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The Himsa

Updated on December 20, 2016

The Himsa


By Prof. A.D.Sarkar

A frustrated Siddhartha Gautam said to the Vedaparaga, “Guru dev, himsa is ubiquitous in the world we live in.”

A Vedaparaga is one who has reached the other shore of the river of Vedas. That is, he or she is the one who is an authority on all aspects of the Vedic literature and they may have their own interpretations of many areas of the subject.

The 'him' part of himsa should be pronounced as in thing and 'sa' as in the 'sa' of sari. By himsa Siddhartha Gautam referred to violence. The antonym of himsa is ahimsa, the first 'a' to be pronounced as in lost.

The Vedaparaga lived in the forest with his wife in a spacious cottage and he owned many others which were reserved to accommodate visitors or travellers. He had a library and a hall for holding seminars. He established who Siddhartha was and was sympathetic regarding the homesickness of this young man and the physical hardship he was undergoing. He just finished his talk at a seminar when Siddartha Gautam mentioned himsa.

“You are correct of course,” replied the Vedaparaga, “but it is also life-giving. Read the ancient work named Matsyanyaya which propounds the law of the fishes. It points out that big fishes eat the small ones otherwise the former would not survive. The small ones would feast on insects for sustenance. The carnivores eat the herbivores and humans eat both kinetic and static lives such as plants and fruits. The victims undergo dukkha before and at the moment of their death.”

Siddhartha lost concentration for while. He thought of his aunt, Ananda's mother, and his wife Gopa and son Rahul. Vedaparaga noticed his inattentiveness. He said, “You are thinking of your near and dear ones at Rajgriha. It is you who decided to abandon them and subject them to a distressing state of dukkha. Your action could easily be classified under himsa.”

“But Gurudev,” protesed Siddhartha, “I wanted to know that which is true. I wanted to know the causes of dukkha so that I could deduce the ways to remove dukkha.”

The Vedaparaga said, “All the more reason for understanding himsa or its antonym ahimsa, non-violence, which should be the norm. Unfortunately, ahimsa has only a subordinate role in the dharmas of societal decisions or those among the political elites, kings and Generals of armies. In the ancient treatise, Arthashastra, the case for violence is expounded with unequivocal confidence. It is stated that there is no animate subjects or inanimate objects whose dharmas do not encourage violence with or without provocation. All creatures use violence just for the sake of it. For example, the king with his retinue goes on hunting expeditions just for the fun of it. The slaughtered animals are left to rot away. Himsa, of course, is legitimate when it is used for survival. For example, the lamb eats the grass and other plants, the wolf eats the lamb. The wolf is devoured by a large python. The python dies a lingering death when jivanus, bacteria, attack it which in turn are decimated by humans with the aid of appropriate plant extracts.

Now look at nature in our phenomenal world which does not seem to exist without himsa. There is this ever present mortal danger for all kinetic and static objects to be destroyed from the atmosphere. The danger appears in the form of gale force wind, lightning and rain giving rise to deluge. Such dangers are Adhidaivic. They cause loss of lfe, property and crops.

Then there are these earthly dangers from predatory animals, venomous reptiles disease and above all war between ambitious kings. Such himsa is Adhibhoutic. Of course there is this Adhmyatic himsa which arises out of jealousy, greed or attachment giving rise to dukkha of varying severity.”



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