One Being Should Not Hurt Another

by Rajan Zed

‘Ahimsa paramo dharma’ is an ancient Sanskrit formula meaning that ahimsa (nonviolence, wishing no harm) is highest dharma (ultimate law).

In the Hindu ethical code, ahimsa is a foremost virtue. It means that one should not hurt — mentally, physically, emotionally, morally, etc. — another being. Ahimsa doctrine is a unique contribution of Hinduism to ethics. It is sometimes thought of as a means of acquiring punya (merit). Moreover, ahimsa is one of the yamas (virtues/rules) a Hindu is supposed to practice. Panchatantra (around fifth century CE) says: “Ahimsa is the first moral law, from it all welfare grows. Therefore, protect even the mosquito, louse and the flea.”

Life is sacred and in Hinduism; every act/thought has consequences. Torture consists of harming or threatening to harm another living being merely for our selfish advantage. If we need to uphold our morality and ethics, then torture will be wrong, because all beings, being precious and unique expressions of nature, deserve our concern, respect, and nurturing. Without ethics and morality, we are reduced to brutes. Torture has been a weapon of the physically/materially strong and morally weak to enforce conformity when other resources have failed.

We need to discover underlying reality that unites us but cause of our major problems has been repeated highlighting of our differences. Hindu scriptures stress unity as basic law of life and thus pointing to a loving and compassionate approach to living beings. Underlying unity can resolve our differences. Hinduism will not condone torture.


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