--> Skip to main content

Ahimsa In Hindu Religion

Ahimsa is the Hindu perspective of non-violence which includes not just human beings but all living beings including plants and animals. Ahimsa is a fundamental principle of Hindu religion, involving non-injury to all living beings and universal friendliness. In Vedic literature, ahimsa is considered one of the essential values a person should pursue. The Mahabharata contains a detailed discussion of ahimsa. The idea of ahimsa was embraced by thinkers such as Vidura, Bhishma, Dharmavyadha and Tuladhara expounded that when one chooses and ethically sound path of self-realization, one learns that ahimsa is necessary for grasping truth. Dharmavyedha argues that there is no higher form of dharma (righteousness) than ahimsa.

The rishis and sages of Hinduism, in their pursuit of self-realization, adopted the values of ahimsa and truth to attain purity of mind, a necessary prerequisite of self-realization. When these values are practiced at the social level, they are conducive to the establishment of a peaceful and just society. The individual practicing ahimsa seeks to win the understanding of his opponent, focusing on reconciliation and redemption.

In Hindu religion, ahimsa is not only non-violence in action but also includes freedom from fear and abstinence from causing fear. It is a public, not an esoteric, value.

According to the Bhagavad Gita and numerous other Hindu scriptures especially the Upanishads, true wisdom lies in seeing one’s self in others and others in one’s self. Therefore, since others are no different from one’s self, there can be no motivation for violence. This ahimsa is of the strong and not of the weak.

The doctrine of Karma in Hindu religion, motivates the practice of ahimsa. Hindus endeavor to purge themselves of all karmic substances and free their souls from material bondage. Violent thoughts and actions compound karma, whereas non-violent observances could release the effect of past actions.

It must be noted that when Hindu religion strongly advocates ahimsa, it does not abjure war to fight adharma and defend the dharma.