international non-violence (ahimsa) day

by Sheila on October 2, 2009

Today, October 2nd, is International Non-violence Day as declared by the UN in commemoration of Mahatma Gandhi’s practice of non-violence to create political change. In Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, non-violence or ahimsa is the first yama and was one of the first discussions at a yoga philosophy class that I attended earlier this year with Shirley Daventry French. It is easy to think that we are non-violent because we do not brawl with people or throw plates in anger. Shirley taught me that Patanjali’s Sutra means non-violence in thought and word, in addition to non-violence in deed. This can be a much more difficult practice when we think about the judgements we may have passed and snide comments to escape our lips.

I will try and take today to contemplate Sutra II.35: “When non-violence in speech, thought and action is established, one’s aggressive nature is relinquished and others abandon hostility in one’s presence.”

Guruji in Light on the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali explains the sutra on ahimsa, “Peace in words, thoughts and deeds, whether awake or dreaming, is a sign of goodwill and love to all.” I think it is interesting that the notion of nonviolent dreams are raised suggesting that a person’s character is reflected in their dreams. Guruji’s interpretation goes even further to say that not only will a person benefit personally from practicing non-violence but benefit other people, “In the vicinity of a yogi, men and animals who are otherwise violent and antipathetic towards each other, abandon their hostility and exhibit friendliness and mutual tolerance.” Perhaps this was why Gandhi’s non-violent movement motivated so many of the people of India.

Iyengar Insight: Before peace between the nations, we have to find peace inside that small nation, which is our being.

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