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Thread: Yama and Niyama: ahiṁsā or non-injury

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    Yama and Niyama:non-injury

    Hari Om
    ~~~~~

    Namaste,

    The last two posts offered some ideas on satya and aparigraha¹. I thought to continue to discuss the 5 yamas called out by Patañjali. For this post ahisā, the first yama/restraint (or vrata) is discussed.

    This ahisā अहिंसा we know as non-injury. Some call this non-violence. This infers to all beings ( even ourselves). At the ultimate level this ahisā when in full bloom brings no harm in thought, deed, word or action. This observance is substantial -to bring no harm to any being.
    What of swatting a fly? Or a mosquito? Some even argue , what of bacteria, or the insect world so small that when you walk or drive one brings death to these creatures. It seems to be easier not to bring violence to another person, as it's more overt. Yet the notion here is to do the least harm while on this earth.

    What to say then of ones diet? for the sadhu pursuing a spiritual path eating meat, flesh, foul and eggs must be considered to be withdrawn from ones diet. In the Mahabharata¹ Yudhishtrhira asks Bhishma a few questions and says, You ( Bhishma) have informed me many times that the abstention from injury is the highest religion. Yet in sraddhas, however, that are performed in honour of the Pitris, persons make offerings of diverse kinds of meat. Yudhishtrhira then asks:
    • How can meat be procured without slaying a living creature?
    • What are the faults one incurs by eating meat?
    • What are the demerits one incurs who eats meat by killing a living creature? Or of him who eats meat buying it from others?

    Bhishma says, Listen to me O' scion of the Kuru race, what the merit is that attaches to the abstention from meat.
    • Those high souled persons who desire beauty, faultlessness of limbs, long life, understanding, mental and physical strength, and memory should abstain from acts of injury.
    • The merit by a person with steadfastness of vow adores the deities every month in horse sacrifices¹ is equal to him that discards honey and meat.
    • The seven rishis, the Valakhilyasm and the rishis that drink the rays of the sun applaud the abstention from meat.
    • Bishma continues and says, Narada muni has said that the man who wishes to increase his own flesh by eating the flesh of other creatures meets with calamity.
    • The man who has eaten meat then gives it up acquires merit by such an act that is so great that a study of all the vedas or a performance of all the sacrifices cannot bestow its like ( or its equal).
    • The period of life is shortened of persons who slaughter living creatures or cause them to be slaughtered ( i.e. demand for meat).
    • One should never eat meat of animals not dedicated in sacrifices and that are slain for no reason.

    I thought those were the interesting parts relevent to this post.

    Svami Laksmanjoo offers his observations on this ahisā. He says one who maintains this non-violence, this non-injury influences his enemies by this state of being be non-violent. Yet he cautions the sadhu to avoid those conditions that put him/her in the company of those that choose this life style. He quotes Tantraloka as an example, it says Even if you are not a thief and yet you associate with thieves you are also considered to be a thief.

    What then are the benefits of practicing ahisā to the fullest? Chapter 2 sutra 35 of the Yoga Sutras says the followng:

    ahimsa-pratisthayam tat-samnidhau vaira-tyagah
    ahisā - as mentioned above, non-violence, non-injury
    ratishayam- to stand firm as the remedy
    tat - thus, in this way
    vaira: hostility or inimical , revengeful
    samnidhau - presence. nearness, close proximity
    tyagah- leaving behind; to abandon

    Three views are offered
    Version 1
    By establishing a firm alignment (pratishayam) in ahimsa (non-violence or non-harm), then that presence (samnidhau) will leave behind (tyagah) harm (or hostility) and disease (vaira).

