Colonial Discourse and the Suffering of Indian American Children Book Cover.webp

In this book, we analyze the psycho-social consequences faced by Indian American children after exposure to the school textbook discourse on Hinduism and ancient India. We demonstrate that there is an intimate connection—an almost exact correspondence—between James Mill’s colonial-racist discourse (Mill was the head of the British East India Company) and the current school textbook discourse. This racist discourse, camouflaged under the cover of political correctness, produces the same psychological impacts on Indian American children that racism typically causes: shame, inferiority, embarrassment, identity confusion, assimilation, and a phenomenon akin to racelessness, where children dissociate from the traditions and culture of their ancestors.

This book is the result of four years of rigorous research and academic peer-review, reflecting our ongoing commitment at Hindupedia to challenge the representation of Hindu Dharma within academia.

Animal rights

From Hindupedia, the Hindu Encyclopedia

Ahiṃsā is a term meaning 'not to injure' and 'compassion'.[1][2] The word is derived from the Sanskrit root hiṃs – to strike; hiṃsā is injury or harm, a-hiṃsā is the opposite of this, i.e. cause no injury, do no harm.[3][4] Ahiṃsā is also referred to as nonviolence, and it applies to all living beings, including all animals, according to many Indian religions.[5]

Ahiṃsā is one of the cardinal virtues[6] and an important tenet of Hinduism. Ahiṃsā is a multidimensional concept,[7] inspired by the premise that all living beings have the spark of the divine spiritual energy; therefore, to hurt another being is to hurt oneself. Ahiṃsā has also been related to the notion that any violence has karmic consequences. While ancient scholars of Hinduism pioneered and over time perfected the principles of Ahiṃsā, the concept reached an extraordinary status in the ethical philosophy of Jainism.[6][8] Most popularly, Mahatma Gandhi strongly believed in the principle of Ahiṃsā.[9]

Ahiṃsā's precept of 'cause no injury' includes one's deeds, words, and thoughts.[10][11] Classical literature of Hinduism such as Mahabharata and Ramayana, as well as modern scholars[12] debate principles of Ahiṃsā when one is faced with war and situations requiring self-defence. The historic literature from India and modern discussions have contributed to Theories of Just War, and theories of appropriate self-defence.[13]


The word Ahiṃsā, sometimes spelled as Ahinsa,[14][15] is derived from the Sanskrit root hiṃs which means to strike; hiṃsā is injury or harm, a-hiṃsā is the opposite of this, i.e. non harming or nonviolence.[16]

There is a debate on the origins of the word Ahiṃsā and how its meaning evolved. Mayrhofer as well as Dumot suggest the root word may be han which means kill, which leads to the interpretation that Ahiṃsā means do not kill. Schmidt as well as Henk Bodewitz explain the proper root word is hiṃs and the Sanskrit verb hinasti, which leads to the interpretation ahimsa means do not injure or do not hurt. Wackernagel-Debrunner concur with the latter explanation.[17][18]

Ancient texts use ahiṃsā to mean non-injury, a broader concept than non-violence. Non-injury implies not killing others, as well as not hurting others mentally or verbally; it includes avoiding all violent means including physical violence anything that injures others. In classical Sanskrit literature of Hinduism, another word Adrohi is sometimes used instead of Ahiṃsā, as one of the cardinal virtues necessary for moral life. One example is in Baudhāyana Dharmasutra[19]

वाङ्-मनः-कर्म-दण्डैर् भूतानाम् अद्रोही

It means "One who does not injure others with words, thoughts or acts is named Adrohi.[17][20]

Vow of Ahiṃsā[edit]

Traditional Hinduism[edit]


Ahiṃsā as an ethical concept evolved in Vedic texts.[8][21] The oldest scripts, along with discussing ritual,[22] indirectly mention Ahiṃsā, but do not emphasize it. Over time, the Hindu scripts revise ritual practices and the concept of Ahiṃsā is increasingly refined and emphasized, ultimately Ahiṃsā becomes the concept that describes the highest virtue by the late Vedic era (about 500 BC). For example, in one hymn, Ṛgveda[23] uses the words Satya[24] and Ahimsa in a prayer to deity Indra;[25] later, the Yajur Veda dated to be between 1000 BC and 600 BC, states, "may all beings look at me with a friendly eye, may I do likewise, and may we look at each other with the eyes of a friend".[8][26] One passage in the oldest Ṛgveda reads, "do not harm anything"[27]

The occurrence of the word Ahiṃsā occurs first in the Ṛgveda when god Mitra is called "ahiṃsanasya"[28] in Ṛgveda.[29] Other occurrences in Vedic scriptures are of "ahiṃsyamana",[30] "ahiṃsanasya",[31] "ahimsantih",[32] "ahimsantam",[33] "ahimsantih",[34] and "ahimsanta".[35]

The following excerpt from the Ṛgveda[36] sums up the Panchavrata or Five Precepts:

"Violence, womanizing, drinking liquor, gambling, stealing, falsehood or lying and association with those who commit these sins; one who commits any of these sins is a sinner."

The term Ahiṃsā appears in the text Taittiriya Śākha of the Yajurveda,[37] where it refers to non-injury to the sacrificer himself.[38] It occurs several times in the Śaṭapatha Brāhmana in the sense of "non-injury".[39] The Ahiṃsā doctrine is a late Vedic era development in Brahmanical culture.[40] The earliest reference to the idea of non-violence to animals,[41] apparently in a moral sense, is in the Kapisthala Kathā Samhita of the Yajurveda,[42] which may have been written in about the 8th century BCE.[43]

Nonviolence extended to animals in the Vedas. Also in the Ṛgveda certain animals are commanded to not be killed. For example, the cow which is known by the Sanskrit word "Aghnya" or not to be killed.

The Yajur Veda[44] declares,

"O human! Animals are Aghnya - not to be killed."

