LIMITATIONS TO THE PRACTICE OF AHIMSA
Absolute Ahimsa is impossible. It is not possible to the most conscientious Sannyasin or monk. To practice that, you must avoid killing countless creatures while walking, sitting, eating, breathing, sleeping and drinking. You cannot find a single non-injurer in the world. You have to destroy life in order to live. It is physically impossible for you to obey the law of non-destruction of life, because the phagocytes of your blood also are destroying millions of dangerous intrusive spirilla, bacteria and germs.
According to one school of thought, if by the murder of a dacoit many lives are saved, it is not considered as Himsa. Ahimsa and Himsa are relative terms. Some say that one can defend oneself with instruments and use a little violence also when one is in danger; this is not considered to be Himsa. Westerners generally destroy their dear horses and dogs when they are in acute agony and when there is no way of relieving their sufferings. They wish that the soul should be immediately freed from the physical body. Motive is the chief factor that underlies everything.
A renunciate or monk should not defend himself and use violence even when his life is in jeopardy. To an ordinary man, Ahimsa should be the aim, but he will not fall from this principle if, out of sheer necessity and with no selfish aim, he takes recourse to Himsa occasionally. One should not give leniency to the mind in this respect. If you are lenient, the mind will always take the best advantage of you and goad you to do acts of violence. Give a rogue an inch, he will take an ell: the mind at once adapts this policy, if you give a long rope for its movement.
Ahimsa is never a policy. It is a sublime virtue. It is the fundamental quality of seekers after Truth. No Self-realization is possible without Ahimsa. It is through the practice of Ahimsa alone that you can cognize and reach the Supreme Self or Brahman. Those with whom it is a policy may fail many a time. They will be tempted to do violent acts also. On the contrary, those who strictly adhere to the vow of Ahimsa as a sacred creed or fundamentals cannon of Yoga, can never be duped into violence.
To be continued ..
Swami Sivananda- 8th. of September, 1887 to 14th of July 1963