Ahimsa – Foundation stone of the practice of Yoga – A law of nature:

“As a Yogi becomes firmly grounded in non-injury, other people who come near will naturally lose any
feelings of hostility” (Pathanjali Yoga Sutra, 2.25)

“I will not hurt you”. A promise everyone makes to their loved ones, but how many of us actually live by it? If we reflect on it, we hurt a lot of living things during the course of our day, be it through our thought, speech or action. Most of the religions in this world stress on the importance of non- violence, yet, we make no efforts to practice them whole heartedly, and end up facing a lot of hatred and hostility from others around us. One look at the news papers is more than enough to prove that we are still unfortunately animals disguised as humans.

Through lifetimes of habits, we have got into the practice of hurting others, through violence, through anger etc. Even children exhibit this tendency in small ways, like throwing stones at dogs, etc. This is because we are still victims of our basic instincts- food, sleep, sex and self preservation, and if any one of these is threatened, no matter how rich and powerful we are, we end up causing harm to the things that ‘apparently’ threatened our instincts. It is high time we realized that we are capable of hurting, and therefore, become aware of it, watch it and let it go.

Maharshi Pathanjali, who codified the science of Yoga, explains the need for violence not only in our actions, but also, as we move more towards our spiritual centers, in our speech and finally our thoughts. This is something a sincere practitioner of Yoga should seriously consider, for he cannot be at peace with himself unless his conscience is free of all the guilt that hurting others brings out. In the beginning, we should try not to hurt others physically, not to hurt the animals/ insects physically, not to hurt plants physically. Then we should move on to reflecting on how our speech is capable of hurting others’ emotions. This does not mean that we should not get angry if something bad is happening, but it is about doing the right thing, and not becoming anger itself. It all comes very easily when we see for ourselves that all our violent actions and thoughts are based on ignorance- a false identity with things that we are NOT. For example, we beat a child who accidentally damages a chair because we feel that we are that chair and the child has hurt us by damaging a part of us!

Therefore Maharshi Pathanjali advises students on the path of Yoga, to cultivate opposite emotions (PYS, 2.33) when faced with such situations or reminding themselves that such behaviors, words or thinking will only bring about personal misery and suffering. The ensuing letting go process allows a natural demeanor towards which others drop any feeling of hostility or ill- will towards us, resulting in peace within and without.

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