The Atharva Veda[45] proclaims,

"Protect the animals." “Oh Noble men! We do not commit violence. We do not hurt others. We do not quarrel either. We of course chant Vedas and act according to its dictates.“ [46] “Every man should protect the other in all respects.“ [47]

Over time, the Hindu scripts revise ritual practices and the concept of Ahiṃsā is increasingly refined and emphasized, ultimately Ahiṃsā becomes the concept that describes the highest virtue by the late Vedic era.[48]


Bowker states the word appears but is uncommon in the principal Upaniṣads.[49] Kaneda gives examples of the word Ahiṃsā in these Upaniṣads.[11] Other scholars[7][50] suggest Ahiṃsā as an ethical concept that started evolving in the Vedas, becoming an increasingly central concept in Upaniṣads.

The Chāndogya Upaniṣad, dated to the 8th or 7th century BCE, one of the oldest Upaniṣads, has the earliest evidence for the use of the word Ahiṃsā in the sense familiar in Hinduism.[51] It bars violence against "all creatures"[52] and the practitioner of Ahiṃsā is said to escape from the cycle of metempsychosis[53][54] A few scholars are of the opinion that this might have been a concession to the growing influence of Jainism, in Vedic Hinduism.[55]

Chāndogya Upaniṣad also names Ahiṃsā, along with Satyavacanam,[56] Ārjavam,[57] Danam,[58] Tapo[59] as one of five essential virtues.[60][7][61]

The Śāndilya Upaniṣad lists ten forbearances: Ahiṃsā, Satya, Asteya, Brahmacharya, Dayā, Ārjava, Kṣamā, Dhṛti, Mitāhāra and Saucha.[62][63] According to Kaneda,[11] the term Ahiṃsā is an important spiritual doctrine shared by Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism. It literally means 'non-injury' and 'non-killing'. It implies the total avoidance of harming of any kind of living creatures not only by deeds, but also by words and in thoughts.

The Epics[edit]

The Mahābhārata, one of the epics of Hinduism, has multiple mentions of the phrase Ahiṃsā Paramo Dharma,[64] which literally means: non-violence is the highest moral virtue. For example, Mahāprasthānika Parva has the verse:[65]

अहिंसा परमॊ धर्मस तथाहिंसा परॊ दमः।
अहिंसा परमं दानम अहिंसा परमस तपः।
अहिंसा परमॊ यज्ञस तथाहिस्मा परं बलम।
अहिंसा परमं मित्रम अहिंसा परमं सुखम।
अहिंसा परमं सत्यम अहिंसा परमं शरुतम॥

The above passage from Mahābhārata emphasizes the cardinal importance of Ahiṃsā in Hinduism, and literally means: Ahiṃsā is the highest virtue, Ahimsa is the highest self-control, Ahiṃsā is the greatest gift, Ahiṃsā is the best suffering, Ahiṃsā is the highest sacrifice, Ahiṃsā is the finest strength, Ahiṃsā is the greatest friend, Ahiṃsā is the greatest happiness, Ahiṃsā is the highest truth, and Ahiṃsā is the greatest teaching.[66][67] Some other examples where the phrase Ahiṃsā Paramo Dharma are discussed include Ādi Parva, Vana Parva and Anuśasana Parva. The Bhagavad Gitā, among other things, discusses the doubts and questions about appropriate response when one faces systematic violence or war. These verses develop the concepts of lawful violence in self-defense and the theories of just war. However, there is no consensus on this interpretation. Gandhi, for example, considers this debate about non-violence and lawful violence as a mere metaphor for the internal war within each human being, when he or she faces moral questions.[68]

Self-Defence, Criminal Law, and War[edit]

See also Rulership in Hinduism

The classical texts of Hinduism devote numerous chapters discussing what people who practice the virtue of Ahiṃsā, can and must do when they are faced with war, violent threat or need to sentence someone convicted of a crime. These discussions have led to theories of just war, theories of reasonable self-defense and theories of proportionate punishment.[13][69] Arthaśāstra discusses, among other things, why and what constitutes proportionate response and punishment.[70][71]


The precepts of Ahiṃsā under Hinduism require that war must be avoided, with sincere and truthful dialogue. Force must be the last resort. If war becomes necessary, its cause must be just, its purpose virtuous, its objective to restrain the wicked, its aim peace, its method lawful.[13][70] War can only be started and stopped by a legitimate authority. Weapons used must be proportionate to the opponent and the aim of war, not indiscriminate tools of destruction.[72] All strategies and weapons used in the war must be to defeat the opponent, not designed to cause misery to the opponent; for example, use of arrows is allowed, but use of arrows smeared with painful poison is not allowed. Warriors must use judgment in the battlefield. Cruelty to the opponent during war is forbidden. Wounded, unarmed opponent warriors must not be attacked or killed, they must be brought to your realm and given medical treatment.[70] Children, women and civilians must not be injured. While the war is in progress, sincere dialogue for peace must continue.[13][69]


In matters of self-defense, different interpretations of ancient Hindu texts have been offered. For example, Tähtinen suggests self-defense is appropriate, criminals are not protected by the rule of Ahiṃsā, and Hindu scriptures support the use of violence against an armed attacker.[73][74] Ahiṃsā is not meant to imply pacifism.[75]

Alternate theories of self-defense, inspired by Ahiṃsā, build principles similar to theories of just war. Aikido, pioneered in Japan, illustrates one such principles of self-defense. Morihei Ueshiba, the founder of Aikido, described his inspiration as Ahiṃsā.[76] According to this interpretation of Ahiṃsā in self-defense, one must not assume that the world is free of aggression. One must presume that some people will, out of ignorance, error or fear, attack other persons or intrude into their space, physically or verbally. The aim of self-defense, suggested Ueshiba, must be to neutralize the aggression of the attacker and avoid the conflict. The best defense is one where the victim is protected, as well as the attacker is respected and not injured if possible. Under Ahiṃsā and Aikido, there are no enemies, and appropriate self-defense focuses on neutralizing the immaturity, assumptions and aggressive striving of the attacker.[77][78]

Criminal law

Tähtinen concludes that Hindus have no misgivings about death penalty; their position is that evil-doers who deserve death should be killed and that a king in particular is obliged to punish criminals and should not hesitate to kill them, even if they happen to be his own brothers and sons.[79] Other scholars[69][70] conclude that the scriptures of Hinduism suggest sentences for any crime must be fair, proportional and not cruel.