    Version 2
    As the yogin becomes established (pratishayam) in ahisā all beings coming near (samnidhau) (to him/her) cease (tyagah) to be vaira (hostile)

    Version 3
    No power on earth can make two mutual enemies enter into combat in the presence of him, who being established in ahisā, does not harm anyone.


    pranams

    1. Words Used
    • aparigraha is to back-away from and release (from the behavior of, since it is a yama) of grasping, binding and seizing. Therefore apaigraha is a most descriptive term for the absence of hoarding. Some people in the West call this avarice or being greedy and covetous.
    • Satya सत्य is true , real , actual , genuine , sincere , honest , truthful , faithful , pure , virtuous , Reality.
    • Mahabharata - Anusasana Parva, section CXV ( or section 115).
    • Bhishma भीष्म - when born was given the name Devavrata. for more on Bhishma, see the following HDF post: http://www.hindudharmaforums.com/showpost.php?p=15089&postcount=2
    • This post is offered by syvedi40 on why the name Bhishma ( meaning terrible , dreadful) was given http://www.hindudharmaforums.com/showpost.php?p=21512&postcount=8
    • The bhAghavataM says that there are only twelve men in the whole world who know the ins and outs of dharma in all its subtlety. These twelve are: BrahmA the Creator, Narada the roving sage, Lord Siva, Lord SubrahmaNya, the sage Kapila, Manu the law-giver, the boy-devotee Prahlada, King Janaka, Bhishma; King Bali, the boy-sage Suka - the reciter of the bhAgavatam and Yama, the Lord of Death and Dispenser of Justice.
    • Thus Bhishma happens to be one of the twelve most knowledgeable people on dharma. It was fitting therefore that when Yudhishtira, at the end of the mahA-bhArata war wanted to know all the subtleties of all the different types of dharma, he was asked to go to Bhishma by Lord Krishna Himself.


    • Yudhishtrhira was the eldest Pandava. His name means yudhi or 'in battle' + sthira or 'steady, calm, unperturbed'; so Yudhishtrhira is he that is steady or unperturbed in battle.
    Last edited by yajvan; 10 May 2017 at 12:13 PM. Reason: corrected spelling
    यतस्त्वं शिवसमोऽसि
    yatastvaṁ śivasamo'si
    because you are identical with śiva

    _

  2. #2

    Re: Yama and Niyama: ahiṁsā or non-injury

    Dear Yajvan,
    Ahimsa is one of the concepts that I have been trying to understand. Patanjali Yog Sutras do not describe how to observe Ahimsa, and offers the effects that one can see when Ahimsa is practised. You have kindly translated that Sutra.
    The question is - in real life what constitutes Ahimsa. Taking one extreme of - non-killing of any being - is not possible. We routinely kill lower level of life - such as plants, bacteria etc - for food and sustenance.
    Here is one view and I would appreciate your response to it.
    Tattiriyopanishad of Krishna Yajurveda lays out five layers of existence - Annamaya, Manomaya, Pranamaya, Vigyanamay and Anandmaya. At each existence, a discriminatory power is provided such as - food, thoughts, breath, viveka and atma. The existence is dualistic (punyama and papamaya) - sukh/dukh etc. At each level of existence, using this discriminatory power and logic, non-killing of punyamaya existence is ahimsa. I believe - annihilation of papamaya existence is not ahimsa. And, so tackling terrorists, killing man-eater tigers, hanging habitual serial killers are not himsa, because they are papamaya.
    Regards,
    Hare Krishna

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    Re: Yama and Niyama: ahiṁsā or non-injury

    Namaste, Vanakkam

    The issue is complicated. When the yamas were written there wasn't the science of microbes we have today. There also weren't cars and such, machines that may coincidentally hit animals.

    I think scripture is a guide, but in the end you have to trust your own gut. your own intuition. Here are some more points to consider.

    Terrorist - What is a terrorist? The Sri Lankan government used this word over and over to justify the killing of innocent civilians. For the Tamils, the 'terrorists' were freedom fighters. This is just an example, one of many. I personally would have to be very very careful deciding who is the REAL terrorist, before killing one.

    Man-eating tigers - Again, is it possible to capture the tiger, and move it? We do this in Canada with bears, and with cougars. Only after the bear or cougar is proven to be returning again and again do the authorities put them down. Of course, if it is directly in a human attack, they are put down. If I had a gun (wouldn't happen) and a bear was attacking my child, or any person for that matter, I'd shoot it, no qualms at all. there is really no other alternative.

    Serial killers ... Most countries have abolished the death penalty because the governments have recognised the alternative of life imprisonment as a method of protecting others. In my personal opinion, this is the correct thing ... focus on the protection of citizenry. Death penalty just seems barbaric, and full of revenge.

