Proper Practice of Ahimsa (Nonviolence)

One often comes across varied understanding, interpretation, and implementation of “ahimsa” or, as translated in English, nonviolence. In his ‘Thought for the Day’ Sri Easwaran has provided a proper interpretation, and guidance for the practice of ahimsa. I have added his ‘thought’ below. I hope it will help you using ahimsa for the good of all.



Ahimsa is not a policy for the seizure of power. It is a way of transforming relationships so as to bring about a peaceful transfer of power, effected freely and without compulsion by all concerned, because all have come to recognize it as right.


Bearing with people is the essence of nonviolence. To do this with a feeling of martyrdom, however, is not very helpful; we need to bear with people cheerfully. This does not mean making ourselves into a doormat. Many people suffer from the misguided notion that nonviolence means saying, “Yes, honey, whatever you want is okay with me. You say; I do.” Letting people take undue advantage of us is not helpful for them any more than it is for us.

We all know that with a selfish person if we yield an inch he will ask for a yard. With the selfish person, therefore, it is often necessary quietly to say no. Don’t accept a situation in which you are exploited, discriminated against, or manipulated. This is the great art of nonviolent resistance, where you love the person, you respect him, but you will not allow him to exploit you, because it is bad for him just as it is bad for you.

The Thought for the Day is today’s entry from Eknath Easwaran’s Words to Live By.

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