By Dr. Devakinanda Pasupuleti
Ahimsa is an ancient Indian principle of nonviolence which applies to all living beings.
14) OṀ AHIMSĀBHŨMYAI NAMAH:
OṀ (AUM) – A-HIM-SAA-BHOO-MYAI– NA-MA-HA
ॐ अहिम्साभूम्यै नमः
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Ahimsa, or non-violence, has been a highly extolled virtue throughout Indian history. In fact, it is as old as the Ṛigveda itself. Even during the Vedic period, when animal sacrifices existed, the animal was rendered unconscious before being killed, so that it did not suffer. Prayers were offered to ward off the effects of the sin of killing an animal. The Upanishads refer to ahimsa as an ethical discipline and emphasize the need for cultivating compassion, as corollary to ahimsa. The Mahābhārata often calls ‘ahimsa’ the highest dharma (ahimsā paramo dharmah). The Purāṇās and Dharma shāstrās extol it in glowing terms. Ahimsa is also described as the gateway to dharma. The Yogasutrās of Patanjali list it as the first virtue to be cultivated by a yoga aspirant.
Want to read more in Hindi? Checkout: सावधान! राम मंदिर निर्माण के नाम पर हो रही अवैध चंदा वसूली
Ahimsa means not injuring other living beings by thought (manasa), word (vācha) and deed (kriya). This is the ideal to be relentlessly pursued by those who have dedicated their lives to the realization of the Ātman (the Self). For them it is a mahāvṛata (great vow).
Ahimsa can never be practiced perfectly without its complement, love. They are two sides of the same coin. Anyone who has practiced it effectively radiates a wonderful sense of peace. India managed to kick out the British Empire mainly through the power of ahimsa. In the Ṛigveda Saṃhita a mantra states: “māvoghnataṃā śapatamprati voce deva yantam”– which means- “return not blow for blow, nor curse for neither curse, nor meanness for base tricks, but shower blessings instead”. The idea of ‘Tit for tat’ and ‘an eye for an eye’- was not our attitude. Our ancient rishis not only emphasized physical non-injury but also taught us verbal and mental non-violence. They claimed this ahimsa as our eternal law of righteousness.
The idea of ahimsa has travelled beyond India. It was most notably adopted by Martin Luther King who was inspired by Mahatma Gandhi in the civil rights movement in the USA.
Ahimsa has brought independence to our country without wars or violence, and stands as a pinnacle virtue for Hindus, Jains, and Buddhists. Hence, our land is ‘Ahimsā Bhūmi’.