There is no universal consensus on pacifism among Hindu scholars of modern times. The conflict between pacifistic interpretations of Ahiṃsā and the theories of just war prescribed by the Gitā has been resolved by some scholars such as Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, as being an allegory,[80] wherein the battlefield is the soul and Arjuna, the war is within each human being, where man's higher impulses struggle against his own evil impulses.[68]

Non-human life[edit]

The Hindu precept of 'cause no injury' applies to animals and all life forms. This precept isn’t found in the oldest verses of Vedas, but increasingly becomes one of the central ideas between 500 BC and 400 AD.[81][82] In the oldest texts, numerous ritual sacrifices of animals, including cows and horses, are highlighted and hardly any mention is made of Ahimsa to non-human life.[83][84]

Hindu scriptures, dated to between 5th century and 1st century BC, while discussing human diet, initially suggest ‘‘kosher’’ meat may be eaten, evolving it with the suggestion that only meat obtained through ritual sacrifice can be eaten, then that one should eat no meat because it hurts animals, with verses describing the noble life as one that lives on flowers, roots and fruits alone.[81][85]

Later texts of Hinduism declare Ahimsa one of the primary virtues, declare any killing or harming any life as against ‘‘dharma’’ (moral life). Finally, the discussion in Upanishads and Hindu Epics[86] shifts to whether a human being can ever live his or her life without harming animal and plant life in some way; which and when plants or animal meat may be eaten, whether violence against animals causes human beings to become less compassionate, and if and how one may exert least harm to non-human life consistent with ahimsa precept, given the constraints of life and human needs.[87][88] The Mahabharata permits hunting by warriors, but opposes it in the case of hermits who must be strictly non-violent. Sushruta Samhita, a Hindu text written in the 3rd or 4th century, in Chapter XLVI suggests proper diet as a means of treating certain illnesses, and recommends various fishes and meats for different ailments and for pregnant women,[89][90] and the Charaka Samhita describes meat as superior to all other kinds of food for convalescents.[91]

Across the texts of Hinduism, there is a profusion of ideas about the virtue of Ahimsa when applied to non-human life, but without a universal consensus.[92] Alsdorf claims the debate and disagreements between supporters of vegetarian lifestyle and meat eaters was significant. Even suggested exceptions – ritual slaughter and hunting – were challenged by advocates of Ahimsa.[93][94][95] In the Mahabharata both sides present various arguments to substantiate their viewpoints. Moreover, a hunter defends his profession in a long discourse.[96]

Many of the arguments proposed in favor of non-violence to animals refer to the bliss one feels, the rewards it entails before or after death, the danger and harm it prevents, as well as to the karmic consequences of violence.[97][98]

The ancient Hindu texts discuss Ahimsa and non-animal life. They discourage wanton destruction of nature including of wild and cultivated plants. Hermits (sannyasins) were urged to live on a fruitarian diet so as to avoid the destruction of plants.[99][100] Scholars[101][102] claim the principles of ecological non-violence is innate in the Hindu tradition, and its conceptual fountain has been Ahimsa as their cardinal virtue.

The classical literature of Hinduism exists in many Indian languages. For example, Tirukkuṛaḷ written between 200 BC and 400 AD, and sometimes called the Tamil Veda, is one of the most cherished classics on Hinduism written in a South Indian language. Tirukkuṛaḷ dedicates Chapter 32 and 33 of Book 1 to the virtue of Ahimsa. Tirukkuṛaḷ suggests that Ahimsa applies to all life forms.[103][104][105]

Modern times[edit]

File:Portrait Gandhi.jpg
Gandhi promoted the principle of Ahimsa very successfully by applying it to all spheres of life, particularly to politics.

In the 19th and 20th centuries, prominent figures of Indian spirituality such as Swami Vivekananda,[106] Ramana Maharshi,[107] Swami Sivananda,[108] A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami[109] and in the present time Vijaypal Baghel emphasized the importance of Ahiṃsā.

Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi promoted the principle of Ahiṃsā, very successful by applying it to all spheres of life, particularly to politics (Swaraj).[110] His non-violent resistance movement satyāgraha had an immense impact on India, impressed public opinion in Western countries, and influenced the leaders of various civil and political rights movements such as the American civil rights movement's Martin Luther King, Jr. and James Bevel. In Gandhi’s thought, Ahiṃsā precludes not only the act of inflicting a physical injury, but also mental states like evil thoughts and hatred, unkind behavior such as harsh words, dishonesty and lying, all of which he saw as manifestations of violence incompatible with Ahiṃsā.[18] Gandhi believed Ahiṃsā to be a creative energy force, encompassing all interactions leading one's self to find satya, "Divine Truth".[111] Sri Aurobindo criticized the Gandhian concept of Ahiṃsā as unrealistic and not universally applicable; he adopted a pragmatic non-pacifist position, saying that the justification of violence depends on the specific circumstances of the given situation.[112] Sri Aurobindo also indicated that Gandhi's Ahiṃsā led to partition of India as it blocked the forceful action that the Indian people were engaged in during the 1920s and 30s, which caused delay in independence, allowing other forces to take root, including those who wanted India divided.

