Ahimsa: Non Violence

Ahimsa means following non-violence in action, speech and even in the mind.  One can hurt a person in three ways namely, by deeds, by words or by thought! All three forms of hurting are not good and one should avoid these.

Buddha and Angulimala

There is a beautiful story of Buddha and Angulimala. This story explains the meaning of Ahimsa and its implications in our life.

This story begins at the University of Taxshila, which was a great university in ancient India. Ahimsaka was a brilliant student. He excelled in all his subjects. Because of this, the other students became jealous. They made up stories to make the teacher believe that Ahimsaka was evil.

The teacher believed these lies and decided to get rid of Ahimsaka. The teacher knew that Ahimsaka always listened to his elders, so he decided to give Ahimsaka an impossible task, so that he would never return home. The teacher called Ahimsaka and told him that in order to graduate, he needed to collect one thousand little fingers.

Instead of giving up, Ahimsaka set out to collect one thousand little fingers. However, he soon discovered that most people wouldn’t easily give up their little fingers. So he hid in the forest and murdered people to get their fingers. He found that he had nowhere to store these fingers. So he put them on a string around his neck, to keep count. Because of this terrific necklace of fingers, he was nicknamed Angulimala, meaning ‘finger garland’.

One day, Buddha left his monastery for a walk in the forest. Although Angulimala lived there, Buddha was not afraid, he continued on his way. On this particular day, Angulimala only had one more finger to collect, so when he saw Buddha entering the forest, he dashed out to murder him and claim his finger, and complete his task. But no matter how fast he ran behind Buddha, he never seemed to be able to catch up with him. Finally, tired and angry, Angulimala screamed for him to stop.

Buddha turned and quietly told Angulimala that, it was time for him to stop his killing and violence. Angulimala was so touched by these words that he immediately threw away his weapons. He followed Bhagwan Buddha back to his monastery, where he became a monk.


Buddha who was follower of nonviolence transformed Angulimala into a monk who was a murderer. Nonviolence is the personal practice of being harmless to self and also others in any condition.

Insects and Sadhu

In the past, there was a pious Maharshi called Mandavya. He spent whole of his time in the forest doing Tapas. He used to observe silence for long periods. One day thieves entered the palace of the king of the land and stole some jewels. The guards woke up but before they could catch them, the thieves ran away with the jewels.

The guards chased them and the thieves entered the forest. The guards gave them hot chase and the thieves were about to be caught. They then saw the Maharshi and dumped all the jewels near him and escaped with their lives. The guards saw the Maharshi with the eyes closed and all the stolen jewels lying in a heap near him. They concluded that the Maharshi was the leader of the robbers and they presented him before the king along with the jewels.

When the king questioned the Maharshi he kept silent as he was observing mauna vrata. The king was convinced that the Maharshi was guilty and ordered that he be put to death by being pierced by a spear. Though, he was innocent the Maharshi had to undergo punishment.

At the time of death, the Maharshi suddenly remembered that during his childhood he used to amuse himself by catching insects and pricking them with thorns and that the punishment that he was undergoing was the result of that sin. He immediately instructed his disciples who were present there to be non-violent always and died peacefully.

We should therefore never willfully harm any creature however small it may be.