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Ahimsa (Sanskrit) [from anot + the verbal root hims to injure, kill, destroy] Harmlessness; one of the cardinal virtues. The sanctity of life is embodied in the teachings of the Buddhists and Jains, as well as of many Hindu schools. Asoka, the first Buddhist emperor, particularly espoused ahimsa as part of the practice of dharma. According to Manu (4:148), one may acquire the faculty of “remembering former births” by the observance of ahimsa.

In the Vamana-Purana, ahimsa is personified as the wife of Dharma, whose offspring, Nara and Narayana (epithets of Arjuna and Krishna respectively), pointed the way to spiritual enlightenment.

Encyclopedic Theosophical Glossary,
Copyright © 1999 by Theosophical University Press.

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