Definition - What does Himsa mean?

Himsa is a Sanskrit term which means "to injure or harm." It is derived from hims, meaning " to strike." Himsa is the opposite of ahimsa, which means "non-harming." Ahimsa can be both physical and psychological. Practicing ahimsa is essential and involves bringing mindfulness to speaking, acting and thinking.

Yogapedia explains Himsa

Himsa manifests as prejudice, treating others with contempt, and physically or psychologically assaulting another. Even harboring harmful thoughts toward others can be considered himsa. In short, it is anything that generates suffering in oneself and in others. Avoiding himsa in all ways will help develop the practice of ahimsa, thereby leading a more harmonious life. It is a core ethical rule in both Hinduism and yoga.

Ahimsa is one of five yamas (ethical rules) described in Patanjali's Yoga Sutras. The yamas serve as guidelines to ethical living and cultivating a life of harmony and peace. The other four yamas are:

  • Satya (truthfulness)
  • Asteya (non-stealing)
  • Brahmacharya (chastity)
  • Aparigraha (non-avarice)

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