Definition - What does Ahimsa Vrata mean?
Ahimsa vrata is a vow in Jainism that promises not to harm any living thing. It is one of the five anu vratas, meaning “small” or "limited" vows, which are among the 12 vows of a layperson. The term comes from the Sanskrit ahimsa, meaning “harmlessness” or “non-violence”; vr, which translates as “restrain” or “conduct”; and rta, meaning “oath.”
When taking a vow of ahimsa vrata, the layperson promises to limit harm to any other person, animal, plant life or even themselves through violence or neglect.
Yogapedia explains Ahimsa Vrata
Ahimsa vrata includes doing such things as eating properly and drinking filtered water, but, Jains are also vegetarians to avoid harming animals. When harm is necessary for survival, such as farming, it should be limited to only what is necessary. Ahimsa vrata does not prevent the layperson from defending himself, his family or his country.
Ahimsa vrata is typically listed as the first of the anu vratas because it is considered the most important. The others are: satya, meaning "truthfulness"; asteya, meaning "vowing not to steal"; brahmacharya, or "celibacy"; and parigraha-parimana, or "non-attachment."