Ahimsa is a Sanskrit word that means “to do no harm,” or the avoidance of violence. The Ahimsa Center’s website says the following:
“Ahimsa is nonviolence rooted in courage and compassion, fearlessness and forgiveness. It connotes reverence for all life. It evokes civility and trust, and promotes lasting peace in society.”
Gandhi’s movement against colonization was not a movement of hate or resentment. Rather, it was a movement which asked Indians to own up to their culture and customs once again with the absence of violence and the presence of something productive.
I cannot pretend that Ahimsa is easy. Ahimsa takes a lot of discipline. The student sit-ins in Greenboro in 1960 are representative of the discipline necessary not to use physical or verbal violence when those very things are being thrown at you. I became involved with the minor and the club because I believe that hate breeds violence and violence simply breeds more hate. Our schools teach us history so that history does not repeat itself, but this is not enough. In the face of recurrent history, I cannot accept that my communities continue living with a spiritual void which leads to resentment, prejudice, and violence. We need an intervention where love and respect are skill sets used to diffuse problems.
My campus has a Nonviolence Studies minor, and our club members, whether they are in the minor or not, explore the meaning of nonviolence and learn how to harness the philosophy for the use in daily life. Through world renowned and community guest speakers as well as activities we have throughout the year, our aim is to spread the message of Ahimsa to those curious about achieving happiness, the state of perpetual balance.
Violence exists in our food production (cattle, farmers, GMOs), in our education (irreverence for our educators, limited resources, racism), in families and relationships, and in all aspects of our lives. We look to religion and spirituality to help us through our concerns and keep us afloat. I look and see that the essence of Ahimsa is an underlying principle that lies in Christianity, Buddhism, Jainism, Hinduism, Judaism and other world religions. Religion aside, Ahimsa is a spiritual approach to our daily decisions. If we incorporate awareness and consideration of others in our daily lives, our communities will be that much stronger.