsa is not accepting someone’s persecution, violence and unjustness. That’s verily called Adharma or against Dharma.

Dharma is not doing to others what you won’t like being done by someone else to you. Dharma is that which sustains the order in self (mind), family, society, nation and the world at large. Dharma is sustained by doing things where the strong don’t thrive by suppressing the weak and the weak are not subjugated by the strong. Dharma provides a way for people to live and let live. When there’s an imposition of someone else’s will on you or your own excesses on others, that’s Himsa, causing Adharma.

The Law of Karma provides for the right of every living being to pursue happiness, provided they don’t misuse it. Arishadvargas – lust, anger, greed, infatuation, ego and envy – are the natural detriments that infest Manas or mind. When these detrimental qualities of the mind go unchecked, they give rise to Himsa or violence. Take your time and check every perceived crime in history and you will find that all those criminals had at least one of these detrimental qualities that overwhelmed them. Dharma teaches us the way to control these urges, since uprooting them isn’t easy.

If you are being attacked by someone for unjust reasons and you remain defenceless, it’s not just Ahimsa, but also Adharma! If you are subjecting an animal to torture for sport (hunting), killing its habitat for the sake of your greed (mining), depriving its child for savouring its taste (recreational food), killing trees for your recreation, these constitute Himsa.

Non-vegetarianism is verily Adharma as well as Himsa because countless animals are subjected to seamless pain and torture for days for the sake of easy money and pleasing taste buds of handful for a few seconds. You may argue “I didn’t kill the animal, I just ate its meat or egg”, but it was because you were paying for that, or making someone pay for it, which led to the animal’s torture. You are the big clog in the wheel.

Violence is when your actions inflict direct or indirect pain on others. If you do nothing to stop a crime knowing that it’s bound to happen, it is a crime in itself. Ahimsa doesn’t mean you won’t hurt others; it’s a no-first-strike policy. I will not hurt you if you don’t intend to hurt me. To ask people to be suppressed in the name of Ahimsa is greater Himsa.

A soldier and terrorist both carry weapons; both are trained and paid to kill. But a soldier kills to protect; a terrorist kills to spread his intolerant ideology. For his code and conduct of killing to protect his people, a soldier is following Ahimsa and Dharma. For his code and conduct of killing people to further his own personal belief and faith, a terrorist manifests Himsa and Adharma.

It’s also Himsa when you spread false propaganda against someone who is just. It’s Himsa when you teach Himsa in the name of Ahimsa. Ahimsa is not absence of violence; it’s also utilizing violence to curb the violence.

4 responses on "Ahimsa: A Vedic Perspective"

  1. Himsa when following one’s own dharma is to be avoided to the maximum extent possible.Like in the case of soldier resorting to killing enemies to protect his own country is not ahimsa, it is himsa only.But it is his dharma to protect to one’s country.A living being is to live according to dharma, which again depends on the situations in which he is placed.A soldier is not supposed to fire at enemies or terrorists without first getting attacked.A response to a situation or doing one’s own duty in a righteous way is dharma.To understand dharma one needs to know his duties and responses for a particular situation.A matured mind helps one to distinguish between good and bad responses.These are my personal views.Comments are welcome.

  2. What about perspectives/personal truths? What if the terrorist feels he is upholding a good cause/defending his people in some way.

  3. Every terrorist feels that he’s on the right path and that those opposing them are the “real terrorists”. No terror outfit calls itself terrorist. But, then, they do to others what they don’t like being done to them. They will rape and kill people of other faiths –
    Not their own. When their own people are violated they incite human rights violations. Their love and admiration are only for those people who accept their beliefs – others are damned to hell. Any exclusive idea like “only I am right and others are wrong” lead to more wrong and evil. Such ideas are Adharma incarnate. Therefore a terrorist is he who has no tolerance for others ideas and ideals. He’s verily a terrorist who violates people just because they disagree with his way of life. He’s definitely a terrorist who imposes his way upon others without even listening to what other person has to say. All the aforementioned action of terrorist is Himsa and therefore Adharma. Adharma results in catastrophe. It leads to perilous results. History can testify to this fact.

Leave a Message

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *