Theme 32- AHIMSA (Non-Violence) – The concept of Non-Violence in India in 5,000 BCE
Selected extracts from Return of the Aryans by Bhagwan S. Gidwani, published by Penguin Books, India, ISBN 0-14- 024053 – 5
The American Institute of Sindhulogy (AIS) has developed a plan to bring into classrooms in United States and elsewhere, the teaching of non-violence based on the life histories of personalities like Mahatma Gandhi, Dr. Rev. Martin Luther King, President Nelson Mandela, Frontier Gandhi Khan Abdul Gaffar Khan, and Aung San Suu Kyi.
The concept of Ahimsa (non-violence) is ancient. It is central to the philosophy of India and has continued to be honored and respected in India throughout the ages, right from the emergence of Sanatan Dharma around 8,000 BCE.
Some aspects of Ahimsa (non-violence) are given hereunder, culled from Gidwani’s best-seller, Return of the Aryans
Ahimsa to one’s own self:
Given hereunder is the Summary of conversation between a celebrated Muni (who was the mentor of Sindhu Putra) and Asudra, who was the representative of Karkarta Bharat, the elected supreme chief of his people, in 5,000 BCE. Asudra was originally a slave, who was freed by Karkarta Bharat’s wife.
In response to Asudra’s question, Muni stated ‘….There are those among us who believe that whatever is rooted in antiquity is authentic, worthy and pious. For them, it is as if the ancients never laughed, and all they were concerned with, was to leave their ponderous utterances to guide us.’
Muni continued, ‘There are of course others who credit the ancients with nothing but primitiveness, ignorance and indolence-devoid of reason, rationality and intelligence. But the truth….’
‘And the truth?’ Asudra asked.
The truth?’ Muni echoed. ‘Our ancients had their half-truths and we have our half-truths. I wish I could say that truth lies somewhere in between. But man’s quest for truth continues and ultimate truth is still beyond us. Meanwhile, we must simply follow the path of ananda (bliss or happiness), so long as it is with ahimsa (non-violence) to others and to oneself.’
‘Ahimsa to oneself?’ Asudra wondered aloud.
‘Of course’, said Muni. ‘Your body is the temple of your soul. Must it not be kept away from impurity? If ahimsa imposes a duty to avoid hurt or harm to another, how can you conceive of hurting your own body with bad habits! Is it not then necessary to avoid over-drinking, over-eating, indiscriminate sex, and even associating with people of violence!’
He continued, ‘Yes, you can hurt your body, willingly, in a higher cause – to protect your country or person in trouble – or to protect your soul-and when such rare demands are made, one must respond to their call, even to sacrifice one’s life.’
Asudra nodded and Muni added, ‘But above all, it is your own soul that you must protect with ahimsa – in thought and deed. The soul of man is a part of the Supreme. When liberated, it attains the world of the Lord of Creation and becomes one with the Lord. Your soul is not a creature of God, but God himself. God is pure. Yourself – the soul within you – must remain undefiled, untouched by sin. For remember, the soul has to be in union with the ultimate for eternal bliss. Therefore practice ahimsa (non violence) also with your self and soul.’ (See Gidwani’s Return of the Aryans, page 193).
Ahimsa (non-violence) to animals and birds
Asudra nodded. ‘I had thought ahimsa (non violence) meant avoiding physical injury to other people.’
‘To people? No son, no. Ahimsa is not restricted to humanity alone. There may be forgiveness for transgressions against humanity, for humans can provoke and retaliate. But what forgiveness is there for a man who will wantonly offend against a cow, an elephant, a lamb or a deer! Or for a man who aims an arrow at a parrot or an owl, or destroys trees and offends against nature! What use can the soul of God have for the soul of a man who permits himself to do dark, evil, ugly things to other creatures of God! Do you believe that man was created, simply, to destroy beauty and the treasures of the earth in which God Himself breathed life with infinite love and endless patience! Do you believe it is man’s destiny to become a destroyer of things that live with nature and be surrounded by creatures hostile to him, fearful of him, fleeing in terror at the scent of his flesh and the sound of his footsteps!’ (See Gidwani’s Return of the Aryans, page 193).
Ahimsa means also avoiding hurt to the feelings of others – and God’s consideration for victims of violence
Asudra felt Muni’s rising vehemence as he continued, ‘You also spoke of physical injury. True, that must be avoided. But the hurt to the heart can be deeper. It is that which I often forget. Yet neither knowledge, nor wisdom, nor prayer is above the principle of ahimsa.’
Muni now spoke gently. ‘Perhaps I am too old to learn God’s ways. But you, who are young, should never be without the hope of moksha (salvation), to join in union with the very soul of God, as your mother has done,’
‘My mother! Moksha!’ Asudra was shaken to the core. ‘My mother has moksha!’
