The meaning of Ahimsa
Pronounced 'A-HIMS-A' , Ahimsa is a term meaning 'to not injure'. The word is derived from the Sanskrit root hiṃs – to strike; hiṃsā is injury or harm, a-hiṃsā is the opposite of this, i.e. cause no injury, do no harm. Ahimsa is also referred to as nonviolence, and it applies to all living beings including animals. Ahimsa is one of the cardinal virtues and an important tenet of major Indian religions.
Ahimsa is a multidimensional concept, inspired by the premise that all living beings have the spark of the divine spiritual energy and to hurt another being is to hurt oneself. Ahimsa has also been related to the notion that any violence has karmic consequences. While ancient scholars of Hinduism pioneered and over time perfected the principles of Ahimsa, the concept reached an extraordinary status in the ethical philosophy of Jainism.
Most popularly, Mahatma Gandhi strongly believed in the principle of ahimsa. Ahimsa's precept of 'cause no injury' includes one's deeds, words, and thoughts.