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The Path of Ahiṃsā, and ‘Harm Less’

We made a design for Ahiṃsā (अहिंसा) in the Devanagari Script (देवनागरी), and then we put the design on a shirt. A simple two color print with a graffiti-based style. So? What’s the story, morning glory?

What is Ahiṃsā (अहिंसा)?

Ahiṃsā (अहिंसा), is the Sanskrit word for ‘non-violence’. The word is specific to Sanskrit, one of the underpinning languages for the philosophies of Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism. It is a word composed of a prefix ‘a’ (अ) and a roothiṁs’ (हिंस्) (as described by the rules of Sanskrit grammar).

The word Ahimsa—sometimes spelled Ahinsa[2][16]—is derived from the Sanskrit root hiṃs, meaning to strike; hiṃsā is injury or harm, while a-hiṃsā, its opposite, is non-harming or nonviolence.[2][17]

~wikipedia

Being familiar with the basics: language, etymology, the actual location in canonical texts, are simple ways to set the stage for study. Bringing these practices into a practical routine is a subtle way of transforming habits for the better and making everybody’s Kali Yuga (कलियुग) a little gentler… Onward and upward!

Where is the word Ahimsa (अहिंसा) used in Hinduism?

In Hinduism, Ahiṃsā (अहिंसा), can be found in the Vedas (Rigveda: ऋग्वेदः), Yajurveda,: यजुर्वेदः) and in the Upanishads (Chāndogya Upaniṣad: छान्दोग्योपनिषद्, Sandilya Upanishad: शाण्डिल्य उपनिषत्). It is also featured in the Mahabharata and documents concerning Yoga (one of the six orthodox schools of Hinduism), specifically the Yoga Sutras (2.30-35) and the Hatha Yoga Pradipika(1.16).

अहिंसा
Ahiṃsā (अहिंसा), in Devanagri (देवनागरी)script.

Where is the word Ahimsa (अहिंसा) used in Buddhism?

The Buddhist ‘Five Precepts‘ from the Dhammika Sutta has non-harm listed as the first of five guidelines. For the laymen of Buddhism, non-harm is a guideline. However, for monks and nuns, transgressing against the rule of non-violence may result in severe punishment… It is also a frequent subject in the Buddha’s discourses and stories. Since Buddhism has a range of languages representing the canon of work, it’s worthwhile to mention that the cognate of ahimsa in Pali is ‘avihiṃsā‘. It is also noteworthy that in Buddhist thought, the concept of non-harm extends to economics and trade (Anguttara Nikaya V177).

These five trades, O monks, should not be taken up by a lay follower: trading with weapons, trading in living beings, trading in meat, trading in intoxicants, trading in poison.

Anguttara Nikaya V.177, Translated by Martine Batchelor[115]

Up next? Jainism… The folks that went straight edge on non-violence… enjoy!

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