|The Hindu sages who
preach non-violence recognize at the same time that perfect Ahimsa is only an ideal. It is
like a straight line in geometry. We can only make an approximation to it in practice. For
instance, all creatures get their food only by violence.
Some kill animal life and some vegetable life. But, as animals are
higher forms of life than vegetables, to kill animals is a greater violence than to kill
vegetables. Therefore Hinduism teaches that vegetarianism is a higher way of life than
meat-eating and describes the ideal saint as one who lives an air as it were
(vayubhaksaka) and who does no injury to animal or vegetable life in maintaining his
It is the practice of this cardinal virtue to the best of their
ability that has made the Hindus what they are today. Most of their national virtues and
probably also their weaknesses could be traced to the ideal of non violence. Their
mildness, there hospitality, their humanity, their horror of bloodshed, their kindness to
animals and their worship of the cow are all due to it.
In a word, the pacific character of Hindu civilization is a
result of the ideal of Ahimsa. If it is a fact that the Indian masses, in spite of their
terrible poverty, are far less brutual than the masses in other countries, it is due to
the non - violence preached and practised by the classes.