Gandhi stated that he viewed "Ahiṃsā is in Hinduism, it is in Christianity as well as in Islam."[113] He added, "Nonviolence is common to all religions, but it has found the highest expression and application in Hinduism. I do not regard Jainism or Buddhism as separate from Hinduism."[113] When questioned whether violence and non-violence is both taught in Quran, he stated, "I have heard it from many Muslim friends that the Koran teaches the use of non-violence. (...The) argument about non-violence in the Holy Koran is an interpolation, not necessary for my thesis."[113][114]

A historical and philosophical study of Ahiṃsā was instrumental in the shaping of Albert Schweitzer's principle of "reverence for life". Schweitzer praised Indian philosophical and religious traditions for ethics of Ahiṃsā as, "the laying down of the commandment not to kill and not to damage is one of the greatest events in the spiritual history of mankind", but suggested that "not-killing and not-harming" is not always practically possible as in self-defence, nor ethical as in chronic starving during a famine case.[115]


Ahiṃsā is imperative for practitioners of Patañjali’s eight limb Rāja yoga system. It is included in the first limb and is the first of five Yamas[116] which, together with the second limb, make up the code of ethical conduct in Yoga philosophy.[117][118] Ahimsa is also one of the ten Yamas in Hatha Yoga according to verse 1.1.17 of its classic manual Hatha Yoga Pradipika.[119]

The significance of Ahiṃsā as the very first restraint in the very first limb of Yoga,[120] is that it defines the necessary foundation for progress through Yoga. It is a precursor to Asana, implying that success in Yogāsana can be had only if the self is purified in thought, word and deed through the self-restraint of Ahiṃsā.


The hand with a wheel on the palm symbolises the Jain Vow of Ahimsa. The word in the middle is "Ahimsa". The wheel represents the dharmachakra which stands for the resolve to halt the cycle of reincarnation through relentless pursuit of truth and non-violence.

In Jainism, the understanding and implementation of Ahimsā is more radical, scrupulous, and comprehensive than in any other religion.[121] Killing any living being out of passions is considered hiṃsā (to injure) and abstaining from such an act is ahimsā (noninjury).Template:Sfn The vow of ahimsā is considered the foremost among the 'five vows of Jainism'. Other vows like truth (satya) are meant for safeguarding the vow of ahimsā.Template:Sfn In the practice of Ahimsa, the requirements are less strict for the lay persons (sravakas) who have undertaken anuvrata (Smaller Vows) than for the Jain monastics who are bound by the Mahavrata "Great Vows".[122] The statement Template:IAST is often found inscribed on the walls of the Jain temples.[2] Like in Hinduism, the aim is to prevent the accumulation of harmful karma.[123] When Mahavira revived and reorganised the Jain faith in the 6th or 5th century BCE,[124] Ahimsa was already an established, strictly observed rule.[125] Rishabhanatha (Ādinātha), the first Jain Tirthankara, whom modern Western historians consider to be a historical figure, followed by Parshvanatha (Pārśvanātha)[126] the twenty-third Tirthankara lived in about the 8th century BCE.[127] He founded the community to which Mahavira’s parents belonged.[128] Ahimsa was already part of the "Fourfold Restraint" (Caujjama), the vows taken by Parshva’s followers.[129] In the times of Mahavira and in the following centuries, Jains were at odds with both Buddhists and followers of the Vedic religion or Hindus, whom they accused of negligence and inconsistency in the implementation of Ahimsa.[130] According to the Jain tradition either lacto vegetarianism or veganism is mandatory.[131]

The Jain concept of Ahimsa is characterised by several aspects. It does not make any exception for ritual sacrificers and professional warrior-hunters. Killing of animals for food is absolutely ruled out.[132] Jains also make considerable efforts not to injure plants in everyday life as far as possible. Though they admit that plants must be destroyed for the sake of food, they accept such violence only inasmuch as it is indispensable for human survival, and there are special instructions for preventing unnecessary violence against plants.[133] Jains go out of their way so as not to hurt even small insects and other minuscule animals.[134] For example, Jains often do not go out at night, when they are more likely to step upon an insect. In their view, injury caused by carelessness is like injury caused by deliberate action.[135] Eating honey is strictly outlawed, as it would amount to violence against the bees.[136] Some Jains abstain from farming because it inevitably entails unintentional killing or injuring of many small animals, such as worms and insects,[137] but agriculture is not forbidden in general and there are Jain farmers.[138]

Theoretically, all life forms are said to deserve full protection from all kinds of injury, Jains recognise a hierarchy of life. Mobile beings are given higher protection than immobile ones. For the mobile beings, they distinguish between one-sensed, two-sensed, three-sensed, four-sensed and five-sensed ones; a one-sensed animal has touch as its only sensory modality. The more senses a being has, the more they care about non-injuring it. Among the five-sensed beings, the precept of non-injury and non-violence to the rational ones (humans) is strongest in Jain Ahimsa.[139]

Jains agree with Hindus that violence in self-defence can be justified,[140] and they agree that a soldier who kills enemies in combat is performing a legitimate duty.[141] Jain communities accepted the use of military power for their defence, there were Jain monarchs, military commanders, and soldiers.[142]


In Buddhist texts Ahimsa is part of the Five Precepts (Pañcasīla), the first of which has been to abstain from killing. This precept of Ahimsa is applicable to both the Buddhist layperson and the monk community.[143][144][145]

The Ahimsa precept is not a commandment and transgressions did not invite religious sanctions for layperson, but their power has been in the Buddhist belief in karmic consequences and their impact in afterlife during rebirth.[146] Killing, in Buddhist belief, leads to rebirth in the hellish realm, and for a longer time in more severe conditions if the murder victim was a monk.[147] Saving animals from slaughter for meat, is believed to be a way to acquire merit for better rebirth. These moral precepts have been voluntarily self-enforced in lay Buddhist culture through the associated belief in karma and rebirth.[148] The Buddhist texts not only recommended Ahimsa, but suggest avoiding trading goods that contribute to or are a result of violence:

These five trades, O monks, should not be taken up by a lay follower: trading with weapons, trading in living beings, trading in meat, trading in intoxicants, trading in poison.
|| Anguttara Nikaya V.177 ||

Unlike lay Buddhists, transgressions by monks do invite sanctions. Full expulsion of a monk from sangha follows instances of killing, just like any other serious offense against the monastic nikaya code of conduct.


