Ahimsa - Peace
In Sanskrit himsa is doing harm or causing injury. The "a" placed before the word negates it. Very simply, ahimsa is abstaining from causing hurt or harm. It is gentleness and noninjury, whether physical, mental or emotional. Look at nothing as intrinsically evil, but as sacred. We can sum this up from the Hindu, Buddhist and Jain traditions: ahimsa is higher consciousness, and himsa, hurtfulness, is lower consciousness.
- Ahimsa is a Way to Achieve Harmony with Our Environment, Peace among Peoples and Compassion within ourselves.
- Ahimsa is certainly not cowardice; it is wisdom.
- An individual can find total peace within himself, through tolerance and control.
- Peace is the natural state of the mind.
- Appreciate those who are different, those who believe differently. Openness is needed to live in a pluralistic world where others have their unique ways, their life and culture.
- Ahimsa begins in the home. Peaceful homes breed gentle people. Gentle people follow ahimsa.
Vegetarianism is a natural and obvious way to live with a minimum of hurt to other beings. The opposite of causing injury to others is compassion and love for all beings. Great saints and poets like Thiruvalluvar and Rambling Daigle advocate vegetarianism. Restraint in eating and drinking is most essential for old health.
Love of animals
Hinduism also promotes awareness and respect for animals. Ganesh - the deity with the head of an elephant is revered first before other deities. This reinforces respect and love for animals. Most animals are revered in one form or the other. Animals are depicted as vahanas used by the deities - starting from the lower ones like the rat and snake to bigger animals like the ox, the cow, and the elephant. Garuda - the Kite/Eagle is vahana for Vishnu and is held sacred.
Love of all life
Ahimsa means nonviolence, not wishing to harm, or actually harming any being at any time. This means plants, insects, animals or humans. This means that no living entity should be injured or killed unless it is absolutely necessary. It also means that no mental misery should be inflicted on anyone. Ahimsa means that one should act in such a way that will not put others into misery or cause them confusion.
It is stated that every living entity has to live by killing another entity; that is the law of nature. Jivo jivasya jivanan: one living entity is the life for another living entity. So violence should be committed only as much as necessary.
One should not destroy the trees. (Rig Veda Samhita vi-48-17)
Plants are mothers and Goddesses. (Rig Veda Samhita x-97-4)
Trees are homes and mansions. (Rig Veda Samhita x-97-5)
Sacred grass has to be protected from man's exploitation (Rig Veda Samhita vii-75-8)
Plants and waters are treasures for generations. (Rig Veda Samhita vii-70-4)
Earth, atmosphere, sky, sun, moon, stars, waters, plants, trees, moving creatures, swimming creatures, creeping creatures all are hailed and offered oblations. (Taittiriya Samhita i-8-13)
One should protect the habitation. (Rig Veda Samhita vi-71-3)