    These are hypothetical situations, and good for discussion purposes.

    But currently I have a moral dilemma at our temple. There is a wasp nest under a sidewalk that is the usual location for a Chaturthi parade stop. There is a very real possibility of someone getting stung, and also a real possibliity of an individual having a severe allergic reaction. I am the chief landscaper there. This is not my decision. Ganesha's stewards are the current board of trustees. I'll report what we do in a couple of days.
    What do people here think?

    Aum Namasivaya
    Last edited by Eastern Mind; 22 August 2009 at 12:25 PM.

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    Re: Yama and Niyama: ahiṁsā or non-injury

    hari o
    ~~~~~~~

    Namasté harekrishna,

    I wrote
    What then are the benefits of practicing ahisā to the fullest? Chapter 2 sutra 35 of the Yoga Sutras says the followng:

    ahimsa-pratisthayam tat-samnidhau vaira-tyagah
    ahisā - as mentioned above, non-violence, non-injury
    ratishayam- to stand firm as the remedy
    tat - thus, in this way
    vaira: hostility or inimical , revengeful
    samnidhau - presence. nearness, close proximity
    tyagah- leaving behind; to abandon


    EM points out some relevent facts to consider. I have been taught and understand the notion is simple ' do the least amount of harm' . When you have a choice, choose non-injury.

    Now what of these terrorists? Many go to the Mahābhārata for guidence. I also look to another (complimentry) location. The book is called the Yoga Vaśiṣṭa. A conversation (teaching) between Vaśiṣṭa-ji to Śrī Rām , he says the following:

    " He who fights a battle which is in accord with scriptural injunctions on behalf of a righteous king of unblemished conduct, whether he dies or lives, is a hero. Yet he who fights for an unrighteous monarch, who tortures people and mutilates their bodies, even if he dies fighting in battle he is a beast or criminal and goes to hell. He who fights for a king that delights in harassing others (whether a king or not) they too go to hell. Yet the one who fights to protect the cattle, holymen, friends, or those that have taken his asylum, he is an ornament of heaven."

    praām
    यतस्त्वं शिवसमोऽसि
    yatastvaṁ śivasamo'si
    because you are identical with śiva

    _

  5. #5

    Re: Yama and Niyama: ahiṁsā or non-injury

    Yajvan and Eastern mind, Namaskar!
    Thanks for your clarifications. Yajvan, as I read your response, sometimes it is actually necessary to resort to killing, that can actually classify as ahimsa. One way to understand it is that it should cause minimum amount of non-injury and non-killing to the world. Sometimes removing unwanted elements from existence saves more lives, and is ahimsa.
    Krishna exhorts Arjuna for the rightful war to get rid of Duryodhana for the greater good. Because ultimately, getting rid of Duryodahan will result into lesser himsa. Moreoever, one need not feel bad about it. Not to feel guilty, Krishna says ultimately nothing is being destroyed, let us look at Gita Verse 2.17 first -
    अविनाशी तु तद्विद्धि येन सर्वमिदं ततं ।
    विनाशमव्ययास्य न कश्चित कर्तुमर्हति ॥
    By what all these is pervaded, know that to be indestructible. This immutable form is not going to be destroyed by anyone. So, at the highest level of existence, nothing is being destroyed. This is the Anandmay loka.

    Taking this to case of bees that Eastern mind says, I would think it is better to remove the bee-hive. Bees will go to a new place, and people coming to the temple will not be hurt by bees. It does cause bees tough time, and some bees might die. However, overall, it will cause less-injury because it protects human beings from getting stung.

    Om Shanti.
    Hare Krishna

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    Re: Yama and Niyama: ahiṁsā or non-injury

    Vanakkam harekrishna:

    Alas, moving the hive was not a possibility. It was a wasp called a yellowjacket wasp, and the hive was underground under a sidewalk. They can and do become aggressive when disturbed. After discussion with a board member, I created a "Beware of Wasps" sign and posted it at the spot. Even then they were getting aroused while I hammered in the sign. The board member and I decided it might be easy to have the parade of Ganesha pass by quickly. I'm still a bit worried as these wasps do respond to color and flowers, and there will be many colorful saris, and garlands decorating the parade deity.

