Today as the world celebrates International Yoga Day, we are putting up a post written by a dedicated yoga teacher on an equally interesting aspect of yoga. Normally most of us associate the term yoga with physical asanas, which are of course an important and integral part of yoga, but there is another perception to it as explained here. Today we will talk about ahimsa yoga or the practice of non-violence and its meaning.
Let me first explain that in the true sense of the word, the term ahimsa yoga is not a part of the eight organs of yoga as propagated by Patanjali and other yoga seers. Basically I have used or rather clubbed the term “yoga” with the word “ahimsa” to emphasize the importance that if practiced in the right manner, ahimsa can also lead yoga or union with the divine, but before you dismiss this outright as dry philosophy let us go a bit deeper and am sure you will have second thoughts about it.
The Definition of Ahimsa/Ahinsa
Ahimsa or ahinsa basically means the practice of non-violence but that is what most people are familiar with. The actual definition should go into finding out what defines non-violence or what is violence. In everyday language violence can be associated with things like fighting, quarrels, abusing and so forth, which are of course very crude and physical exhibitions of violence. These can still be easily identified and controlled but there are other forms of violence which are so subtle that you may not even realize that and they include violence by words, thoughts, deeds and so forth.
So Can I Do Violence By Thoughts?
This is a question that has been asked to me N number of times over the years. What harm can it do if I think violent about anyone or say abuse someone in my mind or thoughts. Possibly that person did wrong to me and I was not able to react and satisfied myself with giving few abuses in my thoughts.
All these questions are not deep philosophical questions but related to your everyday life and events. The answer of this should also be given in everyday terms only and not by saying that you will go to heaven or hell as then the person may not be able to relate directly to it.
Why Should I Practice Ahimsa Yoga?
There is a law of the universe which we know and must have seen it work. You can call it by any name and for the modern day person, the law could be known as a corollary of Newton’s Third Law which says that to every action there is an equal and opposite reaction, of you could call it the law of the secret that you attract what you think or you call it the law of give and take, or you can also call it the law of karma which is one of the basic fundamental laws in the oriental scriptures.
So if you are doing violence even in your thoughts and not practicing ahimsa, you are basically creating a negative energy within yourself that will affect your thoughts, mind, your aura and ultimately since thoughts get converted to action, you will end up being a violent human being. So ultimately you are not doing violence to anyone else but to your own self.
But I Get Angry How to Vent It?
Anger management is an art and science in itself and we also have a separate article dealing with anger management with yoga. But to briefly explain about it, the anger is just an emotion which is clouding your mind, so if you need to replace that with other thoughts. At the actual instant this may not be an easy task but then I never said its going to be easy. You cannot succeed unless you try and you will never try unless you have an urge from within to actually control it. It is a slow and steady process and will come naturally over time.
How Would Ahimsa Lead to Yoga?
Is the concept of yoga through ahimsa a tall claim or does it have any reality. Now you see for yoga or union with the divine, you need to have a purified and pious mind, and control your thoughts and emotions so a mind which is full of anger or any other sort of violence how can you expect to achieve the union, so basically ahimsa prepares the way for yoga or the divine union. It is just like cleaning your room or house before a very special guest is about to arrive. Of course the guest may still arrive if the room is dirty but you will not be able to recognize the unity, so the importance of practicing ahimsa.
Ahimsa Vs Love
Love is a very misunderstood term and especially in the current era, it is mainly used to factually mean the physical unity between the opposite genders. Actual love which is described by the saints, sufis and all people experiencing the divine, is the thought of universal care and considering everyone as a part of oneself. Hence ahimsa and love are closely related as you cannot do violence against oneself if you have true love so it leads to the connection between the virtues of ahimsa and love, which in turn is connected to values like trust, hope, faith and so forth.
The discussion about ahimsa can go indefinitely but I can only say from my personal experience that try to practice non-violence and you will surely find a new lease of life. In the forthcoming articles we will expand further on this concept and bring you different perspectives. This post has been more in the format of a question answer session so keep your thoughts coming in and will try to answer your questions along with furthering the discussion.
Till Then…….Let Peace Be Upon You