The word ahimsa is derived from the Sanskrit root ‘hims’, which means to strike or cause injury or harm.
Thus, ‘A-himsa’ is its opposite, i.e. non-harming.
What is Himsa?
Hurting or harming any living being, even in the slightest degree, through the mind, speech and body is violence.
Harming animals, insects, fish, or even a bed bug is violence. We must never inflict pain on any living being that runs away from us in fear. Even a negative opinion about a person or talking negative of a person in his absence is considered violence. There is also violence when we do partiality or discrimination. The Aartadhyan i.e adverse internal meditation that harms the self and the Raudradhyan i.e. adverse internal meditation that harms others are considered the most significant forms of violence in the world.
Intentions are very important for they determine the Actions
Param Pujya Dada Bhagwan, an Enlightened being, explains:
“Ahimsa is to maintain the awareness to not hurt any living being, even to the slightest degree, through the mind, speech, and body.”
So, Ahimsa begins with the intent (bhaav) that, ‘May no living being be caused the slightest hurt or harm through my thoughts, words or actions.’ This intent automatically, over time, will come into practice one day.
Do Pratikraman (Asking for forgiveness) when we harm anyone knowingly or unknowingly
Sometimes, although we may not have an intention to hurt others, we end up doing so. During such times, we must ask for forgiveness in the following way and and reset the right intention to practice ahimsa – With sincere repentance in our heart, we pray to the God residing in the person whom we hurt, “Dear God! I have hurt this person. I wholeheartedly repent for it. Please forgive me and grant me strength to not repeat this mistake.
When we make a firm resolve not to cause even the slightest harm to anything or anyone, consequently, no one will be hurt by us. Even if we happen to trample on an insect, it would survive. However, if a person intends to kill, anyone meant to die could come his way. Thus, our intentions are very important as they determine our actions.
Ahimsa leads to Abhayadaan
Abhayadaan means to conduct oneself in a way that does not trouble or harass any living being. It means being in a state of conduct that does not induce fear in or hurt or harm any living being. This is the highest of all types of donations.
The Lord has referred to this donation (Abhayadaan) as one that is paramount. There is no need for money in this. Only our conduct should be such that the people or animals around us remain free from fear.
One who practices Ahimsa is never harmed
One who practices Ahimsa heartily and sincerely, even if he were shot from every direction, he would remain unscathed. If a person who does not have the slightest intention to harm anyone enters a dark room full of snakes, the snakes will not bite him; on the contrary they shall move away giving him way.
Such is the power of Ahimsa and it is scientific.
The science behind the power of ahimsa is simple, ‘We receive what we give’. If we give flowers to someone, we receive flowers in return, and if we throw stones, we will get them back sooner or later. When we give joy to others, in reaction, we will get only pleasure. If we give happiness, then happiness immediately comes to us without any effort!
Therefore, when we practice ahimsa, we can live our life fearlessly and happily. If one attains absolute ahimsa, one will become Lord one day.
Real Ahimsa is without Ego
‘I am practicing ahimsa’ – this is the act of Ahimsa that’s based on ego. As long as we believe that ‘I am picking this flower and I am committing violence or I am not picking this flower and I am not committing violence’, it is called ego.
We are a Pure Soul that only sees and knows whatever happens, without any doership, without any attachment or hatred towards any act or circumstances. When we realize this, we are said to have attained Self-realization. After Self-realization, we are able to maintain the awareness that, ‘I am a Pure Soul’, which keeps us separate from the mind, speech and body. Also, we are able to see the Pure Soul (God) within all living beings in the universe. This is when the real Ahimsa, one without any element of ego, manifests automatically.