‘What else! She was a slave, you said-chained to man’s will, with no pleasures of her own, unable to speak her heart out, living in filth, misery, subject to man’s cruelties. You think God does not reserve a special place in the heart of His soul for victims of man!’
Asudra was in a daze. ‘My mother! Moksha!’ Asudra whispered to himself. But Muni heard.
‘Yes, your mother,’ Muni said slowly, measuring each word, ‘Because the soul of God has the heart of God.’
(See Gidwani’s Return of the Aryans, page 193).
Ahimsa (non Violence) against nature – Views of Sage Bhardwaj – 5005 BCE:
From the dawn of civilization, in the prehistory period, our ancients were concerned with protecting environment. Here is a quotation from Sage Bhardwaj:
“. . . .The Earth is eternal, and so is Man if he lives in harmony with nature. But Man cannot destroy the Earth; and if he tries that by folly or design, then only Mankind shall die but not the eternal ground on which Man walks . . . .” (From poetess Shaila,” Much to learn, More to unlearn” quoting Sage Bhardwaj of 5005 BCE- page 709 of Gidwani’s “Return of the Aryans”)
The clear message of Sage Bhardwaj was: Man must live in harmony with Nature and commit no violence against Nature, or else Man shall become extinct like many other species, but the Earth itself shall live on without Man, who shall have paid for his vile acts to pollute the Earth and its atmosphere.
Life on other Planets – Views of Sage Yadodhra, 5000 BCE, to avoid violence against Nature:
Sage Yadodhra had observed as follows: in 5,000 BCE:
“….The possibility of Life on other planets remains. How can we have the arrogance to believe that that life exists nowhere except on the land and waters we inhabit. But if there is no life now, the chances are that there was life there in the past, which is now extinct because of the misuse of the planet and violation of God’s laws – and God waits with His immeasurable patience to renew and refresh life there perhaps in a form and shape altogether different. Here too on this Earth – were we to abuse God’s laws – it is not as if the earth would vanish; no only we would disappear……”
(See Gidwani’s Return of the Aryans, page 193).
Views of Karkarta Bharat – 5,000 BCE:
Note also the words of Karkarta Bharat as he speaks to the tribals at the ceremony to commemorate their union with the land of Sindhu in 5000 BCE. When the Purohit (Priest) had sprinkled water and grain in the ceremonial fire, and uncovered fruits and flowers, Bharat said:
“The holy water of Mother Sindhu is sprinkled in worship of One Supreme. Sacrifice of grain is made to Goddess Agni (Fire), that it may carry it to all deities, on earth, in air, water, space, outer space and beyond. These flowers and fruits are also our homage to gods, and we hope they shall accept the subtle part of fruits, leaving gross material as food for their worshipers.
“For know this: Such are the only sacrifices that gods seek. For gods do not desire sacrifice of blood and flesh neither of humans, nor, of animals nor of birds; and those that permit or participate in such sacrifice shall be chastised by the spirit of gods”….
(See Gidwani’s Return of the Aryans, page 71).
To sum up, the ancient Indian philosophy has been consistently against physical and emotional violence in all forms to humanity, birds, animals and to Nature. The concept of Ahimsa (non- violence) arises from the ideals that took shape in those early times of 8,000 BCE, to become the foundation of Sanatan Dharma – and among those ideals of Sanatan Dharma were: recognition of spiritual nature of man, wherever he is from; acceptance of every culture as an expression of eternal values; and man’s obligation to respect and protect environment, and all creatures, tame and wild.
The concept of Ahimsa has always been honoured in Indian Society since 8,000 BCE. Among the teachings of Gautama Buddha to the world, the foremost was “Ahimsa” (not causing harm to anyone). To him also, Non-violence is not merely refraining from inflicting injuries on others with one’s limbs or weapons. Non-violence has to be practised with purity of mind, tongue, and body; there should be no ill feeling which is a form of violence; none should be harmed even by speech; the speech should be pleasing and wholesome. All actions should be helpful to others (Note: Gautama Buddha was born in 563 B.C. as Siddhartha to Shuddhodana, the king of Kapilavastu in Northern India. Later, he renounced all and became the greatest teacher. Buddha, before he passed away, summoned his step-brother Ananda to his side to impart his last message. Ananda was the son of Gautami (Buddha’s step mother). Placing his palm on the head of his younger brother, Buddha said: “My dear! I came to the world to teach Truth. If anyone asks “Where is God?” the answer is “He is everywhere” Truth is God. Speak the Truth. Do not harm anyone. Recognize that the highest Dharma is non-violence (Ahimsa). This truth is proclaimed in the scriptures in the exhortation: ‘Speak the truth. Speak what is pleasing’.”
Mention must also be made of Mahavir, born in 599 BCE as a prince in Bihar, India. At the age of 30, he left his family and royal household, gave up his worldly possessions, including clothing and become a monk. He held that at the heart of right conduct should be the five great vows and among them the foremost was Nonviolence (Ahimsa) – not to cause harm to any living beings.