views updated May 18 2018

Ahiṃsā (Skt., ‘not-harming’). Avoiding injury to any sentient creature through act or thought, a principle of basic importance for Indian religions, but especially for Jains and Buddhists, whose emphasis on ahiṃsā reinforced their rejection of sacrifice (since sacrifice necessarily involves violence against animals). It is the first of the five precepts of Buddhist life (śīla). For Jains, it is the first of the Five Great Vows. Good conduct (car̄ita) is ahiṃsā put into practice. It was a Jain, Śrīmad Rājacandra, who greatly influenced Gāndhī, through whose teaching, practice, and example nonviolence became a powerful instrument of dissent and political action in the 20th cent.


views updated Jun 11 2018

ahimsa Non-violence or non-injury to both people and animals. It is a central concept of Jainism and Buddhism, and is also important in Hinduism. This belief inspired the passive resistance of ‘Mahatma’ Gandhi.


views updated Jun 08 2018

ahimsa in the Hindu, Buddhist, and Jainist tradition, respect for all living things and avoidance of violence towards others. The word comes from Sanskrit, from a ‘non-, without’ + hiṃsā ‘violence’.


views updated May 29 2018

a·him·sa / əˈhimˌsä/ • n. (in the Hindu, Buddhist, and Jain tradition) the principle of nonviolence toward all living things.