Structures of Yoga, Component 2: Ahimsa (Harmlessness).


Ahimsa: non-violence, non-injury, harmlessness

In his commentary on the Yoga Sutras, Vyasa [Vyasa was among the greatest sages of India, author of the Mahabharata (that includes the Bhagavad Gita), the Brahma Sutras, as well as the codifier of the Vedas.] starts his exposition of ahimsa: “” Ahimsa means in no way as well as at no time to do injury to any kind of living being.”” Shankara increases on this, saying that ahimsa is “” in no capability and in no style to offer injury to any type of being.”” This would certainly consist of injury by word or thought in addition to the apparent injury perpetrated by act, for Shankara additionally states: “” Ahimsa is to be practiced in every capacity-body, speech, and also mind.”” We discover this concept being stated by Jesus in his claim that rage directed towards somebody is a kind of murder (Matthew 5:21,22), and also by the Beloved Disciple’s statement that disgust is likewise murder.( I John 3:15).


Even a straightforward understanding of the legislation of fate, the legislation of sowing and enjoying (Galatians 6:7), enables us to understand the terrible repercussions of murder for the murderer. As Vyasa clarifies: “” The awesome robs the target of spirit, harms him with an impact of a tool, and after that splits him away from life. Due to the fact that he has denied an additional of spirit, the supports of his own life, animate or inanimate, become damaged. Due to the fact that he has actually triggered discomfort, he experiences pain himself … Because he has actually torn another from life, he goes to live in a life in which every moment he desires to pass away, since the retaliation as pain needs to work itself right out, while he is panting for fatality.””.

Ahimsa is translated in many ways-which is to be expected since Sanskrit is a language that abounds in many feasible meanings for a solitary word. But fundamentally ahimsa is not causing any type of damage whatsoever to any type of being whatsoever, including subhuman varieties. (Ahimsa is not generally thought about in connection with plant and mineral life, yet absolutely wanton destruction of such life would be a violation of ahimsa, partially since it would at some point have a harmful impact on animal life too.) To complete this suitable it is self-evident that physical violence, injury, or killing are unthinkable for the yogi. And as Vyasa right away mentions, all the other abstainings and also observances-yama and also niyama-are truly rooted in ahimsa, for they include preventing harm both to ourselves and to others with either adverse action or the overlook of favorable action.

“” The various other niyamas as well as yamas are rooted in this, as well as they are exercised just to bring this to its culmination, only for improving this [i.e., ahimsa] They are educated just as means to bring this out in its pureness. For so it is said: ‘Whatever lots of pledges the man of Brahman [God] would certainly embark on, just in so far as he therefore refrains from doing harm impelled by delusion, does he draw out ahimsa in its pureness.'”” And also Shankara describes that Vyasa is referring to deception that is “” rooted in physical violence and also triggering violence.””.

Ahimsa includes stringent abstinence from any kind of form of injury in act, speech, or idea. Physical violence, too, spoken and physical, need to be eschewed. And this includes any kind of kind of angry or destructive damage or abuse of physical things.

Ahimsa is a frame of mind from which non-injury will naturally proceed. “” Ahimsa really signifies a perspective as well as setting of behavior towards all living animals based on the recognition of the underlying unity of life,”” the contemporary analyst Taimni proclaims. Shankara comments that when ahimsa as well as the others are observed “” the reason for one’s doing harm comes to be faulty.”” The vanity itself ends up being “” safe”” by being taken into a state of non-function. And meditation liquifies it absolutely. However, up until that indoor state is established, we should work in reverse from external to internal, and avoid all acts of injury.

In reality, we can not live a moment in this world without hurting many beings. Our simple act of breathing eliminates many tiny organisms, therefore does every action we take. To maintain its health the body constantly wars against dangerous germs, bacteria, as well as viruses. So in the best sense the state of ahimsa can only be flawlessly observed emotionally. Still, we are obligated to do as little injury as possible in our external life. In his memoir Paramhansa Yogananda connects that his expert, Swami Yukteswar Giri, claimed that ahimsa is lack of the need to injure.

Although it has many implications, the hopeful yogi must recognize that the observation of ahimsa need to consist of strict abstaining from the eating of pet flesh in any kind of kind or level.

Though the topic is oddly missing from every commentary on the Yoga Sutras I have read, the practice of non-injury in connection with the yogi himself is essential. That is, the yogi need to not do anything in idea, word, or deed that harms his body, mind, or spirit. This demands a terrific many abstensions, especially abstaining from meat (which includes fish as well as eggs), alcohol, nicotine, and also any mind- or mood-altering substances, including high levels of caffeine. On the other side, it necessitates the using up of whatever advantages the body, mind, and spirit, for their noninclusion is also a form of self-injury, as is the non-observance of any of the yama or niyamas. It is no straightforward point to be a yogi.

Following: Satya (truthfulness, sincerity).

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