Written By Anoushka Chopra (Grade 8)
After appearing in the Vedas 4000 years ago, the principle of ahimsa has been prevalent in Indian history and has made significant impacts throughout the years, making it a major contributor to India’s rich heritage. Ahimsa is an ancient Indian practice urging one to abstain from any kind of violence and to respect all living organisms. It is an expression of sheer will of the mind and that of peace over violence or brutality.
In the 3rd century BCE, Ashoka, the Indian Emperor of the Mauryan Dynasty, was one of the first to believe, follow and preach about ahimsa. From the inscriptions during that period, it is known that Ashoka embraced ahimsa and took a spiritual approach to rule his kingdom instead of an aggressive one. He undertook several measures to ensure the welfare of his people and built a compassionate nation.
In the early 20th century, during the freedom struggle, we see the importance of ahimsa in helping India to free itself from British powers. Due to ahimsa, the British policy to ‘Divide and rule’ failed to work as it united the nation and intimidated the violent regime. Not only did the Indians boycott British goods and institutions but refused to cast their vote for the elections, hence defying the British in a non-violent way. Ahimsa was also used to fight social evils such as untouchability and racial discrimination.
The principle of ahimsa also has relevance to the modern world. Nowadays, it is only right to use the ahimsa as a means to fight for equal civil rights for all, for a better, unprejudiced, and non-discriminatory India.
Thus, the spiritual Indian practice of ahimsa is the correct and just way to end violence as well as resolve conflicts, as it has been doing for centuries.
Featured Image Courtesy – Yoga Journal