By Periyava

Translation from Tamil: V. Krishnaraj


அஹிம்சை : தெய்வத்தின் குரல் (முதல் பகுதி)

Ahimsa (Non-injury): Deivathin Kural


Manu Dharma Sastra declared Ahimsa (non-injury) is the first and the foremost in the Sāmāṉya Dharma (General Dharma). Mental health’s important support is non-violence, which is a limb of Yoga.

Ahimsa is just not doing injury to the body alone; it is more. We should not wish violence by thought to another person. We should not cause violence by words.

It is not in our nature to cause violence to others. We think of inflicting much violence to others who we think gave us trouble. Do we punish a tender child who set fire in the house? We don’t do it. We attempt to extinguish the fire. From the next time forwards, we protect the child from playing with the fire. We should regard others, who we think cause trouble to us, as children. We should forestall fire-setting by them with love and protect them. Showing hatred towards him and or inflicting retaliatory punishment or violence are to be avoided. This is the true Ahimsa.

This is useful for Yoga that subdues the mind.  The mind is like a malignant spirit. After Vikramāditya subjugated the demon (the mind), it had done a lot of good.

Elephant not until domesticated is a nuisance to the world. Once it is under control, we can get a lot of work from the elephant. Anjaneya Swamy by his conquest of the mind, obtained much power and performed many good deeds. The mind’s power is immeasurable. Parasakthi’s sole mind created the whole world. In this world of creation, a small ant’s small mind spreads right across the whole world.

A multitude of Mahans and Yogis declared, ‘I practiced Ahimsa and my mind is under control.’ By ahimsa, anger disappears and the mind becomes serene with love; later, controlling the mind becomes easier.

Ahimsa’s important use is subduing the mind. But practice of Ahimsa, another benefit comes without our considering it. It carries the name, ‘Avānthara-p-Pirayōjaṉam’(Incidental or unintended benefits). You all came here to witness the Pūjā. That was your intention. In addition, you hear the play of the drum. You see many people you have not seen for a long time. Now you hear the lecture. These are the benefits that did not enter your realm of thought and yet you received them and that is ‘Avānthara-p-Pirayōjaṉam’ (= அவாந்தரப் பிரயோஜனம்’ Incidental, additional and unintended benefits).

If a person accomplishes Ahimsa in its fullness by body,  mind, and speech spontaneously (without deliberation or intention, as in Avānthara-p-Pirayōjaṉam’), all animals coming to his place by themselves forget their enmity and become replete with Ahimsa (Ahimsa-Mayam).

Wherein there is a practitioner of Ahimsa in its fullness, transference of his tranquillity takes place to the mind of the cruelest person. Love and non-violence come natural to him so much so the unintended benefit is he makes others full of love.

Sannyasi must practice Ahimsa in its fullness. He should not nip even a leaf. He should not cook the plants to eat. Because of Ahimsa, the sacred texts did not require him to perform fire sacrifice. Insects may accidentally fall into the fire. Because of prohibition of fire ceremonies, there is no funeral ceremony for him. His body is buried in the earth upon his death. He takes a vow at initiation into Sannyasam: Let no animal fear me. His Dharma, in full application of injunctions, is he should live with no Himsa to the fauna and the flora.

 ‘Ahimsa Paramō Dharma:’ Ahimsa is the injunction applied by Jainism and Buddhism. Hinduism did not do it. There is not much of a restriction for those other than Sannyasis. In Dharmic wars and Yagna animal sacrifice, Hinduism shelved Ahimsa. For the welfare of the world and to pacify and placate certain deities, sacrifices of animals take place. It is the Hinduism’s belief that the sacrificed animal goes to heaven earning no deserved merits: A double benefit. 1) the animal goes to heaven, 2) The sacrifice brings welfare to the world.  

Likewise, the heroic soldiers sacrifice for the country.

Hinduism made an exception for Ahimsa because it is better to sacrifice one’s life for the country in war than to live to eat and fatten one’s body.

It is easy to talk about, glorify and celebrate Ahimsa. It is an impossible deed. In everyday life, we see crimes, fights, wars, and other kinds of violence. The countermeasure to curb violence is violence, which in truth, theory and practice is not Himsa. More than a deed, the thought and the intent behind the deed are important. Without an intent to enjoy violence and in the interest of public weal, animal sacrifice, murder conviction of a killer criminal and torturing (வதைத்தல் = Vathaiththal) the enemy in war, -though the acts are starkly violent-, none constitute sins or faults.

Amnesty International estimates that at least 81 world governments currently practice torture, some of them openly. Torture is illegal and punishable within U.S. territorial bounds. Prosecution of abuse occurring on foreign soil, outside of usual U.S. territorial jurisdiction, is difficult. – Wikipedia  July 28, 2018

If total and perfect Ahimsa is applied to all, people will earn sins from violating the rules. Our religion not ignoring this practical situation did not create this liability to people.

Buddhism has ruled for complete Ahimsa. But, we see wars, killings and spread of meat eating in those countries. .

If a major Dharma is applied as a general Dharma for all, we see no one follows it.  In our country, total Ahimsa was imposed on Sannyasis only. Emulating this total prohibition of violence to fauna and flora, Brahmanas, Gujarathis, Vaishnavas, Saiva Vellalars, Komutti Chettiars…adopted it as their lifestyle. Ahimsa was not sanctified as a religious law. They liked the tenet and adopted it as an essential hereditary tattva for them. Observing the Sannyasi’s Sattva Guṇa (virtuous conduct) and because of it, they liked vegetarianism and continue to cherish it.

Other groups, observing the practice of vegetarianism, and under no duress, they desist from meat eating on the holy days: New Moon day, Tithi (Waxing and waning Digits of the moon), Death Anniversary, Ṣaṣṭī (Fasting on the 6th digit of bright moon), … On these days, the observers avoid eating meat.  Hinduism does not force on people what is impracticable (Abstaining from eating meat).  Some select people (Sannyasins and Vaishnavites…) took to vegetarianism as the ideal. In those places, where abstaining from meat is mandatory, there is a widespread abrogation of Ahimsa, religious tenets…Ahimsa is part of Sāmāṉya Dharma with a lofty aim.