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Relevance of Ahimsa in words

Updated on June 21, 2012
Gandhiji who was the source of the word and meaning of AHIMSA
Gandhiji who was the source of the word and meaning of AHIMSA

Ahimsa means non-violence. Ahimsa in terms of action was what was considered the best form of retaliation to achieve freedom for India by Gandhiji. What about ahimsa in our day to day language?

There is a famous saying in Tamil, which says, "A wound inflicted by fire will heal whereas a wound created by the tongue/words does not". This is very true. But in today's world how relevant is this?

Patience has become the virtue of the bored! Even with children these days, sweet words do not seem to work for long, you have to bribe them or give something in return to get things done. Beyond a limit, anger takes its place, has an impact on our choice of words and in turn the result we want.

With many many "not-so-right" things happening around, with the concept of "Dharma" losing its sense, with self-judgement on the decline, with no fear for one's own mind or God when wrong things are done, how will pleasant words and ahimsa in words have any effect?

I have had many incidents where unable to bear the atrocity happening, I started questioning. Initially, I started with polite words and framed my sentences in the most unoffensive way as possible. I found that this had absolutely no effect! I just get weird looks in return, which either imply I am jobless or mean they do not really care!

The moment I use words which can prick conscience, the effect is instantaneous. Is this a right approach?

Let me cite an example. Across India, in all tourist places, the shops have extra cost above MRP on all products especially eatables and if it is a cold drink that you are buying it will have additional price for the "cooling"! I question this everywhere I go, asking why should I even pay a rupee more than the MRP? Just questions or refusing to buy seemed to have absolutely no effect!

Then I decided to change my approach. Apart from questioning and refusing to buy, I started telling in a harsh way that their conscience should prick for taking extra money and that the money they earn in such dishonest way will never stay or grow! This seemed to have a profound effect.

The shop keepers did not give me the products at the correct price but somewhere deep down their heart, the sleeping conscience woke up! They were scared that my words would come true about money! They came back fighting, saying I had rights to refuse to buy but never curse them!

This made me think, the shopkeeper would definitely be thinking about this incident at least for a day, which might or might not change him, but at least it will make him think which otherwise he would never do!

Even when the right things are told in the ahimsa way, they do not seem to reach where they should. The same message if conveyed in a "not-so-ahimsa" way does appear to have an effect! This really made me think - Ahimsa - does it hold relevance any long? In actions? In words? In thoughts? No was my answer after recounting many many incidents in my life so far.

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    • OTEE profile image

      OTEE 4 years ago from India

      Thought provoking hub Deepika. I got a new perspective on ahimsa - that of being non-violent words.

      Non-violence (ahimsa) is a difficult concept to define. There is a school of thought that the non-violence of Gandhiji was in fact a most powerful violent form, as it provoked the opponent into violence.

      As regards being non-violent in words - would it be effective, particularly when the interaction with the other party (as with shop-keepers) is transient? I am equally stumped. I guess going with what works best for us is what we should follow.

      Thanks again for a good hub.

    • Deepika Arun profile image
      Author

      Deepika Arun 4 years ago from Chennai, India

      @Otee : Thanks :) It is true that we should keep going with what works best but the question of that being right or wrong is always there!

    • C.V.Rajan profile image

      Disillusioned 4 years ago from Kerala, India

      Thought provoking.

      What I observe is that those who have a well developed and nurtured conscience do acknowledge words of ahimsa and act upon it. The lesser the development of conscience, the greater is the need for usage of stronger words. But with people who have no conscience, nothing has any effect - neither soft counseling nor violet verbal outpourings.

      And there is "group culture" too to handle. Most autorickshaw wallahs have similar culture. So are policemen, petty shop owners. Their way of reaction will be typical to their group culture.

    • Deepika Arun profile image
      Author

      Deepika Arun 4 years ago from Chennai, India

      @Appa: Bull's eye!

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