Violent ways of punishing criminals and prisoners of war was not explicitly condemned in Buddhism,[149] but peaceful ways of conflict resolution and punishment with the least amount of injury were encouraged.[150][151] The early texts condemn the mental states that lead to violent behavior.[152]

Nonviolence is an overriding theme within the Pali Canon.[153] While the early texts condemn killing in the strongest terms, and portray the ideal king as a pacifist, such a king is nonetheless flanked by an army.[154] It seems that the Buddha's teaching on nonviolence was not interpreted or put into practice in an uncompromisingly pacifist or anti-military-service way by early Buddhists.[154] The early texts assume war to be a fact of life, and well-skilled warriors are viewed as necessary for defensive warfare.[155] In Pali texts, injunctions to abstain from violence and involvement with military affairs are directed at members of the sangha; later Mahayana texts, which often generalise monastic norms to laity, require this of lay people as well.[156]

The early texts do not contain just-war ideology as such.[157] Some argue that a sutta in the Gamani Samyuttam rules out all military service. In this passage, a soldier asks the Buddha if it is true that, as he has been told, soldiers slain in battle are reborn in a heavenly realm. The Buddha reluctantly replies that if he is killed in battle while his mind is seized with the intention to kill, he will undergo an unpleasant rebirth.[158] In the early texts, a person's mental state at the time of death is generally viewed as having a great impact on the next birth.[159]

Some Buddhists point to other early texts as justifying defensive war.[160] One example is the Kosala Samyutta, in which King Pasenadi, a righteous king favored by the Buddha, learns of an impending attack on his kingdom. He arms himself in defence, and leads his army into battle to protect his kingdom from attack. He lost this battle but won the war. King Pasenadi eventually defeated King Ajatasattu and captured him alive. He thought that, although this King of Magadha has transgressed against his kingdom, he had not transgressed against him personally, and Ajatasattu was still his nephew. He released Ajatasattu and did not harm him.[161] Upon his return, the Buddha said (among other things) that Pasenadi "is a friend of virtue, acquainted with virtue, intimate with virtue", while the opposite is said of the aggressor, King Ajatasattu.[162]

According to Theravada commentaries, there are five requisite factors that must all be fulfilled for an act to be both an act of killing and to be karmically negative. These are: (1) the presence of a living being, human or animal; (2) the knowledge that the being is a living being; (3) the intent to kill; (4) the act of killing by some means; and (5) the resulting death.[163] Some Buddhists have argued on this basis that the act of killing is complicated, and its ethicization is predicated upon intent.[164] Some have argued that in defensive postures, for example, the primary intention of a soldier is not to kill, but to defend against aggression, and the act of killing in that situation would have minimal negative karmic repercussions.[165]


The Rig Veda reads: Don't kill any being. The evil person who kills or eats the meat of a horse or a cow deserves to be terminated.

The Yajur Veda reads: Do not injure the beings living on the Earth, in the air and in the water.

The Atharva Veda clarifies the literal confusion of the Vedic words and tells that in the Vedic Samhita the names of materials used for actual fire ceremony in yagnas are sometimes named as the name of an animal. For example: 'Rice' is named as 'cow' and 'sesame' is named as 'calf'. The

Purva Mimamsa reads: In the Vedic yagya, killing of an animal or eating meat is totally prohibited. Just like the cows are given as charity in the yagna, horses are also given as charity. Horses and cows are used only for the purpose of giving them in charity, they are never used for eating.

The Mahabharata "Shanti Parva" reads: It is only the evil-minded hypocrites who started telling that Vedic yagnas involve intoxicants and meat eating; it is not in the Vedas.

The Mahabharata "Anushasan Parva" reads: The one who himself doesn't eat meat but even if he gives his consent to eat meat or to kill an animal, he becomes equally sinful as them. The meat eater who kills an animal in the name of yagna or tells that it is a requirement of the yagna is a sinner and he will go to hell. The one who brings an animal to be killed, the one who buys the animal to be killed, the one who kills the animal, the one who sells the animal, and the one who sells, buys, cooks and eats the meat are all sinners.

The Srimad Bhagavatam reads: In the shradh feast pure vegetarian food, after offering to God, should be given to Brahmanas. It satisfies the pitra gods (or ancestors) for ever. It is dharm (even for chatriya) that in shradh feast, he should neither offer meat nor he himself should eat meat. Only vegetarian food must be offered because meat is obtained by killing an animal. This is the best dharm to observe for everyone that one should not hurt other beings even in his thoughts.

The Manu Samhita reads: Having well considered the origin of the flesh and the cruelty of fettering and slaying corporal beings , let one entirely abstain from eating flesh. When the diet is pure, the mind and heart are pure.

The Tirukural reads: When a man realized that meat is the butchered flesh of another creature, he will abstain from eating it (257). How can he practice compassion who eats the flesh of an animal to fatten his own flesh?

The Tirumantiram reads: The ignoble ones who eat flesh, death's agents bind them fast and push them quickly into the fiery jaws of the lower world (199) a, The Rig Veda reads: Don't kill any being. The evil person who kills or eats the meat of a horse or a cow deserves to be terminated.

In modern times too, Hindu clergy have encouraged vegetarianism. Scholar Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami writes in of vegetarianism in his text, Living with Siva Pocketbook Edition (P. 315-6).

See also[edit]

External resources[edit]



