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.
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’.
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