What is Ahinsa?

Hindus regard all living beings, including animals, birds, insects, sacred and having Atma (Soul). As such, Hindus must not kill or cause physical or emotional pain to any living creature, be it a human, animal, bird, or insect. This attitude, showing compassion towards God’s creation, is known as Ahinsa or Ahimsa which means non-violence or to do the least harm. This way of thinking gives much higher standards for many current global problems such as environment (global warming) and consumption of animal for food. It is written in the Mahabharat that “Ahinsa Parmo Dharma” which means that Ahinsa is the highest duty for a human being. Although Hindus give high regard to the sacred cow(Gau) but it important to see that all animals are sacred. In many images of Hindu Gods and Goddesses one can observe there is association of an animal. For example, Bhagwan Shiv is shown with the bull Nandi. Bhagwan Vishnu is shown with eagle Garud. Mata Saraswati is shown with a Swan. Bhagwan Ganesh is shown with a mouse. He also has a head of an elephant. Kartikay is often shown with peacock as the main bird associated for his ride. Mata Parvati sits on a tiger. So there are many examples where animals are shows with figures of Gods and Goddesses. God(Bhagwan) has done this so one can see and understand that animals are not to be harmed. Thus if one truly studies the Hindu scriptures then one will see that Ahinsa is the common theme and it is clear that Vegetarian diet is a must for Hindu way of life.