  1. name="Sanskrit dictionary"
  2. 2.0 2.1 Dundas, Paul: The Jains, second edition, London 2002, p. 160; Wiley, Kristi L.: Ahimsa and Compassion in Jainism, in: Studies in Jaina History and Culture, ed. Peter Flügel, London 2006, p. 438; Laidlaw pp. 153–154.
  3. Mayton, D. M., & Burrows, C. A. (2012), Psychology of Nonviolence, The Encyclopedia of Peace Psychology, Vol. 1, pages 713-716 and 720-723, Wiley-Blackwell, ISBN 978-1-4051-9644-4
  4. [Encycloedia Britannica], see Ahiṃsā
  5. Bajpai, Shiva (2011). The History of India - From Ancient to Modern Times PDF, Himalayan Academy Publications (Hawaii, USA), ISBN 978-1-934145-38-8; see pages 8, 98
  6. 6.0 6.1 Stephen H. Phillips & other authors (2008), in Encyclopedia of Violence, Peace, & Conflict (Second Edition), ISBN 978-0123739858, Elsevier Science, Pages 1347–1356, 701-849, 1867
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 John Arapura in K. R. Sundararajan and Bithika Mukerji Ed. (1997), Hindu spirituality: Post-classical and modern, ISBN 978-8120819375; see Chapter 20, pages 392-417
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 Chapple, C. (1990). Nonviolence to animals, earth and self in Asian Traditions (see Chapter 1). State University of New York Press (1993)
  9. Gandhi, M. (2002). The essential Gandhi: an anthology of his writings on his life, work, and ideas. Random House Digital, Inc.
  10. Kirkwood, W. G. (1989). Truthfulness as a standard for speech in ancient India. Southern Communication Journal, 54(3), 213-234.
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 Kaneda, T. (2008). Śanti, peacefulness of mind. C. Eppert & H. Wang (Eds.), Cross cultural studies in curriculum: Eastern thought, educational insights, pages 171-192, ISBN 978-0805856736, Taylor & Francis
  12. Struckmeyer, F. R. (1971). The" Just War" and the Right of Self-defense. Ethics, 82(1), 48-55.
  13. 13.0 13.1 13.2 13.3 Balkaran, R., & Dorn, A. W. (2012). Violence in the Vālmı̄ki Rāmāyaṇa: Just War Criteria in an Ancient Indian Epic PDF, Journal of the American Academy of Religion, 80(3), 659-690.
  14. Sanskrit dictionary reference
  15. Standing, E. M. (1924). THE SUPER‐VEGETARIANS. New Blackfriars, 5(50), pages 103-108
  16. A Hindu Primer, by Shukavak N. Dasa
  17. 17.0 17.1 Henk Bodewitz (in Jan E. M. Houben, Karel Rijk van Kooij, Eds.), Violence Denied: Violence, Non-Violence and the Rationalization of Violence in South Asian Cultural History, ISBN 978-9004113442, Brill Academic Pub (June 1999), see Chapter 2
  18. 18.0 18.1 Walli pp. XXII-XLVII; Borman, William: Gandhi and Non-Violence, Albany 1986, p. 11-12.
  19. Baudhāyana Dharmasutra 2.6.23
  20. Baudhayana-Dharmasūtra&texttype=%2F Baudhayana Dharmasutra 2.6
  21. Walli, Koshelya: The Conception of Ahiṃsā in Indian Thought, Vārānasi 1974, p. 113-145.
  22. Here ritual means animal sacrifices.
  23. Ṛgveda 10.22.13
  24. It means truthfulness.
  25. Sanskrit: अस्मे ता त इन्द्र सन्तु सत्याहिंसन्तीरुपस्पृशः । विद्याम यासां भुजो धेनूनां न वज्रिवः ॥१३॥ Rigveda 10.22 Wikisource;
    English: Unto Tähtinen (1964), Non-violence as an Ethical Principle, Turun Yliopisto, Finland, PhD Thesis, pages 23-25; Template:Oclc;
    For other occurrence of Ahimsa in Ṛgveda, see Rigveda 5.64.3, Ṛgveda 1.141.5;
  26. To do no harm Project Gutenberg, see translation for Yajurveda 36.18 VE;
    For other occurrences of Ahiṃsā in Vedic literature, see A Vedic Concordance Maurice Bloomfield, Harvard University Press, page 151
  27. The Hindu History By Akshoy Kumar Mazumdar
  28. It means compassionate.
  29. Ṛgveda 1.90
  30. Ṛgveda I, 141, 5
  31. Ṛgveda 64, 2
  32. Ṛgveda X, 22, 13
  33. Ṛgveda XI, 28
  34. Atharvaveda 8, 13
  35. Atharvaveda XIII. 3, 31
  36. Ṛgveda 10:5:6
  37. Yajurveda TS
  38. Tähtinen p. 2.
  39. Śaṭapatha Brāhmana;;;
  40. Henk M. Bodewitz in Jan E. M. Houben, K. R. van Kooij, ed., Violence denied: violence, non-violence and the rationalization of violence in "South Asian" cultural history. BRILL, 1999 page 30.
  41. It means "pashu-Ahiṃsā".
  42. Kathā Samhita 31.11
  43. Tähtinen pp. 2–3.
  44. Yajurveda 12.32
  45. Atharvaveda 6.140.2
  46. Rig Veda 10.134.7
  47. Atharva Veda 6.64.1
  48. It refers to the period about 900 BCE.
  49. John Bowker, Problems of suffering in religions of the world. Cambridge University Press, 1975, page 233.
  50. Izawa, A. (2008). Empathy for Pain in Vedic Ritual. Journal of the International College for Advanced Buddhist Studies, 12, 78
  51. It is a code of conduct.
  52. It means sarvabhuta.
  53. Chāndogya Upaniṣad 8.15.1
  54. Tähtinen pp. 2–5; English translation: Schmidt p. 631.
  55. Puruṣottama Bilimoria, Joseph Prabhu, Renuka M. Sharma (2007), Indian Ethics: Classical traditions and contemporary challenges, Ashgate Publishing, ISBN 978-0754633013, page 315
