Ahimsa and Compassion: By Harsha (Harsh K. Luthar, Ph.D.)


Image courtesy of Lisa Connors (2002)


Thanks everyone for being here and for your gracious presence. I have been reading the many beautiful messages but have not responded much over the last week. The devastation in Gujrat, India, and the horrific suffering that has followed has been in my thoughts. The outpouring of support from the internet communities has been heartwarming and demonstrates that a true Sangha knows no boundaries of religion, nation, and ethnicity. We have put the links to organizations who are actively involved in helping the earthquake victims on the HarshaSatsangh website (www.harshasatsangh.com). If you wish to help at any point, you can go there and find out more about the non-profit agencies whose only goal is to make life a little better for those who are suffering. In the future, we will continue to use the website to make people aware of the brave souls and organizations that go anywhere in the world to help their fellow human beings in times of trouble. In our world, compassion is the natural expression of Self-Realization.

Last semester, a student gave me a book “The Enlightened Heart” edited by Stephen Mitchell. Looking through it this morning I came across several beautiful poems. I wanted to share one with you from Lao Tzu that speaks my heart:

Some say my teaching is nonsense.

Others call it lofty but impractical.

But to those who have looked inside themselves,

this nonsense makes perfect sense.

And those who put it into practice

this loftiness has roots that go deep.

I have just three things to teach:

Simplicity, patience, compassion.

These three are your greatest treasures.

Simple in actions and in thoughts,

you return to the source of being.

Patient with both friends and enemies

You accord with the way things are,

Compassionate towards yourself,

you reconcile all beings in the world.

Love to all


(Back to top)


Image courtesy of Lisa Connors (2002)

Thoughts On Ahimsa

L.C. wrote:

Hi Harsha,

I would like to share my current thoughts on ahimsa. As I look around me at the high school shootings, bombings of embassies etc. I can’t actually avoid looking at Ahimsa. The state of the world is obviously a manifestation of the current level of consciousness and I believe that until we raise the level of consciousness, war and violence will continue. However, non-violence needs to occur in thought and word as well as actions. Lately, I’ve become very aware of how often one does not even practice ahimsa towards one’s self. This is something I’ve become very aware of lately as I watch friends, family, students and clients deal with the challenges of their lives. A job is lost and one person will go from feeling hostility and anger towards his boss to berating himself for a decision or action of the past that contributed to the situation. A relationship ends and from anger at the other person he then moves into thought or action towards himself, for example being angry at himself for loving someone who did not love him back or choosing to avoid pain by drinking or overplaying and hurting his physical body.

Becoming aware of self-violence in thought and word leads me to realize just how conscious we all need to be on every level of life if we are to truly practice ahimsa. I’ve heard that there are some who believe that had Gandhi truly mastered ahimsa he would not have been shot. I do not necessarily agree with that as it is just as possible that he chose to allow himself to be shot to deflect some violence or to stage a lesson. However, either way one looks at it there are many levels to true ahimsa and we need to not jump to a conclusion that because we are not physically or verbally violent we have mastered ahimsa. Like so much else it starts with one level of understanding and continues to move and evolve but it is also an important journey to take if we want to affect the world in a positive manner.


Harsha writes:

Thanks L. for your thoughtful message. Yes, I would agree. There are many levels of Ahimsa. As R. points out, Ahimsa is the path of maturity. It is easier to practice Ahimsa, when there are others who share the same philosophy. In fact, that is the beauty and the benefit of Satsangh. Mahatama Gandhi’s struggle was an uphill struggle. Neither his fellow Hindus nor the British truly believed that Ahimsa could work. Of course it can work. Success is determined by how the practice changes us. Perhaps as you said, if we become aware of the self-violence, and discover our peace, then we can share that.

Love to all


(Back to top)

Ahimsa and Kundalini Shakti

Kundalini practices and rituals and their mystical visionary manifestations are described in one form or another in almost every religion or spiritual tradition.

Sages and scriptures declare, however, that although many superconscious experiences and manifestations of siddhis are possible through Kundalini Yoga, Self reveals itself only in a calm and clear mind.

In Patanjali’s Yoga sutras, Ahimsa (the attitude of nonviolence and amity towards living beings) is mentioned as the first yama (rule or restraint) for a Yogi. The ancient sages say that the practice of Ahimsa brings peace.

A peaceful mind that has been refined through self-awareness and devotion has the capacity to surrender to the Lord of Life, Lord of the Heart. For such a devotee, the Goddess does not waste time showing the scenery but takes the devotee directly to the Source, the Heart, and reveals that the Goddess, Devotee, and the Lord are all rooted in the Heart, the Self. All scenery and beautiful paths merge in the Self that is It Self the nature of Self-Existent Beauty.

Here is a quote from “Day by Day with Bhagavan” where Sri Ramana quotes a poet saint:

Not knowing who I was,

I used to speak of “I” and “mine”

But I am You and mine is You,

Lord whom all the gods adore. (Nammalwar)

Love to all


(Back to top)

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.