Never miss a story

Get subscribed to our newsletter


×

By Nithin Sridhar



Gleanings from Hindu Scriptures- Part 3

Ahimsa” is one of the most important tenets of Hindu religion. Himsa means violence or injury. Therefore, Ahimsa means “Non-injury”. Here, the injury may refer to injuries caused through actions, words, or thoughts. Therefore, a practice of Ahimsa involves non-injury for selfish ends, through actions, words, or thoughts.

In Mahabharata Anushasana parva (117.37-41), Bheeshma explains the glory of ahimsa thus:
ahiMsA paramo dharmastathA.ahiMsA paro damaH |
ahiMsA paramaM dAnamahiMsA paramaM tapaH ||
Translation: Non-injury is the highest duty, non-injury is the highest self-restraint, non-injury is the highest gift, and it is the highest austerity.

Bheeshma is calling non-injury as the highest duty because freedom to life is the fundamental right of every person. Every person takes a birth to fulfill his life’s purposes. But by injuring others for the sake of fulfilling selfish desires, one is denying them their right to live.

No person likes to get tortured. Nobody wants to be beaten or insulted or mentally harassed because it causes them pain and sorrow and prevents them from living their life peacefully.

Therefore, the very basic duty of human life is non-injury. It is the very basic definition of righteousness. Dharma means the essence that upholds life and depending on circumstances, it may mean duty, righteousness, law, etc. Therefore, ahimsa is the very essence of human life.

Injury destabilizes society and causes disharmony, whereas non-injury creates peaceful and harmonious life system, wherein each individual, each animal, or organism can co-exist peacefully.

Next Bheeshma calls ahimsa as highest self-control and austerity. It is so because practicing non-injury is not easy. It’s one of the most difficult things to achieve. It involves complete control over one’s mind and senses. A person should be always vigilant to his thoughts, words, and actions to practice ahimsa.

Hindu scriptures prescribe total non-injury only to the sannyasins (renunciates), because they alone can live such a difficult lifestyle where there is minimal harm. In fact, the very lifestyle of renunciates has been designed accordingly. For example, they beg food because cooking involves himsa. For all others, non-injury is prescribed to be followed to the best of their abilities. Injury must be adopted only in extreme unavoidable conditions like self-defense, punishing criminals, in a war, for food where other alternatives are not available, etc. and never for fulfilling selfish desires and fantasies.

Bheeshma next calls ahimsa as the greatest gift, because by practicing ahimsa, a person is assuring others that there is no harm from him, that they will face no harassment, no obstruction to their life from him. Hence, it is a gift that says, “Do not fear me. I will not harm you”.

Bheeshma, in the same chapter, further says that neither the gifts given in all yajnas (sacrifices) nor the merits accrued from other gifts come anywhere near to the merit attained by the practice of non-injury.

Thus, ahimsa is the highest obligation of human life.

More in this segment:

Gleanings from Hindu Scriptures- Part 1

Gleanings from Hindu Scriptures- Part 2


Popular

Pinterest

Ancient India not only made mentions of homosexuality but accepted it as well.


The LGBTQ+ acronym stands for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, and others. In India LGBTQ+ community also include a specific social group, part religious cult, and part caste: the Hijras. They are culturally defined either as "neither men nor women" or as men who become women by adopting women's dress and behavior. Section 377 of the India Penal code that criminalized all sexual acts "against the order of nature" i.e. engaging in oral sex or anal sex along with other homosexual activities were against the law, ripping homosexual people off of their basic human rights. Thus, the Indian Supreme Court ruled a portion of Section 377 unconstitutional on 6th September 2018.

Keep Reading Show less
wikimedia commons

A stamp depicting the Mysore peta

The Mysore kingdom became a popular tourist destination after India became an independent country. The Wodeyar dynasty who succeeded Tipu Sultan are still royalty, but they do not rule the state. Their heritage and culture have become what Karnataka is famous for.

Among the many things that Mysore offers to the state of Karnataka, the Mysore Peta is one. In north India, various cultures have their own headgears. They wear their traditional outfits on the days of festivities and ceremonies. Likewise, in the south, especially in Karnataka, the Mysore Peta is worn.

Keep Reading Show less
Photo by Wikimedia Commons

Indian author and feminist, Kamla Bhasin passed away at the agr of 74.

Renowned feminist activist, author, and a face of the women's rights movement in India, Kamla Bhasin, passed away today morning at the age of 74.

The news of the same was shared by activist Kavita Srivastava on Twitter. The tweet said, "Kamla Bhasin, our dear friend, passed away around 3am today 25th Sept. This is a big setback for the women's movement in India and the South Asian region. She celebrated life whatever the adversity. Kamla you will always live in our hearts. In Sisterhood, which is in deep grief."

Keep reading... Show less