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Re: himsa versus ahimsa

From: Pradeep (
Date: Sun Jul 08 2001 - 23:48:32 PDT

Radhe Krishna

let me try to put together whatever little I know about Himsa/Ahimsa 
and the concept of Animal sacrifice/Karma etc. 

In olden days, mankind possessed high ideals and noble character that 
animal sacrifices were conducted for the well-being of the world.  
They offered even cows and horses in sacrifice and had meat for 
sraaddha. But they were people who were selfless. 

There were men of such refinement and noble character that, if their 
brother, a king, died heirless they begot a son by his wife without 
any passion in their hearts and without a bit detracting from their 
brahmacharya. Their only motive was that the kingdom should not be 
plunged in anarchy for want of an heir to the throne. 

However, all these have been explicitly banned in the Kali Yuga. 

"Asvalambham gavalambham sanyasam palapatrikam
 Devarena sutotpattim kalau panca vivarjayet"

Now, regarding Ahimsa, if we accidentally kill a bug or an ant while 
turning in our sleep, it is not going to be a "himsa". The reasoning 
there is that, the mind was not involved. There are cases where 
persons have sleep-walked (somnambulists) and done various acts which 
have been pardoned even by modern law because of the lack of 
involvement of their mind. 

All Karma accumalates only due to the involvement of the mind and the 
ego. So by a killing that is done without one's knowledge and without 
the intention, no sin would accumalate. The same however holds for 
someone though a hermit sits in a remote ashram and has sensuos 
thoughts or other worldly thoughts. Even though he/she does not 
bodily perform any act, when the mind is involved it becomes 
a "Vaasana" slowly and is sure to accumalate Karma. 

I know of an instance where on the suggestion of a great saint, a 
person with no means, wished in his mind that he could conduct 
a "Maha Samprokshanam" of a temple of Narayana and his troubles were 
solved and he soon got the money/resources to perform the act. So 
good and bad Karma accumalates from the mind as that is the only 
thing that transcends the body and reaps the fruits of actions in 
several births through the body sense organs (indriyaas) and falsely 
attaches itself with the body. 

Sri Krishna Paramatman gives an answer in the Bhagvadgita. An action 
that outwardly seems to be bad and cruel need not necessarily be 
sinful. Only such deeds as are motivated by desire and hatred can be 
sin. Those performed for the well being of the world without being 
impelled by desire and hatred are meritorious even though they may 
seen to be cruel. 

When a judge awards punishment to a man found guilty of crime, or 
when the executioner does the needful, are they driven by desire or 

Sri Krishna says further that we must live according to the tenets of 
the sastras: "Tasmatcchastram prmanam te karyakarya-vyvasthitau". The 
reason for desire and hatred is ego-feeling, ahamkara. When there is 
no ego-sense, considerations of high and low, or inferior or 
superior, will be found to meaningless. 

The Karmayoga taught by the Gita is doing one's work without 
ahamkara, in a spirit of dedications to the Lord. This tradition of 
desireless action that purifies our inner being has existed in this 
land from the Vedic period. Sri Krishna presents it to us as a boon.

Radhe Krishna

-- Pradeep  

           - SrImate rAmAnujAya namaH -
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