The fundamental ethical virtue of jainism, also respected by Buddhism and hunduism, the term `ahimsa` signifies total lack of any kind of violence and the prevalence of complete peace whatever the situation might be. The principle of ahimsa stresses on complete and positive non-violence and to be completely free of what one`s surrounding is or does or what might be a source of threat. The purpose of ahimsa is to become one with the Almighty before returning to the divine home leaving behind the worldly pursuits. It also says to be a part of Divine Light and Divine Love. Ahimsa can also be defined as positive and cosmic love wherein the development of the mental attitude takes place and in which hatred is replaced by love.
The subtle forms of ahimsa cannot be clearly comprehended by the common mass. The inherent vows of ahimsa states that ahimsa can be broken even by showing disrespect towards another individual, by entertaining unfair dislike for or prejudice towards anybody, by hating another man, by using abusive language towards another individual, to neglect to go to help a man who is in distress. Only when one omits sin, one can attain ahimsa in its purest form and become divine. As it involves non-violence it does not mean that ahimsa can be practiced by weak persons. Ahimsa is not at all possible without fearlessness. Ahimsa is regarded as the weapon of the brave individuals who believes in the perfection of the art of forgiveness. The social significance of ahimsa is evident from the important facts and changes that occurred in the cultural history of the Indian subcontinent
According to the `Father of Nation`, Mahatma Gandhi
, the principle of ahimsa had an infinitely higher meaning. He believed that one who followed this doctrine has not enemies. He also said that a man who believed in the efficacy of this doctrine finds the whole globe at his feet when he reaches the ultimate stage. If one expresses his love for ahimsa in such a manner that it impresses itself upon the so-called enemy, the later must return his love. Gandhi has also emphasized on the social significance of ahimsa.
The principle of ahimsa also forms a part of the teachings of Jainism and is based on love and kindness for all forms of life, as it was firmly believed that all forms of life, both plants and animals, are equal and have souls that are capable of attaining salvation or `nirvana
`. In the Jain scriptures it is stated that even the thought of evil is as bad as the action resulting in injury and takes non-violence to its highest form in thoughts, words and actions. It is also said that absence of any sort of violence towards all living creatures at all time is known as ahimsa and is to be practiced both at the physical and mental level. The strict life led by the followers of Jainism
by taking a vow of not to eat non-veg and to sacrifice all worldly affairs makes it clearly evident that the doctrine of ahimsa is well observed by them.