Ahimsa: Compassion in Action
Ahimsa, commonly referred to as “nonviolence” is more literally translated from Sanskrit as “absence of injury”. Ahimsa is an ancient concept originating in the Vedas, the oldest texts written nearly 4,000 years ago on spiritual and philosophical wisdom. To practice Ahimsa is ‘to not injure’, ‘to cause no injury’ and ‘do no harm’ to self, others, Mother Earth and Her inhabitants. Ahimsa has been researched and determined by the Canadian Museum of Human Rights as the oldest concept of Human Rights.
The concept of Ahimsa is found in Sanatan Dharma / Hinduism and all the religions that came out of Hinduism such as Buddhism, Jainism, and Sikhism. It is found in the indigenous cultures and traditions of the Himalayan region.
The concept of Ahimsa was used in India by Mahatma Gandhiji, whose teachings influenced Dr Rev. Martin Luther King Jr & Cesar Chavez in the USA, and Nelson Mandela in South Africa to rebel against the injustices in their world. Mahatma Gandhiji held the view that without truth and nonviolence [Satya & Ahimsa] there can be nothing but destruction. Lao Tzu, the Chinese philosopher credited with founding the philosophical system of Taoism noted that if we must enter a battle of any kind, to do so with great compassion and sorrow. He said, ‘this is the way of ahimsa’. His Holiness, The Dalai Lama considers Ahimsa to be Compassion in Action.
In Yogic philosophy, Ahimsa is the first step of the first limb of the eight-fold traditional Ashtanga Yoga as codified by Sage Patanjali.
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