Ahimsa by Dr. Gulab Kothari

Ahimsa is best learned by being in the company of the virtuous.
  “Integration” Blog     at Institute of Spiritual Sciences     “Regular Articles” Department  

Completeness is Truth and Truth is eternal: it was there yesterday, it is there today too, and it will also remain Truth in the future. People who are unable to learn the Truth of Ahimsa, and then practice it in daily life, create conflict, and are then progenitors of violence.

by Dr. Gulab Kothari
March 3, 2020

Ahimsa: A Perspective

The seeds of violence and nonviolence thrive in the formative influences of our mind. To understand ahimsa,1 or non-violence, is to understand the Soul. So much has been said and talked about regarding ahimsa that, in all these years, the solemnity of the word itself has diminished. Today violence is blazing with the brightest sunshine, and nonviolence is reduced to a mere earthen lamp… and even that weak flame burns in some houses only.

If we look at it in a correct perspective, the violence caused by one's body, mind and intellect is not so important. Killing someone is the result of a violent propensity. Violence takes many years before it reaches this volatile state of a person's mind. It takes many years to grow into a tree and bear fruits; the physical killing is its fruit. If we continue to water and fertilize the roots of the ‘tree of violence' it will inevitably produce fruits. Water and fertilizer are of many types, for example: education, technological development, lack of congenial environment and being cut off from our own history and geography. Ahimsa is the subject of the soul, but the modern education directs an individual away from ahimsa.

An educated person in these days is unable to comprehend what “vasudhaiva kutumbkam”(2) (the whole world is a family) means. The only dream of every educated person today is a lucrative package. His or her life is tethered to their stomach. They are often unable to think of the problems of others. This excessive thought of one's insecurity, or excessive security, is also one of the causes of violence.

Science is itself another big causative factor of violence. Technology has now made it possible for a person to live alone. Tools like the internet, TVs, and mobile phones have disintegrated our family life. The radio is now lost. TV has tied the individual to the pillar of his house. The internet has converted our room itself into a ‘virtual house'. Now my phone has become my house. The individual is not connected nor concerned about others. He or she, remains centered on selfish interests. People do live together at home, but they remain glued to their own phones. So, how can society and a nation stay connected with life? Similarly, all scientific discoveries and inventions are based on instruments and apparatuses. Their consequences will depend on how we use them. Should atomic energy produce electricity or an atom bomb? A third person will not need to think before they press the nuclear button. People are not connected with the others, whereas the basis of ahimsa is connection on the human level.

The Lessons of Ahimsa

In Reality, pure Ahimsa is not possible in Prakriti(3) (The Realms of Nature). The scriptures say, “jivojivasya bhojanam”(4) (every living being is the food of the other). It means ahimsa itself is relative.

One of its paths is that, “I should not hurt the other for my pleasure or joy.” Every religion defines ‘the other' in its own way. The human body is made of billions or trillions of cells. Every cell is an independent Jiva(5) or intelligence. They cannot be nourished by the gross intellect. The predominance of emotions is important in them. Our thoughts are the vehicles of violence or nonviolence. Today we have forgotten the full definition of Ahimsa. While explaining the forms of violence to children, we then instruct them to refrain from them. In the real sense of the term, children are being made deft and skillful in violence.

The seeds of both violence and nonviolence are within us. The emotions that we nurture everyday become trees. They veil our mind. The moment an external causative factor comes into its contact with the mind, it becomes weak. The aggressiveness of emotions manifests itself. This is happening all around us. Within us we nourish the trees of hedonistic pleasures, and, also discuss yoga in the external world. In the morning a person attends a religious assembly, but gambles and drinks alcohol in the evening. How can such person withstand the onslaught of violence? In truth, ahimsa, nonviolence, is a perspective which cannot be taught. The lessons of Atma(6) cannot be taught (Soul-Spirit-Is to Know God); it can be learned only by being in the company of the virtuous.

As long as a person lives for their own existence, remains busy exploring the ways of their own safety, and does not get out of the world of their mobile device, they will never be able to learn ‘giving'. The very thought of grabbing things is violence. The seeds of ahimsa sprout in the ‘thought' of giving. This very human tendency is also the cause of competition in business. The individual wants to ‘eat up everything' by snatching from others. It seems to him or her, that competition is the cause of their losses… So …eliminate the rival. He or she remains in an illusion that they can change the destiny of their competitor. In our day-today behavior, we come across many such causes which are responsible for violence.

What is Truth?

The formidable form of violence at the international level is before us all. The question that arises then is: what actually is the truth? The Truth is eternal. It was there yesterday, it is there today too, and will also remain truth in the future. All else is falsehood. Falsehood alone is the murder of truth. That is why Adi Shankaracharya(7) said, “Brahm(8) alone is Truth and the world is an illusion, a deceptive appearance. The soul is true (real) and the body is false or unreal (perishable).” ‘I am the soul. The body is mine.' The Indian culture is embedded in the Soul, and the culture of science is based on the body.

Today this education has been excluded from life, since it is usually associated with a person's belly. Education today is reduced to the realm of body and intellect. The heart and Soul are thrown out. This style of education makes man incomplete. Incompleteness is violence, falsehood. Completeness (perfection) is Truth... it Is Ahimsa.

(1) Ahimsa (Sanskrit), literally 'nonviolence', is the expressed Indian principle of nonviolence which applies to actions towards all living beings. It is a key Virtue and basis in all religions. There is disagreement about what the principle of Ahimsa directs in relation to war and degrees of appropriate action in circumstances that require self-defense. However, Ahimsa, in its most extreme form, is the precept that humans should not cause harm to another living being by either one's deeds, words, or thoughts.
(2) Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam ( Sanskrit), a phrase found in Hindu texts such as the Maha Upanishad, which means “The World Is One Family”.
(3) Prakriti (Sanskrit), is “the original or natural form or condition of anything, the original or primary substance”.
(4) (Sanskrit) from the Srimad-Bhagavatam, SB Canto 1, SB 1.13.47, Translation: Those who are devoid of hands are prey for those who have hands; those devoid of legs are prey for the four-legged. The weak are the subsistence of the strong, and the general rule holds that one living being is food for another.
(5) Jiva (Sanskrit), the vital energy of Spirit in the body, the individual incarnating Soul.
(6) Atma (Sanskrit) It means one's true Self or Soul Awakened in the Self, manifested as degrees of Consciousness.
(7) Adi Shankaracharya, was an 8th-century Indian Vedic Scholar and Teacher. Sri Adi Shankar established 4 Mathas (monasteries) known as Vedic Peethas of Knowledge in the North, South, East and West of India; the North Seat is the Highest Spiritual Seat.
(8) Brahm (Sanskrit) the unchanging reality of Pure Consciousness amidst and beyond the world, the Highest Reality.

Permission for ISS reprint granted by author, 2022.
ISS edit: Copyright © 2023, Institute of Spiritual Sciences (ISS).


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