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Ahimsa (Non-injury) - Swami Sivananda Saraswati

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  • Swami Jnaneshvara Bharati
    AHIMSA (NON-INJURY) Swami Sivananda Saraswati In the regeneration and divinisation of man, the first step is to eliminate his beastly nature. The predominant
    Message 1 of 1 , Jun 28, 2008
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      AHIMSA (NON-INJURY)
      Swami Sivananda Saraswati

      In the regeneration and divinisation of man, the first step is to
      eliminate his beastly nature. The predominant trait in beasts is
      cruelty. Therefore, wise sages prescribe Ahimsa (non-injury). This is
      the most effective master-method to counteract and eradicate
      completely the brutal, cruel Pasu-Svabhava (bestial nature) in man.

      Practice of Ahimsa develops love. Ahimsa is another name for truth or
      love. Ahimsa is universal love. It is pure love. It is divine Prem.
      Where there is love, there you will find Ahimsa. Where there is
      Ahimsa, there you will find love and selfless service. They all go
      together.

      The one message of all saints and prophets of all times and climes, is
      the message of love, of Ahimsa, of selfless service. Ahimsa is the
      noblest and best of traits that are found expressed in the daily life
      and activities of perfected souls. Ahimsa is the one means, not only
      to attain Salvation, but also to enjoy uninterrupted peace and bliss.
      Man attains peace by injuring no living creature.

      There is one religion - the religion of love, of peace. There is one
      message, the message of Ahimsa. Ahimsa is a supreme duty of man.

      Ahimsa, or refraining from causing pain to any living creature, is a
      distinctive quality emphasized by Indian ethics. Ahimsa or
      non-violence has been the central doctrine of Indian culture from the
      earliest days of its history. Ahimsa is a great spiritual force.

      MEANING OF AHIMSA

      Ahimsa or non-injury, of course, implies non-killing. But, non-injury
      is not merely non-killing. In its comprehensive meaning, Ahimsa or
      non-injury means entire abstinence from causing any pain or harm
      whatsoever to any living creature, either by thought, word, or deed.
      Non-injury requires a harmless mind, mouth, and hand.

      Ahimsa is not mere negative non-injury. It is positive, cosmic love.
      It is the development of a mental attitude in which hatred is replaced
      by love. Ahimsa is true sacrifice. Ahimsa is forgiveness. Ahimsa is
      Sakti (power). Ahimsa is true strength.

      SUBTLE FORMS OF HIMSA

      Only the ordinary people think that Ahimsa is not to hurt any living
      being physically. This is but the gross form of Ahimsa. The vow of
      Ahimsa is broken even by showing contempt towards another man, by
      entertaining unreasonable dislike for or prejudice towards anybody, by
      frowning at another man, by hating another man, by abusing another
      man, by speaking ill of others, by backbiting or vilifying, by
      harbouring thoughts of hatred, by uttering lies, or by ruining another
      man in any way whatsoever.

      All harsh and rude speech is Himsa (violence or injury). Using harsh
      words to beggars, servants or inferiors is Himsa. Wounding the
      feelings of others by gesture, expression, tone of voice and unkind
      words is also Himsa. Slighting or showing deliberate discourtesy to a
      person before others is wanton Himsa. To approve of another's harsh
      actions is indirect Himsa. To fail to relieve another's pain, or even
      to neglect to go to the person in distress is a sort of Himsa. It is
      the sin of omission. Avoid strictly all forms of harshness, direct or
      indirect, positive or negative, immediate or delayed. Practice Ahimsa
      in its purest form and become divine. Ahimsa and Divinity are one.

      AHIMSA, A QUALITY OF THE STRONG

      If you practice Ahimsa, you should put up with insults, rebukes,
      criticisms and assaults also. You should never retaliate nor wish to
      offend anybody even under extreme provocation. You should not
      entertain any evil thought against anybody. You should not harbour
      anger. You should not curse. You should be prepared to lose joyfully
      even your life in the cause of Truth. The Ultimate Truth can be
      attained only through Ahimsa.

      Ahimsa is the acme of bravery. Ahimsa is not possible without
      fearlessness. Non-violence cannot be practiced by weak persons. Ahimsa
      cannot be practiced by a man who is terribly afraid of death and has
      no power of resistance and endurance. It is a shield, not of the
      effeminate, but of the potent. Ahimsa is a quality of the strong. It
      is a weapon of the strong. When a man beats you with a stick, you
      should not entertain any thought of retaliation or any unkind feeling
      towards the tormentor. Ahimsa is the perfection of forgiveness.