  56. It means truthfulness.
  57. It means sincerity.
  58. It means charity.
  59. It means penance/meditation.
  60. Chāndogya Upaniṣad 3.17.4
  61. Ravindra Kumar (2008), Non-violence and Its Philosophy, ISBN 978-81-7933-159-0, see page 11-14
  62. Swami, P. (2000). Encyclopaedic Dictionary of Upaniṣads: SZ (Vol. 3). Sarup & Sons; see pages 630-631
  63. Ballantyne, J. R., & Yogīndra, S. (1850). A Lecture on the Vedánta: Embracing the Text of the Vedánta-sára. Presbyterian mission press.
  64. अहिंसा परमॊ धर्मः
  65. Mahābhārata 13.117.37-38
  66. Chapple, C. (1990). Ecological Nonviolence and the Hindu Tradition. In Perspectives on Nonviolence (pp. 168-177). Springer New York.
  67. Ahimsa: To do no harm PDF Subramuniyaswami, What is Hinduism?, Chapter 45, Pages 359-361
  68. 68.0 68.1 Fischer, Louis: Gandhi: His Life and Message to the World Mentor, New York 1954, pp. 15–16
  69. 69.0 69.1 69.2 Klaus K. Klostermaier (1996), in Harvey Leonard Dyck and Peter Brock (Ed), The Pacifist Impulse in Historical Perspective, see Chapter on Himsa and Ahimsa Traditions in Hinduism, ISBN 978-0802007773, University of Toronto Press, pages 230-234
  70. 70.0 70.1 70.2 70.3 Paul F. Robinson (2003), Just War in Comparative Perspective, ISBN 0-7546-3587-2, Ashgate Publishing, see pages 114-125
  71. Coates, B. E. (2008). Modern India's Strategic Advantage to the United States: Her Twin Strengths in Himsa and Ahimsa. Comparative Strategy, 27(2), pages 133-147
  72. Subedi, S. P. (2003). The Concept in Hinduism of ‘Just War’. Journal of Conflict and Security Law, 8(2), pages 339-361
  73. Tähtinen pp. 96, 98–101.
  74. Mahabharata 12.15.55; Manu Smriti 8.349–350; Matsya Purana 226.116.
  75. Tähtinen pp. 91–93.
  76. The Role of Teachers in Martial Arts PDF Nebojša Vasic, University of Zenica (2011); Sport SPA Vol. 8, Issue 2: 47-51; see page 46, 2nd column
  78. Ueshiba, Kisshōmaru (2004), The Art of Aikido: Principles and Essential Techniques, Kodansha International, ISBN 4-7700-2945-4
  79. Tähtinen pp. 96, 98–99.
  80. Gandhi, Mohandas K., The Bhagavad Gitā According to Gandhi Berkeley Hills Books, Berkeley 2000
  81. 81.0 81.1 Christopher Chapple (1993), Nonviolence to Animals, Earth, and Self in Asian Traditions, State University of New York Press, ISBN 0-7914-1498-1, pages 16-17
  82. W Norman Brown (February 1964), ‘‘The sanctity of the cow in Hinduism’’ PDF, The Economic Weekly, pages 245-255
  83. D.N. Jha (2002), ‘‘The Myth of the Holy Cow’’, ISBN 1859846769, Verso
  84. Steven Rosen (2004), Holy Cow: The Hare Krishna Contribution to Vegetarianism and Animal Rights, ISBN 1-59056-066-3, pages 19-39
  85. Baudhayana Dharmasutra 2.4.7; 2.6.2; 2.11.15; 2.12.8; 3.1.13; 3.3.6; Apastamba Dharmasutra 1.17.15; 1.17.19; 2.17.26–2.18.3; Vasistha Dharmasutra 14.12.
  86. Manu Smriti 5.30, 5.32, 5.39 and 5.44; Mahabharata 3.199 (3.207), 3.199.5 (3.207.5), 3.199.19-29 (3.207.19), 3.199.23–24 (3.207.23–24), 13.116.15–18, 14.28; Ramayana 1-2-8:19
  87. Alsdorf pp. 592–593.
  88. Mahabharata 13.115.59–60; 13.116.15–18.
  89. Kaviraj Kunja Lal Bhishagratna (1907), An English Translation of the Sushruta Samhita, Volume I, Part 2; see Chapter starting on page 469; for discussion on meats and fishes, see page 480 and onwards
  90. Sutrasthana 46.89; Sharirasthana 3.25.
  91. Sutrasthana 27.87.
  92. Mahabharata 3.199.11–12 (3.199 is 3.207 elsewhere); 13.115; 13.116.26; 13.148.17; Bhagavata Purana (11.5.13–14), and the Chandogya Upanishad (8.15.1).
  93. Alsdorf pp. 572–577 (for the Manusmṛti) and pp. 585–597 (for the Mahabharata); Tähtinen pp. 34–36.
  94. The Mahabharata and the Manusmṛti (5.27–55) contain lengthy discussions about the legitimacy of ritual slaughter.
  95. Mahabharata 12.260 (12.260 is 12.268 according to another count); 13.115–116; 14.28.
  96. Mahabharata 3.199 (3.199 is 3.207 according to another count).
  97. Tähtinen pp. 39–43.
  98. Alsdorf p. 589-590; Schmidt pp. 634–635, 640–643; Tähtinen pp. 41–42.
  99. Schmidt pp. 637–639; Manusmriti 10.63, 11.145
  100. Rod Preece, Animals and Nature: Cultural Myths, Cultural Realities, ISBN 978-0-7748-0725-8, University of British Columbia Press, pages 212-217
  101. Chapple, C. (1990). Ecological Nonviolence and the Hindu Tradition. In ‘’Perspectives on Nonviolence’’ (pages 168-177). Springer New York
  102. Van Horn, G. (2006). Hindu Traditions and Nature: Survey Article. Worldviews: Global Religions, Culture, and Ecology, 10(1), 5-39
  103. Tirukkuṛaḷ PDF Translated by Rev G.U. Pope, Rev W.H. Drew, Rev John Lazarus, and Mr F W Ellis (1886), WH Allen & Company; see pages 40-41, verses 311-330
  104. Tirukkuṛaḷ see Chapter 32 and 33, Book 1
  105. Tirukkuṛaḷ Translated by V.V.R. Aiyar, Tirupparaithurai : Sri Ramakrishna Tapovanam (1998)
