"Ahimsa parmo dharmah"

(Non-violence is the supreme religion)

Ahimsa comes from a Sanskrit word which means "non-harmfulness." In Jain philosophy Ahimsa is said to be the supreme religion and himsa is considered to be source of all evil and of all miseries. Violence enters first in thought, it then manifests itself in speech and then in deeds. That is why they say that war is born in the minds of men.

Ahimsa is not limited to not harming the human beings, it also extends to all living beings. This philosophy believes in the unity of life and regards all living beings as equal. He who can be cruel to animals can be cruel to human beings too. Further, cruelty is not only an aspect of external behaviour, but it is also an inner evil tendency. He who is cruel at heart will behave cruelly towards animals as well as human beings. He, who is compassionate at heart, will behave compassionately towards all.

Life is dear to everyone, and we must have respect for life. Not only "Live and Let Live" but "Live and Help Others Live" should be our principle. Just as the head of a family looks after the welfare of the members of the family, a human being, who enjoys the highest place in the evolution of life, should look after the welfare of other lower orders of creations.

Ahimsa is an aspect of daya (compassion, empathy, and charity), described by a great Jain teacher as the "beneficent mother of all beings" and "the elixir for those who wander in suffering through the ocean of successive rebirths."

Jiva-daya means caring for and sharing with all living beings, tending, protecting and serving them. It entails universal friendliness (maitri), universal forgiveness (kshama) and universal fearlessness (abhaya).