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Patanjali Yoga Sutras

– The first Yama.

Violence (himsa) can be of three types: Krta (Harming others directly); Karita (Harming others indirectly) and anumodita (Supporting an act of violence).

A Sadhaka has to avoid all these three types. We have discussed, in length, the krta (direct) type of violence. Let us now see the karita and anumodita types.

Many friends who agree that eating non-veg food involves himsa give the lame excuse that they are not cutting the animal or hunting the bird themselves; they are only eating what someone else has killed therefore they are free from this act of violence. Well, they are only cheating themselves. When it comes to killing a human being, law does not pardon the person who is involved in the murder indirectly. Hiring a murderer is equally or rather more offensive, criminally.

You may not scold anyone yourself but if someone is scolded because of your complain then you are indulging in karita type of violence.

Not only this, if you are present when someone is being scolded for no fault of his (and if you know that the victim is innocent) and if you don't register your protest in any way then you are supporting (anumodita) an act of violence. One should avoid this anumodita type of violence. And a sadhaka should certainly not say 'yes' (direct anumodita i.e. by giving consent) to such an act of violence.

Needless to say that even an ordinary responsible citizen has to raise his voices against any act of gross violence. A society where people remain a mute witness to all murders, rapes and rowdyism is certainly doomed. It may not be possible for everyone to interfere directly where an act of gross violence is taking place but at the same time keeping quiet will amount to anumodita himsa. Because that will encourage violence more and more.

It is because of this reason that Lord Krishna, the very embodiment of Dharma asked Arjuna not to tolerate injustice and wage a war to establish goodness in society. We should remember that ahimsa is not cowardice. Only a brave person can follow the path of non-violence.

When any law practiced without understanding it property it may do more harm then good. Same is the case with the law of non-violence. Some people stretching in to absurdity. Avoiding non-veg food is all right but then what if you come to know that even tree and plants have life. At the most while plucking a fruit from the tree we can pray to the tree that 'it may be a violence but I am taking this to sustain myself and I am not indulging in wanton violence'. That also when you have avoided all other types of violence. There is no use debating over the life in plants while hurting others with your words.

So, if you worry that you will be killing many germs while inhaling the air then you cannot survive. And killing yourself is also himsa.

This article appears in the Yoga Magazine, Yoga Sudha November, 1992 edition. This article has been published courtesy www.yogasudha.com

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