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From Hindupedia, the Hindu Encyclopedia

By Swami Harshananda

Hiṃsā literally means ‘violence’.

Since ahiṃsā has been defined as not injuring any living being either physically, by harsh words or by inimical thoughts, the opposite of this can be considered as hiṃsā or violence. Hiṃsā is any act that hurts a person’s body or mind, whether it ultimately causes his death or not.

The scriptures[1] signify that hiṃsā, whether perpetrated directly or caused to be perpetrated by others or even approved of when committed by others, is a sin and must be eschewed. Such persons go to hell and suffer terribly for a long time.

However, immolation of animals in Vedic sacrifices or hiṃsā committed by one under the attack for saving one’s life and limb, are not considered as hiṃsā.


  1. Yogasutras of Patañjali 2.34
  • The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore

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