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
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).