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Ahimsa

In his yoga sutra, sage Patanjali says, ‘ahimsa pratishthayam vair tyaag’. When ahimsa or non-violence is established, there is tyaag - the forsaking of or an abstaining from the desire to take revenge or ‘vair’.

Revenge is so gratifying. Yes, we love to put the other in his place or be one up on him. It tastes sweet and fulfilling, like the taste of a wonderful chocolate. Yes, when someone insults us, we thirst for revenge. To work against revenge is bitter; it requires tremendous will and conscious effort.

My teacher would remind me to practice ‘vair tyaag’, not only every day but every moment. The small events of life give us ample opportunity to keep practicing this small but beautiful sutra. If a shopkeeper has cheated us, there is an immediate rush of aggressive thoughts to put him in his place. Pause, relax the muscles of the body, bring rhythm to the breath and forsake these thoughts of getting back at him. This is what I mean by the need for tremendous will. It is very easy to get carried away and enslaved by thoughts of revenge. It requires great courage to drop them.

Once we get the taste of vair tyaag, we will find several situations in a day to practice it. Someone very close may have broken our trust; we are hurt and filled with rage. Again pause and keep practising the dropping of the need for revenge. Waves of thoughts will keep attacking the mind, but keep renouncing them. With practice over a period of time, we will achieve a certain mastery. We will be shocked to see that violent and negative thoughts do pop up but we are free not to act on them, dropping them in the process. We have acquired a new will and new power. This is transformation; we are a new person who has broken free from the habits and conditionings of his old self.

A day is full of events and every event is an opportunity to practice. One day, even the thoughts will stop coming to us and we would be established or ‘prathishthit’ in ahimsa. In such a person violent thoughts never arise. See how a simple practice can lead to the highest spiritual state.