'A sense of humour lends you poise, it gives you balance and it helps you to bend without breaking'

(HH Pujya Gurudev Swami Chinmayananda)

Menoducational; Walk Lightly


The short 'a' sound in Sanskrit is closer to 'uh' and the longer 'a' sound is more 'aah' - so correct pronunciation is 'uhimsaah'. 

Straight away, with the English appearance of the word, we lose something of the value of the Sanskrit. The most common English explanation for this word is 'cause no harm'. That is fair enough an interpretation, but Sanskrit is one of those languages which holds value and meaning far beyond the words themselves.  

For example, the ending 'aah' indicates this word is feminine gender. Appropriate, really, when one thinks of all the ideal qualities of softness, caring, attention, serving and so on which are, traditionally, associated with a woman's role in life. (We can rant and rave about equality and equity, absolutely necessary in the modern age, but we cannot wipe out the biological imperative.) These are all implied when we use 'ahimsa'. 

The root verb for the word is 'him' - to strike. Placing the prefix 'a' negates words (mostly) in Sanskrit. Thus 'a-him' - do not strike. 'Saa' - she; pertaining to Gauri, mother of All. Mother Nature Herself. Every part of nature is included here, so it is not merely that we must not hurt each other, or other creatures, but also the environment, the very Earth which homes us.

In Hindu philosophy, this does not mean only physical harm. Speech can also cause harm. What is more, our thoughts can too. This is the part which challenges most. The minute we have a darkened thought towards another - whether or not we would ever carry it through to the physical expression - we create a potential of harm to them or the environment, but most of all to ourselves. Ahimsa means leaving out our grudges, our petty jealousies, the back-biting and criticism of others; the bitterness which causes us to pass blame and the anger which haunts us at every turn. Thinking negatively is a downer! 

It can be a hard one, a battle with every thought, but if we would call ourselves civilised, then ahimsa is a way of life to consider.


    What a beautiful word and meaning. I believe I'm correct in saying part of the Hippocratic oath taken by doctors is 'first do no harm'!
    Thank you for this post, I've learned something new today
    Hugs HiC

    1. Hari OM
      That is indeed the major tenet of the oath! As we know, there are doctors who struggle to adhere 100% to that also. It is an amazingly difficult value to maintain - it must become a way of life, as natural a way of thinking as knowing the ingredients of a cake... Yxx

    2. ...I would hasten to add that I am still 'practicing' myself - perfection is far away! Yxx

  2. Love that linguistic analysis. Words usually do have a lot more behind them that we gather from a simple definition:)

  3. well said... with evil thoughts in our mind we are not able not smile (apart from politicians)

  4. Definitely agree that we should aspire to ahimsa. Thanks for introducing the concept - a new one to me. Cheers, Gail.


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