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Re: himsa versus ahimsa

From: Mani Varadarajan (mani_at_alum.calberkeley.org)
Date: Fri Jul 06 2001 - 16:22:43 PDT

Venkat wrote:
> All acts can be classified as either injurious or non-injurious.  If 
> himsa is simply taken as acts causing injury, then there would be an 
> apparent divergence between the practice of animal sacrifice and the 
> principle of ahimsa.  However, if himsa is qualified by the word 
> selfish, i.e., himsa is taken to be selfish acts causing injury, then 
> the contradiction no longer exists, as injurious acts without selfish 
> motives would be denoted ahimsa.

Venkat,

This standard appears woefully incomplete to me. Does this mean that a 
cold-blooded killer, who kills out of no emotional or selfish motive,
i.e., who kills as mere 'leela', is innocent of himsa? Or that someone 
who accidentally steps on an ant or kills worms while plowing fields has no 
debt to repay? Clearly we would not think so, and the shastras would also
not agree.  The question of ahimsa is taken far more seriously than this,
and in reality the Vedantic tradition in its ideal element is not that
far away from Buddhism or Jainism. It is not just *selfless* action, but 
also *right* action that is important. And what is *right* means what is 
*dharma*.  The answer to the question of animal sacrifice vis a vis 
ahimsa is more complicated than mere selfless vs. selfish action and
has to do with various historical, ritualistic, and meditative developments
over the years.

aDiyEn rAmAnuja dAsan
Mani


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