    I have yet to receive any feedback, and I am not attending the function. We'll see.

    Good idea for most bees though, I would think.

    Aum Namasivaya

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    Re: Yama and Niyama: ahiṁsā or non-injury

    So here is the bee update. I did go to temple tonight. The evening had about 150 people and I gess there was about 400 there this morning. They ran out of prasadam. A person was asked to stand nearby the spot and do verbal warning as well the sign, They moved the food table to a different spot, and nobody got stung. So it was a successful decision. These wasps will die off in the winter except for the queen or a queen egg, and they will build in a diffrent location next year. One devotee insisted you can talk to them, and ask them to build elsewhere. What do others think of this? I also wonder if there isa connection karmically between wasps and WASPsm the acronum.

    Aum Namasivaya

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    Re: Yama and Niyama: ahiṁsā or non-injury

    Namaskar,

    Bees...they wanted the darshan so who can stop them. Isn't the lord there to offer protection to 'all' his devotees? If someone did get stung, that would be working out their karma...

    However, seems that it all turned out fine.
    my 2 cents.
    satay

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    Re: Yama and Niyama: ahiṁsā or non-injury

    lol

    So now I am talking to them. I told them this year was an exception. I said, "Why don't you just go build down in the ravine, away from this temple. God Ganesha is there too, you know. In fact there are more flowers for you there too. So to get along with your life brethen, we humans, on this fire planet, I suggest that is what you do. Besides, there are some not so nice humans around here that may just have to expose of you. You and your kind are not always welcome. For example if you go and build over there by the door of the temple, it would not be smart. The people who let you off the hook this year would most likely do a mass murder on you next year. Its good advice for you so I think you should listen. I am the head gardener here, and I don't want any trouble. We've lived in peace for quite some time. Lets keep it that way."

    Aum Namasivaya

    Aum namasivaya

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    Re: Yama and Niyama: ahiṁsā or non-injury

    Vannakkam : I am going to counter the 'Hindus lack morality ' argument on another thread with postings on yama-niyama. Yajvanji already started it. I will be using this site as a reference point. I hope the moral Hindus here enjoy adding to any discussion.

    http://veda.wikidot.com/yama-niyama

    The first one is quoted here.


    YAMA 1 — Ahimsa, Non-harming

    Practice non-harming, not harming oneself and others by thought, word or deed, even in your dreams. Live a kindly life, revering all beings as expressions of the One Divine energy. Let go of fear and insecurity, the sources of abuse. Knowing that harm caused to others unfailingly returns to oneself, live peacefully with God's creation. Never be a source of dread, pain or injury. Not harming the environment. Not speaking that which, even though truthful, would injure others.
    This also includes the principles of ethically correct nutrition and, which is no less important, getting rid of coarse emotions, which are the result of ill thoughts and often lead to rude words and actions.
    One can make ethical mistakes, including crimes, as a result of either ignorance, lack of understanding of the universal order and of one’s own place and role in it, or out of indulging in the emotions of spite, condemnation, resentment, anxiety, fear, etc., which are vicious manifestations of the lower self.


    This site examines ten yamas and ten niyamas. There are different versions of Patanjali's writings, as you know.


    The wasps are not back this year. Perhaps the talking I gave them last year was effective. Usually they nest later in summer though.

    Last night there was a frightened mole (An underground furry squirrel mammal) trying to hide in one of the lower windows and it was interesting to watch the children watch the mole. All they did was watch, and eventually they watched it skedaddle off. It struck me as sharp contrast to western values where the poor thing may have been chased tortured, or killed in some cruel inhumane manner. But these were HINDU kids, so the thought didn't arise.

    We also had a woodpecker nest in a tree beside the temple. The children enjoyed watching the baby birds grow up. I believe that there is an osmosis effect in Hindu culture. Non-violent parents bring about beautiful non-violent children.

    Aum Namasivaya
    Last edited by Eastern Mind; 12 June 2010 at 05:07 PM. Reason: addition

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