Yogic Insight on Ahimsa
Ahimsa is the practice of not harming or killing any living being.
Yet, the Dalai Lama said,
Forgiveness doesn’t mean forgetting what happened. If something is serious and it is necessary to take counter-measures, you have to take counter-measures.
This is common sense in the reality we live in today. Known for his practice and advocacy of Ahimsa, this statement from the Dalai Lama might seem contradictory. There is however a deeper yogic wisdom to the principle of Ahimsa.
Our world is energy. Balancing the world is about balancing energy.
Looking into the yogic insight on the three basic states of energy called gunas, with reference to history, sheds light on the applicability of the Ahimsa principle in our times.
There are three states of the mind. The first is the Tamasic mind, which means darkness and is a mind characterized by ignorance, violence, and destructive tendencies. The second is the Rajasic mind, which is characterized by action and momentum fueled by greed and selfishness. The third is the Sattvic mind that is pure, illumined, and without impurities. The Sattvic mind is rooted in the principles of Ahimsa.
When World War II broke out, Mahatma Gandhi wrote to Hitler, trying to persuade Hitler away from being an aggressor. The letters reached Hitler just before his invasion of Poland. Hitler chose to ignore the letters and simply went ahead invading and annexing Poland. Mahatma Gandhi’s Ahimsa principle had fallen on deaf ears.
At the same time, Gandhi was of the opinion that the Jews who were being persecuted by the Nazis, “should submit themselves meekly and as Satyagrahis (spiritual warriors) will triumph”.
Today, now that the world knows for sure the determined evil intent behind the Nazi regime, we understand that Mahatma Gandhi’s Ahimsa principle would have failed to stop the massacre of Jews. In fact it would have aided the Nazi authorities in achieving their aim of mass murder of the Jews.
From the yogic point of view, during that time, Nazi Germany was in the grip of Tamas. Britain was Rajasic. The non-violent India headed by Gandhi was Sattvic. According to the yogic perception of the Gunas, Tamas can be effectively dealt with only through the Rajasic nature. Likewise, the Rajasic nature can be overcome only by the Sattvic nature. In other words, it was only through the violence of war (Rajasic energy) that Britain, America, and the other fourteen allied countries could defeat Nazi Germany & Imperial Japan. Likewise, it was exclusively Sattvic non-violent India, which was following the Ahimsa principle, that could overcome the colonial British rule of Rajasic nature.
It is important to see human realities for what they are: states of energy. Now we understand why the Dalai Lama said what he said.
Osama Bin Laden is a sad symptom of the increasing face of avidya (ignorance of Oneness) that is stalking humanity today in various forms such as terrorism and war lords. When Osama Bin Laden was in his destructive element, facing him with the principle of Ahimsa would not have worked, especially given he was convinced he would achieve the status of a martyr, and other heavenly rewards by using violence.
The disease to be addressed is the advocacy of intolerance, violence, barbaric punishments and male dominant belief-systems that justify the likes of Osama Bin Laden, the Taliban and the growing fundamentalism around the globe.
Wishing away this growing threat by standing on the principles of Ahimsa is questionable as we are dealing with Tamas that cannot be suppressed directly by the Sattvic nature. In the practical, Rajas will have to be employed to limit Tamas – and Rajas means Resistance and Counter-action. This isn’t justification of violence or ‘an eye for an eye’ — this is simply saying that, giving in without resistance (Ahimsa) is not the way to go and action has to be taken when we are faced with Tamas (violence).
Tapasyogi Kalathi Adiyen Aadi Nandhi spent years in the caves and wilderness as a saddhu under the guidance of enlightened gurus. Nandhi was first woken up to his childhood dream, a vision that he unfolds at the Ariven Community global sanctuaries for retired animals. To support the Vision, the enlightening marketplace offers products that are recommended by the yogis of India. Nandhi imparts his wisdom and the inner teachings through yoga, through music and by initiation. Visit his yoga website.
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