Sunday, August 18, 2019

Ahimsa Paramo Dharmah

Article in Kannada by: B. G. Anantha
English Rendering by: Archana Vagish

“Maa himsyaat sarva bhootani” or “Do not be violent towards anyone” is the message of the Indian Shaastras. “Cruelty” or “Himsa” denotes trouble. If one is troubled/tortured physically or mentally, tantamount to losing one’s life, such trouble also constitutes violence. Living without causing himsa to anyone is living a life of non-violence or “Ahimsa”. It is the opinion of the Maharshis that Ahimsa is a superior attribute of the self. Non-violence pertains not merely to humans, animals or birds but also to seemingly inert entities like trees, plants, creepers, stones, twigs and mud. Because, they are also “Jeevas” or living entities as per the vision of the shaastras. At this point, one is naturally faced with a question of how one should then lead his or her life? As there is a popular saying “Jeevo Jeevasya Jeevanam” -which means one life lives by feeding on another. That being the case, is it possible for one to lead a life without causing trouble to another Jeeva? This predicament was not unknown to the Maharshis. The very fact that they advocated a non-violent life indicates that there is a deep scientific thought behind this.

An act of Violence is preceded by another act of violence. Let us assume a man kills an animal. Going forward, that animal takes birth as man and the man is born as an animal in the future. According to our shaastras, it is said that the animal which was the victim of a violent act by man switches roles with that man in a future life and carries out the exact same violence on man who is now an animal. Also, the act of violence creates an abominable wave of fear. This is caused by the suffering of the animal who is the victim of this act of violence. A similar wave manifests in the mind of man who administers this violence on the animal. Even if this wave exists just for a few moments, it perturbs the peace within that man thereby causing any feelings of happiness and peace to vanish momentarily. Hence Yoga shastras advise those who practice meditation to refrain from acts of violence.

But we saw earlier that food is also procured by acts of violence. However if the intention is to procure only the necessary amount of food, then the act does not cause much harm. Moreover, it is advised to choose that food which necessitates the least amount of violence. Hence in order to purify food, which has this inherent shortcoming, one offers food to the Lord before consuming it; thereupon he ingests the food with the remembrance of the Lord. In summary, food is a medium of accumulating sins. Hence it is advised to consume only the minimum necessary amount of food when one feels hungry. Food denotes life whether it is a piece of meat or is in the form of plants or seeds.

Furthermore, that when a self-realized Yogi consumes food, he or she has the power to directly offer the food to the very supreme lord himself, thereby liberating the lives of all those who were inconvenienced to procure that food- thus declare the Yogis. Hence there is no act of violence here. 

Note: The Kannada version of this article can be viewed at AYVM blogs