  106. Religious Vegetarianism, ed. Kerry S. Walters and Lisa Portmess, Albany 2001, p. 50-52.
  107. Ramana Maharishi: ''Be as you are''. Retrieved on 2011-06-15.
  108. Swami Sivananda: ''Bliss Divine'', p. 3-8. (2005-12-11). Retrieved on 2011-06-15.
  109. Religious Vegetarianism p. 56-60.
  110. Tähtinen pp. 116–124.
  111. Jackson pp.39-54. Religion East & West. 2008.
  112. Tähtinen pp. 115–116.
  113. 113.0 113.1 113.2 Prabhu and Rao (1966), The Mind of Mahatma Gandhi PDF, Encyclopedia of Gandhi’s Thoughts, p. 120-121
  114. Gandhi, Mahatma. 1962. All Religions are True. Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan. p. 128.; Banshlal Ramnauth, Dev. 1989. Mahatma Gandhi: Insight and Impact. Indira Gandhi Centre for Indian Culture & Mahatma Gandhi Institute. p. 48
  115. Schweitzer, Albert: Indian Thought and its Development, London 1956, pages 82-83
  116. It means self restraints.
  117. James Lochtefeld, "Yama (2)", The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Vol. 2: N–Z, Rosen Publishing. ISBN 9780823931798, page 777
  118. Sanskrit: अथ यम-नियमाः अहिंसा सत्यमस्तेयं बरह्मछर्यं कष्हमा धॄतिः | दयार्जवं मिताहारः शौछं छैव यमा दश || १७ ||
    English Translation: 1.1.17, CHAPTER 1. On Âsanas THE HAṬHA YOGA PRADIPIKA
  119. It means Yamas.
  120. Laidlaw, pp. 154–160; Jindal, pp. 74–90; Tähtinen p. 110.
  121. Dundas pp. 158–159, 189–192; Laidlaw pp. 173–175, 179; Religious Vegetarianism, ed. Kerry S. Walters and Lisa Portmess, Albany 2001, p. 43-46 (translation of the First Great Vow).
  122. Laidlaw pp. 26–30, 191–195.
  123. Dundas p. 24 suggests the 5th century; the traditional dating of Mahavira’s death is 527 BCE.
  124. Goyal, S.R.: A History of Indian Buddhism, Meerut 1987, p. 83-85.
  125. Dundas pp. 19, 30; Tähtinen p. 132.
  126. Dundas p. 30 suggests the 8th or 7th century; the traditional chronology places him in the late 9th or early 8th century.
  127. Acaranga Sutra 2.15.
  128. Sthananga Sutra 266; Tähtinen p. 132; Goyal p. 83-84, 103.
  129. Dundas pp. 160, 234, 241; Wiley p. 448; Granoff, Phyllis: The Violence of Non-Violence: A Study of Some Jain Responses to Non-Jain Religious Practices, in: Journal of the International Association of Buddhist Studies 15 (1992) pp. 1–43; Tähtinen pp. 8–9.
  130. Laidlaw p. 169.
  131. Laidlaw pp. 166–167; Tähtinen p. 37.
  132. Lodha, R.M.: Conservation of Vegetation and Jain Philosophy, in: Medieval Jainism: Culture and Environment, New Delhi 1990, p. 137-141; Tähtinen p. 105.
  133. Jindal p. 89; Laidlaw pp. 54, 154–155, 180.
  134. Sutrakrtangasutram 1.8.3; Uttaradhyayanasutra 10; Tattvarthasutra 7.8; Dundas pp. 161–162.
  135. Hemacandra: Yogashastra 3.37; Laidlaw pp. 166–167.
  136. Laidlaw p. 180.
  137. Sangave, Vilas Adinath: Jaina Community. A Social Survey, second edition, Bombay 1980, p. 259; Dundas p. 191.
  138. Jindal pp. 89, 125–133 (detailed exposition of the classification system); Tähtinen pp. 17, 113.
  139. Nisithabhasya (in Nisithasutra) 289; Jinadatta Suri: Upadesharasayana 26; Dundas pp. 162–163; Tähtinen p. 31.
  140. Jindal pp. 89–90; Laidlaw pp. 154–155; Jaini, Padmanabh S.: Ahimsa and "Just War" in Jainism, in: Ahimsa, Anekanta and Jainism, ed. Tara Sethia, New Delhi 2004, p. 52-60; Tähtinen p. 31.
  141. Harisena, Brhatkathakosa 124 (10th century); Jindal pp. 90–91; Sangave p. 259.
  142. Template:Cite book
  143. Template:Cite book;
    Sarao, p. 49; Goyal p. 143; Tähtinen p. 37.
  144. Lamotte, pp. 54–55.
  145. McFarlane |2001|p=187
  146. McFarlane |2001|p=187
  147. McFarlane |2001|p=187-191
  148. Sarao p. 53; Tähtinen pp. 95, 102.
  149. Tähtinen pp. 95, 102–103.
  150. Kurt A. Raaflaub, War and Peace in the Ancient World. Blackwell Publishing, 2007, p. 61.
  151. Bartholomeusz, p. 52.
  152. Bartholomeusz, p. 111.
  153. 154.0 154.1 Bartholomeusz, p. 41.
  154. Bartholomeusz, p. 50.
  155. Stewart McFarlane in Peter Harvey, ed., Buddhism. Continuum, 2001, pages 195–196.
  156. Bartholomeusz, p. 40.
  157. Bartholomeusz, pp. 125–126. Full texts of the sutta:[1].
  158. Rune E.A. Johansson, The Dynamic Psychology of Early Buddhism. Curzon Press 1979, page 33.
  159. Bartholomeusz, pp. 40–53. Some examples are the Cakkavati Sihanada Sutta, the Kosala Samyutta, the Ratthapala Sutta, and the Sinha Sutta. See also page 125. See also Trevor Ling, Buddhism, Imperialism, and War. George Allen & Unwin Ltd, 1979, pages 136–137.
  160. Bodhi, Bhikkhu (trans.) (2000). The Connected Discourses of the Buddha: A New Translation of the Samyutta Nikaya. Boston: Wisdom Publications. ISBN 0-86171-331-1.
  161. Bartholomeusz, pp. 49, 52–53.
  162. Hammalawa Saddhatissa, Buddhist Ethics. Wisdom Publications, 1997, pages 60, 159, see also Bartholomeusz page 121.
  163. Bartholomeusz, p. 121.
  164. Bartholomeusz, pp. 44, 121–122, 124.