Cows in the goshala at Skanda Vale ashram in the UK. A Jersey cow is in the foreground looking at the camera.

Ahimsa

Skanda Vale is a sanctuary for all life. Our ashram is home to many hundreds of different animals and birds, and we care for over 90,000 visiting pilgrims every year. Ahimsa is one of our community’s core values.

What is ahimsa?

Ahimsa means non-injury. In the evolution of man, ahimsa is an essential virtue that must be developed to overcome the lower nature, remove our ignorance, and realize the truth. Ahimsa is another name for love; expanding far beyond the limits of human affection into universal sovereign law.

It is prescribed by every saint, from every religion as the means to salvation. Ahimsa is the expression of conscience and dharma, timeless in its nature, guiding man through the minutiae of his daily interactions. Whoever wishes to know God must practice ahimsa.

Ahimsa naturally implies non-killing, but in fullness, it ushers man away from inflicting harm upon any life form – by thought, word, deed, look or gesture. Harsh words, backbiting, discourtesies and abuse often cause more damage than physical wounds – it is possible even to die from a broken heart.

The conscience is the Divine presence in man, also known as ‘Chith’ (awareness). Chith helps us discriminate whether our motives, in any given situation, are helpful or hurtful, selfish or selfless. Without Chith, there can be no ‘Ananda’ (bliss) – only a self-perpetuating cycle of negative action and reaction.

At Skanda Vale, ahimsa is not laid down as mere policy, as a religious belief to be followed doggedly and imposed upon all and sundry. Ahimsa flows naturally from a heart that has been purified through service and love. In caring for all of life (our patients, pilgrims and animals), we learn selflessness. That feeling expands until the realization dawns that there is, in truth, One Supreme Self dwelling in all; that we are all manifestations of the One God, and that in injuring another we injure ourselves.

Ahimsa is power – the Shakti of the Universe. It is not for the timorous. Ahimsa may require us to stand for Dharma in very adverse and testing circumstances. We may fail a thousand times, but each faltering step takes us closer to realizing the truth. Self Realization is impossible without ahimsa. Conversely, to those who serve even the tiniest of the planet’s creatures with love, God is imminent, as their hearts intuitively sense His Presence in all of Creation.

The sanctity of life

Read about our battle to preserve the life of Shambo the sacred temple bull.





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