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Ahimsa and Tapas - Compassion and Motivation

Updated on December 12, 2010

Ink Drawing by Amanda Latchmore


Discussions in the Yoga Class


In one of my Advanced Level Yoga classes recently, we were discussing the ‘Yamas ’  (Wise Characteristics), and in particular ‘Ahimsa ’ - non-violence. We began by thinking about non-violence and compassion in relation to ourselves. One of my students maintained that we would get nothing done in life without a bit of mental self-flagellation. I guess he was saying we need ‘Tapas ’ - which is one of the ‘Niyamas ’ (Codes for Soulful Living). Tapas is the fiery energy, discipline and motivation that we need to complete tasks, bring projects to fruition and fulfil our dreams. 

Ahimsa was probably more on my mind than Tapas , because people who had got themselves to class on such a regular basis that they were now in my Advanced class, were unlikely to be lacking in motivation; more likely, high achieving and hard on themselves. The people needing Tapas could be those Beginners who came to class a couple of times and then gave up. 

Even the most motivated people may have some projects or tasks that have been neglected or unfinished. The fiery energy and passion of Tapas needs to be breathed into those projects to get them done. But I believe Tapas needs to be tempered with the acceptance and compassion that go hand in hand with Ahimsa , otherwise we can get angry at ourselves and others. We want to fulfil our dreams without killing ourselves (or anyone else) on the way.

There truly is nothing like regular yoga practice for cultivating discipline, motivation and compassion. Get on your mat every day and everything else falls much more easily into place. 


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    • Madhavadasa Das profile image

      Madhavadasa Das 6 years ago from New Orleans, Louisiana


      A Business Angel Presentation

      A decade ago, organic milk was available only in select health food stores. Now it is in the cooler of every major American supermarket and around the world. We are predicting that we can inaugurate another trend that will quickly prove to be far more beneficial and lucrative than organic milk from grass fed cows.

      There are many millions of vegetarians and animal lovers in America and around the world who would prefer milk from happier, healthier, and more productive cows that are allowed to keep and nurse their calves within herds that will never be subject to slaughter. We call this milk Ahimsa Milk, ahimsa being the well known term for non-violence to man or beast. As experienced dairymen have demonstrated, Ahimsa Milk presently costs twice as much to produce in industrialized economies than what is popularly available. However, there are millions of consumers who will be happy to pay the extra cost to make Ahimsa Milk a reality once they grasp the vision of the health, social and ecological benefits for trending in this direction. And it is our job to create that vision, the technology, and the economic system to make it a reality. Moreover, there are already in place many cow protection organizations that will promote and distribute Ahimsa Milk.

      Ahimsa Milk is healthier and happier for cows and humans, as well as the earth we all share. Those for whom the costs might appear to be too high can learn how to consume less milk and appreciate it more. And as we develop new technologies to gainfully employ oxen, the cost of Ahimsa Milk will come down. There are also many humanitarian individuals and organizations that will help to make Ahimsa Milk affordable for all.

      There is nothing more pleasant, peaceful, and natural than draft animal agriculture, and no system can be more sustainable, because it is perfectly in accord with natural law. The by products of cows nourish crops, which in turn nourish people and animals. Cows, bulls, calves, and working oxen provide milk, power, manure, and peace of mind, as well as jobs, companionship and natural beauty, and their increasing use will create new industries and technologies such as oxen electric, transportation, tourism, and harnessing. The earth, man, and cows are perfectly designed for one another.

      We are asking investors, agriculturalists and inventors to develop traditional cow, bull and oxen agriculture alongside modern industrial models to compliment one another, each serving as a back up for the other and maximizing the effectiveness of the other. To do so is to invoke the blessings of our God given creative intelligence as well as the genius of the natural world.

      Fairfield, Iowa, home of the Maharishi University of Management, The International Government of World Peace* and Vedic City, is certainly the best place in America to do this, and quite possibly the best hope for integrating the blessings of the eternal Vedic principles of totally sustainable agriculture within the modern world.


      Quotes from Cows Are Cool, Love ‘Em, by Dr. Sahadeva Das, PhD (

      “According to organic farmer Rosamund Young, author of The Secret Life of Cows, cows ‘can be highly intelligent, moderately so, or slow to understand; friendly, considerate, aggressive, docile, inventive, dull, proud or shy.’

      “According to recent research, in addition to having distinct personalities, cows are generally very intelligent animals who can remember things for a long time. Animal behaviorists have found that cows interact in socially complex ways, developing friendships over time, sometimes holding grudges against cows or men who treat them badly, forming social hierarchies within their herds, and choosing leaders based upon intelligence. They are emotionally complex as well and even have the capacity to worry about the future.

      “For meat eaters, once they were a byword for mindless docility. But modern research is finding out that cows have a complex mental life. Of course, even a child in traditional cultures knew this all along.”


      1. Oxen have traditional uses such as plowing, turning grist mills, and hauling loads.

      2. They are now being used to turn generators attached to mills and can power generators attached to ox carts to charge and distribute batteries.

      3. Their manure is used to fertilize fields, dry and burn for fuel, make incense, and produce smoke for mosquito repellent.

      4. Manure can also be used in flooring.

      5. Manure has antiseptic qualities.

      6. Placed in anaerobic digesters, manure produces heat, as well as methane and carbon dioxide that can be bubbled at high pressure through water to free up the methane by absorbing the carbon dioxide, thus producing CO2 enriched water to grow algae for food and bio-fuel. The solid residue has also been used as a replacement for sawdust providing bedding for cows.

      7. Cow urine is used medicinally in traditional cultures, especially India.

      8. Oxen give happiness to their mothers and fathers as well as their human handlers to increase health and productivity.

      9. They provide therapeutic companionship (or cowpanionship) for humans and even across animal species.

      10. They aerate and fertilize grass meadows with their hooves, manure, and urine, thus facilitating the rapid development of rich, fresh meadows when grazed rotationally.

      11. They can haul loads and equipment in terrain not accessible to machinery.

      12. Grazing cows and oxen restore fields compacted by tractors and poisoned by chemical fertilizers.

      13. Cows and oxen have an uncanny gift for creating safe, easy to climb cow trails up hills and mountains, as every hiker knows.

      14. Oxen create tourist appeal simply by their presence as well as use in transportation.

      15. Oxen evoke love from their mothers that results in high quality milk and longer lactation periods.

      16. Oxen are used in Vedic ceremonies to promote happiness and auspiciousness.

      17. After their natural death, their bodies provide leather, meat for pets, and calcium rich bones, and so forth.


      Charging twice as much for Ahimsa Milk should easily cover the maintenance costs for twice the number of members of the herd. Grazing oxen do not require the expense of milking parlors, milking machines, milk processing, storage and refrigeration, packaging and handling. Moreover, they can be an economic asset as described above.

      HerdShare Community Supported Agriculture is already in use in the United States, and provides a model for funding the production of Ahimsa Milk. It also provides small producers with a vehicle for avoiding government regulations on commercial dairies which would stifle small producers and communities.

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