      Remember the noble actions of great sages of yore. Jayadeva, the
      author of Gita-Govinda, gave large and rich present to his enemies who
      cut off his hands, and obtained Mukti (liberation) for them through
      his sincere prayers. He said: "O my lord! Thou hast given Mukti to Thy
      enemies, Ravana and Kamsa. Why canst Thou not give Mukti to my enemies
      now ?" A saint or a sage possesses a magnanimous heart.

      Pavahari Baba carried the bag of vessels and followed the thief
      saying: "O Thief Narayana! I never knew that You visited my cottage.
      Pray accept these things." The thief was quite astonished. He left off
      his evil habit from that very second and became a disciple of Pavahari
      Baba.

      Remember the noble actions of saints like Jayadeva and Pavahari Baba,
      you will have to follow their principles and ideals.

      GRADATIONAL PRACTICE OF AHIMSA

      When thoughts of revenge and hatred arise in the mind, try to control
      the physical body and speech first. Do not utter evil and harsh words.
      Do not censure. Do not try to injure others. If you succeed in this by
      practice for some months, the negative thoughts of revenge, having no
      scope for manifesting outside, will die by themselves. It is extremely
      difficult to control such thoughts from the very beginning without
      having recourse to control of the body and speech first.

      First control your physical body. When a man beats you, keep quiet.
      Suppress your feelings. Follow the instructions of Jesus Christ in his
      Sermon On The Mount: "If a man beats you on one cheek, turn to him the
      other cheek also. If a man takes away your coat, give him your shirt
      also." This is very difficult in the beginning. The old Samskaras
      (impressions) of revenge, of "a tooth for a tooth", "tit for tat", "an
      eye for an eye", and "paying in the same coin" will all force you to
      retaliate. But you will have to wait cooly. Reflect and meditate. Do
      Vichara or right enquiry. The mind will become calm. The opponent who
      was very furious will also become calm, because he does not get any
      opposition from your side. He gets astonished and terrified also,
      because you stand like a sage. By and by, you will gain immense
      strength. Keep the ideal before you. Try to get at it, though with
      faltering steps at first. Have a clear-cut mental image of Ahimsa and
      its immeasurable advantages.

      After controlling the body, control your speech. Make a strong
      determination, "I will not speak any harsh word to anybody from
      today". You may fail a hundred times. What does it matter ? You will
      slowly gain strength. Check the impulse of speech. Observe Mouna
      (silence). Practice Kshama or forgiveness. Say within yourself: "He is
      a baby-soul. He is ignorant, that is why he has done it. Let me excuse
      him this time. What do I gain by abusing him in return ?" Slowly give
      up Abhimana (ego-centred attachment). Abhimana is the root-cause of
      human sufferings.

      Finally go to the thoughts and check the thought of injuring. Never
      even think of injuring anyone. One Self dwells in all. All are
      manifestations of One God. By injuring another, you injure your own
      Self. By serving another, you serve your own Self. Love all. Serve
      all. Hate none. Insult none. Injure none in thought, word and deed.
      Try to behold your own Self in all beings. This will promote Ahimsa.

      BENEFITS OF THE PRACTICE OF AHIMSA

      If you are established in Ahimsa, you have attained all virtues.
      Ahimsa is the pivot. All virtues revolve around Ahimsa. Just as all
      footprints are accommodated in those of the elephant, so also do all
      religious and ethical rules become merged in the great vow of Ahimsa.

      Ahimsa is soul-force. Hate melts in the presence of love. Hate
      dissolves in the presence of Ahimsa. There is no power greater than
      Ahimsa. The practice of Ahimsa develops will-power to a considerable
      degree. The practice of Ahimsa will make you fearless. He who
      practices Ahimsa with real faith, can move the whole world, can tame
      wild animals, can win the hearts of all, and can subdue his enemies.
      He can do and undo things. The power of Ahimsa is infinitely more
      wonderful and subtler than electricity or magnetism.

      The law of Ahimsa is as much exact and precise as the law of
      gravitation or cohesion. You must know the correct way to apply it
      intelligently and with scientific accuracy. If you are able to apply
      it with exactitude and precision, you can work wonders. You can
      command the elements and Nature also.

      THE POWER OF AHIMSA

      The power of Ahimsa is greater than the power of the intellect. It is
      easy to develop the intellect, but it is difficult to purify and
      develop the heart. The practice of Ahimsa develops the heart in a
      wonderful manner.

      He who practices Ahimsa develops strong will-power. In his presence,
      enmity ceases. In his presence, cobra and frog, cow and tiger, cat and
      rat, wolf and lamb, will all live together in terms of intimate
      friendship. In his presence, all hostilities are given up. The term
      'hostilities are given up' means that all beings - men, animals, birds
      and poisonous creatures will approach the practitioner without fear
      and do no harm to him. Their hostile nature disappears in them in his
      presence. The rat and the cat, the snake and the mongoose, and other
      beings that are enemies of each other by nature, give up their hostile
      feelings in the presence of the Yogi who is established in Ahimsa.
      Lions and tigers can never do any harm to such a Yogi. Such a Yogi can
      give definite orders to lion and tigers. They will obey. This is
      Bhuta-Siddhi (mastery over the elements) obtainable by the practice of
      Ahimsa. The practice of Ahimsa will eventually culminate in the
      realization of unity and oneness of life, or Advaitic (non-dual)
      Consciousness. The Yogi then enjoys the highest peace, bliss and
      immortality.

      LIMITATIONS TO THE PRACTICE OF AHIMSA

      Absolute Ahimsa is impossible. It is not possible to the most
      conscientious Sannyasin or monk. To practice that, you must avoid
      killing countless creatures while walking, sitting, eating, breathing,
      sleeping and drinking. You cannot find a single non-injurer in the
      world. You have to destroy life in order to live. It is physically
      impossible for you to obey the law of non-destruction of life, because
      the phagocytes of your blood also are destroying millions of dangerous
      intrusive spirilla, bacteria and germs.

      According to one school of thought, if by the murder of a dacoit many
      lives are saved, it is not considered as Himsa. Ahimsa and Himsa are
      relative terms. Some say that one can defend oneself with instruments
      and use a little violence also when one is in danger; this is not
      considered to be Himsa. Westerners generally destroy their dear horses
      and dogs when they are in acute agony and when there is no way of
      relieving their sufferings. They wish that the soul should be
      immediately freed from the physical body. Motive is the chief factor
      that underlies everything.

      A renunciate or monk should not defend himself and use violence even
      when his life is in jeopardy. To an ordinary man, Ahimsa should be the
      aim, but he will not fall from this principle if, out of sheer
      necessity and with no selfish aim, he takes recourse to Himsa
      occasionally. One should not give leniency to the mind in this
      respect. If you are lenient, the mind will always take the best
      advantage of you and goad you to do acts of violence. Give a rogue an
      inch, he will take an ell: the mind at once adapts this policy, if you
      give a long rope for its movement.

      Ahimsa is never a policy. It is a sublime virtue. It is the
      fundamental quality of seekers after Truth. No Self-realization is
      possible without Ahimsa. It is through the practice of Ahimsa alone
      that you can cognize and reach the Supreme Self or Brahman. Those with
      whom it is a policy may fail many a time. They will be tempted to do
      violent acts also. On the contrary, those who strictly adhere to the
      vow of Ahimsa as a sacred creed or fundamentals cannon of Yoga, can
      never be duped into violence.

      A UNIVERSAL VOW

      Ahimsa is a Mahavratam or "great universal vow". It should be
      practiced by all people of all countries. It does not concern the
      Hindus or Indians alone. Whoever wishes to realize the Truth must
      practice Ahimsa. You may encounter any amount of difficulties; you may
      sustain any amount of losses, but you must not give up the practice of
      Ahimsa. Trial and difficulties are bound to come in your way to test
      your strength. You should stand adamant. Then alone will your efforts
      be crowned with sanguine success.

      There is a hidden power in Ahimsa which protects its practitioners.
      The invisible hand of God gives protection. There is no fear. What can
      pistols and swords do ?

      Even now there are people who do not give the least pain to any living
      creature. They carry sugar and rice for distribution to ants in their
      holes. They do not use lights at night for fear of killing the small
      insects. They are very careful while walking in the streets, as they
      do not wish to trample upon small insects.

      Blessed are these men. They will soon see God as they have very soft
      hearts.
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